Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The First Fantasy Campaign: The Town of Blackmoor Map

JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" features a redrawn map of The Town of Blackmoor, including references to notable locations in the immediate area.

Buildings in the town are numbered, to designate which are owned or lived in by Minions of the Merchant of Blackmoor, which are held by followers of the Great Svenny and the secret society set up by Mello the Hobbit and "Bill" (the Blue Rider), and which are in ruins.

The Town of Blackmoor map, from JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign".  Note the location of Mello's Hobbit House just off Temple Ruins Road.  Gertrude the Dragon dwelt in a cave on Dragon Rock in Blackmoor Bay.

Dan Boggs has written extensively on the Town of Blackmoor in a recent series of posts on his blog "Hidden in Shadows" including:
Where in the World is Blackmoor?

The Ruined Temple of the Id Monster:

Off the map one mile to the northwest is the ruined Temple of the Id Monster.  This contains a single great Jewel guarded by several Undead Superheroes.  The one who grabs the Jewel and escapes is then pursued by the Id monster that only he can see.  This creature will attack and eat the Jewel, and its carrier if any.  The creature and the Jewel will then vanish while the carrier will reappear under the Troll Bridge, quite naked, upon the town garbage heap having suffered the torment of being eaten alive.

Dave Arneson, The First Fantasy Campaign

The Wizard of the Wood:

The Wizard's hut has three giant Ents in front of its single entrance and a Fire Elemental in the fireplace inside.  There are also a number of lesser booby traps.  Pete got wiped out after about two years when he went to the City of the Gods, but the icky woods lived on.  Each new Magic User gets a chance to take over Pete's old position but all have failed, mostly because of Super Berries.

Dave Arneson, The First Fantasy Campaign

The Super Berry Woods:

Due east on the road to Bramwald lies the Super Berry Woods wherein the Berrium Maximus is found...which are as large as big pumpkins (the whole creation was a result of using some HO/00 scale trees which had great orange fruit on them; since these things were always infesting the board by dropping off, they became Super Berries and were saved...and are endowed with Magical properties (the exact nature of which changes with the season of the year, phase of the moon, maturity of the berry, if it is cooked, boiled, dehydrated, sliced, diced, made into juice, wine, soup, mush or eaten raw).

Dave Arneson, The First Fantasy Campaign

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The First Fantasy Campaign: History of the Points of Interest

"History of the Points of Interest" reprints the second part of Dave Arneson's article "Points of Interest in Black Moor".  Although intended for Domesday Book #14, this was never published (see The Acaeum for details on the single copy known to exist).

Five notable locations are briefly discussed:

Blackmoor Castle:

A short paragraph describing the recent history of Blackmoor Castle, covered in greater depth in a subsequent section "The Blackmoor Castle's History".

The Pits:

A number of seemingly bottomless pits, located near the city walls, occasionally releasing smoke and sulfurous fumes, and rumored to connect with the netherworld.

Large lizard-like creatures and snakes can emerge from the Pits to attack the town or feed on nearby herds (a great opportunity for beginning adventurers to distinguish themselves).

These may correspond to the Chasm depicted on the Town of Blackmoor map.

The Ruins:

Jewel with the Temple of the Id.  Illustration by Ken Simpson, presumably based on the original by Dave Arneson.

The remains of an old temple, devoted to "the Dark Lords of the Egg of Coot", constructed above a network of underground tunnels.  Razed to the ground by the forces of Law centuries ago, except for a small amphitheater with a great Orange Jewel mounted upon a black pedestal.

Additional details are provided in the next section, describing the Town of Blackmoor map.

Wolf's Head Pass:

Situated "some five miles to the northeast of the Castle along the only road that leads to the southern confines of the Egg of Coot" and marking the northern boundary of the Great Kingdom.

Previously mentioned in "The Country" in the section "Facts About Blackmoor".

The Comeback Inn:

"Ye Olde Comeback Inn".  The gallows in front of the Inn are depicted on maps of the Town of Blackmoor.

The opening scene in the seminal game run in November, 1972, by Arneson for Gary Gygax and Rob Kuntz, in which David Megarry also participated.  Kuntz recalls:

“Arneson described a typical medieval inn and an affable innkeeper who served us; and he also warned us from starting any trouble in his establishment as its patrons were a quiet and simple folk. We all had drinks and checked out the surroundings. A little into this I informed Arneson that my character (we had no names, so it was Garyʼs character, Robʼs, etc.) was stepping outside to get some air.”

“Arneson said, ‘Okay. You come back in.’ I was confused while thinking that he had understood that I stepped out and got air and then, later, came back in. I questioned this and he clarified by noting that when I stepped through the entryway that I indeed found myself walking back into the inn. Magic! I had never exited the inn. We all caught onto the problem at once. We were trapped! Megarry and Arneson either smiled or snickered as we realized what ‘Come Back Inn’ really meant.”

Eventually, the group figured out how to escape the Come Back Inn. Kuntz went on to describe how the adventure continued, with Megarry playing guide, leading them into a castle, an encounter with some humorous magical elves, and then a battle with a troll.

From "Dungeons & Deceptions" in Kotaku, August, 2019

The Comeback Inn figures prominently in DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor".  (I still remember the expressions on my players' faces when their predicament dawned upon them...)

Blackmoor's Comeback Inn was apparently based on a real-world establishment in Melrose Park, Illinois, frequented by Arneson.  Unfortunately, the pub shut its doors, back in 2004.

Monday, September 28, 2020

The First Fantasy Campaign: Facts About Blackmoor

It's Blackmoor Week 2020, during which I will be continuing my section-by-section review of JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" on a daily basis.  Fittingly, the next section "Blackmoor" should have really been the first section of the book, in my opinion.

"Facts About Blackmoor" reprints the first part of Dave Arneson's article "Points of Interest in Black Moor", originally published in Domesday Book #13 (July, 1972), as discussed in Jon Peterson's blog post "Heresies of the Domesday Book" back in 2012.

Arneson covers the population (1,000 peasants, 100 soldiers and nobles, 4 wizards or sorcerers, 1 dragon, several trolls, about 100 elves, plus assorted ents, orcs, dwarves, werewolves, etc.), area (4,346 square miles, 60% forest, 20% swamp, 20% arable land), and resources.

Illustration from DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" (1986)

The section on ruling class contains information on events in the 1st year of the campaign:

The Baron Fant was placed in command of Blackmoor Castle after his successful operations during the first Coot invasion.  His nearest neighbor is Sir Jenkins who rules the northern most march of the Great Kingdom which rests on the actual frontier with the Egg of Coot.  Sir Jenkins prior to the honors bestowed upon him from the first Coot invasion was a noted bandit, driven to that extreme by the former ruler of Blackmoor, "the Weasel".  To firm the alliance of Fant and Jenkins, a marriage was arranged between them with Jenkins wedding Fant's cousin and Fant marrying one of Jenkin's relatives.

Dave Arneson, The First Fantasy Campaign

"Facts About Blackmoor" ends with a survey of the surrounding countryside:
Points of geological oddity exist in the Dragon Hills, Dragon Rock, the hill where Blackmoor Castle itself stands, the numerous pits that lead into underground caverns which run through the entire area.  There is also a grove of the Berrium Maximum Deciduous* trees which are found only in a few other areas in its wild state.  The underground caves which dot the area create a maze where the Elves and Dwarves make their homes along with several unclassified inhabitants and denizens of the darker places.  Wolf's pass is also an oddity consisting of a solid outcropping of rock from the apparently bottomless depths of a swampy inroad of the sea.  There are a number of solid rock outcroppings like this throughout the area which create several steep hills, rocky patches, etc that combined with the swamps and caves make the area one could spend a lifetime exploring.
Dave Arneson, The First Fantasy Campaign

*the legendary Super Berries, to be covered in detail, later this week

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The First Fantasy Campaign: Blackmoor's More Infamous Characters

Continuing our in-depth examination of JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" (1977) by Dave Arneson, the next section begins with a list of Blackmoor's original military forces:

Baron Fant (Dave Fant): HD 8+2; 28 Men
Captain Krey (Kurt Krey): HD 4+1; 20 Men (gone)
Dwarves: 150
Elves: 180
Peasants: 158 Men (base)
Earl of Vestfold: HD 9+1; 351 Men
Baron Jenkins (Duane Jenkins): HD 8+2; 28 Men
Swenson's Freehold: HD 8+5; 20 Men
Merchant's (Dan Nicholson): HD 4+1; 14 Men
Bandit's (David Megarry): HD 6+1; 22 Men
Inspector General Snider (John Snider): HD 6+1; 22 Men
Wizard of the Wood (Pete Gaylord)

Arneson goes on to describe a few of the events transpiring in the first year of the campaign:

Of note is the fact that Krey turned traitor and joined Soukup (Egg of Coot's Lieutenant) and betrayed the Castle during the first year.  Since the promised evil failed to arrive (they tried taking a shortcut through the Dungeon and well...), he was driven out and fled to the Egg.  Incidentally, some items mentioned have never been found by the players since; the castle was destroyed totally early in the first year (and rebuilt); and the players never got below level nine, except once with the Blue Rider (Heaton).

Dave Arneson, The First Fantasy Campaign

What follows are brief descriptions of "Blackmoor's More Infamous Characters".  The first five characters and "Final Notes" are listed in a Table of Contents.  The Blue Rider, Mello and the Hobbits, the Great Svenny, and the Bishop appear to have been later additions. 

Egg of Coot (alias Ogg of Ot, alias Orrg er Druag, etc.):

An evil, telepathic entity, whose physical nature is unknown.  Depopulates any area it captures, replacing the former inhabitants with "a new and very unhuman population".

The "Egg of Coot" is a thinly disguised and uncharitable rendition of local wargamer Greg Scott; the Egg's lieutenant "Ran of Ah Foo" is similarly a caricature of Randy Hoffa, the local gamer who instigated a competing Napoleonic campaign in April 1971.  While it is commonly rumored that the negative representation of Scott is owed to his disdain for fantasy wargaming, it must equally reflect Arneson's bitterness over the local power struggle for control of the Napoleonic campaign, as Scott played a large role in those events.

Jon Peterson, from "Playing at the World" (2012)

Greg Scott, founder of GHQ Miniatures and publisher of La Vivandiere, a short-lived wargaming magazine, never actually played in Arneson's Blackmoor campaign.

See also "John Snider's Egg of Coot Campaign" posted at OD&D Discussion (January, 2017). 

Ran of Ah Fooh (High Duke of the Duchy of Ten, alias #3428-B34-Ex.2):

Former servant of the Egg of Coot, now leader of the Duchy of Ten.  10th level Warrior, 10th level Spell Maker, world-renowned Dragon Breeder, and in the process of creating an Android (Zombie?) Army.

Named in reference to Randy Hoffa, as mentioned, above.

Gin of Salik (Wanted by every unwed mother for a thousand miles):

The Gin's great desire in life is to find the famed Pygmalion (see DB) and restore her power among the mortal world.
For more on the Gin's identity and background, see The Gin and Pygmalion, In and Out of Blackmoor posted on Jon Peterson's blog in July, 2017

Marfeldt the Barbarian (either the Greatest Warrior or Curse in the World):
Known to be wandering south of Blackmoor, this creature has wrecked several kingdoms to the east and may be responsible for the divisions in the Great Kingdom.  He suddenly burst upon the world about a year ago when it was said he killed the Wizard that created him during a friendly wrestling match.

Dave Arneson, The First Fantasy Campaign 

Marfeldt the Barbarian.  Illustration by Jim Holloway, from DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" (1986)

Marfeldt was played by Marshall Hoegfeldt, who passed away in January, 2016 (see the OD&D Discussion boards, here and posts on Dragonsfoot, here).

Duke of the Peaks (Lord Whitehead, the Abominable Snowfreak, etc.):

Duke of a very rich and prosperous dominion to the northwest of the Duchy of Ten, who frequently switches allegiance in the wars between the Duchy of Ten and the Egg of Coot.

The Blue Rider:

The story of how the Blue Rider obtained his Sword, Plate Armor, and fully Armored Warhorse concludes with "Others state that the goodies were found beneath the 12th level of Blackmoor Dungeon." recounted, below:

The walls here were rougher and there was a dim red light throughout the corridors. Soon we found ourselves on a ledge over looking a huge cavern with a lake of lava at the bottom. In the center was an island covered with treasure. On top of the mound of treasure was a dragon (I think that it was golden, but the colors meant less at that time).

William wanted to jump down to the island. Svenny was opposed, mostly a self preservation thing. I couldn't see how we would ever get off the island if we managed to get there. William jumped anyway and managed to land on the island. The rest of us stayed on the ledge and watched. Mello took some chalk and wrote "Kilroy was here" along with the famous sketch of the head peering over a wall on the wall of the ledge. The dragon posed a puzzle for William. I don't recall the details, but he solved it and was rewarded with a blue suit of magic armor and mechanical horse. I have always thought of the armor as a dark metallic blue, but the description was just blue. The armor was more like powered battledress then a suit of plate armor, for Sci-Fi fans. William donned the armor and somehow was back with us on the ledge. We all traveled back out of the dungeon.

At this point Dave got busy with something else and asked me to take over as the DM, quickly briefing me on the armor. William and Mello then tried to figure out what the buttons on the left arm of the armor did. It was quite funny for those that were watching and quite frustrating for William as it led to the stories of him charging into battle screaming "No! No! Stop!" later. This is how William of the Heath became known as the Blue Rider.

Greg Svenson, posted at The Comeback Inn (Jan, 2010)

The Blue Rider was played by Bill Heaton.  See also "The Blue Rider" a short conversation with The Great Sveni a.k.a. Greg Svenson by The Fellowship of the Thing (2018)

Mello and the Hobbits:

Mello the Hobbit was 5' 6" owing to his "mixed ancestry".  The ground floor of "Mello's Hobbit House" by Blackmoor's Troll Bridge is also reproduced.  Mello was played by Rick (Mel) Johnson.

The Great Svenny:

The Great Svenny was played by Greg Svenson, who remains fairly active on the internet.

Svenson relates some of the Great Svenny's most memorable adventures in The First Dungeon Adventure, Orcs Bane. and "the bad scene at Lake Gloomy":

Ah, we were all exiled there after we lost the city of Blackmoor to the Egg and the orcs. The change of scenery did us all good, because we had been focusing on Blackmoor and our own personal adventures rather than seeing the "big picture". Svenny died when the Egg of Coot and the Ran of An Foo jointly attacked us. When Svenny charged the hordes of orcs the rest of the guys hung back rather than join him, leaving him to fight some 5,000 orcs by himself. He killed over 200 orcs before he fell. The rest of the guys realized that Svenny couldn't do it by himself and joined in to eventually win the battle. Afterwards, they took Svenny's body to the Bishop, who raised him from the dead. Svenny's lowest moment. Needless to say, I was furious...

Greg Svenson, The Wayfarer's Inn, 2007

See also Q&A with Greg Svenson, posted on Sham's Grog & Blog (May, 2009).

The Bishop:

It is possible that Arneson is referring to Bishop Carr, the character played by Mike Carr, in this section, but doesn't refer to the Bishop by name.

Final Notes:

Mention is made of the Chief of the Nomads, known simply as "The Nomad", apparently played by Dale Nelson.

For additional insights on this section, see Infamous Characters, and the history of levels in D&D, and Did HD equal Level in early Blackmoor? posted by Dan Boggs at Hidden in Shadows.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

The First Fantasy Campaign: Map Notes (Part 2)

In redrawing the first campaign map, I have decided that it would be advantageous to make some minor changes along the south and west borders to link it with the Judges Guild's "Known World" area (as shown in the Guide to the City State).  My map is twice the scale, 19 miles per hex, and fits into the northeastern corner, bordering the Valley of the Ancients.  As is Judges Guild's practice, two 17" x 22" maps will be found with this book - a "Judges" and "Players" version, so the Judge can keep the players in the dark about the terrain.

Dave Arneson, The First Fantasy Campaign (1977)

The two, large, fold-out poster maps included with JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" were drafted by Bob Bledsaw of Judges Guild, under the direction of Dave Arneson.  They were designated JG 38 (Judges Map) and JG 39 (Players Map). 

The First Fantasy Campaign Map/Judges Cartography of the Lands about Blackmoor Castle, from JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" (1977).  Scale labeled as 10 miles per hex, twice the usual 5 miles per hex of other Judges Guild maps (the 19 miles per hex mentioned above was presumably a typo).

It's now known that Arneson used the map of The Northern Marches as the basis for the Judges Guilds maps.  As stated above, the southern border was extended to connect with the Judges Guild's "Known World" map from JG 10 "Guide to the City State".

Judges Guild's "Known World" as depicted in JG 10 "Guide to the City State".  Note the location of the equator and the scale, on the order of the Mediterranean.

Also as mentioned, the First Fantasy Campaign map was intended to cover the lands to the northeast of the area referred to as the "Wilderlands of High Fantasy".  Here is where Blackmoor fits in relation to the rest of the campaign setting:

The Players version of the First Fantasy Campaign map in relation to the Wilderlands of High Fantasy.  Note the continuation of the northern boundary of the Valley of the Ancients into the area to the south of Blackmoor.

The map for area 1 "City State of the Invincible Overlord" was included in Judges Guild Installment K (JG 18-21).  The maps for area 2 "Barbarian Altanis" and area 3 "Valley of the Ancients" were included in Judges Guild Installment N (JG 43-45).  The maps for area 4 "Tarantis" and area 5 "Valon" were included in Judges Guild Installment O (JG 48-51).

The Players version of the First Fantasy Campaign map in relation to Campaign Map 3 "Valley of the Ancients"

Almost a decade later, D&D module DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" was published, together with a new map, based on the previous one from JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign":

Map 5 "The Northlands" from DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" (1986).  Scale labeled as 12 miles per hex.  (The scale on an earlier version of this map was labeled as 24 miles per hex, discussed here).

The DA series of modules were set in a pre-cataclysmic Known World, on the continent of Brun, which coincidentally, like the map of The Great Kingdom, was based on a map of North America.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The First Fantasy Campaign: Map Notes (Part 1)

In starting my campaign, I reserved a small area out of the center of the Great Kingdom map of the IFW's Castle & Crusade Society (a now extinct Medievals group). 

Dave Arneson, The First Fantasy Campaign (1977)

JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" includes a hand-drawn map of Blackmoor and environs, as well as two large fold-out poster maps (one for the players, and one for the referee).  The two sets of maps differ in many ways, and their relationship to one another has been unclear.

Daniel Boggs covers the topic in his recent blog post Was Original Blackmoor a Greyhawk Campaign? in which he explains how Arneson likely adapted his map of The Northern Marches in order to create a map of Blackmoor that would fit on the map of The Great Kingdom.

Hand-drawn map of Blackmoor and environs, used by Arneson for his original Blackmoor campaign (1971-75).

The actual position of Blackmoor in relation to the Great Kingdom was correctly surmised by Zach Howard in his post The Weird Enclave of Blackmoor on Zenopus Archives, back in 2012.  (See also Arneson's Sketch Map of Blackmoor, Annotated).

Arneson goes on to describe using the Outdoor Survival map for the region to the south of Blackmoor, probably starting in the third year of the campaign "after the bad scene at Lake Gloomy", as discussed in my earlier post Into the Great Outdoors.

Taking another look, I'm struck by the similarity between the two groups of mountains in the southern part of Arneson's hand-drawn map of Blackmoor (which includes the Dragon Hills) and the northern part of the Outdoor Survival board:

The hand-drawn map of Blackmoor in The First Fantasy Campaign in relation to the Outdoor Survival map.  Note the similarities between the two groups of mountains in the southern part of Blackmoor and the northern part of the Outdoor Survival map.

Could the central group of mountains on the Outdoor Survival board represent the Dragon Hills?  (Interestingly,  Bob Meyer states that the Dragon Hills were a later addition to the map of Blackmoor, in this thread on the OD&D Discussion boards.)

If the southern part of the hand-drawn map represents the northern part of the Outdoor Survival map, the unlabeled settlements might represent some of the players' new fiefs.  Greg Svenson's "Newgate" might be the one further east, with the road leading to the south, for example.

Svenson recalls the Valley of the Ancients was originally located southwest of Blackmoor, where the desert is depicted on the hand-drawn map.  Arneson states the City of the Gods was "located in the Desert south of Monson's old place", possibly the settlement further west.

Terrain Key To Campaign Map:

Somewhat confusingly, the terrain key beneath the hand-drawn map of Blackmoor is not for the hand-drawn map, but depicts the symbols used in the large, fold-out poster maps.  Here is the key, reproduced beneath the fold-out poster map:

 The terrain key is similar to the one provided in JG 48 "Wilderlands of High Fantasy":

Tomorrow, we will turn our attention to the redrawn poster maps, and their place in Judges Guild's Wilderlands.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The First Fantasy Campaign: Blackmoor, the Campaign

Blackmoor grew from a single Castle to include, first, several adjacent Castles (with the forces of Evil lying just off the edge of the world) to an entire Northern Province(s) of the Castle and Crusade Society's Great Kingdom.
Dave Arneson, The First Fantasy Campaign (1977)

The first major section in JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" provides information used by Dave Arneson in running what appears to have been a Napoleonic-style wargame as part of his Blackmoor campaign.  While fascinating, I probably wouldn't have led with it.

The information presented can be used in a OD&D campaign set in Blackmoor, but would be more fun to run as an actual wargame.  The mechanics of play are at least partly based on Chainmail, as discussed by Daniel Boggs in his post Blackmoor as a Chainmail campaign

The Great Invasion

Arneson provides details for "Part A, Scenario III", stating that details for the previous two scenarios were lost.  These likely involved the first two "Coot invasions", for which a basic outline of events is known.

Illustration by Larry Elmore.

The 1st year of the Blackmoor campaign involved a defense of the town against the forces of the Egg of Coot, after which the character played by David Fant became the new Baron of Blackmoor (for an interview with Fant, see this post on Daniel Bogg's blog "Hidden in Shadows").

Events of the campaign were chronicled in Arneson's "Corner of the Table" newsletter, and the "Blackmoor Gazette and Rumormonger".  By spring of 1972, the players were more interested in exploration of the dungeons beneath Blackmoor Castle, than defense of the town itself.

As a result, the first Blackmoor campaign drew to a close by the summer of 1972, with victory going to the forces of the Egg of Coot.  The player's characters were exiled, and the campaign entered a new phase (see "Blackmoor, in the Era of Loch Gloomen").

The 2nd year of the Blackmoor campaign involved a turncoat character played by Kurt Krey, former captain of the guard in Blackmoor.  By this time, games were being held at St. Thomas College.  The players were ultimately victorious, and were awarded fiefs.

Which finally brings us to "The Great Invasion":
The entire 3rd Year of the Blackmoor Campaign was to be part of a Great War between the Good Guys and the Bad Guys.
I believe this roughly coincided with the third year of actual play, dating from 1973-1974, with "The Great Invasion" representing the third Coot invasion.

Orders of Battle in the The Great Invasion (the Third Coot Invasion)

David Wesely recently commented on a post on The Ruins of Murkhill blog, regarding The Great Invasion.  The Earl of Vestfold was played by Greg Svenson, the Horsemen of Peshwah by Ken Shepro, Bramwald by Duane Jenkins, the Wizard of the Wood by Peter Gaylord, and the Monks of the Swamp possibly by Steve Rochford.

It's interesting to note that Blackmoor itself, having been captured by elves after falling to the Egg of Coot, is not counted among the Good Forces, but is listed under the Neutral Forces, together with the Wizard of Mi-Karr, named after Mike Carr, and the Regent of the Mines, played by Steve Lortz.  I'm not certain whether any of the Evil Forces were run by players.

The Original Price/Unit Ratio List

Daniel Boggs points out many similarities with Chainmail for Unit Types, Costs per Man, and Weapons in Blackmoor as a Chainmail campaign.  It's interesting to note that many of the Weapon Costs in GP are comparable to those in OD&D.

Additional Weapon Cost/Limit covers missile weapons, and Additional Price Lists includes Weapons, Armor, Transportation (wagons, ships, horses, and even tarns), and Heavy Construction (including for Standard Castle Types, as depicted below)
Standard Castle Types, from JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign"

There's also a listing of investment areas (discussed in more detail in its own section, below).  Finally, Personnel Costs (in GP for 1 Year's Pay and Upkeep) are given, as explored in Blackmoor Taxes, Living Expenses and the Support and Upkeep of Hirelings in OD&D.

The next three sections cover additional material necessary to run "The Great Invasion" (outlined, below).  The easiest way to do so, nowadays, might be to use the Dominion and War Machine rules from the D&D Companion Set (1984).

The Later Prices Lists

Earl of Vestfold, including one city (Tonisberg, 15 villages), two small forts (1 village each), and Tribute (all of the Neutral Forces listed, except the Regent of the Mines, are considered minor holdings of the Earl of Vestfold).  Trade with Great Kingdom.  Rules for Wizards and Magic.

Northern Lords (Sea Raiders) aka Skandaharians, including two cities (4 villages each), and 10 villages.  Trade with Maus, Egg of Coot, Great Kingdom, and Other Areas.  No Magic.

City of Maus, including one city (10 villages), and 20 villages.  Trade with Great Kingdom, Egg of Coot, and Skandaharians.  Rules for Wizards and Magic.  Also includes price list for "Reinforcements from the Grand Kingdom" (arrive through Special Cards).

Regent of the Mines, including one city.  No Trade or Magic.

Duchy of Ten, including three cities (4 villages each), and 12 villages.  River Trade to North, to Egg of Coot, and to Grand Kingdom.  Rules for Wizards and Magic.

Minor Holdings of Duchy of Ten - Nomads of Ten, including one city (4 villages), and 12 villages.  No Trade.  Rules for Wizards.

Egg of Coot, including one city (10 villages), and 12 villages.  River Trade to North, with Duchy of Ten, and with Skandaharians.  Rules for Magic.

Internal Investments

Roads, Bridges, Canals, Inns
Hunting, Armories and Animal Branding:
These come under the heading of Hobbies (see Player Motivation), and may be treated as such.  Just a few notes added to those of D&D are that each should have a separate building to house it's activities, have present a Specialist of the desired type, and get regular funding (payment) for goods and services produced.
Religion, Exploration 
Ship Building, Farming, Fishing
Trapping, Tourism, Arrival of New Persons

Land & Sea Trade

Rules are given for Merchant Ships and Wagons, Trade goods, etc. as well as a Price List (pertaining to Investments and Trade).

Sunday, September 6, 2020

The First Fantasy Campaign: Introduction


Frontispiece to "The First Fantasy Campaign" (1977).  I have been unable to locate the source, presumably artwork in the public domain.

Dave Arneson's introduction to JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" is packed with insights from the early years of the Blackmoor campaign, dating from approximately 1971-1975.

From the first excursions into the dark depths of Blackmoor Castle's Dungeon, it became apparent that these first hardy bands of adventurers would soon seek out new worlds to pillage.  From the castle itself the small town of Blackmoor grew, then the surrounding countryside became filled with new holes to explore and beyond that the talk was already spreading about visiting the Egg of Coot.

He goes on to describe his role in overseeing the various inter-related campaigns:

At the height of my participation as chief coordinator, there were six Dungeons and over 100 detailed player characters to be kept track of at any one time.

Blackmoor Castle, Glendower, and The Lost Dungeons of Tonisberg likely represented three or four of these six dungeons, although I'm not yet certain which the others were.  For additional discussion, see this thread at The Comeback Inn.

Arneson compares Blackmoor to a "Conventional" Napoleonic Wargames campaign in certain respects, requiring some sort of "Overall Background" to serve as a framework, and "Thus the overall concept of the Evil Egg of Coot and the Great Kingdom was born."

These two entities could prove to be the source of great events outside of the actual campaign, a source of new recruits and monsters, and give the stimulus, in the way of quests and adventures to give the players more of a motive than just looting the Dungeon.

We learn that the original dungeon beneath Castle Blackmoor "was only some six levels deep", a number chosen since it allowed random placement with six-sided dice, and that "only the basic monsters in Chainmail" were used.

As deeper levels were designed, new monsters were introduced, including "different types of Dragons (by size)", Gargoyles and other creatures "from standard mythology", and giant-sized versions of regular animals "like Beetles" with details drawn from standard textbooks.

Experience points were only gained when money was spent on an "area of interest", a key difference between Arneson's Blackmoor campaign and the manner by which experience points were gained in OD&D, with its emphasis on acquisition of treasure.

Combat based on "Hit Location" was used, as described in the Blackmoor supplement, the rationale being "so that even the mighty Smaug could fall to a single arrow in the right place (very unlikely)." although "Hit Location was generally used only for the bigger critters"

Characters initially had 0-100 hit points, a number which, like ability scores, did not increase over time.  Rather, characters became harder to hit.  Furthermore, even when a character was hit, saving throws were involved to avoid taking damage, particularly with fighters.*

Update (Sept 9): Jon Peterson elaborates on hit points in this thread over at The Comeback Inn, and covers the subject in "Playing at the World" (2012)

*clerics and "magicians" are also mentioned, rounding out the three original character classes present in OD&D
By the end of the Fourth year of continuous play Blackmoor covered hundreds of square miles, had a dozen castles, and three separate Judges as my own involvement decreased due to other commitments.

Arneson is likely referring to 1974-75 as "the Fourth year of continuous play".  His own involvement decreased probably as a result of his move to Lake Geneva in 1976 in order to work as "Research Director" at TSR.

From the introduction alone, we are therefore able to obtain a general sense of the scope of the Blackmoor campaign, as well as key differences between the mechanics of play and what was ultimately to become OD&D.

Arneson closes with a guiding principle:

...after all, the keynote is that "Anything is Possible", just that some are more likely than others.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

JG 37: The First Fantasy Campaign

Dave Arneson, co-creator of the Dungeons & Dragons game, parted with TSR in late 1976.  Jon Peterson recently posted about Arneson's D&D tournament at Origins 77.  Arneson was also scheduled to run at least one session of "Don't Give Up The Ship" at Gen Con X in August, 1977.

In the meantime, Arneson self-published the "Dungeonmaster's Index" and, perhaps disappointed with how OD&D supplement II: Blackmoor had turned out, was working with Judges Guild to publish his extensive pre- and post-D&D Blackmoor campaign material.

"The First Fantasy Campaign" (1977) by Dave Arneson.  Cover illustration of a fire elemental credited to Pixie Bledsaw.

Although not appearing in the credits, "The First Fantasy Campaign" was edited by Bill Owen, co-founder of Judges Guild.  The 1st and 2nd printings were 96 pages.  The 3rd printing appears to have been re-typeset and was shortened to 64 pages, (see The Acaeum for details).


Interior of the 1st printing of the First "Family" (Fantasy) Campaign.  Note that section headings in the Table of Contents are underlined.

Arneson dedicated "The First Fantasy Campaign" to Colleen Wording and Family (spelled "Wordem" in the 3rd printing) although I'm not sure who Colleen was, or which spelling is correct.

Interior illustrations are credited to Dave Arneson in the 1st printing, and to Ken Simpson and Dave Arneson in the 3rd.
Update (Sept 9): Havard sheds light on the illustrations in this thread over at The Comeback Inn
The original version featured interior illustrations by Dave Arneson. In the revised version these illustrations have been replaced. The new illustrations are based on Dave's originals, but slightly more professional looking. In my opinion however, these illustrations are not enough of an improvement over Dave's to really make me like them better though. As it stands I prefer Dave's illustrations.
"The First Fantasy Campaign" is a treasure trove of material.  However, as has frequently been stated, it could have been better organized, starting with the Table of Contents.  That section headings were not underlined in the 3rd printing further compounds the issue.
Here is a comprehensive listing of the Table of Contents:
(Bob Bledsaw, August 9, 1977)

(Dave Arneson)

 - The Great Invasion
 - The Original Price/Unit Ratio List
     - Additional Weapon Cost/Limit
     - Additional Price Lists (Standard Castle Types)
     - Personnel Costs (in GP for 1 Year's Pay and Upkeep)
 - The Later Prices Lists
     - Earl of Vestfold
     - Northern Lords (Sea Raiders)
     - City of Maus
     - Regent of the Mines
     - Duchy of Ten
     - Minor Holdings of Ten - Nomads of Ten
     - Egg of Coot
 - Internal Investments
     - Roads, Bridges, Canals, Inns
     - Hunting, Armories and Animal Branding
     - Religion, Exploration
     - Ship Building, Farming, Fishing
     - Trapping, Tourism, Arrival of New Persons
 - Land & Sea Trade
     - Price List

Campaign Map Notes (Part 1, Part 2)
 -Terrain Key To Campaign Map

 - Blackmoor Military Manpower Distribution (Initial)
 - Table of Contents
     - Egg of Coot
     - Ran of Ah Fooh
     - Gin of Salik
     - Marfeldt the Barbarian (A Short Biography)
     - Duke of the Peaks
     - The Blue Rider
     - Mello and the Hobbits (Mello's Hobbit House)
     - The Great Svenny
     - The Bishop
     - Final Notes

     - Population, Area, Resources, Ruling Class, The Country
     - Blackmoor Castle, The Pits, The Ruins, Wolf's Head Pass, The Comeback Inn
     - The Blackmoor Castle's History
     - Haunted Rooms and the Like
         - The Black Hall
         - The Catacombs
         - The Tower
             - Haunted Rooms

 - Encounters
 - Moves, Budget
 - Outdoors in Blackmoor
 - Migration
 - Drawing Your Own Map
 - Human Habitation
 - Area Pattern in Hexes

 - Sir Fang
 - Elves
 - Dungeon Map Notes
 - Magic Protection Points
 - Wandering Monster Areas

 - Level Maps

 - Magic Swords Personality Matrix "Blackmoor"

 - Explanation
 - Combat Characteristics Table
 - Magic Characteristics Table
 - Special Characteristics Table
 - Sword Enchantments by Magic-Users
 - Holy Swords
 - Special Notes

 - Gypsy Sayings
 - Legends
 - Chance Cards

 - Definition of Terms
 - Examples
 - How to Become a Bad Guy

 - Differences in Creatures from Blackmoor Game
 - Population of Known Area
 - Wizard's Apprenticeship
 - The Languages
 - Hero and Superhero Flunkies
 - Vampires
 - An Explanation of Creature Psychology

 - Sample of Playing Area
 - Description of an Area
 - Defense of Area

 - Dragons
 - Orcs
 - Bandits
 - Nomads
 - Trolls and Ogres
 - Wights (and Ghouls)
 - True Trolls
 - Rocs
 - Tarns
 - Basilisk
 - Balrog
 - Giants
Although I am not an expert in Blackmoor, I will endeavor to cover each of these sections in turn over the coming months, with links to relevant posts and discussion that has appeared across the internet in recent years.  Please join me, and be sure to add your own two cents!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Edgar Rice Burroughs in Lake Geneva

Edgar Rice Burroughs, the man who created such memorable characters as John Carter of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes, was born on September 1, 1875.  Burroughs' influence on gaming is profound, but few realize that he also once visited Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Those wargamers who lack imagination, those who don’t care for Burroughs’ Martian adventures where John Carter is groping through black pits . . . will not be likely to find DUNGEONS & DRAGONS to their taste. But those whose imaginations know no bounds will find that these rules are the answer to their prayers.

Gary Gygax, from the forward to OD&D v1: Men and Magic

Burroughs' first sale "Under the Moons of Mars" was published in 1912, followed by over two dozen additional tales in the pulps over the next five years alone.  Originally from Chicago, he spent several months in southern California before returning to Illinois in April, 1917.

Intensely patriotic, much of Burroughs' writing during World War I involved wartime sentiments.  Tarzan battles German soldiers in East Africa in "Tarzan the Untamed".  The Caspak Trilogy, starting with "The Land That Time Forgot", was also written during this period.

Having prior military experience, Burroughs was able to obtain a commission as captain in the Illinois state militia, Company A, Second Infantry on July 19, 1917, taking his oath of allegiance as a captain in the reserves on May 3, 1918.

Camp Steever, Lake Geneva, Summer 1918.  Source: wikimedia commons

That summer, Burroughs and his company participated in military training from August 12-26 at Camp Steever, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  While there, he wrote to his daughter, Joan:

Young Men's Christian Association of Camp Steever
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin ~ Military Training Camp for Boys

My dear little daughter -

I have a few minutes before next drill period so I thought I would write you, Mamma & the boys; but as I will have time for but one letter this must be for all of you.

They called us out at ten last night and instructed us in night operations across country. We got back at 12:15 am. All pretty tired as we had had bayonet fighting & hand grenade throwing in the after noon -- the former very strenuous.

I think we have trench work this afternoon; but am not sure.

I hope you had a pleasant trip home

 *undated, but probably August 13 or 20, 1918

Upon his return to Oak Park, Burroughs related his experience to lifelong friend Bert Weston in a letter dated August 28, 1918, stating "I put in an interesting and profitable two weeks..."

Ed returned to Camp Steever shortly thereafter, wishing "to see the battalion from the outside." after which he wrote another letter to Weston, dated September 4:

Geneva is a deep, clear-water lake. The water is never warm and the swimming is fine. It is one of the deepest lakes of its size in the country and goes right off within a few feet of the shore into deep water. At one place Government soundings show it to be 1027 ft. deep but I did not go down to verify the report. I derived considerable benefit from the training, especially in the matter of the new spirit of military instruction. I believe three months intensive training in an officer's training camp would make me a regular guy again as I feel that I was after my five years at Orchard Lake. I notice in the new draft law that bald headed men with three children are to be put into A-1 class so I suppose you and I will soon be in the front line trenches.

Excerpt from: Cohen, Matt (Ed.)  Brother Men: The Correspondence of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Herbert T. Weston.  Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2005.

In September, Burroughs was promoted to major and assigned to the command of the First Battalion, Second Infantry, making the cover of The Oak Parker.  After the war, he returned to California, where he would spend the next major phase of his life.

It's doubtful whether Gary Gygax or anyone in Lake Geneva knew that Edgar Rice Burroughs participated in military training in their town during World War I - but it makes for an interesting footnote in the history of role playing games, nevertheless.