Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Latest Blackmoor Stuff

So what's been happening in the world of Blackmoor fandom over the last few days? The Piazza is still on its temporary server. Over at the Comeback Inn, I have just uploaded another batch of Season 1 MMRPG episodes. I am trying to get an overview of how many different documents that were released in association with the MMRPG to see if I am missing any.

Harley Stroh just signed up to the forum which is cool, since in addition to him being a great game designer, he did the fiction work for the D20 Era Blackmoor books. I am hoping to get a chance to ask him more questions about his involvement with ZGG over the coming days and weeks.



Another interesting discussion that has come up is that of using Goodman Games' DCCRPG with Blackmoor. This is not something I would have thought of myself, but perhaps I should give this game another look?


-Havard

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pandius is not dead!




Some of us recieved this message from Shawn at the Vaults of Pandius last week: 

The following files have been loaded or updated on the Vaults of Pandius:
  Several historic records relating to discussion on the MOrient team have been loaded. http://pandius.com/morient/morient.html
  Story: Sulescu: The Warding Stone. http://pandius.com/Sulescu Book 1 - The Warding Stone.pdf
  Bel Lendh Monandry: Subterranean realms below the Altan Tepes. http://pandius.com/Bel Lendh Monandry.pdf
  Maps of The Ghost of Lion Castle. http://pandius.com/lioncstl.html
  Rules Cyclopedia NPC Generator version 1.3. http://pandius.com/RulesCyclopediaNPCGeneratorv1_3.zip

 Dare we hope this means the Vaults are truly back? :)


-Havard

Friday, November 25, 2011

Magical Swords

Magical Swords hold a special positition in D&D and also in Blackmoor. Dave Arneson dedicated several pages to Magical Swords in the First Fantasy Campaign. The most famous blades of the Blackmoor Campaign is probably the sword Maroon.


Another sword of great fame has its origins in Blackmoor. This is the fan created blade Arbus, the White Avenger, whos origins are chronicled by Blackmoor fan Demon Sachlas:

Arbus was forged in Blackmoor to serve as a companion blade to the famous White Sword. Unfortunately, it was stolen before it was ever used in Blackmoor by agents of the Empire of Thonia. It was subsequently turned over to a Thonian paladin by a devious emperor with none the wiser to its abduction. The White Avenger obtained its nickname in those days as the great paladin - Sir Galladon of Etheria - used it to smite the hordes of chaos throughout the land. Sir Galladon finally met his match, however, on a trip to the elemental plane of water - where he was defeated by an ambush of several crab-like ice creatures known as hydraxes. The leader hydrax took the blade, and kept it for several hundred years...

Who was this Sir Galladon, and where is the realm of Etheria? Speculations to those questions and more details on this blade can be found at the Home of the Ancients.



Image Source


-Havard

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Whither the Piazza?

Looking for the Piazza? Cannot find it at its usual web location? Have no fear. The Piazza has just been moved to a temporary location while some maintainence is being performed. Until its return, you can find it here:

The Piazza - Old D&D Worlds Discussion!


-Havard

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Home of the Ancients

Blackmoor - Home of the Ancients was the first Blackmoor fan website I used to visit. It hosted the legendary Blackmoor fan gazetteer. A fairly thorough analysis of the DA modules supplemented with information drawn from the FFC. I was sad to learn that the website had been taken down, but equally happy when the site's creator, David Ross, said I could put those files up at my own website. So here it is, preserved for the future, the Home of the Ancients.

-Havard

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tell Me About Your Character

Dave Arneson's legacy lives on as Blackmoor is being played in numerous campaigns over the world even today. I'd love to hear more about those stories from games played by other Blackmoor groups out there, from the 1970s and up to today. Not just those lucky enought to have played with Dave Arneson himself, but anyone having played in Blackmoor. What were your experiences?

In Rafe's campaign I play this guy:

General Harwan of Starmorgan

He wasn't always a General of course. Young Harwan grew up in Newgate. His father died when he was quite young, and the boy was drawn to the legends of the towns own hero ruler, the Great Svenny, as a kind of replacement father figure. His real father was also a fighting man, leaving his son a family heirloom: The Sword Grief, said to have once been the weapon of King Robert's son. This might be the reason why he at a young age joined the Blackmoor Military. Being a disciplined and determined young man, he quickly rose to the rank of Sergeant.


It was while serving as a Sergeant that Harwan first encountered the Company of the Maiden. As Blackmoor's forces attacked the Afridhi occupied Duchy of Ten, Harwan's unit was all but wiped out. Joining forces with the Company of the Maiden, they defeated Toska Rusa and destroyed the Well of Souls, liberating what was left of the Duchy of Ten. In the years that passed, Harwan was promoted General and placed in charge of the New Duchy.


He is now approaching 40 and is of mixed Thonian and Skandaharian stock. The years have placed some heavy burdens on his shoulders, perhaps the reason for his now more confident bearing. Life in the court of the New Duchy has not made him soft however. He has preserved his powerful build and imposing stature. Harwan wears a heavy blue cloak, indicating lordhood, and dons Full Plate Armor when riding into battle. 

***

Do you have any tales of heroics in Dave Arneson's setting? I would love to hear about them. Post in this thread, or in the comments section here!





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-Havard

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Blackmoor Blogs!

More people are writing about Blackmoor! Tim Bannock is exploring the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor over at the Dungeon Crawl blog. Most recently, Dork Lord Dungeon Master has set up his own blog called Adventures in Blackmoor. Only a few entires have yet been posted, but Dork Lord's ideas about a Blackmoor campaign with the Pathfinder system did catch my attention. I am looking forward to seeing how that goes. Is this the beginning of a new wave of Blackmoor blogs? :)
 


Image Source


-Havard

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blackmoor at UCON 2011

It pleases me to learn that Blackmoor is still being played at conventions. Not only at the Dave Arneson Memorial events, but also regular gaming convetions feature Blackmoor play in 2011. Last weekend, Blackmoor MMRPG episode modules were being run at UCON in Michigan. This is particularly pleasing to hear with the recent announcement that the MMRPG episodes are once again becoming available at the Comeback Inn.


The UCON session seems to have been a success. In spite of little ahead planning or marketing, the group had no trouble finding players, one UCON participant tells me. If you have more information about the UCON games, or other convetions running Blackmoor, I am interested in hearing about it! :)




-Havard

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Experimental Play in the Last Fantasy Campaig PbP

In the ongoing Play by Forum game, my DM Rafe just posted the following:

My dear friends of the "Company of the Maiden",
and all those others who come here to read of your adventures!


For the fourth Episode in our sequence of scenarios and adventures,
we will deviate from the usual format:

Instead of presenting you a number of cutscenes, we will do a little bit of "meta".

As of the time I write this text, the game that has become "The Last Fantasy Campaign"
is about to enter its seventh year of consecutive action.

Now, before we enter the last battle, the "hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down"...

Let's take a moment and look back at those many years of gaming.




One pretty unique aspect of our game is that we have basically followed the same plots since the beginning;
before we enter the final stage of the game, I would like to shed some light onto them,
so my players and eventual lurkers know what has been going so far:

The First Part of the "Last Fantasy Campaign": The Grim Winter Cycle

In an earlier commentary on the series, I defined four basic plotlines:

The Egg Arc, The Thonian Arc, The Westryn Arc, and The Veil Arc; all of them developed by the players' actions,
mainly over the course of "The Grim Winter" and its companion games, which would be "The War of the Thieves",
and "The Road".

For me, as a DM, the Grim Winter was storyboard HELL, mainly because I had to make up most of the stories on the spot;
and while I now arrogantly boast that there are very few people other than Havard and me that know the setting
as thoroughly as we do, this was certainly not the case in 2005, when I started our campaign.

"The Grim Winter, Episode I" was just a random title I chose for its epicness, after a rather unpleasant experience
in my text production class in English, when my professor very strongly suggested that I should expand my vocabulary.

This was really the reason I got into PBP games first and foremost. To become a better teacher, GAAAH.

The game I started was really just a mix of two already published scenarios - one created by the good people at http://www.fraternityofshadows.com,
another by a Polish D20-producer, "The Forge", that later on would become famous as an illustration studio.

At that point, while I had a lot of fun charging the initial members of the party
(of which only the characters Erdath and Sven remain in the game today)
through an inn haunted by a ridiculously-hard-to-kill demon girl (our "Maiden"),
I never entertained the idea to make the game more than a one-shot.

My change of heart was really most caused by Greg, who plays the character Sven Ithamis in our game:

He told me his character's family history to such a detail that I couldn't but get hooked on it;
so emerged the idea of putting Sven and his companions against the other noble of note (to me) that Blackmoor
could muster, Bascom Ungulian.

In my version of the story, the baron of Glendower had been enthralled by the infamous Egg of Coot,
during his (canonical) rescue of his wife from the Orcish realm of Ohmfet;
you can read about this in some of the earlier cutscenes.

It would have been a f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s story, about how "The Company of the Maiden",
bearing now the curse of the epinomous demon-child,
hunted down the mad baron, twarted his murder attempt of King Uther, and finally fought him in the
famous dungeons of Glendower.

Alas, what happened? :) GAME happened; rarely did players in any of my games ever miss a plot so hard as
our group did with the Ungulian arc. :D ...And so, we kind of moved our focus.

Frankly, I am glad: My first attempt at the story was not even half as entertaining as what we later created together.
Also, the real reason for the party essentially failing the Ungulian arc was really nobody's fault:

The main reason for the many inconsistencies that an interested reader will find in our game logs was that the party roster
changed continuously within the first four Episodes of The Grim Winter.
In a party of eight, we had about fifteen people enter and leave within a year and a half,
until the group that we have today started to form. That made it virtually impossible to keep a consistent story:

From the assassin sent out to kill Sven (Mandle), to the magician unknowingly transporting Ran's phylactery (Morghrum),
well, you see: Dozens of story threads that would later prove an effort to weave together again in "The Promised Land"...

In retrospect, I wonder if I could have done this better, but then again,
who would have thought that this turned into the huge thing... :)


What remained about the story about Ungulian was really Ran,
who would turn into the party's major tormentor, and ultimately, the evil mastermind of all bad things.

I took Ran, word by word, from "The First Fantasy Campaign", where he is described as an android.

(If you follow the game, this just should explain SO MUCH.)

How sketchy my idea of him was, though, you can see in "The War of the Thieves":

If that game had gone at a faster pace, it would likely have been him that the party fought at the end of that game.

("The War of the Thieves" was very closely modelled after the mega-adventure "The Lost City of Gaxmoor",
by Troll Lord Games. If youwant to get an idea how the action would have developed, had we sticked to our
initial plan, take a look at that book, if you want.)


The last two episodes, that would detail the war between the Afridhi and the Blackmoorian army,
they were really just a bonus, because I enjoyed the game so much.

That we left the game open ended was really not so much planned;
had the party killed Ran during the Battle of the Longest Day, that would have been about it.

But they didn't.

...And so, a sequel.



...To be continued.


This looks like its going to be an interesting experience. More details here.

-Havard

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blackmoor MMRPG Season 1 Available


I am working to make the episodes of the Blackmoor MMRPG available again. No, we are not talking about an interractive video game, but the Living Blackmoor campaign. To find out how you can get your hands on these free downloads, click here.

Note that only the first five episodes are currently available. I will keep you posted as more are uploaded. Eventually I hope to have all 4 seasons available, and more!

Image Source

-Havard

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Part-Time Adventurer


Here's a concept I have been thinking about for a while now. Most D&D campaigns are centered around PCs who are full time adventurers. After having explored their first dungeon, they will go on to their next adventure, and from there on future exploration and battles await. Time between adventures are often spent carousing, training, doing research or hanging out at the Adventurers Guild.

The Part-Time Adventurer Campaign Concept is a somewhat different approach. I think I first thought about it when playing Greg Stafford's Pendragon RPG. In this game, the PCs who are usually all knights, will go on a quest or two, usually during the Summer season. The rest of the year is most commonly spent doing other knightly duties, holding tourneys, persuing romances or administering your stronghold.

This made me think of one of my other big inspirations for gaming: Super hero comics. I always liked Spider-Man. Not just because of the big fights with criminals and super villains. Large parts of those comics also dealt with the other parts of Peter Parker's life. Did he get enough money to pay for his rent? Would he ever sort out those complicated romances of his? Would he finally be permanently fired from the Daily Bugle? Those were the things that made us care about the character.

My idea is that a campaign which deals not with PCs who are primarily adventurers, will make us care more about them. Instead of being full time adventurers, they would more be more integrated in the society they live in, and would be called to do heroics only when needed.

The main criticism I have met so far when I have talked about this is that people think we are going to spent a lot of time playing out non-adventuring stuff. That is not my point. Much of that stuff can be fast forwarded through, to get to the adventuring stuff. But having PCs who are real people with real cares and worries might make both the PCs and the DM feel like its worth investing more than if their whole lives are spent decapitating orcs for money.

Thoughts?

-Havard

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Adventures YES, setting NO?

The DIY attitude is something that old schoolers often talk about. Building your own campaign world is often part of what many old school DMs write about. Creating your own world like Gygax, Arneson or even Tolkien himself. Interestingly, the same Old Schoolers will often praise many of the old adventure modules.

My preferences are a little different. I love the published settings. Blackmoor and Mystara in particular, but also many of the other D&D worlds. On the other hand, I have very rarely used modules. Back in my early days of gaming we never used them. We loved drawing up dungeons and populating them with monsters. Since we didnt have much money back then, it seemed like a waste to buy something that we could easily make ourselves. Later I have gotten to appreciate modules more, but I rarely run them as is, but rather use the elements I like and tweak and warp them as to fit my tastes and the needs of the campaign.

Are there two schools of DIY? The Setting way and the dungeon way? If so, which one do you belong to?


Image Source

-Havard