One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
As with the original "Keep on the borderlands" there has been a great deal of confusion with Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign.Which world does it belong to exactly,the world of Greyhawk,or Mystara?Is it a cross-over,a gate between the two universes perhaps,or just bad planning on the behalf of their respective creators?I mean thier are references and even modules based on Blackmoor in both worlds.
Well,Blackmoor was the first official RPG world created,it was Gygax that published his own work first,seeing as how he was calling the shots at the time,thus forever gaining the name"EGG of Coot"(even though Arneson has always denied it.)There was debate between the two"obviously" about this subject (I believe Blackmoor was going to be a seperate campaign from the start.),WOG's version of Blackmoor is supposedly non-canon according to Arneson.But,this is all beside the point.What i'm wondering is,how many people out there have played the Blackmoor campaign in the WOG and how many have played this setting in the world of Mystara?Which world best suits Blackmoor out of the two?
Greyhawk's Archbarony of Blackmoor is very different from Dave Arneson's Blackmoor geographically, with very different neighbors, a different history, a completely different political situation, and other major differences. Trying to set Dave Arneson's version of Blackmoor in the Flanaess is problematic to say the least. That doesn't mean it can't be done, but I'm not sure why you'd bother.
There are also some names the two Blackmoors have in common (an Egg of Coot, a City of the Gods, a ruined castle), but they're not necessarily the same in both settings (the nature of the City of the Gods is very different). The two settings were made more similar than they formerly were by Fred Weining (who added an Egg of Coot to Greyhawk's Blackmoor, which formerly lacked one).
When Gary Gygax included a nation called the Archbarony of Blackmoor in his World of Greyhawk setting, I think it was intended more as an homage than an attempt to literally place Dave Arneson's campaign there. Gary Gygax didn't seem to know much about Dave Arneson's campaign, having only adventured in it a few times (or perhaps only once, when Mordenkainen and Robilar visited the City of the Gods), and was unable or unwilling to make his take "accurate."
The version of Blackmoor set in the past of Mystara is basically identical to the one from Dave Arneson's own campaign (the Mystaran Blackmoor modules having been made with Dave Arneson's cooperation), although there are a few problems (there shouldn't be orcs or modern dwarves in Mystara of that period, as later canon established). Dave Arneson's Blackmoor can be set in Mystara (albeit thousands of years in the world's past) without too much trouble.
Blackmoor also works as a stand-alone campaign, or as part of the Wilderlands setting.
WOW!I never expected so detailed an answer,thank you and after reading your blog on baphomet,i now have a probable use for the miniature,and quite an adventuring hook it would be.
I also appreciate the info as there's always been some confusion on my behalf in determining the differentials between both universes involving Blackmoor,perhaps..and i do say perhaps,as my own DM hooking device/theoryis concerned,is that Blackmoor itself could be used as a realm that can shift through both time and space,much like Dragon Mountain or Baba Yaga's hut to a greater extent,maybe that would explain the robots in the city of the gods???
I recently ran the original DA1 adventure starting in the world of Mystara, as detailed in the module. I think Blackmoor best fits in Mystara's past: for example, the spaceship a.k.a. City of the Gods is integral to the Wrath of the Immortals boxed set plot line.
GH Blackmoor may be tied to Mystara's Blackmoor, though. The Mystaran cataclysm could have caused a split in spacetime and sent some Blackmoorian people (and also the Egg of Coot) to Oerth: the survivors named the new land after the old one. The fact that the Comeback Inn is also present in GH (see Oerth Journal #5) corroborates this thesis: maybe the split from the cataclysm created a copy of the original Inn.
Blackmoor comes in a number of flavors. It ties in to Greyhawk, Mystara, the Wilderlands and its own, seperate "reality."
While no two versions are identical, it is obvious that each version is related to the others. To use a Greyhawk example, Oerth appears in published Greyhawk but in an altered form in the Sagard novels by EGG as Yarth. If each Blackmoor had a slightly different name (Blackmeor, Blakmoor etc.) the Oerth/Yarth parallel would be nearly exact. Blackmoor is to Greyhawk as Yarth is to Oerth or near enough.
While the differences between the Blackmoors are stronger than the similarities, the similarities are strong enough to suggest some sort of connection. The nature of the connection is then left to each DM. Can you get any mileage out of playing up the common elements?
At the least, I think it fair and safe to say that each Blackmoor appears to have influenced the other Blackmoors within the game (just as each Blackmoor influenced the others in real life). But, again, the nature and extent of the influence, is left up to each DM.
On this note, it may be useful to recall that, while we speak of "Blackmoor" what we are really talking about are a series of peoples, places, items and events, any one of which may have parallels beyond a single published setting. So, for example, there is a Duchy of Tenh incorporated into more than one Blackmoor setting. So, one need not port over to Greyhawk or any other setting it touchs, all that we summarize when we say "Blackmoor." We can take the whole (whichever version) or choose from among the pieces parts.
Why would one do this? Well, the Arch Barony of Blackmoor is by geography and the history of the Flanaess something of a remote backwater. It fills up some space on the map and provides some civilization near the Land of Black Ice. If that's all one wants, that's okay. If, however, one wants to bring some unique and interesting features to this area, tapping Blackmoor's varied incarnations is easy and natural to do.
As Rasgon sagely noted, Fred Weining in the LGG, and the late lamented print Dragon, strengthened the ties between Greyhawk and the various Blackmoors. And he did it very well. Others, like Wolfgang Bauer, have added more.
There is no right, correct or canon definition of the relationship between Greyhawk and the Blackmoors beyond being able to say there is some sort of connection. In the best Greyhawk fashion, there are suggestions or possibilities that each DM can choose to develop for themselves or not.
Personally, I like Blackmoor for all its possibilities.
I am running a converged campaign there right now, where Blackmoor is an Atlantis-like lost civilization destroyed in the same cataclysm that saw the birth of the Land of Black Ice. Think LoBI and ancient Blackmoor as their eras Baklunish and Suel empires. Blackmoor largely sank beneath the waves of Blackmoor Bay and ice covered its rival. Reactivating the Stornawane road as a dirwane (sp?) road (dating from the early period of Ferrond) allows easier access to the area from civilization - ie Furyondy, which IMC is recolonizing the lands of the Horned Society and Iuz after Iuz' defeat and apparent banishment in the Second Northern Crusade.
IMO, Blackmoor is an underdeveloped but high potential place to play. _________________ GVD
Well said, GVD. Note that Fred Weining's original Blackmoor article was in Oerth Journal #5, available here. In it, he suggests that the Egg of Coot from Mystara's Kingdom of Blackmoor left Mystara for Oerth in order to escape the Great Rain of Fire that destroyed Blackmoorian civilization on Mystara - the Egg of Coot would thus be the reason why Oerth grew its own version of Blackmoor later on.
Fred later incorporated some of his Oerth Journal Blackmoor material into the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer.
Another interesting side-note might include the fact that the EGG of Coot is slightly formless as suggested by the original author Dave Arneson,and has been described as "mass of living cell-tissue" (this is roughly unknown.)there may even be two or more seperate entities known as the "EOC" given the fact that this "mass of cells" could reproduce like normal cells,only a lot faster in mortal terms.Think of it as a way of cloning future generations in the same sense as the circle of eight creating clones of themselves in case the original host was killed,or a better term would be destroyed,complete with memories and traits of the original host.
Now imagine,one of these reproduced EOC clones making it's way into the WOG and inhabiting an area roughly matching Blackmoor.It is possible that an EOC clone could have transported itself to Oerth,leaving the original copy trapped on the world of Mystara,which may be a bit far-fetched in theory,but would certainly give DM's an idea to better canonize
thier own campaigns if they wanted to make a more distinct campaign.
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