Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DUCHY OF THE PEAKS - PART III




DUCHY OF THE PEAKS TIMELINE
0
Empire of Thonia Founded
Emperor Robert I founds Blackmoor as the northernmost province of the Thonian Empire

500
Rogue Mages settle in the Superstition Mountains, founding the Duchy of the Peaks.

700
The Unwanted begin settling the lands west of the Misauga River. Some of these Unwanted settle in the Duchy of the Peaks.

815-896
Mage Wars rage in the Province of Blackmoor. Many Sorcerers find refuge in the Duchy of the Peaks.

925
Unwanted living south of the Duchy of the Peaks declare their lands as an independent Duchy, the Duchy of the Peaks.

970
The Duchy of the Peaks makes contact with the Egg of Coot.

980
Lord Whitehead becomes the new Duke of the Peaks.

994
Marfeldt the Barbarian begins his massacre of the Duchy of the Peaks, reportedly reducing its population by 30%.

997
(Winter) The Ran of Ah Foo betrays the Egg of Coot. The Duke of the Peaks sides with the Ran of Ah Foo.

1015
The Duchy of Ten is occupied by the Afridhi. The Duke of the Peaks attempts to reach an understanding with the forces of Toska Rusa.

1020
Duke Whitehead marries an exotic dancer named Sonia Sholako. Through the use of her charms and magic, she is soon able to gain complete control of the Duchy of the Peaks.

1023
Duke Whitehead dies under mysterious circumstances. Donia Sholako becomes the Duchess of the Peaks.

1030
The Present. The alliance with the Afridhi has proved to be a poor one for the Peaks and the general level of conflict in the North is causing economic problems for the Duchy. Rumours of civil war and general unrest in the realm is spreading.






-Havard

Monday, October 26, 2009

DUCHY OF THE PEAKS - PART II



HISTORY
The Superstition Mountains got their name from the rogue magic users who settled there many centuries ago. These were the original founders of the Duchy of the Peaks and they claimed the lands between the Misauga River and the Superstition Mountains as their own.

Much later, around the year 700, they were joined by a people called the Unwanted. These were dissidents fleeing persecution in the Thonian Empire. The Duchy offered to protect these people, but in the end the majority were turned into slaves. Many of these slaves were used to construct a line of forts along Thunder River.

The lands to the south of the Duchy of the Peaks has also been settled by these Unwanted and when they declared their own realm, the Duchy of Ten as an independent Duchy, some of the Southern Lands of the Duchy of the Peaks were lost to the newly formed neighbouring realm. The Duchy of the Peaks accepted this, seeing the chance of making a profit on this new political situation.

Men from the Duchy of the Peaks made contact with the Realm of the Egg of Coot later that same year. The Duchy attempted to play the Egg, the Duchy of Ten, Thonia and the Peshwa against eachother and has seemed to successfully avoid getting drawn actively into conflict itself. They rely on bribes, shifting alliances and clever diplomacy to stay out of war and make a profit instead.

In 985, Marfeldt the Barbarian arrived in the Duchy. His visit would prove disastrous to the realm. Disgusted by its culture, the Barbarian went on a rampage which reputedly significantly reduced the population of the realm.

The former Duke, known to some as Lord Whitehead was perhaps not the most clever man, though he was said to have lead men into battle personally, even though he mostly tried to keep his realm out of wars. At an old age, he married the exotic dancer named Sonia Sholako, who through the use of her charm and magic was able to manipulate the Duke into handing over the realm to her. She has remained the ruler of the Duchy since the death of the former Duke.

Unfortunately, the Afridhi invasion and recent wars has been problematic for the Duchy as the markets for their gemstones has dried up. The Duchess has been forced into an agreement supplying the Afridhi with Pikemen from the Peaks, though she has seemed reluctant to follow up on the arrangement. The economic troubles the Duchy has had, in recent years, have made the barons push their vassals and slaves harder, making the country ripe for revolt.












-Havard

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

THE DUCHY OF THE PEAKS - PART I




Introduction
Lately, I have been doing some research on the Duchy of the Peaks, one of the most neglected realms in the Blackmoor setting in terms of game supplement coverage. One can only wonder if it is due to the fact that the nature of the realm lends itself too well to mature content that it has been left out of recent supplements, or whether the same mechanics which help the Duchy avoid getting drawn into wars that is at work. Note that while I try to stay true to canon, I will be taking some liberties to give some room to my own creativity. Also, this should be considered a work in progress. Finally a word of thanks to David Ross and Andrew Theissen. Their prelimiary work has been very useful.

DUCHY OF THE PEAKS
Location: Northwest of the Kingdom of Blackmoor.
Population: 50.000(?)
Languages: Thonian.
Government Type: Monarchy.
Industries: Mining (Gems), slavery, magic
Religion: Faunus (if any)
Alignment: Any Chaotic
Notable Sites: Starport (pop. 15,000), capital city.
Important Figures: Sonia Sholako (MU11), Duchess of the Peaks, the Gin of Salik (MU 20)

DESCRIPTION
High up in the Superstition Mountains lays a realm known simply as the Duchy of the Peaks. The Duchy was founded by rogue magicians from the Thonian Empire. It is from these magicians names like the Supersition Mountains and Starport, the name of the capital have their origin. The lands borders are formed by the Superstition Mountains to the West and North and by the various brances of Thunder River to the South and East. This is a decadent realm of slaves, prostitution, wine, drugs and sexual escapades. The Duchy also boasts excellent Pikemen and some of the most powerful magic users of the North can be found here. The main industry is mining and many of the smaller towns of the Duchy are mining towns.

Starport, the capital, is one of the largest cities in the region with a population of about 15.000. It rests heavily fortified, high up in the mountains. A large number of Castles and dungeons can be found in the city, which is constantly changing to adapt to the needs of its population. The people who live in Starport are protected from most troubles in life, though their reliance on drugs and a generally unhealthy as well as immoral lifestyle does take its mark on the population.







-Havard

Thursday, October 15, 2009

DEMONS OF BLACKMOOR II: TIEFLINGS




One of the most controversial elements in the 4E First Campaign Sourcebook for Blackmoor was the inclusion of Dragonborn, Eladrin and Tieflings. These races have never previously been mentioned in any Blackmoor product and were certainly never used in Dave’s campaigns.

Tieflings were created by David “Zeb” Cook and given their name by Wolfgang Baur and first appeared in the Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix in 1994. In the 4th edition they became one of the core PC races and were redefined as a separate race “whose human
ancestors made a bargain with devils to increase their power.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiefling)

In the First Campaign (4E) Sourcebook it is stated that the first record of Tieflings dates back a century or so, but that they have become more numerous over the last 30 years. While it isn’t specifically stated, connecting the appearance of Tieflings to the mage wars seems likely.
While Tieflings have never been mentioned in older Blackmoor products, demons certainly belong in the setting. The great presence of demons in Blackmoor’s history does perhaps not make human demon alliances of various sorts unlikely?







-Havard

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

DEMONS OF BLACKMOOR


Evil is very much present in the North. Adventurers exploring the darker places of the region risk encountering the darkest of evils, the Demons of the Fiery Pyts (Hell). Demons cannot normally exist on the Prime Plane unless summoned by mortals so it is surprising that so many of these darkest of creatures exist in the North. Many of these demons were called to Blackmoor in during the Mage Wars (Year 815-896). With the intensity of the battles between the spellcasters of the north, many desperate mages sought any means to ensure their victory in this bitter conflict. Ancient scrolls detailing the secrets of demonology were brought out from dusty vaults and once again put into practise. Some such pacts involved humans breeding with the infernal creatures, giving birth to children with demonic blood in their veins. The Mage Wars were not the first time demons were seen in the North however. In the deepest underground lairs and in the darkest forests, creatures exist that have been living their since before the men of Thonia began exploring these lands. Some believe these creatures are older than the race of Men itself. The Wizards Cabal has worked hard to purge the North of demonologists. Many practitioners of such arts have been executed over the last decades and many forbidden scrolls and tomes have been burned. Still, there are masters of demonology out there, summoning demons and using them to undermine the powers of law and good in Blackmoor.

Demons in Dave Arneson’s Campaign
There are several accounts of demons from Dave Arneson’s own campaign. Back then, the only type of demon existing was the Balrog, so that is the term most often used. In the encounter tables from the First Fantasy Campaign, there is a 5% chance to encounter Balrogs in desert or mountainous terrains. In Rob Kuntz’ account of Robilar’s Journey to the City of the Gods, Robilar’s meeting with a Balor is described; a battle which almost cost Robilar his life:

“Suddenly, the light grew, like an approaching lantern in the dark of night. But then it expanded to fantastic proportions; at the same moment there issued a scream from
inside which sent fear into him. The light had become a blazing fire, with smoke issuing before it and pouring out of the aperture and onto the ledge. Robilar stepped back as a
flaming figure taller than himself leapt onto the ledge. In one hand it held a flaming sword; in the other a whip dangled, curling back and forth by the ministrations of the creature's
ever-flexing wrist.

Robilar faced one of the most feared enemies of legend, and one he had never chanced to combat in the past: a Balor. Its wings spread high and wide and then its baleful eyes pierced him. Robilar winced, avoiding those eyes. He gripped his sword, awaiting the demon's rush. Its flames, even from the odd distance of ten feet between them, was painful to endure. Robilar thought of Mordenkainen. He did have a levitation spell...

The Balor leapt. It was an incredible feat, for it adjusted for Robilar's dodge by using its wings to glide. The fighter swung at empty air. The creature landed upon the metal ledge with a sharp thud. Robilar wheeled left, attempting to flank it. There was a cracking sound. Robilar thought of ducking, but the thought came too late. He felt a tug and he moved involuntarily. His sword arm was wrapped in the whip and he was being dragged towards the demon!
As Robilar struggled with the creature he thought of every wrestling match he'd won, from Greyhawk City to Narwell, to the courts of Ivid the Mad himself. But this was an inhuman strength he'd never encountered, and even his girdle didn't seem to matter. Robilar was pulled closer until the smoke and flames were about him. He screamed, and wrenched at the whip. A
sword cut through the smoke, barely missing his head. He had felt it pass--and too close. He let go of his own sword, heard it clang to the ledge as he took firmer hold of the whip. This
steadied him for a second, but there was that damn flame again. It seemed to be feeding on him, growing more powerful as he remained in it. He grew faint, numb; and he barely felt his hands blistering while noting the distinct smell of burning leather--hisgauntlets. His eyes swelled shut and he gasped as the flame heated his armor, branding his body.

He was roasting! The accursed thing was roasting him! Robilar desperately tugged at the whip. He could feel it give a little; but his grasp was slipping fast. His knew that his hands were charred; and he mentally fought to hold on--to tug. Robilar arched his back and planted his feet. He tugged upwards with all his might. He screamed as he did so. The whip broke with a loud snap. Robilar tumbled backwards andfell from the ledge, cutting through the cool air like a stone. Unable to concentrate on bringing his boots to work, he plummeted toward the street below. Toward death”
-Rob J Kuntz, Oerth Journal #6


The term Balor is used here, since the term Balrog was removed along with the other Tolkien terminology in all but the earliest versions of D&D. Things looked fairly bleak for Robilar, but he was saved by Mordenkeinen, played by none other than Gary Gygax:

“Mordenkainen had been preoccupied with searching for secret doors for some time after Robilar ascended. Failing to find any, he had returned to his vigil of watching above. Minutes after Robilar had landed on the ledge, he had seen the smoke, then the flame. He was in the process of casting his levitation spell when a body appeared and fell
groundward.

Mordenkainen adjusted the verbalization in time and cast the spell upon the body: it slowed but did not stop. It was all Mordenkainen could do to control the spell effect, bringing the body of his companion, who he now recognized, to a less than perfectlanding on the pavement below, where it tumbled and rolled for a few seconds afterwards. Mordenkainen approached a dazed and burnt fighter. He shook his head in dismay.”
-Rob J Kuntz, Oerth Journal #6


Original Blackmoor Player John Soukup played a Balrog in Arneson’s first campaign (although Arneson has later denied that he was a Balrog, just a powerful evil character, see below) Soukup’s Balrog appeared in the first Blackmoor game Greg Svenson ever played in. The Balrog, working for the Egg of Coot, had been terrorizing Baron Fant and the Baron had sent handpicked men, including the then inexperienced Svenny after the enemies. The entire army was killed, leaving only Svenny (barely alive) to be mocked by the Balrog. (http://blackmoor.mystara.us/greg01.html) It has been speculated that this is the same Balrog who later fought Robilar in the City of the Gods. Soukup’s Balrog also joined forces with the Great Svenny against Funk’s Orcs in the Blackmoor Dungeon:

“The Soukup brothers were actually players in the original campaign. Dave said they "were just one of the first bad guys." John Soukup played the balrog in the first adventure into Blackmoor dungeon and, again as the balrog, joined the good guys in an attack on Fred Funk's orc tribe on the 10th level of Blackmoor dungeon later in the campaign, his balrog character died on that adventure and the Great Svenny had to be dragged out by his companions (down to 0 hp). These are the two adventures I have the clearest memories of from among the 100's (?) I participated in in the early days.”
– Greg Svenson


It is interesting to note that Soukup Balrog joined forces with Svenny. Is this an indication that not all demons of Blackmoor are evil, or simply another example of evil turning upon itself?









-Havard

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

THE EGG OF COOT


[Image:Mock Cover module, by Havard]

The Egg of Coot is perhaps the most infamous of Blackmoor’s enemies. Dave Arneson describes the Egg, humorously in the First Fantasy Campaign.

The following is my own interpretation of what the Egg:

Nature of the Egg
The Origins of the Egg of Coot are a mystery. Some scholars believe that it is one of the remaining servitors of the Outer Beings. In the Age of Blackmoor, these servitors are referred to as Elder Demons, and once dominated the entire continent. The Egg appears as a huge globe of mossy gray flesh and eyeballs and mouths randomly scattered across the slimy surface. The Egg is buried deep under ground and almost never moves. Tunnels beneath the fortress known as the Egg’s Nest lead to the Chamber of the Egg which its most trusted servants use to contact their master. The Egg is the definition of Evil. It is highly intelligent and communicates with its fanatical followers through Telepathy.

The Egg has powerful magical powers. It is also a master of technomancy, but the technomancy used by the Egg is a different form of the art than what is practised at the University of Blackmoor. Fusing technology and necromancy allows the egg to created technologically enhanced zombies. Its highest ranking servants are technomantic Liches.

The Egg is also able to produce magical items including:

Juggernaut of Doom
This powerful War Machine is similar to regular Juggernauts and may travel through forested areas without any movement penalty due to huge cutting blades constantly swinging along its sides. Anyone approaching the juggernaut from the sides must save vs Dragon Breath or suffer 3d8 points of damage. The Juggernaut of Doom may carry up to 50 humanoids.

Wraith Blade
These wicked Bastard Swords are enchanted with the Vampiric Regeneration ability (the wielder heals Hit Points equal do damage dealt) which is usable once per day. However, points regenerated this way must be recorded. Once the total number of HP recovered from usage of this ability, the wielder becomes a Wraith himself.

Wraith Crossbow
These heavy Crossbows may fire once per round due to Repeting technology and magic. Long tubes reach from the Crossbow to the bolt quiver.

Wraith Mantle
These technomagical heavy mantles have the Etherealness ability similar to the potion of the same effect.

Potion of Poison
As the magical item of the same name.

Motivation
The goals of the Egg are difficult to grasp for mere mortal minds, but sages have some theories:

The Egg is Evil in a cosmological sense. It is the ultimate manifestation of selfishness at the expense of others and as such sees Blackmoor, a force of good, as a threat to its philosophy. Unlike the Afridhi, the Egg is not Chaotic, but perhaps closer to Lawful Evil, trying to force everyone and everything into submitting to its will. This is why someone like Marfeldt the Barbarian is willing to aid Blackmoor in the struggle against the Egg. It is also possible that the Egg through some precognition has recognized Blackmoor as a possible threat to its existance.

The Egg is interested in magic and technology. It may be what brought the Beagle to Blackmoor in the first place, but it has not been able to retrieve any technology from the City of the Gods itself. Rumours that the humans of Blackmoor have been able to retrieve artifacts from that City is of great interest to the Egg.

The Realm of the Egg
The Realm of the Egg is a place filled with sinister disorienting mists. Large towering structures can be seen surrounded by smaller ruined and abandoned buildings. Cities and towns appear desolate, although there are creatures lurking in the shadows. The land was raised from the sea and some of the structures seen were originally built by Merfolk

The Egg’s Nest is an impenetrable fortress. Colossal rocks enforced by rusting steel bars and huge iron doors are some of the most prominent features of the Nest. Going deeper underground, the halls are a mixture of metal rails, cold rock, mushy swamp like growths covering some of the walls and slime dripping from the ceilings.

Thralls of Coot
The Egg’s servants are known as the Thralls of Coot. They are fitted with a symbiote which make them completely under the control of the Egg. Under certain circumstances, the true nature of the Thralls can be seen. The Thralls get a bluish glow to their eyes and their faces become twisted. These features can be hidden, but become stronger when the Thralls are within the Realm of the Egg. The Champion of the Egg, known as Moorcock the Slayer is the ultimate Thrall of Coot. He was originally a Skandaharian Warrior, but now he has fallen under the control of the Egg. The loss of one of their greatest warriors has created enmity between the Skandarians and the Egg. The Ran of Ah’ Foo is another of the Egg’s creations, but one who betrayed its master and left for the Duchy of Ten. It is possible that the Egg

Egg and the Valley of the Ancients
Being a master of technomancy, the Egg is certainly interested in the artifacts coming out of the Valley of the Ancients. It is possible that it was in fact the Egg which caused the FSS Beagle to crash, drawing it as close as possible to its own realm for further studies.

The Spawn of Coot
The Egg is able to create miniature versions of itself known as Spawn of Coot. The Spawn is intimately tied to the Egg, and there is a telepathic bond between the Egg and the Spawn. At the early stages of the Spawn, the link extends to life force as well, so damaging the Egg will also hurt its spawn. Most likely this bond will be broken when the Spawn grows to a sufficient size. There are rumours that that the followers of Coot were preparing for the seeds of the Egg of Coot to be spread throughout the world.

Thanks to Rafael and others for suggestions and input on this one.

Sources
http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=37535
http://blackmoor.mystara.us/Coot.html
http://mmrpg.zeitgeistgames.com/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=viewtopic&t=151
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=278&p=27385&hilit=Coot#p27385








Havard

Sunday, October 11, 2009

THE GAZETTEER OF BLACKMOOR



I will no doubt be talking more about the official Blackmoor products (old and new) later in this blog, but today I would like to draw attention to an unofficial product: The Gazetteer of Blackmoor, by David Ross (aka Zimriel). The author (though he calls himself an editor) has done an amazing job going through the material published for Blackmoor in the 70s and 80s. Ross managed to incorporate material, not only from the First Fantasy Campaign and the DA Modules, but also the more obscure material like the adventure Garbage Pits of Despair and the information from the Domesday Book.

The style of writing is unique in terms of fan RPG products:

I (David Ross) "wrote" the gazetteer... in a very, very technical sense. My aim was to clarify what was really the work of Dave Arneson (1970-1987) and, to a much lesser extent, Dave Ritchie (1986-7); I saw my role as an editor. This ZIP has 13 files (12 RTF's, one XLS) of the history and geography of the world's oldest Role-Playing fantasy world. You will still need the DA series in order to play; there are no warez'ed maps or modules here.
-David Ross(http://pages.sbcglobal.net/zimriel/Blackmoor/)


Ross is not exaggerating. The gazetteer is written in a highly academic style and is extremely well researched. This makes it challenging to read if you aren't already familiar with Blackmoor, but also highly valuable since it doesnt deviate from Arneson's intentions. Ross includes his own speculation and analysis, but is always clear on what comes from Arneson and which conclusions are his own.

The files are highly recommended for any fan of Blackmoor. Rumour has it that the ZGG staff adviced their freelance authors to read through the gazetteer before making submissions for the 3E line. If you haven't already, go over to Blackmoor - Home of the Ancients and download it now! :)






Havard

Friday, October 9, 2009

AGE OF THE WOLF?


In yesterdays entry I mentioned the new line that CMP has planned for Blackmoor 4E is called Age of the Wolf, but what do we know about it really, and is this something Blackmoor fans should be interested in?

A large portion of the old school fans of Blackmoor are concerned about how much of the new products have anything to do with Arneson's setting. Age of the Wolf Player's Guide author, Ari Marmell revealed the following:
In fact, Dave was co-owner of Zeitgeist Games at the time the 3E books were published. Nothing appeared in those books without his personal approval.

Due to illness, he was a little less hands-on for the 4E conversion and Age of the Wolf materials. But before his passing (may he rest in peace), he did approve detailed outlines/summaries of both, as well as request a few changes here and there on a few details. I can pretty well assure everyone that while Dave may not have written much of 3E and 4E Blackmoor, it's absolutely still what he wanted for the line and the setting.


The future of the Blackmoor setting has always been a topic of dicussions among the fans. With so much tension to the setting presented in the FCC and the DA series and the early introductions of technology into the fantasy setting, it is only natural to think about how the future of the setting would develop.

The following priducts have been announced for the Age of the Wolf Line:
Age of the Wolf - Player's Guide
Age of the Wolf - GM's Guide
Age of the Wolf - Ruins of Blackmoor

What is Age of the Wolf all about?
We do know the following:
* It describes Blackmoor 269 (in 1299) years after the First Campaign setting
* This will be the default era for the 4E MMRPG (aka 'Living Blackmoor') and much of the upcoming 4E line
* The Player's Guide will include a new class, the Inventor (adaptation from Clock & Steam)
* Speculation: This era will see fully fledged Tieflings as opposed to the almost human looking Tieflings from the First Campaign. Most likely Dragonborn, Eladrin and other 4E races may also play a bigger part, though this remains to be seen.

The Player's Guide was originally set to be released in August, but has been delayed untill mid October. Barring further delays, this means it should be out soon. I assume the other books in the series will follow.

I see this as a big test for CMP. Will they be able to keep producing Blackmoor products, and will these products be something the fans are interested in? We will know in the coming months. I am keeping my fingers crossed! :)





Havard

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Waiting for the Age of the Wolf


I was really excited when the Blackmoor 4E Sourcebook came out this summer. 4E is not my favorite edition of D&D and there wasn't that much new contents in the book (although I do recommend buying it!), but much more than that, it came with the promise that there would be a new era of Blackmoor products. I had feared that the end of 3E would mean the end of Blackmoor as well. Especially with lisences like Ravenloft, Dragonlance and the Paizo mags not being renewed by WotC. Fortunately this was not the case. Code Monkey Publishing announced that they would not only release this sourcebook, but a whole new setting for Blackmoor called Age of the Wolf. I was particularly excited because this term had previously been introduced for the Blackmoor setting in Rafael's legendary Blackmoor Pbem - the Grim Winter. But this is the gaming industry and problems have been known to arise. Currently the sourcebook is on hold. I haven't given up hope though! From what I understand the book has been written and there are only things involving the printers (in China?) which is causing delays. I am hoping we will see the Player's Guide available this fall, with the other products in the line either in december or january. In the mean time, you can download the Blackmoor 4E Character Creation Rules now available at blackmoor.mystara.us. These also give a sneak preview of some of the things that will be found in the Age of the Wolf Player's Guide.




Havard

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

PLAYING EVIL


Blackmoor is more than just a game setting. Given Arneson’s role as a co-creator of D&D, he had to develop his own style of gaming. Much of what was Arneson’s campaign style was what became the foundation of D&D, but there are other concepts that were not adopted by TSR as the D&D standard, which it can be interesting to explore. Today, Blackmoor is supported by OD&D, BECMI, 3E and 4E. Regardless of which edition you prefer, many of the elements of Dave’s style can be adopted.

One of these ideas is to allow some of the players to take on the role of the “bad guys”. We are not just talking about playing evil aligned characters here, that is not so unusual. What Arneson would do is that he would divide the players into two teams. One would play the good guys and one would play the bad guys.

What is meant by the bad guys is that these players would take on the roles of monsters and evil NPCs that the players would encounter. My understanding is that these players would take on multiple characters as the good guys would kill off monsters.
Greg Svenson confirms this:

“If I remember correctly, they played different bad guys in many adventures, depending on what the good guys were doing”


However, it also seems like some of these villains would be recurring characters. In his blog, Sham talks about Sir Fang, the Vampire character played by David Fant. Fant originally played the Baron of Blackmoor, but his character eventually became a Vampire. Mark Rein Hagen wasn’t the first game designer to use this concept then! Dave Arneson mentioned another player who took the role of a Vampire:

“Duane Jenkins -- Vampire-Knight; Sir Jenkins (He wanted to be a Vampire but I kept frustrating him. hee hee”


Vampires weren’t the only prominent villains played by players though. John and Chuck Soukup also played evil characters. John played a Balrog (Although this Balrog joined the Great Svenny against the Orc King eventually). Jim Abler played an evil wizard in league with John Soukup’s Balrog. Kurt Krey played the first evil Wizard.

[Frederick Paul Funk III], an entirely decent if somewhat eccentric fellow, and a very nice guy to the punk kid I was, played an orc. In fact, he ended up being Funk the 1st, King of All the Orcs, somewhere down the line. And in particular, was responsible for the idea of the Orkian Way – Badger2305


Curiously though, the most legendary was based on a local wargamer named Greg Scott, who had no interest in roleplaying games.






-Havard

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

BLACKMOOR MAPS


A few days ago, I asked the wise folks over at the Original D&D Discussion Forum about the origins of the Blackmoor map. Two rumours have been circulating about the maps as told by Finarvyn:

1. Both Blackmoor and Greyhawk campaigns were tied to the old C&C Society kingdoms map. (This certainly fits the Greyhawk=Chicago model that Gary has stated but, since the original Blackmoor campaign was not directly linked to the original Greyhawk campaign, it doesn't really explain Blackmoor's coastline. Also, I can't recall if Dave has ever made this claim, or if it was a Gary-only thing.)

2. Blackmoor was based on Dutch maps, only possibly inverted or reversed or somehow in a way that makes them hard to identify. (I've spent a lot of time looking at Dutch coastlines and haven't been able to match anything up close enough to match Dave's maps. However, since this is Dave's version of the story I'm inclined to put a lot of faith into it.)


Now, it didnt take long for replies to my query. James Mishler posted this excellent article on the connection between the Dutch maps and the original Blackmoor map.

I am still not convinced that the C&C Society maps are irrelevant to the shape Blackmoor took, but James certainly convinced me of the connections to the Dutch maps. His blog article is a real gem!

Havard

Monday, October 5, 2009

THE BIRTH OF BLACKMOOR

Blackmoor was created by Dave Arneson in 1970. He developed his own rules for the game, which gradually grew more advanced, before showing it to Gary Gygax, who had been working with similar ideas, in 1971. The two of them went on to create Dungeons & Dragons which eventually was published in 1974.

It must have been fascinating to take part in the early Blackmoor games. Today it is difficult to imagine a world where the phenomenon of roleplaying games doesn't exist. Although most experienced gamers can perhaps recall the wonders of our own first introductions to the game. I imagine being part of the birth of the hobby must have been a bit like that, only even more amazing.


Original Blackmoor player Greg Svenson describes his introduction to the game like this:

During the Christmas break of 1970-71; our gaming group was meeting in Dave Arneson's basement in St. Paul, Minnesota. We had been playing a big Napoleonics miniatures campaign, which was getting bogged down in long drawn out miniatures battles. So, as a diversion for the group, one weekend Dave set up Blackmoor instead of Napoleonics on his ping pong table. The rules we used were based on "Chainmail", which is a set of medieval miniature rules with a fantasy supplement allowing for magic and various beings found in the "Lord of the Rings". I had never played any games like it before, although I had read "Lord of the Rings". Other members of the group had played the game before, but always doing adventures in and around the town of Blackmoor. By the end of the weekend I had fallen in love with the game.
-The first Dungeon Adventure, Greg Svenson



The most extensive documentation fromthose early days is the First Fantasy Campaign (FCC). This book, published in 1977 by Judges Guild, can best be described as a collection of notes, sketches and house rules from Arneson's campaign. To Blackmoor diehards, it is a gold mine of ideas and insight into the mind of a genius. Although many of Arneson's ideas have been published and revised in later products, there are still hundreds of elements in the FCC that are still waiting to be discovered.

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WELCOME


Welcome to the Blackmoor Blog! Its been 7 years now that I have been running the blackmoor.mystara.us website. Imagine that! The website will still be going on ofcourse, but there are some things a blog might be more suitable for. For instance, the news section of my website has been sadly neglected. I hope to be commenting on both current and historical sides of Blackmoor in this blog. Without a doubt there will also be posts on Mystara here and perhaps also the other worlds related to Blackmoor such as Greyhawk and the Wilderlands.

Stay tuned for more as soon as I get more used to this format.

Havard