Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Science Fantasy

Back when Arneson ran his games, notions of the genres of science fiction and fantasy had not become segmented as they are today. In literature spaceships and aliens would often appear in fantasy tales. This made it easier for Arneson to experiment more with the genre in his Blackmoor games, experimentation which is probably one of the things that made Blackmoor different from many later D&D settings. In his latest blog entry, Robert S Conley identifies Science Fantasy as one of the growing trends of the Old School renaissance.

The best known example of Science Fantasy in Blackmoor is of course the City of the Gods, but already in Supplement II, the Temple of the Frog features aliens, laser weapons and other technology. All of this was apparent in Arneson's early games as well. Empire of the Petal Throne creator Professor MAR Barker had connections with Arneson (whether the professor played in Blackmoor is yet to be confirmed) and may have influenced eachothers creations in many ways, including the science fiction element found in both Blackmoor and Tekumel. According to Greg Svenson, the science fiction element of the game dated back to its earliest days:

"...several of the initial players were playing 20th C types who were transplanted into the Blackmoor world (which according to Wesley and Maker was before my first dungeon adventure), so the Sci Fi link was there from the beginning."

 I wonder if the lack of emphasis on science fantasy in the D20 Blackmoor line might not have been an opportunity missed. It would have clearly defined Blackmoor in a yet to be explored niche. On the other hand, many still feel uncomfortable with combining these two genres.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! To all my loyal followers and random passers by. I hope this will be a time to relax and enjoy life with those closest to you :)


Monday, December 21, 2009

Age of the Wolf Map!

 Looking at the cover for Age of the Wolf, you may have noticed this part of a beautifully rendered map for the Age of the Wolf campaign setting.  As you may remember, Age of the Wolf is set 269 years into Blackmoor's future. A lot has changed during the years that have passed, apparently. From the map alone we can learn that the City of Blackmoor has been destroyed. Boggy Bottom is also marked off as ruins. What has happened to these places? Is it the Afridhi? Or the Egg of Coot? Notice also a new city, Rodhin located in the Spine of the Dragon. I don't recognize it from any of the older maps. You will also notivce that Glendover is misspelled on this map, but I assume that is only a typo. Back to the Ruins of Blackmoor, we already know that Blackmoor would be destroyed in the Age of the Wolf since the announcement of the product called Ruins of Blackmoor. What disaster caused all this destruction to our beloved realm? Hopefully, some day someone will share with us what they had planned for this setting.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

[video] Gygax Arneson Tribute

As the end of the year approaches, I thought it'd be nice to share a little Gygax Arneson tribute video that I found on youtube:


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Was Supplement II Arneson's work?

Well, certainly it was, but as it turns out only parts of what appeared in D&D Supplement II: Blackmoor was written by Dave Arneson himself. Over at the Dragonsfoot Forums , people have been investigating which parts of Supplement II were Arneson's. In a recent post, Aldarron sums it like this:

Arnesons material in Supp II;
Temple of the Frog, pretty much straight from Arneson, with light editing by Kask. Marsh's statement that Gygax converted it must be a misunderstanding, generalizing from the rest of Arnesons material (which was somewhat converted by Kask). My reason for saying this is that anyone who has read TotF will be struck by all the non standard FFC like approaches, mechanics and terminology used. There's nothing Gygaxian about it, not even the way stats or lack thereof are presented.

The Disease section was straight from Arneson with only light editing by Kask. (I asked him, see pages 138-40 of Q&A here on DF and a few pages earlier for monk topic). Arneson also wrote a similar article on diseases for the first Pegasus magazine.

The hit location was perhaps a little more closely edited but was also from Arneson.

The Assasin , including the assasination table, was "reimagined" from Arnesonian material to conform to "standard" Greyhawk D&D. (same Q&A with Tim Kask pages). Arneson, on his web page, mentions a backstabbing thief arising in Blackmoor - likely the progenetor of the Assasin, since the D&D thief came from another gaming group and was first written up by Gygax.

The rest of the material in Supp II came from other people.
Apparently, Arneson provided enough material for an entire supplement himself, but other people at TSR considered the rest of the material "unusable". One can only wonder what this submitted, but never published material might have been. Some have speculated that this remaining material was what made it to become the First Fantasy Campaign Supplement. If so, it is great that Arneson with the help of Bob Bledsaw of Judges Guild made the material available. It is interesting that TSR decided not to make more use of what Arneson submitted. It has been suggested that it had to do with the quality of the material, but I suspect it had as much to do with understanding Arneson's ideas, which at times were quite different from that of Gygax.


Monday, December 14, 2009

[Characters] The Great Svenny

Today the Blackmoor Blog celebrates the legendary Blackmoor character known as the Great Svenny. Svenny is the character played by original Blackmoor player Greg Svenson ever since he first joined Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor game perhaps as early as in 1970. He played the character actively in Dave's campaign between 1970-1975 and later for a convention in 1976 and a reunion game in 1991.
The Baron of Newgate has a history of countless adventures in the lands of Blackmoor. In an interview at Sham’s Gameblog earlier this year, Greg Svenson revealed that:

 “I participated in literally hundreds of adventures between early 1971 and 1975… I hardly even remember the famous Temple of the Frog and Valley of the Ancients adventures. I know I was there, but they were not as memorable for me.”

Two adventures do stand out in Greg’s memory though: Surviving the first dungeon adventure and the raid on the lair of Fred Funk’s Orc tribe on the 10th level of Blackmoor dungeon.
Today the Great Svenny is the Lord High Regent of the Regency Council of the Kingdom of Blackmoor.
Svenny is currently the Lord High Regent of the Regency Council of the Kingdom of Blackmoor:
“When I started gaming with Dave again in Orlando in 1999, I played Svenny’s son, Sol, although I called him Svenny Junior at first, until I put together Svenny's family history. I am currently playing Sol in an online play by post game (the Tomb of Rahotep in honor of Gary Gygax on the Wayfarer's Inn website). I have also been playing one of his grandchildren, Sven, in [The Grim Winter Campaign]...”

(Discuss the Great Svenny here)


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Who owns Zeitgeist Games?

"My name is Dustin. I am the CEO of IMI Labs, LLC, a virtual world development studio and parent company of Zee Gee Games. I was previously the CEO of Zeitgeist Games, Inc, which I sold in 2008"
The above quote is taken from Dustin Clingman's website. I was a bit surprised by this. Granted, Clingman has not been taking part in the promotion of Blackmoor products for a long time. His last post on the MMRPG forum was made on March 10th, 2008, a little over a month after the announcement of the publishing agreement with Code Monkey Press:

"Oviedo Florida -- Zeitgeist Games announced today that it has completed a publishing agreement with Code Monkey Publishing, LLC to assume production of it's existing and future role playing gaming products. "We're very excited to be working with Code Monkey" said Zeitgeist Games President Dustin Clingman. "We've had an outstanding relationship with CMP for years and this is a very natural progression. They're going to be able to give all of our products and customers the proper attention that they deserve -- these are exciting days!"
Clingman further detailed the publishing plans going forward saying that existing products in the Dave Arneson's Blackmoor line would go to print in rapid succession and that the company had already begun work on a revision of the Core Campaign materials for D&D 4th edition while it continues to support its existing d20 products."
One question that arises is what happened to Arneson's shares in the company. From what I understand, Arneson was also a part owner of Zeitgeist Games, something which most likely was what made the publishing of Blackmoor possible in the first place. Had Arneson previously sold his shares to Clingman? CEO or not, Clingman introduced himself as President of Zeitgeist Games as late as November 2009.

While the quote from Clingman's website states that he sold ZGG, but is the owner of Zee Gee Games, the Zee Gee Games Website states that this is the same company that simply changed name:
"Introducing ZeeGee Games!

Zeitgeist Games becomes ZeeGee Games. Same great people, new easier to pronounce name! Check back for more information!"

 I guess the gaming industry is a complicated place!


Disease in Blackmoor

In the latest entry of the Dungeons and Digressions blog, ze bulette talks about disease in D&D. The article mentions Supplement II Blackmoor as a good resource for information about this phenomenon. Sure enough, on page 52 of Supplement II, the following diseases are detailed:

  • Grippe
  • Bubonic Plague
  • Cholera
  • Malaria
  • Small Pox
  • TB
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Typhus
  • Yellow Fever
  • Adv. Leprocy
  • Crud
  • Spottet Fever
I am not aware of whether disease was a common phenomenon of Blackmoor campaigns. So far I have not seen any accounts from the original players mentioning it, nor does it seem like a particularly heroic element to a story. Still, the rules can come in pretty handy as can be seen in the previously mentioned blog.

Of course, it would be wrong autmonatically linking something to Blackmoor because of its appearance in Supplement II. Beyond Temple of the Frog, many authors contributed to Supplement II. Editor Tim Kask wrote the following on Supplement II:

"TotF was the only part of BM that was Dave’s alone. In fact, if the whole of the book were analyzed, Dave wrote the TotF segment, and I wrote about 65 or 70% of the rest. Gary  [Gygax], Brian [Blume] and Rob [Kuntz], and Terry [Kuntz], too, contributed the rest. Some of the ideas might have been Dave’s, but the execution, expansion and explanation were ours."

 So where does that leave diseases in Blackmoor? I guess that's up to you! :)


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Supplement VI: The Majestic Wilderlands

It's been all over the blogosphere these last few days, but I wanted to mention it as well. Written by Robert S. Conley, this supplement brings the Wilderlands to the Swords and Wizardry system. As Moritz mentions in his blog, it should be easy to convert to any pre-D20 D&D edition. Blackmoor first saw print as Supplement II for OD&D. Having The Majestic Wilderlands be marked as Supplement VI makes for a nice connection between the two worlds. The connection between Blackmoor and the Wilderlands goes back to the First Fantasy Campaign in which Blackmoor was linked with Judges Guild's house setting through the Valley of the Ancients.

Edit: Conley has started a discussion of this product here.


Friday, December 4, 2009

My Very Cool Followers!

Its been nearly two months now since I took my first steps into the blogosphere. I had no idea what I was getting into at the time, but hey people are reading this! :) As of now I have 35 entries posted and 35 followers (36 including myself, hehe)! I am a little humbled by this support though. Will I be able to produce the sort of material you will be interested in reading? I hope so! Some of you are "friends" from various internet communities, but others I have no idea who you are. I am happy that you are here though!

I guess the point of this post is simply to say thank you for reading my blog and all of the comments you have added to my entries! That really makes it worth doing this! :)


Thursday, December 3, 2009

C&C Society Setting

In a blog entry from the 20th of Novemer this year, James Maliszewski writes that:
"Both Blackmoor and Greyhawk have at least part of their origins in the Domesday Book map of the Castle & Crusade Society of the International Federation of Wargamers. Issue #13 of that periodical included an early version of Blackmoor, well before OD&D was ever published."

The Castle & Crusade Society was a chapter of the International Federation of Wargamers and was formed in 1968 by Gary Gygax. In the First Fantasy Campaign, Arneson writes that he reserved a remote spot on the IFW's Castle & Crusade map of the Great Kingdom. The Great Kingdom is ofcourse the basis of Greyhawk's Great Kingdom and also the Great Kingdom of Blackmoor, which Dave Ritchie turned into the Empire of Thonmia in the DA series and beyond.

What is known about the original C&C World? At the Acaeum, Rob Kuntz describes how he was listed as King of the Great Kingdom. This is reflected in the Blackmoor timeline even today, as it is stated that Blackmoor was founded by King Robert I of Geneva.

Maliszewski further describes how the C&CS World can still be seen in both Greyhawk and Blackmoor:
"Echoes of this reality can be seen in the existence of a northern realm of Blackmoor within the World of Greyhawk and of a "Great Kingdom" in each -- a formerly good and noble realm that fell to evil and despotism and against which several nations rebelled. Likewise, there's also a Duchy of Ten(h) in each setting, whose name, legend has it, derives from its existence in section 10 of the C&C map, which was parceled into "land grants" to be given to C&C members to develop on their own."

The C&CS World map was roughly based on North America. More information about this setting can probably be learned from the Domesday Book, the C&CS Newsletter. Issue #13 has the first known printed information about Blackmoor.

An original map of the town of Blackmoor from #13 of the Domesday Book can be viewed here. A revised version of this map appears in the FFC.

Illustrations: Top: Reworked illustration of the Domesday Book Cover by Kevin Mayle. Bottom: Original Domesday Book #13 cover.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One Month Left?

According to the recent press releases from CMP/ZGG, the lisence agreement with WotC expires at the end of the year or early next years. This could mean there's less than a month left for those of you who are interested in getting legal Blackmoor pdfs and havent done so yet. Code Monkey's Website has been problematic for ages and today I couldnt even access their store. You can get most of the pdfs in stores like drivethru.com, rpgnow.com or paizo.com. Drivethru/RPGnow seems to have lower prices than paizo does for this line of products. Robert Reed mentioned that there would be a 20% discount at some of the stores.





New Look!

Today I am proud to present the new look of the blog! Much is the same ofcourse, but we have a new logo in the style of the could-have-been Age of the Wolf line for Blackmoor 4E. This doesnt mean the contents of the blog will shift towards more D20 oriented entries though. I intend to continue trying to keep the blog balanced between old school and new school material. Also, so you wont forget the old logo:


Have a nice day!


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 inte...