Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mermaids: Not what they used to be!

Just watched Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides the other day. One of my favorite things in the film were the Mermaids. Not just for the obvious eye candy, but the movie really turned them into creatures to be feared and respected.

It made me think about the underwater races of Blackmoor. From Supplement II to the Voyage of Captain Castagere's Blossom in Module DA4, Underwater or Sea Based Adventures have always been a part of the Blackmoor Setting. Blackmoor is home to many Sea Monsters. Perhaps Mermaids should claim their rightful place among them?


Monday, May 30, 2011

[Art] Mystaran Immortals Illustrated Part II

I have returned to my pet project of finding images of all the Immortals of Mystara and coloring them in Photoshop. Today I present three humanoid Immortals:

Jammudaru, aka Vaprak the Destroyer, Patron of Ogres, Trolls and Giants:

The original image appeared in Deities & Demigods for AD&D1E

Karaash, patron of Orcs and Warfare:

The original image appeared in an old issue of Dragon Magazine.

Bartziluth, Patron of Bugbears:

The original image appeared in Deities & Demigods for AD&D1E


Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Piazza is 3 Years!

What is it about D&D Forums being established in May? It is really a pleasure to see how the Piazza has developed over these last few years. In 2008 there were people who thought noone was really interested in talking about those D&D Worlds that WotC no longer "supported". Man were they wrong! A few years ago, I described the Piazza as a unique phenonemon where it comes to RPG Web Forums.

The last few months have seen some technical challenges for the Forum, but with a dedicated Admin, Ashtagon, and a team of dedicated moderators, willing to spend time and money on keeping this forum up and running, free for its members, there is no challenge that cannot be overcome.

Now at 84578 posts and 814 members, including notables such as Adam Black, Cam Banks Monte Cook, Colin McComb, Tim Beach, Mike Brealt, Colin McComb, Allen Varney, Trampas Whiteman, Andrew Steven Harris, Tim Kask, Frank Mentzer, James Mishler, Geoff Gander, Robert S Conley, Aaron Infante-Levy, Adam Miller and several others it is clear that the Piazza is still going strong!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Dragonsfoot is 9 Years!

The Dragonsfoot Forum is 9 years old. Founded in 2002, Dragonsfoot is probably the best known forum for discussion of TSR era D&D rules. During the time when Edition Wars were raging all across the the Internet, Dragonsfoot became the shelter for people who did not want to move into WotC's (then) brand new version of the game. While sometimes being accused of being a haven of paranoid grognards, it is an amazing source of information about the early days of gaming and the older rulesets. You might have to develop tough skin to participate in the most heated discussions there, but all in all I am glad that a place like that exists! :)

For one this is where I met some of the key people involved with the Comeback Inn!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

[Villains] Mistress Ibis Shatn

One of the most powerful wizards in the Thonian Rand, the part of Thonia bordering to Blackmoor, is Mistress Ibis Shatn. Ibis is the Warren (Baron) of New Bril, and one of the vassals of Duke Markovic. A force of 200 Imperial Constables defent her stronghold. These forces supported the Iron Duke in his military repression of the Peshwah. She is noted for her cruelty as well as her hunger for magical power. Unfortunately, one of her less than competent hirelings accidentally caused one of her most powerful magical items to magically disappear. She is now completely dedicated to finding the item again as it contains a part of her life essence. Should she be able to reclaim it, she will once again become a powerful asset for Duke Markovic in his quest to reclaim Blackmoor in the name of the Thonian Empire.

Read more about this fascinating character and her magical items here.

Image Source


Monday, May 16, 2011

You haven't heard of the Well of Souls?

Although the one who made this image probably didnt have Blackmoor's Well of Souls in mind, I smiled when I came across it.

Image Source: http://cheezburger.com/View/4593260544


Monday, May 9, 2011

The Piazza is back! (again)

Just a quick message to let everyone know that the Piazza is back up again. I know everyone is growing tired of this back and forth stuff on the forum, but hopefully a more permanent sollution to the problem can be found. If Ashtagon is right, it looks like the only way to handle this is by switching to another Internet provider. At least I am now getting some relief after a weekend of abstinence....

Image source


Sunday, May 8, 2011

More trouble at the Piazza

This picture sums up my feelings about not being able to post on my favorite D&D forum, the Piazza, this Weekend. I talked to the Piazza admin yesterday and she asked me to convey the following message:

After the previous hacking attempt, all files on the host were examined and cleaned of injected malware scripting, all passwords changed (including forum admin user, ftp, and server interface accounts), and these pass...words were used only from a machine that had been examined for trojans, key  loggers, and other malware. This fixed the problem... for about two  weeks. When a fresh attack injected malware scripting, I immediately  locked the forum. I have taken backup copies of the database and hosted  files. I am awaiting a response from the host regarding my request for a complete copy of the server logs, which they appear unwilling or unable to provide. At this stage, it is looking very likely that The Piazza  will be moving to a new host. Based on the information I have so far, the most likely problem is another website hosted on the same virtual  server (and therefore invisible to me, but visible to the host) which is able to inject malware code on to other sites on the same virtual host.
 Hopefully this situation will be resolved as soon as possible. I know that Ashtagon is working hard at finding a sollution, so please try to keep your frustration under control just as I am. The Piazza will return, of that there is no doubt!


Dungeon Clean-Up Crew

As Dave Arneson's group were exploring their early dungeons, the fascination of the players for these underground activities lead to new and interesting ideas being formed. I have previously discussed David Megarry's ideas for turning dungeon exploration into a commercially viable board game. In the Blackmoor games, dungeons were commonly explored more than once. This lead another player, Ross Maker, to ask about what happened to all the corpses, rusty weapons and armor left behind after a party of adventurers had waded through a dungeon. Wouldn't that become messy after a while?

So, the Dungeon Clean-Up Crew was invented. These consisted of the Black Pudding, Oche Jelly, Grey Ooze, Yellow Mold, Green Slime and others. As this older article at Sham's Grog & Blog mentions, they were even referred to as the Clean-Up Crew in the rulebooks when the monsters first appeared in 1974.

Dave Arneson was a great fan of B-Horror films, and brought many such ideas into the game. According to Gary Gygax, the Green Slime was based on the 1968 movie with the same name. As many of you will know the Black Pudding was inspired 1958 movie The Blob. Greg Svenson has previously described the time when Dave Arneson introduced this horror into the game:

"At this point Dave took us into the laundry area of the basement, telling us he wanted to see what we would do. He had us line up in our marching order. Then he turned off the lights saying a sudden wind had blown out our torches. Then we heard some screaming. We generally scattered as best we could. He turned on the lights looked at what we had done and then went back the other room, telling us that a black blob had killed one of the NPCs who ran into it. We soon found that our weapons dissolved when we struck it. Then we got some torches relit and found that we could fight it with fire. Eventually we killed it losing a couple more men in the process."

In addition to this being an example of truly experimental roleplaying technique by Dave Arneson, the seed to the idea may have been the implementation of Maker's idea that something was eating all the remains left behind in dungeons. Arneson's players were allowed alot of input into the game. A lesson worthy for generations of gamers to come.

Image Sources:
Gelatinous Cube
The Blob


Friday, May 6, 2011

Beholders of Blackmoor

Originally invented by Terry Kuntz, the Beholders first appeared in Supplement I: Greyhawk. I was never really a big fan of the Beholders to be honest, with their strange appearance and seemingly random powers. I tend to like monsters that fit into a certain theme, or are associate with some kind of mythology. I liked the idea of grouping many of the more bizarre creatures together as Aberrations, creatures from a distant plane of weirdness. I linked this to the Dimension of Nightmare from Frank Mentzer's BECMI cosmology.

My main reason for bringing up Beholders now is that they just appeared in Rafael's Blackmoor PbP Game, the Last Fantasy Campaign. Here they are described as Sentinels of the Egg of Coot. That is just brilliant! Not only does the round shape of the Beholders fit well with the Egg, whatever it is, but the Nightmare/Far Realm connection, also fits well with my Cthulhuesque interpretation of the Egg itself.

Illustration by Rob Torno


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blackmoor News!

Things are happening!

I know things have been a bit more quiet lately, but we are working on Blackmoor related things all the time! Lately we have been working on expanding the Comeback Inn a little. We have now opened two new sections on the Forum:

One new section, Beyond the Veil, focuses on Blackmoor's connections to various other published settings such as Greyhawk, Mystara and the Wilderlands. The other new section is called the Coot's Watch and focuses on the Blackmoor MMRPG, the "Living Blackmoor" campaign run by Zeitgeist Games.

And this is just the beginning! Those who think Blackmoor is a dead setting are wrong. I can't reveal everything today, but I will have some exciting news for you all in the weeks to come :)


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...