Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blackmoor & the Blue Book

     As other blogs noted, yesterday marked the date of Dave Arneson's birthday. In looking at the Blue Book I tend to focus on the interaction between Gygax's continual development of the rules and Holmes' editorial choices. So it's worth being reminded that the original text of OD&D, which Holmes retained in many places, is by Gygax and Arneson. Luckily there are folks like Havard and Aldarron who tirelessly highlight Arneson's contributions to the game.

     The First Fantasy Campaign was published by Judges Guild in 1977, the same year that the Holmes Basic Set was first released. Arneson's notes received minimal editing before being released as FFC (many folks love it for just this reason). Thought experiment: try to imagine if Holmes edited both of these products in one set, with a Blackmoor sandbox campaign book forming the second book in the Holmes Box set. A hypothetical graphic for this is above. Such a book could have incorporated more material from OD&D Vol III (Underworld & Wilderness Adventures) along with using Blackmoor as an example of how to develop your own campaign. Perhaps a dungeon (Castle Blackmoor) with small wilderness and a homebase (Blackmoor town), in the vein of the later B2.

     A Revised Foreword to the Blue Book would include:
     "...The campaign referee will need to devote a number of hours to laying out the maps of his "dungeons" and upper terrain before the affair begins. The First Fantasy Campaign book of this set will be of great help in this respect, for a number of helpful suggestions regarding to how to accomplish it all have been given in order to help you accomplish this task with a minimum of time and effort".

     Or perhaps call it "Your First Fantasy Campaign".