Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Age of the Wolf art part 3

Here's more art by Lee Smith, originally intended to grace the pages of the Age of the Wolf book. Thanks to Lee, I am proud to be able to share this with you. These images give us an even better idea of where the designers were planning to take Blackmoor:


"The Beastman is a type of humanoid unique to Blackmoor. The beastmen of Blackmoor come in many different colors and varieties, but they all share some basic physical characteristics: All beastmen are a little larger than a large human, with long coarse fur and yellow-gold eyes. They have powerful, barrel-like chests and muscular arms that are almost long enough to drag on the ground. Each beastman’s head type is random, even within family units and clans."
 Its good to see the Beastmen having a role in Age of the Wolf. I have often found them more interesting than Orcs which feature in every setting.

The Hills Have Eyes:

"A pair of unlucky adventurers encounter a band of Mutated Ash Goblins on a rocky ridge. Soon they will be overwhelmed by these vile creatures and taken to the Brood Mother to decide their fate." 
Ash Goblins were introduced in the D20 line, but they just seemed to be an arbitrary monster included in the 3E Sourcebook and I could never figure out why they had used them instead of various other monsters from the DA series for instance. However it seems like they had more ideas planned for this race to be revealed in the Age of the Wolf Sourcebook. 

Brood Mother

" The Brood Mother of the Korkak tribe of mutated ash goblins is a repulsive form that remains only vaguely humanoid. She is a hideously obese and over-sized goblin, wrapped in roll upon roll of loose, flabby flesh. A tiny head with greasy hair stares with maddened eyes from above, while vestigial arms and legs flail and twitch without purpose. Various vermin crawl from between the folds of skin. Incapable of movement, bereft of any prehensile dexterity, the brood mother is utterly reliant upon her tribemates to survive."
Okay, that is gross! This is a new addition to the Ash Goblin ecology. Seems like a pretty interesting idea for a creature and it also makes the Ash Goblins more different from regular Goblins. This is a good thing. In the 3E version just seemed like Goblins with a few modifications and I was wondering if it was really worth it. Now that they were developing their society and ecology more, I am beginning to see the sense of including this creature. You know, in spite of the gross nature of these ladies...

Dragonborn Bombardier

 From the all-dragonborn city-state of Rodhin, he is part of a secret group, called the Bombardiers of Rodhin that serves the dragonborn king. Originally, the bombardiers were archers. Since Rodhin started developing greater technological prowess, they have replaced their bows with mechanical bolt-throwers powered by explosive steam power.
 I've been wondering about Rodhin since I noticed it on the Age of the Wolf map! From the 4E sourcebook on, we knew that they would be giving more room to the new 4E races. Not sure how interesting this would be to long time Blackmoor fans, but if you are going to include Dragonborn it makes sense to have their city in the Dragon Hills. It is also interesting to see that they were planning to introduce what appears to be gun powder weapons into the Age of the Wolf.

Revelation Death Priest

 "The Revelation Deathpriests are part of a crazy cult obsessed with the act of re-animation, and have been driven mad by their desire to reconcile the gulf between science and magic. The cult’s activities involve tinkering with life and death, and result in the creation of rather a lot of tech-infused undead."
 Another disturbing image. These remind me of the Necrotech I suggested for the Egg of Coot. I have no idea if this cult is linked to the Egg, but it would make sense in my opinion.

Finally, I would like to take another opportunity to thank Lee Smith for finnishing these wonderful paintings even though the project has been cancelled. At least we can get another glimpse at what this product line was intended to be like, even though it never saw the light of day. I hope you guys enjoy seeing these as much as I do!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dark Dungeons RPG -First Draft available!

Inspired by the infamous Chick Tract of the same name, Blacky the Blackball has created a new retro-clone RPG called Dark Dungeons. The game uses example characters with names similar to that of characters from the Chick Tract, but the rules are strangely similar to Frank Mentzer's BECMI D&D, my favorite version of D&D incidentally!

Although named after this paranoid and misinformed comic strip, this looks like its going to be a great game. The name and use of characters should obvously be taken ironically, turning anti-RPG propaganda into an RPG is an amazing way to get back at mr Chick! The idea for the game first appeared in a discsussion at the Piazza.

The first draft of the game can be downloaded here.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Dragons at Dawn Reviews!

Only a few days since Dragons at Dawn came out and people are already writing reviews. Here are some highlights:

From Sean Wills at Bite the Bulette:

"My 1st impressions is that Daniel has faithfully drawn on the discussions with those who played with Dave Arneson, as well as info from the man himself over the years, to recreate a very old old school experience. Have a look at the Lulu preview and you'll see what I mean. Combat has a big-ass chart, if you can dig that - DAD's for you.

It reads like a labour of love, it's audacious, a product of studious enthusiastic research and a fitting tribute to DA."

From Steelcaress at Roll 'Em:
"Overall: 4/5 (This is a neat game! Part of me wishes this had been published in '74 instead)"

From Geoffrey McKinney at the OD&D Board:
"This is a very cool, VERY old-school game. It’s as close as you can come to playing the game the way it was played when NOBODY in the whole world played it except for Dave Arneson and his buddies back in 1970-72. To my way of thinking, this game is 38 years overdue. We owe Dan Boggs a great debt of gratitude for all the hard work and research he devoted to re-creating the original role-playing game."

Although Old Schooler reviews tend to be positive towards old school material, all of these great reviews are making me optimistic about this Arnesonian game. And this is not all we can look forward to from the author. Dan Boggs has already announced that he is planning the release of the first expansion rules, Dragons at Twilight.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Maritime Mayhem!

Just a quick reminder for anyone near St. Paul, Minnesota, of the Dave Arneson Memorial Maritime Mayhem Event being arrange at the Source Comics & Games store today.

If you are one of those able to go, please take pictures, write reports and send them to me! :)


Friday, April 9, 2010

More lost Age of the Wolf art!

Last month, I shared a painting that artist Lee Smith was comissioned to do for the now abandoned Age of the Wolf line for Blackmoor. Here's more!


The artist's comment:
"A Character class illustration for a project that was cancelled. This guy is an inventor, able to piece together artefacts or powerful weapons from various components. I like to think of him as a 'fantasy MacGyver':)"
The inventor class first appeared in Blackmoor Clock & Steam and it has long been known that it would be converted to 4E in the Age of the Wolf sourcebook. This further suggests that the rise of technology was going to be a prominent theme in this Blackmoor subsetting.

Tiefling Relic Hunter:

The artist's comment:
A character illustration for a cancelled project, this is a Tiefling Relic Hunter. He is employed to track down arcane artefacts.
Not all fans will be happy to see  Tieflings in Blackmoor. The Blackmoor: First Campaign Sourcebook (4E) introduced this 4E core race. The race description in that book did hint that this race would become more important in the future, so having them appear in AoW is no big surprise.

The artist's comment:
Illustration from a cancelled project, this is a type of undead that are animated not by the will of power-hungry necromancers, nor by the tragedy of their death, but by a force called arcane pollution -- their souls killed by wanton use of arcane magic, and then returned to animation by the same forces. 

This last one is perhaps the most interesting painting. The concept of arcane pollution and the idea that this can create undead is pretty fascinating. This is perhaps the explanation for the legion of undead following the Herald of Thanatos?

I like all of these paintings. They are very well done, and its hard to pick a favorite. I would like to thank Lee for sharing them with us!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

More Maps!

When I posted about Dave L's maps the other day, some of those who commented expressed a dislike about the site hosting the maps. Now Dave L has made more Blackmoor hex maps and he has allowed me to upload them all to my site!

The maps can be downloaded here.

Discuss the maps with their creator at the Comeback Inn.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Remembering Dave Arneson

David L. Arneson (October 1, 1947 - April 7, 2009)

"Gone, but not forgotten," says today's Grognardia article. A year has passed, but today the blogosphere and various forums are honoring Dave. Gaming events are being arranged as a tribute to him. My previous entry here detailed the game Dragon's at Dawn as another example of how Dave Arneson is being remembered by the many fans of his ideas.


Dragons at Dawn RPG released!

The following was announced by aldarron at the Comeback Inn yesterday: 

The long asked for, long awaited recreation of the rules behind Blackmoor...

Welcome to Dave Arnesons Basement. It’s 1971 and you’ve been invited to play this cool new game… Experience the thrill of the very first RPG adventures with Dragons at Dawn, the rule set that hearkens back to the first days of adventure gaming when everything was new and the possibilities endless. Dragons at Dawn is a retro tribute to the very first fantasy gaming system pioneered by Dave Arneson, the man who later went on to co-author the worlds most popular roleplaying game. The result of years of careful historical research, Dragons at Dawn is entirely consistent with Arneson’s original, largely forgotten methods of play developed roughly in the period 1970-1973. It is an imaginative foray into what it was like to game long before the rules were available in stores.
The History:
Partly inspired by a horror movie marathon, Arneson sat down one weekend in December of 1970 and began the design of a castle and village peopled with monsters and heroes, with players able to play either one. Mr. Arneson thought it would be fun to have the players adventure as individual warriors in a vast dungeon beneath the castle. His group of Napoleonic wargamers loved the new game and clamored for more. There were no rules for this sort of thing so Dave made them up, inventing things like character classes, ability scores, experience points, magic systems, alignments, and level advancement. Later, Arneson introduced his new game to Gary Gygax and the two partnered on writing up a rule set that became quite famous, but was quite different from the game as Arneson played it. Dragons at Dawn returns to the first version of play at the dawn of fantasy RPG gaming.
The Game:
First debuted at the 2010 Dave Arneson Memorial Game Day in NYC, the 60 page rule book allows play in two formats; original game where players take on the role of either Warriors or Wizards, or an enhanced game where additional classes – Elf Mage, Thief Assassin, Merchant and Sage – are also available. The combat system is easy to master as it uses some very familiar statistics in some very unusual ways reminiscent of the early wargames from which role playing games developed. Upon this basic format, layers of complexity can be added as players desire. This same philosophy is found throughout the game. Dragons at Dawn approaches gaming with none of the assumptions and habits developed from later rules, allowing a return to a kind of free form and open style of interaction between players and referees to develop and play whatever aspects of adventure gaming the group likes best.
Dragons at Dawn is available as a downloadable pdf at
or in print at

I am pretty excited  to see a retro-game inspired by Dave Arneson's original rules. I know that the author, DH Boggs has been doing alot of research over the last few years onto this matter, so I am really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy to see the results for myself.

A discussion of the game, can be found here. 


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Last Fantasy Campaign: Uther Lives!

The ongoing Blackmoor PbP, coined the Last Fantasy Campaign, and in which I play the character General Harwan, has taken a shocking turn of events. King Uther, believed to be dead and buried, is revealed to be alive!

As Vestfold and large parts of western Blackmoor have been destroyed by the Egg of Coot, the return of Uther hints to a turning of the tide. Could this be a chance for the Company of the Maiden to finally strike back at Blackmoor's enemies? I am excited to see what our DM, Rafael, comes up with next!

Image source: http://www.bzents.co.uk/blog.html


Monday, April 5, 2010

Dave L's Blackmoor Hex Map

Piazza poster Dave L is making new gorgeous looking Blackmoor hex maps! He just posted his version of the DA1 map here. Everyone should click on the link above and download it!

Here's a sample:

Some more discussions about Dave L's maps can be found at the Comeback Inn.


An Easter Egg.... of Coot?

Do Blackmoorians have something similar to Easter? The closest I can think of would be Spring Equinox, originally a Druidic holiday, but now celebrated by all in Blackmoor on the 21st of Yovenouom (March) as described in the D20 Sourcebook.

Of course, they might have reason to fear the Season of the Egg! Alright, jokes aside, hope you all had a wonderful Easter!


The Piazza - D&D Worlds Forum Celebrates 16 Years!

  One of my favourite places to talk about D&D is The  Piazza . I can't belive its been 16 years since fans created that forum. Peop...