Blackmoor Week Retrospective: 1970s Blackmoor Products(OD&D)

Dave Arneson's original fantasy campaign; as compelling, gritty and enigmatic as ever.
The Book-House: Find Blackmoor products.

Moderators: Havard, Chimpman

Blackmoor Week Retrospective: 1970s Blackmoor Products(OD&D)

Postby Havard » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:21 pm

Since it is Blackmoor Week I thought we could take a look at the different runs of Blackmoor material published over the decades. Three major publications were available in the 1970s:

  • Dungeons & Dragons (1974)
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Supplement II - Blackmoor (1975)
  • The First Fantasy Campaign (1977)

Let's take a closer look at each of them:

Dungeons & Dragons (1974)
Sometimes overlooked as a Blackmoor product, Dungeons & Dragons in its original 1974 form was based on the campaigns of the two creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. The Foreword to D&D by Gary Gygax references Dave's Blackmoor Campaign, set in a swampy landscape in the Great Kingdom. The Egg of Coot is also mentioned here. Classic concepts from the Blackmoor campaign, such as the dungeon type adventures are explored and classic hero and monster types that appeared in both campaigns are presented. Although OD&D is actually different from how Dave and Gary really ran their individual campaigns, OD&D is a good introduction to Blackmoor.

Dungeons & Dragons: Supplement II - Blackmoor (1975)
The 2nd supplement for Dungeons & Dragons was Blackmoor. This supplement introduced the Assassin and the Monk. It also included new monsters, rules for disease, hit locations and most importantly, the very first published D&D Adventure: The Temple pf the Frog. It should be noted that while Supplement I was named Greyhawk, there was very little information about Greyhawk's setting in that supplement. Supplement II however includes information about the dangerous swamps near Castle Blackmoor. The Foreword, again by Gygax, also suggests that Castle Blackmoor itself and Dave Arneson's world is a pretty amazing place, and includes my favorite Gary Gygax Quote:

Gary Gygax wrote:it is always a fresh challenge to enter his "world". I can not recommend him more highly than simply saying that I would rather play in his campaign than any other — that other dungeon masters who emulate Dave Arneson will indeed improve their games.


The First Fantasy Campaign (1977)
This last booklet from the first decade of published RPGs is one of my most treasured items and a favorite of many hard core Blackmoor gamers. Published by the Judges Guild, the First Fantasy Campaign details the first five years of Dave Arneson's campaign and includes the early invasions of the Egg of Coot, the Banishment to Lake Gloomy, Blackmoor Town itself and hints towards late era adventures such as the City of the Gods, as well as a number of less known adventure locations.


In addtion, a number of magazine articles from publications such as Gary Gygax' Domesday Book, Dave Arneson's Corner of the Table and Blackmoor Gazette as well as Dragon's predecessor the Strategic Review offer more insight into this era of gaming. In addition, I strongly recommend the stories shared by Dave Arneson's players from his early campaign. Many of these are found at Havard's Blackmoor Blog and the Comeback Inn.


Do you own any of the material mentioned above? What are your thoughts on these items? Did I miss anything? :)


-Havard

The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
 
Posts: 16245
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Blackmoor Week Retrospective: 1970s Blackmoor Products(O

Postby Tim Baker » Mon Sep 26, 2016 9:45 pm

I love seeing history like this. It's helpful to tie the present back to the past...it often helps make sense of things that may otherwise be confusing. Thanks for sharing this.
Image My Google+ RPG-related posts. | Image Escalation! fanzine for 13th Age.
User avatar
Tim Baker
Axe Beak
 
Posts: 634
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 8:51 am
Location: United States

Re: Blackmoor Week Retrospective: 1970s Blackmoor Products(O

Postby Big Mac » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:42 am

I don't own any of this stuff and it is the sort of thing where the price is driven sky-high by eBay bandits, so I probably never will.

Havard wrote:Dungeons & Dragons (1974)
Sometimes overlooked as a Blackmoor product, Dungeons & Dragons in its original 1974 form was based on the campaigns of the two creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. The Foreword to D&D by Gary Gygax references Dave's Blackmoor Campaign, set in a swampy landscape in the Great Kingdom. The Egg of Coot is also mentioned here. Classic concepts from the Blackmoor campaign, such as the dungeon type adventures are explored and classic hero and monster types that appeared in both campaigns are presented. Although OD&D is actually different from how Dave and Gary really ran their individual campaigns, OD&D is a good introduction to Blackmoor.


How much of a Blackmoor game can you actually get out of this book alone?

Would a Blackmoor GM in 1974 need to invent their own backgrounds for the Great Kingdom, Egg of Coot and other Blackmoor elements? Or were there short descriptions that were later expanded upon in Supplement II: Blackmoor?

Havard wrote:Dungeons & Dragons: Supplement II - Blackmoor (1975)
The 2nd supplement for Dungeons & Dragons was Blackmoor. This supplement introduced the Assassin and the Monk. It also included new monsters, rules for disease, hit locations and most importantly, the very first published D&D Adventure: The Temple of the Frog. It should be noted that while Supplement I was named Greyhawk, there was very little information about Greyhawk's setting in that supplement. Supplement II however includes information about the dangerous swamps near Castle Blackmoor. The Foreword, again by Gygax, also suggests that Castle Blackmoor itself and Dave Arneson's world is a pretty amazing place, and includes my favorite Gary Gygax Quote:

Gary Gygax wrote:it is always a fresh challenge to enter his "world". I can not recommend him more highly than simply saying that I would rather play in his campaign than any other — that other dungeon masters who emulate Dave Arneson will indeed improve their games.


Do you think of things like assasins and monks as important to the Blackmoor Campaign Setting? Have later editions of Blackmoor introduced new versions of assassins and monks and done things like create in-character organisations that expand upon what is started in Supplement II: Blackmoor.

Do the monsters in this book become iconic monsters for Blackmoor in later editions?

Is there anything in this book that a Blackmoor fan can not get from later editions?

Havard wrote:The First Fantasy Campaign (1977)
This last booklet from the first decade of published RPGs is one of my most treasured items and a favorite of many hard core Blackmoor gamers. Published by the Judges Guild, the First Fantasy Campaign details the first five years of Dave Arneson's campaign and includes the early invasions of the Egg of Coot, the Banishment to Lake Gloomy, Blackmoor Town itself and hints towards late era adventures such as the City of the Gods, as well as a number of less known adventure locations.


I think this is probably one of the Blackmoor products I know least about.

For me, the move of this product out from TSR over to Judges Guild is one of the first signs of unusual politics in TSR.

Was this book (or anything like it) ever planned to be published by TSR?

Were there ever any hints that Judges Guild might publish further Blackmoor books or was this always planned to be the one-and-only book they made for the setting?

Is there anything in The First Fantasy Campaign that has not been described in later Blackmoor products?

Havard wrote:In addtion, a number of magazine articles from publications such as Gary Gygax' Domesday Book, Dave Arneson's Corner of the Table and Blackmoor Gazette as well as Dragon's predecessor the Strategic Review offer more insight into this era of gaming. In addition, I strongly recommend the stories shared by Dave Arneson's players from his early campaign. Many of these are found at Havard's Blackmoor Blog and the Comeback Inn.


I have never heard of Gary Gygax' Domesday Book, Dave Arneson's Corner of the Table and Blackmoor Gazette. How many Blackmoor articles are in these magazines?
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and The Piazza's Google + community so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum. My moderator voice is green.
User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
 
Posts: 20208
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Location: London UK

Re: Blackmoor Week Retrospective: 1970s Blackmoor Products(O

Postby Havard » Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:45 am

Great questions!

I will try to tackle one at a time:

Big Mac wrote:I don't own any of this stuff and it is the sort of thing where the price is driven sky-high by eBay bandits, so I probably never will.


I think most of these books should be available in PDF form at this point?



Big Mac wrote:
Havard wrote:Dungeons & Dragons (1974)
Sometimes overlooked as a Blackmoor product, Dungeons & Dragons in its original 1974 form was based on the campaigns of the two creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. The Foreword to D&D by Gary Gygax references Dave's Blackmoor Campaign, set in a swampy landscape in the Great Kingdom. The Egg of Coot is also mentioned here. Classic concepts from the Blackmoor campaign, such as the dungeon type adventures are explored and classic hero and monster types that appeared in both campaigns are presented. Although OD&D is actually different from how Dave and Gary really ran their individual campaigns, OD&D is a good introduction to Blackmoor.


How much of a Blackmoor game can you actually get out of this book alone?

Would a Blackmoor GM in 1974 need to invent their own backgrounds for the Great Kingdom, Egg of Coot and other Blackmoor elements? Or were there short descriptions that were later expanded upon in Supplement II: Blackmoor?


You should note that the old school mindset is fairly different from what people who started gaming in the mid 1980s and later when it comes to the amount of setting material they require. Most old school gamers prefer simple bare bones settings with only a few limited details and being allowed to flesh things out themselves. However, OD&D probably doesn't include enough to run a Blackmoor campaign. I would at least recomment having a map of the lands of Blackmoor or the Blackmoor Dungeon. Alot of information about Blackmoor can be found online though so in that respect you could probably find what you need without tracking down every book.

In the case of references to The Great Kingdom, the Egg of Coot etc these are just name checked in OD&D however. Some locations, most specifically the Temple of the Frog and surrounding lands are expanded upon in Supplement II. The idea of true setting books had not yet been concieved however. Each DM was expected to flesh out most of these things himself.

Back to your question about how much of a Blackmoor game you could get out of these books:
I think it is easy to overlook how closely tied OD&D is to the worlds of Greyhawk and Blackmoor. All of the creatures in the monster section first appeared in these campaign as did many of the magical items. Most of the character classes, spells and abilities were developed for the players in the campaign. The difference between core D&D, Blackmoor and Greyhawk were minimal.

The problem is that many of these things have later become associated with every campaign world and not these two worlds that formed the D&D experience from the beginning. For someone more familiar with later editions though, it might be refreshing to see what elements actually appeared in the D&D rules back then and what has been added later. I was myself quite surprised when I first learned how much of D&D had been unchanged across all the editions from 1974-2016. But still, getting the atmosphere of the original edition could help form a better understanding of the original campaigns.

I talk about Blackmoor and Greyhawk as two separate worlds. Both Gary and Dave assumed that the other's campaign setting existed in the same world. But since their knowledge of what went on in the games of the other was limited, I think it makes sense to consider them two separate settings, even though they were closely connected, at least originally.


-Havard

The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
 
Posts: 16245
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Blackmoor Week Retrospective: 1970s Blackmoor Products(O

Postby Havard » Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:31 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Havard wrote:Dungeons & Dragons: Supplement II - Blackmoor (1975)
The 2nd supplement for Dungeons & Dragons was Blackmoor. This supplement introduced the Assassin and the Monk. It also included new monsters, rules for disease, hit locations and most importantly, the very first published D&D Adventure: The Temple of the Frog. It should be noted that while Supplement I was named Greyhawk, there was very little information about Greyhawk's setting in that supplement. Supplement II however includes information about the dangerous swamps near Castle Blackmoor. The Foreword, again by Gygax, also suggests that Castle Blackmoor itself and Dave Arneson's world is a pretty amazing place, and includes my favorite Gary Gygax Quote:

Gary Gygax wrote:it is always a fresh challenge to enter his "world". I can not recommend him more highly than simply saying that I would rather play in his campaign than any other — that other dungeon masters who emulate Dave Arneson will indeed improve their games.


Do you think of things like assasins and monks as important to the Blackmoor Campaign Setting? Have later editions of Blackmoor introduced new versions of assassins and monks and done things like create in-character organisations that expand upon what is started in Supplement II: Blackmoor.


It should be noted that these two classes were most likely not created by Dave Arneson. TSR discarded several pages of Dave's submitted manuscript and replaced it with the works of others. Most likely these "useless" pages later appear in the First Fantasy Campaign. However, there are references to both Monks and Assassin type characters in the Blackmoor Setting. Most notably the Flying Monk (Brother Richard) and Skandros the Strangler, the latter being said to be the head of the Thonian Assassin's Guild. 3E Blackmoor does indeed expand on these archetypes, most notably on various Monk organizations, but less so for assassins since that was not a 3E class.

So while the Assassin and Monk Classes do not appear in the supplement as Dave would have imagined them, I don't think we can assume that their inclusion in Supplement II is a mere coincidence.

Do the monsters in this book become iconic monsters for Blackmoor in later editions?


Monsters from Supplement II:


Thouls (From OD&D core, not Supp II), Frogfolk, Giant Frogs etc do become inconic in later editions, but others such as giant animals and dinosaurs are not really emphasized in later versions of Blackmoor. I think this is a shame as these were very likely parts of Arneson's manuscript and a world filled with gigantic animals would feel very different from most standard D&D settings today.

The Sahaugin are not exclusive to Blackmoor, but their specific background in Supplement II was expanded into the Sar-Aigu race of Blackmoor. Steve Marsh has claimed to be the creator of the Sahuagin, but fans have speculated that while Marsh most likely came up with that name and the monster stats, the monster background info (suprisingly detailed for an OD&D book) may have been for a separate (or at least slightly different) Arneson creature.

Sea monsters were actually a big part of Dave Arneson's campaign. Dave was known for his interest in naval battles. This is reflected to some extent in DA4 and the 3E Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Sourcebook, but is something that could well have been expanded upon more.

Is there anything in this book that a Blackmoor fan can not get from later editions?


Parts of the Temple of the Frog, most notably many of the technological artifacts found there are not mentioned in later editions. Also, the chart for diseases is not something I have seen elsewhere. More on the diseases of Blackmoor here.

-Havard

The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
 
Posts: 16245
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Blackmoor Week Retrospective: 1970s Blackmoor Products(O

Postby Havard » Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:32 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Havard wrote:The First Fantasy Campaign (1977)
This last booklet from the first decade of published RPGs is one of my most treasured items and a favorite of many hard core Blackmoor gamers. Published by the Judges Guild, the First Fantasy Campaign details the first five years of Dave Arneson's campaign and includes the early invasions of the Egg of Coot, the Banishment to Lake Gloomy, Blackmoor Town itself and hints towards late era adventures such as the City of the Gods, as well as a number of less known adventure locations.


I think this is probably one of the Blackmoor products I know least about.

For me, the move of this product out from TSR over to Judges Guild is one of the first signs of unusual politics in TSR.


Yes. Dave Arneson, being only a student when D&D came out, did not have the means to co-fund the establishing TSR. Instead he joined the company in 1975, but left after only one year along with Dungeon! board game creator Dave Megarry. The split was not amicable and was the beginning of Dave Arneson's troubled relationship with TSR filed with lawsuits and bad blood lasting decades.

That is the reason why the First Fantasy Campaign was instead published through Judges Guild. It should be noted that JG were operating under some kind of 3rd party lisence, publishing D&D adventures for TSR at the time, most of these later being considered part of the Wilderlands.

Was this book (or anything like it) ever planned to be published by TSR?


As mentioned earlier, I suspect that at least parts of the First Fantasy Campaign manuscript is what Dave submitted to TSR for Supplement II, but that TSR discarded. It is worth remembering that TSR at the time had not yet developed the idea of published settings and that they also believed that there would be no money in publishing adventures. So it is perhaps not surprising that a manuscript with lots of pages that contained no new classes, monsters or spells could be considered useless.

Fortunately, times have changed and the fact that this book was published offers a unique glimpse of what gaming was actually like in Minnesota in the 1970s. In many ways, this was a very different style of gaming than what was prevalent in Gary Gygax' group in Lake Geneva or elsewhere.

Were there ever any hints that Judges Guild might publish further Blackmoor books or was this always planned to be the one-and-only book they made for the setting?


Dave Arneson was interested in publishing more material, but I think he was interested in using other publishers than JG for future products. Perhaps part of Dave's motivation for allowing JG to publish the FFC is that he was looking for funds to start his own gaming company. This is just speculation though. We also know that Dave Arneson had a very good relationship with Bob Bledsaw of JG at the time as he had worked as TSR's liaison with JG in 1975.

Is there anything in The First Fantasy Campaign that has not been described in later Blackmoor products?


Yes, quite a lot.
The First Fantasy Campaign chronicles the first five years of the original Blackmoor Campaign. It is a strange mix of troop management charts, character descriptions, castle/stronghold maps, magical sword design rules, odd DM's techniques, variant monster rules and general stories of what happened.

Although this is one of my most treasured items, I am not sure I would recommend it to everyone. To modern eyes, the product is very poorly organized. JG's Bill Owen said he felt too intimidated working on a project by Dave Arneson himself to really do any editing work on the manuscript and simply published it as it was. The result is pretty messy, written on a typewriter, with different styles of headings not matching up, a few pages missing from the Coot Invasions section, some chapters appear merged together, typos, abbreviations that are not explained anywhere, etc.

Still, some patience will reveal the gold nuggets of information within. Large portions of my blog (see signature) are dedicated to probing these texts for information. Dave Arneson's writing is also really entertaining at times. He sometimes writes in a style reminding me of the late Terry Pratchett.

I think that because the IP for the FFC was left with JG, TSR would not include any of this information in the DA modules. Bob Bledsaw apparently reverted the rights of the FFC back to Dave Arneson, but Dave's company, ZGG, do not make any specific references to FFC exclusive material, choosing instead mainly to focus on converting material from the DA modules to the D20 system and adding some new things.

That is a topic for another post however.

-Havard

The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
 
Posts: 16245
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Blackmoor Week Retrospective: 1970s Blackmoor Products(O

Postby Havard » Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:39 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Havard wrote:In addtion, a number of magazine articles from publications such as Gary Gygax' Domesday Book, Dave Arneson's Corner of the Table and Blackmoor Gazette as well as Dragon's predecessor the Strategic Review offer more insight into this era of gaming. In addition, I strongly recommend the stories shared by Dave Arneson's players from his early campaign. Many of these are found at Havard's Blackmoor Blog and the Comeback Inn.


I have never heard of Gary Gygax' Domesday Book, Dave Arneson's Corner of the Table and Blackmoor Gazette. How many Blackmoor articles are in these magazines?


I don't know as I don't have access to most of these. With the Domesday Book, I think it is mainly #13 which covers an introduction to the Black Moor, by Dave Arneson. I know that Dave made use of other articles from this magazine in his campaign though, even though they were not written for Blackmoor.

Corner of the Table or Corner of the Table Talk was Dave Arneson's private newsletter distributed to his friends and fellow gamers. Most of these newsletters focus on Dave Arneson's other games such as his Napolenic Era War Game Campaign, but I believe a few installments are reports from Blackmoor.

I am aware of at least one issue of the Blackmoor Gazettee and Rumour Monger, that covers some details from Blackmoor.

In addition I believe one issue of Strategic Review covers one of Dave Arneson's more experimental Blackmoor adventures involving cross dimensional portals and WWII Nazis being sent against the heroes of Blackmoor.

-Havard

The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
 
Posts: 16245
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Blackmoor Week Retrospective: 1970s Blackmoor Products(O

Postby Big Mac » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:34 pm

Havard wrote:Great questions!


Thanks!

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I don't own any of this stuff and it is the sort of thing where the price is driven sky-high by eBay bandits, so I probably never will.


I think most of these books should be available in PDF form at this point?


Sure. But PDFs are not books. I want WotC to turn on the PoD switch on DMs Guild. DMs Guild is able to sell PoD verisions of all those rare books. Right now, I'm looking at late Blackmoor books that are economically affordable and early Blackmoor books that are impossible to buy. It doesn't need to be this way.

I think that what you get, with some of these older products, is eBay bandits pushing them out of the reach of people who are curious about a campaign setting.

So if there is a "standing on the shoulder's of giants" vibe to Blackmoor's various waves (rather than each wave of products being a standalone thing) it means that some fans can't afford to buy older things that can help them understand the newer things more.

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
Havard wrote:Dungeons & Dragons (1974)
Sometimes overlooked as a Blackmoor product, Dungeons & Dragons in its original 1974 form was based on the campaigns of the two creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. The Foreword to D&D by Gary Gygax references Dave's Blackmoor Campaign, set in a swampy landscape in the Great Kingdom. The Egg of Coot is also mentioned here. Classic concepts from the Blackmoor campaign, such as the dungeon type adventures are explored and classic hero and monster types that appeared in both campaigns are presented. Although OD&D is actually different from how Dave and Gary really ran their individual campaigns, OD&D is a good introduction to Blackmoor.


How much of a Blackmoor game can you actually get out of this book alone?

Would a Blackmoor GM in 1974 need to invent their own backgrounds for the Great Kingdom, Egg of Coot and other Blackmoor elements? Or were there short descriptions that were later expanded upon in Supplement II: Blackmoor?


You should note that the old school mindset is fairly different from what people who started gaming in the mid 1980s and later when it comes to the amount of setting material they require. Most old school gamers prefer simple bare bones settings with only a few limited details and being allowed to flesh things out themselves. However, OD&D probably doesn't include enough to run a Blackmoor campaign. I would at least recomment having a map of the lands of Blackmoor or the Blackmoor Dungeon. Alot of information about Blackmoor can be found online though so in that respect you could probably find what you need without tracking down every book.


Sure. I've spoken to some old school fans now. There was a time when I'd not managed to meet enough of them.

What I'm thinking is that someone who started out before Suppliment II, who liked that Blackmoor stuff (or dare I call it proto-Blackmoor stuff) would have had to have made their own map and created their own context for Dave Arneson's elements.

At that time, that was the only choice.

There must be some people who started out with a proto-Blackmoorian game, who then added in more and more of Dave Arneson's ideas as new books came out. And there must have been other people who started out with a proto-Blackmoorian game, who then moved away from the emerging Blackmoor campaign setting to end up with a fairly different homebrew world that contained a number of Dave's ideas in a radically different context.

That 1974 D&D book was a pebble that was thrown into the lake of roleplaying and the ripples spread outwards. I know that even the Spelljammer product line has a nod to Blackmoor in it. :)

Havard wrote:In the case of references to The Great Kingdom, the Egg of Coot etc these are just name checked in OD&D however. Some locations, most specifically the Temple of the Frog and surrounding lands are expanded upon in Supplement II. The idea of true setting books had not yet been concieved however. Each DM was expected to flesh out most of these things himself.


Have you ever hooked up with GMs who have scratch built their own versions of The Great Kingdom, the Egg of Coot, the Temple of the Frog and anything else namechecked in the 1974 book?

I remember that (before I even owned Ghostwalk) the late James

Havard wrote:Back to your question about how much of a Blackmoor game you could get out of these books:
I think it is easy to overlook how closely tied OD&D is to the worlds of Greyhawk and Blackmoor. All of the creatures in the monster section first appeared in these campaign as did many of the magical items. Most of the character classes, spells and abilities were developed for the players in the campaign. The difference between core D&D, Blackmoor and Greyhawk were minimal.


That reminds me of the way that Eberron has a place for everything in D&D (possibly just 3e D&D) but that Eberron gives it all a reboot to fit in with Eberron canon.

Presumably, if Dave Arneson had stayed with TSR and developed Blackmoor there as much as Gary Gygax developed Greyhawk there, the parallels between Blackmoor, Greyhawk and core D&D would have continued into the AD&D line...or Classic D&D would have taken Blackmoor while AD&D took Greyhawk...or somesuch.

3e has that "Greyhawk lite" thing going for it. I suppose it could be possible to use Classic D&D, AD&D 1st or 2nd Edition or D&D 3rd or 4th Edition as "Blackmoor lite", compare the core D&D elements with the Blackmoor concepts embedded into OD&D and guess at how those systems would have evolved if Dave Arneson's Blackmoor had been the default campaign setting.

Havard wrote:The problem is that many of these things have later become associated with every campaign world and not these two worlds that formed the D&D experience from the beginning. For someone more familiar with later editions though, it might be refreshing to see what elements actually appeared in the D&D rules back then and what has been added later. I was myself quite surprised when I first learned how much of D&D had been unchanged across all the editions from 1974-2016. But still, getting the atmosphere of the original edition could help form a better understanding of the original campaigns.


I'm starting to learn how many iconic Spelljammer monsters have roots that go back long before Spelljammer was even created. The Blackmoor products on my Blackmoor wishlist are mostly the 3rd Edition books. But you are right - I would be interested to know how much of Blackmoor hails back to this older stuff.

I think it would also be interesting to see how much of this stuff evolved. How much was changed by revolutionary changes. And how much totally new stuff was created later.

Havard wrote:I talk about Blackmoor and Greyhawk as two separate worlds. Both Gary and Dave assumed that the other's campaign setting existed in the same world. But since their knowledge of what went on in the games of the other was limited, I think it makes sense to consider them two separate settings, even though they were closely connected, at least originally.


I hear about people merging Blackmoor with Greyhawk. I hear about people merging Blackmoor with Mystara. And I hear about people using Blackmoor on its own.

From one point of view, you could say that the 1970s is the era of the Greyhawk+Blackmoor concept, while the 1980s is the era of the Mystara+Blackmoor concept. With the 3rd and 4th Edition eras being the era of the standalone-Blackmoor concept.

The great thing is that there is no wrong way to play with Blackmoor and the world is big enough for fans of all three play-styles to co-exist. :)
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and The Piazza's Google + community so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum. My moderator voice is green.
User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
 
Posts: 20208
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Location: London UK

Re: Blackmoor Week Retrospective: 1970s Blackmoor Products(O

Postby Havard » Thu Sep 29, 2016 10:06 pm

Big Mac wrote:Sure. But PDFs are not books. I want WotC to turn on the PoD switch on DMs Guild. DMs Guild is able to sell PoD verisions of all those rare books. Right now, I'm looking at late Blackmoor books that are economically affordable and early Blackmoor books that are impossible to buy. It doesn't need to be this way.

I think that what you get, with some of these older products, is eBay bandits pushing them out of the reach of people who are curious about a campaign setting.

So if there is a "standing on the shoulder's of giants" vibe to Blackmoor's various waves (rather than each wave of products being a standalone thing) it means that some fans can't afford to buy older things that can help them understand the newer things more.


I greatly prefer printed books too. But at least with the PDFs there is a chance to get the contents. Print on Demand would be awesome, but at least what we have now is better than the situation 5 years ago :)


What I'm thinking is that someone who started out before Suppliment II, who liked that Blackmoor stuff (or dare I call it proto-Blackmoor stuff) would have had to have made their own map and created their own context for Dave Arneson's elements.

At that time, that was the only choice.

There must be some people who started out with a proto-Blackmoorian game, who then added in more and more of Dave Arneson's ideas as new books came out. And there must have been other people who started out with a proto-Blackmoorian game, who then moved away from the emerging Blackmoor campaign setting to end up with a fairly different homebrew world that contained a number of Dave's ideas in a radically different context.


I am not quite sure about the term Proto Blackmoor. The way I see it, the real Blackmoor was the game run by Dave for his friends in Minnesota. What we have gotten in published form in any of its iterations are fragments of that setting.

But I see what you mean. People would take OD&D and make up their own things based on the fragments available to them. But at the same time, there would be parts of Blackmoor and parts of Greyhawk in every D&D setting from 1974 and up till today.

It should also be noted that even before 1974 there were tons of people running Blackmoor Games, having learned directly from Dave Arneson. One such campaign that really developed into something rather different from Blackmoor was Fred's World (Comeback Inn registration required).

Presumably, if Dave Arneson had stayed with TSR and developed Blackmoor there as much as Gary Gygax developed Greyhawk there, the parallels between Blackmoor, Greyhawk and core D&D would have continued into the AD&D line...or Classic D&D would have taken Blackmoor while AD&D took Greyhawk...or somesuch.


If Dave Arneson had stayed with TSR there would have been no need for a separate AD&D line. It is interesting that while Gary Gygax was in charge of TSR, he did very little to flesh out Greyhawk. It is an interesting thought experiment to think about what would have happened if Dave and Gary had been able to work together and focused on further developing their setting together.

3e has that "Greyhawk lite" thing going for it. I suppose it could be possible to use Classic D&D, AD&D 1st or 2nd Edition or D&D 3rd or 4th Edition as "Blackmoor lite", compare the core D&D elements with the Blackmoor concepts embedded into OD&D and guess at how those systems would have evolved if Dave Arneson's Blackmoor had been the default campaign setting.


Indeed. While much of Blackmoor found its way into D&D, Dave Arneson also had alot of ideas that did not make their way into mainstream D&D. It has been fascinating to discover many of these unique features of Blackmoor that were often discarded for reasons that make less sense today.


I hear about people merging Blackmoor with Greyhawk. I hear about people merging Blackmoor with Mystara. And I hear about people using Blackmoor on its own.

From one point of view, you could say that the 1970s is the era of the Greyhawk+Blackmoor concept, while the 1980s is the era of the Mystara+Blackmoor concept. With the 3rd and 4th Edition eras being the era of the standalone-Blackmoor concept.

The great thing is that there is no wrong way to play with Blackmoor and the world is big enough for fans of all three play-styles to co-exist. :)


That's one way of looking at it. Here's another perspective:

  • It is all Blackmoor.
  • Every version of Blackmoor has a Great Kingdom on its border. Sometimes it is called Thonia. At other times Aerdy or just the Great Kingdom. It always includes a Free City that is sometimes called Greyhawk.
  • Every version of Blackmoor has a future where the discoveries made in the City of the Gods is taken to its logical conclusion. This future can be represented by Mystara or something else.
  • Every version of Blackmoor has mysterious lands on the other side of the Valley of the Ancients. This region can be represented by the Wilderlands or something else

But in all of these versions, the core of the setting is Blackmoor itself. Although each decades adds or removes some details, there is a core there that is the same. A single setting with a future and various lands surrounding it. :)


Havard

The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
 
Posts: 16245
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway


Return to Blackmoor

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests