Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Great Kingdom Documentary is Back

Remember the Kickstarter for the D&D Documentary called the Great Kingdom from 2014? Well, it is back.  This documentary promised to tell the story about Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson:

"In 1969, GARY GYGAX, a family man and an insurance underwriter with an entrepreneurial mind meets DAVE ARNESON, an idle, yet brilliant game designer. Their collaboration would change the world, their families and themselves. This is the remarkable true life story of the rise and fall of Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson and the people behind the creation of the epic role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons."

  "THE GREAT KINGDOM explores the personalities behind the game and the families they engendered. This is the saga of the people who brought a company from its humble basement beginnings and transformed it to a multi-million dollar corporation. A story for our time that parallels the rise, fall and redemption of Steve Jobs and echoes the who-invented-what question of the creation of Facebook."

So why haven't we heard from this Kickstarter for the last three years? Well, originally there was another documentary back in 2012 called Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary. The Kickstarter for this documentary was launched by Andrew Pascal, Anthony Savini, and James Sprattley of Westpaw Productions. About 4000 people backed this Kickstarter.

When Andrew Pascal and James Sprattley left Westpaw to produce the Great Kingdom documentary, Savini of Westpaw took the new Kickstarter to court, the result being both Kickstarters ending up in legal Limbo. Now, however,  the legal issues appear to have been resolved and the documentary is back on track as it was announced yesterday:

"hi everybody.  we are back and we are excited to move forward with THE GREAT KINGDOM. we obviously have had some setbacks, the most important of which is losing CHRIS HAIFLEY as our director. he has moved on to other projects. however, we have put together a great team to get us to the finish line. it’s also safe to say that it will NOT be the film that we had first envisioned. this has more to do with the evolution of any documentary film. stories evolve and take on a life of their own or the original intent pivots for something even more interesting. our team believes we have something special that is uniquely focused on the history of DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS and we are lucky enough to have talented storytellers to tell you the story. we will be making more announcements in the coming months when we will be introducing everyone to the team. for now though, THE GREAT KINGDOM (title may also be changed) is moving forward. 
- james and andrew

ps. some folks have already written to us, congratulating us and also asking for a link or copy to the completed film. to those folks, we still do need to finish and release the film for their copy to be (e)mailed to them. thanks for being patient."

As I once invested 10$  in this Kickstarter, I am happy to see it back on track. There is still a great interest in the history of our hobby of Dungeons & Dragons. I really don't know much about the people involved in making this documentary, but I know that there are very important people that were interviewed for the film. I don't know how much of this has been changed at this point, but the announcement does say there is going to be changes.

Andrew Pascal, Jim Gavin, Chris Haifley and James Sprattley

What will this mean for the Dave Arneson documentary, Secrets of Blackmoor? This is yet another completely separate project with a different focus. Recently there has been talk about a Kickstarter for an early release of this film, but nothing official has been announced. Will the return of the Great Kingdom Documentary result in speeding up this process?

Meanwhile, there has not yet been any announcement with regards to Savini and Westpaw Film's 2012 Kickstarter for Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary.

More discussion about this topic at The Comeback Inn, in this thread.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Carl L. Sargent (1952-2018)

Matt Forbeck posted the following sad news on Facebook yesterday:

" Word is that Carl Sargent of Games Workshop and TSR fame has passed away. I never met Carl, but we had many mutual friends, and I loved his work. It's been a hard year for RPG legends."

Carl Sargent is perhaps best known for his work on Warhammer for GW and Greyhawk for TSR. This British game designer also wrote Fighting Fantasy game books under the name Keith Martin.

I knew him best for his Mystara RPG products; Gaz 13 The Shadowelves (co-authored with Gary Thomas), PC2 Top Balista and  B11 Kings Festival. B11 formed the basis for one of my most succesful Mystara campaigns based around the Grand Duchy of Karameikos.

Rest in Peace.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Bishop Carr of Blackmoor goes to Gary Con XI

Mike Carr is a name that should be familiar to most Blackmoor fans for a number of reasons. The Gary Con Page on Facebook just posted the following:
"Mike Carr is a member of the Gary Con Old Guard and we are happy to have him and his lovely wife Pat back for GC XI. In case you don’t know Mike’s pedigree; he was a member of the international federation of war gamers (IFW) in 1960’s as a teenager. He created the game “Fight In The Skies” (aka Dawn Patrol) and self-published it at the recommendation of Gary Gygax in 1968. He also co-authored “Don’t Give Up The Ship” with Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax in 1971. He joined the ranks of TSR, Inc. in 1976 at the invitation of Gary Gygax. While at TSR, Mike authored the D&D module, In Search of the Unknown, served as editor for the Monster Manual, Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide and wrote three children’s novels. #garyconxi #dungeonsanddragons #lowg #legendsofwargaming #garycon #mikecarr #FITS #dawnpatrol"

Mike Carr's B1 In Search of the Unknown was TSR's first attempt at publishing adventure modules. It is still surprising to me that early day TSR was reluctant to publish adventures, the notable exception being the Temple of From from D&D Supplement II: Blackmoor.

Mike is also counted among the original Blackmoor players and although his Fight in the Skies group seems to have been somewhat separate from Dave Arneson's group, Mike and his crew were great friends with the Minnesota gamers. Mike created the settings first cleric and is remembered in Blackmoor lore as Bishop Carr. I was lucky enough to get an interview with Mike Carr back in 2010 which you can read here.

Discussion of this topic at The Comeback Inn


Monday, November 5, 2018

Blog gets an overhaul

I haven't been fully happy with the layout of this blog since its last revision a few years ago. I finally had some time to sit down and revise the logo and overall design of the blog. There are still a few things that need to be tweaked, but this is a start:

What do you think? Let me know! Your input is much appreciated!


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Red Ice on Black Sea: New Fan Created Blackmoor Adventure explores The Northern Shores

Earlier this year, on Dave Arneson Day 2018, Yaztromo, a regular at the Comeback Inn announced that a group of European Blackmoor fans have been working to create a Blackmoor Fan Guide for Advanced Fighting Fantasy the Roleplaying Game (AFF). I didn't know much about AFF, but it is a roleplaying game based on the old Advanced Fighting Fantasy Game books from the 1980s. 

Now, I was amazed at the production value of this Blackmoor adaptation, both in terms of layout and design, but also that this was written by people who clearly are very familiar with Blackmoor ranging from the older material by Dave Arneson and TSR, but also the material created by Dave Arneson's company Zeitgeistgames in the mid 2000s. 

Now, a new adventure has been created for Living Blackmoor, which is the name adopted by the AFF version of Blackmoor. This adventure explores the northern shores of Blackmoor's world and beyond to the realm of Frisia.

Get this fan adventure for free at The Comeback Inn!


Friday, November 2, 2018

Blackmoor Artists: Allen Alegado

One of the things I have wanted to do is to take a look at the artists who have been involved in illustrating Blackmoor over the year. One of the artists who was involved during the time when Zeitgeist Games was publishing Blackmoor was Allen Alegado. This artist based on Orlando, Florida has been working with illustrations for more than 15 years. I think some of these illustrations are really great and help bring to life aspects of the world of Dave Arneson that we have never seen before.

Allan created interior illustrations for several Blackmoor products, including the Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Campaign Guide and also the cover art for Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor.

If you like Alegado's art, visit his website here.

Who is your favorite Blackmoor artist across the eras?

More discussion of this article.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Greg Svenson's Tonisborg to be published as part of Blackmoor Documentary Kickstarter

The City and Dungeon of Tonisborg has long historic ties to Dave Arneson's Blackmoor. Greg Svenson, whom Dave has described as one of his most enthustiastic players, developed this area of map in Dave Arneson's Campain. When Dave added the city of Vestfold, named after a region in Norway, Greg made adjustments so that Tonnisborg became relocated on a small island that is part of the greater City of Vestfold, the largest city in the Kingdom of Blackmoor.

 People who want to learn more about Tonisborg are now in for a treat. As reported by the Secrets of Blackmoor Website, Greg Svenson is working with the producers of the documentary project "Secrets of Blackmoor". The plan seems to be that Tonninsborg will be a published adventure which will be a "thank you gift" to those who invest in the Kickstarter for the Documentary. Also involved with the Tonnisborg module are Dan Boggs (aka Aldarron), publisher of Champions of ZED and Dragons at Dawn and Bob Bledsaw II of Judges Guild.

 The whole "invest in Kickstarter for documentary to get a module" sounds a bit complicated to me and I think I would have preferred to have a separate Kickstarter for the Tonisborg project, but in any case I am really curious to see what this module will be all about. Having Aldarron on board with this project makes me even more optimistic as he is a talented game designer and someone with intimate knowledge of Blackmoor. If you are curious to see more of Greg Svenson's ideas for Blackmoor, make sure you get the free PDF booklets by Greg hosted at The Comeback Inn.

See more discussion of this article at the Comeback Inn here.