Sunday, November 15, 2009

Old School and New School Material




Fans of Blackmoor come in many categories. As with most D&D fans, many preferences are determined by the point in gaming history when you were introduced to the game/setting. Roughly, there are 3 versions of Blackmoor:

1. Original Blackmoor: This version of Blackmoor can be learned about in the First Fantasy Campaign, D&D Supplement II (the original Temple of the Frog, in particular), through stories from Dave Arneson's campaign and to some extent by looking at the other material available to Arneson at that point such as the OD&D rules, Chainmail etc. A few more obscure documents are also available from this era, such as the adventure Garbage Pits of Despair and the Domesday Book articles (issue 13 IIRC).

2. BECMI Blackmoor: This version marks the return of Blackmoor to D&D and is found in the DA1-4 modules. David Rithcie and Dave Arneson are credited for the modules, though only Ritchie is credited for DA4. DA5 was written, but remains unavailable.

3. D20 Blackmoor. I'm inlcuding both the 3E and 4E books in this category for now. It is clear that Dave Arneson was heavily involved in the production of those books, though many other authors also got their chance at describing the world of Blackmoor.

Among those who begain to learn about Blackmoor from the early days, there has been alot of talk about finding out what is the true Arneson content in these sources. The original material, which is exclusively Arneson's is believed to be the most true to Arneson's vision. I have found these discussions extremely enlightening and I love discussing Blackmoor over at the OD&D Forum.

However, I have come to see Blackmoor as if it were a real world. The various types of Blackmoor material are all the sources we have to what that world is like. Finding out about it is like the work of a historian researching the history of a country. He will have to decide which sources are the most credible and which are less so. At the same time, he cannot afford to ignore any of them since some subjects are not even touched upon by the sources most close to the events occurring. This is why I love reading through all Blackmoor books, both old and more recent ones. And I have to admit, I dont only look at how much Arneson was involved in writing a particular book, but also what I think would be most fun for my players. :)






-Havard

4 comments:

  1. In the past, i've had some harsh comments for the newly published Blackmoor materials.

    Looking forward to your perspective on those.

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  2. the problem is of course that the only sources most can get hold of is the one on level 3. Level 1 is just beyond the pale, and level 2 is often fairly expensive.

    Like our paladin says, I think it would be extremely interesting to have someone who have talked to Dave or done research say something about how to approach the d20 Blackmoor from a authenticity perspective. I know that it has become clear lately that Dave had a much more active hand in those, but still what does it mean?

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  3. "In the past, i've had some harsh comments for the newly published Blackmoor materials.

    Looking forward to your perspective on those."

    I would say that D20 run of Blackmoor products vary in quality from mediocre to quite good. Ofcourse it depends on what you are interested in as well. One good thing about the D20 line is that they have the core setting books for 3E and 4E, which provide a very good introduction to the setting. I will see if I can get back to more specific comments though. Are you thinking about some particular products or discussions? :)

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  4. "Like our paladin says, I think it would be extremely interesting to have someone who have talked to Dave or done research say something about how to approach the d20 Blackmoor from a authenticity perspective. I know that it has become clear lately that Dave had a much more active hand in those, but still what does it mean?"

    Well, a large part of what is presented in the D20 line is more or less identical to the DA series so that is one approach. It is possible that more will be revealed on this subject in the future, now that ZGG no longer have an financial stake in stating that everything they made was Dave's. It would definately be interesting to go into a more in depth analysis of this topic!

    Havard

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