On Threshold #2: A review

Threshold: Issue 2
The second issue of Threshold came out in January. It is a 180ish page professional quality magazine produced by the Vaults of Pandius as a resource for Mystara, a Dungeons & Dragons world.

It is free, and written by fans who love Mystara so much, that they can clarify contradictions between different supplements. How does issue 2 stack up against Issue 1?

We will talk about that in a moment. First of all, this is awesome. Go get it. Wait!

Hey- do you sometimes just download things and put them in a folder, and think "I'll read those later"? and then they sit an you never read them? That's a thing you probably do. Here's a thing though, if you're reading this blog your a hobbyist. We don't get to play all the time, and being a hobbyist means that we do things like make awesome .pdfs, wth?*  It also means that in our recreation time we not only play these games, we read about them.

So, you know, we don't get paper magazines anymore, and our lives are busy, and whatnot, and it is an untold pleasure not had since childhood to open up an ad-less 180 page gaming magazine!

* Seriously, Santicore part 2, and these two awesome supplements? Player character history using the 3d6 roll and an ASE adventure? They each deserve their own post. Get them all free and support the OSR, Arnold K. from Goblin Punch and Gus L. from Dungeon of Signs.

What's the same?

I am totally not a fan of a maximal presentation! Here's an example, the first article is a series (the Mystaranomicon) that outlines books you might find on a book shelf. In the OSR, this would be a table with a one-line description. 

The first book in this series? 7 categorical descriptions covering 269 words. For the curious: Author, Rarity, Year, Language, Contents, Legality, and Number of Pages. It covers 9 books in 1655 words. 

Am I using this in play? 

That's a very interesting question. 

There is an element of preparation that is imagination and daydreaming. These are not books you 'roll on a table for', they are books that when you read the article, make you think about the reality of the world the players inhabit. 
From a 30 page article
The book "Dust, Blood and Heat -- 10 Years in the Colosseum" about the gladiator Decimus Vassus, isn't about his self-aggrandizing biography. It's about the guy that wrote it, the gladiator it describes, what this says about the Empire of Thyatis. It isn't "idea rich" like the best of the OSR, it's "setting rich", the ideas should come from you.  

Also, hot, sexy, demographics porn is present in several places, notably in maps depicting the historical migration of the Lupin race over thousands of years. 

What's Different?

The first issue focused on a specific area of Mystara. This issue focuses more on articles from the community members, from the Vaults of Pandius.

Yes, this is less like a Gazetteer. But we have the Gazetteers already. What this is is a collection of fantastic articles from the Vaults of Pandius, a repository of published information about Mystara created by fans, making it seem much more like a magazine; whereas the first issue felt like the 'behind the scenes' of the Karameikos Gazetteer.

Also, most articles in this issue explicitly call out a variety of adventure hooks, something I don't recall as being as prominent in the first issue.

What's Cool?

A dwarven clan mentioned in two published adventures is outlined! There's a hollow moon. How about the plane of nightmare?

It's a lot like the first issue: Long, wordy, and not very much styled in the minimalism of the OSR. It's also a great read, so check it out. Contents follows:

Editorial & This Issue's Contributors
Mystara in the News : Covering the 30th Anniversary celebration at Lucca Comics & Games
Mystaranomicon : A series of book descriptions. 
Once in a Blue Moon : Discussion of the hollow moon of Mystara
Shawn Stanley Interview : An interview with Shawn Stanley, who runs the Vaults of Pandius Website
The Vaults of Pandius : Covering the "in-game" Vaults of Pandius, run by the immortals and staffed by the dreamers they select. This article is a long series of adventure hooks.
Dark Glantri Revisited : The demi-plane of nightmare
Geoff Gander’s Mystara : A take on a personal interpretation of Mystara ("My Mystara") containing outer beings and elder gods.
Pursuit in the Carrascal : A short adventure for high level players. They seek a captured princess, well, daughter of a baron.
History of Lupins : Extensive history of the Lupin race
The Defender and the Light Warriors of Mystara : A guild of sorts that players can be recruited into.
The Debris: Upper Ruins of Kotesh : The first level of the megadungeon outlined in Threshold #1. It is interesting that it contains a timeline of events that occur both before the players arrive and after they begin to explore. 
The Dwarves of Thunderdelve : An expansion of a clan of dwarves mentioned in several published adventures
Adventures in the Frozen North : An expansion of some wilderness in the far north.
Patres et Conscripti : A discussion of different factions in the Thyatian empire
New Blackmoor, 3050 BC : A look at the far history of one of the areas of the known world. Describing an ancient Technomagical setting.
Time s Travels : The requisite photocomic.
Artwork Sources and Credits & Next Issue

Hack & Slash

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