Sunday, September 30, 2018

Blackmoor Week Day VII

The First Fantasy Campaign has been looked at a little here and there over the years, but I want to call your attention to the best and most extensive review that I am aware of. To do that we have to call back to the year 2009 at one of the better blogs, in fact if I would going to rate blogs it would be in my top five and it is Rob Conley's Bat in the Attic blog. He wrote his review in four parts.

Into the First Fantasy Campaign Part 1 as an aside in the comments there is a link to a relevant blog post Original Blackmoor Maps, but back to the review.
History remembers Statesmen, Philosophers, Kings, and Conquerors. Dave Arneson was none of those. He merely figured out a cool way to have fun that wasn't seen before. Yet in the last quarter of the 20th century and continued into the 21st century his legacy has impacted millions and ignited fires of imagination that still burns today. And it started in a place that only existed in Dave's mind, a place called Blackmoor.
All so very true.
Then we come across a hand sketch by Dave of countryside around Blackmoor. He also make a note that in redrawing this for the map in First Fantasy Campaign that he redrew it to line up with Wilderlands of High Fantasy. The southwest corner of Blackmoor lines up with the northern border of the Valley of the Ancients.
The whole book is full of these kinds of gems and nuggets of gold.

Into the First Fantasy Campaign Part 2 
Also there two illustrations; one of the Comeback Inn, and the other of the Main Gate to Blackmoor Castle. The town maps is one of the better early maps I seen. The most unusual feature is that the town plan is drawn 45 degrees to the grid.
Next we start reading about Blackmoor Castle, the Haunted Rooms, the Catacombs, the Tower, and then a more detailed list of the Haunted Rooms. The map shows the castle from the basement to the 5th floor. Again much of it drawn 45 degrees to the grid. This unusual mapping technique persists throughout many of the map shown in FFC.
Into the First Fantasy Campaign Part 3

You remember how in OD&D Outdoor Survival is listed as one of the resources to run D&D with? Well here is where that came from.
We first start off with a little tidbit that they started using the Outdoor Survival Board after the first year but it wasn't until the third year of play they moved into it. He is goes on to describe the change to the game that resulted because of increasing wandering outdoors.
Then this mysterious statement
Next comes a section called "Magic" Protection Point. Now for a long time this section and the sparseness of the following entries didn't make much sense. It wasn't until I was reading the various old school blogs that I finally had a good guess at what happening.
Yes, you will have to go to his blog to find out what he surmised.

Into the First Fantasy Campaign Part 4 
The next section after the dungeons is Magic Swords & Matrix. Here Dave Arneson give a pair of tables to generate magic swords. The first 'Magic Swords Personality Matrix "Blackmoor" is a bit confusing. At the beginning there is are a list of entries.
Then we get to the Matrix which generates Magic Swords through a series of tables using percentile dice. Interesting that we have Holy Swords, Fighter's Swords, AND Magician's Sword. I guess we know how Dave dealt with the issue of Gandalf wielding a sword.
Yes, that is correct, it really is old school for a Magic-User to use a magic sword.

He closes with this thought
Tomorrow concluding thoughts.
That turned into three weeks later and then he posted this.

Reflections on the First Fantasy Campaign (and First Dungeons) 
My appreciation of the First Fantasy Campaign (my review in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) didn't really strike until a decade after I bought it. While I like the "window" it opened on the early days, as practical product it left a lot to be desired. But then after a few years of GMing I found myself with same collection of jumbled notes for the Majestic Wilderlands. They meander through different topics, most incomplete and sadly holes from lost fragments. After that realization I appreciated the First Fantasy Campaign a lot more.
The next paragraph is gold, you really do want to read it. 
I wanted to highlight this series of blog posts and encourage Rob Conley to compile it into a pdf and distribute it. This review needs to be out in peoples hands.


  1. Feel free to do so just give me a link to the result. Consider the posts licensed under the Creative Commons as CC-BY-NC-SA

    1. So I just do all the other things it specifies and then link to the actual license in the document which is or do I need to include the whole license in the document?

    2. Just note it like this

      Licensed under the Creative Common License (CC-BY-NC-SA)
      Full text can be found at