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    Canonfire :: View topic - Blackmoor Life, Society And Culture
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    Blackmoor Life, Society And Culture
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 422
    From: Canada

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    Thu Feb 25, 2021 9:30 pm  
    Blackmoor Life, Society And Culture

    In heychadwick's thread on discussing where to set Rime Of The Icemaiden in Greyhawk, it was noted that Blackmoor is almost completely underdeveloped. I really enjoyed Fred Weining's article on Blackmoor, but my main critique is that it seemed to mostly focus on Blackmoor's history and the mystery of the Egg of Coot, without really describing much of the mindset of the average Blackmoorian, how the land is governed, that sort of thing. The closest we have is the alignment map of the 1983 boxed set, which depicted Blackmoor as LE, NE and N.

    So how have you all shaped Blackmoor's governance, mentality and social structure? What's life like for the average Blackmoorian, and how do they get on with their neighbors?

    In my case, Blackmoor is defined by the law of survival. Its heraldry of a lonely tower on an island surrounded by water is symbolic of the fact that most Blackmoorians feel that, in the end, they can only rely on themselves. The Blackmoorians are a desperate people, cooperating only because they are otherwise surrounded by enemies. Otherwise, the stronger citizens often carve out their positions with brute force, while the weaker ones are enslaved or simply left to rot in the marshes. This is the very edge of the oerth for rogues and outcasts who cannot survive anywhere else.

    Low-scale raids and conflicts between the baronies are common, and the barons maintain their position by repression their peoples. Many of them don't last long enough to sire sons and heirs, as they may die in duels with citizens who become the new baron, they may be assassinated by citizens who've been pushed too far, or they may simply be killed by any of the other natural or monstrous hazards the land is infamous for.

    Archbaron Bestmo rules because he uses the same tactics on the barons that they use on their own people. He's also known for making the baron's loved ones "guests" in his household, as well as anyone else who catches his attention. He may kill these people if their relatives cross him, but he is just as likely to force him to tell him everything they know, and make up stories and legends for him.

    All of that aside, there is still room for decency in Blackmoor. If you show someone kindness, people often repay the favor. If you cross Bestmo or a baron, you can find shelter with any of their subjects that you've helped. Even Bestmo himself ensures that those who satisfy his hunger for knowledge or indulge his love of stories and legends have relatively comfortable lives.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 05, 2020
    Posts: 17
    From: Delanson

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    Sat Feb 27, 2021 4:28 pm  

    Interesting take, and not too far from what I do, though of course I also incorporate much of Dave Arneson's material as backstory. One thing to keep in mind is that Blackmoor is not heavily populated. Bestmo only has a few hundred soldiers under his direct command, for example. Also, in Blackmoor, the final authority always rests in the regency council. It is the council who appoints the Archbaron (note that this is as true in the LG version as in the Arneson version).

    I think you might find some inspiration in The Gnome Catch by Gygax, particularyly the last installment in The Dragon #6, which takes place in Blackmoor.
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    The eternal war between Law and Chaos flared often in Greyhawk... But the laws of Chance will let neither gain full sway. Quag Keep, Chap 1&2
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