Thursday, March 31, 2011

David R. Megarry

Dave R. Megarry (center) 1974

In 1964 a group of gamers in St.Paul Minnesota founded the Midwest Military Simulation Association. Dave Arneson joined this group when he was in high school. Another member of this group was David R. Megarry. When Dave Arneson  started the Blackmoor game, Megarry was one of the players. In this game Dave Arneson presented Megarry with something that fascinated the player:

"Arneson drew up the first Dungeon map for a Blackmoor adventure that was expected to run one day and then (probably) the map would be brough back out if anyone ever went there again.   We played, everyone agreed that the game had gone really smoothly, and the next day we were back out in the kingdom, escorting some merchants through the woods or whatever.  Then Dave Megarry arrived with the prototype "Dungeon" game under his arm.  He had distilled the complex, open-ended Blackmoor dungeno crawl into a simple but practical board game.  He had also identified that, by restricting the players to a limited set of options (go left, or right, or back, and not  "NbyNW for three minutes. Now can the dragons see them there or not..." the Dungeon made everything manageable.  He and Dave Arneson discussed this, and from then on, the Dungeon was where most of the action was going to take place." (-David Wesely)
In the winter of 1972 Dave Arneson and David Megarry went down to Lake Geneva to present Megarry's "Dungeon!" game to Gary Gygax. During their meeting, Arneson also ran a Blackmoor game for Megarry, Gary Gygax, Ernie Gygax, Rob Kuntz, Terry Kuntz. As most of you will know, this lead to the creation of D&D in 1974. Megarry's Dungeon! game was released by TSR in 1975. Over at the Comeback Inn forum, we have been discussing how Megarry's Dungeon and Dave Arneson's Blackmoor game may have influenced eachother.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Necro's Clark Peterson to do Pathfinder

Clark Peterson formerly of Necromancer Games has announced his return to the gaming industry. Peterson gets mentioned in the Blackmoor blog because of his involvement with the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. On Monday he wrote the following:

I'm up to something. Not ready to say just what it is yet. But Paizo will be the first to know.
And it will be Pathfinder. Pathfinder is the game that has the soul of what D&D was coupled with proper changes for the modern game. That is what I want to support. Plus, I love all the people at Paizo and I love what they are all about. And the community here is just second to none.
You'll be hearing from me...

Judging based on his previous work, this is great news for the gaming industry. Now if we only could get him to work with Judges Guild and do more for the Wilderlands. Not quite Blackmoor, but almost the second best thing? :)


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

D&D Rules Cyclopedia on Mirage Arcana

If you are a loyal follower of this blog, you will know about my strong affection for the BECMI version of D&D, by Frank Mentzer. It should be no surprise then that one of my favorite RPG books is the D&D Rules Cyclopedia which collected almost all of the BECMI material in one single volume edited by Aaron Allston. I have just spent the evening listening to the latest Mirage Arcana podcast (ep #25!) where hosts Adrian and Craig cover this very book:

Episode 25: It's all in one book!…

As part of the D&D Month coverage, Craig and Adrian turn their attention to the mighty tome that is the Rules Cyclopedia. Dispelling myths of 'the kiddie version', we move on to our loathing of Bargle the Infamous and the childhood trauma of losing Aleena to his Magic Missiles. We discuss the races and classes, the enduring genius of the Battlesystem process of resolving mass combat, and cover the world of Mystara through the Gazetteers and the Poor Wizards Almanac. The Weapon Mastery system are discussed in terms of building adventure ideas and engaging NPCs and the Paths of Immortality are used to create truly epic stories and characters. Sprinkled throughout are practical ideas to take these concepts into your game.

So what are you waiting for?  Join us for D&D Month and game hard!
It's at Mirage Arcana.

The Mirage Arcana is one of my favorite podcasts and I enjoyed listening to this show in particular. I think they did the RC justice. One interesting thing that the podcast mentions is the difference between the Advanced D&D line and the Classic D&D line, and how while AD&D became a more rafined version of Gygax' vision for what D&D should be like the Classic line preserved the spirit of the game born through the cooperation of Gygax and Arneson.

I also like that they covered alot of related topics such as Aleena/Bargle, the Isle of Dread, Legacy of Blood etc. They also mention the Piazza and a certain humble Blackmoor Blogger, which is very cool.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Id Monster Revealed!

Some time ago my friend Rafael suggested to me that I try to track down the novel the Voyage of the Space Beagle by A.E. Van Vogt. "The Space Beagle" part of the title itself suggests a connection to Blackmoor of course, but I was even more surprised to see the appearance of a creature, the Coeurl, feeding on the "id" of local creatures. The Coeurl originally appeared in the novel Black Destroyer, also by Van Vogt, but that entire story was incorporated into the Voyage of the Space Beagle.

I have seen discussions about the Coeurl on D&D related forums in the past, as the same creature is also the inspiration for the iconic D&D monster, the Displacer Beast. I never made the connection to Blackmoor though, before I saw the passage about the creature feeding on "id".

The First Fantasy Campaign describes the Temple of Id, ancient ruins, where a creature known as the Id Monster, lurks, though a proper description of the creature was never provided. Untill now. I'd like to think of Arneson's Id Monster as a kind of mother of all Displacer Beasts, perhaps being the one from which all other Displacer Beasts were spawned. In our PbP Blackmoor campaign, we are in the midst of a fight with such creatures right now.

Thanks to Bobjester for providing additional information and links to this article!


Monday, March 21, 2011

The Green Man

Known as the Green Man, Tamis Azkanikin is one of the most dangerous magic users in the North. It was he who instigated the Vestfold Revolt (an event organized by either the Wizards Cabal or the Eldritch Underground, depending on which version of Blackmoor you are using). The true motives of the Green Man are unknown, but he seems to hate the Regency Council with a passion. This hatred has not diminished since his revolt in Vestfold was crushed. Azkanikin was badly injured in the attack leaving him scarred for life. He has found an ally in Taha Markovic, the Duke of Marban, who shares the Green Man's desire to remove Uther from his throne.

Where did the Green Man come from? Why does he have this strong preference for wearing green? Was he in fact someone who failed becoming the next Wizard of the Wood? Or is he a spellcaster, persecuted by the Wizards Cabal for refusing to submit to their will?

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

My tribute to Jim Roslof (1946-2011)

Over at the Piazza, The SecretDM posted that:

"While this news is slowly working its way across the blogosphere, I noticed no one had posted a comment about it here yet. Apologies if this isn't in fact the first mention of this.

On Saturday, March 19th, Jim Roslof passed away. Jim was an artist and former employee at TSR, whose most famous picture remains the original art for the B2 module 'Keep on the Borderlands'."

One of my favorite pieces by Roslof is "Nathaire creating the Colossus", used for the back cover of X2 Castle Amber.

You can see more tribute art to Roslof at Grognardia and at the Black Gate.

R.I.P. mr Roslof


Thursday, March 17, 2011

[video] Der Hexentoter von Blackmoor

DungeonDevil pointed me to this video, called Hexentoter von Blackmoor in German, although the original title was Bloody Judge. I like the German title better. ;)
Warning: this video is not for the faint of heart.

I am almost tempted to throw in some witch hunting for my next Blackmoor adventure. Or does this represent the work of the Wizards Cabal?


Monday, March 7, 2011

3rd Annual David L. Arneson Maritime Miniatures Event

 Last year, I was pleased to learn of the Dave Arneson Maritime Event in Minnesota. I am happy to hear that this tradition is continuing:

"Yarrrrgh, me buckos! It be the time o' the year when we sets sail once again on the High Seas of Tekumelyani Adventure, and celebrates the life and times of our dear old Captain Harchar of the Blazoned Sail Clan, that devilishly handsome seafaring rogue and Honest Merchant Seaman!"

In short, it's time once again for the annual David L. Arneson Memorial Maritime Miniatures Mayhem Event; Dave played the infamous sea captain Harchar in Prof. M. A. R. Barker’s Tekumel games for many years, and we like to remember him with an annual Tekumel miniatures game. This year, our third annual outing will be held on Saturday, April 9th, 2011, at the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center in Roseville, Minnesota. The event starts at noon, and goes until everyone is too tired to laugh any more.

The address is 1975 Oakcrest Avenue, Suite 10; for more information on the center, have a look at their website:

We have booked the upper Mezzanine level for the event, as befits the high standards of gaming that Dave set. (That's our story, anyway, and we're sticking to it.) We'll bring all the needful, and all you need to do is show up and have fun.

The basic plot of the game will be the same as the infamous "Saving Serqu's Sisters", or "Romp In The Swamp" we played at our Annual New Year’s Day game event; the idea is to save General Serqu's two sisters from A Horrible Fate at the hands of the terrible Hlutrgu. The last time around, these little rubbery nasties had it all their own way against the heavy infantry of the Legion of Serqu, Sword of the Empire, but this time around they'll have to contend with the intrepid Captain Harchar, his equally intrepid daughter Malia the Pirate Princess, and a couple of their friends like Carolyn, the Pirate Queen of Butrus. (If ye thinks ye detects A Theme, matey, ye'd be right on course, belike!)

There will be more boats, more swamp, more mayhem, more swamp, and a lot more fun for all and sundry as the Aethervox Gamers and their guests take on the best that Howard Fielding and the Tekumel Project can throw at them. We’re going to run this game several times in the course of the day so as to let everybody play different roles, too. Pictures from the last two years of this event are available at:

And further information will be available on my blog:

Please feel free to post this announcement anywhere you think people might be interested!

Yours, Chirine -

The above was taken from the announcement at the Comeback Inn.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Eldritch Underground

The Wizards Cabal started out as an organization seeking to create some stability in the magical community, preventing very powerful individuals to go on rampage, wrecking the kind of destruction that was seen during the Mage Wars. However, at one point the Cabal seems to have become more about control than any desire for lack of destruction. Spellcasters not willing to follow the "party line", or those with a natural powerful potential (sometimes called Sorcerers) were persecuted and sometimes put to death. This lead to the creation of the Eldritch Underground, an informal network of spellcasters working outside the Cabal in secret.

The most extreme members of this organization are known as the Sworn of Angvile, named after a Sorcerer who chose to  go directly against the forces of the Wizards Cabal, sacrificing himself and his followers in order to bring massive destruction to the Cabal.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wizards Cabal

The Wizards Cabal is somewhat problematic in Blackmoor canon, because it appeared in one form in the DA modules and was completely rewamped in the D20 line. The question then becomes, which version should I use for my campaign?

The DA Modules
The first appearance of the Wizards Cabal is in the module DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor. In this version, the Wizards Cabal is a secret society for Magic Users, lead by Tamis Azkanikin. They have set in motion a plot to kidnap King Uther, which is the main plot of the module.

The D20 Line
In the D20 line, the Wizards Cabal is not a secret society. Rather, they are an official organization of Wizards founded by Skelfer Ard. It is responsible of administering and training arcane spellcasters in Blackmoor and also in charge of persecuting Sorcerers and other unauthorized spellcasters.

One the one hand, it is not unlikely that the Wizards Cabal was changed with the new edition to better integrate the concept of Wizards and Sorcerers being two different types of arcane spellcasters. On the other hand it is worth examining the adventure potential this concept has. Sorcerers are a 3E concept, but earlier editons also had the concept of Wild Magic, which is pretty much how 3E Sorcerers are presented in Blackmoor.

Arneson Purists will scoff at this and say that one should ignore the D20 products, but I have never been one to reject ideas because of where they came from. To be honest I rather like the idea of an official organization for mages in Blackmoor. Although I no longer play 3E, I think viewing what those books refer to as Sorcerers, as Practitioners of Wild Magic, works for any edition. Interestingly, the D20 Blackmoor books also have a secret underground organization for such mages, called the Eldrich Underground. It seems to me, that the Eldritch Underground can easily fill the function that the original Wizards Cabal. This has already for the most part been done with the Underground being responsible for the Vestfold Revolt. This way we can still have the old Wizards Cabal, and have an official club for Magic Users as well?

What is the Wizards Cabal like in your Blackmoor?

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New Maps and More details on Blackmoor Foundations Book

More is being revealed about the Blackmoor Foundations book coming from the Secrets of Blackmoor crew. I mentioned the other day that the b...