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Blackmoor is a fantasy RPG setting generally associated with D&D. It originally evolved in the early 1970s as the personal setting of Dave Arneson, the co-creator of D&D, first as a setting for Arneson's miniature wargames, then as an early testing ground for what would become D&D. Blackmoor is the longest continuously played fantasy role-playing campaign in existence. It is a mysterious land of swords and sorcery mixed with relics of highly advanced technology.

Original publication

thumb|The original //Blackmoor// supplement ([[TSR|Inc., 1975)]]

The original Blackmoor product was published by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR) in 1975, as the second supplement to D&D (the first being Greyhawk). The booklet was named for the original campaign world by Dave Arneson, who also wrote this booklet. The new concepts it added to the game demonstrated how much work had been done on the world and gave a hint of what the world was like.

The original name of Dungeons & Dragons was Blackmoor, but after Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax teamed up they decided to name it Dungeons & Dragons after a quip from Gygax's then wife.

It added rules, monsters, treasure, and the first ever published role-playing game scenario, "Temple of the Frog". Despite the name, however, it did not include any information on the setting itself.

The Blackmoor supplement introduced the following options to the D&D game:

Additional character classes

Blackmoor added two new character classes:

  • Assassin - thief sub-class
  • Monk - "Monastic Martial arts", cleric sub-class, attributes of thief and fighter classes

Hit location system

Regions of a character's body were assigned their own hit points (HP). If any of the specific regions "died", the character would be crippled or killed. Therefore, vulnerable areas such as the head had fewer HP, and less critical ones, such as the legs, might have as many HP as the character itself. These rules covered a wide variety of creatures, from humanoids to fish. Characters had a greater chance to hit another character's upper body than the head or lower body. This chance was adjusted based on the character's height and weapon reach.

Underwater adventures

Added rules for swimming, equipment weight restrictions, weapons use (few missile weapons, electrical attacks, no fire, etc.) plus numerous new water-dwelling monsters and useful equipment to populate these adventures.

Expansion modules

DA Expansion Modules

Code Title
DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor
DA2 Temple of the Frog
DA3 City of the Gods
DA4 Duchy of Ten

Though Arneson left TSR in the early 1980s, Blackmoor remained a part of D&D lore and was referred to in many later supplements. In a subsequent re-release of the world of Greyhawk for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) game, an Arctic region of mysterious black ice in the northwestern area of the map was called Blackmoor. However, Blackmoor would become integral to a different setting and rules-system, those of the Basic Dungeons & Dragons game.

For various reasons, TSR published two different versions of their flagship game line. Over the course of several supplements, the classic Dungeons & Dragons game developed its own campaign setting, referred to at first simply as the Known World and later as Mystara. When the history of Mystara was codified, it was established that Arneson's Blackmoor had existed in the world's distant past, achieved a technologically advanced civilization and then destroyed itself in a global catastrophe which shifted the planet's axis.

Though its influence was now central to at least one of TSR's published worlds, the actual setting of Blackmoor as Arneson described it had yet to be presented. This was finally remedied in the mid-1980s through the DA series of expansion modules, which carried a party of adventurers into Mystara's past to visit Blackmoor. The first of these, DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor", described in general the geography and politics of Blackmoor and the means by which the characters travel there. DA2 "Temple of the Frog" expanded the scenario that had appeared in the original Blackmoor supplement. DA3 "City of the Gods" explored the starship crashed near the Kingdom of Blackmoor, from which the setting's intentional anachronisms derived. DA4 "The Duchy of Ten" dealt with a horde of invading barbarians, but was the only work not derived from Dave Arneson's original campaign notes. A fifth installment, DA5 "City of Blackmoor", was announced but was never written or published.

Though there were no further direct explorations of Blackmoor, later Mystara products continued to make reference to it. For instance, "The Wrath of the Immortals", an epic adventure which described a massive war involving both heaven and earth, climaxes with the discovery of the preserved control room from the starship which had crashed near Blackmoor millennia ago.

d20 System

After the classic D&D game and its Mystara setting were discontinued, Zeitgeist Games, where Arneson later worked, produced an updated d20 System version of Blackmoor, Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Campaign Setting, published by Goodman Games, in 2004. Goodman and Zeitgeist also produced a Blackmoor d20 adventure module, Dave Arneson's Blackmoor: The Redwood Scar (2004) and sourcebook, Dave Arneson's Blackmoor: The Wizards Cabal (2005). In 2006 Zeigteist Games started publishing new books on their own. The 2006 release calendar included a softcover reprint (with added content) of Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Campaign Setting, a hardcover version of the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor, Player's Guide to Blackmoor, and the new adventure Temple of the Frog (which had a sneak preview event at Gen Con).

There is also an ongoing Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game (MMRPG) campaign organized by Zeitgeist games which is similar in form to the Living Campaigns organized by the RPGA.

A List of their released adventures can be found here. The episodes for the MMRPG are available for play at home and at Gaming conventions such as Gen Con and Megacon.

Megacon is Blackmoor's home convention, where the new season is kicked off each year.


Thumbnail Analysis - Blackmoor, Don Lowry, Panzerfaust Magazine #72 (Panzerfaust Publications, 1976)

See also

blackmoor.txt · Last modified: 2010-07-09 07:03 pm by gawain_viii