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Mystara Player's Survival Kit (2e)
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Mystara Player's Survival Kit (2e)

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At last! Everything you need to breathe life into your player character!

Herein lies a treasure trove of game props and playing aids no bold adventurer can afford to be without! Whether you're trying to choose the perfect name for your first character, designing a shield for your favorite fighter, or just trying to remember who's carrying the magical broad sword, the Player's Survival Kit has what you need.

Inside you'll discover:

  • a 16-page full-color Character Book that includes a ""Dictionary of Names"" (with more than a thousand names to choose from) and ""Heraldry Made Easy"" (simple instructions to create your own heraldic designs)
  • a 16-page full-color Adventurer's Log to keep track of monsters slain, treasures gained, and mysteries yet to be solved.
  • 24 handouts, including spell lists for specialty wizards, a complete system for rolling up a character's family, letters of credit, diplomas, an advertisement for henchmen, and the character's last will and testament (don't go adventuring without it!)

Explore the world of Mystara with your handy Survival Kit at your side...

Product History

The "Mystara Player's Survival Kit" (1995), by John D. Rateliff, is an accessory for the AD&D Mystara line. It was published in January 1995.

Origins: A New Accessory. The first half-year of the Mystaran line for AD&D focused on setting sourcebooks and adventures, with only the Poor Wizard's Almanac III & Book of Facts (1994) offering something different. TSR was thus accurate when they said that the "Mystara Player's Survival Kit" (1995) was the "first player’s accessory" for the line.

However, the "Player's Survival Guide" also filled another need. The Mystara line was intended to support new players, and it did so with evocative and beautifully produced supplements. The "Player's Survival Kit" expanded on this idea by adding a beautiful accessory to the line.

The "Mystara Player's Survival Kit" was one of two such supplements produced in January 1995, the other being the "Mystara Dungeon Master's Survival Kit" (1995).

A History of Accessories. The "Player's Survival Kit" contains a real motley of accessories. Several of them are fairly unusual.

The handouts are a variety of one-sheet accessories meant to represent in-game paperwork, including a Diploma from the Karameikan School of Magecraft, a few statements that Clerics are in Good Standing with various churches, and a Letter of Incorporation from Karameikos. TSR had been playing with this sort of in-game material since Aurora's Whole Realms Catalog (1992), but producing a booklet of paperwork intended to be used as player props was something new for the whole roleplaying field, with Chaosium's "Dire Documents" (1993) for Call of Cthulhu being one of the few antecedents.

An adventurer's log gave a player a whole 16 pages to detail their character, which was much more expansive than the two-page character sheets of the time. Various sheets provided space for background, friends met, monsters killed, placed explored, and more. As it happens, TSR themselves had once before produced something like this: the Permanent Character Folder & Adventure Record Sheets (1979), which was part of their initial run of D&D accessories. It was actually much more intricate, allowing players to list details of a specific adventure like party members and even turns spent in the dungeon! Just like the "Player's Survival Kit", it even contained a Last Will and Testament, which suggests that the earlier supplement might have been an influence on this new one.

Novice Tropes. So how do you introduce new players to the Mystara setting? The "Player's Survival Kit" does so by helping them to create Mystaran characters. It offer names appropriate for Mystara and even advises players on creating their own heraldry. There's also a short set of random charts for generating character class, homeland, and parental details — a sort of abbreviated Traveller career or Interlock lifepath.

Altogether, these seem like the exact sort of things that would be helpful in guiding new players to create first-time D&D characters — and yet the sort of things not found in most introductory D&D products.

Expanding D&D. The major new mechanic of in the "Player's Survival Kit" is the deck of 54 Fame & Fortune cards. Their usage is kind of vague. They could just be used as a deck of many things, something that would be more relevant for the "Dungeon Master's Survival Kit". However, they may also be used by players to influence the game by introducing plot quirks like "True Love" or "Suffer a Sea-change".

The name of the deck may have been borrowed from Top Secret (1980), which had Fame & Fortune points that players could use to influence the game, albeit in more constrained ways. However, the cards were also part of a general trend of increased player agency that may have been best represented by Lion Rampant's debut product, the very similar Whimsy Cards (1987).

Exploring Mystara. Though this is a Mystaran supplement, the Mystaran content is fairly small, limited to summaries of the Known World nations and the (rather extensive) list of names.

About the Creators. Rateliff started at TSR in 1991 as an editor. The Mystaran AD&D line gave him his first opportunity for design, including the "Mystara Player's Survival Kit" (1995) and contributions to Mark of Amber (1995).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons — a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Reviews (3)
Discussions (2)
Customer avatar
Christian L August 16, 2017 7:32 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I get an error "number is out of range" error on this document and cannot open it.
Customer avatar
Corey K April 25, 2017 9:29 pm UTC
Have the cards been added since this is a "new" release?
Reason for not previously purchasing.
Customer avatar
Christopher S April 26, 2017 2:14 am UTC
PURCHASER
Handouts 9-21 are double sided, with different content per side, in the real item. This PDF only has one side of these handouts. The cards are also not included. This information was true as of 25 Apr 2017.
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Product Information
Author(s)
Pages
56
Edition
1.0
Publisher Stock #
TSR2510
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8.6 MB
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File Last Updated:
March 05, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on April 25, 2017.