Showing posts with label Land of a 1000 witches. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Land of a 1000 witches. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

What *IS* Blackmoor in my World?

I have been reading more of the late Jason Zavoda's posts about his "Blackmoor Land of a Thousand Witches" and I have wanted to do something with that.  This got me thinking about some ideas I had had for 4e Blackmoor.  Which then got me thinking about my world in a larger sense and how Blackmoor really is the keystone of my Mystorerth world.  

Even before I adopted James Mischler's name for it I was playing in a combined Msytara/Oerth world (and I kinda regret not calling Oestara now).   My world was Mystara/The Know World, my DM's was Oerth Greyhawk.  The central common feature was Blackmoor.

Blackmoor, Dave's version

But what even *IS* Blackmoor in my world now?

It has always been some sort of Shangri-La like place of High Magic and High Tech in the Mystara books and place of post-apocalyptic destruction in Greyhawk. 

So I am going back to the sources, the original Blackmoor.

I read on good ole Wikipedia (the unofficial Splat Book for every RPG) that the original Blackmoor campaign setting "include(ed) ideas from The Lord of the Rings and Dark Shadows and applied the Fantasy Supplement rules from the Chainmail game." That sounds like my games!

Blackmoor CY576

I also went the best Blackmoor sources on the net, Havard's Blackmoor Blog and the Blackmoor Archives.

To be blunt there is an absolute ton of material in both of those sites to keep me busy for weeks.  But there are a few key points there AND I have Harvard and fellow Mystoerth enthusiast Mathew Fenn to thank.

So I don't need to connect Mystara Blackmoor to Greyhawk Blackmoor physically because they are the same place separated by time.   Harvard tells us that MBlackmoor is set "4000 years in Mystara's past."  For me that means there are two Blackmoors indeed.  Same location, but somehow when their magic-tech devices exploded it trapped a bubble of Blackmoor in time (-3426 CY to be exact) so the PCs can still get to it if they know how.    In this respect Blackmoor become my Atlantis, or at least the Atlantis like the one depicted in the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) story The Time Monster.

I have always wanted an Atlantis.  A mythical land/realm destroyed by a cataclysm, maybe one wrought by hubris, BUT there also be enough survivors so we know what the tale is/was.  My version of Mystara's "Known World" has so many different sorts of people living in it because they are the descendants of refugees of the Blackmoor explosion. 

I'd also like to learn more about what sort of "Gothic Horror" and "Dark Shadows" elements were part of the original Blackmoor.  I am not sure that Dark Shadows fits in well with "magic-tech superpower" but it would with the post-apoc Greyhawk-era Blackmoor.  

Blackmoor in the World of Greyhawk

Map by Daniel Hasenbos, Courtesy of DHBoggs

Blackmoor today is more like what the Greyhawk Gazeteers say it is.  But I also want to add bits of Hyperborea to my version of Blackmoor for that full post-apocalyptic feel and justify high powered magic tech still existing.  Hyperborea's Atlanteans might be what I need to complete this picture.

In any case I do have a lot of reading to do and figuring out what it all means for my world.

Matthew "Matteus" Fenn's map

Map of Mathew Fenn

So. What DO I know? Well in no particular order.

  • Blackmoor is north.  For the Flanaess it is about as far north as you can go before reaching the Black Ice.  
  • The Black Ice is black because Blackmoor blew up. 
  • Prior to the explosion Blackmoor was a cosmopolitan utopia. All the races lived and visited here in seeming harmony (there was still tensions here so not all wine and roses) and art, science, and magic were celebrated.  I want it's past to be "far too good to be true" but in fact true.  That is the tragedy of Blackmoor. 
  • The differences between the Mystara map of Blackmoor and the Greyhawk version is due to this explosion.
  • I am reversing the names of the sea near Blackmoor.  In the past is was known as the "Icy Sea" now it is called the "Black Sea" and it actually black and full of weird mutated sea creatures.
  • If there was ever an "Innsmouth" for my world it is here.
  • There WILL be ways to travel back in time (or outside of time) to Old Blackmoor.  This will be my chance to pull out some time travel ideas and break my "no time travel in D&D" rule.  In fact it should be the focus of an adventure at some point. 
  • Blackmoor of today is considered to be a haunted and desolate land.  The tales of Blackmoor's rise and then destruction are akin to our tales of Atlantis.
  • "Not since Blackmoor" is a saying meaning a very, very long time ago. 
  • The land is filled with random magic effects and other strangeness.  The barrier between realms is the weakest here.  So this is also where eldritch horrors are most likely to appear. 
  • I might try to use the "Temple of the Frog" in some manner, obviously I am going to use this as a cult center of Tsathoggua.  I would change many elements of the adventure, but certainly go with the maps and some of the science fantasy elements.
  • I still have to reckon my "Monks come from Blackmoor" notion.  Like I said then these might be psychic ascetics cut from the 70's occult revival cloth.  That would fit with the idea that monks were introduced in the Blackmoor supplement and the Mystics from the D&D Basic/BECMI/RC line. I need a good psychic mystic class to cover them. I have written a bit on Mystics[1][2][3] in the past, so I am sure there is something more I can do with that. 

Obviously I have a lot to consider here. And a lot more to read about before I could come up with any sort of good idea.  My ultimate goal here was to myself to a point where I could talk about Jason Zavoda's "Blackmoor Land of a Thousand Witches" but I am not even close to that yet.  But I can at least see the road map from here.

Links