Sunday, June 30, 2013

How the Paynim became the Afridhi

I have previously looked at how Dave Arneson picked up the bare bones setting presented by Gary Gygax in the Domesday Book fanzine and turned it into a full roleplaying world for his Blackmoor Campaign. Over at the Comeback Inn we have been discussing whether some of the antagonists of Dave Arneson's Campaign could have had their roots in the C&C Setting as well?

The main enemies of Blackmoor were the Egg of Coot and the Temple of the Frog, creations of Arneson and his players alone. But there was another group that could go back to the Domesday Book. Domesday Book #9 establishes an enemy of the Great Kingdom called the Paynim Kingdom. Few details are given on the Paynim Kingdom except that they have a strength of 150% of any of the other kings of the Great Kingdom. Paynim, apparently is a term used in medieval literature to describe Islamic antagonists during the Crusades.

Originally, I thought that references to the Paynim could also include the Peshwa, but I now suspect this is not the case. Greyhawk still has its Plains of the Paymin, but in Blackmoor I suspect that the Paynim evolved into the Afridhi. The FFC mentions The Treasure of the Paynim Princess*. I now believe that the Paynim Princess could be no other than Toska Rusa.

 *=Actually the text in the FFC says "Treasure of the Payme Princess" which could be either a typo or a pun.

How I imagine Toska Rusa, Queen of Afridhi, Mistress of Zugzul.

I have previously discussed how the Afridhi as they became known were further fleshed out when one of MAR Barker's friends took on the role as the Afridhi Queen. This could have been the time when Dave Arneson invented the God Zugzul, patron of the Afridhi. These nomadic invaders were even further fleshed out in DA4 where they are the main antagonists of the adventure, seeking the mysterious Well of Souls. David Ritchie's wife is attributed to providing more detail on Afridhi culture. So even though alot was changed over the years, the Afridhi could have seen their first little spark in the Domesday Book.

Image Source: Nomad Warrior, by N*Deed
Image Source: Barbarian Chick, by Maciej Kuciara


30 Years of Red Box D&D!

While there hasn't been much talk about it over at, this year marks 30 years of gaming with the legendary Red Box Basic Set! The red box with the iconic Larry Elmore Dragon was first published in May 1983. This was also the edition that marked the international launch of D&D, turning the game into a worldwide hobby with the box being translated to 44 different languages. With tens of millions of copies sold, the Red Box basic set marked what undoubtedly the best selling product throughout the history of TSR.

Written by Frank Mentzer (credited as editor, as policy was back then), this was the edition that included the legendary intro adventure featuring the tragic death of Aleena the Cleric at the hands of the evil Wizard Bargle. The Red Box was the first in a line of five boxes which would take characters from 1st level to 36th and beyond that into further adventures as Immortals.  Known later by hard core fans as the BECMI edition (Basic - Expert - Companion - Master - Immortals), this edition took the classic line of D&D (as opposed to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons line) to its full potential. The first two boxed sets, Basic and Expert, built heavily on the works of Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, John Eric Holmes, Tom Moldvay and David Cook. From the Companion Rules and onwards, the series began to explore unknown territory allowing not only the traditional exploration of dungeons and wilderness, but also having your characters become rulers of kingdoms, control armies, explore the Outer Planes and eventually become god-like beings of legend.

Sometimes mistakenly  believed to be a "kids version" of  the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game, the BECMI series in fact created an elegant balance between a ruleset that was easy to get into with the Red Box, but with an increasing complexity to rival that of AD&D as you progressed through the series. The series also offered a return to the Known World, previously introduced in the Moldvay/Cook B/X ruleset of 1981, which would eventually develop into the World of Mystara. BECMI would also later become the rule framework that would allow Blackmoor's return with the DA modules (Dave Arneson Series).

With the vast number of gamers introduced to the hobby of Roleplaying Games through the Red Box, 1983 was clearly a significant year in the history of gaming. Time to celebrate!


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Another Blackmoor Player Passes: Terry Skeie

We are sad to learn that another Blackmoor Gamer passed away on June 23rd:

Skeie, Terry R. age 67, of Robbinsdale, MN. Preceded in death by parents, Romeo and Crystal; and brother-in-law, John Smithson. Survived by wife, Linda; sons, Steven and Paul; brother, Wayne (Rhoda); sister, Marilyn; Aunt, Vivian; many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, contribute to your favorite charity.

Memorial service Sat., 6/29, 2:00 PM with visitation one hour prior to the service at: Robbinsdale Chapel 763-537-2333 4239 West Broadway

On his memorial guestbook, David Wesely writes:
 I gamed with Terry many years ago, when both of us were young men. He was a challenging opponent and good man to have on your team.

Thanks to Bob Meyer of Arneson's original group for bringing this to my attention. Our thoughts and prayers go to his friends and family.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

This Way to Blackmoor!

Thanks to my friend Jesper, I found this awesome sculpture by Kendall Hart of Grimstone Studios. Actually this is just a detail of a larger sculpture of a Wolfman/Werewolf,  but it was the detail that caught my attention! If there was any way I could buy just the road stone marker, I would love to have this on my shelf. It shows Blackmoor at 16 miles away, or 2 hexes as I prefer to call it!

So, if you are wondering what to get me for my birthday, now you know! :)


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Blackmoor Appears in Shadowrun Module

Dave Arneson may not have written a large body of RPG sourcebooks and supplements, but while he is best known for the Blackmoor modules, he also authored an adventure module for FASA's Shadowrun RPG in 1989 called DNA/DOA.

The adventure involves the PCs being hired by a biotechnology company. They are hired to break into an Aztechnology lab and steal a kind of virus that affects human DNA. Further complications eventually lead the group into the sewers below Tacoma, Washington, where they have to deal with a tribe of Orks.

The Blackmoor fan that I am was overjoyed to notice that the establishment where the adventure begins is called Corporate Bums and Indigents Club often shortened to CBI, undoubtedly a reference to Blackmoor's own tavern of fame, the Comeback Inn. Seems like even at this time when he was prevented to publish his own fantasy setting, Blackmoor was always close to Dave Arneson's heart.

More discussion of this topic here. 


Saturday, June 15, 2013

How Not to Sell Fanfiction

The Witchcraft Wars Trilogy, a series of novels by a little known Australian author, have recieved quite a bit of attention on forums and social medial recently as it turns out that many of the names used in the series are IP owned by Wizards of the Coast. Early speculation that the author had obtained legal permission to place her novels in the Mystara Setting was rejected when the author herself claimed never even having heard of Mystara.

Although the setting of this series of novels is called the Kingdoms of Kaynos and feature an original story by the author, realms in this world are called things like: Glantri, The Heldann Freeholds, The Duchy of Karameikos and Vestland. Furthermore there is a city called Zeaburg and another character called Thincol Torion. Many of these names date back to the first appearance of the Mystara setting back in 1981. Furthermore art work and maps appearing in the novels replicate that from published RPG books as demonstrated on Tim Brannan's Blog.

Understandably this has upset authors who worked with the setting for TSR over the years, including Mystara Guru Bruce Heard, as well as Dragonlance creator Tracy Hickman who adressed the issue over at his blog, explaining why even he is now no longer allowed to publish new Dragonlance fiction. Paying homage is one thing, but at one point  the line is crossed.

The situation has been reported to WotC, so presumably the matter will be resolved soon.


Illustration by Bruce Heard.

New Release from Rob Kuntz: The 4th Category

  Rob Kuntz returns to exploring the history of D&D in the year of the game's 50th Anniversary.  I just got an email with the follow...