Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Secrets of Blackmoor Christmas Preview Reveals Importance of Braunstein

I just finished watching the 24 minute Christmas preview of the documentary Secrets of Blackmoor. This preview was streamed at Vimeo for backers of the now successful Kickstarter for the documentary. The producers, "Chris and Griff", refer to this as a "Story Cut" of the documentary.

The preview shows several of the remaining members of the gaming group in the Twin Cities that Dave Arneson was a part of. In this preview they talk about the early Braunstein Games organized by Dave Wesely. The documentary describes Braunstein as a watershed moment.

One thing I am wondering about is who this documentary is for. Readers of this blog, or the works of Jon Peterson or other gaming historians will be familiar with much of the information given in the preview. D&D fans who are just beginning to learn about the history of their hobby might find this preview confusing. What is Braunstein and why is it so significant? Who are these people? 892 backers pledged $48,097 to help bring the project to life. I doubt all of them are experts? I hope the full version will provide more context for this group of viewers.

That's not to say the preview doesn't have anything to offer those of us who are already deep into researching the hobby's history either. Hearing those involved in these stages of the development of the game is incredibly interesting. The preview also offers video material of people who have not been seen before as well as new interviews with more prominent members of the Twin City gamers. Deep analysis appears to be mostly left to the viewer, but the comments from the gamers themselves tell a fascinating story. Creativity, experimentation, imagination are key words that I am left with. And more importantly, this was a group effort. Just like Gary relied on his group of friends and family members in Lake Geneva to help develop games, the development of the Twin City games that would lead to Blackmoor was a collective effort. This is clear in the preview and really should come as no surprise to anyone who has run a D&D game. The players are just as important as the DM. That should in my opinion not take away from the importance of Dave and Gary as the creators of D&D though, but the conclusion of the documentary remains to be seen. I think Bob Meyer's comparison to Eddison is very interesting though.

 The preview promises the DVD's will be completed in March 2019. My previous experiences with D&D documentary Kickstarters have left me a bit jaded, but seeing this preview gives me hope that Secrets of Blackmoor will be the first successful D&D documentary to become widely available. Hopefully the other projects currently in production will follow. For now, I will be looking forward to the complete version of Secrets of Blackmoor!

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Happy Gary Gygax Game Day 2023!

  Happy Gary Gygax Game Day 2023!