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.


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 :)


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! :)


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! :)


Friday, September 30, 2016

Dave Arneson Documentary Trailer Revealed!

Today, October 1st, is Dave Arneson's birthday. As always we celebrate  Dave Arneson Day by sharing Blackmoor related material. This year I have something very special to share. The trailer for an upcoming documentary about Dave Arneson has just dropped! The producers became aware that their trailer may have gotten leaked by accident, so they contacted me about doing an official release on my blog to counteract the leak. I suggested that they should release the trailer for Dave's birthday, and they liked that idea. I still have no information about when the movie will be released, but it looks like this is not going to be a Kickstarter project.

I am very excited to see what new light this movie will shed on the life of D&D Co-creator Dave Arneson and the role he played in shaping our hobby. This documentary is sure to create some controversy. Dave Arneson deserves a documentary about him and I can't wait to watch it!" I have known about this project for a while as production has been going on for about three years. I am not involved in the project but I did help answer some questions and connect the film makers with some of the people appearing in the documentary.

For those interested in learning more about this, updates will be released via their mailing list at and I will also post more information here on this blog as soon as I have anything to share.

The photo used in the picture above (from the movie website banner) was taken at a Blackmoor game held in may of 2016,  DMed by one of Arneson's friends and original players, Bob Meyer. Bob also ran the Blackmoor Memorial Game back in 2009. Several of the old group players took part in the game including  Greg Svenson, Ross Maker. David Wesely, Dave Belfry, Dave Megarry, Ken Shepro and James Lafferiere. Also present at this game were Dave Arneson's daughter Malia Arneson, Kevin McColl, James Gallup and others. This was the most recent Blackmoor game involving players from the original group.

Also check out the discussion thread for this article at The Comeback Inn right here.


Blackmoor Week Day 5: Bow Before Zugzul

I can't believe it is already the fifth day of Blackmoor Week. Tomorrow is Dave Arneson Game Day! We have very exciting things to share with you all tomorrow and I almost can't wait to get on with it.

First though, let us take a look at what has happened since I posted yesterday's update.

RobJN, my partner at the Comeback Inn, has two excellent articles up at the Thorn's Chronicle Blog: The first article deals with something called Dragonstone Nancelle Weapons. The second article goes specificially into weapons of this type that were used in the Blackmoor Beastman Crusades. Go and check them out!

The Gnomish Embassy has yet another Blackmoor article, this one detailing a band of adventurers called the Wild Cards ready to drop into any Blackmoor Campaign.

At the Piazza, I have written yet another Blackmoor Retrospective Article, this one taking a look at the D&D 4th Edition line for Blackmoor.

At the Comeback Inn, Tracy is adapting a classic Greyhawk module to Blackmoor.

Alright, that is it for now, but expect more posts coming up real soon now that Dave Arneson Day  approaches! It has been a fun week, but more fun is yet to come!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blackmoor Week Day 4: Gonzo Gaming!

Okay, so now things are really starting to take off here. I am struggling to keep up with Blackmoor Week activities, forum discussions and everything else going on.

First of all I asked my friend Brian over at the Gnomish Embassy if he would write something for Blackmoor Week. Brian was one of the first people to do Blackmoor Week that I know about. Brian didn't give me one article, but three! One article is a more personal article about how Blackmoor can be an inspiration, then there is an article about a race that developed with the fall of the Temple of the Frog and the final article is a wild alternate history Blackmoor/Mystara mash up. Read all of them here.

A Blackmoor fan named Thondor who is a member of the Comeback Inn has just started a website called the Compose Dream Games RPG Marketplace with a number of other Canadian game designers. They are selling at reduced prices with a coupon for Blackmoor Week. Find out more here.

At the Piazza's Greyhawk forum, they have joined the preparations with an Archbarony of Blackmoor Week, exploring Greyhawk's version of Blackmoor. Read more about that and enjoy some nice maps of the region here.

In other news, the release of a lost Blackmoor MMRPG adventure yesterday created quite a buzz and we have had several people sign up at the Comeback Inn discovering the MMRPG line of free adventures.

It is so much fun to see this thing explore and so many people joining in on the activities. As I said I am having a hard time trying to catch up with everything now, so I am sure there are things I have forgotten. If there are links I have missed in this post, please let me know in the comments and I will include them in tomorrow's post!

Only one more day now till Dave Arneson Game Day 2016!