Blackmoor

Greyhawk Realm
Archbarony of Blackmoor
Blackmoor01.jpg
The arms of Blackmoor, as depicted in the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (1983).
Motto/Nickname
Region Bitter North
Ruler Archbaron Bestmo
Government Unknown
Established
Capital Dantredun (pop. 709)
Major Towns Dantredun, Blackmoor Town (ruined), Egg of Coot (pop. 180?), Tonnsborg (pop. 150)
Provinces Ten underbaronies (four ruined)
Resources Walrus ivory, copper, gems
Coinage No current standard
Population 110,000
Races Human 37% (FOsb), Orc 20%, Halfling 18%, Elf 10%, Gnome 7%, Half-orc 5%, Half=elf 2%, Other 1%
Languages Common, Flan, Orcish, Halfling, Elven, Gnomish
Alignments LN, LE, NE*, CE
Religions Saint Cuthbert, Gruumsh, Thrym, otherwise unknown
Allies None
Enemies Empire of Iuz, Wolf Nomads (sometimes)

Blackmoor, properly known as the Archbarony of Blackmoor, is a political state of the Flanaess.

Contents

History

Ages ago (certainly before the Twin Cataclysms), the City of the Gods was the heart of a technocracy in what is now Blackmoor. The lords and ladies of the City used a combination of elemental magic and clockwork science to create automatons to perform all menial labor for them. Meanwhile, they devoted their time to art, philosophy, and war.

The end of the age came when the city's automatons were struck down by a plague called "gear madness," or when the city's humanoid inhabitants transformed themselves into constructs themselves. Over the centuries, most of what remained of their civilization was covered by the encroaching Black Ice.

Legend has it that the Northern Adepts of Blackmoor, presumedly a cabal of Ur-Flan sorcerers, created the many mounds and standing stones found throughout the archbarony in order to use the Oerthmagic that steeps the region to constrain the Black Ice.

The accessory College of Wizardry suggests that at some point before the City of the Gods was swallowed by the Ice, Blackmoor was claimed by the Baklunish Empire. By the early days of the Baklunish-Suloise Wars, the region now called Blackmoor was independent of the Baklunish and considered an ally of the Suel Imperium. During this period, the Suel emperor sent the people of Blackmoor an artifact known as the Unquenchable Scepter as a gift.

By the time of the Great Migrations, Blackmoor was inhabited mainly by Flan tribes dwelling in stockadelike hill-forts near the region's numerous hot springs. The first migrants to enter the region were the Zeai, a Suel people related to the Ice Barbarians. They raided the Flan villages, while the Flan raided one another, and heard legends of the City of the Gods and the Egg of Coot, and saw the Black Ice. Soon other peoples learned of these things as well.

Oeridians and some Suloise from the south appeared in Blackmoor, usually in small bands of treasure-seekers. Outcasts of other lands followed them, seeking to create their own domains in this new frontier. These minor barons built the first castles and brought new forms of warfare. The natives were driven to less inhabitable regions such as the bogs, where they encountered Wastri and many joined his growing band of followers. Elsewhere, Ranial the Gaunt organized resistance to the Aerdi, creating the Crown of Blackmoor in an attempt to wield the land's strange Oerthmagic against the invading armies of the Great Kingdom. Ultimately he failed, and the archbarony of Blackmoor became enfiefed to the distant empire of Aerdy, administered by viceroys of Ferrond.

Ferrond took little interest in the archbarony except for the occasional punitive action. They did build the Stornawain Road through the Cold Marshes, but this route was never maintained locally. Eventually Blackmoor became independent due to the apathy of Furyondy and the Great Kingdom, ignored and forgotten. There are rumors of a lich-lord rising to power in Blackmoor in the 300s CY, but the upheaval of the Relentless Horde overwhelmed such talk, the barbarians cutting the archbarony off from the southern lands.

In the 540s CY, the capital of the archbarony, Blackmoor Town, was invaded by the Egg of Coot, destroying both the town and its famous Castle Blackmoor, costing the archbarony the revenue gained from the Dungeoneers' Tax imposed on those who would explore the castle's dungeons. The Egg's orc army made the ruined castle and upper dungeon levels into his stronghold.

New immigrants have arrived in the aftermath of the Greyhawk Wars, fleeing the expansion of Iuz's empire. Teuod Fent, a former ruler of the Bandit Kingdoms, now styles himself baron of Ramshorn, and he has attracted many to his banner through his successful raids on Iuz's slave-trains.

Geography

Modern Blackmoor is generally located in the northwestern portion of the Flanaess. It is a small and inhospitable realm lying almost completely within the boundaries of the northern reaches of the Cold Marshes. The Burneal Forest forms a western boundary of sorts, while the Land of Black Ice does the same to the north.

Settlements include the ruins of Blackmoor Town, Broomsage Abbey, Dantredun, the Egg of Coot, Frost Citadel, Glenndour, Kolbenborg, Mosshold, Ramshorn Castle, Stornawane, Trollbar, and Tonnsborg,

People

While humans and orcs are the most populous races in the realm, numerous nonhuman creatures can also be found, including the mad qullan shock troops of the Egg of Coot and the savage frost folk and snow goblin raiders from the Land of Black Ice.

Population

As of 591 CY, the population of Blackmoor totaled 110,000 persons. Almost 40% of these inhabitants are humans of predominantly Flan and Oeridian stock, although some Suel and Baklunish can be found as well. Another 20% comprise orcish tribes that roam the region (some under the control of the Egg of Coot, some not). A slightly smaller percentage of halflings is also present, while elves, gnomes, half-orcs, half-elves, and other races make up the remainder of the population in increasingly smaller percentages.

As of 591 CY, the most populous town is Dantredun (pop. 700) on the edge of the Burneal. Blackmoor Town, the original capital of the archbarony, was conquered and destroyed in 541 CY by the "Egg of Coot", a mysterious being with a significant amount of magical power at his disposal. The "town" that serves as the Egg's home contains a number of automata (some reports place the number as high as 200), though very few living beings (if any) reside there.

Religion

There is no one significant religion or groups of religions among the inhabitants of Blackmoor. There is such a diversity of peoples, both in terms of race and nation of origin, that no single form of worship holds sway.

Languages

The most widely-spoken languages in Blackmoor include Common, Flan, Orcish, Halfling, Elven, and Gnomish.

Government

The actual structure of Blackmoor's government is unknown. His Luminous Preponderancy, Archbaron Bestmo of Blackmoor claims the title of "archbaron", and with it, rule over the ten underbaronies of the region. However, Teuod Fent, formerly of the Bandit Kingdoms, has claimed Ramshorn Castle as his own, and with it the title of "baron". Nonhuman tribes also roam the area, though their allegiances are usually only to themselves.

The national capital is Dantredun (the seat of Bestmo's power).

Heraldry

Blackmoor's coat of arms is blazoned thus: Per fess gules and water proper, a tower on a hill, all sable.

Economy

Resources

Blackmoor has few resources, but is noted for producing walrus ivory, salt fish, copper, furs, and average-quality gems.

Currency

Blackmoor has no mint and does not currently have a standard system of coinage. Explorers, however, have found many standard coinage types (gold, silver, and copper pieces) in odd shapes and sizes, and for the most part, these are used as "standard" currency throughout the realm.

Transportation

Military

The militias of Blackmoor's small underbaronies are typically leather-armored villagers carrying slings, shortspears, or longbows. The archbaron's personal guard consists of perhaps 60 "knights" (heavy cavalry, but actually little more than bandits), and heavy and medium infantry made up of several hundred human and orcish soldiers, mercenaries paid for with the archbaron's personal funds to help defend the archbarony from the Wolf Nomads and the Empire of Iuz. All the archbaron's troops are quartered in the town of Dantredun. Many more nonhuman troops can be called up from the surrounding area.

Creative origins

The original Blackmoor began life in the early 1970s as the personal setting of Dave Arneson, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, first as a setting for Arneson's miniature wargames, then as an early testing ground for what would become D&D. Though published in booklet form by Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) in 1975, as the second supplement to D&D (the first being Greyhawk), Blackmoor actually predates Greyhawk as a campaign setting, a fact which Gary Gygax acknowledged in the foreword to the Blackmoor supplement.

Blackmoor as a location within the Greyhawk setting came about both as an inside-joke by Gygax, and as a way for him to acknowledge his fellow writers' creations (Len Lakofka's Lendore Isles occupy a similar position in the world). Having certain locations exist across multiple DM's campaign settings also became a convenient way to explain how player characters such as Mordenkainen (Gygax's character) and Robilar (Robert J. Kuntz's character) could be adventuring in Blackmoor's City of the Gods at one sitting, while exploring the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk the next.

Maps

Blackmoor.jpg

Bibliography

  • Arneson, Dave. Dungeons & Dragons Supplement II: Blackmoor. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1975.
  • Baur, Wolfgang. "The Clockwork Fortress." Dungeon #126. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2004.
  • -----. "Raiders of the Black Ice." Dungeon #115. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2004.
  • Baur, Wolfgang, James Jacobs, and George Strayton. Frostburn: Mastering the Perils of Ice and Snow. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2004.

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