Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Bodendrucker

The Bodendrucker, a monster from AC9 the Creature Catalog, which from the description sounded completely silly. A Huge elephant with multiple trunks and feeding on purple worms. But then I saw the image above.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Last Fantasy Campaign About to Conclude

The epic Blackmoor PbP campaign hosted at the Comeback Inn is reaching its final stages. Have the heroes managed to save Blackmoor from the destruction of the Egg of Coot?

Read the details of the final part, called After Blackmoor, here.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Blackmoor Weekend!

Playing Blackmoor. This weekend. Live with my old friends around the table.

Dont expect to be online much :)

Not really what my players look like, but maybe in some metaphorical sense...


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thorn's Blackmoor: Monsters of Thorn's World That Was

It is time for this month's guest entry for my blog and a new visit from RobJN who takes a look at the monsters of Thorn's Blackmoor:

Aside from Beast Men, there were relatively few non-human menaces in the North. The summer months saw the yearly influx of sahuagin from the southern shores of Skothar. While most of the fey-folk avoided Men, bands of Red Caps and Satyrs were known to cause trouble to those straying too far from the roads and trails through the woods. Pixies and sprites were more mischievous than malicious, more a nuisance than threat. Occasionally, giants would stray from the Stormkiller mountains, but for the most part kept to the peaks in their near-constant war with the Dwarves.

The rising of the Egg of Coot some time around 4030 BC (970 in the Calendar of the North) changed all that.
Some sages posit that the different so-called monstrous races were results of selective genetic strain manipulation by the Egg. Mountains and forests became home to the spidery, spindly offshoot that became known as goblins, while “orcs” were nurtured for work and fighting in the hills. 
Over the decades, more and more specialized species began to spring up, and the Men of the North could not help but notice the consistency in appearance and types of monsters that crept into their lands: bigger, hairier goblins that had some modicum of discipline, yapping, dog-like humanoids that skulked at the fringes of the frontier towns. When pies cooling on windowsills went missing, or a piece or two of the day’s washing disappeared, parents could not easily discount the excuse of “it was a kobold.”
One of the most terrifying creatures to lumber forth from the Realms of the Egg, though, was the troll: ten feet of ravening destruction, a mass of claws and teeth housed in a thickly-muscled, rubbery-skinned hide. Nigh indestructible, the wounds of sword and pike and axe closing moments after landing, limbs seeking to keep fighting even when severed, they were nearly the undoing of the armies of the North.
Scholars tell of Uther singlehandedly fighting off a trio of the beasts, but recent accounts recovered from Uther’s lost personal diary reveal that he was not alone, but traveled with the twins at the time. His account tells of Rowena and Leansethar attacking the creatures in a fury that bordered on madness. It was through their battle that Uther learned of the trolls’ susceptibility to fire, and it was after that point that every squad patrolling along the borders of the Realms of the Egg were equipped with pitch and flame with which to edge their weapons upon encountering the great, lumbering monsters.
The deep, nearly-psychotic hatred between the Sidhe and Trolls seems to originate from these years before the Great Rain of Fire. Were trolls the result of experimentation done by the Egg to blend Beast Man and Sidhe stock? The waning of the numbers of the Sidhe in the North, and growing numbers of Trolls could have been coincidental… but the two events may also be inextricably linked.

Rob’s blog and website chronicles a bit of a darker take on the Mystara presented in the D&D Gazetteers. Thorn's Chronicle is posted semi-regularly on the Mystara board of The Piazza.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Jenell Jaquays on Mystara

Jenell Jaquays working under the name of Paul Jaquays has been working in the gaming industry as an artist, writer and editor since the 1970s. Some of her early modules such as Caverns of Thracia and Dark Tower are legendary as are may of her paintings, most notably the cover for the AD&D boxed set Dragon Mountain by Colin McComb.

Cover for the Odyssey Savage Coast book, revising the Red Steel line, released electronically only.

For Mystara Jaquays worked as an editor/developer on products like Gaz5: The Elves of Alfheim, PC2: Top Balista and M3: Twilight Calling. She also did cover art for many of the AD&D Mystara and Savage Coast products, including Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure, Glantri: Kingdom of Magic and the Joshuan Almanac. Jaquays has fond memories of this work:

"I always enjoyed the Mystara (or Known World) setting. I was privileged to be able to edit a couple of the Gazeteers, write and edit adventures for it, and later be the line artist for the Mystara and Red Steel product lines. Good times."

Some sketches and unfinished pieces for Mystara products can be found at her website


IMG Source

Saturday, March 17, 2012

M.A.R Barker (November 3, 1929 - March 16, 2012) Rest in Peace

Dave Arneson (left) and Professor Barker
I am saddened to learn that Tékumel and Empire of the Petal Throne creator Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman Barker has passed away as reported on the Comeback Inn by Chirine Ba Kal.

Called the "Forgotten Tolkien" by Gary Gygax, Professor Barker was a close friend to Dave Arneson and the two consulted eachother on various gaming projects. My thoughts go to his family and friends.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Eldritch Ent Announces New Releases!

Entritch Ent., the new company owned by Frank Mentzer, James Ward, Tim Kask and Christopher Clark just announced some of their upcoming releases:

"Arriving next week at GaryCon: The FIRST FOUR releases from Eldritch Enterprises Ltd.: "Dark Outpost" SF adventure by Jim Ward and 3 Fantasy adventures: "Snakeriders of the Aradondo" by Tim Kask "Forest of Deceit" by Chris Clark "Lich Dungeon (Level One)" by Frank Mentzer. [...]
Eldritch products will all be sneaking out via the Usual Outlets, both Paper & PDF, in April 2012. Specific sales options (sites & costs) tba. We except something along these lines for paper versions: Dark Outpost /or/ Lich Dungeon Level 1: $20 (+ tax & shipping) Snakeriders /or/ Forest of Deceit: $15 (+ tax & shipping) Got more products abuilding, too. Keep an eye out for more info about the First Four and More from Eldritch Ent.">Arriving next week at GaryCon: The FIRST FOUR releases from Eldritch Enterprises Ltd.:

"Dark Outpost" SF adventure by Jim Ward

and 3 Fantasy adventures:

"Snakeriders of the Aradondo" by Tim Kask
"Forest of Deceit" by Chris Clark
"Lich Dungeon (Level One)" by Frank Mentzer
Jim and I did larger ones (80 pages or so); Tim's & Chris's are about 40 pages each.
(Tim has been tied up with the convention gigs, and Chris is doing double duty running his own company, Inner City Games.)
Eldritch products will all be sneaking out via the Usual Outlets, both Paper & PDF, in April 2012.
Specific sales options (sites & costs) tba.
We except something along these lines for paper versions:
Dark Outpost /or/ Lich Dungeon Level 1: $20 (+ tax & shipping)
Snakeriders /or/ Forest of Deceit: $15 (+ tax & shipping)
Got more products abuilding, too.
Keep an eye out for more info about the First Four and More from Eldritch Ent."

 I have been waiting a long time to see more material from Frank Mentzer especially and I am really curious to see what kind of products Endritch Ent. comes up with :


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bruce A. Heard Podcast Interview

If you havent done so already, make sure to check out the latest Save or Die Podcast. It features an interview with Mystara guru and Voyage of the Princess Ark author Bruce A. Heard. For those of my readers who are strictly Blackmoor only affectionados, there are several interesting tidbits about Dave Arneson and the DA modules as well as the Egg of Coot in there as well. Bruce also touches upon the connection between Mystara and Blackmoor which I discussed here last month.

If you think like the "questions from fans" that Vince asks Bruce about in the podcast, several of them were submitted by me. If you dont like them, then I guess I will take the blame for that too ;) Several of Save or Die's podcasts have been mentioned on this blog in the past, including the Frank Mentzer interview, the Bill Owen podcast and the episode with Jean Wells.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Prep Time

One of the lessons WotC and other companies seem to have learned from 3E is that if the edition requiring alot of preparation before a game this is a bad thing. This apparently, is part of the reason why 4E turned out the way it did.

I can understand that 3E DMs soon grew tired of writing up huge stat blocks for their NPCs and determining skill selections for their Monsters. Some industry experts seem to think the recipe is to turn D&D into a "family game", ie basically a board game, since apparently kids today have no patience to sit down and spend hours to plan a game.

This is where I think that they are missing something. Sure it was boring to write up those huge stat blocks or do other game mechanical stuff if it takes forever. But DM Prep Time is not neccessarily such a bad thing. When you are a kid, it seems like you have all the time in the world. Spending hours dreaming up worlds and planning adventures that you can take your friends through Friday night can be almost as fun as playing the game itself. As a DM, this is when you really get to tap into your imagination.

Remember when D&D was marketed as "Products of your imagination"? This is D&D's strength. Market researchers trying to get game designers to focus on the "battle grid" and fast paced exciting combat only are missing a vital point. These are all areas that computer games do better than D&D. What D&D does better than any computer is to stimulate your imagination. I dont believe that kids today dont want that. Sure there are kids out there with no imagination, but those are the same kids who were calling D&D players geeks back in the 1980s. Those guys will always be boring. D&D should be for real gamers, not those guys who would rather play a video game alone than hang out with their friends.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012


The Hordes of Blackmoorians keep growing in numbers. Thanks for your support everyone :)


Img Source: http://donotargue.com/note/over-300000-players-join-age-of-conan-unchained-in-first-month/

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Anna Goes to Blackmoor

Legendary Greyhawk-mapper Anna has in her process to map all of Greyhawk's continent of Flanaess arrived at the corner which includes Greyhawk's version of Blackmoor. The map above is unfinished, but it still looks so spectacular I wanted to share it with you right away. To follow the process of this map in detail, visit the Flanaess Geographical Society Facebook Group.


Gary Gygax

Four Years ago  today.

Img Source: http://www.stargazersworld.com/tag/gary-gygax/


Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Art of Stefan Poag

I first came across Stefan Poag at one of the old Zeitgeist Games Forums way before we set up the Comeback Inn Forum. At the time, he was running one of the few Blackmoor websites on the Net other than the Blackmoor Archives. Poag did illustrations for various ZGG Blackmoor products including Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor.

This Michigan based artist has done alot of RPG illustrations over the last decade. His work has appeared in several of Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure modules and has a prominent place in the upcoming DCC RPG from the same company. Author Harley Stroh talks about further connections between the DCC RPG and Blackmoor here.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that much of Poag's more recent work also show his connection to Blackmoor:

Which Blackmoor cult could degenerate fanatic be obsessing about?

Whether intentional or not, this illustration reminds me of the illustration in the First Fantasy Campaign about the assault on the Black Castle of the Orcs

The Steam Bores of Blackmor is of course another familiar theme and an example of Blackmoor's many infernal machines..

I nicked these illustratios off Stefan Poag's Website. He also has a page dedicated to his art on Goodman Game's Website.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Ed Greewood on Mystara

Ed Greenwood is probably best known as the Guru/Creator of the Forgotten Realms and Elminster, but like most of the best TSR game designers, he also ventured into the Mystara setting. The book he wrote was Gaz8 the Five Shires, the book that introduced the term Hin to describe the setting's Halflings. Ed later brought this term into the Realms as well, perhaps a nod to his romance with Mystara?

I never really got into the Forgotten Realms much, but when I saw Ed Greenwood on Celebrity D&D from GenCon2010, I just decided this guy is awesome.

On Tuesday Ed showed up on the Mystara Reborn Facebook Group offering the following comment:

"I have fond memories of each Gaz release, but I think Bruce [Heard] really brought the setting to life. The standout Glantri product, the Princess Ark series, the superb DRAGON coverage of the dragons of the setting . . . wonderful stuff that stands the test of time. I'm raising a glass of very good wine to Bruce, as I type this!"
I already talked about Gaz3 the Principalities of Glantri the other day, mentioning how it was the first product to connect the Blackmoor DA modules with the Gazetteer line.

Ed Greenwood also added:

"[...] Bruce, you're the heart and soul of Mystara. I know you had to ride herd on a lot of projects for all of TSR's lines and settings, but the Known World was your baby and a delight to write in...because of you. Don't hide; you deserve public praise you all too seldom got. (And I think it's long overdue for a publisher to give you a fat contract for, say, a fantasy trilogy, so you can show the New York publishers what you can do, and give all of us fantasy fans a new setting to fall in love with!)
We must sit down somewhere and somehow for another nice long dinner and chat..."
Now this almost ruined my image of mr Greenwood as a recluse who almost never emerged from his house in Canada (not sure where I got that image from?), but as someone who enjoyed the Voyage of the Princess Ark series at least as much as Ed Greenwood, I sure hope publishers are listening to this. I almost managed to convince the Paizo guys to publish a Voyage of the Princess Ark collection back when they were still in partnering up with WotC, but even if that boat has sailed (flown?), more fiction from Bruce is something I am looking forward to seeing.


Image source

Blackmoor Like Map Used for Runehammer's Crown & Skull RPG?

  Crown & Skull is a new TTRPG created by  Brandish Gilhelm, Hankerin Ferninale and Ingrid Burnall and published by Runehammer Games. T...