Sunday, May 19, 2013

Supplement II: Blackmoor on Save or Die Podcast

I was excited to learn that in the latest Save or Die Podcast they talk about Supplement II: Blackmoor! I was a bit surprised at how critical they are when they first approach the various sections of the booklet, though some of the criticism is fair and they do offer some good analsysis of the product. I do think they forget at times to compare this booklet to the standards of the time it was written although to be fair they do mention that at one point.

What I like about the SoD gang is that they have stated that they do not claim to be experts on gaming, but rather are honest about being average gamers talking about games. This causes me to forgive the mistakes in the podcast such as (Braunstein was created by Dave Wesely, Temple of the Frog was not written for Chainmail, Monks are in fact mentioned in the FFC etc). Although some additonal information about Blackmoor and Dave Arneson's work outside Supplement II would have improved the podcast, the group have at least read the Supplement and the FFC in advance and even make references to Jon Peterson's Playing The Game.

I was a bit worried early on because it sounded like they were going to make a big deal out of "who wrote what" in Supplement II, but although they do repeat that question several times, they thankfully avoid this done to death topic for the most part. I wonder if anyone could mention any other gaming product where the credited author has undergone as much scrutiny as Dave Arneson has had to suffer. I was relieved to learn that the podcasters at least distance themselves a bit from the most vehement attackers on Dave in this respect.

The biggest disservice in the podcast, I feel is the lack of appreciating for the Temple of the Frog adventure, which was the first published adventure for D&D ever, and arguably also contains the first setting material in any D&D product. The fact that it is structurally different from most adventures that followed it, still is a pretty awesome adventure. I am also a bit surprised at the rejection of the Monk and Assassin classes. Not that the classes do not have flaws in their excecution, but to me it seems like the podcasters disliked the concepts more than their actual class features. Given the success of the Assassin's Creed game series, you would at least think that the potential assassin class would be recognized?

Having said that, I did enjoy the SoD gang chatting about this historical roleplaying supplement. It is fun to listen to them talk about the various monsters, how the illustrations (although they do like them!) seem out of place, and the connection between Blackmoor and Mystara. One of my favorite bits is towards the end when the group apparently feel bad about how hashly they have judged the booklet, go on to express their respect for Dave Arneson.

If you, like me, enjoy listening to gamers talk about Blackmoor stuff, the podcast is worth listening to.

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