Searchers of Mystara

This adaptation of Nicholas Dessaux’s “Searchers of the Unknown” is designed for starting an old school game in the northern reaches of Mystara. It should be particularly good at creating a “funnel” experience and helping players come up with characters that will feel at home in the campaign world. Although you could use it to run an entire campaign for years on end, you’ll probably want to switch to a more fleshed out game after a few sessions.

Character Creation


Roll 1d8 for your character’s background, or simply choose to be an Adventurer. If you are an Adventurer, you can pick your own AC and the corresponding MV from the table below. Hover over the links to learn a little bit about where you’re from. Click on them to learn a lot.

Roll Class AC MV Class Roll
1 Amber Sage from Littonia 9 12 Noaide, shaman of Kaarjala 5
2 Magician of the Western Alliance 7 9 Hagommerian Fur Trader of the Northern Wildlands 6
3 Missionary of He Who Watches 5 6 Kanteleer, bard of Kaarjala 7
4 Knight of Ghyr or the Western Alliance 3 3 Mercenary trained in Oceansend 8

Hit Points

Roll 1d4 for your starting hit points.


Roll a d8 for your skill, or just use same roll you used to pick your class. When you use a skill, you roll an extra d20 in addition to the one you’d normally roll. Use the lower result.

  1. Naturalism
  2. Sleight of hand
  3. Healing
  4. Jousting
  5. Danger Sense
  6. Haggling
  7. Performance Arts
  8. Skirmish Tactics

Adventurers get an extra die when rolling for Equipment (see below).


You get one weapon from each of the first two columns (1 and 2) and then another from column 3 or 4. If you pick a weapon from column 3, you also get a shield for -1 AC. Damage is listed in parentheses.

1. Small (d4) 2. Ranged (d6) 3. Medium (d8) 4. Large (d10)
Dagger Hand axe Sword Two-handed sword
Club Spear Mace Great axe
Hammer Bow Flail Polearm
Whip Crossbow Battle axe Lance

How to Play


  1. Check for surprise. If one side surprised the other, it gets a round of free actions.
  2. Determine initiative. Each side rolls a d6. The side with the higher roll goes first this round.
  3. An attack is successful if the combatant rolls a d20 under his Level (or HD) + his opponent’s AC.
  4. Successful attacks cause damage. Roll the appropriate die for damage and reduce the opponent’s hp by that amount.
  5. When hp reach 0, the opponent falls unconscious. If hp go negative, the character dies.
  6. One day of rest heals 1 hp. A month of rest restores all hp.

Doing Stuff

  • Stealth & Stunts: Hiding in shadows, moving silently, climbing, swimming, and so on are all easier in lighter armor. When the outcome of such an action is in doubt, you must roll a d20 under your character’s Level + AC.
  • Saving Throws: To escape danger or perform any other action whose outcome is in doubt, you must roll a d20 under your character’s Level + 4.
  • Dangers: If something could kill a man, like a fire, a fall, or a trap, take 1d8 hp of damage. If it could kill a horse, take 2d8; an ogre, 4d8.
  • Equipment: Adventuring gear wears out and can be misplaced. If you ever need a specific item, make a Saving Throw. If successful, you have it. If not, think of something else!
  • Magic: Spells can be cast from scrolls or books. The spell level can be no higher than half the caster’s level (rounded up). Each spell costs hp equal to twice the spell’s level plus 1. Spells require a Stunt roll to be cast successfully.


You start at Level 0 with 12 of a Hit Die (HD). Each gold piece (gp) you accumulate through adventuring gives you 1 experience point (XP). Defeated monsters also provide XP, as noted in their stat line or description.

When you have 1000 XP, you advance to the 1st Level. If your group is switching to a more full-fledged system like Swords & Wizardry, you now roll your Attributes and pick a Class, which might allow you to gain hp and some special abilities. Use the loot you acquired in your initial adventures to buy equipment. Hopefully, your Referee will still let you use your Skill. If you are using the most recent edition of the world’s most popular fantasy adventure game, your Background might translate into a mechanical advantage as well.

Of course, you are free to continue using Searchers of Mystara for the 1st Level and beyond. At the 1st Level, you have a full HD and gain 1d4 additional hp. When you have XP equal to 2000 x your current Level, you advance to the next Level and gain an additional Hit Die, adding 1d8 to your hp. When you have reached the 9th (“Name”) Level, it takes a flat 100,000 XP to advance to the next level. You may also build a stronghold and attract followers.

Creative Commons License Searchers of Mystara by Chris Flood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on Searchers of the Unknown by Nicholas Dessaux.