Friday, December 30, 2022

Crusaders: Early Paladins in Blackmoor


In the First Fantasy Campaign there are several references to individuals referred to as "Crusaders". The term Crusader has very specific real world connotations both to the events of the Crusades and to Christianity. Of course, this is no different from how early Blackmoor material refers to Vikings or other real world groups. The explanation is that Dave was developing Blackmoor from wargaming traditions and these references were mainly to be understood as units with specific stat blocks rather than all of the historic context needing to be ported over to a fantasy world. In subsequent iterations of Blackmoor, many of these real world references get replaced by other terms. 

So what about the Crusaders? In my version of Blackmoor, I have replaced them with Paladins. It should be noted that Paladins are mentioned in the First Fantasy Campaign. Paladins first appeared in published form for D&D with the Greyhawk supplement in 1975, which was available when the FFC was published (1977), but the references to Paladins in the FFC were more likely to Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions. 

The character of Zvenzen was probably roleplayed close enough to the Paladin concept to be called the first Paladin PC in Blackmoor even though the class did not exist when Greg Svenson created his character for the game. 

But what can be gained from merging Paladins with the FFC idea of Crusaders? One thing is that when encountered these Crusaders are probably on what they see as a holy mission. In some cases they could be travelling to battle evil in the form of the Egg of Coot, the Afridhi or other monsters or demons. They could likely be in possession of Holy Swords as described in the FFC p 47. Or they could be questing for a Holy Sword, or other religious artifacts. 

On page 49, one of the events that can occur by chance in the lands controlled by a player is that Crusaders are "passing through" the lands. This presents an opportunity for the PCs to recruit the unit of Crusaders (comparable to a mercenary unity as per the FFC), but they could also cause problems for the PCs if they have allowed morally grey activities to take place on their lands. 

My impression about these travelling Crusaders is that they might likely often hail from the Great Kingdom/The Empire if Thonia and be encountered when travelling on their quests across the lands of the North. 

In later version of Blackmoor, Zeitgeist Games released a free PDF (available on my website) detailing various organizations of Paladins for Blackmoor, but this PDF was fairly barebones and an adaptation of material from D&D 3E Unearthed Arcana. Still, it might have some merit to use this material to further develop different Crusader or Paladin Orders which is something that I am currently working on. 


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Blackmoor Player James Laferriere Has Passed

I am sad to announce that another of the original Blackmoor players has passed away from cancer. James "Jim" Laferriere joined Dave Arneson's Blackmoor group in 1973 when he enrolled as a student of  St. Thomas University in Minnesota. At this time the Blackmoor campaign had already been going on for several years, but Jim still got to experience playing with Dave Arneson long before D&D was published. He stayed in Minnesota untill 1977 when he moved to Massachuseth to study Medicine. After graduating, Jim worked for more than 35 years paediatrician operating out of Osseo, Minnesota. His passing was reported earlier today on the Secrets of Blackmoor Facebook Page.

In the original campaign, Jim played a magic user and the character of Jallapiere who appeared in DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor was likely based on Jim's character from the early days. In DA1 Jallapiere or Jal is described as a very powerful wizard, known for his kindness. He is said to be a teacher at Blackmoor University. In this video excerpt from the Secrets of Blackmoor documentary, you can see Jim and Greg Svenson talk about their early gaming experiences together in Dave Arneson's world of Blackmoor. 

My thoughts go to his friends and family. 


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