Tuesday, March 19, 2019

1983 Red Box Aleena Bargle Tribute Kickstarter from Failsquad Games in Trouble

Failsquad Games recently announced a new Kickstarter featurng a reimagined version of the legendary 1983 Red Box intro adventure featuring Bargle and Aleena. Labelled The Ruins of Mistemere (after the Red Box's Castle Mistamere), the adventure promised in the Kickstarter also included several of the characters from the dungeon with their names slightly altered. 

Now as some feared right from the start, this concept may have been a little too close to the original. At least Wizards of the Coast thought so and had the Kickstarter shut down. Kickstarter now only displays the following message: 

The Ruins of Mistemere - a 5E adventure is the subject of an intellectual property dispute and is currently unavailable.
If you are interested in this project, please check back later. Thanks for your patience.

The reason for seeking to get this project shut down by WotC is listed as follows:

Re: The Ruins of Mistemere - a 5E adventure
Description of copyrighted material: "The Ruins of Mistamere" was an adventure found in the classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Red Box - a starter set for D&D created in 1983.

Description of infringing material: This Kickstarter plans on recreating an "inspired by" version of our copyrighted material. It is derivative and not authorized. As you can see from their own description, anyone familiar with the original material would know what they are trying.

Castle Mistamere is an iconic dungeon and Frank Mentzer's tragic story about Aleena the Cleric and the evil Wizard Bargle have inspired generations of gamers. The characters made it into the Mystara setting with Gaz1 Grand Duchy of Karameikos and have been revisited since in the Kill Bargle adventure in Dungeon #150. It would be really nice to see this adventure reimagined for the current edition of Dungeons & Dragons. That said, Wizards of the Coast's objection in this case does not strike me as unreasonable. (Even if they called it the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Red Box... ;) ).

Lloyd Metcalf of Failsquad Games told me he understands WotC's position. He felt "they were in fair use territory", but stresses that FSG does not want to infringe on anyone's IP. It looks like that is the end for this product. The company is moving on to work on an Old School fanzine called "Maximum HP"

Lets hope Failsquad Games finds success with less problematic projects in the future!


Monday, February 25, 2019

Will WotC's Next Book "Ghosts of Saltmarsh" Be a Missed Opportunity to Pay Homage to Dave Arneson, Master of Naval D&D Adventures?

WotC's next release for Dungeons & Dragons now has a cover and a title. Ghosts of Saltmarsh will feature all kinds of nautical and underwater adventures. While based on the U series, it now looks like Greyhawk references in the book will be limited. It also seems like there will be some Mystara material included in the book. Read more about all of this in this thread at The Piazza.

Now there have been many great nautical and undersea adventures in the history of D&D, but there can be no doubt that a pioneer in both these areas of D&D gaming was Dave Arneson. Dave was of course a huge fan of nautical war games. He even co-designed a Napoleonic era naval wargame with Gary Gygax, Don't Give Up The Ship in 1972. Naval adventures played a big part in Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign. The First Fantasy Campaign (1977) references several naval battles, including a battle between ships and sea monsters ("Sea monsters won") and the attack on the Black Castle of the Orcs from a ship sailing along the river. Although Dave was not credited for DA4, it seems likely that the adventure across the Black Sea of Blackmoor in that adventure, where the heroes travel on board "The Blossom" under the command of Captain Castagere, must be a reference to Dave's style of gaming. Several Blackmoor adventures also took place on the waterways of the Dismal Swamp, including the epic adventures of Robert the Bald and Captain Krey, where Greg Svenson took on DMing duties for Dave Arneson.

Sahuagin, from Supplement II: Blackmoor

Underwater Adventures are also an important feature of Dave Arneson's adventures. Supplement II: Blackmoor (1975) included an entire section dedicated to Underwater Adventures and the supplement introduced many races and monsters that would later becoming iconic underwater D&D creatures. It is not surprised that the D20 Blackmoor line dedicated so much material to the Sahuagin-like race of the Sar-Aigu which tied to the origins of the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor itself.

WotC's return to aquatic adventures presents them with a chance to pay some kind of homage to Dave Arneson, the master of Naval D&D adventures. Will they seize this opportunity?

More discussion of this article: https://blackmoor.mystara.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=8998


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Isle of Dread as an Endless Quest Book from WotC?

Endless Quest was the name of the Pick-Your-Own Adventure Path game books that TSR published between 1982 and 1996. It was recently revived for the  D&D 5th Edition with a series of books by author Matt Forbeck.

Matt recently revealed the covers for two new books in the series that will be published in September this year.

Escape from Castle Ravenloft is especially noteworthy because it is the only book so far to be associated with a D&D setting other than the Forgotten Realms. All the books in the series have tie ins to current D&D Adventure Sourcebooks. The Mad Mage's Academy is tied to Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage for instance.

"You never know, but we’ve stuck mostly to the Forgotten Realms so far. Ravenloft is our first venture outside that." says Matt Forbeck when asked about the possibility of an Isle of Dread tie in book. The question came up because a gigantic hardcover version of the Isle of Dread was released last year. It was published by Goodman Games under lisence, but the previous adventure in that series, Into the Borderlands, is advertised on Wizard's Website.

More Isle of Dread material from WotC would make fans of BECMI D&D and fans of Mystara happy. The setting has been teased in numerous D&D5E books, but Isle of Dread is the only book to fully embrace the setting.

See also: An old analysis of mine about the old Endless Quest Books and possible connections to Mystara (Piazza thread)


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Comeback Inn Moving Web Host Provider

The Comeback Inn is about to move to a new host provider for the site. This will hopefull go smoothly, but in case you should have any difficulties, feel free to contact me via this blog.

We should have everything sorted out by Monday. The forum will remain up and running through this whole time, but in case you experience any glitches, this is why.

Thanks for understanding!

More details here.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Exploring the Valley of the Ancients MMRPG style

Over four seasons of D&D adventures, Blackmoor the MMRPG has explored most of the plotlines ever detailed in the setting. It is not surprising that it would also have its own take on perhaps the deadliest of all of the adventure locations from Dave Arneson's campaign. I wrote about the early adventures Dave Arneson ran with the City of the Gods here.

Although hints to the City of the Gods go back to Supplement II's Temple of the Frog and the references to the Valley of the Ancients in the First Fantasy Campaign, this region was first explored in published form with DA3 City of the Gods. When Dave Arneson's company Zeitgeist Games got the lisence to do Blackmoor for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, they published a new version of the City of the Gods for that edition. The MMPRG also served to promote the Zeitgeist Games product line so it is not surprising that the time would eventually come for the Valley of the Ancients. This way players could bring their charaters from the MMRPG campaign into this famous adventure location. Over at the Comeback Inn, we are soon approaching the re-release of the last episodes of the MMRPG. Episode 90-L is available now as a free download.

Go here to download the MMRPG adventure!

Let me know what you think! Are you ready to see the remaining adventures of season 4 as well? :)


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Did D&D Goliath's First Appear in BECMI D&D and Mystara?

Goliaths first appeared as a race in D&D in Races of Stone (2004) for D&d 3.5 Edition. They returned as a playable race for D&D 4th Edition and D&D 5th Edition. When D&D 4th Edition launched their version of the Dark Sun setting, the Dark Sun race of Half-Giants was changed into Goliaths. So perhaps it is possible to trace the origins of Goliaths back to those Half-Giants from AD&D 2nd Edition's Dark Sun? Or could its roots be even older?

When discussing how to adapt the race to Mystara (which is something we Mystara fans like to do), someone (Cthulhudrew?) pointed out how similar Goliaths were to an obscure D&D monster called Stalwarts. Stalwarts first appeared in AC9 Creature Catalog (1986) for the BECMI D&D edition (sometimes called Red Box, Classic or Basic). Paleologos' excellent discussion at The Piazza about the origin of AC9 monsters has not been able to trace this creature to any earlier product suggesting this is the first apppearance of this race.

An actual Goliath

Both Stalwarts and Goliaths stand around 7 feet and are exceptionally strong. Both races love competitive games. Stalwarts are said to enjoy challenging strangers to physical competitions. If they lose they will serve the winner for a month, but not to the point of risking their lives. The Creature Catalogue was limited in detail on the physical appearance of the Stalwarts, but did come with an illustration that didn't quite match that of the Goliath even though the things in its face might either be Goliath style markings or shade. In any case, I tried to fix this with my colorized version of the illustration above. See the original here:

Stalwart from AC9 Creature Catalogue

So, while there is no real evidence of the Goliath being based on the Stalwart, the similarities are remarkable. I like how so many of the monsters, races and classes in later editions of D&D are still the same ones who appeared in the 70s and 80s. And even if these two races are unrelated, I like to think of them as the same thing.

What do you think?


Saturday, February 2, 2019

New Blackmoor Fan Adventure: Tomb of Ajax

Created by fans of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG, this is yet another  adventure in the "Blackmoor Living World" series. Credited to The Company of the Maiden, this adventure explores the tomb of an ancient Blackmoor hero. The adventure is set in northern Blackmoor, not far from the City of Maus.

I was pleasantly surprised to find references to my own creations in the adventure such as the characters of Caradegg and King Uhlmar. Caradegg was a squire to the character I played in the campaign Rafael ran at the Comeback Inn, the Last Fantasy Campaign. I later used this character in the backstory of my own Vales Campaign where the starting town was called Caradegg's Rest. (I have a map of that town here.)

Get the adventure for free here.

What do you think of this adventure?


Monday, January 14, 2019

Megarry to host Dungeon! at GaryCon2019

David Megarry, player in the original Blackmoor Campaign is to host the board game Dungeon! at GaryCon this year. David Megarry created the game partly because he saw how taxing DMing was on Dave Arneson and wanted to create a Blackmoor-like experience without the need to have a DM. I wrote a bit more about this back in 2011. The game was first published in 1975. The photo and information below was just posted at the GaryCon Facebook Page.

"DUNGEON! Board game creator and Guest David Megarry (pictured here with his wife Rose Shetka) displaying his original 1971 map of his most famous creation. Dave will host several DUNGEON! events at Gary Con XI. Get your badge today and sign up! GaryCon.com. #garycon #gcxi #dungeon #DUNGEON! #davidmegarry

Megarry also posts at The Comeback Inn Forum. If any of the readers of this blog are going to GaryCon, please tell Megarry that "Havard sent you".  ;)

Discussion of this article at The Comeback Inn


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Mayfair Games Co-Founder Has Passed Away 68 Years Old

Got the following sad news from Reddit regarding Darwin P Bromley (October 23, 1950 - January 1, 2019):
"Mayfair Games founder Darwin Bromley has died Darwin Bromley, founder of Mayfair games and designer of several train games (including Empire Express) has passed away. There will be a memorial service at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville on Saturday at 4:00 PM. Last year, he and his late brother Peter donated 8,000 games to the Museum of Play."

-Co-Founded by Bromley and his brother Peter, Mayfair Games became famous for the controversial RoleAids series which were compatible with AD&D during the TSR era. Apparently Bromley was instrumental in this development. To give this entry a Blackmoor spin, Mayfair Games was once in talks with Dave Arneson to publish 12 Blackmoor modules.

Regardless, Bromley was an important figure in the history of our hobby.

What was your favorite Mayfair Games product?


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Strangler of Blackmoor Castle - Now as a free AFF Blackmoor Module!

The new year kicks off with more Blackmoor material! Fans of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG have been making modules under the banner Blackmoor Living World. This latest in the series by Galfiero Risaliti is clearly a nod to the 1963 movie of the same name. Set in Castle Blackmoor itself, the module also has references to the town of Anathema from Blackmoor the MMRPG season 4. which is available at The Comeback Inn.

Get the adventure The Stranger of Blackmoor Castle for free here.

Oh, and Happy New Year!