Greetings, in today’s post I’ll be celebrating Blackmoor Week. Like a few others I am new to Blackmoor fandom, I was not alive when Dave Arneson first created the setting. I never played in any incarnation of Blackmoor that came after it, but it did eventually come to intrigue me greatly as a referee.
My first real exposure to Blackmoor was Zeitgeist Games campaign setting for the 3.5 D&D rules. I thought it was great, a novel take on a traditional fantasy setting. I being a fan of mashing sci-fi and fantasy; I loved how Blackmoor not only included a crashed alien spaceship, but included clockwork technology and even time and/or dimensional via the Comeback Inn. But at the time I bought the ZG Blackmoor campaign guide I was still out of gaming after seven years away from it (though I’d join a group soon after I bought it).
But before Zeitgeist’s Blackmoor I had heard of Blackmoor via Greyhawk, though I knew nothing of it’s origins; it was only later in the last few years I learned about why Blackmoor was included in Greyhawk (even if only superficially). I had only heard of Dave Arneson in passing – a name in a blurb on who created D&D. To me D&D was Gary Gygax, TSR and later WotC – Arneson was a footnote to be forgotten. What a diservice to both his memory & contribution to RPG history.
I discovered Dave’s First Fantasy Campaign via the Comeback Inn Forums of which I was a member until I joined Ruins of Murkhill. I learned more about Dave Arneson and the various versions of Blackmoor thanks to both of these forums. I discovered that TSR embedded Blackmoor into the history of their ‘Known World’ setting (I hate the Mystara name given to it) via the DA series of modules.
Though intriguing I was not a huge fan of what the ‘Known World’ became, though I liked certain of the GAZ series of supplements for BECMI D&D. I had wished that Blackmoor hadn’t been relegated to the ‘Known world’s history but had played a vital part of the core setting.
It was the FFC version of the game that shook me to my core – here was a campy fun game that made you want to try it out even if you just took the core implied setting and embedded it into your own home campaign. From the EGG of Coot, to the Duchy of Ten to the Nomads of the Hak to the Valley of the Ancients – Blackmoor as described in the FFC was full of interesting characters and brimming with possibilities.
Though I still prefer the Zeitgeist version of Blackmoor as a defined setting, the FFC Blackmoor gives you inspiration on what you can do, not only with D&D (whatever edition you prefer) but with other fantasy RPGs if you do not want to follow the more traditional route with your fantasy campaigns. – Blackmoor and the FFC is a nugget of pure creative gold ready to be mined and made into something far more valuable than its base elements.
Blackmoor through its various incarnations gives the Referee varied approaches to run Blackmoor campaigns and that is a wonderful gift. Each incarnation had its own flavor depending on the rules used to run the campaign; if you take the core elements of Blackmoor and embed them into your preferred setting and rules a new Blackmoor will be born at every table. Though your Blackmoor won’t be Dave’s Blackmoor – he’d still say you are doing it right, as Blackmoor is what YOU choose to make of it. Your Blackmoor will be the true Blackmoor as it is YOUR Blacmoor and no one else’s Blackmoor.
Hopefully next year I’ll have a regular group again & if I do, I’ll run a Blackmoor game to celebrate it & Dave Arneson one of the founders of our beloved hobby. I’ll see you tomorrow to celebrate Dave Arneson’s birthday. Fin.