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Mystara Dungeon Master Survival Kit (2e)
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Mystara Dungeon Master Survival Kit (2e)

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With the new DUNGEON MASTER Survival Kit, the amazing world of Mystara will take on new life right before your eyes!

Whether you're an experienced Dungeon Master or a novice taking his first steps on the road to adventure, the DUNGEON MASTER Survival Kit will make your campaign more exciting and dramatic than ever! Within this unusual product you'll find... Two dozen loose sheets covered with a wide array of forms, charts, and handouts designed to make the DM's job easier and his games more exciting.

Product History

The "Mystara Dungeon Master Survival Kit" (1995), by Steven E. Schend, is an accessory for the AD&D Mystara line. It was published in January 1995.

Origins: Another Accessory. The "Mystara Dungeon Master Survival Kit" (1995) was released simultaneously with the "Mystara Player's Survival Kit" (1995). Like its companion product, it's an innovative set of game aids that are evocative and might be exciting to the new players that TSR was hoping to bring into D&D through the Mystara line.

A History of Accessories. The "Dungeon Master Survival Kit" contains a motley of accessories and again some of them are quite unusual.

The campaign log allows a GM to list out NPCs, villains, monsters, locations, and other elements that might appear in a game. However, unlike the similar "adventurer's log" in the "Player's Survival Kit", this one's not that useful; the purpose would be better served by a pack of index cards. This was TSR's second attempt in the category, following the early "Dungeon Masters Adventure Log" (1980), which was focused on player and monster stats. Fortunately, some of the Survival Kit's standalone handouts better serve the idea of campaign logs by allowing GMs to write up adventure synopsis, calendars, NPC, and stats. (They even revisit the monster and PC stats from that earlier supplement.)

The Deck of Spheres is a deck of cards that comes in perforated sheets of nine each. It's supplemented by other Magical Item Cards that depict a variety of Mystaran magic items. TSR was producing a lot of card decks at the time, with their most notable being the "CR" series (1992-1994), which includes its own CR3: Deck of Magical Items (1993). Using part of the deck in the Survival Kit for one magical deck of cards was more innovative — though very similar to the 54-card tarokka deck that appeared in Forbidden Lore (1992) for Ravenloft.

The rest of the accessories in the "Dungeon Master Survival Kit" are more mundane. The blank scrolls look like clip art, while the two-sided "sample maps" are the exact sort of accessory that TSR had been putting in boxed sets for years.

Exploring Mystara. As with its partner book, the Mystara material in the "Dungeon Master Survival Kit" is pretty scattered. The magic items in the deck of cards actually contain a lot of Mystaran lore. Beyond that, the best detail comes in the illustrations of dwarvish, elvish, and magical languages.

Artifacts of Note. The Deck of the Spheres makes its one and only appearance here. It's clearly a variant of the Deck of Many Things, introduced by Gary Gygax way back in Supplement I: Greyhawk (1975).

About the Creators. Steven Schend was a long-time editor at TSR, whose notable editing work includes the original Ruins of Undermountain box and the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (1991). The "Dungeon Master Survival Kit" was one of his earliest design jobs, following contributions to the Buck Rogers Adventure Game (1993).

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

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March 10th, 2012
A scan of a 2nd Ed TSR box set. The kit is a collection of forms and generic maps to flesh out the Msytara setting although it can be used with an campaign. The forms where originally on a simulated parchment wich the scan makes as a background that wi [...]
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File Last Updated:
April 23, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on April 25, 2017.