Monday, February 23, 2015

TSR Artist Fred Fields Defends Karameikos (in Jacqays Painting)

Fantasy illustrator and artist, Fred Fields, worked for TSR for 10 years and has later worked for Wizards of the Coast as well as on the D&D Online Game and Lord of the Rings Online Games. Mystara fans will know him for his work on the Hollow World product line. This is where I first noticed his work. However, I had no idea that he also had to don armor and sword to defend Mystara's Kingdom of Karameikos.

Jenell Jacqays revealed the following in the Mystara Reborn group on Facebook yesterday:
"My fellow TSR artist Fred Fields donned the armor and posed as the body model for this cover. When we needed models, we usually grabbed a co-worker, put a costume on them and posed them. The face is a composite of Fred and one of the graphic designers from advertising."

The final painting was used on the cover of the boxed set Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure as well as one of the booklets contained within as well as the cover of the novel Dark Knight of Karameikos.

Jacqays worked on several projects for the Mystara line, both as an artist, writer and as an an editor. You can read more about her involvement with Mystara and her fond memories from those projects in this piece I did on this blog back in 2012.

Check out the art of Jenell Jacquays at her gallery. Learn more about the art of Fred Fields here.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mystara Mailinglist (1995-2015) Shutting Down - End of an Era

20 years ago the Mystara Mailinglist was set up by Leroy Van Camp. In many ways this marked the beginning of the Mystara online fan community, a community which is still strong today even though most of its activity has moved onto other platforms such as The Piazza and the Mystara Reborn group on Facebook.

WotC announced that they will be shutting down all of their mailinglists on February 15th:


On February 15, 2015, Wizards of the Coast will terminate our LISTSERV 
system that manages this (and other) mailing lists. We've watched the usage 
of these mailing lists dwindle due to the rise of other communication 
platforms, such as forums and social media. Given this decreased usage, we 
have made the decision that it was time to turn them off.

Please take these two weeks to back up or archive any emails you wish to 
keep. After February 15, 2015, they will no longer be available and these 
lists will cease to function.

—Wizards of the Coast

It is a god thing that they are giving us at least a few weeks notice before the lists are shut down. Although there hasn't been much activity on the list in recent years, it is disappointing that the list archive is also being deleted. Fans are currently discussing options for preserving the archived email exchanges on other websites.

In any case, this marks the end of an era. The MML was the arena where many friendships were formed. It was also a list where TSR alumni such as Bruce Heard, Frank Mentzer and Harold Johnson participated. Fan undertakings such as the Mystara Net Almanacs, the Tome of Mystara, the M3E Project and many other projects were initiated.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Threshold #5 Mystara Fan Magazine is Out: Focus on Davania

Another great thing that happened on Dave Arneson Game Day yesterday was the release of the 5th issue of Threshold, the fan magazine for the D&D World of Mystara. With an editorial group working out of The Piazza and working with the Vaults of Pandius, this fan project has moved from being a great idea to proving to the gamer community that this is a magazine that has come to stay.

As in the past, the current issue is professionally laid out with high quality illustrations and well written articles and beautiful maps. #5 focuses on Mystara's southern continent of Davania, a place that never got much detailed coverage in official material.

Go here to download!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dave Arneson Game Day 2014

Today is Dave Arneson's Anniversary. Join us in this annual celebration of D&D's co-creator and one of the founders of the RPG hobby.

Places to visit on this day:
This Blog!

The Comeback Inn - The Forum for Dave Arneson's Blackmoor:

Blackmoor Fans Facebook Group:

Blackmoor Forum at The Piazza:

Blackmoor Forum at OD&D74:

Gnomish Embassy:

Let me know what else you are doing in gaming today!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Orc King of Blackmoor

The realm of Blackmoor has many enemies. Four major Orc Tribes each control their own corner of the North. The rise of the Orcs followed the destruction of the Temple of Id. Although chaotic in nature, all Orcs follow a single king. King Funk III. Plotting the destruction of Uther's Realm from the depth of the 10th level of the dungeons below Blackmoor, the Orc King is an ally of the Egg of Coot. Although Blackmoor is an important enemy, the Orc King also displays particular hatred towards the race of Dwarves. Through their history, six wars have been fought between Orcs and Dwarves, the sixth is still ongoing.

Under King Funk's rule, the Orcs have greatly expanded on the Blackmoor Dungeon, creating the dangerous path called the Orcian Way. Unfortunately, the Orc population of the Dungeon has taken a heavy toll against adventurers from Blackmoor. One such hero who has caused severe annoyance to the Orcs is the Great Svenny who gained the name Orcsbane from his heroic battles in the dungeons. This has resulted in King Funk placing a a hefty ransom on Svenny's head, though none have yet to collect this reward.

In the original campaign, the Orc King was played by Frederick (Freddy) Funk who sadly passed away in 2011. As with many of his players, Dave allowed Freddy to bring his creativity to the world of Blackmoor. He expanded the dungeon with areas such as the Orcian Way where one could hear God Save the Queen played backwards. Freddy also created his own fantasy world known now as Fred's World sharing some traits with Blackmoor.

What is more formidable than an Orc King with ideas?

Thanks to purple purple purple purple for reminding me of the music heard in the Orcian Way.

Image Source
Forum discussion of this article


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Young Dave Arneson

Young Dave Arneson. Picture released via the Great Kingdom Documentary

Before he went on to become Co-Designer of Dungeons & Dragons, Dave Arneson was a kid just like everyone else. This picture surfaced earlier this year via the now frozen Great Kingdom documentary project. Dave was born in Hennepin County, Minnesota on October 1st 1947. As a teenager in the 1960s he discovered board and war gaming with favorites such as Avalon Hill's Gettysburg.

Arneson Estate. Picture capture from the Great Kingdom Trailer.

In 1964 a gaming organization called the The Midwest Military Simulation Association (MMSA) was founded. Dave Arneson was a student at Park Sr High School in St Paul Minnesota at the time and joined the MMSA soon after it was founded. It was there that he met people such as Dave Wesely whose ideas would become incredibly influential on Dave's later views on gaming as well as many of the other original Blackmoor players.

It was the basement of his childhood home (seen in the picture above) that became the base of operations for the gaming events that would develop into the first fantasy roleplaying game. This is where one would find the bar counter that Dave used as what may have been the first DM's screen and the Ping Pong Table where much of the gaming took place.

Greg Svenson describes the basement as follows:

When you went down the stairs to the basement of Dave's house there were doors to the right and to the left. The right hand door went to the laundry room (where we met the first black pudding on the first dungeon dive). The door to the left led to the room where we did most of the gaming. When you walked in to the room the bar was to your immediate right and the ping pong table (a pretty ordinary one) was on the left, with a couch against the wall on the far left.

Who would have guessed that an ordinary Minnesota kid with a fascination for board games would help change the world?

Further discussion of this article


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Arneson Gameday 2014 Preparations

Friends, Blackmoorians!

The preparations have begun for Dave Arneson Game Day 2014. The main idea is to have a World Wide event on the Birthday of Dave Arneson. I have set up a Facebook Event for the Game Day via the Blackmoor Fans page.

Is anyone else doing anything for Dave Arneson Game day this year?

Read more in this thread at The Comeback Inn!