Blackmoor Week Retrospective: d20 Blackmoor

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Blackmoor Week Retrospective: d20 Blackmoor

Postby Havard » Thu Sep 29, 2016 10:35 pm

By Zeitgeist Games/Goodmangames/Code Monkey Publishing for 3E

  • Dave Arneson's Blackmoor D20 Hardcover Sourcebook (D&D 3.5 Edition) (2004)
  • The Redwood Scar (D&D 3.5 Edition) (2006)
  • The Wizard's Cabal (D&D 3.5 Edition) (2006)
  • Original Blackmoor Map pdf, by Dave Arneson (2006)
  • The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor (D&D 3.5 Edition) (2006)
  • Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Softcover Sourcebook (D&D 3.5 Edition) (2006)
  • Player's Guide to Blackmoor (D&D 3.5 Edition) (2006)
  • Temple of the Frog (D&D 3.5 Edition) (2007)
  • Clock and Steam (D&D 3.5 Edition) by Rodney Thompson (2008)
  • Riders of Hak (D&D 3.5 Edition) by Dave Brainard and Tad Kilgore (2008)
  • City of the Gods (D&D 3.5 Edition) by Harley Stroh (2008)
  • Duchy of Ten (Vapourware - Never published)
  • City of Blackmoor (Vapourware - Never published)
  • The First Fantasy campaign (Vapourware - Never published)

By Wizards of the Coast
  • Foul Weather(2004) - for D20 Modern
  • Return to the Temple of the Frog(2007)

So, in 2003 Wizards of the Coast made a settlement with both Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax making sure that neither of those men would feel that they had any claim on D&D or any of its related properties. As part of Dave Arneson's deal he also got permission to publish Blackmoor material for the 3rd Edition.

The above books were all published by Dave Arneson's company Zeitgeist Games between 2004 and 2008. When Dave Arneson passed away, WotC discontinued the license.

More on the specifics of these books later.

In addition, Wizards of the Coast published two modules that they released on their website with ties to Blackmoor. Foul Weather isn't really connected to Blackmoor, but the Temple of the Frog is a "Return to" Style adventure set in the classic Blackmoor location. It was pretty surprising when it came out that WotC would do this as ZGG were also about to release their own version of the module.


What are your thoughts on the d20 Blackmoor line?

-Havard

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Re: Blackmoor Week Retrospective: d20 Blackmoor

Postby Big Mac » Fri Sep 30, 2016 7:46 am

This was my doorway into Blackmoor, so I'm glad that it happened.

I do sometimes wonder how the evolution of Blackmoor fits in with Dave Arneson's original games. In theory the Wilderlands product and these ones gave Dave Arneson the ability to be free to do things the way that is right for his world. But is this Dave's untimate expression of the campaign setting? Or have there been changes introduced along the way that were never part of his home campaign?

On another note, as a 3e player, I see these as "must have" products and look at the other books (from other eras) as things to look to for material that is missing here.

I imagine that fans of earlier editions of D&D could be looking at the 3e product line wondering what the d20 products have that they can not already get from older books. There are some titles that are new to d20 Blackmoor. Has anyone ever created retro-conversion guidelines for any of them?
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Re: Blackmoor Week Retrospective: d20 Blackmoor

Postby Havard » Fri Sep 30, 2016 4:28 pm

Big Mac wrote:This was my doorway into Blackmoor, so I'm glad that it happened.

I do sometimes wonder how the evolution of Blackmoor fits in with Dave Arneson's original games. In theory the Wilderlands product and these ones gave Dave Arneson the ability to be free to do things the way that is right for his world. But is this Dave's ultimate expression of the campaign setting? Or have there been changes introduced along the way that were never part of his home campaign?


Which version is the ultimate expression of the setting? I think that is a tough question. If you do a comparison you will find that the d20 Dave Arneson Campaign Setting is very similar to DA1. However, the d20 line made the decision to cater very much to the fan base of the D&D 3rd Edition. This meant that alot of things were added to the setting for the purpose of including things like new feats, new PrCs, the Sorcerer Class, new spells etc etc. In some cases this works quite well, but in other cases some of these things just feel like very generic fantasy tropes that are tagged on and have no real place in Blackmoor.

A significant change was made between the DA modules and the d20 line with regards to the Wizards Cabal. In the DA modules, this was a sinister organization that worked behind the scenes seeking to gain dominance of Blackmoor. In the d20 line it became an official organization created to keep Sorcerers in check.

Another similar change was the addition of the Docrae, a halfling sub race. This was most likely done to keep Blackmoor's proper halflings more Tolkienesque, while the Docrae were more like 3E style Halflings.

Also new additions to the 3E line were new details to the elves and elven magic, a new pantheon of Gods, new elemental magic and tons of new organizations.

Now, I would not discard all of these changes as accomodations to the 3E rules. Dave Arneson was not entirely happy with his working relationship with Dave Ritchie. ZGG early on announced that they considered to provide a different take on the Duchy of Ten, but had decided against it. Other elements do help make the setting more nuanced and may very well have gone back to Arneson's visions.

I imagine that fans of earlier editions of D&D could be looking at the 3e product line wondering what the d20 products have that they can not already get from older books. There are some titles that are new to d20 Blackmoor. Has anyone ever created retro-conversion guidelines for any of them?


Not as such. Though my main project has been trying to help make things connect between the different product lines. This work is spread across hundreds of threads here and at the Comeback Inn though.

-Havard

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