Saturday, December 19, 2009

Was Supplement II Arneson's work?


Well, certainly it was, but as it turns out only parts of what appeared in D&D Supplement II: Blackmoor was written by Dave Arneson himself. Over at the Dragonsfoot Forums , people have been investigating which parts of Supplement II were Arneson's. In a recent post, Aldarron sums it like this:

Arnesons material in Supp II;
Temple of the Frog, pretty much straight from Arneson, with light editing by Kask. Marsh's statement that Gygax converted it must be a misunderstanding, generalizing from the rest of Arnesons material (which was somewhat converted by Kask). My reason for saying this is that anyone who has read TotF will be struck by all the non standard FFC like approaches, mechanics and terminology used. There's nothing Gygaxian about it, not even the way stats or lack thereof are presented.

The Disease section was straight from Arneson with only light editing by Kask. (I asked him, see pages 138-40 of Q&A here on DF and a few pages earlier for monk topic). Arneson also wrote a similar article on diseases for the first Pegasus magazine.

The hit location was perhaps a little more closely edited but was also from Arneson.

The Assasin , including the assasination table, was "reimagined" from Arnesonian material to conform to "standard" Greyhawk D&D. (same Q&A with Tim Kask pages). Arneson, on his web page, mentions a backstabbing thief arising in Blackmoor - likely the progenetor of the Assasin, since the D&D thief came from another gaming group and was first written up by Gygax.

The rest of the material in Supp II came from other people.
Apparently, Arneson provided enough material for an entire supplement himself, but other people at TSR considered the rest of the material "unusable". One can only wonder what this submitted, but never published material might have been. Some have speculated that this remaining material was what made it to become the First Fantasy Campaign Supplement. If so, it is great that Arneson with the help of Bob Bledsaw of Judges Guild made the material available. It is interesting that TSR decided not to make more use of what Arneson submitted. It has been suggested that it had to do with the quality of the material, but I suspect it had as much to do with understanding Arneson's ideas, which at times were quite different from that of Gygax.





-Havard

11 comments:

  1. Thanks for bringing all of it together, here. :)

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  2. The more I get involved with writing for older edition the more I think that the supplement should have been more about how referees run their games rather than authoritative additions to the core game.

    For example OD&D would have been better served if Supplement II was truly about Blackmoor as Arneson imagined it. Supplement III El Raja Key and so on.

    They wouldn't be campaign supplment like we know it today but more collections of rules used in actual play.

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  3. This shared-authorship was pretty much SOP at TSR in the early days, up through the first three main 1e rulebooks, and the various "thank you" listings in each book's intro/preface/whatever often speak to significant contributions from the listed names. For a good example with some details, see the discussions about the DMG in "The Dungeon Master's Guide Developer Notes" in TD#28 (August 1979), which describes Gary's role, as well as the roles of Jeff Leason, Len Lakofka, Lawrence Schick, Jean Wells, Allen Hammack, Mike Carr, James Ward, and Darlene Pekul.

    Allan.

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  4. Timeshadows: Thanks! I try my best :) The participants on the Dragonsfoot thread really did the ground work on this one though.

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  5. Rob: "I think that the supplement should have been more about how referees run their games rather than authoritative additions to the core game."

    That would have made sense. In the case of Supplement I: Greyhawk and Supplement II: Blackmoor, the information within the booklets have very little to do with the titles. The inclusion of Temple of the Frog in Supplement II is the strongest connection to the setting, but everything else is more random additions to the game.

    BTW: El Raja Key are Rob Kuntz additions?

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  6. El Raja Key is Rob Kuntz's equivalent to Castles Blackmoor and Greyhawk: his campaign dungeon. His mansucript for the unpublished "Supplement V" was sold at auction a few years ago, and some of it is also available from Noble Knight @ http://www.nobleknight.com/ProductDetailSearch.asp_Q_ProductID_E_2147408663_A_InventoryID_E_2147654470_A_ProductLineID_E__A_ManufacturerID_E__A_CategoryID_E__A_GenreID_E_(for $3000).

    Allan.

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  7. Excellent input (on both counts) Allan! :) I would have loved to see what kind of ideas mr Kuntz had for Supplement V. In general it would have been interesting to know more about the campaigns of all of these influential gamers at that time..

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  8. Hay Havard, thanks for quoting me. I wrote that a bit hastilly so it could stand a bit of polish, but sometimes short is sweet. My opinion is that the material that went into the First Fantasy Campaign is a mix from all over the place, meaning that I have no doubt that some of it was some of the material that Arneson submitted for Supplement II, but sorting out what is probably not possible. I also think that some parts of the FFC include material Arneson sent to Gygax for OD&D. In particular I'm struck with the similarities in the swords section of FFC and the swords section of Monsters and Treasure and some of the comments on Dragons in each.

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  9. Man I wish I knew more about this stuff a year-and-a-half ago when I met him. I woulda' asked him! :(

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  10. DHBoggs: Thanks for stopping by to comment on this! :) You confirm most of my suspicions. That's an interesting point about swors and dragons though...

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  11. Jay:
    Yeah, the more we learn about Blackmoor, new questions keep popping up. I too wish we had had more chances to go directly to the source... :(

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