Tuesday, December 21, 2010

[Downloads] Lost MMRPG files!

Metaorganizations are a component in Dave Arneson's Blackmoor MMRPG (Aka Living Blackmoor). They can also be of use for regular Blackmoor gamers as they provide information about various organizations and groups that operate in the setting. Unfortunately, some of these Metaorgs were never published and have been unavailable to the general public until now:


New MetaOrganizations
The final three MetaOrgs (as of December, 2010) that were released for the MMRPG were Followers Of The Gnome Pantheon, Scroll And Blade, and Ordo Elementarum, bringing the total number of available MetaOrgs within the MMRPG to nineteen.

Updated MetaOrganizations
There was a final update to the Blackmoor Military and Skandaharian Cultural Society MetaOrgs in August 2008 which revised the MetaOrg membership certificates. The Fairwind Circus MetaOrg was also updated at that time to clarify progression between levels.

Finally, as of January, 2009, the Silent Guard was updated to include a new entry-level membership tier named "snitch". The requirements for snitch are that the applicant cannot be evil, they must spend 1 TU to join, and they must have at least 1 rank in each of Gather Information, Sense Motive, and Knowledge (local). The benefit is a +1 on Listen checks to pick out pertinent information during an overheard conversation.

Thanks to the authors, I have been allowed to share these files on my website. You can download the metaorgs here!

With these files, along with the Mystara BC2300 Campaign Setting and the History of Dragonkind, you have no reason to lack reading material this Christmas!

Best Wishes for the holidays!


-Havard

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mystara BC2300 Campaign Setting [free download]!


The Mystara Fan Community, from their main headquarters at the Piazza, keep coming up with high quality setting material. Last month I talked about the excellent History of Dragonkind book. Today, the Beta version of the Mystara BC2300 Campaign Setting was released.

Mystara BC2300 draws on the legacy of Blackmoor as well as remnats from the Carnifex Civilization. At the heart of the setting you have lands like the Lizardman controlled Mogreth and the Shimmering Lands, described as the Last Beacon of Blackmoor.

The booklet, while a Beta version, contains enough information to run a campaign in this era, as well as maps of the countries of the setting. In the release announcement, it is promised that more products for this era are on the way. Clues to these products are also included within the booklet. One of the authors, Chimpman, is launching a BC2300 PbP campaign in the near future.  The Mystara BC2300 Campaign Setting can be downloaded here.



-Havard

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Peshwah History

 I have been writing a bit on the Peshwah lately, talking about the different Peshwah Tribes and the kind of weapons and armor the Peshwah use. Now the time has come to present a part of Peshwah history:

It was the Great God, Hak, who had created the Horses and the Centaurs who lead the Peshwah into the promised grasslands which they named after their god. Hak had three sons who lived among the Peshwah in those early days, many centuries ago. The oldest was Hadeen, a proud hunter and master Archer. Calelrin was the middle brother, always in the shadow of Hadeen. Jealous of his brother, Calelrin plotted to kill the Peshwah leaders. Calelrin's Thonian assassins killed the chieftains Hurghast and Herutu and for this crime, Calelrin was banished to the demon realms. Hadeen, living on as a champion of the Peshwah was eventually invited to live among the Gods. The youngest son, Raelralataen also later achieved true godhood.

For a full timeline of the Peshwah, go here.

Image Source



-Havard

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Peshwah Equipment

The D20 Blackmoor Campaign guide provides a wide selection of equipment that is particular for the Peshwah. In the Riders of Hak Sourcebook, some of the items are designated especially to some of the individual tribes as favored weapons or armor.



Arbir
The Arbir is combination of a spear and sword, or a spear with a long sword like blade attached to one end.

Bulova
The Bulova is a wicked looking hand axe.

Grazer spear
This spear is an unusual looking weapon, similar to a spear, but with a crossbar near the spear point.

Sickle Sword
This is a sword with a long sickle like blade, almost like a scimitar, but with an even more pronouced curve of the blade.

Sickle Mace
This weapon looks like a pole with a sicke blade at one end and a mace at the other.

Prophet's Shield
A Shield constructed with bone framining and painted with the symbols of the God Yoosef.

Spidersilk Armor
A leather-like armor made from the special silk harvested by the Peshneath from spiders.




I have always liked the idea of different cultures using weapons characteristic for them. The Peshwa are different enough from the Blackmoorians and Thonians that it makes sense that they have different traditions when it comes to manufacturing such items. In a 3E campaign, the attributes for these weapons are given in the Campaign Sourcebook. If you are using BECMI or another version of Classic D&D, I would simply use damage and effects of the weapons they resemble and keep the visuals for flavour. They are too good ideas to not be used. Do you allow any exotic weapons in your campaigns?


Image Sources
Curved Sword
Weapons, DAB D20


-Havard

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Peshwah Tribes


As some of you will know, I have been reading up on various sources on the Peshwah lately. The Peshwah are a horseman culture living to the south and west of Blackmoor. The D20 Blackmoor line defined the different tribes of the Peshwah in detail, but I could never get a clear picture of which tribe belonged where and was associated with what. Above is a map by DaveL, which I have modified to show where the different tribes are commonly found. Below is a quick run down of the tribes. This is a work in progress though, so feel free to comment and criticize what I have so far:


Adiel
The Adiel aret he archetypical Peshwah. They are the most numerous tribe and know to be master horsemen. Many Adiel prefer the Sickle sword in combat.

Briela (Not on map)
The Briela are a kind of Gypsies, travelling all over the world. They are known as storytellers and diplomats. For centuries they have devoted their lives questing for the Bow of Hadeen.

Bortai
The Bortai are the most savage of the Peshwah, living like the horsemen did in the earliest days. Interestinly they are not xenophobic however. And due to Peshwah na Shepro, they have formed an alliance with Blackmoor. Man Bortai use a special hand axe called the Bullova.

Falleem
Unlike most other Peshwah, the Falleem are city dwellers.  They are a religious lot and good merchants. Many Falleem use scimitars in battle.

Irfat
The Irfat are grim warriors. They see themselves as “The Black Riders” of the religious texts. This tribe lives for war. They often fight with twin short swords. 

Leron
The Leron is the tribe guarding the border of the Valley of the Ancients. Due to their proximity to the Valley, they have access to many strange items. They are paladin-like guardians. Many join the order of the Dragon Knights, a group of warriors with unique magical abilities. Some of their warriors use Greatswords in battle.

Ornidri
The Ornidri are the best archers among the Peshwah. They have often ventured into the lands of Ten. They are good horsemen, but also breed hounds to be used for hunting.

Peshneath
This tribe have abandoned the way of the horse and are village dwellers. They are excellent craftsmen and known to produce wonderful items made of spider silk. Peshneath warriors sometimes use a weapon called the Arbir. It looks like a cross between a sword and a spear.

Qulaam
The Qulaam are riverfolk and fishermen, living near the root river. They distrust anyone other than the Peshwah. They have giant weasel companions

Somhak
The Somhak are the traditional leaders of the Peshwah. They are master strategists and their word carries great weight among the other tribes. Hadeen was a Somhak before he ascended to the Godly realms.

Sufz
The Sufz are the spiritual leaders of the Peshwah. Many are druids.  They are completely nomadic and have no permanent settlements at all. They are often seen wearing metal skull caps in battle.

Zah
Zah are known to be the seers and magic users of the Peshwah. They live near the mysterious Salt Tower.  Their leaders are women. In battle they often use a special kind of shields known as Prophet’s Shields.  






-Havard

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tékumel (2005) in the mail and other news

Tékumel - Empire of the Petal Throne just arrived in the mail today. This is the 2005 version published by Guardians of Order for the Tri-Stat system. One of my reasons for wanting to get more into this setting is because of all the connections between Arneson's and Professor Barker's Campaigns that I was discussing last month.

In other news, I have begun doing some research on the Peshwa. I am currently working on a timeline for these Horsemen and reading up on the Riders of Hak supplement. Hope to have more for you on these guys later on.

-Havard

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blackmoor Player's Guide



Last week, my friend Rafael wrote a review of the Blackmoor Player's Guide over at the Comeback Inn:

1 of 5 smashed Afridhi skulls.

Ahh, the infamous BMPG. Why infamous? - Because the book was published as a nearly unedited manuscript,
without proper editing, spelling correction, or indexing (yeah, that means placeholders in the ongoing text).

This is, by far, the worst edited roleplaying book I've ever seen, apart from Wizard's "Expeditition to Castle Ravenloft". And I have seen a lot.

So, alone for that, the worst possible grade is well earned.

The content itself is not bad, though, basically being a summary of much that was introduced in the MMRPG in the first two years of its run, if maybe a bit too generic for my taste.
- In fact, I even took quite a bit from the BMPG book for my own game, and never regretted it.
BUT the book's presentation and layout are simply unacceptable for a piece that supposedly cost 35 bucks back in its day.

Basically, if you can get this one for cheap, enjoy it.
But if some crazy ebay seller wants to sell it for a fortune, gladly pass.

The paizo and amazon prizes are fair, but, as I said, don't expect anything above average from this book.

The review is a little harsh, but I guess this isn't my favorite in the D20 Blackmoor line either.  Still, if you are a D20 fan, there is plenty of stuff in the book that you could use. There are new classes, new prestige classes, new feats, new spells and so on. I guess what I am missing in the book is more Blackmoor specific setting information. My favorite parts of the book are the sections on various organizations and the section on temples. I really liked the idea of the players being able to become apprentices of some of the official Blackmoor NPCs this is a great way of including those NPCs in the campaign. 


For this and more reviews of Blackmoor products, check out the Merchant's Guild section at the Comeback Inn Forum.






-Havard

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Joys of DMing



I don't get to play as much as I once did, as a player or as a DM. This is something that happens to us all as we grow older I guess. Due to lack of time, the Blackmoor campaign I started last November fell apart after only a few sessions. So when my old friends and I decided we'd get together for a full weekend of gaming, I saw the opportunity to revive it for a one-shot.

The premise was simple. King Uther was killed during the Afridhi War and a corrupt unsurper has overtaken the kingdom. The players took the role of conspirators, trying to find a way to get rid of the king. But how to kill a king and get away with it? I decided to leave that up to the players. What they did was to start a riot in the poor quarters of Blackmoor Town. This was an excellent diversion, allowing some of the PCs to sneak into the Castle. The King still kept a handful of extremely competent Royal Guards with him, but they were finally defeated and the king was killed. Now Blackmoor is without a King, and the Egg of Coot has launched an invasion. I look forward to getting the group toghether for a followup of this game!



-Havard

Monday, November 22, 2010

A small chat with Jeff Quinn

Last week, I had a small chat with Jeff Quinn. Jeff was one of the main writers involved with the Blackmoor D20 line. He contributed to the D20 Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor Sourcebook and wrote the Redwood Scar. He is also known for his work for Goodman Games. Jeff fondly remembers the days of working with Dave Arneson:

“Dave was a great guy and was so full of ideas for everything he did. Blackmoor was the jewel in my career, and my designs and gaming life are richer for knowing both Dave and Blackmoor”

Jeff Quinn is currently the owner of Dolmen Creative, which is in the process of publishing new RPGs using the D6 Open system. One of the projects Dolmen Creative are working in is Destiny6 RPG. Previously in this blog, I have mentioned how Jeff pays homage to Blackmoor in the Destiny6 Fantasy Setting.
How much of Blackmoor’s heritage will be seen in the final Destiny6 Rulebook?

“Consider this my take on Blackmoor (though I can't use the name) after the Afridhi invasion was repelled and the Egg was defeated... close to 200 years past the d20 version “

Jeff also showed me a few pictures of from the upcoming book. One picture shows a dwarf fighting a strange dragon. The dwarf is armed with twin flint lock pistols. The other picture shows a group of adventurers sitting around a table. One of the adventurers looks like a….Panda Samurai?



“Yes, that's an oriental panda warrior. In the second picture, the dwarf is fighting an evolved dragon. i love dragons... but I wanted Destiny6 to feel unique in its take on dragons... the typical western and eastern style dragons are banished to the monster books as fire-breathing treasure vaults... these guys, on the other hand, will evoke a bit more fear... they are smaller, hunters, and can come right into your home to get you.”

Bearfolk also made a small appearance in the Blackmoor Setting. They first appeared in Rafael’s Last Fantasy Campaign where the Bearman Hrrd was played by the legendary Rizak.

 Jeff Quinn also has a Q&A thread over at the Comeback Inn Forum and drops by regularly to answer questions.









-Havard

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More RJK on Arneson

Rob J Kuntz has been posting some interesting thoughts on the movies that inspired Dave Arneson on his blog. I have previously mentioned another post by RJK about Arneson's combining of science fiction and fantasy. I always love reading about RJK's memories of Dave. I think the first thing I read where he talks about the D&D co-creator is the recollections from Robilar's Journey to the City of the Gods. It is no wonder that Arneson refers in the FFC to King Robert I of Geneva as the ruler who once founded Blackmoor.

I especially liked the map Kuntz put up about where everyone lived in Lake Geneva in relation to eachother. I'm stealing it:





-Havard

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jeff Berry

Also known as Chirine Ba Kal, Jeff Berry (1956-) was one of the members of MAR Barker's Tékumel group in St. Paul Minnesota around the time when Dave Arneson was running his early Blackmoor games in the same area.

Jeff Berry in Tékumel Outfit
Jeff started gaming in the Twin City area in 1975 and first met Dave Arneson at the University of Minnesota wargame club. When Dave Arneson started his own company, Adventure Games, in the early 1980s, he hired Berry to be his "Tékumel guy." I have previously mentioned how another member of Professor Barker's group, Debora Naffziger also influenced the Blackmoor Setting. 

Yesterday, at the Hill Cantons blog, ckutalik has posted an interesting interview with Jeff, where he among other things talks about his gaming experiences with Dave Arneson:

"Dave was really one of the most creative people I'd ever met, and genuinely the most fun to play with. He was very nice, very genial, and would do his very best to rip your liver out and feed it to you with Tabasco sauce on it. "

Read the entire interview here. Jeff Berry also has his own Q&A thread over at the Comeback Inn Forum where he talks about Tékumel, Dave Arneson, Blackmoor and many other things. He has been a fantastic source of information about the early days of gaming.

Jeff Berry i 2009



Image source: Der Spiegel


-Havard

Sunday, November 14, 2010

James Ward on the way to recovery

 Recently, it was reported that Jim Ward, creator of Metamorphosis Alpha, has been seriously ill. Therefore I was happy to see him back to posting again on Dragonsfoot:

Thanks again to everyone who has wished me well. I'm still very sick, but I drag my sorry body to the computer has much as possible. I have had some great news in being accepted into the Eldritch Enterprises company. I can't think of better people to work with than Frank and the others. We've just started planning and the projects we are working on are wonderful. You readers will be among the first to find out about them as time goes on. I think of myself as rising out of the ashes of one fantastic company to help make another. James M. Ward

As he mentions, he is part of the newly formed Eldritch Enterprises, which  I wrote about yesterday.

James Ward in the early days of TSR, courtesy of Steve Winter




-Havard

[Mystara] History of Dragonkind available!

The Mystara Community is one of the most creative D&D communities that I know of, which can be seen from the vast amount of high quality material available at the Vaults of Pandius, the official Mystara fansite. I have compiled a list of the most comprehensive of these fan productions here.

This week, a new community release was announced at the Piazza. This is the History of Dragonkind, by Simone Neri. Over the years alot of material on Mystara's dragons and what makes them different from the dragons of other D&D settings. Neri has been able to combine all of these sources presenting a great overview of the history of dragons from before the Blackmoor Era, through the events from the Dragonlord Trilogy and up to the modern Mystaran Era.

You can download this excellent fan sourcebook here.





-Havard

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eldritch Enterprises

Tim Kask (left) and Frank Mentzer

Earlier this month, an announcement was made at the KC Game Fair that a new RPG company had been founded by Frank Mentzer, Tim Kask, Jim Ward and Chistopher Clarke. The name of the company is Eldritch Enterprises and will work to publish projects by each of the founding authors. Jim Ward has been suffering from health problems lately, but hopefully he will recover soon.

The project that we have heard most about so far, and which is what I am most excited about is Frank Mentzer's Aquaria Campaign, which I at some point hope to incorporate into my Blackmoor campaign. Currently Eldritch Enterprises are working to set up a new website for the company. Before even having a name, the company was criticized in the Grognardia blog for possibly not being Old School enough. Let's give the guys a chance before we shoot them down shall we? To find out more about what Eldritch Enterprises are up to, feel free to visit the Aquaria Forum over at the Piazza.



-Havard

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Real Comeback Inn


Any self-respecting fantasy campaign needs to have an Inn where the adventurers can meet up, have a few ales and receive their missions from a dark robed mysterious stranger. The first fantasy campaign had an inn, named the Comeback Inn. It was apparently based on an actual pub carrying the same name in Melrose Park. Dave Arneson used to visit this pub and borrowed the name to be used in his game. This is also why we chose this name for our Blackmoor Forum of course! Sadly, the pub seems to have been shut down back in 2004. I would have liked to have the chance, just once, to have a beer there with some friends, if only to see if some mysterious stranger would walk up to us and ask if we could help him out.









-Havard

Monday, November 8, 2010

Immortals coming to life

Brendan Corliss over at the Piazza has just begun a project of creating 3D images of all of the Immortals of Mystara. First one up is Valerias.



Find out more about this here.




-Havard

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Interesting thoughts from RJK


Robert J. Kuntz has an interesting article over at his Lord of the Green Dragons blog where he is talking about his upcoming project, the Machine Level. In the article mr Kuntz suggests that Arneson was likely the first DM to blend the elements of science fiction and fantasy in his City of the Gods adventures. According to Kuntz, this was something that Gygax, Arneson and Kuntz himself were all interested in at the time. Kuntz goes on to mention various interesting examples of this in the early days of D&D.

He also goes on to credit the creation of the Shambling Mound to Arneson, a creature Gygax and Kuntz first encountered when they journeyed to the fabled City of the Gods with Arneson behind the DM screen, as chronicled in Oerth Journal#6.


I am looking forward to seeing RJK's Machine Level!





-Havard

Thursday, November 4, 2010

[Races] Kurgans


Two centuries ago, Calelrin, God of Murder and Deceit lead a tribe of Peshwa out of the Plains of Hak, on a long journey south. Over the years, the Krugel tribe became very different from their Peshwa cousins. Under Calelrin’s influence they became a cruel warrior people, strangers to words like mercy or kindness. They are horseman nomads living on grassland steppes in distant lands south of Blackmoor. These days they are sometimes used as elite cavalry by the Thonian Empire.

Personality
Kurgans are a brutal people, their personality shaped by the harsh life on the steppes. They are infamous for their cruelty and reputed to toss children into pits full of starved dogs, and watch them fight for the meat for amusement. They practice animal husbandry, keeping horses, cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. They prefer to ride geldings, their main herds being kept wild under stallions, and controlled through the mares which were hobbled near the settlements and milked regularly

Physical Description
Kurgans are taller than average humans. They have gray eyes and dark hair and hard features. Unlike their browned skinned Peshwa cousins, their skin is pale. They often dress in dark colors and often decorate their armor with the bones of horses, including the characteristic jaw bones attached to their helmets.

Alignment
Kurgans are usually Neutral Evil. Good Kurgans will be outcasts from their people, and will be viewed with suspicion in other lands. Few live very long.

Lands
The realms of the Kurgans are now part of the Thonian Empire. Their lands are typically flat steppe grasslands, near wooded areas and watercourses. There are mixed forests of oak, birch, fir, beech, elder, elm, ash, aspen, apple, cherry and willow. Wildlife in these lands include aurochs, elk, boar, wild horses, wolves, fox, beaver, squirrels, badgers, hare and roe deer. These lands are also known to be home to a large lizard known as the Sheltopufik. It is not venomous, is often six feet long; it moves about with erect head and breast, and when pursued defends itself by darting against the horse and his rider. The Kurgans live semi-nomadic lives, but the occasional hill-fort and village can be seen when travelling through these lands.

Relations
The Kurgans have become subjugated by the Thonian Emperor, but enjoy relative freedom within the Empire. The Kurgans found that they were soon gaining a reputation for being great mercenaries. They are frequently employed as elite Cavalry by the Thonians. Some are even deployed on the Thonian Rand near Blackmoor. The Peshwa view the Kurgans as an abomination and fear them as do most others who have heard of this people.

Religion
Kurgans follow the Peshwa pantheon, but hold Calelrin the God of Murder Deceit above the other gods. Calelrin’s murder of his brother Hadeen is seen as a holy act to the Kurgans and many Kurgan warriors have tried to seek out the place where Hadeens body fell to worship the cruelty of their God.

Language
Kurgans speak a dialect of the Peshwa language. Most also speak Thonian.

Names
Kurgans go by their first name and a clan name.

Male Names
Agah, Akhun, Bahri, Cengiz, Duyal, Firat, Haldun

Female Names
Asu, Ayfer, Berfu, Cennet, Desen, Esma, Izel

Adventurers
Kurgans who travel the world are often mercenaries. Most adventurers are Fighters or Barbarians. High level Kurgans can become Dragon Knights, in spite of their evil alignment.

Discussions on this topic






-Havard

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blackmoor Reference in the Tomb of Horror Prime


Stormcrow over at the Tombs of Horror Blog, made a pretty interesting discovery the other day. When the original Origins I Tomb of Horrors was sold on eBay, the neat sum of $1526.01 was more than the blogger could afford. The packaged included 1 cover page, 1 map page, 1 character list, 9 pages on the tomb contents and 24 pages of drawings. Fortunately, Stormcrow began to examine the pictures distributed for the auction. They were blurry, but he made out the following:

Click on image to enlarge


 Talking to Stormcrow and Grodog about this, we have become fascinated with the references to Blackmoor and the Egg of Coot. Also, as Grodog pointed out, it is interesting that the Egg of Coot was replaced by Iuz in later versions, perhaps suggesting a link between the Egg and Iuz?

The Highest Hill in the Egg of Coot, most likely means the Highest Hill in the Realm of the Egg of Coot. This would probably be somewhere in the Trolltop Peaks or the Locust Hills. The island east of Blackmoor is also interesting. Could it be a reference to the Isle of Dragons? Possibly linking the Tomb to the City of Father Dragon?


-Havard

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

[Races] Valemen

Valemen are a race of humans living to the west of Blackmoor, beyond the Duchy of Ten and the Eaves. They are believed to be related to the Skandaharians, possibly mixed with Peshwa blood. They are a warrior culture based around agriculture and viewed by Thonians as barbaric. Halgred Forestwalker, believed to be the first druid in the north, was a Valeman and it is his ways that are still being taught in this part of the world. Magic is left to druids and rangers to understand. A Valeman simply accepts the situation he is placed in. 



Personality
Valemen are a proud people who live life to the fullest. They do not expect the world to be completely predictable nor seek explanations for everything that happens. They care about their clan, their family and their honor. One important aspect of Valeman life is their closeness to nature. A Valeman will know every hill and mountaintop far beyond his village.

Physical Description
Most Valemen are short and stocky. They have fair skin and their hair ranges from blonde to brown to red with eye color from gray to green to brown. Blonde hair and blue eyes is seen as particularly attractive and many Valemen dye their hair with lime to make it lighter in color. Valemen often dress in Tartans showing clan affiliations and status. They are known to wield massive Claymores as their favored weapon. That said, Valemen also have knights and nobles not unlike the Thonians, even though the most expensive forms of armor are rare.

Alignment
Honor and tradition is important to these people. Abstract laws are less important and they care more about personal integrity. Valemen lean towards a neutral good alignment, though can be of any. Deception and lies are frowned upon.

Lands
The Vales is the name of the region stretching from the Eaves of Ten in the east to the foothills of Goblin Kush Mountain in the west. These lands are filled with green valleys and rich agricultural fields.

Relations
Valemen have had some trade with the Duchy of Ten in the past and are on relatively good relations with those people. Many Valemen have suffered from slaver raids directed from the Duchy of the Peaks and hold a grudge against the people of those lands. Lately, the Valemen have become overrun with the Afridhi invasions and most of their time is spent fighting those occupying forces. Another important relationship for the Valemen people is that with the Fey. Ever since the days of Halgred Forestwalker, the Valemen have been close to elves and Fey. In particular a Fey race known as the Sidhe have been close to Valeman communities, many Sidhe living among the Valemen and becoming heroes to the humans, even intermarrying with them. Many of the Valeman noble families can trace their blood lines back to a Sidhe hero.
 
Religion
The center of Valeman belief is the druids. Valemen follow druidic patrons like Elgath, Faunus, Sylvain, Ordana and Terra.

Language
Valemen have their own language known as Valespeech. There is no written form of this language. Most Valemen also speak Thonian.

Names
Valeman names are formed with a first name and the word “ap” (meaning son of) added before the father’s name. Nicknames are also very popular among the Valemen, both positive and negative ones. Someone with a positive nickname will find that they are expected to live up to it.

Male Names
Casnar, Gwyn, Gwyddno, Hywel, Ifor, Syfwlch, Wledig

Female Names
Angharad, Ceri, Cerridwen, Eirwen, Elen, Heledd, Luned, Rhian, Sian.

Adventurers
Heroes are extremely important in Valeman Society. Valemen celebrate these in songs and tales as individuals who embodied all of the values Valeman culture. Their closeness to nature gives them a particular knack for exploring wilderness and underground locations or even other planes of existence.

D20 Abilties
•    Medium: As Medium creatures, Valemen have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
•    Valeman base land speed is 30 feet.
•    1 extra feat at 1st level.
•    4 extra skill points at 1st level and 1 extra skill point at each additional level. Valemen are versatile and capable. These skills points are often used to reflect the Valeman experience with wilderness exploration.
•    Automatic Language: Valespeech. Bonus Languages: Any (other than secret languages, such as Druidic).
•    Favored Class: Any. When determining whether a multiclass Valeman takes an experience point penalty, his or her highest-level class does not count. Rangers and Druids are popular classes among Valeman adventurers as are Bards.

Image Source:
•    http://getasword.com/blog/391-celtic-gods-list-of-celtic-gods-and-goddesses/




-Havard

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shaedraeth Update

Yesterday I mentioned the homage paid to Blackmoor in the Destiny6 RPG, but this is not the only project associating itself with Dave Arneson's setting. After dealing with personal tragedy and failed negotiations with RPG companies, there is new word from Code Monkey Publishing on their Blackmoor derived Shaedraeth Setting.

It seems that there are now two products planned for release, possibly as soon as the end of the year. One is a book featuring over 30 deities of the setting. The other is a mega dungeon adventure called Dungeons of the Lost Moorlands. The latter should sound familiar to most of you. There is also talk of a Timeline for the setting which could be included in one of the products.



More details on this project can be found here.

Image: The Blackmoor Dungeon


-Havard

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blackmoor Homage in Destiny6 RPG



Destiny6 is the upcoming RPG from Dolmen Creative. Destiny is a fantasy RPG which uses a variant of the good old D6 system of Star Wars D6 fame. What does this have to do with Blackmoor? Well, Dolmen Creative is owned by Jeff Quinn, who was heavily involved in the D20 Blackmoor line. Being a Blackmoor fan, Jeff snuck in some references to our favorite setting into his new game, including a section of the world map which should be familiar to most of you.

You can download the entire map (10Mb file) using this link. Jeff also promises a series of adventures in the style of the classic adventures he wrote for the Blackmoor line (Ties that Bind, Redwood Scar) and Goodman Games (Idylls of the Rat King) in an upcoming D6 Magazine.

Download the Quick Start Rules for Destiny6 RPG here.  (Recommended!)







-Havard

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween my friends :)


-Havard

Death of the ZGG Forum

The MMRPG Forum over at ZGG's Website is gone and has been so, it seems since mid October. I have yet to get confirmation that this is a permanent removal of the forum, but at this point I would be very surprised if we ever get to see it back up. So what, you ask? The forum has not seen much activity for years, true. Unfortunately, many of the threads at that forum were pure gold. They had loads of setting ideas and tales from the original campaign. Many posts were made by the original Blackmoor players and contained unique information. Fortunately, most of this information has been saved at the Wood of the Revenant over at our Comeback Inn Forum. Still it is sad to see the Forum disappear. This is was a worry that I discussed with a few hard core Blackmoor fans, already when we first learned that the lisence would come to an end, and this was one of the reasons why we set up our own Blackmoor Forum.



Second Time Around
Sadly, this is not the first time for the ZGG forum to be removed. When the original ZGG Forum was "merged" with the MMRPG Forum, the original threads from the ZGG forum were lost. The lessons learned then allowed us to make the backups I mentioned above. I particularly miss the discussions with poster Ecthelion at the original Forum back in 2004. Unfortunately forum threads are not archived through the Wayback Machine, reminding us that Internet information is indeed temporary in nature.

Get Your Downloads While You Can
While I don't want to sound too alarming, I would not be surprised if we will see a complete removal of Blackmoor Content from the ZGG site in the near future. ZGG have not had the lisence to use Blackmoor since the beginning of this year, so there is no reason why they should keep all the freebies occupying their hard drives. Better safe than sorry. Download what you can now.

-Havard

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I'm Back!

Return of the Prodigal Son, by Rembrandt


Okay, I am back from my little break! Those of you who know me from various forums will have seen that I havent been completely missing from the Internet Scene, but my access to computers have been too limited to contribute much here or elsewhere.

A few things have happened since my last post. Aldarron has started a project to develop the Outer Works of Castle Blackmoor. This looks like it is going to be really interesting.

Over at the Mule Abides, Tavis posted an interesting tale about Dungeon Mapping in the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor.

Finally, game designer Jeff Quinn has returned to the Comeback Inn Forum.

What else did I miss? :)



-Havard

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gone Fishing

Well not exactly fishing, but rather work stuff will be keeping me away from the Internet for the most part of what's left of October. Please stick around and I will have a new update for you on November 1st or perhaps even sooner. Hope to see you all here when I come back :)


-Havard

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Full Sail dedicates Game Studios to Arneson



Found this on Facebook:


Time
Saturday, October 30 · 1:00pm - 11:30pm

LocationThe New Full Sail Game Studio

Created By

More Info
Full Sail is proud to announce the dedication of the new Game Studios to our esteemed colleague, the late Dave Arneson. We invite you to join us in honoring our dear friend and celebrating the recent addition to our facility as well as joining us for the two game sessions we will be hosting following the dedication ceremony.

Dave Arneson earned his fame as the co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, the game that changed the world of gaming. Dave also spent a decade as a member of our Full Sail family, instructing in the Game Development program from its inception.

The Event - Date and time
- October 30
- Ceremony @1pm
- Game Session 1 @ 3:00pm (to 7:00pm)
- Game Session 2 @ 7:30pm (to 11:30pm)

Location
Ceremony: Full Sail Live Quad
Game Sessions: Games Studio

Features - Speakers and Unveiling Ceremony
- Rob Catto – Program Director for Game Studies
- Garry Jones – President of Full Sail University
- Dustin Clingman – Founder and President of ZG Games
- Duke Seifried – Executive Vice President TSR (Ret)
- Shawn Stafford – Director of the Full Sail Research Institute
- Malia Weinhagen - Dave Arneson’s daughter

Game Sessions
- D&D
- Settlers of Catan
- Munchkin

Costumes welcome! Weapons must be checked at the event.

- This is a GPS event! -

Being located in Norway, it is impossible for me to attend, but if any of my readers are going, I would love to hear what it was like.




-Havard

Sunday, October 10, 2010

[Races] Maggot Men

When we were discussing Gator Men the other day, reader Dan Boggs mentioned Maggot Men as another typical Arnesonian invention. This strange race appeared in Garbage Pits of Despair, a Blackmoor adventure written by Dave Arneson and published in Different Worlds Magazine #42 and 43 (1986).

Maggot Men men are described as having "the bodies of maggots and the appendages of a man". They have sickly pale skin and sinister looking eyes. Maggot Men live in deep holes where garbage and other organic refuse can be found. They live off this garbage and will eat just about anything, including zombies; a particular deicacy among these creatures. Maggot Men are usually found in fairly large groups (1-20) and even bigger groups in their main underground lairs. They keep a race of spider-like creatures, known as Carcus Critters as pets. They feed these toothlesss critters with slimes, jellies and puddings. Maggot Men are known to be cowardly and not very bright creatures.

alternate design


The origins of this race in the setting are unknown. Did some evil god create this race, perhaps through cursing another race into becoming "like maggots", or are they the creation of some wizard looking for a way to dispose of his garbage?


Source: Image 1
Source Image 2



-Havard

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Gods Welcome You: Immortality in the Game

I was just reading Dennis Laffey's blog the other day where he adresses the subject of questing for Immortality. The backround for this is Grognardia's review of the new B/X Companion, where Maliszewski expresses his dislike for the concept of questing for Immortality. Immortality in D&D was conceived by Frank Mentzer in the excellent BECMI line. Questing for Immortality was an option for heroes using the Master Rules, while the final set, the Immortal Rules took the game to a whole new level once that quest was completed. AD&D also had similar conceps of becoming a Demi-God, but only in Frank Mentzer's BECMI could you go all the way.



Dennis Laffey presents various examples of how such adventures have a presedence in mythology. Critics who claim that this should not be handled as part of the standard level progression should take another look at the Master Rules. Reaching Immortality is in no way a direct result of having reached 36th level, but rather a unique undertaking separate from the general level progression and reserved for unique heroes whose adventures will become legends retold for centuries to come.

I think a common pit fall in Internet discussions about D&D is that we end up talking about what a D&D game should be about and what it should not. One things I love about D&D is that it can be anything you want. This is one of the reasons why I prefer RPGs to Boardgames. One of the great things about the BECMI expansions was that it introduced new possibilities to what D&D could be about.

Similarly, we know that Dave Arneson would be open to pretty much any idea that came up in his games, giving rise to the description of his gaming style as "Gonzo". While the subject of ascending to Godhood was not a common theme in Arneson's campaign, Bob Meyer who played the powerful wizard Robert the Bald shared this story:
Personally, I not only survived these adventures, but I acquired enough interesting things to study that I ended up locked away in my tower studying them. This all proved to be my undoing, as I was the first of the original players (and one of only two I am aware of) to reach the highest possible level in David's rules. When I asked David what happened now, he told me that"The Gods welcome me". I lost Robert the Bald to David's control and had to start a new character.

-Havard

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sad News

Thanks to Piazza super poster and Spelljammer Guru, Big Mac, I have come across information over at boardgamegeek.com stating that David J Ritchie passed away in September, last year:

David James Ritchie, a native of Canton, Ohio, died in his Connecticut home on Sunday, Sept. 6, 2009, at the age of 58. (CantonRep.com | Canton, OH 44702)

 I have yet to have confirmed that this is the same David J Ritchie who co-authored the DA modules with Dave Arneson, but it looks bleak right now. May he Rest in Peace.


-Havard

Thursday, October 7, 2010

[Races] Gatormen



Also known as Broadgrin, the Gatormen are, as the name implies a cross between man and aligator. The Gatormen of Blackmoor make their home in the Barrier Swamp. This swamp marks the border between the Duchy of Ten and the Duchy of the Peaks. There have been many speculations to where this horrid race came from. One theory is that they were created by Lord Ran at the time when he controlled the Duchy of Ten. The Egg of Coot has been known to spawn a number of mosterous creatures, and Ran is reported to have stolen many of the Egg's secrets when he betrayed his former master. Although fellow swamp dwellers, Gatormen have no love for Froglin and are clearly not followers of the Frog God. Most likely they are followers of Demogorgon.

Behind the Curtain:
DA4 is the first recorded appearance of Gatormen, who later appeared in the D&D Creature Catalog. This means the race was invented by Dave Arneson or David Ritchie. They were later incorporated into the Red Steel Setting (Mystara) through Bruce Heard's excellent Voyage of the Princess Ark series. Red Steel offered no link to Blackmoor, but instead provided a much later creation date for when the race supposedly was created by a Wizard. It seems likely that this Wizard had discovered some old Blackmoorian scrolls which he used as a basis for his recreated race.


-Havard

Monday, October 4, 2010

Afridhi from Tékumel?

Last Monday, I wrote about the origins of the Afridhi of Blackmoor. I mentioned how the player, Deborah Naffziger, who controlled the Afridhi was a young lady who primarily played in Professor Barker's Tékumel Campaign. Comparing this to how another player, Stephen Rocheford was working with Arneson to come up with the background for his character, St. Stephen, it is not unlikely that Arneson and Naffziger worked together on developing the culture of the Afridhi.



Since both Arneson and Naffziger had experience Barker's campaign, it is not unlikely that they would be drawing on that lore when developing the Afridhi Warrior Culture. The name itself suggests Asian inspiration, which is one of the parts of the world which Professor Barker drew his ideas from. Poster Aldarron, over at the Comeback Inn Forum even suggested that the Afridhi actually travelled from Tékumel to the world of Blackmoor. You can read his interesting theories about this here. I think it is worth exploring further the cross polination between Arneson and Barker's games.






Image source





-Havard

Friday, October 1, 2010

A real Tsathoggua Idol

Ever consider getting your on Tsathoggua Idol? I didnt think I would be promoting religion on this blog, even fictional ones, but Wednesday's entry on using Clark Ashton Smith's deity Tsathoggua as a basis for the God of the Temple of the Frog made me do some random googling of the deity and this is what I came up with. A guy named Richard Svensson has made this wonderful idol model of Tsathoggua hich he posted pictures of over at elfwood. I don't think it is for sale, but who knows? Would be nice on anyone's mantle piece?





-Havard

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Frog God

The players still remember the day when Dave Arneson placed a large ceramic frog from his mother's garden on the gaming table. This was their first meeting with the Temple of the Frog, an adventure location which would be the focus of four different published modules for three different editions of D&D spanning three decades. Something dark stirred that day, and the players grew nervous.... 




The order of the Frog, the religious group who used the infamous temple as their base of operations had been organized by St. Stephen, played by Stephen Rocheford. Last month, I described how Arneson and Rocheford came up with this idea back in the spring of 1973. At the time, the Blackmoor players had relocated to the swampy environs of Lake Gloomy and the Temple was located just a few days travel to the south.

St. Stephen himself may have been a cynical manipulator, his religion a trick to be able to control the followers of the cult. Imagine his surprise when the monks of the temple began channeling divine magic. Who had been manipulating who here, the alien may have wondered. Was the idea for the cult really his, or had the idea come from those strange whispers in his head? Who was the true master of the Temple of the Frog?

In Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor it is described how a now lost race called the Sar Aigu once lived in the area where the Temple of the Frog later was constructed. In the 2008 version of the Temple of the Frog, it is revealed that a strange god whom the Frogmen simply call Brr'brrt in their croaking language is the patron of the Frogman priests.

Over at the Comeback Inn Forum, Jeff Berry explains where the Frogmen came from:
"...all three of the 'first three' (Dave, Gary, and Phil [Prof. Barker]) all affected each other; you have to remember just how small the gaming world was back then. I'd be willing to say that this forum has more members then were around in the Twin Cities and Lake Geneva *combined*. Both Dave and Gary were hugely impressed at Phil's work on Tekumel dating back to the 1950's, and he in turn was impressed by their ability to run games and write the rules needed for those games. The D&D world-settings became a lot more detailed and 'culturally aware' after Phil's work became familiar to Gary and Dave. Likewise. Phil elaborated on elements of Tekumel that he'd largely neglected until he'd had a chance to work with Dave and Gary. [...] All three had frogmen because all three read a lot of H. P. Lovecraft, and you just had to have frogmen and other servants of the Old Ones infesting the place; it gave the players something to do when they weren't exploring the dungeons."
Frogmen need not be the only thing that wandered off out from the Cthulhu Mythos and into the Blackmoor Campaign. The Mythos also has a Frog-like deity; Tsathoggua created by Clark Ashton Smith:

"In that secret cave in the bowels of Voormithadreth . . . abides from eldermost eons the god Tsathoggua. You shall know Tsathoggua by his great girth and his batlike furriness and the look of a sleepy black toad which he has eternally. He will rise not from his place, even in the ravening of hunger, but will wait in divine slothfulness for the sacrifice."
—Clark Ashton Smith, "The Seven Geases" (1933)

Tsathoggua also has a counterpart in Stodos of the Icy Wates in the Mystara Setting, a setting which incidentally is also linked to Asthon Smith's universe through Tom Moldvay's classic module X2: Castle Amber (Chateaû d'Ambreville).

One thing is certain. There is a great power lurking behind the Temple of the Frog. There is a reason why the Temple keeps resurfacing. And that power is nowhere near being defeated.




Image Source



-Havard

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ever wonder who else is reading this?

I once read that TSR had very poor knowledge of who their target audiences were. Recently I've been looking at the stats for this blog, trying to figure out who my audience is. I like the various options blogger.com have added to review the readers. Here's a map showing where the blog readers come from in the world:

Here's a listing by country:


Obviously, there is some margin of error here with random image searches, bots, spammers etc being counted, but it still gives me some idea of where the readers come from. Mainly however, it was just fun poking around with this stuff and seeing what kind of options blogger.com offer.



-Havard

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Afridhi

The Afridhi are described as a race of hillmen from a frozen land. The Afridhi depended on fire to survive and fire became their god. They are a conquering race of humans with unnaturally black skin and red hair. They are violent fanatics lead by their high priestess, the terrible Toska Rusa (Rosy Dawn). Gradually the Empire of the Afridhi has expanded and is now threatening Blackmoor itself. In my campaign I describe the Afridhi as having their bodies decorated with glowing tattoos like the Dark Prince from the Prince of Persia games shown below:



The Afridhi were revealed to the general public in DA4 Duchy of Ten. Because DA4 was the one module of the DA series on which only Dave Ritchie's name appeared, some have speculated that the Afridhi were an invention by Ritchie. However this is not the case. I have previously discussed the nature of the working relationship between Ritchie and Arneson.

The Afridhi were actually introduced in Dave Arneson's Campaign around 1975 (Date yet to be confirmed). Dave created an image of the Afridhi as a kind of devil worshippers to his players. As was normal in Dave's campaign, other players would take on the role of the bad guys, and the Afridhi were no exception. Toska Rusa was most likely played by a Deborah Naffziger as Jeff Berry explains:

[Naffziger was]one of Prof. Barker's original EPT players and one of the early players in Dave's Blackmoor. (She also played in Greyhawk with Gary) She was the only girl in local Twin Cities gaming for many years, and the description of the character sounds pretty much like the one she had out at Prof. Barker's.

 Toska Rusa and the Afridhi were at one point available as Miniatures, as part of the Blackmoor Miniatures Line. The Afridhi remain one of Blackmoor's most dangerouns enemies.






Thanks to Greg Svenson and Jeff Berry for providing much of the information above.

-Havard

Friday, September 24, 2010

Arneson & Ritchie



Recently there have been a lot of speculations to the nature of the Arneson Ritchie working relationship. As most of you will know David J Ritchie was the co-author of DA modules 1-3 and the only author listed for DA4. Over the years, some have questioned to what degree the DA modules could be considered Arneson’s work. Perhaps the credits on the covers were simply a nod to the original creator and nothing else? And why was Arneson’s name omitted from DA4? My attempts to reach David J Ritchie have so far been unsuccessful. Dustin Clingman has earlier stated that Arneson was consulted on the DA modules, but it has been unclear to what extent this consultation.

Greg Svenson clarifies:
“Dave Arneson worked with Dave Richie on DA1-3. His contract with TSR gave him the right to review all Blackmoor material before it was published, but DA4 was published before he was able to review. So, that was most of his problem with that module.”

Not only was Ritchie working based on notes submitted by Arneson over the years, but he was also able to review the modules with the exception of DA4. This confirms my suspicion that Arneson had significant influence over these products. In the case of DA4, there has been a lot of discussion to whether there were specific elements in that module that Arneson directly objected to, but Greg’s comment above does not seem to support this. In addition Greg reveals that:

“I am also sure that he objected to the fact that the Ran of Ah Foo, the leader of one one of Blackmoor's major enemies, was not even mentioned in the module. All the rest of this discussion […] is just speculation.”

The absence of the Ran of Ah Foo was indeed a surprise given the importance of this archvillain in the FFC. David Ross raised the question of Ran's disappearance in the Blackmoor Fan gazetteer and suggested that he might have died, but this explanation seemed less than satisfactory.It makes sense that this is something Arneson would have changed, had he been given time to review the module.




-Havard

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Great Rain of Fire

The Great Rain of Fire. A fiery cataclysm, destroying Blackmoor and Thonia, sinking lands into the sea and turning their shores into broken lands. When David L. Ricthie was asked to write the DA-series of modules for the BECMI/ Classic D&D line, Ritchie incorporated Blackmoor as a realm from Mystara's past. Ricthie detailed how the technology introduced to the Blackmoorians through the Temple of the Frog and City of the Gods would eventually lead to disaster. The combination of magic and technology would lead to a cataclysm.

The Great Rain of Fire was both a device that allowed Ritchie to connect Blackmoor to Mystara, but also the logical conclusion of the revelations from DA2 and DA3, which again were based on the details on St. Stephen in Supplement II. What would happen if a fantasy kingdom got its hand on highly advanced technology? Could this end in any other way than disaster?



What role could the Great Rain of Fire play for a DM who does not assume Blackmoor to be connected to Mystara? In my own campaign, I assume Mystara to be a possible future for Blackmoor, not a predetermined one. Blackmoor could end up destroying itself in a cataclysm, but this is not something that has to happen. What I did was to feed my players with prophecies about a coming Great Rain of Fire. This could be tied to the combination of magic and technology, but there could be a number of other explanations for the world to be destroyed.

What purpose would this story element have? The world is going to be destroyed? Why are we playing in this setting again? My idea was this. The Great Rain of Fire is what happens if the players do nothing. The prophecy has allowed the players to learn of this possible dark future, meaning that they have a key to changing it. While it creates an ominous atmosphere, there should be hope. Also, this means that the player characters matter. The coming Cataclysm can be averted and you are the heroes who can prevent this.






-Havard

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Defining the setting



Philosopher over at the Piazza, challenged me to write a text defining Blackmoor in one or two paragraphs. Trying to pin down a setting in just a few paragraphs was trickier than I thought. Here's what I've got so far:

Blackmoor is a small Kingdom which until recently was the northernmost province of a decadent Empire. Unlike the Thonian Empire, Blackmoor embodies the ideals of justice and chivalry; a realm of light surrounded by corruption and evil. Blackmoor is in desperate need of heroes because it is surrounded by enemies. The Mordor-like realm of the Egg of Coot to the North. Viking-like Skandaharian raiders attack both its coastal lands. And an exotic demon-worshipping conqueror race army approaces from the west. 


Blackmoor is a classic fantasy setting with a twist: highly technological items can be found and used by heroes and villains alike. Mechanical warriors guard powerful wizards. The sages of the Blackmoor University are working with the dwarves to figure out how these items work, where they came from and how to use them. This could be the key to saving Blackmoor from its immediate destruction. Tragically however, it could also be what spells their doom, in the prophesied apocalypse, known as Great Rain of Fire.




-Havard

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

And then we were 80!


Milestone reached!It's great to see more and more people reading this blog. The fact that people out there want to read the things I write is my main motivation for keeping this place going. My last couple of entries have also seen a surge of comments which is always appreciated. According to Trey's Scale, I am now a 6th level blogger. Not bad for a little Blackmoorian?

Thanks everyone for your continued support!

-Havard