Sunday, January 3, 2010

Birthday Present for JRR Tolkien

Seeing as today would have been Prof. Tolkien's 118th birthday, I decided to take a new look at the Professor's influence on early Blackmoor. As with most of D&D, Blackmoor was originally filled with Hobbits, Ents, Orcs, Balrogs and even references to Saruman, Sauron and Mordor! Ofcourse, these were removed from later printings of D&D, and were also dropped when Blackmoor returned to TSR with the DA series.

Arneson relied heavily on Chainmail when populating his setting and many of the Tolkien references were brought over from there. Greg Svenson confirms that

"Tolkien was a major influence, otherwise the primary races would not have included elves, dwarfs, hobbits, orcs and goblins; but, at the same time [...] there were many 'major' influences on our games. We all read lots of Sci Fi and Fantasy. Remember there was no cable TV or VHS and DVD players for entertainment in those days..."

While TSR were not able to use Tolkien's trademarks in their later published works, there is no reason that fans should feel bound by this. So let that be our present for Tolkien! Lets bring back the Balrogs, Hobbits and Ents to our games, in honor of the Professor who affected our lives in so many ways.



  1. This is a good point.

    With D&D3 Halflings became more "kender" like, which is fine, because a fat homebody that prefers good meals and sitting at home with friends, family and a good smoke makes for a poor adventurer. Bilbo was notable because he broke the mold.

    But since I have also been getting more into Blackmoor and wanting to use it as a old-school within a new-school game I thought that halflings are great for the rest of the world, but hobbits live in Blackmoor. Or something like that.

    While I am altering orcs a bit for my world, the orcs of Blackmoor could very well be of the old, Tolkien sort.

    Keep this sort of thing up. I love reading about the earlies days of our hobby and the works that help build it.

  2. Thanks Tim! :)

    It's often neglected how Bilbo as well as all of the members of the Fellowship were unusual representatives from their races rather than what the average elf, dwarf, hobbit or man was like.

    I did an earlier entry on Hobbits of Blackmoor which is linked above. In addition to the more homebody guys, Blackmoor also has the Docrae, introduced in the D20 line, which I have been warming up to lately.

    What are you doing with your Orcs? I also have some ideas for them, for a later entry perhaps.

    Thanks again for the feedback. This is the sort of thing that keeps me going and lets me know if I'm on the right track or not :)



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