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. :)