Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Piazza D&D Worlds Forum Turns Eleven!

One of my main hangouts, The Piazza turns 11 years old today!

I wasn't able to go all the way to London to attend to the real life birthday party today, but we have spent the entire weekend at the Piazza discord chat, talking about games and all kinds of geeky things.

Pretty amazing how far we have come since we started that place that Ashtagon created for various displaced D&D fan communities. Its been a fun ride and I am looking forward to many new discussions and friendly debates there in the coming years!

Happy birthday to The Piazza!


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Dave Arneson Article at the MinnPost Website

Nice article at the MinnPost Website. It is great seeing more attention given to Dave Arneson, now 10 years after his passing. While I like the article, it repeats the common mistake in my opinion of putting too much emphasis on the role of Chainmail as I have talked about in the past. It would also have been nice to see a bit towards the end of the article on the last years of Dave Arneson's life. The article mentions teaching at Full Sail University and his health conditions, but it would have been nice to see mention of his chance to publish Blackmoor again with Zeitgeist Games and his involvement with WotC as a playtester of D&D3E, being invited to write articles at the WotC website and being invited to the set of the D&D movie in Prague. I think all of these moments meant a lot to Dave towards the end of his life.

Thanks to Big Mac at ThePiazza for letting me know about this article.

More discussion of this article here


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Secrets of Blackmoor Documentary Now Available to KS Backers

At last, the Dave Arneson documentary, Secrets of Blackmoor is now available for Video on Demand streaming for backers of the Kickstarter. This is exciting! I will write a more detailed review later when I have had time to really appreciate the documentary. However, I have to say that parts of this documentary are really moving. I really like seeing the Twin Cities gang get together around the gaming table. It is great listening to them and hearing their enthusiasm for gaming and how genuine it is. It is also touching to hear them talk about their memories of Dave. Another highlight for me was seeing Dave's daughter, Malia, talk about her father and what he was like as a person.

Have you seen the documentary yet? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!


Saturday, May 4, 2019

Blackmoor's Elemental Plane of Fire

The information found across various Blackmoor books has many implications for what's going on on the Elemental Planes. Especially on the Elemental Plane of Fire. I am looking through all the versions of Blackmoor to find information relating to the Plane of Fire. Starting with the First Fantasy Campaign, there is a Hermes-looking Fire-Elemental on the cover. Elementals are mentioned in the Wilderness section and in the Blackmoor dungeon, but mostly Air, Water and Earth varieties. Items of Elemental control can also be found.

The Afridhi

The DA modules (1980s) i where we are starting to get more details. These modules introduce Zugzul, the God of Fire and Ice (Later Fire and Darkness). Zugzul is the patron of the Afridhi who clearly are fire worshippers. Through Zugzul they are given allies in the form of Efreeti who provide the Afridhi with the Well of Souls within the Hills of Karsh. This also draws to the Prime Material Plane the enemies of the Efreeti, the Sun Brothers, an order within the Sollux Race. Solluxes are natives to the elemental Plane of Fire and Sun Brothers are their Champions of Good. Solluxes were not brought in the 3E/4E version, but I would have made the Sun Brothers followers of Paccuun (Ixion). I also like the idea of having Fallen Sun Brothers, ala Fallen Paladins/Anti-Paladins who basically serve the Efreeti and Zugzul, but that's just a fan addition of my own.

Gods of Fire 

Blackmoor 3E/4E introdouced more Deities that could be linked to the Plane of Fire:

  • Zugzul: already mentioned above. Evil patron of Fire and Darkness. Lord of the Afridhi. 
  • Paccuun: Champion of Good. Sun God 
  • Baldin: Lesser Sun God. Patron of Bards. Patron of the Sun Singers from BMPG. 
  • Sollus: Lesser Sun God. Patron of Harwest. Paladins of Sollus call themselves the Warriors of the Sun. Sollus is mainly a patron of Druids though. 
  • Fiumarra: elven Patroness of Fire. Represents both the destructive and life giving aspects of fire. Most Clerics of Fiumarra are also Sorcerers. They believe they have an inner flame called qut'aunales which while in balance gives them their power. If balance is not achieved it may consume these sorcerers. (See BMPG for details).

Fire Magic

The 3E version of Blackmoor also introduced various groups of spellcasters involved with fire magic. One was the Elven Elementalists and another is the Ordo Elementarum. It is likely that these have made several expeditions to the Plane of Fire and have summoned many of the fire based creatures currently found in the lands of Blackmoor.

Creatures of Fire 

I have already mentioned Efreeti and Solluxes. Fire Giants are likely not natives of the Plane of Fire, but it seems likely that they are connected to that element somehow. Fire Giants in Blackmoor go back to the Age of Giants. A descendant of King Jevorin currently resides within the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor. Another Fire Giant clan lead by Gonut-Vanur is found within the Valley of the Ancients (CotG p33). 

In Classic D&D, Fire Salamanders are not intelligent creatures like in later editions. Intelligent Salamanders play a big role in the 3E/4E version of Blackmoor though. Within the Valley of the Ancients there is a region controlled by Lord Jihzaja ("The Dour Lord"), a noble Salamander who has an on and off quarrel with is sometimes lover the Fire Nymph named Lady Acendioris. On the 12th level of the Blackmoor Dungeons, there is also a Fire Salamander named Qu'tangles. He is the leader of a warband called The Burning Spike who are at war with the Hammerfire Clan of Fire Giants.  In my campaign The Burning Spike isn't just a war band, but a greater clan of Fire Salamanders back on the Plane of Fire

Fire elementals are of course one of the most important races on the Plane of Fire. Many of these have found their way to the lands near Blackmoor, either through wormholes, rifts between the planes or being summoned by spellcasters. A few of them are found within the Blackmoor Dungeon, including a very old one that the other residents simply refer to as "Fred" (DocBM p 130). 

Other fire elemental cretures  found near Blackmoor include Magma Mephits, Lava Lizards (Called Fire Lizards in Supplement II), Pyrohydras and more!

More discussion of this article here.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Blackmoor Player: William "Billy" Crolley

NOTE: I got some of the facts wrong when I first wrote this article. I confused Crolley with his father and got the ages wrong. Thanks to Bob Meyer for helping me get the the facts right. This article has now been revised and is hopefully rid of mistakes.

I just learned that William Crolley passed away some time ago through obituary of his father at the Star Tribute: . I first heard mention of Crolley back in 2013.He was not on the list I had originally been supplied of the people who played in Dave Arneson's games, but that list was never a complete list. It has taken me a while to get around to people like Crolley and it is a shame that I never got to talk to him or write to him.

William Crolley's 
Blackmoor player Bob Meyer remembers Bill Crolley well:

"Bill was around at the at the time of Blackmoor, and also played in many of the other games we were playing at the time. He was consumed in working on an invention that he was trying to perfect, and ended up moving in with relatives in a western suburb of the Twin Cities. We did not see much of him after that. I lost touch with him long ago. "
Michael Mornard (Gronan) suggested to me that Crolley may have been present when Dave Arneson had first introduced Clerics into the Blackmoor Campaign. I don't like reporting on people having passed away, because it feels so selfish thinking about the things I would have liked to ask of William Crolley and others. At the same time, I think this blog needs to make a record of everyone who in some way added to Blackmoor.

Thanks to Aldarron for pointing me to the most recent information about William Crolley in a discussion at the Comeback Inn. If anyone knows more about William Crolley, his involvement with the Twin City Gamers or has other relevant information, please share in the comments or contact me directly.

More discussion of this article here.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Tonisborg Cover Art Revealed

Yesterday, the Secrets of Blackmoor Facebook Page revealed the cover image for the Lost Dungeons of Tonisborg book. This book was part of the Secrets of Blackmoor Kickstarter. It is written by Greg Svenson and Dan H Boggs and based on a dungeon Greg created for Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Campaign Setting back when Greg was a player in Dave's campaign.

The cover art is created by Bob Bledsaw Jr.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Dave Arneson 10 Years Later

On this day, it is 10 years since Dave Arneson passed away. The Co-Creator of D&D is not forgotten. The Blackmoor Fandom, centered around the Comeback Inn and our associated sites are still going strong. We are still releasing the MMRPG modules which are approaching the end of their run soon.  In addition, we are continuing the PDF booklets by Greg Svenson. Much more will be happening this year too, so stay tuned for that.

Dave Arneson Day last year was a great success. Can we do even better this year?

The Secrets of Blackmoor Documentary, although not associated with this blog, is coming out later this year. Already it has helped create more attention around Dave Arneson and the Twin City Gamers.

Speaking of the Twin City gamers, it is great to see so many of them coming out to talk about the early days of gaming. There are still so many great ideas there that are worth bringing back into modern day gaming.

"I started playing blackmoor in 1968 or 69. It's exciting to know I was one of the first to enjoy playing. As the Earl of blackmoor castle I lead many an expedition into the dungeon under my castle." -David Fant (Played the Baron of Blackmoor in Dave's Campaign)

Many D&D fans will read about the unfortunate relationship between Dave and TSR, but this was just a small period in Dave's life. His life was too short, but he knew that he had created a legacy that would make millions happy. The last years of his life were spent bringing Blackmoor back and getting the recognition that he deserved. And we fans remember well, 10 years later.

"My dad had this ability to connect with the people around him. And had this creative archive in his imagination paired with the skill of story telling.
Resulting is this concept of Dungeon Master.
And that he was The Master.
I miss you dad." -Malia Weinhagen (Daughter of Dave Arneson)

Thank you Dave!