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The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave: Index of Posts

An index of posts describing the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave, an adventure for Holmes Basic characters levels 2-4.                    ...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sample Dungeon in Gridmapper

Click here for a larger view
I recently became aware of a browser-based mapping tool called Gridmapper by Alex Schroeder. It looked easy & fun to use, so I tested it out by making a replica of the Sample Dungeon map (original by J. Eric Holmes, Basic rulebook version probably by David Sutherland. See them side-by-side in this post). Above is my current draft. 

Alex recently added the cave wall icons ("grotto"), which is essentially for this map, which mixes dungeon and cave walls. However, Gridmapper doesn't allow for water in the same square, or for partial water squares, hence the blockiness of the water areas. 

I added the thaumaturgist's tower, which is described in the text but not shown on the map.
Where icons were available, I've also added some notable features for various rooms; for fun I'll let you figure them out for yourself. 

(Just noticed I left the compass direction off the map)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Character Sheet - New Draft

This is the latest draft of the character sheet for Holmes Ref. The original version is in Holmes Ref 1.0, and a previous revised draft was posted back in November. I made some significant revisions after that, but then it fell off my radar over the holidays. I just dug it out again, and made a few more changes.

  • Streamlined design
  • Added "Holmes Basic" in a font similar to that used for the original D&D logo (Quentin Caps)
  • Added icons representing Skull Mountain and the Tower of Zenopus
  • New "Background" section that can be used for the optional OD&D Backgrounds, or simply for player-generated character background. Included here is a spot for "Heir", which is the designated relative who inherits your character's equipment/treasure upon death, mentioned on page 8 of the Holmes Basic rulebook
Feedback/comments welcome! 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Eastern Wizard Miniature

Photo from auction listing by Billy Galaxy Toys

Another painted Minifig mini from the J. Eric Holmes collection. This one is SS67 Eastern Wizard, from their Sword & Sorcery line. Note the "SS" stamp on the base.

Some of the figures from this line were inspired by the Conan stories. At first glance, this figure appears to have an unnatural "crab claw" hand, but I think he's actually holding a crescent shaped object. Anybody have any idea who he's supposed to represent, from Conan or another S&S story?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Green Dragon Miniature

This is a Green Dragon, painted & mounted on wood, from the J. Eric Holmes collection. Billy Galaxy Toys out of Portland, OR has been auctioning hundreds of miniatures from his collection on Ebay. This auction sold, but others are still available.

Of note, Holmes used the name of the Green Dragon Inn from Tolkien as the name of the tavern in Portown in the Holmes Basic Sample Dungeon, and in the Boinger and Zereth stories. This was apparently independent of the same usage in Greyhawk City.

The figure is from the Minifigs Mythical Earth line, one of the first line of fantasy minis, produced starting in 1972 per the Lost Minis wiki. They were meant to represent Middle-Earth characters, although were named generically. This mini is ME58 Dragon, obviously representing Smaug from the Hobbit.

Another photo from the same auction, showing the dragon with two other unpainted Minifigs minis that it was auctioned with, ME49 Gondor Knight and ME59 Eagle. Unfortunately, the right wing is missing from the dragon

Friday, February 17, 2017

Holmes Basic at DunDraCon 2017

If you are going to DunDraCon, the long running convention in the San Francisco area, there will be a session of Holmes Basic on Saturday. The GM is running an adventure that I wrote, Beyond the Door to Monster Mountain.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Megarry's Copy of the Great Kingdom Map

Dave Megarry's Copy of the Great Kingdom Map

Above is a scan of a map from the early '70s showing Blackmoor and the Great Kingdom. This copy was recently uncovered by Dave Megarry, creator of the Dungeon boardgame, and a player in Dave Arneson's original campaign. Thanks to the Secrets of Blackmoor documentary (who will be posting the map on their FB page) and Dan at Hidden in Shadows I have the opportunity to take a look at this version here. Update: Dan has made a related post over here.

I've written before about another version of this map. Back in 2014, Jon Peterson gave us a glimpse of it in his video, a "History of D&D in 12 Treasures", where he labeled the map the 1971 Great Kingdom Map. Based on the video, I wrote a post titled "The Land of the Great Kingdom and Environs" (quoting the original D&D preface), where I noted similarities to the setting as finally published in the 1980 World of Greyhawk Folio (these notes are repeated below). I also back-annotated the details from the 1971 map to the original, more artistic Great Kingdom map published in Domesday Book #9 and reprinted in Jon's book, Playing at the World. Also see the even earlier post, "The Weird Enclave of Blackmoor".

Megarry's copy gives us a clearer view of the map than the glimpses in Jon's video. Each clearly originates from the same source, but Megarry's has some additional writing in colored pen. Much of it is just to darken the lines and/or writing, but there is at least one addition to the details, noted below.

Here are the features I couldn't see on the version in the "12 Treasures" video:

Keoland: This is to the southwest of the the Nir Div (later Nyr Dyv), as in the WoG Folio (1980), which notes that it was "the first major kingdom to be established in the Flanaess". Grodog's Greyhawk notes that Keoland was named for Tom Keogh, who Gygax elsewhere mentioned as a friend from his teen years. In Quag Keep, Chapter 5 there is a Keoland (once called Koeland) to the southwest of Greyhawk City.  It is mentioned that Keoland has "three tributaries of size feeding the main stream" (which may be called the Vold), which fits the map above showing three waterways running north in the Keoland area to join a larger river.

Eastern Ocean: This was "Western Ocean" on the Domesday Book map, but since it's to the east of the continent the revised name makes sense.

Nomads: This is written twice just to the north of the Dry Steppes and south of the Paynims. These possibly became the Tiger and Wolf Nomads in the published setting, although those groups are much further north. Another possibility is Ull, which is in a similar position relative to the Paynims and the Dry Steppes in the published setting, and is described as a "strong tribal clan of the Paynim nomads". Quag Keep mentions the Nomad Raiders of Lar who venture into the Dry Steppes, which fits with this map having the Nomads right next to the Dry Steppes. 

Contested Area: This label is south of the Gran Duchy of Urnst, west of the Kingdom of Catmelun, and east of Keoland. If Catmelun is Nyrond (see the earlier notes below), this might be analogous to the County of Urnst, which in the WoG Folio is an area fought over by the Gran Duchy of Urnst and Nyrond. Dan at Hidden in Shadows suggests this area might be what became the Wild Coast, which I agree is another possibility. It's relatively close to Greyhawk as in the WoG Folio, which says that "Portions of the area have been under the control of Celene, the Prince of Ulek, the Gynarch of Hardby, and the Free City of Greyhawk at various times" - certainly a "contested area". The name also predates the Folio, as the Wild Coast is mentioned once in Quag Keep, in a description of a battle between a demon and a dragon "from Blackmoor, out over Great Bay, down to the Wild Coast" (chapter 3). Looking at the map above, there is a great deal of territory between the Great Bay and the Contested Area; it's possible Norton was using the term simply to refer to the entire eastern coast.

The Great Kingdom: Visible on the "12 Treasures" map, but here we can more clearly see the 18 regions of the Great Kingdom, plus a "Royal Demense" [sic] in the center. The WoG Folio refers to the "Royal Demense surrounding the capital" as part of the area of authority of the Overking. The Domesday Book version of the map has an asterisk in this region, just south of the lake and possibly indicating the capital. It's situated a bit like Rauxes, the capital in the Folio, which is near where two rivers come together in a "V", but without a lake. Over in a sister post on Hidden in Shadows, Dave Meggary suggests that "the numbered areas were districts within the Kingdom which had their own Dukes and such". Some of these areas may have become the former holdings of the Great Kingdom noted in the Folio, including the nearly autonomous North and South Provinces, the Prelacy of Almor, the See of Medegia, the several member states of the Iron League, and possibly even Bone March.

Kingdom of Botulia: This is another island nation, near the Duchy of Maritz (see below). I can't find any names similar to "Botulia" anywhere else. These two nations perhaps became the island nations of the published setting: the Sea Barons and the Spindrift Isles.

Egg of Coot: On this map this region has an addition in blue marker: an 'X' labelled "Capitol". There's an asterisk-looking mark near the "F" in "OF", which could be another city, but there's no other label.

County of Hither Body (?): This region is east of the Hold of Iron Hand, northwest of the Egg of Coot. I'm not sure about that last word. In Quag Keep, there is a mention of the Hither Hills (thanks to Timrod's Quag Keep Companion for this info), which makes sense as the area is surrounded by hills. 

In view of these, I've updated the annotations on the Domesday Book Great Kingdom map:

Great Kingdom Map from Domesday Book #9, annotated in view of the 1971 map

For reference, and ease in reading, here the notes from my previous post:

Perunland is between the mountains to the northwest of Nir Dyv lake, as with Perrenland in the published Greyhawk map. 

A Paynim Kingdom is further to the northwest, south of the Far Ocean. In the published Greyhawk this becomes the Plains of the Paynims, south of the Dramidj Ocean.

The Hold of Iron Hand, north of the Paynim Kingdom on the Great Kingdom map, likely became the Hold of Stonefist. In published Greyhawk it is not anywhere near the Paynims, instead being at the western base of a northwestern peninsula in the same position relative to the Barbarian Kingdoms. Gygax seems to have split the northern areas of his Great Kingdom map, putting the the Hold and the Barbarian kingdoms on a great peninsula to the northeast, and leaving Perrenland, the Paynims and Blackmoor in the northwest.

A Grand Duchy of Urnst is to the immediate southeast of Nir Dyv lake, as in the published World of Greyhawk. A Kingdom of Catmelun is to the southwest of this, possibly where the Kingdom of Nyrond is in the published version.

A Grand Duchy of Geoff is to the west near the mountains, as in published Greyhawk.

Where the City of Greyhawk should be, there's C. of Yerocundy [sp?] and to the west, a Kingdom of Faraz. There is the possibility that these two were combined to form the Kingdom of Furyondy, which in published Greyhawk is to the west of the lake like Faraz.

Interestingly, Andre Norton's 1978 Greyhawk novel, Quag Keep, uses similar but not identical names for two kingdoms: 

"We shall have Yerocunby and Faraaz facing us at the border. But then the river will lead us straight into the mountains" (Chapter 6).

A Duchy of Maritz [sp?] also appears as an island on the Great Kingdom map.

Quag Keep further mentions:

"In addition he saw a dozen of these silver, halfmoon circles coined in Faraaz, and two of the mother-of-pearl discs incised with the fierce head of a sea-serpent which came from the island Duchy of Maritiz" (Chapter 3)

This warrants a closer look at the geography mentioned in Quag Keep versus the Great Kingdom map. Andre Norton consulted with Gygax in writing Quag Keep so she possibly saw an earlier version of Greyhawk using these names.

-Neron March (possibly "Nekon") might possibly be a predecessor of "Gran March". 

-In the comments Jon mentions Walworth north of the lake and that In published Greyhawk The Shield Lands appear in the same location and are ruled by the Earl of Walworth. In the video, Jon mentions that Gygax was named the Earl of Walworth in Domesday Book #2, and Walworth represents his holdings in the game (and is also the name of the county that Lake Geneva is in, in Wisconsin).

-I left out material from the map in the video that I couldn't read, and several small areas around Blackmoor that don't seem to correspond to anything significant: March Slove, County of Celate and County of Stabilny

Note: I have moderation set up for comments made two days after the initial post. This reduces spam comments. So if you make a post it won't appear right away, but as soon as I get a chance to check the pending comment queue I will approve it and then it will appear.

See the following related posts: