Friday, June 21, 2024

The Realm of Arn and its History in D&D

This week, we learned that WotC are changing the name of Blackmoor in the Greyhawk setting to Arn. But beyond the obvious reference to the last name of the D&D Co-creator, why does the name Arn sound so familiar?

The name Arn has actually been used on a number of occasions. In the adventure DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor (p46), we meet Arn Yonson, a 10th level Fighter who is an obvious stand in for Dave Arneson. Arn Yonson's name does suggest a Skandaharian origin, but the description only says that he wears an outlandish helmet with large horns that some people of Blackmoor find a bit funny. 

In OD&D Supplement 3: Eldritch Wizardry (by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume), we find the artifact known as the Invulnerable Coat of Arn, a chainmail +5 with a number of magical resistances and powers linked to it. The same book also has a Ring of Gax so both D&D Co-creators got their names referenced in this book. It is unclear where the Coat of Arn got its name, but it is said to be a relic of a bygone age. 

The oldest known reference to Arn that I was able to dig up on short notice however, is an illustration from the D&D draft document known as Beyond This Point Be Dragons or the Dalluhn document. The document contains an illustration showing a sign leading to "Lord of Arn". Now, I am not sure if there was ever a conclusion to who actually wrote that document, there have been suggestions that this illustration was drawn by Dave Arneson. Likely the signpost was just a joke, but Lord of Arn does suggest that this is the name of a realm. Perhaps the realm whose ruler once wore a magical chainmail?

Have you found other references to Arn in any D&D products or Arneson material? Please let me know about it. 

Could any of these factoids help explain why Arn has now become the name of a realm in Greyhawk? Could this support Greyhawk Grognard's theory that the new WotC Greyhawk is set at an earlier point in the timeline?  Or was it just a big coincidence?

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