Friday, November 16, 2018

OSR Commenary- DA3 City of the Gods By Dave Arneson & David J. Ritchie & The Reflections of Blackmoor

"New Magic?

That's what the flying egg has. New magic unlike any ever encountered in Blackmoor. New magic of a type that could give the fledgling kingdom an important edge in the wars that are brewing on its borders.

There are only a few minor problems. Like the fact that the magician who piloted the metal egg to one of Blackmoor's sworn enemies, the monks of evil and eccentric Order of the Frog, are also interested in the magic represented by the egg. And, most important, the fact that the egg came from the distant and dangerous City of the Gods.

Set amist the blistered salt flats of the Valley or the Ancients, the City of the Gods is a strange and deadly metal metropolis whose powerful guardians do not welcome intruders. Yet it is to this place of deadly menace that Blackmoor's leaders now send a daring expedition? to bargain for aid in the coming wars? or to steal the magic of the gods."

DA3 City of The Gods has been available as a pdf from Wizards of The Coast going all the way back to 2016. 'DA3: "City of the Gods" (1987), by Dave Arneson & David J. Ritchie, is the third of the four Blackmoor adventure. It was published in March 1987.' , this one the best science fantasy resources available to bridge gap Greyhawk & Blackmoor together. While dodging snow flakes & snow shoves last night I did a bit of research into the origins of TSR version of Blackmoor. I came across the following on the Canonfire forum by poster rasgon; "I was collecting quotes about the history of ancient Blackmoor, to see if I could piece together its history. From the following, it seems that it was a Flan land that became claimed by the Baklunish Empire to the south. Taking Baklunish magic and technology to previously undreamt-of heights, the nobles there founded the City of the Gods and declared independence, becoming an ally of the rival Suel Imperium in order to help maintain its sovereignty. Eventually the constructs of the city were brought down by a plague of chaos introduced by the slaadi, then swallowed by the encroaching Land of Black Ice (cause unknown) at about the time of the Twin Cataclysms. The expansion of the Land of Black Ice was ultimately stopped by native Flan sorcerers using the power of the oerthmagic native to the region, but by that time the City of the Gods culture was ruined and forgotten.

The Egg of Coot also uses construct servants, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if there was a connection.

'After they dug down to the shape, they found it to be a strange construct from an ancient realm that predated the Black Ice. They freed the creature's head and were amazed to see that it still lived. The creature is known as a nimblewright, and it told tales of the wealth of southern lands, of magical constructs, and of the secrets of its ancient empire.' - Dungeon #115, page 32.

'Long ago, a small fiefdom in the northlands reached the heights of civilization--its craftsmanship and knowledge of artifice were unmatched. Constructs served the lords and ladies of the land, performing menial labor and freeing the city's aristocracy to devote more time to art, philosophy, and war. The heart of these lands was called the City of the Gods, and it was unlike any city before or since. Some say the City's automatons were struck down by a plague... Over the ages, the advancing ice drove out what few denizens remained...' - Dungeon #126, page 43.

'Mathghamhna was somewhere in the Baklunish Empire (for example, the northwesternmost spur of the Yatmil [sic] Mountains or the "City of the Gods" in Blackmoor).' - College of Wizardry, page 9.

'The secret of creating brass men is said to have been given to humans by the efreet, who hoped that in time the brass men could take control of the humans and help the efreet rule the human lands from their City of Brass.' - Dungeon #126, page 60.

'...oddities such as "memory gears," "animating spirit-gems," "everwound springs..."' - Dungeon #126, page 45.

'Clockwork eunuchs balance the skills of clockwork artisans, clerics, and genie-binding sorcerers. They depend on carefully set everwound springs, memory gears, and magical rune-powered animating gemstones that pulse with elemental power.' - Dragon #334, page 39. "

That's right the Egg of Coot has been very busy across the planes, while its been trapped in its higher dimensional prison. The Egg has been expanding its black ice clad kingdom across time & space especially in Greyhawk's Blackmoor Barony  & the world of  Blackmoor itself. Don't think that this hasn't been noticed at the City of the Gods but the question is which one?! There are a multitude of these locations scattered across space time from the Wilderlands of High Fantasy to Greyhawk herself as well as Mystara.

The Egg is responsible for far more then it seems;

"'In the earliest days of the conflict between the Suel and Baklunish empires, Suloise magi sought to turn the legendary Baklunish affection for the elements against them. To do this, they created four artifacts of surpassing power and infused these symbols of elemental magic with a portion of the spirits of powerful elemental princes.. After detecting the flaws in the elemental items, the Suel dispatched them to foreign lands as gifts of the emperor's gratitude... The Unquenchable Scepter traveled north, to what would become Blackmoor (and rested in that land's fabled castle for centuries).' - Dragon #294, page 94.

'Through a series of improbable accidents, the green slaad and its sword (a source of raw chaos) entered the orderly waters of the Gearspring Well... the Well could no longer create clockwork creatures; instead it infected all the clockwork creatures near it with gear madness.' - Dungeon #126, page 58.

'Legend says that the numerous mounds and standing stones throughout the archbarony were created by the Northern Adepts of Old Blackmoor (presumedly a cabal of Ur-Flan sorcerers) to constrain the encroaching Black Ice.' - Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, page 34. "
The Archbarony of Blackmoor in Gary Gygax  World of Greyhawk setting may have been a homage for Dave Arneson but fact it might be more of an idealized reflection of what the Egg of Coot intents for other universes. Dave Arneson's Blackmoor, Mystara's Blackmoor, & Greyhawk's Archbarony of Blackmoor may be higher mathematic reflections of different interdimensional locations in space time which exist or co exist across a number of well established published product settings including Mystara. "The Mystaran cataclysm could have caused a split in spacetime and sent some Blackmoorian people (and also the Egg of Coot) to Oerth"

According to the thread called Blackmoor,does it belong to Greyhawk or Mystara?? poster GVDammerung ;"Blackmoor comes in a number of flavors. It ties in to Greyhawk, Mystara, the Wilderlands and its own, seperate "reality."

While no two versions are identical, it is obvious that each version is related to the others. To use a Greyhawk example, Oerth appears in published Greyhawk but in an altered form in the Sagard novels by EGG as Yarth. If each Blackmoor had a slightly different name (Blackmeor, Blakmoor etc.) the Oerth/Yarth parallel would be nearly exact. Blackmoor is to Greyhawk as Yarth is to Oerth or near enough.

While the differences between the Blackmoors are stronger than the similarities, the similarities are strong enough to suggest some sort of connection. The nature of the connection is then left to each DM. Can you get any mileage out of playing up the common elements?

At the least, I think it fair and safe to say that each Blackmoor appears to have influenced the other Blackmoors within the game (just as each Blackmoor influenced the others in real life). But, again, the nature and extent of the influence, is left up to each DM.

On this note, it may be useful to recall that, while we speak of "Blackmoor" what we are really talking about are a series of peoples, places, items and events, any one of which may have parallels beyond a single published setting. So, for example, there is a Duchy of Tenh incorporated into more than one Blackmoor setting. So, one need not port over to Greyhawk or any other setting it touchs, all that we summarize when we say "Blackmoor." We can take the whole (whichever version) or choose from among the pieces parts.

Why would one do this? Well, the Arch Barony of Blackmoor is by geography and the history of the Flanaess something of a remote backwater. It fills up some space on the map and provides some civilization near the Land of Black Ice. If that's all one wants, that's okay. If, however, one wants to bring some unique and interesting features to this area, tapping Blackmoor's varied incarnations is easy and natural to do.

As Rasgon sagely noted, Fred Weining in the LGG, and the late lamented print Dragon, strengthened the ties between Greyhawk and the various Blackmoors. And he did it very well. Others, like Wolfgang Bauer, have added more.

There is no right, correct or canon definition of the relationship between Greyhawk and the Blackmoors beyond being able to say there is some sort of connection. In the best Greyhawk fashion, there are suggestions or possibilities that each DM can choose to develop for themselves or not.

Personally, I like Blackmoor for all its possibilities.

I am running a converged campaign there right now, where Blackmoor is an Atlantis-like lost civilization destroyed in the same cataclysm that saw the birth of the Land of Black Ice. Think LoBI and ancient Blackmoor as their eras Baklunish and Suel empires. Blackmoor largely sank beneath the waves of Blackmoor Bay and ice covered its rival. Reactivating the Stornawane road as a dirwane (sp?) road (dating from the early period of Ferrond) allows easier access to the area from civilization - ie Furyondy, which IMC is recolonizing the lands of the Horned Society and Iuz after Iuz' defeat and apparent banishment in the Second Northern Crusade.

IMO, Blackmoor is an underdeveloped but high potential place to play."

One of the one constants that seems to be across the various Blackmoor settings is the dangers of the Black Ice which claims the ruins of the City of the Gods & surrounds parts of Greyhawk. Could this stuff be concentrated debris from entropy & chaos coming into the reality of the normal space time?!
I think so, Canonfire poster Dr_Asworth brings up this lovely little gem from the Mystara Wraith of the Immortals set; "On page 25 of Codex of the Immortals from the Wrath of the Immortals box set there is an interesting reference. It talks about the immortal Khoronus who, as a mortal, discovered a time travel device, and saw what was to become of his beloved Blackmoor. His reponse was to set up a colony based on Blackmoor's culture on a "world which was far, far away in the Prime Plane." You could easily make the case that is far away world is Oerth. It also gives a bit of an out when trying to place the events of the DA adventures in Oerth's timeline, since any event from those books could have happened in "old" Blackmoor, but their cultural impacts felt in "new" Blackmoor."
The dangers that the Egg of Coot & its forces represent is far greater the sum then the parts & this is one of the huge secrets between the Gods of Greyhawk & the Immortals of Mystara. The problem is the rivalry between the gods & the immortals because there is a significantly different approach to the mortals on both sides. This creates friction between the two camps from time to time.

The events of Wraith of the Immortals put the fear of God into a great deal of the fear of the gods into a great many planar entities. Especially given the destiny of Khoronus. Khoronus has a solid Greyhawk connection & its tied into both the religious destiny of this immortal & his worship on Greyhawk. Poster rasgon goes deeply into it;
"One issue with the Khoronus connection is that Khoronus was supposed to have become an Immortal - the "gods" of the Mystara setting - while on the other world he'd colonized. The question becomes why the modern people of Oerth don't worship Khoronus as they do in Mystara.

But maybe they do. In Mystara, Khoronus is the patron of time. Perhaps Khoronus became known as Cyndor, mythic guardian of the timestreams. Oerth Journal #5 places an abbey of Cyndor in Blackmoor, calling it a highly respected pilgrimage site. This Broomsage Abbey appeared on the map of Blackmoor in Dungeon #126.

The story in Wrath of the Immortals has the mortal Khoronus traveling to three different future time periods (as part of what is known as the Path of the Dynast) to defend his colony against great threats to its existence. If Khoronus' colony was the City of the Gods in Oerth's Blackmoor, what three threats did the colony face?

My guesses are:

1. The Baklunish-Suloise Wars. Khoronus helps his descendants avoid being annihilated during the strife between the two great empires, and avoid being destroyed by the Invoked Devastation.

2. The Black Ice. Perhaps the most critical of the three threats, Khoronus has to figure out a way to maintain the dynasty he founded even as the City of the Gods that he created is overwhelmed by the encroaching ice. I'm not certain if he can be reasonably said to have succeeded in this, considering how much was lost, but if descendants of Khoronus continued to rule the area even after they're driven to the south, then he can be said to have succeeded.

3. Aerdy conquest. During this stage of the Path of the Dynast, Khoronus has to ensure that his descendants continue to rule the region even after the Great Kingdom conquers his land. Presumedly they intermarry with the Aerdi, and Khoronus ensures that his half-Oeridian descendants rule Blackmoor in the way he prefers, and that the land remains recognizably Blackmoorian.

Blackmoor continues to face other trials afterward (the collapse of Aerdy power, the conquest of the Egg of Coot), but through it all, his descendants still rule. And in any case, Khoronus's quest is complete."

Yeah its complete alright,the very act of these quests is one of the set ups for the Egg to continue to spread across the planes Prime. The Egg of Coot is the second most dangerous foe in Dungeons & Dragons. The real title goes to the head of the Froggies, Saint Stephen the Rock. Each & every time that a machine nest appears across the planes he & his cultists are gazing into the deep to find it. The City of the Gods is of prime interest because each one on each world is different. Some are ruined, some have been ransacked, some are still in full operation. The constant for the city  is there is power there & he as well as the Egg are driven for it, the fight for it, & they are locked in an eternal struggle across the ages. But why?! We'll tackle that coming up!

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