Showing posts with label blackmoor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blackmoor. 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.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Blackmoor and Greyhawk

Today's new releases take us back to the worlds that were the cradle of D&D.

Dave Arneson's supplement to Original D&D is now out (again). Blackmoor gave us the first ready to run adventure published by TSR, Temple of the Frog, the Monk and Assassin classes and the often forgotten D&D to hit location system.

In later editions of the game Blackmoor would appear in both the World of Greyhawk and the Known World of Mystara.

The D&D Gazetteer for 3e came out as soon as 3e did and established that Greyhawk as the default world for D&D 3.   It was quickly eclipsed by the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, but both had really nice poster sized maps.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Original D&D Premium Edition

Well it was going to happen sooner or later, but Wizards of the Coast will be releasing a Premium Edition of the Original D&D.  But it's not just a reprint.

Volume 1: Men & Magic
Volume 2: Monsters & Treasure
Volume 3: Underworld & Wilderness Adventures
Supplement I: Greyhawk
Supplement II: Blackmoor
Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry
Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes

Comes in a wood-grain or faux-wood-grain box with dice.
New cover art, but all the original art inside.

Price?  $150.00.  Honestly, that is not a bad deal.  This is a collector's piece and I am sure some will balk at that price I think it sounds about right to be honest.
I have been wanting to play some Original D&D again.  Haven't since 1987 so this might be my excuse.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dave Arneson

I was not going to mark this day anymore than I marked Gary's.  But I did want to say a couple of things since I have been so engrossed in Blackmoor of late.

Days of death strike a more resonate chord in humans. People always talk about where they were the day Kennedy or Lennon died. I for one always remember where I was the day I had heard Marvin Gaye had been killed or Curt Cobain had died.  It is natural to want to mark them.

Me. I will always remember 8/16/2008 as my Dave Arneson day. That was the day I met him and got a chance to thank him for all he had done.

So again. Thank you Dave.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Player's Handbook 3

I wasn't originally going to pick up the 4th Edition Player's Handbook 3.   My DM is not using the new Hybrid rules and we both felt that the Skill Powers were neat as an idea, but not something either of us would use.  Plus I was not thrilled with any of the new races (we now have animal, vegetable and mineral) and two of the psionic classes.

But I am glad I picked it up.

The book is cool for a few things.  First off the Monk is just way cool.  The type of game that D&D 4 is now the monk just fits right in.  More so even that it did in any previous version of the game (especially 2nd Ed).  It has a different flavor than the 3.x monk.  Adding the Githzeri is just the icing on the cake there.  Can't wait to try out a Githzeri cenobite.  I will need to rework my whole "Monks are from Blackmoor" ideas.

I also like the inclusion of the Far Realm stuff as a reason for Psionics.  Right up my alley.  If the Far Realm is supposed to be the Cthulhoid alien/gods from Beyond then that is pretty awesome stuff.  Of course I do the same thing in my WitchCraft RPG games.  Plus the cool thing with this and the Githzeri is you can imagine the Githzeri on their lonely outposts fighting off the minions of the Far Realm/Mad Gods.  

The Hybrid stuff is still nice. Been doing that for a bit though. There are some nice ideas on good hybird choices.  Most is no brainer stuff, but still nice to see.  I am working on a Dragonborn Monk/Sorcerer hybrid now just to see how it works.

The Skill Powers are neater than I gave them credit for at first.  A nice way to customize each character.

There is still a lot here I am not going to use.  The Psionics stuff is neat, but I never liked to mix psionics and magic all that much.  The Minotaur are ok and since I just added Ansalon to my world I know where they come from now.  But in a world with Goliaths and Half-Orcs and Dragonborn the niche they fill is kind of taken.

I now count 25 classes (which includes the Assassin) and over 30 races (more if you get creative with the Monster Manuals).  That's a lot.  Maybe even too much.  I'll have to set some limits in my own 4e games.

The art is still fantastic and I only saw a couple of reused pieces.  More as I read more.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Witches for D&D4

So a pause on my Cortex/Savage Worlds magic discussion for something that has been in the back of my mind for a while now.

Witches in D&D 4.
I go back and forth a lot on this.  Part of me feels that i don't need to do this, the Warlock sorta does what I would want in a witch, but not everything.  I am also of the frame of mind that characters in D&D4 play a certain role in the game and maybe the witch is not a good fit.

But then I come to the point where I am combing classes as hybrids, multiclasses and very specific feats to get what I want, and that is not what I want either.

So I am left with the conclusion that I come to time and time again in D&D.
If I want a witch I am going to have to make her myself.

I am currently doing that now for Spellcraft & Swordplay and looking to do it for Basic D&D clones and Advanced ones as well.  I already did it for 2nd Ed AD&D and 3.x D&D and each one felt a little different.
A witch in 4th Ed would have to feel different too.

Like the effort I went through for these previous editions I have to think about what role the witch would serve in this new game.  Here are my thoughts.

1. New Warlock pact
This is the easiest.  I come up with a new Warlock pact that is "witchy" enough for me.  The pros are there are already some very witch-like elements to the warlock and I am not inventing something new, just modifying something already out there.  I could call it something like an Occult Pact.  The would be warlock makes a pact with ancient Occult (hidden) beings that can be good, evil or otherwise.  The pact is something like a devotion so I have the "religion" angle and there are still reasons for clerics and wizards to mistrust them.  One of the criticisms of my 2nd ed witch book was there were really no wicked witches in it.  This I felt, after some reflection on my part,  was a reasonable criticism. With 4e then I have my cake and eat it too with the Dark, Infernal and even the Star pacts covering the wicked and/or mysterious witch.
While there are a lot of pros to this solution, there are some cons as well.
First, the warlock-as-a-witch is stuck in the striker role.  Not too bad really, but the witch in my mind has always been more of a controller.  Yes, yes I am using the new terms from the new game in the past tense.  It is easier to say that than say I have always seen the witch employing certain techniques like charm, mass blindness, controlling others, and polymorphs, all powers that the current Arcane Controller (wizard) does now.
It is enough of a mismatch that I am considering option 2.

2. Witch as her own Class
I have been thinking of the witch as her own class for some time now.   There are a lot of reasons to do this.  First it allows me to do what I want with her.  I can make her a controller for example.  Would I keep her Arcane?  I am thinking not, we have an arcane controller, the wizard, so maybe she should be something else.  The 4e Blackmoor book has the Wokan, which is an update of the old Wokanni class witch had been called the witch in previous editions of Basic D&D.  It has it's own power source.  So taking that as an example, maybe what I really want is a new power source.  The Occult Power source sounds cool.  Either that or Eldritch.  In any case these are ancient magics that bridge the gaps between Arcane, Divine, Primordial and Shadow.
The witch then is an Occult Controller.
I can also move the warlock over to become an Occult Striker.  We already have two Arcane Strikers, the Sorcerer and the Warlock.  This would limit the Paragon paths for the Warlock though.
I would still need an Occult Leader and an Occult Defender.  The Witch Knight from my 2nd Ed book and the Witch Guardian from my 3rd Ed book would combine to make an armor wearing, sword wielding Occult Defender.  No ideas yet on an Occult Leader.
The Pros are obviously I get exactly what I want.  The cons now though are pretty big.  Not only do I need to create a new class, but a whole new set of classes, paragon paths and associated magic items, feats and rituals.

Do I really want to do all that work?
Well. Chances are I am going to eventually.  But I don't need to do everything.  I am not planning on publishing this, so I am free to borrow what I need.
I have looked at several other witch classes for 4e and while they are ok, they don't really work for me.
But the 4e Blackmoor book seems to cover some of my bases.
I already decided that the Monk comes from Blackmoor, I guess I will be using the other classes as well.

The Arcane Warrior is perfect (nearly) as my Occult Defender, Witch Knight.  So I can use him as is.
There are two controllers, the Elderkin and the Idolater that also could work.  But that makes three controllers.  The Wokan is an interesting witch-like character, but it is also not perfect.  It is a "hybrid" role, which I don't care for, but I see the logic in.

I do have this other product, The Witch, from Svalin Games by Richard Lewis.  It's not a bad product, it's not perfect either.  But it does something rather interesting.  It makes the witch a Leader.  I could live with that.  A lot of her powers are Intelligence based, I would change that Charisma or Wisdom to be honest.  Most likely Wisdom.  While I can live with her in the Leader role, the Controller is still my preferred choice.

So where does this leave me now?

Well I can use all the above classes as part of an Occult Power grouping.  Each would need tweaks and edits to make them work well together.  And I might end up rewriting the witch all-together anyway.  But this is not a bad place to start I guess.  It does allow me to get more bang out of my Blackmoor buck and I like that.

Think I am going need to print out my PDFs and do some edits in pencil for these.  That's the other thing.  None of this (except the warlock) in in DDi and that is a pain.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Monks come from Blackmoor

I have been re-reading all my old original D&D books lately.  Fun stuff.
But I caught something today that I know I have read before, but now it jelled differently.

The Monk Class was introduced in the Blackmoor supplement.
Monks come from Blackmoor.

Now I am thinking for my Blackmoor, whether I use an OSR game or 4e, will have monks.  Sure it might not fit, but it is certainly an interesting concept.

Of course when most people think monks they think Kwai Chang Caine or Oriental Adventures. What if this sect of Monks were still psychic ascetics who trained their mind and body, not so much for a higher religious purpose, but more like something from the psychic awareness boom/New Age we saw in the 1970's.  So less Caine and more Uri Geller.

Yeah, the more I think about this idea the more I like it.   New Agey, crystal wearing hippie monks with psychic powers come from the "forgotten lands" of Blackmoor.  In the community of Blackmoor they replace the clerics as the spiritual leaders, getting people to work out their problems through peace, love and understanding.  When that doesn't work, they go all Neo on you and bend a spoon on your ass.  I'll look over  the "Mystic" class again in my 4e version of the Blackmoor book and see if there are any parallels that I can make work with this concept.

Blackmoor is quickly becoming my go to place for doing some cool Old School sandbox creating.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blackmoor, no more for 4e?

I have blogged about Blackmoor in the past and was very excited to have picked up the 4e version of the Blackmoor book.

Well I have learned from Mystara expert Havard that there may not be any more Blackmoor for 4e.  and for the Grognardia viewpoint.

This is a disapointment, but not a suprise really.  I guess this leaves me to do my own thing in my world.  I am planning on keeping the Docrae race (off shoot of halflings) and keeping the unique classes to give the area a very different feel, the Wokan(i) in particular.   It will be interesting to see where CMP goes from here, but I am likely to go backwards with my Blackmoor and hit the orignal books again and build up my Shangri-La like area somewhere north of the Black Ice where even Dragons dare not fly.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Gen Con was great.

But I only picked up ONE book my entire time there, the new 4e Blackmoor book.
Reading it back in my hotel room I was overwhelmed with the feeling I was reading a new version of the D&D Rules Compendium.

There are a lot things in this book that are familiar to me. Wokan(i), Arcane Warrior, Nobles. The races are standard 4e, and even explains how to work in some of the newer ones.

But what I like is now I have another piece of my puzzle. I am placing Blackmoor on my North Pole, past the land of Black Ice (Greyhawk). Blackmoor sits inside a crater carved out the north pole where the former Blackmoor had once stood. This explosion created a crater (in Mystara this would have blown a hole in the planet, making it hollow) and the refugees settled here. Blackmoor then becomes something like Shangri-la and Atalntis. There are people there, shut off from the world, maybe even thinking the rest of the world had been destroyed.

Some survivors of the great Blackmoor explosion went south and settled in the lands that later became the "Known World" that is why these lands know about Blackmoor, use similar names for things and why so many different cultures have settled in such a small area.

My Blackmoor is only about 500 miles across and about 250,000 square miles of area, so about the size of France. Geothermal activity keeps the area warmer than would be expected, and the high mountains keep the area remote.

Though it doesn't *exactly* fit with my plans for my world, I might keep the Dragonborn there as well. They are a different sub-species as my Dragon-isle ones. These would be more "human" for lack of a better word.

More after I read the book some more.