Tuesday, November 27, 2018

First Fantasy Campaign Belongs to Arneson Estate Bledsaw Confirms

The First Fantasy Campaign (FFC) was published in 1977 by Judges Guild. It was written by Dave Arneson and edited by Bill Owen. Dave Arneson once told me that Judges Guid President and gaming legend of his own Bob Bledsaw had later transferred the rights to the FFC back to Dave. The two had apparently always been on friendly terms, ever since Dave Arneson worked for TSR as a liason to the Judges Guild.

Today, Bob Bledsaw II  was asked if he had any plans to rerelease the First Fantasy Campaign as a Print on Demand Product to which he responded:

"Not in the near future, sadly. I would love to see her in print again. Dave and I spoke about it before his passing, and he said there was some editing he wished to do to FFC, but that he wanted JG to release it. The written content is owned by his daughter now, and I put no pressure on her. It will be as she wishes."

It is a shame that Dave Arneson never got to do the editing he wanted for the FFC to share it with fans, but it is nice to see that the agreement between him and the elder Bledsaw was a formal agreement.

Blackmoor is a registered trademark that belongs to Wizards of the Coast.


Monday, November 26, 2018

5 Reasons Why Building a Blackmoor Community is Hard

Its been more than 16 years since I  first set up a website dedicated to Blackmoor. Later I also started this blog and with the help of several friends we started the Comeback Inn Forum. It has been an amazing journey, but not without some frustration along the way. It is impressive to see how forums like Canonfire, The Piazza, Dragonsfoot or OD&D74 have grown into such vibrant communties. Sometimes it makes me a little disappointed that there is so little activity in the community we have tried to build for Blackmoor.

Building any fan community online can be very difficult. The Golden Days of Forums may (or may not) be over and even D&D fandom might not be in the same position we were during the 3E/OSR heydays of the early 2000s. However, I want to look at some things that present unique challenges for building a Blackmoor community

Blackmoor is an extremely important phenomenon and its ties to D&D history is unique. However, very few people ever used Blackmoor in their games or if they did it was just for a brief period of time. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is that Blackmoor never had that many products linked to it before Zeitgeist Games started publishing the D20 Blackmoor line. This means that even though Blackmoor predates most other D&D Worlds, it lacks the long history of fandom that worlds like Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms or even Mystara possess.

I am super happy when people take the time to comment on this blog or post on our forums. That is really something that keeps giving me inspiration and also helps me know if I am moving in the right direction or if I'm posting things people aren't interested in. But even when people don't comment, I notice that alot of people are reading my stuff. So even though you have to take into account that there are bots and other things that might inflate statistics, there are apparently people who find these things interesting without ever letting me know about it. That is okay too. But if you have the time to leave a comment ever once in a while, know that it will put a smile on my face.

I have also been made aware of the fact that some people are mainly out there to steal research and ideas and put them into their own published material for profit. For a while this almost made me stop posting. It is extremely frustrating knowing that people will do something like that, especially when I am usually willing to allow people to use most of my material just as long as they give me credit. That's not alot to ask is it?

Ultimately though, I realized that I can't have this annoyance at content thieves prevent me from writing about the things I love. I love doing the research, coming up with ideas and sharing these things with others who love the same thing. Lets just hope Karma comes along and kicks those thief butts.

I don't own Blackmoor, or the history of Dave Arneson's Legacy. But we have been working our butts off for this for a long time. If people want to set up their own forums, groups, blogs etc for Blackmoor, that is great too. I will usually join those places and see if anyone wants to talk to me there. However, when people invite me to their places to talk about Blackmoor, I do think to myself: Hey, sure I can join YOUR place, but maybe you do me the courtesy of joining MY place too? And for more than a single post with a link to YOUR place?

So, please create your own places and show your dedication to our shared fandom, but if we all sit in our own houses, that's not much of a community. If you join us, we will join you too!

We have Old School Blackmoor Fans, Mystara Blackmoor Fans, Greyhawk Blackmoor Fans, D20 Blackmoor fans and many others. My dream was always to get these different groups to get together and talk about our common love. But this proved to be incredibly difficult from the start. Many old school fans didn't even want to look at the D20 line due to it being associated with that specific ruleset. Many D20 Blackmoor fans, the ones who learned about Blackmoor during the d20 Era, ended up being a less loyal fanbase, being more fans of the system than the world itself.

This isn't true about al of them though, and we do have fans from all corners of Blackmoor interracting now at The Comeback Inn and other places.

To some people the main interest in Blackmoor and Dave Arneson is to dig up dirt from the old Gary vs. Dave debate. Some support one or the other. Others again are just looking for a fight. We need to move away from that. Both men have passed away. The truth of what really happened is complicated. It requires careful examiniation, not people shouting at eachother. It also makes some people so uncomfortable they rather stay away or stay silent. That's not what we need!

But more importantly, Blackmoor fandom has so much more to offer! Our examinations of what Dave Arneson did in his campaign should not always be about what he did before or after Gary. Let us look at Dave Arneson's world out of its own wealth of ideas for the sake of getting inspiration from those ideas. Not everything needs to be a competition. What can Blackmoor offer your games today? THAT is what we should get together and build our community on.

Building a community is always hard. That doesn't mean we stop doing it. We are here because we have a common passion. Come and join us! We have some amazing people with us already. Some who have played with and known Dave Arneson. Others are just fans like you.  Speak up. Ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask stupid ones. Share your ideas. We can only build this together!


See more discussion of this article here.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Secrets of Blackmoor Documentary Now on Kickstarter

It seems to be the season for D&D history Kickstarters. Yesterday the Kickstarter documentary Secrets of Blackmoor was launched. The trailer for this project was announced back in 2016. The team has made interviews with a long list of people who knew and played in Dave Arneson's Campaign. That alone is worth my interest. 

DISCLAIMER: I am not in any way involved with this documentary or Kickstarter. They do list my name under "Research and Peer Review", but I assume that is mostly due to the material I have made available on this blog and at The Comeback Inn over the years.

More details and discussion about this topic in this thread at the Comeback Inn.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Great Kingdom Documentary is Back

Remember the Kickstarter for the D&D Documentary called the Great Kingdom from 2014? Well, it is back.  This documentary promised to tell the story about Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson:

"In 1969, GARY GYGAX, a family man and an insurance underwriter with an entrepreneurial mind meets DAVE ARNESON, an idle, yet brilliant game designer. Their collaboration would change the world, their families and themselves. This is the remarkable true life story of the rise and fall of Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson and the people behind the creation of the epic role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons."

  "THE GREAT KINGDOM explores the personalities behind the game and the families they engendered. This is the saga of the people who brought a company from its humble basement beginnings and transformed it to a multi-million dollar corporation. A story for our time that parallels the rise, fall and redemption of Steve Jobs and echoes the who-invented-what question of the creation of Facebook."

So why haven't we heard from this Kickstarter for the last three years? Well, originally there was another documentary back in 2012 called Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary. The Kickstarter for this documentary was launched by Andrew Pascal, Anthony Savini, and James Sprattley of Westpaw Productions. About 4000 people backed this Kickstarter.

When Andrew Pascal and James Sprattley left Westpaw to produce the Great Kingdom documentary, Savini of Westpaw took the new Kickstarter to court, the result being both Kickstarters ending up in legal Limbo. Now, however,  the legal issues appear to have been resolved and the documentary is back on track as it was announced yesterday:

"hi everybody.  we are back and we are excited to move forward with THE GREAT KINGDOM. we obviously have had some setbacks, the most important of which is losing CHRIS HAIFLEY as our director. he has moved on to other projects. however, we have put together a great team to get us to the finish line. it’s also safe to say that it will NOT be the film that we had first envisioned. this has more to do with the evolution of any documentary film. stories evolve and take on a life of their own or the original intent pivots for something even more interesting. our team believes we have something special that is uniquely focused on the history of DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS and we are lucky enough to have talented storytellers to tell you the story. we will be making more announcements in the coming months when we will be introducing everyone to the team. for now though, THE GREAT KINGDOM (title may also be changed) is moving forward. 
- james and andrew

ps. some folks have already written to us, congratulating us and also asking for a link or copy to the completed film. to those folks, we still do need to finish and release the film for their copy to be (e)mailed to them. thanks for being patient."

As I once invested 10$  in this Kickstarter, I am happy to see it back on track. There is still a great interest in the history of our hobby of Dungeons & Dragons. I really don't know much about the people involved in making this documentary, but I know that there are very important people that were interviewed for the film. I don't know how much of this has been changed at this point, but the announcement does say there is going to be changes.

Andrew Pascal, Jim Gavin, Chris Haifley and James Sprattley

What will this mean for the Dave Arneson documentary, Secrets of Blackmoor? This is yet another completely separate project with a different focus. Recently there has been talk about a Kickstarter for an early release of this film, but nothing official has been announced. Will the return of the Great Kingdom Documentary result in speeding up this process?

Meanwhile, there has not yet been any announcement with regards to Savini and Westpaw Film's 2012 Kickstarter for Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary.

More discussion about this topic at The Comeback Inn, in this thread.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Carl L. Sargent (1952-2018)

Matt Forbeck posted the following sad news on Facebook yesterday:

" Word is that Carl Sargent of Games Workshop and TSR fame has passed away. I never met Carl, but we had many mutual friends, and I loved his work. It's been a hard year for RPG legends."

Carl Sargent is perhaps best known for his work on Warhammer for GW and Greyhawk for TSR. This British game designer also wrote Fighting Fantasy game books under the name Keith Martin.

I knew him best for his Mystara RPG products; Gaz 13 The Shadowelves (co-authored with Gary Thomas), PC2 Top Balista and  B11 Kings Festival. B11 formed the basis for one of my most succesful Mystara campaigns based around the Grand Duchy of Karameikos.

Rest in Peace.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Bishop Carr of Blackmoor goes to Gary Con XI

Mike Carr is a name that should be familiar to most Blackmoor fans for a number of reasons. The Gary Con Page on Facebook just posted the following:
"Mike Carr is a member of the Gary Con Old Guard and we are happy to have him and his lovely wife Pat back for GC XI. In case you don’t know Mike’s pedigree; he was a member of the international federation of war gamers (IFW) in 1960’s as a teenager. He created the game “Fight In The Skies” (aka Dawn Patrol) and self-published it at the recommendation of Gary Gygax in 1968. He also co-authored “Don’t Give Up The Ship” with Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax in 1971. He joined the ranks of TSR, Inc. in 1976 at the invitation of Gary Gygax. While at TSR, Mike authored the D&D module, In Search of the Unknown, served as editor for the Monster Manual, Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide and wrote three children’s novels. #garyconxi #dungeonsanddragons #lowg #legendsofwargaming #garycon #mikecarr #FITS #dawnpatrol"

Mike Carr's B1 In Search of the Unknown was TSR's first attempt at publishing adventure modules. It is still surprising to me that early day TSR was reluctant to publish adventures, the notable exception being the Temple of From from D&D Supplement II: Blackmoor.

Mike is also counted among the original Blackmoor players and although his Fight in the Skies group seems to have been somewhat separate from Dave Arneson's group, Mike and his crew were great friends with the Minnesota gamers. Mike created the settings first cleric and is remembered in Blackmoor lore as Bishop Carr. I was lucky enough to get an interview with Mike Carr back in 2010 which you can read here.

Discussion of this topic at The Comeback Inn


Monday, November 5, 2018

Blog gets an overhaul

I haven't been fully happy with the layout of this blog since its last revision a few years ago. I finally had some time to sit down and revise the logo and overall design of the blog. There are still a few things that need to be tweaked, but this is a start:

What do you think? Let me know! Your input is much appreciated!


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Red Ice on Black Sea: New Fan Created Blackmoor Adventure explores The Northern Shores

Earlier this year, on Dave Arneson Day 2018, Yaztromo, a regular at the Comeback Inn announced that a group of European Blackmoor fans have been working to create a Blackmoor Fan Guide for Advanced Fighting Fantasy the Roleplaying Game (AFF). I didn't know much about AFF, but it is a roleplaying game based on the old Advanced Fighting Fantasy Game books from the 1980s. 

Now, I was amazed at the production value of this Blackmoor adaptation, both in terms of layout and design, but also that this was written by people who clearly are very familiar with Blackmoor ranging from the older material by Dave Arneson and TSR, but also the material created by Dave Arneson's company Zeitgeistgames in the mid 2000s. 

Now, a new adventure has been created for Living Blackmoor, which is the name adopted by the AFF version of Blackmoor. This adventure explores the northern shores of Blackmoor's world and beyond to the realm of Frisia.

Get this fan adventure for free at The Comeback Inn!


Friday, November 2, 2018

Blackmoor Artists: Allen Alegado

One of the things I have wanted to do is to take a look at the artists who have been involved in illustrating Blackmoor over the year. One of the artists who was involved during the time when Zeitgeist Games was publishing Blackmoor was Allen Alegado. This artist based on Orlando, Florida has been working with illustrations for more than 15 years. I think some of these illustrations are really great and help bring to life aspects of the world of Dave Arneson that we have never seen before.

Allan created interior illustrations for several Blackmoor products, including the Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Campaign Guide and also the cover art for Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor.

If you like Alegado's art, visit his website here.

Who is your favorite Blackmoor artist across the eras?

More discussion of this article.


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...