Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Review and Commentary On The Release Of OD&D Supplement II: Blackmoor (0e) By Dave Arneson And DA2 Temple of the Frog By Dave L. Arneson and David J. Ritchie From From Wizards of the Coast

Welcome back dear readers, apparently while I was shoveling Hell apparently froze over again. To say that I was skeptical today when Wizards of the Coast released Blackmoor from 1975 by Dave Arneson is an understatement.Alright so there are now two different source books and modules for Blackmoor on Drivethrurpg. This basically means you've got almost a complete mini campaign set in the campaign right at your DM's finger tips. To say I've got history with Blackmoor is an understatement, Blackmoor has been my go to campaign for longer then I can remember. It connects with my earliest memories of gaming. My connection with Temple of the Frog started when I got a copy from a friend back in the early 90's. DA2 Temple of The Frog is an odd and very entertaining module on many levels containing some great D&D adventure elements mixed into an odd blend of science fantasy mayhem as part of its background DNA.

Blackmoor from 1975 is partially an OD&D source book and partly a snap shot into the early halcyon days of OD&D. According to Wiki;"The original Blackmoor product was published by Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) in 1975, as the second supplement to D&D (the first being Greyhawk). The booklet was named for the original role-playing campaign world by Dave Arneson, who also wrote this booklet.[5] It added rules, monsters, treasure, and the first published role-playing game adventure, the "Temple of the Frog," a scenario from the Loch Gloomen section of the Blackmoor campaign.[6] Other than the "Temple of the Frog," however, Blackmoor did not include any information on the Blackmoor setting itself."  This the book that was released today and it reflects a snap shot in time and one of the early incarnations of the Temple of the Frog. The infamous temple deep in the Dismal Swamp where deviltry awaits the PC's. The third incarnation of the Temple of the Frog comes in the form DA2. This is a module that combines science fantasy elements and D&D in dire and deadly ways. The temple in its incarnation as Supplement II contains scores of guards, incredibly dangerous forces and a whole lot of horror awaiting the PC's. DA2 represents a different set of challenges and some of the deadliest high level science fantasy action seen in a module.
"Green Death...
That's what old hands call the Great Dismal Swamp. For centuries, this tangled maze of sluggish watercourses, stagnant ponds, and festering marshes has defended Blackmoor's southwestern frontier. Large armies and smaller parties have disappeared altogether inside its vast, dripping, claustrophobic corridors.

Among those who have dropped from sigh in this arboral hell is young Rissa Aleford, one of Blackmoor's most important leaders. Carried off to the sinister City of the Fron, she is now being held by the eccentric Monks of the Swamp. By making the baroness captive, the deranged monks have serioulsy weakened Blackmoor at a time when enemies already threaten it from all sides.

Yet, even as the Froggies gloat, the king of Blackmoor dispatches a small band of bold adventures to the rescue. Deep into the Great Dismal Swamp they must go - far from sunlight and sanity - there to seek and save the swamp, there to find the Temple of the Frog."
The PC's must recauce a baroness from the Temple of the Frog deep within the dismal swamp. The action in this module is fast, deadly, and could easily be converted over to AD&D 1st edition or OSRIC with no issue at all. DA2 Temple of the Frog was published by TSR in 1986 as a 48-page booklet with an outer folder and is keyed for working with the Expert Rules set. There are certain science fantasy elements that are central to the background of all incarnations of the temple and the Blackmoor setting material. Blackmoor came from a far more woolly time in table top role playing and D&D. TSR later reigned this in a bit;"For various reasons, TSR published two different versions of their flagship game line. Over the course of several supplements, the Basic Dungeons & Dragons 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 that shifted the planet's axis."
So where does DA2 Temple of the Frog fall within the publication time line of the campaign; "ts influence was now central to at least one of TSR's published worlds, but 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."
Supplement II: Blackmoor (0e) By Dave Arneson is a throw back to the early wargaming roots of original Dungeons and Dragons with its Chainmail numbers of monks, the temple's forces, the contents of the temple, etc. I still think its worth having for the reference material and the ideas it happens to present. Couple this with DA2 Temple of the Frog and you've got yourselves a mini campaign that could take months to take your PC's through. All in all I think that this was a good move on Wizards of the Coast but how it will play out will depend fully on sales over the next couple of months.

 All of this begs the question will we see the release of  more Blackmoor and Mystara  material? I think so as the Dungeon Master's Guild plays it's part for Wizard's of the Coast and how this chapter of  the latest's release of AD&D and OD&D pdf materials.

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