Sunday, December 17, 2017

ERKA, DATG and Sunken City Christmas Special

Don't miss this special from Rob Kuntz and TLB Games. Reposted from the Lake Geneva Original RPG Campaign  Blog!

Holiday Greetings from Rob & Nathalie!

Let us get into the Christmas spirit with some great offers, shall we!

We have just launched a Christmas Special across El Raja Key Archive, with great offers to treat yourself and the D&D gamers in your circles:

🎅   ❄️  🎄
But wait! There is more! 
🎅   ❄️  🎄
It feels like Christmas has come early!

Friday, December 15, 2017

New AD&D/D&D podcast - The Dungeon Master's Handbook

I copied this with permission from chicagowiz as it is a very interesting and quite good podcast.

Hello! I've started a new podcast about running AD&D/Classic D&D campaigns - my experiences, lessons, tips and tricks from 9 years of running a multi-group, Tony Bath-esque world. I've recorded four episodes so far, and I'm looking to release new episodes every two weeks.

I host at SoundCloud. You can find us there or on iTunes, Google Play Music, bluebrry or grab the RSS feed and put it into your podcast player:

RSS Feed:

If you like what you hear, please leave me a review on iTunes or Soundcloud!
I'm running a campaign with multiple political entities that hosts multiple RPG groups, wargame scenario/campaigns and anything else I can throw in there including personas from each who have yearly/seasonal events that affect them. Tony Bath in my inspiration for doing this.

I highly reccomend that you give this a listen if you are interested in the topic.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


krusader74 posted this over at ODD74 and has graciously given me permission to post it here and at my forum. 

-ana Suffix and substantive. (Forming plural nouns) denoting things associated with a person, place, or field of interest. From Latin, neuter plural of -anus, adjectival ending. As in (DictaVirgiliāna Sayings of Virgil, used in Fr. in 16-17th c. as sb. sing. un Virgiliana and extended to collections of the notable sayings or 'table talk' of modern authors as un Huctiana (Littré); whence also the simple termination was taken un ana; both usages were known to Eng. in beginning of 18th c., and subseq. extended or transferred to anecdotes, scraps of information or gossip about persons or places of note. [SourceOxford Living Dictionaries and Oxford English Dictionary.]

What follows are links to some firsthand online resources by Dave Arneson: essays, interviews, posts, a supplement, a map, and a dungeon. Here is a quick summary of these links:

For purposes of commentary and criticism, below I've excerpted from these Arnesoniana a few quotes that shed light on the origin of roleplaying and OD&D.
If you know of any other firsthand, online, Arneson-specific links or resources that will help others discover the wonders of OD&D, then please add them below! Also feel free to add your own comments about the resources mentioned here in the OP. Enjoy!

Many of your questions could be answered but I am bound legally to not do so.

Remark: Dave sued Gary Gygax and TSR five times to get credit as co-creator of D&D. The cases were settled out of court and the terms were sealed. Unfortuantely, as a result of the confidentiality, Dave could not answer many frequently asked questions, either here or in the interviews linked below.

A snapshot of Dave's official website archived by the Wayback Machine on 10-Jun-2008 (the Wayback Machine's links still work but may require a few seconds to load):

Role playing came into it's own for me when I thought about using the Medieval skirmish rules called CHAINMAIL along with the individual goal concept explored in the Braunstiens.

Having a weekend off from refereeing our group's Napolenic campaign (A wargame with national goals set by the players) I spent the time reading CONAN novels and watching old monster movies while munching on popcorn.

Set in a town called BLACKMOOR. Actually mostly the graph paper dungeon under the castle and town. The previous games had all been 'on the board' but it's hard to hide things there. A totally unseen dungeon maze added additional territory and to hide several nasty beasts therein.

-- Dave Arneson, A Quarter Century of Role Playing?

An Interview with Dave ArnesonPegasus #1 (April/May, 1981). Page 4.

PegasusWhat inspired you to co-author Dungeons & Dragons?

Mr. Arneson: Back in 1972, I started doing dungeon explorations with the local gamers building up a set of rules as we went along. I kept track of my rules decisions in a big black notebook as we went along so I didn't contradict myself too often.

We were in correspondence with the group from Lake Geneva through the Napoleonic Campaigns at that time, so we mentioned that we were doing fantasy stuff on alternate weekends and they became very interested in it. After I made several trips down there so they could go down in my dungeon, they became very excited about it.

At the time, they had a lot more spare time than I did and they had a lot of ideas, so they came up with their own version of the rules. They sent theirs to us and we fooled around with them for a while. We exchanged letters for awhile and just kind of slipped into it. It just felt natural that Gary and I worked together on the D&D rules because the two groups were associated and Gary and I had worked together on projects before.


PegasusTell me a little about the Blackmoor Campaign.

Mr. Arneson: Well, as I've quoted in other articles, I was judging Napoleonics so much that I just started getting tired of it. That happens after you do the same thing for three or four years. So I began with a variation of Dave Wesely's Brownstine game where you go into some Banana Republic. Your object was to become dictator or try to overthrow the government or something like that. You had a role that you were playing. I just applied the idea of having a role to being in a fantasy world (an idea I got from reading Conan for awhile).

I had a weekend off, so I sat up reading books, eating popcorn, and watching the boob tube. I drew up a maze and populated it with creatures. Then the next time someone showed up for Napoleonics I said that we were going to do something different. Unfortunately, at that time I visualized that I wouldn't have to keep track of all those records and maps. I really thought that it was going to be easy (just draw up one map and use it for-ever along with all kinds of other ideas on how to make things easy for the Judge). Needless to say, my illusions were soon shattered but I had gotten excited about it because it was different and I wasn't tied to historical restraints. I could let my imagination run rampant which it wasn't usually allowed to do. By the time I was done, there was little left of Wesely or Conan but a lot of rules for fantasy role playing!

PegasusSo historical gaming did influence you when you set up Blackmoor.

Mr. Arneson: It certainly did. We established (in our historical campaigns) the principal of having a Judge who everyone listened to and who set up the battle or campaign. That's where we were coming from, traditional wargaming.

PegasusIt's nice to hear about a campaign where people listen to the Judge. I've seen a lot of campaigns that are a little more chaotic.

Mr. Arneson: Yes, but it took a lot of forceful diplomacy on my part (the baseball bat helped). The games were held in my basement and I have thrown out disruptive players. That way I established the fact that I was in charge and when I talk you had better listen. Then when others would Judge, I could use my influence to back them up by saying "If you don't listen to this Judge, I'll remove you". Before I knew it, even I was listening to the Judge whether I liked it or not. I think in 15 years only one person was ever removed (and that by popular demand!).

Question: Does anyone know who got ejected from Dave's game? By any chance was it the legendary Dinkie Rizzle?!  :D 

Garbage Pits of Despair (PDF) - a Blackmoor Campaign Module for Dungeons & Dragons by Dave Arneson:

Link removed by Rafe.

  • Part 1 - The Slave Raiders. Different Worlds #42 (May/June 1986).

  • Part 2 - The Dragon Hills. Different Worlds #43 (July/August 1986).

Quoting from Wikipedia:

While Gary Gygax was president of TSR in the mid-1980s, he and Arneson reconnected, and Arneson briefly relinked Blackmoor to D&D with the "DA" (Dave Arneson) series of modules set in Blackmoor (1986–1987). The four modules, three of which were written by Arneson, detailed Arneson's campaign setting for the first time. When Gygax was forced out of TSR, Arneson was removed from the company before a planned fifth module could be published. Gygax and Arneson again went their separate ways. In 1986 Arneson wrote a new D&D module set in Blackmoor called "The Garbage Pits of Despair", which was published in two parts in Different Worlds magazine issues #42 and #43.

Pegasus chats with... Dave ArnesonPegasus #14 (December, 1999).

PegasusGoing on to changes in the industry ... back when we started, going on 25 years ago, everyone was pretty much discovering roleplaying for the first time. There was all the excitement and so on. Today it's almost totally commercial, as close to mainstream is it's ever going to get. What changes do you think that's made in the hobby, in the people who are playing?

Dave: Well, you know, it was a lot more fun when we started out. Some of the changes were good, because, well, first edition Dungeons & Dragons didn't even tell you how many dice you were supposed to roll to generate your stats. You could tell from the numbers, but it never did say you were using three six-siders. There was a lot of cleaning up there needed to be, tightening up, but I think what happened, oh, ten, fifteen years ago, things got so commercial, TSR was making studies about what grade level they should be writing their rulebooks for, they would include boxed dialog for everything, and that caught on with the other outfits. Sitting down and reading boxed dialog, going through seven or eight volumes of rules, is a long way from the scribbled notes I started off with, even the first three-volume set of Dungeons & Dragons. It just got very, very complicated and, in the efforts to simplify things, they just lost whatever creativity was left. We talked about Judges Guild, they're really the ones that started doing modules in a wide variety of areas. I'd done a couple for TSR. They didn't call them "modules" back then of course. They didn't have boxed dialog in there, and it was up to the referee to pass that information on to the players as they played. That was probably a little bit too little information, could have used a little more help in that regard, but then it's like suddenly they went to the opposite extreme, trying to provide them with everything. I think what you lost there was the spontaneity of the whole operation. I would have rather seen efforts expended improving the quality of referees, whether it was a referee class, or college, or more seminars than the couple you get at a gaming convention once in a while. A lot of people want to be referees, but that doesn't make them good referees, because a good referee has got to be a good storyteller, keep things moving along. You can have a crummy set of rules, and if you've got a good storyteller, you can still make it work. Or you can have a great set of rules, and a lousy storyteller for a referee, and it doesn't matter.

PegasusSo you think that there's been too much dependence on trying to do everything in the rules, and getting away from the Judge's own creativity?

Dave: Oh, yeah. Too many of them try to do everything, or they follow the official line of "You can't change anything or you'll destroy the rules." Aw, forget it. That's not the way things started, that's not the way things should be. If something doesn't work, get rid of it. If something works in another set of rules and you want to put it in your game, go for it. The [rules'] job is to make the referee's life easier, so he can referee, not harder.

Comment: I'm quite fond of Dave's remarks here about rules and referees.

Dave Arneson InterviewGameSpy. By Andrew S. Bub. August 11, 2002. 2 pages.

GameSpyIsn't that exactly what wargames do? Introduce random things into history that change events? Lee winning at Gettysburg, that sort of thing?

Dave Arneson: Yeah. That's right. In our own games we got tired of taking the town, or the hill. So we started thinking about other objectives in a scenario, and to do that we had to give our Generals personality. 

GameSpyYou had to role-play them.

Dave Arneson: We found that by doing that players started to identify with them. So, we'd role-play diplomacy and how they'd act out there on the battlefield. D&D; sort of came about after a monster marathon week of reading Conan novels, eating popcorn until it was coming out of my ears-no I was not on drugs-and we got the idea to do something in a dungeon. So I wrote the dungeon. All my players showed up and instead of having a nice neat battlefield to fight on there was a castle and all these buildings and they were told they were going to go down and adventure in a dungeon. 

GameSpyWhat did these wargamers think of that idea?

Dave Arneson: Well, they went along with it and most of them had a great time. So, we literally did that every weekend for probably the next six-months, I had one guy who was a security guard and he'd call me on the phone from work and want to play, every day --

GameSpyI can't tell you how many D&D players still do that in the High School cafeteria.

Dave Arneson: I know. So, as it started out it wasn't a major gaming effort as such but I was then adding rules and modifying things to make it ongoing. We had to change the old wargame system Gary (Gary Gygax) used in Chainmail. 

GameSpyAnd this led to the rules eventually published in Blackmoor?

Dave Arneson: And that led to Blackmoor. Yeah, I was really creative: Blackmoor Dungeon, Blackmoor Castle, Blackmoor Village, all in the Province of Blackmoor. (Laughs) Ok, I could have thought of names but --

Anyway, when we tried to use the old matrix rules (for Chainmail) only one die decided combat. So either the player would die or the monster would die. Well, the players didn't like that, so that's where I came up with hit points. Actually I got that from a set of Civil War Naval Rules where you had Armor Class and Hit Points and guns would do different damage. 

GameSpyAfter Blackmoor, how much longer did you work on D&D?

Dave Arneson: After about a year of playing it we went down and met Gary's group and they liked it. We thought we had something publishable here, and sent him all my notes, which subsequently appeared in the first fantasy campaign, we exchanged copious amounts of correspondence, and the rules were finally published in 1974. My involvement ended in 1976, we had a -- it was me and Gary that had a difference of opinion, but I had a difference of opinion with TSR. And that led to -- that was the first lawsuit, there's been five, but I can't talk about any of that. So that ended my involvement with TSR and D&D.; When Gary became President (of TSR) in 1985 he commissioned me to do a series of modules for the world of Blackmoor. We got to the fourth module and again the company changed hands, and the new people didn't want to do it, so, that was it!

So what's my involvement? I do all the conventions. I talk about it. I use it for my classes. I think I've still had a lot of influence on rules in spite of not being officially involved but it was not until 3rd Edition came about and they involved me in the playtesting that I again had any direct involvement in D&D.

The following exchange about Dave's role in the D&D movie is a gem...

GameSpyYou were involved in the D&D movie, weren't you?

Dave Arneson: I was in the movie as an actor. I was there standing in the background throwing a fireball at a dragon. 

GameSpy: I don't remember you --

Dave Arneson: (Laughs) Well when you're standing in a 300 foot tower and there's twelve of you throwing fireballs at dragons, I think it's really stupid. But it was all in the movie. Y'know I didn't find out they were making the movie until about halfway through the filming. And then they found out I was alive, instead of the rumor that I was dead, which was why they hadn't tried to contact me. They were nice. They sent me to Prague for a week and since it was a crowd scene they put me in.

An Interview With Dave By Ciro Allessandro Sacco. July 07, 2004.

Dave Arneson InterviewGameSpy. By Allen Rausch. August 19, 2004. 6 pages.

GameSpyHow did you first get involved with wargaming?

Dave Arneson: My parents bought me a wargame by the Avalon Hill company called Gettysburg. I thought there were a lot of possibilities there and I liked it a lot. I even talked my friends into learning how to play it. There was only one game a year that came out from Avalon Hill, though, so we started to design our own games.

Around 1968 I got in touch with some gamers in the Twin Cities that were playing with military miniatures and thought that was interesting and exciting. I played games with them for a couple of years and we started to make our own battles. That ended up leading to something a little bit closer to true role-playing when we started to set objectives for different generals that weren't necessarily military in nature. At that point I guess we started role-playing. 

GameSpyCan you go into a little more detail about how "different objectives" became role-playing?

Arneson: We started setting different objectives for the players. It wasn't just about fighting; we started stealing things: bombs, guns, food supplies, that sort of thing. Players could negotiate with each other for who captured the goal, and then had to figure out how they were going to slip the products past a blockade and sell them on the black market. Things like that.


GameSpyExplain to me a bit about the process. How did it suddenly start being more fun to play as an adventurer than to command these big armies?

Arneson: You got me. We just did it. We tried it out for a couple games and we thought it was a lot of fun; they all did … all the guys in my group. And certainly it was easier to battle with only 20 or 30 individual (miniatures) than it was to set up a tabletop with five thousand different lead figures on it. 


GameSpyHow did you come up with the idea of getting off the surface and going through a dungeon crawl?

Arneson: Well, dungeon crawls were, I think, the easiest things to set up because all you had to do was draw a grid map and didn't have to worry about the great outdoors and setting up trees and stuff. People also couldn't go wandering off where you didn't have a map because it was solid rock.

GameSpyWhy fantasy, though? You had started out playing with real-world armies.

Arneson: Some other people in my group set up rules for modern games, or even back in the age of Napoleon. We would get in these arguments, though, about historical accuracy, the latest translation of the latest book, and what was "real." Going into a fantasy world was actually again kind of a copout from my point of view. I didn't want people always coming up with some new book saying we just had to use because it was right and the old one was wrong. This was a fantasy world, so who could come up with anything to prove that he was lying or that a monster wasn't accurately represented? [Laughs]. Now, of course, there's book on everything. It's trickier than it was in the beginning when there weren't as many (fantasy ) books. 

GameSpySo basically at the time you could say, "Listen, white is whatever I say it is."

Arneson: Yeah. You know, nobody ever said, "Here's my translation of some such book," and said I was wrong. It was easier for me to referee. 

GameSpySo you started playing Chainmail using the fantasy rules. How did you have to change the rules around?

Arneson: We had to change it almost after the first weekend. Combat in Chainmail is simply rolling two six-sided dice, and you either defeated the monster and killed it … or it killed you. It didn't take too long for players to get attached to their characters, and they wanted something detailed which Chainmail didn't have. The initial Chainmail rules was a matrix. That was okay for a few different kinds of units, but by the second weekend we already had 20 or 30 different monsters, and the matrix was starting to fill up the loft.

I adopted the rules I'd done earlier for a Civil War game called Ironclads that had hit points and armor class. It meant that players had a chance to live longer and do more. They didn't care that they had hit points to keep track of because they were just keeping track of little detailed records for their character and not trying to do it for an entire army. They didn't care if they could kill a monster in one blow, but they didn't want the monster to kill them in one blow.

GameSpy: How consistent was your fantasy world? Could you develop a whole history right at the beginning or did that come later?

Arneson: No, that came later. I needed the first couple games to work out the rules. I came up with the maps and the castle, and [then] I came up with the characters and monsters. I didn't worry about any kind of world. Frankly, I didn't think it was gonna add up to some sort of campaign that was gonna last 35 years.

I built it as I went along, and as the guys wanted to do more. That really was good because then I had to keep notes and organize them. I wanted to be consistent. I had learned that from role-playing the military games. You had to be consistent. So I started keeping notes in a little three-ring binder, and then there was a much bigger three-ring binder. [Laughs]

Dungeons & Dragons' Arneson: The Lost Interview. Gamasutra. Published posthumously, August 10, 2009.