Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Happy Yuletide from Blackmoor

Spring marks the beginning of adventuring season, but now its time to relax with friends and family in front of the fireplace in Castle Blackmoor. I wish you all a merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from everyone at the Comeback Inn forum, the Blackmoor Fans Facebook Page and this Blog.

I will probably make some RPG posts here or on the other sites during the holiday week too, so stay tuned if you feel like getting some gaming on in the next few days :)


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Gary Gygax and D&D Exhibit at Lake Geneva Museum

Yesterday it was announced that the Lake Geneva Museum would open a new exhibit called A Legacy of Imagination: Gary Gygax & the creatuon of a Culture.

It is nice to see our beloved hobby get recognition at this museum. Gygax is referred to as D&D Co-creator, but there is no mention of Dave Arneson, so presumably that would be beyond the scope of this exhibition. It is nice to see that Paul Stormberg of the Collector's Trove is involved in this project.

Some eyebrows have been raied over the fact that the exhibition will be financed in part by a Kickstarter campaign. It would have been nice to see something like this happen without the need to pull on the support from generous fans worldwide. I wish the project luck!

If anyone goes to visit the museum after this exhibition has been opened, please let me know about your experiences.


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

New Blackmoor AFF Adventure, Greetings from Wesely and More (Dave Arneson Game Day Part 3)

More free Blackmoor adventure has been released! In part 2, we announced the publication of the sourcebook The Noble House of Zvenzen. Blackmoor Living World Bartertown Deathtrap Part II is an adventure written for the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG and released by the Chimerae Group. It is a sequel to Bartertown Deathtrap Part 1 and explores the lands north of Blackmoor.

  Download this adventure here.


Greetings from David Wesely

David A. Wesely, creator of the Braunstein Game and player in Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Campaign left a message on this blog for us:

Well, it is now 21:30 on 1OCT19, and my computer is finally connecting me to the Dave Arneson Game Day event. I have seen announcements that it would be happening today for several weeks, but I have never been able to get connected until now, when it is pretty-well over. While I have been having nothing but trouble getting connected, it looks like you guys had a good time today. Best wishes to you all. Maybe next year I can find a local group with which to celebrate. This year I spent picking apples and carrying concrete blocks - fun, fun, fun! Happy Birthday, DLA !

 Wesely's role in the history of RPGs is so significant some credit him as the true inventor of the genre, so having his support is incredibly encouraging for the work we are doing here! :)


And More Dave Arneson Game Day News

  • Our friend imredave has written a very cool article about Blackmoor at the Forgotten Runes Blog. Check it out!
  • The Crew behind the Secrets of Blackmoor Documentary tease the possibility of releasing a compilation of Dave Arneson's Fanzine, Corner of the Table Top. Secrets of Blackmoor Vol. 2 just started filming.
  • Make sure you are caught up on the news from Part 1 and Part 2 of the Dave Arneson Game Day News!


And Thanks!

Dave Arneson Game Day 2019 was a huge success! Thanks to everyone who voiced their support and posted comments on Twitter, Facebook, The Comeback Inn, The Piazza, OD&D74, ENWorld, Dragonsfoot and elswhere. A big thank you to all of Dave Arneson's friends and family for your  support. This is why we keep doing this!


Greg Svenson's Noble House of Zvenzen Sourcebook Out Now! - Dave Arneson Game Day Part 2

As mentioned in my previous post, today is Dave Arneson Day! Finally, as promised, the new sourcebook by Original Blackmoor Player Greg Svenson is out. This is the fourth book in the series and is titled GS4 - The Noble House of Zvenzen. It has been great working as an editor for Greg on his sourcebook and Greg has been very patient with me during this process. It was Greg's suggestion that we release this book on October 1st and I think it was a great idea.

This book also includes a "Poem Transcript" about the Baron of Newgate written by Dave Arneson. This material did at one point appear in Greg's personal website, but when the website crashed, Greg thought it was lost. Untill he realized that I had downloaded all of the Blackmoor relevant material there. I am glad to present it in a proper context.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed working on it. Greg and I have more material in the works so any feedback will help encouraging us to release it early. Also make sure you check out the previous titles in the series.

Download GS4 - The Noble House of Zvenzen Now (Free!)

In other Dave Arneson Game Day News...

David Wesely returns to Braunstein. Before Blackmoor it was Braunstein. Braunstein creator and original Blackmoor Player David Wesely will be running a new Braunstein game on December 7th. This was just announced today. I will bring you more information on this later.

Friend of the Comeback Inn, Boddynock, has a new Dave Arneson Game Day articleat the Gnomish Embassy, presenting a really interesting character you can encounter in the Blackmoorian town of Jackport. Read all about it here.

Another friend of the Comeback Inn, Yaztromo is runing a Blackmoor Game tonight using the Living Blackmoor adventures.

At The Piazza, you can read about Dave Arneson ideas not found in D&D, Blackmoor's greater world and how to use Arnesonian elements in your games in new and original ways.

Also check out the following:

Have I missed anything? Please let me know so I can post about all activies here on the blog!

Stay tuned for more!


Dave Arneson Game Day 2019 is Today - Part 1: Welcome to the Party!

Dave Arneson Game Day 2019 is today! This is what we have been working towards all week! We have some great things in store today. Make sure you sign up to our Facebook Event.

Also, keep up to date with our discussion at The Comeback Inn with the Official Dave Arneson GameDay Thread.

What is Dave Arneson Game Day?

Dave Arneson Game Day is celebrated on Dave Arneson's birthday, October 1st every year. This tradition started after the D&D Co-Creator passed away in 2009. It started with gaming events run by Dave's friends in Minnesota and groups of fans in New York and elsewhere in the USA. Gradually it grew into a world wide event.

Dave Arneson Game Day is a celebration of D&D, the love for gaming that Dave Arneson stood for and everything that the hobby we share

Do We Need Dave Arneson Game Day?

Are you kidding me? If you love gaming, do you need an excuse to celebrate our passion?

What Dave Arneson Game Day is Not

This is a day where we show our love for the hobby. It is not about using the legacy of Dave Arneson to attack other game designers or fans or airing grievances. It is also not about telling people they are playing the wrong edition or playing the game in the wrong way. Let us come together as gamers and focus on what we have in common instead of the things that divide us. I think it is what Dave would have liked.

How do You Participate?

Check out the links above. Run games for your friends. Post online about gaming. Make sure you share what you do with us here!

Are you up to date with everything from Blackmoor Week 2019? This is what we have done so far:

I will be making more posts later today, so keep visiting this blog for more!


Monday, September 30, 2019

Tomorrow is Dave Arneson Game Day! (Blackmoor Week Day 7)

I can't believe it, but tomorrow is Dave Arneson Game Day 2019! Its been a great week. It has been so much fun sharing all of these things with you my gentle readers. And more is yet to come!

Elsewhere on the Internet, many others are gearing up for the big day tomorrow. A page called The Antipodean D20 created the following image and also made a video which you can see here.

Creative Mountain Games also created a tribute image:

At Goodman Games, they are revisiting the twin articles written about Dave Arneson by James Maliszewski last year. They are well worth a re-read!

We have also seen a surge of posts at The Comeback Inn, The Piazza and the Blackmoor Fans Facebook group 

So, are you planning anything for the big day tomorrow? Have you signed up for the Facebook Event? Are you excited about seeing the Noble House of Zvenzen Sourcebook that is coming out tomorrow? Have you downloaded the Blackmoor Shattered Empire adventure? Have you downloaded the 4E MMRPG adventure? What are your thoughts about Blackmoor Week 2019 so far? Let me know in the comments!


Joe Manganiello is a Mystara fan

Actor Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Justice League) has made a name for himself as a D&D superfan over the last few years. He has appeared on numerous streaming shows talking about his passion for D&D and showing off his amazing gaming cellar. Most recently, his character, Arkhan the Cruel appeared in the D&D5E Adventure Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus. 

I recall that in one of his videos, he mentioned that he started out with the Frank Mentzer edited BECMI Red Box D&D set, which gets him even more props in my book. However, last month I also learned that the man is a Mystara fan! Check out the twitter correspondence between The Piazza, Joe and myself

Joe refers to the setting as Thyatis rather than Mystara, but we all know what he is talking about! I started to suspect things when it was revealed that Arkhan the Cruel has a companion who is a Tortle. I wonder if Arkhan himself was a Mystara character?

We know that Joe likes Mystara. Will Mystara fans like Krull the Tortle Death Cleric?

Now, back to writing about Blackmoor Week!


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Blackmoor 4E MMRPG is Here! (Blackmoor Week Day 6)

Like I mentioned yesterday, we have obtained the files and adventures that were created for the D&D 4E version of the Blackmoor MMRPG. Now, we are making those available as free downloads at The Comeback Inn. We are starting with the first adventure, labelled Episode 4001: Brightest Day, Blackest Night.

"In 1299, a new age is dawning, diplomacy happens and you are part of it. Or at least delivering it for those in leadership positions of the great city states that are part of it. But nothing is ever as simple as it seems, with danger and treachery lurking everywhere, even In Brightest day, In Blackest Night… A Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor adventure for heroic level characters."

That's right. These adventures are set in the fabled Age of the Wolf, centuries after the previous iterations of Blackmoor. This is really exciting since so little is known about what was planned for this era of Blackmoor's history.

Download the Adventure for free here

Not a fan of D&D 4th Edition? It isn't really that difficult to convert these adventures to other editions. Also, you should make sure to get all four seasons of the 3E adventures from the MMRPG, all availalable for free at the Comeback Inn.

Also in Blackmoor Week Day 6

Are you all caught up with the Blackmoor news from earlier this week? Did you get the D&D 5E adventure? What are your favorite things about Blackmoor Week so far?


Saturday, September 28, 2019

Blackmoor Week Day 5: 4E MMRPG, More 5E Files, Greg Svenson Preview

I was pretty excited to share the first Blackmoor 5E adventure in the Shattered Empires series with you all yesteday. If you are not a fan of D&D 5th Edition, I still recommend you check that one out because it should be fairly easy to convert to your favorite edition too.

If you are interested in the Blackmoor: Shattered Empires Campaign, I have now uploaded 3 additional files with handouts and certificates for Episode 1.

Get them here!

What's coming up in the next few days? We can now reveal a bit more as we are approaching Dave Arneson Game Day:

Blackmoor the MMRPG for D&D 4E launches tomorrow! 

For those who don't know, Blackmoor the MMRPG was a Living Blackmoor Campaign, organized by Dave Arneson's company Zeitgeist Games and played at conventions. Four seasons of adventures for D&D 3rd Edition were written and originally appeared on the official Blackmoor website. All of these are now available as free downloads at The Comeback Inn with permission from Zeitgeist Games. What not everyone knows is that there were plans for a 4E version of the MMRPG as well. Not only were there plans, but a few adventures and some supplementary material was actually written. I will release the first adventure tomorrow!

Secrets of Blackmoor Volume 2 has started filming. 

Did you see the Dave Arneson documentary, Secrets of Blackmoor? It was just announced that they have begun filming for the sequel. Read more about that here.

Greg Svenson's Noble House of Zvenzen Sourcebook

As I mentioned yesterday, this sourcebook written by Greg Svenson and edited by the author of this blog (yes, me!) will be released on October 1st.

Above is a family tree representation that I created for Greg's book. Did I mention that the book will also have a small section written by Dave Arneson? I think many of you will really like this book!


Friday, September 27, 2019

Blackmoor Goes 5E - Shattered Empires Campaign - Free PDF Adventure (Blackmoor Week Day 4)

Today we have a real treat for you! Earlier during Blackmoor Week, we have been teasing things to come as we are preparing for Dave Arneson Game Day on October 1st. As I revealed yesterday, we are proud to present to you the very first adventure written for Blackmoor for D&D 5th Edition. This adventure, titled the War Road, is the first in a series of adventures in the new Blackmoor Shattered Empires Campaign. The War Road is written by Phillip Slama whose name many of you will recognize from the Blackmoor MMRPG adventures also available as free downloads at the Comeback Inn.

Expect more material for Blackmoor 5E in the days ahead. Also make sure to visit this blog every day for news and goodies during Blackmoor Week.

Without further ado, its time to present to you the beginning of Blackmoor: Shattered Empires:

Episode 1: The War Road 

By Phillip Slama

As the kingdom of Blackmoor celebrates the dawn of a new year, a Thonian priest with vital information concerning the plans of Toska Rusa and the Afridhi Horde stumbles into South Pim with his enemies in pursuit. Will you escort him along the War Road, across the Great Dismal Swamp, to the city of Blackmoor? A Blackmoor: Shattered Empires mytharc introductory adventure for first level player characters.

Get your free PDF adventure here.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Announcing Greg Svenson's New Blackmoor Sourcebook, Blackmoor 5E Adventures and More (Blackmoor Week Day 3)

We are already on the 3rd day of Blackmoor Week. As we swiftly approach Dave Arneson Game Day on October 1st, its time to share a bit more of the exciting news we are preparing for you in the days ahead:

The Noble House of Zvenzen

First of all, on October 1st, we will be releasing a brand new Blackmoor PDF book in Greg Svenson's series about the Newgate mini-setting. This will be the fourth book in the series about the lands controlled by Greg's character in Dave Arneson's original campaign, the epic Paladin-like hero known to most as The Great Svenny. I have had the honor of working with Greg on this series of books and have taken it upon myself to work as an editor.

Book 4 in the series is titled The Noble House of Zvenzen and gives us a more detailed look at this noble family itself. The book is set in Dave Arneson's Blackmoor around the time of the TSR Blackmoor modules and the D20 Blackmoor Books by Zeitgeist Games. In addition, you will find a large number of trivia and historical tidbits about Dave Arneson's Campaign. Also you will find NPCs, Magic Items, Maps, Stores and More!  Even more exciting is the fact that this book will include material by Dave Arneson himself!

If you don't have the previous books in the series, go to the Comeback Inn and download them today!

The bad news is that you will have to wait untill October 1st to get the book. The good news is that it will be available as a free PDF, just like everything else we are sharing with you!

More Blackmoor Week Goodness

You won't have to wait untill Dave Arneson Game Day to get great free stuff for Blackmoor! We have so many things to share with you we need to spread things out a bit:
  • New Blackmoor Adventures for D&D 5E: Friend of the Comeback Inn and former writer for the Blackmoor MMRPG adventure series, Phil Slama, has written a series of new adventures set in Blackmoor. Tomorrow, we will be making the first adventure available for you at the Comeback Inn.
  • New Tabletop D&D Blackmoor material in the MMRPG series will be appearing sometimes later this weekend. 
  • Several people at our different partner sites have shared that they are planning gaming events in the coming days. I hope they will share the stories with us so I can write about them here. 
  • And more! What have I missed? What do you want to see? Let me know in the comments below! 


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

6 days to Dave Arneson Game Day: Blackmoor Week 2019 Continues (Major Announcements)

Yesterday, we sounded the horn! Dave Arneson Game Day is coming. Who will heed the call? Along with partner websites like The Comeback Inn, The Piazza, OD&D74 and the Blackmoor Fans Facebook Group, many others are letting us know they plan on participating!

On Twitter, my friend and Game designer Tim Brannan is revisiting old articles he has written about Blackmoor. Several of them make use or references of material I have created, which is just really nice!

In the Comeback Inn Blackmoor Week Thread, several people have announced games they are running. In the Piazza Blackmoor Forum, there is renewed interest in the Blackmoor Dweomer Realm.

Up in Minnesota, Kevin McColl is telling me that Dave Arneson's old friends also have plans for Dave Arneson Game Day. David Wesely also reached out to me about Dave Arneson Game Day recently so I am curious to finding out if he has any plans.

Meanwhile, Terror Inc lead designer Phil Slama who did much work on the Blackmoor MMRPG has completed five Blackmoor Fan Adventures that we hope to get released to the general public very soon. Read more details about that here.

Speaking of Blackmoor the MMRPG, all four seasons of that D&D Living Campaign are available at The Comeback Inn, but that is not the end of that story. I can now reveal that we will see new material connected to the Blackmoor MMRPG, ready for use for your D&D Games later this week!

The biggest announcement I have today is that I've been working with Greg Svenson for a new major publication that will be made available on Dave Arneson Game Day. Both Greg and I are very excited to share this with you. For free of course!

So, will you be joining our fun? Dave Arneson Game Day is for everyone. Post comments here and let us know if you are planning games, other activities or if you excited to hear any of the things I am writing about above!

Stay tuned for more Blackmoor news on this blog every day this week!


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Blackmoor Week 2019: 7 Days till Dave Arneson Game Day

Welcome to the first day of Blackmoor Week 2019! What is Blackmoor Week? Well it is the week leading up to the annual celebration of gaming known as Dave Arneson Game Day. It is celebrated on October 1st. October 1st was the birthday of Dungeons & Dragons co-Creator Dave Arneson so, just like Gygax Day, this is another great opportunity to celebrate our passion and our hobby. And yes, it is possible to celebrate both days! :)

Dave Arneson Game Day 2019 is a Facebook Event you can check out here.

Blackmoor Week has its own thread at the Comeback Inn here.

Noone owns Dave Arneson Game Day or Blackmooor Week. That means anyone can participate. Blackmoor fans have worked hard to organize activites as can be seen by clicking the links above.

We have several surprises for you this year and I will reveal all of them at this blog in the coming days. We are saving perhaps the best treats for Dave Arneson Game Day itself, but I also intend to drop little treats throughout the week.

As with previous years, I have coordinated with other Blackmoor fans, some of Dave Arneson's former players and colleagues. However, we really hope that others will join in as well!

We are partners with the people at The Comeback Inn, The Piazza and the OD&D74 Forum, but everyone is welcome to join in!

What can you do?

  • Write about your love for RPGs, D&D, Blackmoor or Dave Arneson on blogs, forums or social media. Share stories about your games or get creative!
  • Run games for your friends or random strangers
  • Organize events! 
  • Other things!
But most importantly share your stories, photos or videos and drop me a line in the comments below! 


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Tortles! The Mystara / BECMI Race Makes Massive D&D Comeback!

Wanderers by Maximillain Degen. You can buy this print here (no, I'm not sponsored).

In 2019 it looks like Tortles is becoming one of the more popular D&D races! Crazy as it sounds, this race of turtle-like humanoids was introduced to the D&D 5th Edition with Volo's Guide to Monsters in 2016. In 2017, rules for playing Tortle PCs was brought to D&D 5E fans with the Tortle Package, a PDF product sold as an expansion to Tomb of Annhilation detailing the Tortle lands called the Snout of Omgar. Earlier this year, TruBlood actor and D&D superfan Joe Managiello revealed that he had created a character called Krull the Tortle. Krull is somehow connected to Managiello's main PC, Arkhan the Cruel known from Matt Mercer's Critical Role, but the Tortle will appear in Descent of Avernus, an upcoming D&D5E adventure from Wizards of the Coast set in Baldur's Gate.

Tortles go way back in the history of D&D however. In 1984, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Mirage Comics, but only a year later Tortles appeared in D&D in Merle and Jackie Rasmusens's The Savage Coast set in the world of Mystara and for the BECMI edition of D&D. The module was followed up with a companion adventure spanning two issues of Dungeon Magazine called Tortles of Purple Sage, also by the Rasmussens. 

Tortles got an even more prominent role in Mystara and the Savage Coast Subsetting when they appeared in the Voyage of the Princess Ark and later in the AD&D 2nd Edition Red Steel Boxed Set detailing this part of Mystara.

In 2017, Wizards of the Coast staffers Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford had what seemed like a heated twitter debate about whether Tortles were a stupid idea or not. It late seems like it was all a (clever?) marketing ploy for their Tortle Package.

Oly Skiffback by David Rene

Over the years, the world of D&D has seen several iconic Tortle NPCS in D&D books and in other mediums. In addition to Managiello's Krull character, Matthew Mercer played a Tortle bard named Orly Skiffback in the Critical Role streaming series. 

You can find a complete list of Tortle references in D&D books here.

Are you a fan of Tortles? Why do you love them so much? If you don't love them, then Mike Mearls is awaiting your calls. 


Saturday, September 7, 2019

Bartertown Deathtrap Part 1: A New Free Blackmoor Adventure for AFF

Someone called Duncan Young has written a fan adventure for Dave Arneson's Blackmoor. The adventure called Bartertown Deathtrap Part 1 uses the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG rules, but is easy to adapt to any RPG or edition. The adventure is set in the land of Frisia, just north of Blackmoor.  Can you survive the Bartertown Deathtrap?

Download this adventure for free at The Comeback Inn!


Memorial Gathering for Rick Loomis on Oct 19th

As reported on this blog, Rick Loomis, founder of Flying Buffalo Games, sadly passed away last month. I now learn from the DeluxeTunnels And Trolls Blog that there will be a memorial gathering for Mr. Loomis on October 19th. More details can be found here.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

ArneCon: Should Dave Arneson Get His Own Convention?

This came up the other day when I was writing my article on David Megarry's important message about fans of Gary Gygax and fans of Dave Arneson uniting to preserve the memory of both D&D creatoLrs and also honoring the other creatives who worked to bring us this wonderful game.

"Luke is trying to keep his father's name alive with Gary Con and understands what contribution Arneson had to the collective effort. [..] maybe the Minnesota crowd needs to start an Arnecon (or whatever...don't worry, Luke, I will guarantee that it will be six months different;)"

GaryCon is indeed a great achievement and Luke and Ernie Gygax have worked hard to keep this convention going in order to keep the memory of Gary alive. So should Dave Arneson's friends and family get together and start their own convention? I don't know how serious David Megarry was about this, but it is an interesting idea. The most important thing I think is to get away from the idea that support for Dave Arneson is some kind of attack on Gary. The Dave vs. Gary concept is a distraction from the main goal which should be to unite both groups. From what I have been told, the organizers of GaryCon have been very welcoming towards David Wesely, David Megarry and the rest of the Minnesota Gamers. Creating an event which could be seen as a kind of competition would help light the flames of those who would seek to keep the fandom divided. This would be a step in the wrong direction.

 On the other hand, Megarry's comments about keeping the convention many months apart from GaryCon is probably a good idea. Also, it is not the first time Dave Arneson's legacy has been memorialized by a live event. Dave Arneson Day is spearheaded by the people of the Comeback Inn as an online event, but the Minnesota Gamers and others have also held various live meetups and game events on October 1st. See a full list of known activies since 2010 here. If an event like this could be given some kind of endorsement from the organizers of GaryCon, that would be a fantastic thing.

It should be kept in mind though, that organizing a convention at the level of GaryCon requires a lot of hard work. Are there enough people out there willing to help the Original Blackmoor Players set something like that up? It might be wise to start a bit smaller and then see where things might lead.

More discussion of this topic here.


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

We Need to Make Sure Both Dave And Gary Are Remembered Megarry Says

David Megarry, designer of Dungeon!, friend to Dave Arneson and Original Blackmoor Player adresses the recent discussions surrounding Dave Arneson's role as Co-Creator of D&D. It's not really about one side supporting Dave and another supporting Gary, Megarry says:

The "sides" are somewhat artificial. Now that ego's are out of the way, we, the living, can moderate the division and start to bring a balance, if you will, to this great creation which was started in basements and is ending up in Fortune 500 board rooms. Just as the Irish figured out The Troubles, let us also do what needs to be done to keep Gygax and Arneson from being forgotten collectively and end the division. It is already happening: their names are relegated to small type on D&D credits. It won't be long before even that goes away. Luke is trying to keep his father's name alive with Gary Con and understands what contribution Arneson had to the collective effort. The Secrets of Blackmoor documentary is our effort to keep Arneson's name alive and maybe the Minnesota crowd needs to start an Arnecon (or whatever...don't worry, Luke, I will guarantee that it will be six months different;) The Kotaku article demonstrates that corporate could take over the narrative and construe whatever makes them the most fame and fortune.

While there were times of tension between different sides, Megarry stresses that even after the publication of D&D, people Dave Arneson's group worked alongside Gary's other employees to help TSR succeed in its early stages:

You must realize that the bulk of the creative Minnesota people were working for TSR in 1976: Arneson (D&D, Adventures in Fantasy, First Fantasy Campaign...), Megarry (Guerrilla War, Dungeon!, Pentastar...)and Carr (Don't Give Up The Ship, Fight in The Skies, 24 Hours of Le Mans...); the only people not represented were the David Wesely (Strategos N, Braunstein, Source of the Nile, Valley Forge...), Ross Maker (Source of the Nile), The Snider Brothers (Richard: Adventures in Fantasy, Mutant...John: Star Probe and Star Empires) and Professor Barker (Empire of the Petal Throne). Did I forget anyone? (Duane Jenkins with his Western RPG??).

Since TSR already had a creative staff working "upstairs" when Dave Arneson and his friends arrived at the company, the Minnesota group found other ways to help the company that didn't necessarily give them credits on published books:

We embraced the downstairs work as we realized the company would flounder if it wasn't done. Terry Kuntz got the Dungeon Hobby shop in order and it was contributing to the cash flow of the operation as well. Unfortunately (or fortunately from a TSR perspective) Arneson was an excellent shipping clerk and shipping hummed. As the inflationary growth spurt started to set in, Arneson's contribution to the company as a shipping clerk became more and more important. Arneson, of course, felt this was a demotion of a sort and began to rail against the role he had slipped into. When he tried to assert his creative input, it was rejected (almost out of hand). He had been hired to be a designer; that he stormed out after being rejected as such, is not surprising.

Tim Kask, editor of Dragon Magazine, has perhaps been the most vocal critic of Dave Arneson from the time Dave worked at TSR, but Megarry says he understands Kask's frustration:

Tim's dealings with Arneson were jaded with by the experiences we had together in 1976 at TSR Headquarters. From Tim's point of view, Arneson and most of the Minnesota contingent were not very productive on the creative front. The Arneson Basement crowd ended up that year doing a lot of nuts and bolts running the "downstairs" part of the business. It was the time of the 2nd stage of a business [...] Tim was really stretching himself to create a successful magazine and, IMHO, felt that the other "creative" staff was not pulling their weight. You must realize that the bulk of the creative Minnesota people were working for TSR in 1976: Arneson, Megarry and Carr; the only people not represented were the Snider Brothers and Professor Barker. That we produced not one item (other than the Blackmoor supplement) must have seemed to him we lacked the creative spark. Tim was part of the "upstairs" and wouldn't necessarily have appreciated what was happening to the company in the late Fall 1976.

I think Megarry makes some very important points here. If the people who were present at the creation of D&D and the early days of TSR are willing to let old conflicts go, D&D fans should certainly also do the same. While we live in a time when many are attracted to tribalist ideas of us vs. them, those of us who care about the  origin of our hobby have much more to gain by working together to preserve the memories of both D&D Co-Creators as well as the others who played an important role in those early years.

This does not mean that we should turn a blind eye to facts when they present themselves. If evidence is there to suggest credit is due, then we should be honest enough to examine that. Most of the readers of this blog will know that both Dave and Gary deserve tons of credit for bringing forth the game that we all love. We can all do our part to preserve that truth for the future.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Was Kotaku Wrong to Rehash Arneson vs. Gygax Debate?

Two days ago Cecilia D'Anastasio  published an article called Dungeons & Deceptions: The First D&D Players Push Back On The Legend Of Gary Gygax at a website called Kotaku. While I found the article to be well researched and making some very interesting points, some of Gary's family members and fans have reacted strongly against the article while others feel like this is stirring up old bygones that should have been left alone. Others again point to the fact that D'Anastasio wrote an article on Gary's Widow Gail Gygax earlier this year which many saw as rather one-sided.

Gary Gygax passed away in 2008 at 69 and Dave Arneson passed in 2009 at 61. While the two had a falling out early in their careers, both men apparently moved on long before they died. Is the "who did more, Dave or Gary" discussion really worth dragging up or is it just something D&D fans who love drama use to entertain themselves while getting in pointless fights over it on forums and social media platforms?

I have tended to stay away from this debate myself. Although my work has always focused on Blackmoor and Dave Arneson, I have always seen myself as a fan of both D&D creators. I have never had any interest in the drama beyond learning the basic facts of what happened.

The problem, however, is that by leaving this discussion alone, we risk forgetting half of the story. The story that is most often forgotten is the story about Dave Arneson and the Minnesota Gamers. The Kotaku article is correct in saying that some misconceptions about the history of the hobby are being perpetuated by books and articles that have been published on the subject over the years. Several documentaries are in the works and with only one notable exception, these appear to focus on the importance of Gary Gygax.

The topic that even the best works on D&D History get wrong is on the importance of Chainmail in the development of D&D. The Kotaku article correctly identifies how by describing Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign as simply a Chainmail Game, the real significance of Arneson's contributions to D&D are lost. I have talked about this problem back in 2016 on this blog.

I think the best part of the Kotaku article is where it describes Dave and Gary's contributions to the creation of D&D this way:

To be sure, there would be no Dungeons & Dragons without Gary Gygax. Chainmail is a clear influence for D&D’s famous combat rules, and Gygax’s particular tastes in literature and voracious reading habit helped populate D&D’s world with monsters, gods, and legendary beasts. Gygax saw the potential in Blackmoor, or the aspects of Chainmail it happened to bring out, and moved quickly and purposefully enough to put the idea into a publishable format. But what gets lost is that neither would there be D&D without Dave Arneson. And indeed, the things that D&D fans love the most about the game—the things that distinguish “role-playing” from “fantasy wargaming”—were Arneson’s vision.

By simply choosing to avoid these discussions, I think we risk overlooking the importance of powerful ideas and concepts that are still found at the core of the hobby today. Some of these ideas are the very things Dave passed onto the hobby, in part drawn from his friend David Wesely's Braunstein games and other ideas brought in by their fellow gamers in Minnesota.

More importantly to new generations of D&D fans, I think there is much more to learn from David Arneson and his friends. Because Arneson left TSR (or was forced to leave) so early, many of the ideas and concepts that Dave Arneson's Gaming Group experimented with in the late 60s and onwards never made it into D&D. Perhaps learning more about Dave Arneson and his friends and what they did in gaming can inspire young gamers today to take the hobby to new places in the future!

In the last decades I have been researching the story of Dave Arneson and his friends, not because I love to dig up dirt or because I want to hurt the legacy of Gary Gygax. I don't like hurting anyone's feelings. I have been doing this because I am interested in truth. There are many people out there telling Gary's story, so it is only fair that some are telling Dave's as well. Perhaps the Kotaku article could have been written in a more moderate fashion and avoided some characteristics, a few quotes and its provocative heading. But at least it is another voice telling Dave's story. Its not like our corner is that crowded.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Secrets of Blackmoor Now Available for All Audiences

For those who haven't caught the news yet, the documentary Secrets of Blackmoor is now available to those who missed the Kickstarter. The final version of the documentary was released to KS Backers on August 19. It was also shown at GenCon earlier this year.

Over the last few days, more attention was given to Secrets of Blackmoor thanks to an article at the somewhat controversial website Kotaku, which challenges what it calls the Legend of Gary Gygax. This caused some stir among hard core fans, friends and family of Gary's. However, it should be noted that the age old Gary Gygax vs. Dave Arneson debate is not the focus of Secrets of Blackmoor.

Secrets of Blackmoor instead, wisely allows those who knew Dave Arneson, played in his games and helped him develop Blackmoor to tell their story. The story about the games they played, how they played them and about friendship and a different time in America. This is an important story.

The documentary is part 1 in a planned series of documentaries and the first part focuses on the early years of the Minnesota Gaming group. The next installment promises to tell more about Blackmoor itself.

I was pleasantly surprised to see my own name in the credits. However, it should be noted that I did not directly contribute to the project. I did however have many conversations with one of the film makers and did my part in helping them get in touch with some of the people who were interviewed on screen. It is nice to know that my own part in running Blackmoor Websites and Blogs for the last 15 years (This blog since 2009), have played a part in something that others can watch.

There are many books out there that tell Gary's story and several documentaries are on the way. I have always felt that it should be possible to be a fan of both D&D creators. As such, Dave's story deserves to be told. That is what Secrets of Blackmoor does.

Watch the documentary here.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

Rest in Peace Rick Loomis

As I reported here, Rick Loomis was recently hospitalised fighting cancer. Today I am sad to learn that he has passed away. Rick Loomis was an important figure in the Tabletop industry.  In 1970, he founded Flying Buffalo Games (Tunnes & Trolls, Grimtooth's Traps, Mercenaries, Spies, & Private Eyes and more). He was also one of the founders of GAMA (the Game Manufacturers Association) where he served as President for 7 years. As President of Flying Buffalo, Rick worked with well known creatives like Michael Stackpole, Liz Danforth, Jennell Jaquays and others.

 Loomis had a good relationship with Dave Arneson. Dave owned shares in Flying Buffalo and when he gave up running is own company, Adventure Games, he sold that company to Flying Buffalo. Dave also contributed to at least one Flying Buffalo publication, City Book II: Port o Call, which I referenced my most recent Thonia Sourcebook.

 It feels strange now, that I chatted with Rick, only a few months ago about Dave Arneson. He was very helpful. Rick seems by all accounts to have been a very nice man.

May he Rest In Peace.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Gaming Legend Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo Games in Hospital

Rick Loomis is the founder of Flying Buffalo Games and has been working in the RPG industry for over 50 years. He is perhaps best known for the Tunnels & Trolls RPG and the Grimtooth's Traps series. Dave Arneson was friends with Loomis and owned shares in Tunnels & Trolls. He also sold his own company Adventure Games to Flying Buffalo in 1985. I was actually chatting to Rick about his connections to Dave just last month. He seemed like a really nice person.

I recently learned that Loomis, 1972, was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer earlier this year. A go fund me campaign has been launched to help cover his medical bills. If you want to help this legend in gaming you can do so by visiting that site here.


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Fredigar's Hope: New Free Adventure Explores Origins of Blackmor's Comeback Inn

My friend Yaztromo is great at keeping me up to date with the "Blackmoor Living World" project which produces free fan written adventures set in Blackmoor for the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG. This latest installment, titled Fredigar's Hope explores the legendary Comeback Inn and its owner Fredigar Cribbs.

As with the other Living Blackmoor Adventures, Fredigar's Hope is relatively rules light and easy to convert to any edition of D&D or other RPGs of your choice.

This adventure is available as a free download here.


Blackmoor at GenCon 2019

Its always nice to see the original fantasy RPG setting see some presence at the world's largest RPG convention! Origial Blackmoor Player and D&D designer Mike Carr was there running his Fight In the Skies game. The biggest Blackmoor related story to have come out of Gen Con 2019 is related to a certain documentary:

As reported by Secrets of Blackmoor, a screening of the Documentary by the same name was shown at Gen Con 2019, in Indianapolis this weekend. As the producers of the film were unable to attend, the event was organized by Gen Con Film Festival Organizer Chuck Budreau. It was recently announced to backers of the Kickstarter that the version distributed at vimeo would not be the final version of the documentary, but that these backers would recieve a revised version. It is unclear which version was screened at GenCon.

Did you attend GenCon 2019? Did you go to the screening of Secrets of Blackmoor? What were the highlights of your GenCon 2019 experience?

More discussion of this article here.


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Rolling Thunder - Lost MMRPG Adventure Available At Last

As reported yesterday, we have been able to find a lost Blackmoor adventure. Episode 91 from season 4 of Blackmoor the MMRPG for some reason went missing and I had assumed it had never been written. However clues to its existence kept popping up and finally the episode has been uploaded and made available for free to fans of this series of Blackmoor adventures. This adventure introduces the Drakon'katha, a spellcasting lizardman-like race of enemies to Blackmoor as well as the Nyborg and Garthopods. We also get expansions to Dwarven lore and a wonderful dwarven war machine!

I hope you like it!

Download here!


Monday, June 24, 2019

Lost Blackmoor Adventure Discovered!

A few weeks ago, we announced that all four seasons of D&D adventures for the Blackmoor MMRPG (Organized play) had been released to the public. While we still have a few surprises left that we are going to share with you over the coming months, we genuinely believed that we had uncovered all the episodes that were written. Some numbered episodes simply do not exist because numbers were assigned and not necessarily written. However when the final episodes had been made available, fans over at the Comeback Inn Forum started asking questions. Something felt like it was missing in the final storyline.

And behold, something was missing! Thanks to MMRPG author Phil Slama, I have obtained a lost episode. The episode is #91 in the series and is called Rolling Thunder. I will be releasing this episode tomorrow, but I can reveal now that it deals with the Dwarves of Blackmoor and some of their most powerful weapons!

So, stay tuned tomorrow for Rolling Thunder! Is this the last time I will spring such surprises on you? I don't know, but I hope not! During my searching for this episode I have reached out to others who were involved with the MMRPG so maybe I will uncover more as well! If you know about anything that is not available as free downloads at The Comeback Inn, please let me know!

PS: Special thanks to Yaztromo for digging into the MMRPG episodes!

Discuss this article here.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Richard L. Snider (1953-2009)

In November this year, it will have been 10 years since Richard Leonard Snider (August 29, 1953 - November 17, 2009) passed away. I reported on his passing in this post from 2009. Today I want to take the time to look into Richard's importance for our hobby.

Perhaps best known for designing Tabletop RPGs such as Powers & Perils (Avalon Hill) and Adventures in Fantasy (1978), Richard was an important member of Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Group and went onto become a game designer himself. Richard was also a supporter of the Blackmoor fan community and participated at the Wayfarer's Inn, a precedessor of the Comeback Inn Blackmoor Forum.

Meeting Dave Arneson

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Richard and his brother John moved to Minnesota and joined the gaming club known as the Midwest Military Simulation Association, where Dave Arneson was also a member. In the 1970s and the Sniders became two of the original Blackmoor players in Dave's campaign. The First Fantasy Campaigns makes many references to "The Sniders" detailing the actions of the two brothers in Dave Arneson's Campaign. Richard most memorable character was probably the Cleric who became known as the Flying Monk. Although he was 6 years younger than Dave, Richard was also active in making rules suggestions and  other contributions to the campaign. An entire section in Dave Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign is dedicated to Richard's additions to the game. My own fan sourcebook for Blackmoor, The Eastern Marshes was in part a tribute to Richard Snider's section in the First Fantasy Campaign.

Game Designer and author

Together with Dave Arneson, he co-authored Adventures in Fantasy (Excalibre Games, 1978). In 1983, Richard created the game Powers & Perils, which he was incredibly supportive of throughout his life.  Later in life Richard still expressed an interest in publishing RPGs, though attempts to bring back Powers & Perils on a commercial basis were blocked by Wizards of the Coast. In  2007, Richard stated that he would be interested in bringing his creative ideas to the computer scene in "a computer mega-opus".

Richard was also a published Sci Fi author, having written a novel called The Leather Rose. He also wrote about 35 other unpublished novels.


Tabletop RPGs
  • Arneson, Dave First Fantasy Campaign (Judges Guild, 1977) - Additional material by Richard Snider included.
  • Arneson, Dave & Snider, Richard: Adventures in Fantasy (Excalibur Games, 1978)
  • Asprin, Robert: Thieves World (Chaosium, 1981) - Additional material
  • Snider, Richard: Powers & Perils RPG (Avalon Hill, 1983)
  • Snider, Richard: Perilous Lands (Avalon Hill, 1984) - Powers & Perils Supplement
  • Snider, Richard: Book of Tables (Avalon Hill, 1984) - Powers & Perils Supplement
  • Snider, Richard: Tower of the Dead (Avalon Hill, 1984) - Powers & Perils Supplement
Strategy Games
  • Snider, John, Snider, Richard etc: Star Empires (TSR, 1977)
  • Snider, Richard: The Leather Rose

Thanks to Bob Meyer, Greg Svenson, Chirine ba'Kal, James Mishler and others for providing additional information. If you have more information about Richard L. Snider that you think should be included, please let me know.

More discussion of this article here.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Fall of the Dwarves: A Free PDF Campaign Expansion to the CBI-2 The Rand Sourcebook

With the overwhelming response to the Thonian Rand Sourcebook I released last month, I could not stop thinking about the lands I had described within it, drawing on many different sources linked to Dave Arneson's World of Blackmoor. While the PDF is self contained, I felt like a campaign outline might have been useful to illustrate how this booklet might be used.

CBI-2 The Thonian Rand introduces the Duchy of Evedhur. The idea with Evedhur was to expand on the lore of Dwarves from the Blackmoor Campaign Setting. In Dave Arneson’s campaign, the dwarves were ruled by Oberstar Kazakhum , the Regent of the Mines. In CBI-2, I gave him a brother, Arkalist Kazakhum.

 My idea for the character Arkalist, was that this dwarf, like his brother, wanted a kingdom of his own and settled in a mountain chain in the Thonian Empire. Arkalist’s Duchy of Evedhur also allowed me to incorporate some of the material and characters from Clock & Steam, another Blackmoor sourcebook from Zeitgeist Games written for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition. The following is the outline for a campaign where the players will have a chance to determine the fate of the Duchy of Evedhur and perhaps the entire world of Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor™

I hope you will like this campaign expansion as much as you enjoyed the Thonian Rand Sourcebook.

Download the Fall of the Dwarves Campaign Expansion here


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Blackmoor MMRPG Finale Released!

Its been a long journey, but the final episode of the Blackmoor MMRPG has now been released at The Comeback Inn. We have been fortunate enough to be allowed to host these episodes, many years after they were run at MegaCon and other conventions. The final episode, titled "the Beginning" is described thusly:

There’s trouble in the North this night, a feeling of unknown, we’re stuck here in the future and our destiny’s unknown. We knew the timeline was corrupted, but we didn’t believe until Mithgilivyr told us and our friends all disappeared. So friends, here’s our chance now, to foil evil’s plan; here’s a couple items we’ll strike just the way we planned. They’re sorry it went down like this, but sacrifice ain’t new; it’s the nature of the business, it’s what adventurers do. A Dave Arneson's Blackmoor one round adventure for players levels 9-15.

More Comeback Inn Freebies in the Horizon!

This isn't the end of good stuff coming from the Comeback Inn however! We recently released CBI-02 The Thonian Rand, the second in our 10 part series of sourcebooks detailing The Thonian Empire. More sourcebooks from Original Blackmoor Player Greg Svenson are also in the works. All this and more free fan material will be released at the Comeback Inn in the coming months.

More MMRPG Material?

Well yes, we do have a few more surprises here as well. Make sure you download all four seasons as well as the related files for now, but stay tuned for a few extras that have not yet been shared with the community.

But enough chatter, we know why you're here:

Download the episode 95 here.


Monday, May 27, 2019

CBI-2 The Thonian Rand - New Fan Made Thonian Empire Sourcebook Available For Free!

The Comeback Inn is proud to announce the second in the series of Thonian Empire Province Sourcebooks. Written by Havard and friends, this sourcebook details the northwestern border province of the Thonian Empire. Here DM's can find material for campaigns where the players can:

  • Take the battle against the Iron Duke, Taha Marcovik to his own home ground.
  • Help free slaves forced to work in the brutal mines of the Thonian Empire.
  • Visit the dwarven duchy of Evedhur, home of Arkalist Khazakhum, brother of the legendary Regent of the Mines
  • Explore the wonderous inventions of the Gnomes and Dwarves of Evedhur
  • Explore the shady pirate ports of the Duchy of Rockaway and visit the court of the eccentric Duke Dindlor Dragoneye

Research into the most obscure writings of Dave Arneson have gone into the writing of this sourcebook, while still making it playable and fun!

Compatible with all editions of D&D.

Get this sourcebook at the Comeback Inn


Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Piazza D&D Worlds Forum Turns Eleven!

One of my main hangouts, The Piazza turns 11 years old today!

I wasn't able to go all the way to London to attend to the real life birthday party today, but we have spent the entire weekend at the Piazza discord chat, talking about games and all kinds of geeky things.

Pretty amazing how far we have come since we started that place that Ashtagon created for various displaced D&D fan communities. Its been a fun ride and I am looking forward to many new discussions and friendly debates there in the coming years!

Happy birthday to The Piazza!


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Dave Arneson Article at the MinnPost Website

Nice article at the MinnPost Website. It is great seeing more attention given to Dave Arneson, now 10 years after his passing. While I like the article, it repeats the common mistake in my opinion of putting too much emphasis on the role of Chainmail as I have talked about in the past. It would also have been nice to see a bit towards the end of the article on the last years of Dave Arneson's life. The article mentions teaching at Full Sail University and his health conditions, but it would have been nice to see mention of his chance to publish Blackmoor again with Zeitgeist Games and his involvement with WotC as a playtester of D&D3E, being invited to write articles at the WotC website and being invited to the set of the D&D movie in Prague. I think all of these moments meant a lot to Dave towards the end of his life.

Thanks to Big Mac at ThePiazza for letting me know about this article.

More discussion of this article here


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...