Friday, September 30, 2011

[Inspiration] Nomad: The Warrior (2005)

Just watched the movie Nomad: The Warrior (2005), a historical epic type movie set in 18th Century Kazakhstan. While the acting and screenplay does have room for improvement, the movie had some pretty interesting action scenes and the story was not too bad.

I think the movie can provide some good inspiration for the Peshwah. Although I see them closer to Scythians or perhaps middle eastern horseman cultures, the movie portrays a horseman culture as good as any with unusually shaped swords, strange rituals and brutality that would exist among any nomadic tribe.

I particularly enjoyed the part of the movie where the hero is taken into captivity and forced to go through a series of trials in order to win his freedom. This is something I could be tempted to copy and paste into my Blackmoor campaign, where the PCs are currently travelling through Peshwah lands looking for King Uther's heir.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Codex Immortalis, now in English!

The Codex Immortalis is the definite collection of Mystara's Immortals. My friend Marco wrote these years ago in Italian, but thanks to Mystara enthusiast and Piazza member, Mortis, this two volume pdf is now available for free download for the first time in English.

Not only are these books packed with information, but they are also beautifully presented. Now I know what I will be reading this weekend! Go here to see how you can download them for free.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Greg Stoltze's SPAAACE!

Greg Stoltze's latest project has caught my interest. Mr Stoltze has decided to make a game that includes everything he thinks is cool. What could be more in the spirit of Blackmoor than that? In the video he says that it is a game that combines time travel, rocket ships, mad scientists, Aztecs, alients and much more.

Find out more about the game here. This was just too cool an idea not to share. :)


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Empire of Owls

The Empire of Owls is a new game opening up at the Comeback Inn. This game promises to explore the southern parts of the world of Blackmoor's Great Kingdom.

"The Empire of the Owls" is set in the utmost southern province of Blackmoor's great Kingdom, in the lands of Ravilla, the ancient home of the Gray Elves, somewhat east the Wilderlands, and south of Blackmoor. This is not a canonical setting, so you won't find it on any map. "
Not only will the game take steps into yet unmapped territory, but it will also explore a new era in the world of Blackmoor, being set 90 years after the D20 line products.

"The game is set in the year 1120 of the Northern Calendar, as per the Blackmoor counting of years, or in the year 4522, as per Balozkinar's Corrected Commoner's Calendar from the Wilderlands. The wars in Blackmoor are long over, and the Empire of Thonia is history."

Another interesting feature is that it will involve dominion style play, perhaps resembling the companion rules from BECMI or the style of play seen in the Birthright setting. It seems like this game will be chat based rather than a regular PbP. My buddy Rafael is the DM, and at least one original Blackmoor player is among the participants!

More information on the game, and how YOU can join here.

 Image Source.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Complete Classic

Over the last couple of weeks I have finally gotten my hands on Holmes Basic, Cook/Marsh Basic and Moldvay/Cook Expert. Since the 1980s I have owned the complete BECMI D&D (along with the RC in the 90s), but it has been nice to add the other versions of Classic D&D to my collection. Frank Mentzer's BECMI remains my favorite version of D&D, but it is interesting to see the little variations in the previous versions. In general I prefer looking at all of these as pretty much the same game. Modules, supplements and other elements are easily used between all of them so having the whole collection really makes me feel proud to say that I am a fan of classic D&D.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Obey the Rules!

This summer I had an interesting discussion with a poster on one of the more grognardy D&D forums out there. The poster seemed shocked that I suggest he change certain rules in his AD&D 1st edition game. I argued that he should change that particular rule because I thought the rule in question was stupid. Interestingly, he did not do what I thought he was going to do, which would have been to argue that the rule was not stupd. In fact he seemed to admit that it was a rather silly rule. However, he protested wildly against changing it. Why? Because it was written in the rules. And he assumed that since the rules then must have come from Gary or possibly one of Gary's friends or even Dave Arneson, it would be wrong to change the rule.

The idea that he could be trolling did occur to me, but he did seem genuine about it, and the fact that there are entire forums dedicated to By The Book play means that there are probably more people in the Old School community sharing that opinion.

But what could be less Old School than By The Book play? Dave and Gary were both constantly changing the rules when they were DMing their early games. Many times suggestions about which rules needed to change would come from players. Like the time when the players suggested to Dave that their characters could maybe survive more than one hit, thus resulting in the creation of hit points. Other times, the DMs would figure out these things on their own.

Not that constantly changing the rules is a good idea. I often argue for sticking to the rules as written, especially before you know the game well enough. Some of the GMs I play with using non-D&D systems often seem eager to fiddle with the rules after a few sessions. I have found that this is often a bad idea since changing a tiny thing can have greater consequences than you know if you dont really understand the ideas behind the game. But after having played D&D for decades, I feel like I can do whatever I want with it.

Are you a BTB man?


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Arneson Gameday Poster

As mentioned the 3rd Arneson Gameday hosted in New York City is being arranged on October 1st this year. The Mule Abides recently posted this fantastic looking poster by Scott LeMien for the event. I love castle Blackmoor in the background and the interesting looking hands/weapons thrust into the air in homage to Dave Arneson.

Here are some of the games announced for this year's event:
  • Luke Crane will be running games of Arneson’s adventure DNA/DOA using a hack of Burning Wheel Gold
  • Darren Watts will be running games of Lucha Libre for the HERO System
  • Michael Curtis will be running games of Stonehell Dungeon
  • Joseph Bloch will be running games of Adventures Dark & Deep, and will have a new version of the Bestiary
  • Paul Hughes will be running games of 4E Dungeons & Dragons using his poster of the OD&D random monster charts
  • Tavis Allison will be running games of Adventurer Conqueror King
More details at the Comeback Inn. Are you doing anything for Arneson Game Day?


Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Divinity of Dragons

While D&D Dragons often are just big monsters to be killed in the last room of the dungeon, many mythologies connect dragons with the Gods. But Divine Dragons have always been a part of the game as well. OD&D had Tiamat and Bamut as Divine Dragons and BECMI D&D had the Dragon Rulers.  Dragonlance took the concept even further with having both Draconic Gods, but also mortal dragons as messengers of the Gods.

In my Blackmoor campaign I decided I wanted to explore this idea of humans viewing dragons as part of the divine. In this case, I decided to use the Peshwah Horsemen. Since I take some inspiration for the Peshwah from the Fremen in Frank Herbert's Dune series, I thought of the idea of using Dragons as a parallell to the Sand Worms of that series. The Fremen view the Sand Worms or Shai Hulud, as the manifestations of God; their actions being those of reverence, no matter how destructive. My idea was to make the Peshwah feel the same way about Dragons. Additionally I decided that the Peshwah would not distinquish between Good and Evil dragons. All dragons to them are sacred.

In the last session, my players took the concept even further than I had anticipated. One of the player characters had his arm destroyed by dragonfire, only to have it replaced by a clockwork arm. Upon learning this, another player, playing a Peshwah Monk of the Fallen Star (See Dave Arneson's Blackmoor D20 for details), declared that the fact that the character had his arm destroyed by a dragon was a mark of the divine. He believed that the character was Dragontouched, an individual meant for a greater purpose. Introducing the Dragontouched to the Peshwah clan of the Adiel, this character was met with reverence. This could be the thing that could help the PCs convince the Peshwah to join with Blackmoor in the ongoing War against the Egg of Coot. And the war is not looking good for Blackmoor right now. 

Image Source


Monday, September 5, 2011

Playing Blackmoor in the real Vestfold

Slottsfjell, in Vesfold, Norway

Like many Minnesotans, Dave Arneson and several of his players were of Scandinavian ancestry. As I have mentioned previously, the origin of the name of Blackmoor's city of Vestfold, is probably the Vesfold region of Norway, rather than the Tolkien version. Tolkien most likely got the name for his Vestfold from the same source. It is also interesting that the recent Thor and Captain American movies both have their opening scenes in this area, a fact well appreciated by the locals.

In any case, it was quite cool to be able to go to the real Vestfold this weekend and DM a game of Blackmoor. A member of my original gaming group lives in the region and invited me and other friends from the good old days for a weekend of gaming. We each ran one game, and I chose (surprisingly?) to run Blackmoor.

The game involved exploring the town of Newgate, getting to know a Peshwah Monk, and the quest to find King Uther's lost son. The game was a great success. One of the best games I have run in a while. My players did a great job getting into roleplaying their characters and had alot of fun just talking to NPCs, getting into an epic bar brawl and enduring a petty quarrel with an officer of the city guards. All in all a fun weekend!


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...