Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

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Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Zeromaru X » Sat May 07, 2016 6:52 am

I'm repurposing this topic to general questions about Blackmoor (so, I'll not create many topics for my endless questions).

I'm nearly finishing preparations for my first Blackmoor adventure. My players grow tired of Dark Sun and his unwelcoming desert, so, they're also eager to stop in "World-1", as they began to call Blackmoor (a reference to being the "very first D&D world" as I explained to them... hope I was right, or I would have misled my players...). We decided to use Essentials/post-Essentials classes, because those seem more old-school than vanilla 4e, and they're inspired about the "first world" stuff.

Anyways, while reading the 4e book, the Comeback Inn catched my attention. It seems like there is some sort of planar-traveling gate in its basement, but the 4e book didn't expanded much about its nature. How it works? Can I, for example, bright player characters from the Nentir Vale to Blackmoor? Can my players go back and forth between worlds or the travel is just one-sided? The plan is to transport the current party to Blackmoor after they beat a villain from an level 1-2 adventure I'm running to start this campaign.

There is another question my players are asking me: do gods like Moradin or Bahamut exists on Blackmoor? I know the Platinum Dragon is mentioned in the earliest monster manual, but as I'm unfamiliar with early D&D settings I don't know if that material applies to Blackmoor or just to Greyhawk/Mystara. How worked for divine characters in past editions? They lost their powers until converting to a new god or their original deity became an interloper? (like the maztican deities in FR, for example).

I ask because there is one Cavalier (Essentials Paladin) and one Warpriest (Essentials Cleric) on the party, and they are wondering if their characters might lose their divine powers because there are other gods in Blackmoor.

Also, is the Wizard's Cabal an evil organization? According to the lore in the 4e book, they started with good intentions, but now police magic much like the Chantry in Dragon Age, and the book even say that illegal wizards disappear or are killed and that stuff. I ask this because our Mage (Essentials Wizard) may have problems with that, and she is planning to join the Eldritch Underground just to protect her character.
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Giant Space Hamster » Sat May 07, 2016 9:35 am

Zeromaru X wrote:I'm repurposing this topic to general questions about Blackmoor (so, I'll not create many topics for my endless questions).


MODERATOR NOTE (by Big Mac): I've split your last post into a new topic (using your new name) and restored your original topic to the original name (About magic on Blackmoor).

The Piazza is easiest to navigate when we have one topic in each topic (and when the topic has a name that fits in with the subject). Long conversations that wander across multiple topics actually make it a lot harder for other forum members to find "cool posts" in the future.
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Big Mac » Sat May 07, 2016 10:31 am

Zeromaru X wrote:I'm nearly finishing preparations for my first Blackmoor adventure. My players grow tired of Dark Sun and his unwelcoming desert, so, they're also eager to stop in "World-1", as they began to call Blackmoor (a reference to being the "very first D&D world" as I explained to them... hope I was right, or I would have misled my players...). We decided to use Essentials/post-Essentials classes, because those seem more old-school than vanilla 4e, and they're inspired about the "first world" stuff.

Anyways, while reading the 4e book, the Comeback Inn catched my attention. It seems like there is some sort of planar-traveling gate in its basement, but the 4e book didn't expanded much about its nature. How it works? Can I, for example, bright player characters from the Nentir Vale to Blackmoor? Can my players go back and forth between worlds or the travel is just one-sided? The plan is to transport the current party to Blackmoor after they beat a villain from an level 1-2 adventure I'm running to start this campaign.


The Comeback Inn does have something funky going on.

We have a couple of topics about The Comeback Inn:

(The other topics that came up, are all about another forum that is named after the inn.) Oddly, I didn't see a general topic explaining how the inn works. I guess that the Blackmoor fans here assume everyone already knows and that nobody asked before you. Either that, or there are some cool posts buried in topics with titles that are not about the inn. :?

I know it does have some sort of world-hopping magic, but I'm not sure of the exact rules. Havard would know, but perhaps The Comeback Inn could also be found somewhere in Nentir Vale, allowing for trips from one world to another.

Zeromaru X wrote:There is another question my players are asking me: do gods like Moradin or Bahamut exists on Blackmoor? I know the Platinum Dragon is mentioned in the earliest monster manual, but as I'm unfamiliar with early D&D settings I don't know if that material applies to Blackmoor or just to Greyhawk/Mystara. How worked for divine characters in past editions? They lost their powers until converting to a new god or their original deity became an interloper? (like the maztican deities in FR, for example).


That's a tough one. The fact that Blackmoor got separated from it's D&D origins means that Dave Arneson (and others) would have had to have played down (or removed) things that were D&D IP. It certainly would not be a mistake to include them in your own specific version of Blackmoor (if that makes things easier). You don't have to stick to canon.

But if you are "trying to do things right" then I guess that talking to people with the OD&D books could give you a general idea of what both Blackmoor and Greyhawk have in common. And then talking to people with the DA series could give you an idea of what Blackmoor and Mystara have in common.

And talking to people with The First Fantasy Campaign, could give you and idea of what Dave Arneson had to pull out of Blackmoor, when he published it elsewhere.

Zeromaru X wrote:I ask because there is one Cavalier (Essentials Paladin) and one Warpriest (Essentials Cleric) on the party, and they are wondering if their characters might lose their divine powers because there are other gods in Blackmoor.


There are a couple of things in Spelljammer, that might help. Spelljammer doesn't connect directly to Blackmoor. (It's primary connections are to Dragonlance, Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms and it has a secondary connection to Mystara.) But it does have some rules about clerics (priests back then) going to other crystal spheres, that might be interesting/useful.

Clerics can regain 1st and 2nd level spells anywhere (including the Phlogiston - which you won't be using) but the 3rd level and higher spells require a connection to their deity. So in crystal spheres (read campaign settings) where their deity is not worshipped, they get cut down to two levels of spells, rather than loosing all of their powers.

And there is a 2nd level spell added in Spelljammer, called "Contact Home Power" that a cleric can use to create a temporary link (IIRC it lasts one week) that allows them to regain their 3rd level and higher spells. So you could have your Cavalier and Warpriest find that special spell in their minds, a day or so after arriving in Blackmoor and deal with things that way. (There is a Spelljammer 4E Conversion Project at The Piazza. It's dormant at the moment, but we could start a topic about "Contact Home Power" and get people to convert that spell, if you are interested.)

The other thing in Spelljammer (actually in CGR1 The Complete Spacefarer's Handbook) are some rules for importing a new deity into a crystal sphere where they are not worshipped yet. These rules are tucked away, rather than being a major section, but they are one of the most interesting parts of SJ canon, to me, as they allow clerics who go from one world to another world, to actually change that world and bring in their deity.

I've not got CGR1 in front of me, but the basic principle of the rule, is that a priest has to build a big stronghold (i.e. church or temple) consecrate the building with a special ritual and then maintain that building for one year and one day, before carrying out the ritual again to help the god "break into the sphere" (that's my words - not the words in the book) and be seen as a new deity in that sphere.

So, you could have your Cavalier and Warpriest switch to other deities, you could have them cast Contact Home Power on a weekly basis or you could have them go looking for people in Blackmoor that will convert to their religion/religions. :)

You could also go down more than one route, with servants of deities local to Blackmoor attempting to tempt your Cavalier and Warpriest to convert to their religion at the same time that your two PCs are having to burn up one 2nd level spell per week, to keep in contact with their deities. :twisted:

And if your Cavalier and Warpriest do attempt to build a church or temple, they would need to do adventuring to raise the cash and might have to fight off some NPCs from other churches, who see them as people attempting to bring strange new cults to Blackmoor! So not talking the "easy way" and switching to Blackmoor deities could actually give you a plotline where one or two Dawn War gods become an important theme in your Blackmoor game. :twisted:

Zeromaru X wrote:Also, is the Wizard's Cabal an evil organization? According to the lore in the 4e book, they started with good intentions, but now police magic much like the Chantry in Dragon Age, and the book even say that illegal wizards disappear or are killed and that stuff. I ask this because our Mage (Essentials Wizard) may have problems with that, and she is planning to join the Eldritch Underground just to protect her character.


Havard made a topic about The Wizards Cabal back in 2008. I suggest you have a read of that and bump it with any questions you have.

But from the first post it seems that the Cabal has been both evil and not evil.

One way to go (and I'm still not a Blackmoor expert) would be to make the Wizard's Cabal "powerful" rather than good or evil, and then have various wizards try to take over the Cabal and use it for their own purposes (that could be good or evil).
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Havard » Sat May 07, 2016 11:12 am

Zeromaru X wrote:I'm nearly finishing preparations for my first Blackmoor adventure. My players grow tired of Dark Sun and his unwelcoming desert, so, they're also eager to stop in "World-1", as they began to call Blackmoor (a reference to being the "very first D&D world" as I explained to them... hope I was right, or I would have misled my players...). We decided to use Essentials/post-Essentials classes, because those seem more old-school than vanilla 4e, and they're inspired about the "first world" stuff.


I never got into Essentials, but it sounds like a good match :)

Anyways, while reading the 4e book, the Comeback Inn catched my attention. It seems like there is some sort of planar-traveling gate in its basement, but the 4e book didn't expanded much about its nature. How it works? Can I, for example, bright player characters from the Nentir Vale to Blackmoor? Can my players go back and forth between worlds or the travel is just one-sided? The plan is to transport the current party to Blackmoor after they beat a villain from an level 1-2 adventure I'm running to start this campaign.


The true nature of the Comeback Inn has never truly been revealed. You find the most details on the Comeback Inn in DA1 Adventures of Blackmoor. In that module the Inn functions as a Time Machine, sending adventurers from modern day Mystara and back in time to the age of Blackmoor several thousand years earlier. Fans have speculated that this could in fact be the first time machine discovered by the Immortal Khoronus before he built his own. I think it could also transport characters between worlds. DA1 does refer to its modern day counterpart as the Inn Between the Worlds. The 3E and 4E Blackmoor sourcebooks also hinted at it being connected to very exotic places as you point out.

In ca 1975, Dave Arneson had reached a stage in his campaign where they began some of the more wild experimentation with the game. He would send the player characters to WWII and other places. It is unclear whether the Comeback Inn was used on these journeys, but it seems likely.

There is another question my players are asking me: do gods like Moradin or Bahamut exists on Blackmoor? I know the Platinum Dragon is mentioned in the earliest monster manual, but as I'm unfamiliar with early D&D settings I don't know if that material applies to Blackmoor or just to Greyhawk/Mystara. How worked for divine characters in past editions? They lost their powers until converting to a new god or their original deity became an interloper? (like the maztican deities in FR, for example).


Blackmoor has a god called Insellageth that would correspond to Bahamut, Moradin's counterpart is named Dhummon. For simplicity's sake I would simply make them the same deity, but known under a different name. You can get into more complex theories about how this is connected, but this quick sollution might be just as fun.

(Big Mac gives a good overview of a more complex concepts above)

Also, is the Wizard's Cabal an evil organization? According to the lore in the 4e book, they started with good intentions, but now police magic much like the Chantry in Dragon Age, and the book even say that illegal wizards disappear or are killed and that stuff. I ask this because our Mage (Essentials Wizard) may have problems with that, and she is planning to join the Eldritch Underground just to protect her character.


In DA1 it was an evil (and secret ) organization. In 3E and 4E they changed it so that it was an official organization that controlled how magic was used. Some of its members do seek to turn this organization into a force of evil, while others want to use it as a force for good. I think your interpretation is pretty good. If your player joins the Eldritch Underground, you could play up the darker sides of the Wizards Cabal so that the Eldritch Underground becomes a good organization protecting persecuted sorcerers and other magic users. If you want to run the MMRPG modules (available for free at the Comeback Inn website), there is a storyline there where the Wizards Cabal becomes evil, is exposed and eventually replaced by the Eldrtich Underground.

-Havard

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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby RobJN » Sat May 07, 2016 11:35 am

Mystara has a precedent for clerics-who-lose-their-patrons, which like the Spelljammer solution, is to limit clerics to 1st and 2nd level spells, outlined in the HWA1-3 Blood Brethren trilogy of modules. We had some discussion of Blackmoor gods/immortals here on the Piazza. That might be a good place to start seeing if you find a like-minded divinity that one of the PCs might be able to "adopt."

Whether or not they (re)gain spells by "switching teams" is sort of a sticky question of what your world view is on the divine -- are they specific, concrete "individuals" tied to a given world/dimension? Or are they trans-dimensional powers, shaped more by a base of worshippers' belief, able to shuck one form and take another for another set of similarly inclined worshippers elsewhere in the multiverse? I guess what I'm asking is, are the divine powers a bunch of little pools or several larger ones? Mystara's inclination is to bend towards a "masks/aspects" approach, where cultures might worship the same Immortal under different name(s).

If one of the Blackmoorian dieties corresponds closely to the faith/ideals that your PCs' paladin and cleric uphold, it would be easiest to simply have their powers "slide" into the auspices of the new patron (who may be the "old" patron, under a new guise in this new world, or who could be a completely different power Image
"It looks like you uphold the virtues of unwavering strength and the protection of those weaker than yourself.
Would you like to worship Khoronus, the Starlight General?"

The portal in the cellar of the Comeback Inn is fully described in DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor. As written, the gate is a portal through time, allowing travel up- and downstream, essentially at random, at random intervals. But there is nothing to say that it could not also occasionally bridge the gap between worlds/dimensions, depositing creatures (or PCs) from distant worlds unceremoniously into the Inn's cellars. Whether or not the portal works both ways, or when it bridges the gap between the Nentir Vale and Blackmoor is ultimately up to you as the DM -- if the players are having fun in Blackmoor, then the portal might not lead back to the Vale. If they find the North not to their liking, well, perhaps they have to wait out the next stellar alignment that will reopen the portal (in the meantime, there's this group of cultists in the swamp we need you to check in on for us...), or must quest to find certain objects to toss into it in the right order to get it to (re)connect to the Vale ("'The eyes of a frog that walks like a man?' 'Yolk of an egg-that-is-not-an-egg?' Where the heck are we going to find those?")
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Havard » Sat May 07, 2016 12:40 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Zeromaru X wrote:There is another question my players are asking me: do gods like Moradin or Bahamut exists on Blackmoor? I know the Platinum Dragon is mentioned in the earliest monster manual, but as I'm unfamiliar with early D&D settings I don't know if that material applies to Blackmoor or just to Greyhawk/Mystara. How worked for divine characters in past editions? They lost their powers until converting to a new god or their original deity became an interloper? (like the maztican deities in FR, for example).


That's a tough one. The fact that Blackmoor got separated from it's D&D origins means that Dave Arneson (and others) would have had to have played down (or removed) things that were D&D IP. It certainly would not be a mistake to include them in your own specific version of Blackmoor (if that makes things easier). You don't have to stick to canon.

But if you are "trying to do things right" then I guess that talking to people with the OD&D books could give you a general idea of what both Blackmoor and Greyhawk have in common. And then talking to people with the DA series could give you an idea of what Blackmoor and Mystara have in common.

And talking to people with The First Fantasy Campaign, could give you and idea of what Dave Arneson had to pull out of Blackmoor, when he published it elsewhere.


I would actually warn against taking this type of thinking too far. The two published works that existed before the DA modules are great, but their details on the setting are very limited. Fan research has shown that much additional material added in the DA modules actually goes back to Dave Arneson's original campaign. It is fairly easy to sort out which details were added to connect it to The Known World (Mystara).

It is also worth noting that Blackmoor predates D&D, so removing some things associated with D&D does not necessarily make it less "Blackmoor".

Speaking of Gods and religion, my impression is that this was kept fairly vague in the original campaign. You have evil deities like Zugzul and various demons, but "the Church of The Facts of Life" gets a short and basically parody description in the First Fantasy Campaign. This too is fairly vague on details. The Gods of Blackmoor were really mainly fleshed out with the D20 Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Sourcebook, providing an entire pantheon connected to the various cultures and races of the world.

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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Zeromaru X » Sat May 07, 2016 11:30 pm

Havard wrote:I never got into Essentials, but it sounds like a good match :)


Is friendly to newcomers (the main reason I opted for those classes: one player is totally new to D&D), very streamlined and quick for character creation. Few options compared to vanilla 4e, but characters are solid and fun. And feel more like old edition ones (or at least, 3.5 edition ones). Some people believe this is how 4e must have been since the beginning, while other think Essentials classes are weak compared to vanilla 4e. Having the opportunity to help with character creation, I can say that many of the Essentials stuff was ported to 5e classes.

As for divine powers, re-reading the "Heroes of..." books, I guess I was worrying without reason. Warpriest draw their divine magic from domains, not for specific gods. The warpriest of Moradin is in fact a Warpriest of Earth, and it can draw power from any deity that have earth as a domain/portfolio. Even deity-named domains like the "Corellon" domain or the "Torm" domain (from the Neverwinter Campaign Setting), do not limit their worshipers to that god. Warpriest of Bahamut, for example, can draw their magic from the Torm Domain, even if a deity named Torm doesn't exist in the Nentir Vale, because the Torm Domain embodies the portfolio of Justice, shared by the two gods.

Cavaliers, on the other hand, are like 5e paladins (or I must say, 5e paladins are like Cavaliers). They draw their divine power through believing in their virtues (honor, sacrifice, valor, hope, etc), or vices, if you're a Blackguard. They believe in gods because gods exist and can do stuff, not because they draw power from deities (unlike vainilla clerics or paladins).

I guess even in other "sphere" they will be ok. The Warpriest maybe will have only encounters and at-wills powers until she attunes herself to any earth deity of Blackmoor, though.

RobJN wrote:The portal in the cellar of the Comeback Inn is fully described in DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor. As written, the gate is a portal through time, allowing travel up- and downstream, essentially at random, at random intervals.


Well, the 4e book specifically says is a planar-gate, and do not mention any timey wimey stuff. Maybe is both, a device that can travel through time and space. A D&D-like TARDIS... good idea to explain its nature to my players.
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby ripvanwormer » Sun May 08, 2016 3:09 am

I'd considered deciding that the Nexus from CM6 Where Chaos Reigns, which links the world of the PCs to six different time periods on the parallel world of Aelos, is the same thing as the Comeback Inn (also called the Inn Between the Worlds). The Nexus isn't all that detailed, so the Comeback Inn could easily be used in its place if you decided that the will of the Immortals meant its portal led to Aelos instead of Blackmoor during that adventure.

Another possible tie-in is the World Serpent Inn, which is supposed to have different aspects on each world it touches. In the city of Arabel in the Forgotten Realms it's the Wild Goose Inn. In the city of Irongate on Oerth it's called Helkam's Pit. In Kara-Tur, it's called the Inn of the Unseen Way near the city of Cham Fau. In the gatetown of Ecstasy in the Outlands, it takes the form of a small cottage outside of town. The World Serpent Inn originally appeared in Tales of the Outer Planes, but it's better detailed in Dragon #351 and the web enhancement for the 3rd edition Manual of the Planes that you can download at this link.

The Wandering Inn of the Glorious Toad God from Mongoose's Classic Play Book of the Planes was also a pretty great model for an inn that travels between worlds. That inn shifts between planes because there's a sleeping toad god in the basement who got drunk there one day and forgot how to get home. Perhaps the reason the cult in the Blackmoor adventure Temple of the Frog is following an alien leader is because their true god is asleep in the Comeback Inn.
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Zeromaru X » Sun May 08, 2016 7:23 am

That is truly a great idea, worth of some sort of adventure. Maybe making the Toad God into a NPC of sorts...
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Havard » Sun Jun 05, 2016 12:00 am

ripvanwormer wrote:I'd considered deciding that the Nexus from CM6 Where Chaos Reigns, which links the world of the PCs to six different time periods on the parallel world of Aelos, is the same thing as the Comeback Inn (also called the Inn Between the Worlds). The Nexus isn't all that detailed, so the Comeback Inn could easily be used in its place if you decided that the will of the Immortals meant its portal led to Aelos instead of Blackmoor during that adventure.


This is a great idea. It totally makes sense even if the DA modules never mention that the Comeback Inn could be a nexus to other planes as well as through time. If we are exploring this concept, could the Ordo Elementarum have (organization from the d20 Blackmoor line) done some of their planar exploration through the Comeback Inn as well?

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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Zeromaru X » Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:42 pm

New question.

I'm working in a "Age of the Wolf" campaign of sorts (as my group is about to kill the vampire frog god —current villain in my campaign). I'm going to use Mystara's timeline to work in this future Blackmoor, and use the City of the Gods as the main element of the campaign. A sandbox dungeon of sorts. So, here is my question: what is the technological level in the City of the Gods?
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby RobJN » Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:58 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:New question.

I'm working in a "Age of the Wolf" campaign of sorts (as my group is about to kill the vampire frog god —current villain in my campaign). I'm going to use Mystara's timeline to work in this future Blackmoor, and use the City of the Gods as the main element of the campaign. A sandbox dungeon of sorts. So, here is my question: what is the technological level in the City of the Gods?

The City itself is a crashed spaceship. The fact that they call it a city gives a pretty good approximation of its size. I,d say pick your favorite TV show or movie and apbase it off that tech level. Star Trek or Star Wars might not be out of the question.
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Zeromaru X » Thu Oct 20, 2016 7:19 pm

Is Gamma World technology appropriate for the ship? If not, I guess I am going to raid some stuff from Amethyst.

Another question:

I read in Havard's topic about Age of the Wolf that the City of the Gods was destroyed in Mystara. What happened to the ship in Greyhawk? It was destroyed as well?
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby ripvanwormer » Thu Oct 20, 2016 7:45 pm

Gamma World sounds appropriate. Lots of robots and androids.

Greyhawk's City of the Gods might be different. In Dungeon #115 and Dungeon #126, the City of the Gods in Greyhawk was a magical city of clockwork automata, not a crashed spaceship.
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Havard » Thu Oct 20, 2016 8:37 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:In Dungeon #115 and Dungeon #126, the City of the Gods in Greyhawk was a magical city of clockwork automata, not a crashed spaceship.


Was that city really meant to represent the City of the Gods though? I think that city was called Kolbenburg or something like that?

On the other hand, Greyhawk already has another crashed spaceship detailed in Expedition to the Barrier Peaks...

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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby ripvanwormer » Thu Oct 20, 2016 10:05 pm

Havard wrote:Was that city really meant to represent the City of the Gods though? I think that city was called Kolbenburg or something like that?

-Havard

It wasn't the City of the Gods proper, but it was a product of the same civilization and the adventures filled in some of the City of the Gods back story.
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Zeromaru X » Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:36 am

Thanks for your answers.

I think is really a shame they destroyed the City of the Gods... so much potential. I'm going to ignore that fact in my game. If someone is going to do gamebreaker stuff, should be the players, not the NPCs.
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Re: Zero's doubts about Blackmoor

Postby Big Mac » Sun Oct 23, 2016 8:10 am

ripvanwormer wrote:
Havard wrote:Was that city really meant to represent the City of the Gods though? I think that city was called Kolbenburg or something like that?

-Havard

It wasn't the City of the Gods proper, but it was a product of the same civilization and the adventures filled in some of the City of the Gods back story.


Could you have both, with clockwork automata leaving a city-sized spaceship to found a magical city in another location?
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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