A More Authentically Mystaran "Dungeons of Blackmoor Castle"

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A More Authentically Mystaran "Dungeons of Blackmoor Castle"

Postby jonklement » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:07 am

I understand that by the time Zeitgeist Games was publishing Blackmoor, the licenses for Blackmoor and Mystara had been legalistically separated. However, for those of us for whom Mystara and Blackmoor are inseparable at our game tables, I have made the following Mystaran creature substitutions to "The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor" product when it calls for creatures that are definitely NOT Mystaran.

Instead of duergar, I use Modrigswerg dwarves.

and instead of aboleth, I use kopru.

I think these substitutions keep the spirit of the written dungeon adventure while also staying true to the classic Mystara/Blackmoor continuity.
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Re: A More Authentically Mystaran "Dungeons of Blackmoor Cas

Postby Havard » Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:04 am

Great topic jonklement! :)

By the way, welcome to The Piazza! If you have time, feel free to introduce yourself to the rest of this nice little community in the Hello Thread.

I also try to keep my Blackmoor campaign compatible with Mystara and BECMI so I have been thinking in similar terms as you. It might also be worth going back to the First Fantasy Campaign to see what monsters Dave Arneson really populated his dungeon with.

One question: Are Kopru a good subsitutue for the Aboleth? I would think the Aboleth is more powerful?

I also replaced the Sphere of Annhilation with a Black Ball, which had some interesting implications in my campaign....

More on all of this later.

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Re: A More Authentically Mystaran "Dungeons of Blackmoor Cas

Postby Big Mac » Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:48 pm

Hi Jonklement! Welcome to The Piazza!

Havard wrote:It might also be worth going back to the First Fantasy Campaign to see what monsters Dave Arneson really populated his dungeon with.


That sounds logical. I've still not seen First Fantasy Campaign. Is it available on Print on Demand?

Did Dave Arneson have to make any changes to FFC to remove D&D IP, or was FFC published early enough to not be influenced by that sort of reboot logic?

Did the BECMI/Mystara designers use the sort of monsters that Dave Arneson designed for FFC, or did they use some sort of reboot logic to move certain things away from how Dave Arneson designed them?
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Re: A More Authentically Mystaran "Dungeons of Blackmoor Cas

Postby Havard » Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:07 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Havard wrote:It might also be worth going back to the First Fantasy Campaign to see what monsters Dave Arneson really populated his dungeon with.


That sounds logical. I've still not seen First Fantasy Campaign. Is it available on Print on Demand?


Sadly no. Neither POD or even for sale. I think this may be due to a rights issue. Before his passing, Dave Arneson claimed that Bob Bledsaw had transferred the rights to it back to the Arneson estate. However, Bledsaw's company, the Judges Guild has later shown an interest in republishing the FFC, possibly with Pathfinder stats added. Since nothing has happened with this in a long time now, I don't have high hopes for it happening. WotC also claims the rights to the name Blackmoor and several other related IPs, so that might have further complicated things for the Judges Guild. Then again, JG has also had trouble delivering on some of their other kickstarters, so it is possible that they have enough on their hands for now.


Did Dave Arneson have to make any changes to FFC to remove D&D IP, or was FFC published early enough to not be influenced by that sort of reboot logic?


There actually aren't that many rules in the FFC and the rules that are found are mostly things that were used in Dave Arneson's campaign, but only appeared in a very different form in D&D. But it is also possible that Dave Arneson was able to publish this book along with his Dungeon Master's Index simply due to his position and relationship with TSR at the time.

Did the BECMI/Mystara designers use the sort of monsters that Dave Arneson designed for FFC, or did they use some sort of reboot logic to move certain things away from how Dave Arneson designed them?


Do you mean when they were designing the DA modules? or BECMI in general?

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Re: A More Authentically Mystaran "Dungeons of Blackmoor Cas

Postby ripvanwormer » Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:30 pm

Big Mac wrote:Did the BECMI/Mystara designers use the sort of monsters that Dave Arneson designed for FFC, or did they use some sort of reboot logic to move certain things away from how Dave Arneson designed them?


In First Fantasy Campaign and the DA series of modules, standard D&D humanoids like orcs and goblins are mentioned, and these also appeared in the ZGG Blackmoor line. In the Orcs of Thar gazetteer and subsequent Mystara products, it's said that modern humanoids only evolved long after Blackmoor was destroyed, so many Mystara fans assume retroactively that the "orcs" and "goblins" of the Blackmoor era were actually ancestral beastmen and not the creatures known by those names in the modern era.

This is also something of an issue with gnomes, which according to the Hollow World boxed set were created by Garal Glitterlode after the fall of Blackmoor but which have a prominent place in 3e-era Blackmoor products.

Duergar and aboleths are from AD&D and weren't part of Arneson's original campaign, but they were used in the ZGG Blackmoor products. Modrigswerg are "rot dwarves," corrupt magic-using dwarves from the Northern Reaches gazetteer, and they take the place of duergar (or possibly derro) in Mystara. I wouldn't personally have Modrigswerg around in the Blackmoor era because I like the fan theory that they're descended from the dwarves of the Shimmering Lands in 2300 BC. This fan timeline doesn't mention the Shimmering Lands, but has the Modrigswerg exiled in 1650 BC. If you were placing them in ancient Blackmoor, their banishment would have had to have been much earlier.
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Re: A More Authentically Mystaran "Dungeons of Blackmoor Cas

Postby agathokles » Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:50 pm

I agree with ripvanwormer. Regardless of whether the Modrigswerg are descended from the dwarves of the Shimmering Lands or not, in the Blackmoor era only the Kogolor dwarves are present -- at least among the modern dwarven races (Kogolor, Modrigswerg, Denwarf and Gnomes). OTOH, there could have been other dwarven races that died out with the GRoF, so in theory Duergar would be acceptable if one used them as "an ancient, extinct dwarf race" which existed in Blackmoor's time but did not survive the GRoF.

That said, Blackmoor was never terribly consistent with Mystara, even in the BECMI era (e.g., "orcs" are present in Blackmoor, although they did not exist at that time according to Mystara lore). One can freely choose the "Mystara version" (replace goblinoids with beastmen, primarily) or the "Blackmoor version" (keep the goblinoids, etc.).

OTOH, replacing Aboleths with Kopru seems a good idea.

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Re: A More Authentically Mystaran "Dungeons of Blackmoor Cas

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:17 am

I would almost think there would have to have been some different dwarvish cultures besides just what is now known as the Kogolor in the Hollow World, even if canonically that is not the case. The dwarvish culture in the DA series (and in the ZG BM products) is just too far different- and more "traditional"- than the more boisterous Kogolor culture that currently exists in preservation.
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Re: A More Authentically Mystaran "Dungeons of Blackmoor Cas

Postby Havard » Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:44 pm

A thought on Dwarves:
Subraces always seemed to me like very much a Gary Gygax/ AD&D 1st Edition concept.

Mystara and Classic D&D always seemed to focus more on giving the demihumans different cultural groups without necessarily adding specific abilities or distinct phyiscal features.

Keeping in line with this tradition, one idea could be to simply create a culture of underground evil dwarves unique to the Blackmoor setting. These dwarves could be followers of Gorrim. IMC Gorrim is another name for Thanatos, but he could also be a deity unique to the Blackmoor Era. If we want some deep connections to Dave Arneson's campaign, we could also connect these dwarves to Frick & Frack, the Dwarf Vampires.

We could also connect these Dwarves to the Bovo Popuo.

There is also a Piazza thread on the Dwarves of Blackmoor here.

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Re: A More Authentically Mystaran "Dungeons of Blackmoor Cas

Postby jonklement » Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:12 pm

Yes, you're quite right. The kopru are weaker in terms of hit dice and such, so I plan to beef them up with considering the ones in Blackmoor Dungeon to be "exceptional specimens" or perhaps kopru rulers as justification.
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Re: A More Authentically Mystaran "Dungeons of Blackmoor Cas

Postby jonklement » Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:21 pm

I can see from the dwarf and orc discussion that choosing how to make your table's Blackmoor version "truly Mystaran" isn't a totally cut and dried prospect. I still think beefy kopru work for the aboleth, though. ;)
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