Yesterday evening I finally had the chance to watch “Secrets of Blackmoor“, the two-hour documentary film about the influence Dave Arneson and the Twin Cities wargaming community had on Dungeons & Dragons in particular and the roleplaying hobby in general.
Overall I found the film very interesting. It gave an in-depth look on the wargaming scene in the Twin Cities area during the 60s and 70s and you get a pretty good impression on how they played back in the day. Even though the movie sets out to prove that Dave Arneson was the real genius behind the phenomenon that is D&D, it actually paints a much more nuanced picture. What eventually became fantasy roleplaying seems to have many parents including David Wesely and his Braunstein games.
The two-hour film consists mainly of interviews with the “Blackmoor Bunch”, a group of people who played in Dave Arneson’s first fantasy roleplaying campaign. Listening to their stories, them sharing anecdotes, their love for the hobby and the late Dave Arneson, is what makes the movie shine. Regardless of who you consider the true “father of roleplaying”, Secrets of Blackmoor is a movie any roleplaying game fan interested in the roots of the hobby should watch.
Into the Odd is one of the most unique and creative games I’ve played in the last years. It’s a weird mix between an ultra-light D&D clone and a unique, weird science meets fantasy setting. It is also a game focused on exploration and discovery – not combat. Combat is fast – and extremely lethal. I’ve run the “Iron Coral” adventure which comes with the game for various groups and everyone loved it.
Chris McDowall, the creator of Into The Odd, is currently raising money for Electric Bastionland, a standalone “sequel” to Into The Odd. The rules have been refined and expanded upon. A huge part of the book is devoted to 100 Failed Careers, which give your character their background and a reason for adventuring. Or do you think anyone with a proper career and a modicum of common sense would delve into the depths in search of treasures? I’ve followed the development of Electric Bastionland for a few years now, and I am extremely excited about it.
At the time of this writing the Kickstarter project has raised about 3600 € of a 13.926 € goal. The game itself is already written and even in layout, but Chris needs more money for artwork and eventually printed copies. So now’s your chance to contribute and help development of this exciting game along.
UPDATE: A September 2017 playtest package of Electric Bastionland is also still available here. The game has probably changed quite a lot since then, but it might at least give you an idea on how the final product may look like.
UPDATE #2: Chris just let me know that there’s actually a free preview available on itch.io. Check it out!
Today I read an interesting post on Kotaku, called Dungeons & Deceptions, about the role Dave Arneson had in the development of D&D. According to Rob Kuntz and others, the commonly told story that Gary Gygax was the main influence behind the roleplaying hobby is not the whole truth. In fact it has been Arneson who actually came up with what we now know as “role-playing”. The article gives a lot of interesting insights into the early days of the hobby and shines a light on some of the unsung heroes. The article also mentions the recently-released documentary “Secrets of Blackmoor” which tries to basically answer the same questions.
Dungeons & Deceptions is actually the third in a series of posts on Kotaku about the history of D&D. If you are interested in delving deeper into this mystery, you should check out these articles as well:
Aside from these articles I can also highly recommend checking out Shannon Applecline’s Designers & Dragons which is probably the most comprehensive picture on the RPG hobby from the 1970s to the 2000s. In my opinion it’s a must-have for everyone interested in learning more about the people and stories behind our favorite games.
A Roleplaying Games blog
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