Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The New Adventures of Bruce Heard

Well, in case you havent heard it yet, there's bad news and there's good news. Bad news is WotC has given their thumbs down to Bruce Heard's request at writing new stories for the Voyage of the Princess Ark. Although not surprising given WotC's position on lisencing out their IP since 2008, I think Bruce really wanted to do this and I know it would have been great to read more stories about Prince Haldemar of Haaken and his Skyship flying over Mystara, just like in all of those installments back in TSR Era Dragon Magazine.

Good news is, Bruce Heard will be continuing writing Mystara material on his fantastic blog. Even more good news is, Bruce will go on to publish fiction. It will be set in a world of his own creation rather than Mystara, but this may actually be a good thing too. I know I am excited about it!

Image Source

More discussion on this article


Friday, April 26, 2013

Lorraine Williams killed the DA line?

Still hoping that Wizards of the Coast will get around to releasing more TSR era Blackmoor modules beyond the DA2 PDF I wrote about back in February, I was reading through product descriptons of modules from the dndclassics.com PDF store:
"Following the 1985 departure of Gary Gygax, Lorraine Williams is said to have purposefully cut out Gygax's friends and supporters. Thus Dave Arneson's Blackmoor adventures came to an end, and the third Lendore Isle adventure was never published by TSR."
I generally try to stay away from the feuds and disagreements happening decades ago in TSR, especially since I wasn't there at the time, but this statement struck me as quite odd with regards to the Blackmoor modules.

Now assuming that the description is true and that Lorraine Williams, CEO of TSR since 1985, did let such personal feelings affect business decisions, why would the Blackmoor modules become a target? It is well known that after Dave Arneson took TSR to court in the late 1970s, Arneson and Gygax never again were fully reconciled. On the other hand, Gygax did reach out to Arneson about getting the Blackmoor modules published. Gary would have recognized the historical value of the Blackmoor Campaign within the RPG hobby and probably also saw the business potential in having the modules published.

This seems to have been one of the last things Gary did for TSR, as the DA modules were published the year after Gary had been forced to leave the company. So, while it seems unlikely that Williams saw Dave as one of Gary's "friends and supporters", perhaps she still considered this to be one of Gary's projects? In any case  the last modules in the series; DA5 City of Blackmoor was never published, even though it had reputedly been completed by Arneson's co-author on the series, David Ritchie.

Image source: Masters of Fantasy Documentary, by Sci Fi channel.


Monday, April 22, 2013

[characters] The Blue Rider

The Blue Rider is yet another of Blackmoor's legendary characters, just like the Wizard of the Woods or the Great Svenny. He appeared in Dave Arneson's campaign where the character was played by original group member, Bill Heaton. Bill's character was originally only known as William of the Heath and seems to have been a rather rougeish character, at first.

According to Greg Svenson, it was back in 1972 that Bill's character made the discovery what would turn him into the Blue Rider while the group was exploring the deepest levels of the Blackmoor Dungeon. There they came across an island surrounded by lava:

"William wanted to jump down to the island. Svenny was opposed, mostly ss self preservation thing. I couldn't see how we would ever get off the island if we managed to get there. William jumped anyway and managed to land on the island. The rest of us stayed on the ledge and watched. Mello took some chalk and wrote "Kilroy was here" along with the famous sketch of the head peering over a wall on the wall of the ledge. 
The dragon posed a puzzle for William. I don't recall the details, but he solved it and was was rewarded with a blue suit of magic armor and mechanical horse. I have always thought of the armor as a dark metalic blue, but the description was just blue. The armor was more like powered battledress then a suit of plate armor, for Sci-Fi fans. William doned the armor and somehow was back with us on the ledge. We all traveled back out of the dungeon."

Mello the Halfling (Played by Mel Johnson) was one of the Blue Rider's steady companions. The FFC relates how it was the armor that changed the Blue Rider's demeanor into that of a selfless hero turning him perhaps into the first Paladin or Cavalier type character in the history of D&D. After performing many heroics in the Blackmoor campaign, the Blue Rider was eventually made town constable of Blackmoor Town.

More discussion of the origins of the Blue Rider's Armor.
More discussion of this article.

Image Source


Monday, April 15, 2013

Win Stuff!

There is a contest at The Piazza. TAD is giving away modules. All you have to do is follow some simple rules and you may win 3E modules, such as the Sunless Citadel. TAD is even willing to ship internationally.

The modules include:
- The Sunless Citadel
- The Forge of Fury
- The Speaker in Dreams
- The Standing Stone
- Heart of the Nightfang Spire
- Deep Horizon
- Lord of the Iron Fortress
- Bastion of Broken Souls

Find out how here!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

We Remember - 4 Years

Arneson Gameday has been changed to October 1st, Dave's date of birth, rather than his day of passing which was today 4 years ago. I still think it feels right to post a picture of him today. Also, it provides me with the opportunity of sharing this little used picture of Dave from 1979. He is holding up the painting that was used as the cover art for Adventures in Fantasy, the fantasy Roleplaying Game he wrote with Richard Snider that was published by Dave's own company.

Img source: http://www.twincities.com/ci_12112297 (Pioneer Press Photo)


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blackmoor Frog Monsters in the DDI?

Since they went electronic, I have stopped following the Dragon and Dungeon magazines. As I never got into 4E much, I don't subscribe to the DDI. However, I occationally browse those parts of the Wizards of the Coast Website that are accessible to everyone.

The cover of Dungeon #212 caught my attention! Could there be a Blackmoor article in an issue with a huge cool looking frog monster on the cover? Sadly we're not that lucky this time around. Undoubtedly the frog on the cover is a reference to the article The Village of Hommlet and the deadly Giant Frog encounter from Gary Gygax and Frank Mentzer's module Temple of Elemental Evil.

This got me wondering if Gary got the idea of this particular encounter from Dave Arneson's Temple of the Frog. It seems very likely that this was a nod to Dave from Gygax. I was lucky enough to chat with Frank Mentzer about this module a couple of years ago, and he even brought up the Moathouse and the Frog Encounter, but for some reason I forgot to ask him about a connection between the two classic modules. In any case, the Dungeon #212 cover has a sweet Blackmoor wibe!

More discussion of this article at The Comeback Inn.


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...