Monday, June 24, 2024

New Maps and More details on Blackmoor Foundations Book

More is being revealed about the Blackmoor Foundations book coming from the Secrets of Blackmoor crew. I mentioned the other day that the book will contain several maps. Included is also the original Dutch Map that was often mentioned as a source for the Blackmoor coastline. Among the other maps included is apparently also the map from AVH's Outdoor Survival Game which was used to detail the inland geography. 


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The texts included here are also interesting as they show part of the connection between a Dutch Historical campaign that may have gradually transitioned into the Blackmoor game. Master Fant mentioned here is the character of David Fant who later also played the Baron of Blackmoor. 


Also of interest are references to the Great Kingdom, the Tower of Sorrows (Tower of Salt?) and the Capital of the Picts. The Picts were later replaced by Orcs as enemies, though I have also used them in my development for the people of the Vales as an older human culture before the Thonians moved into the lands of Blackmoor. 

It is going to be interesting to see what else comes to light when this book becomes widely available. 



-Havard


Sunday, June 23, 2024

Exclusive Interview with Blackmoor Age of the Wolf Designer C.A. Suleiman

 


Interview with C.A. Suleiman 

June 17, 2024 
By Havard

Readers may know or recall C.A. Suleiman as the developer Dave Arneson trusted to shepherd new material for Blackmoor, the first fantasy campaign, into the 3rd and 4th editions of D&D. He’s also the developer of the last tabletop project with which Dave Arneson was directly involved prior to his passing in 2009, a setting update for Blackmoor called Age of the Wolf

What was it like working with Dave Arneson?


 In some ways, it was the opportunity of a lifetime for a lifelong gamer like me. Dave’s creative mind is what drew me not just to roleplaying, but to really exploring the limits of my imagination. Getting to sort of channel a guy like that through your own work, which is what being his developer was like, is like taking a guided tour through the halls of another creator’s imagination. Beyond being a legendary figure, Dave was like a kindred spirit to me. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a number of high-profile projects for some well known companies, but there is no substitute for having the father of the roleplaying game put his trust and endorsement in you when it came to developing material for him. Dave could have empowered any one of a number of worthy designers, and he chose to put his faith in me. Words fall for short for describing how that made me feel back then, and how it still makes me feel today. 

What is Age of the Wolf like and what can we expect from the new release? 

Well, maybe the most important aspect of the book is going to be its cost to fans: I’m pleased to be able to announce here, for the first time, that Age of the Wolf is going to be absolutely free to pick up, starting the first day of its release. Here in the U.S., the price tag is going to be $0.00. 

Wow. What prompted you to push for a no-cost price for the new book? 

A number of considerations, chief among them the desire to create an inclusive offering for people to celebrate on the 50th anniversary of the biggest RPG. Sadly, there aren’t a lot of releases or events dedicated to Dave and his legacy on the industry slate this year, and that means that whatever projects are in the offing, should really be given their due. Waiting 15 years to get the book seemed enough of a barrier. No sense complicating matters any further. 

How does Age of the Wolf differ from previous Blackmoor offerings? 

The biggest difference is that Age of the Wolf isn’t strictly a game book. It’s a world guide for a new a vision of Blackmoor and a creative tribute to the man who started it all. The book has no game mechanics for any specific edition or iteration of any game, but rather focuses on setting, mood, and hopefully doing justice to the legacy and memory of Dave Arneson. In that regard, it’s fair to say that Age of the Wolf is a book that’s intended to be enjoyed by all. 
    Apart from how it’s being rolled out, the biggest difference between Age of the Wolf and previous Blackmoor material is the timeline. The entire concept for the book is a big “What if?” — in this case, what if the Kingdom of Blackmoor fell and the land was put through centuries of turmoils and upheavals both magical and mundane? As a result, the political situation, most of the active characters, and even the underlying themes are all written to suit this specific vision. The classic Blackmoor setting is about a land united by a singular king and his attempts to bring ordered civilization to a dangerous part of the world. In Age of the Wolf, that king and his works are long gone, and the land he fought to unite is now being fought over by those who remain. 

Would it be difficult for those running classic Blackmoor campaigns to bring their characters into an Age of the Wolf campaign? 

Since the book advances the Blackmoor timeline 270 years, it’s fair to say that only characters who were young elves or dwarves in the classic setting (or otherwise trapped out of time, or the like; always a possibility in a Blackmoor story) would still be around come the new setting. 

Will Age of the Wolf cover the same geographic area as did previous Blackmoor offerings? 

While the timeline may be different in the new book, the geography is still more or less the same as it was in the classic setting. A lot has changed, but it has changed the face of the same North we know and love, not moved the setting to a different geographic region in the same world. This book is set for a 2024 Gen Con release. 

What will be available for Gen Con attendees? Will some of this material become available for fans who are not able to attend? 

As mentioned, the digital edition will be free to download starting the first day of Gen Con, and that offer will be good for everyone, whether they attend Gen Con or not, for as long as Ink Bat publishes the book. Those who attend Ink Bat’s ticketed events will also receive a limited edition print copy, as well as a free high-quality metal miniature courtesy of Paizo Publishing, but Ink  Bat has no plans to distribute a print edition of the book through general distribution thereafter. This project is primarily about seeing the last tabletop book Dave was involved with finally released to the fans, and in the process, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his greatest work. Many Blackmoor fans have been waiting 15 years for this book to be published and are excited that it is finally coming to fruition. 

Besides the shift to new rules, have other changes been made to the original product? 

Originally, I intended Age of the Wolf to be compatible with 4e, since that was the new hotness at the time and since Dave’s approach had been to release Blackmoor support right on the heels of the release of new rules, as we’d done with 3e and 3.5e. After 50 years, though, there are a lot of fans enjoying Blackmoor through a number of different rulesets, so I decided a more system-neutral book, a world and tonal guide, was the most accessible approach for the whole community. Dave’s genius wasn’t rooted in any one rules design, and his genius is for everyone. 

You have worked in the RPG industry for decades. What are some products that you are especially proud of outside of Blackmoor? 

I’m grateful for both the opportunities I’ve been given in my career and for the way most of those projects turned out. I’m especially proud to have created Hamunaptra, the first expressly ancient Egyptian setting for the great game, but the other books I’ve written for D&D stand out, as well, including Heroes of Horror and Cityscape, both of which continue to have their fan followings long after the edition of the game for which they were written wrapped. I’m also proud of the work I’ve done for the World of Darkness, especially Mummy: The Curse, which I created, and Vampire: The Requiem, which I wrote with my friend Ari Marmell, and which remains the biggest-selling RPG White Wolf ever published. 

Is Ink Bat working with WotC or the Arneson estate for this product, or is it a completely independent launch? 

Ink Bat approached Wizards of the Coast about its plans for the book, and WotC proved just as excited to see Age of the Wolf finally released to the community as the fans seem to be, so they gave their blessing for publication to proceed. And of course, the project predates the Arneson estate, so neither the estate nor WotC were involved in the creation of the content of the book. 

Can we expect more Age of the Wolf content in the future? What other projects are in the works from Ink Bat?

 To my knowledge, there are no current plans to produce support specifically for Age of the Wolf beyond this one book, though of course we all hope the book will live on at the tables and in the stories of Dave’s fans. Ink Bat is just getting started, though. Look for a teaser for their next big project at Gen Con in August.



More discussion of this topic at The Comeback Inn



-Havard

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Will WotC Rename Blackmoor in Mystara Too?

 

It was quite a surprise to fans that Mystara would be brought back to print by Wizards of the Coast in 2024. 

Of course, saying that WotC would bring it back is a bit of an overstatement as the upcoming book Dungeons & Dragons: Worlds & Realms - Adventures from Greyhawk to Faerun and Beyond is a licensed product from Ten Speed Press and more a coffee table book than an actual game supplement. Still, seeing an entire chapter  of this book being dedicated to Mystara when several popular D&D settings are not included (notably Dark Sun, Birthright and more). 


With the recent discussions of Blackmoor being renamed Arn in the 2024 DMG has lead to much speculation. Yesterday I explored the name Arn as it is not new to the world of D&D. As the DMG is not yet available, we don't know if the change was made due to setting specific ideas, rights issues or a number of other reasons. 


However, given this change for Greyhawk it will be interesting to see if Blackmoor will be renamed in the descriptions of Mystara as well. Mystara's connection to Blackmoor began before Mystara had even gotten its own name. Mystara is of course the world of the old BX and  BECMI D&D Games (Some call then Basic D&D, a term I feel is misleading) and back then it was just called the D&D Game World as opposed to AD&D which had many settings tied to it. 


As TSR had found themselves in the situation of having to publish two parallell game lines called D&D and AD&D, due to agreements with Dave Arneson. Since Arneson's rights were tied to the D&D line, it made sense that Blackmoor would end up there, even though the name Blackmoor was still kept on the Greyhawk map. The advantage of placing Blackmoor in Mystara's past was that players of the D&D game could use the same characters and simply visit Blackmoor through Time Travel. some people say Blackmoor was put into Mystara's past, but another way of looking at it is that Mystara would end up being a possible distant future for Blackmoor. For Mystara, this had the advantage of adding a layer of mysteries buried in the settings past that made it so much more interesting and almost every Mystara product referenced Blackmoor after this. The products that laid the groundwork for this connection were the DA modules, starting with DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor. 


So, will Blackmoor be renamed in the presentation of Mystara? It is very difficult to say at this point. As mentioned we have no idea why they changed the name for Greyhawk and those reasons could easily have no impact on how WotC presents Mystara. On the other hand, if they do make the change that will support the uncomfirmed theory that WotC are distancing themselves from Blackmoor. If they call Mystara's Blackmoor Arn, that would be the craziest scenario of them all. Of course, it would be perfectly possible to present Mystara and not mention Blackmoor at all. 


Whatever happens we will known more when this book comes out. 


Dungeons & Dragons: Worlds & Realms - Adventures from Greyhawk to Faerun and Beyond is to be published on October 29th 2024. The book will be 368 pages and the current price tag is 50$



-Havard


Friday, June 21, 2024

The Realm of Arn and its History in D&D


This week, we learned that WotC are changing the name of Blackmoor in the Greyhawk setting to Arn. But beyond the obvious reference to the last name of the D&D Co-creator, why does the name Arn sound so familiar?

The name Arn has actually been used on a number of occasions. In the adventure DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor (p46), we meet Arn Yonson, a 10th level Fighter who is an obvious stand in for Dave Arneson. Arn Yonson's name does suggest a Skandaharian origin, but the description only says that he wears an outlandish helmet with large horns that some people of Blackmoor find a bit funny. 



In OD&D Supplement 3: Eldritch Wizardry (by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume), we find the artifact known as the Invulnerable Coat of Arn, a chainmail +5 with a number of magical resistances and powers linked to it. The same book also has a Ring of Gax so both D&D Co-creators got their names referenced in this book. It is unclear where the Coat of Arn got its name, but it is said to be a relic of a bygone age. 



The oldest known reference to Arn that I was able to dig up on short notice however, is an illustration from the D&D draft document known as Beyond This Point Be Dragons or the Dalluhn document. The document contains an illustration showing a sign leading to "Lord of Arn". Now, I am not sure if there was ever a conclusion to who actually wrote that document, there have been suggestions that this illustration was drawn by Dave Arneson. Likely the signpost was just a joke, but Lord of Arn does suggest that this is the name of a realm. Perhaps the realm whose ruler once wore a magical chainmail?


Have you found other references to Arn in any D&D products or Arneson material? Please let me know about it. 


Could any of these factoids help explain why Arn has now become the name of a realm in Greyhawk? Could this support Greyhawk Grognard's theory that the new WotC Greyhawk is set at an earlier point in the timeline?  Or was it just a big coincidence?


Discuss this article at The Comeback Inn


-Havard

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Blackmoor Foundation Arneson Manuscripts Content

 Blackmoor Foundations is a book to be published towards the end of this month. I talked about the book a few weeks ago and how it is going to include many unpublished documents and maps that can be linked back to Dave Arneson's campaign, including material written by Dave Arneson himself. Much of the content is still unknown, but some is starting to get leaked. 


Fellow Blackmoor scholar DH Boggs wrote on his blog that much of this material comes from illustratior Ken Fletcher's collection. Ken was employed by Dave Arneson's company and was tasked to prepare Blackmoor material for possible publication in the early 1980s.




More details comes from YouTuber DaddyRolledA1 who has been given a first draft copy of Blackmoor Foundations. In his video D&D History: Foundations, Product Lines, Art, & Creators, he covers many sources for gaming history, but I want to direct your attention to the section where he is talking about this specific book and reveals some of the content. 




The explains how the book discusses dates that are often uncertain and how it contrasts some documented dates with sometimes contradictory information from what people who were there rememeber. Given the type of "documentation" that is available from someone's personal games, I 


Some of these maps or variants of them have been shared among fans already, but it will be nice to see everything collected. 

Ken Flether apparently had lots of pages of documents that he shared with The Fellowship of the Thing (DaddyRolledA1 does not seem to appreciate the name of that company) that produced this book. 

This illustration made be curions. According to the youtube video this illustration was made by Dave Arneson.


The firearms of Blackmoor are shown in the illustration below. I am not sure if this refers to artifacts origination from the aliens, or if these are supposed to be regular firearms that the men of Blackmoor were able to produce. Both types are referenced in the FFC. 





Credits for this book are given to Griffith M. Morgan III of Fellowship of the Thing, but others have also contributed as shown on the intro page. 



So the final version of this book should be available soon. If you already own a copy, let me know what else might be found there!


More discussion of this article at The Comeback Inn.


-Havard






WotC removes Blackmoor from Greyhawk in 2024


Wizards of the Coast has produced a new map of Greyhawk where Blackmoor has been removed. I first learned about this when I saw a post by my friend Big Mac at the Piazza the Piazza D&D Worlds forum where he discusses the lastest youtube video from Greyhawk Grognard video from Greyhawk Grognard going through the new WotC produced map. 

The map in question is the Greyhawk map that is going to appear in WotC's upcoming 2024 D&D Dungeon Master's Guide. Greyhawk is from what I understand going to be used as a default setting in the new D&D core rulebooks. The new map looks somewhat reminiscent of the beloved map made by Darlene back in the days, but there are some interesting changes. Greyhawk Grognard's excellent video goes through these changes and speculates to reasons why these changes have been made and what might be possible consequences of the large and small changes. 


The change that will likely be of most interest to the readers of this blog is probably the removal of Blackmoor. Removal may be a strong term. Rather, Blackmoor has been renamed Arn. Now Arn is a name that could be familiar to hard core Blackmoor fans as it also appears in several of Dave Arneson's writings. 

Why has this change been made? Could it be linked to rights issues? Could it be to reduce confusion with the other Blackmoor product lines available that are less compatible with Greyhawk? Could it be linked to this map detailing a different part of Greyhawk's timeline?  Or is there another reason? 

In any case, the original intent of paying homage to Dave Arneson is retained in the new name.

What do you think of this new Greyhawk map and the changes made?

-Havard

Monday, June 17, 2024

Melissakainen is running Castle Blackmoor for 10$

 

Melissakainen is running an online Castle Blackmoor oneshot game. She will be using the OD&D rules. The event costs 10$ for those interested. 


Here's the description:



About the adventure At the very origin of Dungeons & Dragons lies Castle Blackmoor, the dungeon Dave Arneson started running in 1970. In 1980, Dave published a large portion of his campaign notes as The First Fantasy Campaign. I will be using that to take you on a short tour of the City, the Castle, and the Dungeon of Blackmoor. Although Castle Blackmoor predates D&D, I will be using the original D&D rules (1974 ed) to run it. Play careful, because your fighters, magic-users, and clerics are dead at 0 hit points!

Here are more detailHere are more details. 

Would you pay to play in Castle Blackmoor?


I am in no way affiliated with this game. This blog and all related sites have always been non-profit.

-Havard

New Maps and More details on Blackmoor Foundations Book

More is being revealed about the Blackmoor Foundations book coming from the Secrets of Blackmoor crew. I mentioned the other day that the b...