Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Megarry's Dungeon for Sale

To be honest I have mixed feelings about these collectors markets, but Dungeon! was designed by Dave Megarry, one of the original Blackmoor players, which makes it part of Blackmoor history. Note that this is a published copy, not the handmade version Megarry made himself. I wrote more about David Megarry and his Dungeon! game here.

Here is what the Collector's Trove posted on Facebook:
The Collector's Trove Presents: Designer's Copy of Dungeon!
The Collector's Trove is proud to bring you David R. Megarry's own designer's copy of the Dungeon! boardgame still in its original shrinkwrap!
In addition to David's comp copies he received as the designer of Dungeon! he also purchased several lots of 50 sets at a time from TSR and either sold them to retailers or gave them away as giftss. He now only has a half-dozen or so left to give as gifts or to sell and this is one.

As you know, David was a member of the Midwest Military Simulation Association (MMSA), a group of wargamers and friends based in St. Paul, MN, that included Dave Arneson, Mike Carr, Maj. David Wesley, and several others that would go on to design a number of popular wargames.

David took part in playing fantasy adventures in Dave Arneson’s original Blackmoor, a game that incorporated much of the Fantasy Supplement of Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren’s Chainmail Medieval miniature warfare game but innovated with concepts of roleplaying individual characters, experience gains, levels, and most importantly the fantasy dungeon adventure. David Megarry took these experiences and codified them in to a much more regular, but still dynamic, board game, Dungeon! in 1973.

Dungeon! is the fantastic board game that is an ancestor of Dungeons & Dragons and represents the roleplaying game in its purest form – the dungeon delve! Players take on the role of a Hero, Elf, Wizard, or Superhero and play their way across the dungeon-themed gameboard. In their explorations they fight monsters, avoid traps, and find fabulous treasures!

Gary Gygax was the biggest proponent of the game, playtesting, making modifications, creating variants, and shopping it around to various game publishers. At one point, Gary and David made an offering of the game, titled Dungeons of Pasha Cada, to Don Lowry of Guidon Games but it was ultimately decided that it would be too expensive to print the maps. Finally, the game was picked up by TSR who put it into production in 1975.

Since then, Dungeon! has been the most successful board game ever produced by TSR and is still being published to this day! It has gone through dozens of reprintings and new editions, has been translated into a computer game, and even had a line of miniatures marketed for use as pawns. In fact, in August 2012, the game’s current owner, Hasbro, put out a brand new edition of the game and in 2014 revised the game’s presentation to appeal to younger players in yet another release!

Quite the legacy indeed! Now you have a chance to be a curator of a portion of this legacy, care for it well and enjoy!

Item Starts Sunday, June 12th, 2016 at 7:25 p.m. CST/MEX

Item Ends Sunday, June 19th, 2016 at 7:25 p.m. CST/MEX

Here is the link to place your bids:


Although it should be clear from this article, I am not the seller and am in no way associated with the Collector's Trove.

More discussion of this article.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

TSR vs. Arduin

Yesterday, Andy Markham shared the above document on Facebook titled "David A Hargrave - The Arduin Chronicles #2, from Alarums & Excursions #26 (Aug. 1977)" As you can see above, David Hargrave, creator of Arduin, had recieved a letter from TSR objecting to some things in his game and apparently threatening to sue.

 Tim Kask who was at TSR at the time offered the following explanation:

 In 1977, TSR began aggressively pursuing folks and companies that we thought were infringing on our IP or trademarks and copyrights. We reached out to several and advised them of the legal shit-storm that might befall them if they didn’t knock it off. They were legion, and Arduin Grimoire was just one of many that fell afoul of Brian and Gary’s watchful eye. The bit about the spell is easy enough to deduce-they lifted ours verbatim. Their foreword may have been one of the anarchist genre prevalent in California then; they mostly said make copies, make your own books, screw the publisher’s rights, and so on.
 It is interesting in this time when IP discussions are all over the internet in this day of self-publishing and arguments on what can be shared and not etc. This is a good reminder that these discussions have been tied to the hobby since the beginning. TSR themselves were sued by Dave Arneson, the Tolkien Estate and others, but they were also fierce in defending their IP against others. Hargrave being more well known example.

Kask also went into some detail on how times have changed:
By the great stench-laden hairy armpits of Groo, man, it has been 39 years! While it may have been a big deal to them, it was just one of many we fought off. Also consider this, all of you younger folks. We wrote letters and used snail mail: 3 days to get about anywhere in the US; if they wrote back that day and mailed it the next, a week is gone when you get your answer. Long Distance telephone calls on land lines cost big money during the day, lesser money at night. We sent the mag to the printer with a week of advance time; that meant what we wrote in it was a month old when it came off of the presses. A&E had an erratic publishing schedule, anywhere from 3 to 7 weeks. It is most likely that a settlement was reached after something else had gone to press.

So while some things are very different today, it is also interesting to see how some things are indeed the same.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Blackmoor's "Wizard of the Wood" Peter Michael Gaylord (1943-2016) has passed away at the age of 73

Photo by Kevin McColl

I just got the sad news via the Castle Blackmoor page that Peter Michael Gaylord has passed away. Pete Gaylord played the Wizard of the Woods, a legendary character in the original Blackmoor Campaign that was organized by Dave Arneson in Minnesota in the early 1970s, a precursor to Dungeons & Dragons. In addition to being the first Wizard character in the game, he was the source of the super berry magic concept. His character was also known for keeping dragon pets (one named after Pete's cat) and being a  friend of Pixies and other woodland creatures. I wrote about the Wizard of the Wood back in 2010. It is clear to me that Pete Gaylord, like many of Dave Arneson's players made important contributions to what would one day become D&D.

"Always quick to give advice and always A friend to those he played with." says friend and fellow gamer Kevin McColl. Gaming seems to have been a big part of Gaylord's life through his life. He took part in the 2009 memorial gave held for Dave Arneson by Bob Meyer.  Friend's report that Gaylord was gaming untill May 11th this year as part of David Wesely's group. From what I understand, he was hospitalized for some time prior to his death.

My thoughts go to his friends and family.


More on this article: http://blackmoor.mystara.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=8528

Monday, June 6, 2016

DA3 City of the Gods

Finally DA3 City of the Gods is available at DrivethruRPG. Third in the series of DA modules, DA3 was that last in the series where Dave Arneson had much actual input. The final module, DA4 didn't even have Dave's name on the cover, although some things in that module must have come from Dave as well. When the module came out in 1987, many people must have been surprised to see the amazing cover by Douglas Chafee, showing a fabulous futuristic city that really sparked one's imagination of what a D&D module could be. The idea of fantasy heroes discovering a crashed spaceship had been explored in S1 Expedition to Barrier Peaks, but Dave Arneson had been matching science fiction and fantasy tropes in his games even before Blackmoor was invented. Stephen Rocheford's character had become central in what would become the Temple of the Frog adventure and the hints provided already in the first published version of that adventure (D&D Supplement II) would finally be revealed in this module.

I was really happy to see DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor become available again because that is such a great introduction to the setting. DA2 Temple of the Frog gave us the most iconic adventure location from Dave Arneson's imagination. Now DA3 City of the Gods really shows us the extremes of the Minnesota gamer's experimentation with the genre. Hopefully it won't be long untill DA4 Duchy of Ten becomes available so that we can have the complete series on PDF format.

More discussion of this article: http://blackmoor.mystara.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=22&p=32564#p32564


Thursday, April 21, 2016

DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor Finally Gets PDF Release!

DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor was the module that brought Blackmoor back to TSR and D&D. Supplement II: Blackmoor and the Judges Guild booklet the First Fantasy Campaign were the Blackmoor releases available to gamers in the 1970s, but in the following decade, gamers would be treated with four high production value modules that Dave Arneson co wrote with SPI designer David J. Ritchie.

DA1 was the first in the new series and gives a great overview of the setting that can be used as a toolkit to run sandbox style adventures in Dave Arneson's original setting. In addition it features an adventure revolving around King Uther being kidnapped. This adventure also has information for bringing AC1000 Known World /Mystara characters back to the era of Blackmoor.

After a long wait, this module is now available as a PDF release at Drivethru. DA2 Temple of the Frog and Supplement II: Blackmoor have been available for a while now, but it is great seeing DA1 finally available for fans of Blackmoor. Let us hope we don't have to wait this long to get the last two modules in the DA series. This is a must-have for any true Blackmoor fan.

Further discussion at the Comeback Inn,


Friday, March 4, 2016

GM's Day!

So March 4th, the day Gary Gygax passed away has become known as GM's Day. Since I am a fan of both D&D creators, I started thinking about the time back in 1972 when Dave Arneson first sat down and Game Mastered a game of Blackmoor for David Megarry, Rob Kuntz, Terry Kuntz and Gary Gygax.

Later, Gary would say the following about what Dave was like as a Dungeon Master:

"I can not recommend him more highly than simply saying that I would rather play in his campaign than any other"
-D&D Supplement II Blackmoor

So to all the D&D fans out there. Happy GM's day! :)


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Being a Fan of Both Dave and Gary

The two creators of Dungeons & Dragons

As mentioned the other day, it is difficult to talk about Dave Arneson without getting into his troubled relationship with Gary Gygax. This is the creative relationship that resulted in the creation of Dungeons & Dragons and the invention of the RPG hobby. But it is also a story of much grief and words and actions that both men would have been better without.

Early on in my gaming career I learned about Blackmoor. It was Blackmoor that made me curious about its creator, Dave Arneson, whom I only knew as the lesser known of the two D&D creators. The age of the Intenet opened up to new opportunities for learning about authors and game designers that I only knew from the covers of the books and games that my friends and I had so much fun with. With mailing lists and internet forums it  even became possible to interract with people like Frank Mentzer, Bruce Heard, Rob Kuntz, Colin McComb, Ed Greenwood, David Zeb Cook, Aaron Allston, Allen Varney and all the others. It was heaven for us fans.

The internet forums was where I first learned about the ugly side of fandom though. The lawsuits and falling out between Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax was not only the source of grief for those two men and their friends and associates. Long after Dave and Gary had seemingly put the conflict behind them, fans associated so strongly with their heroes that they continued the fight.
People arguing on the Internet

Gary Gygax has always had a huge following. Most of them are great people. But among them I also encountered quite a few people saying pretty nasty things about Dave Arneson. Claims that he had not really contributed to the creation of D&D at all. Blackmoor was just a variant of Chainmail. And what an evil man he had been to dare sue TSR and Gary. I didn't really know what to think about that at first. But these claims made me wonder. Could this really be true? Is the world really made up of good guys and bad guys like in the movies? Or could there be more than one side to the story? That was the beginning of a story that lead to this blog, a website and a forum. I have learned alot about the history of D&D since then.

So who is the good guy and who is the bad guy of the story? Ultimately I don't know. I never knew either Dave nor Gary. I never had a chance to speak to Gary. I met Dave once and corresponded briefly with him. But I cannot say I knew him. I think they were just two human beings who had some brilliant ideas and also made some mistakes in their lives, just like everybody else.

In 1974 both men agreed to put both names on the cover of Dungeons & Dragons. They were both willing to sign a contract that recognized both men as creators of the game. I am thankful to both men for the game they made and this is why I am a fan of both Dave and Gary. Fan theories, whether posted online or published in books is not going to change that.

 So thank you Gary. Thank you Dave. Your game brought alot of joy in my life.