Saturday, April 16, 2022

Was DaveCon 2022 a Failure?

 As mentioned earlier on this blog, DaveCon 2022, a convention taking place on April 8.-11 2022 in Minneapolis Minnesota, was an event to commemorate the legacy of Dave Arneson. In the days following the convention, there have been surprisingly few reports or photos coming out of the event and for the most part the social media connected to the organisers, the event itself and guests of honor were pretty much silent. This struck me as a bad sign. 

Ernie Gygax and David Wesely


However, some reports are now coming out, suggesting that DaveCon was a a great time for those who were there, although a much smaller event than many of the participants were hoping for. In a video by TSR alumni Tim Kask, the former Dragon Magazine editor suggested that the reasons for the convention not being more successful was a schism formed in Minneapolis caused by "colossal egos" and negativity from the Arneson Estate


As a long time fan of Dave Arneson, I would have liked to see this event be an amazing success. It is great that we have finally reached a point in history where people from all corners of the hobby would like to recognise the importance of the legacy of Dave Arneson and his Minnesota group of gamers. As Tim Kask says, it was the meeting between this tradition of gaming and the Lake Geneva group of gamers that gave rise to Dungeons & Dragons. As I have mentioned before, I think it is admirable of Tim Kask, who had a big falling out with Dave Arneson, to be willing to participate in a convention that honored this legacy.


While I am not subject to all on goings over there from where I sit on the other side of the Atlantic, I think Kask is wrong about the Arneson Estate having any blame for what happened to this convention. DaveCon organizer Vic Dorso has previously claimed that he was told not to contact the Estate which seems very strange to me and makes me suspect that this would have been a misunderstanding. 

As to the reasons why the convention was not met with more enthusiasm, I think the answer is a little more complicated than how Kask relates it. Here are a few things:


1) Unfortunate associations with Ernie's other endeavours. While DaveCon apparently has no connections to Ernie Gygax' other gaming industry ventures, having Ernie  as one of the first announced guests of honor was not just an odd choice for a convention dedicated to Dave Arneson, but it also made the bad reputation of Ernie's other involvements bleed over onto DaveCon in the eyes of many fans. It did not help that the DaveCon organiser was observed on social media joking with one of Ernie's less reputable partners about not needing to respect the Arneson Estate. (Note: This blog is not taking an anti Ernie stance or suggesting that Ernie should not have been invited, but given the current atmosphere in many corners of our hobby, perhaps including his name as one of the main headliners was a poor decision from a PR perspective).


2) Although Blackmoor Alumni such as David Wesely and Bill Hoyt were brought on board as guests of honor, there was very little about the convention that brought associations to Dave Arneson or Blackmoor. No photos of Dave were used, no Blackmoor imagery or even much textual description of the importance of Dave's legacy in the promo material. 


3) Failure to involve Blackmoor alumni or hardcore fans. I am not subject to the organiser's efforts to engage the Minnesota gamers, but I know that some discussions on closed forums blew up. On the other hand, The Comeback Inn or the Blackmoor related Facebook groups that I organise saw close to zero engagement. There are many other Blackmoor players from the original campaign still around. The Arneson Estate could have been contacted. What about Dustin Clingman who published Blackmoor with Dave for the 3rd and 4th edition of Blackmoor? Or the producers of the Secrets of Blackmoor Documentary? Now, it is possible that all of these people were being difficult, but that is not my experiene with any of them, especially when it comes to an effort to honor Dave's legacy. 


I would like to stress that I am not saying any of this to gloat. I would like to see a convention in Dave's name be as successful as it has the potential to be. Maybe it could become something like GaryCon was in its early days which I hear was a small, but extremely cool convention. Victor Dorso has already announced that he is planning a new DaveCon in April next year, so hopefully some of the issues with this year's convention can be worked out by then. 


If anyone should want to organise future Dave Arneson related events, I can offer free advice to those who ask! :)


-Havard

Monday, March 28, 2022

Comeback Inn Forum is Back!


 After a period of downtime, we are happy to announce that the Comeback Inn Forum is once again up and running! We have updated the forum software and hopefully we are back better than ever before. We really appreciate your patience during our downtime and we really look forward to seeing everyone back at the ultimate fansite for Dave Arneson's Blackmoor!


Click here to return to Blackmoor!



-Havard

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Dave Arneson Education Scholarship Organised by DaveCon's Victor Dorso (Not Associated With Arneson Family)

Victor Dorso has set up a Scholarship fund to honor the legacy of D&D Co-Creator Dave Arneson. This is to be financed through revenue and donations at DaveCon. This was announced at the DaveCon website and also mentioned in a recent video at the Grogtalk youtube channel




"D.A.V.E.S. DaveCon Academic & Vocational, Education Scholarship. The D.A.V.E.S fund is to benefit three students each year to further their education dreams with 100% of money raised thru Donations, Ticket Sales and Game Auction proceeds. First place winner receives 70% , Second place receives 20%, Third place receives 10% of the total amount raise thru Donations, Ticket Sales and Game Auction proceeds. All ticket sales are $5.00 cash each available at the Convention registration table."

The quote above is taken from the DaveCon website. Dave Arneson was a student at St. Paul University in Minneapolis when created Dungeons & Dragons with Gary Gygax. Dave was 27 when D&D was published. I am sure he would appreciate the funds helping other students achieve their dreams. 

DaveCon organizer Victor Dorso. Screen shot from the Grogtalk youtube show.



As with DaveCon itself, it is not associated with the Arneson Family. I feel that this is a shame as it would lend more credibility to the entire endeavour, but at least it looks like Victor Dorso is trying to do something positive in Dave's name. That is a good thing. 

-Havard

Monday, March 21, 2022

"Across Black Moors" is a Blackmoor inspired adventure by Carlos Lising of CASL entertainment

I recently recieved news of this new adventure inspired by Dave Arneson's Blackmoor. It is written by Carlos Lising of CASL entertainment. The module is announced as the official module of DaveCon, a convention to commemorate Dave Arneson's legacy next month and will presumably be sold or given out to attendees of the convention. The convention has drawn some criticism for not involving Dave Arneson's family, but has been described as a passion project of its founder Victor Dorso.

 





"DC1 Compliant with OSRIC. 
Dungeon Module DC1 Across Black Moors. By carlos a.lising. An adventure for characters levels 3-5

Long has the bizarre and potent entity known as Orrg of Oot held sway over the Black Moors, controlling the common folk of the land beneath the weighty chains of thralldom and a silent, pervasive terror. Despite its fearsome power, however, an opportunity to fight back against this alien foe has made itself known. Will your heroes strike a blow for freedom on behalf of the Black Moors - or will the Oorg of Oot continue its reign of tyranny over the land forevermore?

This module was the official adventure from DaveCon 2022. It contains a challenging scenario and eight pre-rolled, playtested tournament characters. DC1 is a complete adventure in and of itself and may thus be used for competition among players (pr groups of players) or as a non-scored adventure included in the cnotext of an ongoing game. Also included are referees's maps, notes, encounter descriptions for players, and a background scenario allowing the module to be easily placed withing a pre-existing campaign."


The cover blurb quoted above is of great interest to me. The villain's name is spelled Orrg of Oot and Oorg of Ooot in the same paragraph, but it is obvious that it is a nod to the alternate names given to the Egg of Coot in Dave Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign, where the names  Ogg of Ot and Orrg er Druig were presented as two aliases of this legendary Blackmoor villain. The description of the Black Moors as being ruled by this being suggests that the adventure takes place before Blackmoor was liberated by the elves and long before the DA modules or the ZGG D20 version of Blackmoor. My immediate thought is that the module will be harder to reconcile with the Greyhawk version of Blackmoor, but the blurb does say it can be easily integrated into any pre-existing campaign.

Across the Black Moors is not the first gaming product to be created as a tribute to the legacy of Dave Arneson of course. We also have Dragons at Dawn and Champions of Zed both by DH Boggs, Rob S Conley's Blackmarsh well as the excellent campaigns and sourcebooks organized at the Comeback Inn Forum. Greg Svenson The Lost Dungeons of Tonnisborg feels like its  more than a tribute, but I wanted to mention it anyway. More on that later. 

What other Dave Arneson inspired games may we see in the future?

Did I forget anything? Please let me know in the comments!



-Havard

Unique Blackmoor Map Signed by Dave Arneson Considered Sold at Gary Con 2022

Brent Chumley recently posted on Facebook about this wonderful map on Facebook. Chumley created this Blackmoor map based on Dave Arneson's maps for the Zeitgeist Games iteration of Blackmoor. The map was released in poster format with the Softcover Blackmoor Campaign Sourcebook from 2004. The big news now is that Chumley is in possession copy of this very map that he made that was signed by Dave Arneson. And he may be convinced to sell it off at the Gary Con auction. 






Here's what Chumley had to say about the map:



"As the Artist that created the Dave Arneson Blackmoor map for Zeitgeist Games back in 2005, I have the ONE AND ONLY copy of this map SIGNED by DAVE ARNESON himself for sale!!!! I am attaching photos of it along with pics of his signature and my cartography credit. I am interested to see if anyone is interested in this piece of history as it is the only one in existence!!! I WILL have this map with me at GaryCon. There is a room dedicated to Dave at GaryCon with a miniaturized version of this map that sits on the table just inside the entrance to the room. I am the artist that created this map and may try to put it in the Auction if there is interest. Direct Message me at the show or before for details if interested. Luke Gygax"


If anyone has an insane amount of money and are going to GaryCon, feel free to buy it and send it to me as a present. :D Just kidding of course, but I always loved this Blackmoor map. Gary Con is March 24-27



-Havard

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Gygax Alumni to Celebrate Dave Arneson's Legacy at New Convention DaveCon in 2022


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The new gaming convention DaveCon was announced last year and is to be held in Roseville, Minnesota, for the first time this year from April 8-10th (bring a sweater probably?). Dave Arneson passed away on April 7th so it is possible that this is the reason for the date.


Although very little is known about the actual gaming events of the convention, the list of guests surprisingly included several names of people who had much stronger ties to Gary Gygax than to Dave, including Ernie Gygax and Tim Kask. It is nice to see that the theme of the convention is "Unification" which could be seen as an olive branch offered for the harsh criticism offered from the Gygax camp towards Dave when he was still alive. The inclusion of Ernie Gygax caused some concern given this Gygax son's association with the somewhat controversial TSR Con. This convention appears to be a completely separate event though, created by Victor Dorso of the newly formed Angry Dwarf Games.


It is also nice to see long time friends of Dave Arneson such as David Wesely and Bill Hoyt on the guest list. Convention website includes the following disclaimer: "Angry Dwarf Games LLC and DaveCon are not in any way affiliated with the Estate of Dave Arneson LLC". It is a shame that this convention has not reached out to Dave Arneson's family for this event. It would also have been nice to see the documentary crew from Secrets of Blackmoor appear at the convention, but they have apparently not been invited at this time. 


Hopefully, this convention will work out the remaining kinks in the months to come, and end up being a true celebration of Dave Arneson's legacy



-Havard

Was DaveCon 2022 a Failure?

 As mentioned earlier on this blog, DaveCon 2022, a convention taking place on April 8.-11 2022 in Minneapolis Minnesota, was an event to c...