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.


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...