Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Blackmoor Town Maps by Dave Arneson

Jeffery Quinn has been working on making new versions of various Blackmoor maps  on twitch.tv lately. Today he has been working on a map of Blackmoor Town. The best known map of Blackmoor Town was the one from the First Fantasy Campaign:

Years earlier, in the Castles & Crusades Society's Newsletter (The Domesday Book #13), Dave Arneson provided an earlier version of the the map:


I now present an even older map of Blackmoor Town. It is pretty similar to the one above, but with no labels and a few subtle differences.


Let me know if you enjoy these maps and if there are details in them that differ and that I might not have noticed yet!

-Havard

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Awesome Fantasy Maps by Thorfinn Tait Cartography

Although we have never met in person, I have known Thorfinn Tait for decades now. He is one of several people from the Mystara fan community that I consider my friends after so many years of talking online about our favorite fantasy setting.



Over the years Thorfinn has developed amazing skills as a fantasy map maker. He started out making fan maps of Mystara, but in recent years he teamed up with D&D designer and former TSR product manager Bruce Heard in order to produce maps for the World of Calidar from Calidar Publishing.

You can get tons of free maps made by Thorfinn Tait Cartography over at http://thorf.co.uk/


Recently Thorfinn also joined Patreon so that you can now support his Calidar Maps through that program. Making maps for small fantasy RPG publishing companies is not something that typically makes you filthy rich, so it would be really cool if you went on to support Thorfinn Tait at Patreon. I hope to see many more maps from Thorfinn in the future so any small amount sent his way will probably help!


-Havard

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dan Nicholson: The Merchant of Blackmoor


The Merchant of Blackmoor was a character played by Dan Nicholson in Dave Arneson's original campaign. Dan Nicholson was one of the early members of the Midwest Military Simulation Association (MMSA) which was formed in 1964 by Ray Allard and friends. Dave Arneson joined this group when he was in high school and Dan went on to join Dave's Blackmoor game.

Untill recently, Dan's most well known character in the Blackmoor campaign was the Merchant, who would later go on to inspire the Merchant class in Zeigtgeist Games d20 Blackmoor product line. Nicholson was one of the older members of Dave's gaming group which by then had split from the MMSA.

The First Fantasy Campaign documents the game in which Dan Nicholson's Merchant tried to gain control over all the trade in Blackmoor. His organization gradually developed into a kind of mafia-like group. The Great Svenny, Mello the Halfling and the Blue Rider formed a secret organization of their own to try to counter the influence of the Merchant Mafia (FFC p 20). Although it is not mentioned by Dave Arneson, it has recently been revealed that David Megarry's Thief character, was also involved in trying to thwart Nicholson's plans.

The Merchant was apparently not the only character Nicholson played in the Blackmoor Campaign. Yesterday, the Secrets of Blackmoor documentary team revealed a character sheet provided to them by the late Nicholson's widow Helen. It details a Gnome character played by Nicholson in 1975:



It is possible that this Gnome and the Merchant are the same character, but I tend to believe they were two separate characters. This character sheet clearly uses the format of OD&D and looks a bit different from the character sheets used earlier in the campaign before ability scores and other aspects had been finalized. Also, 2000 XP does not seem like all that much if he had been playing the character from the campaigns beginning and all the way up to 1975. I do like that the Gnome character is in possession of gems though. That only seems appropriate for a Gnome character.


Dan Nicholson passed away in 2012 at the age of 72. I don't know much more about him. I do know that he was a computer programmer, working for companies called Coleco and 4D Interractive Vision. If anyone can provide me  with other details about his life and career, that would help make this article even better.


More discussion about this article here.

-Havard

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Blackmoor Player Duane Jenkins (1948 - 2016) RIP


Duane L. Jenkins (August 21, 1948 - October 17, 2016) just passed away. He was 68 years old. I learned recently that he was hospitalized and two days ago he passed. I am reporting this because Duane was one of the original players in Dave Arneson's group. I regret that I never managed to get into contact with him.

My impression from reading the First Fantasy Campaign is that Duane played in the early stages of the campaign when David Wesely also participated. There is a place in Blackmoor called Jenkins Hill that was named after him.  Dave Arneson once told a story about how Duane wanted to play a Vampire in the game and how they were all laughing about that. Most likely the Barony of Glendover was the realm that he founded and was later passed on to other players. I would have loved to ask Mr. Jenkins about his memories from the game.

Jenkins Hill on an early draft of Blackmoor Town


Right now though, my thoughts go to his friends and family and the remaining gamers from the old Blackmoor group.



Read more about Duane Jenkins here.

-Havard

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Blackmoor Documentary Text Description



On October 1st (Dave Arneson Day) this blog revealed that the trailer for the Dave Arneson documentary, Secrets of Blackmoor, had dropped. Now the following description has been added to the trailer:

Blackmoor is the name of a fictional world created by David Arneson. It is also the prototype of a game called Dungeons and Dragons, the first published role playing game. Unlike other fantasy worlds, such as J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth, Blackmoor is a living world that is being explored to this day. Secrets of Blackmoor tells the story of the evolution of the role playing game, In 1964, David Wesely becomes a founding member of a club that includes history buffs, model makers, and miniature collectors. Hiding within the group, however, are a bunch of college students who are interested in war gaming. Within a year, the gamers meet a high school kid named Dave Arneson who is playing war games with his friends in his parents' basement.

These gamers have no idea that they will change the face of this hobby forever. Their only concern for now, is how to simulate the reality of war, and above all, they just want to have fun. Their voracious hunt for new rules and knowledge leads them to the University of Minnesota Library where they discover an old manuscript, Strategos; the American Game of War. Within the dense pages are a few sentences that inspire them.

The influence of Strategos changes how they play their war games. But are they really following these old rules, or have they stumbled onto something truly unique by misinterpreting what it says? Should a game be constrained by rules, like Monopoly, or should there be no boundaries at all, like a game of make believe? One thing is very clear--something magical was going on in the Twin Cities. Secrets of Blackmoor investigates the origins of the role playing game, through candid interviews, archival footage, and newly discovered artifacts.

A few comments of my own: Although I am very excited to learn about this documentary and really look foward to seeing the final product, I think the phrase "prototype of a game called Dungeons & Dragons" is an unfortunate choice of words. The phrase lends itself to multiple interpretations and would probably suggest to many that the documentary aims to dig into old wounds from the Dave vs. Gary debate. I am not sure that this is what we need right now.

What actually intrigues me a lot more than that is that Secrets of Blackmoor offers to tell the story of the Twin City Gamers. Just seeing the faces of the players in Dave Arneson's group live on camera was such an awesome thing to behold. I think that those of us who have been reading about Dave's campaign for decades really will get a kick out of hearing them tell new stories in their own voices.

I learned yesterday that according to the producers the film is already fully financed and that they expect to release it sometime during 2017. My hope is that the movie avoids playing up unnecessary controversy, but instead tells us the amazing story of the Twin City Gamers, an amazing group of creative gamers during a very important time in the development of our hobby. The text description is right. Something magical was going on the Twin Cities. That's something I am excited to learn more about.


How do you feel about all of this? Let me know in the comments! Your feedback means a lot to me :)




-Havard


Monday, October 3, 2016

Dave Arneson Day 2016 - What did you miss?

Major David Wesely and Jeff Berry talking about past games.
Dave Arneson Day 2016 was a huge success! This year we managed to take Blackmoor Week to a new level. Spreading activities over the whole week leading up to October 1st was a good idea since it gave us more time to create contents and for others to read the different posts instead of being swamped with tons of information in a single day.

Many different bloggers and forum posters contributed both on the day itself and the Week leading up to Dave Arneson day.

Some of the websites contributing with online material included:


In addition several people across the globe were running games. Personally I had a board game session at my house. Several other gaming events are mentioned in the Dave Arneson Game Day thread. The biggest gaming event was undoubtedly the games ran at The Source where many of the players from Dave Arneson's gaming group showed up.


Dave Arneson's daughter getting a hug from the most powerful wizard in Blackmoor. Robert the Bald. 

The biggest announcement from Dave Arneson Day 2016 outside the games was undoubtedly the reveal of the trailer for a planned Dave Arneson documentary called The Secrets of Blackmoor.  You can read about that one here if I have not seen it yet.

Some lessons for the next year: Several Blackmoor enthusiasts said they had not been aware of Blackmoor Week before it came upon them. This is quite understandable as few warnings had been given in advance. I know that many would have liked to do more if they had had  more time to prepare. That is something to keep in mind.

Overall it was an amazing event though. I can't wait for next year's Dave Arneson Day! :)



-Havard



Photos by Kevin McColl

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Piazza Reach 1K Likes on Dave Arneson Day

The Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons discussion forum called The Piazza reached 1000 Facebook Likes today. The above is the image they chose to use for celebrating it! I am a junior admin at that forum so I may have helped a little with the graphics ;)

If you want to be number 1001 to like that forum, click here.

Congratulations to our friends at The Piazza and a happy Dave Arneson Game Day to everyone! :)


-Havard