Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

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Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Zeromaru X » Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:04 am

Now that Undermountain is in the spotlight, I began to wonder about Castle Blackmoor and its legendary dungeons. Were they described or something? My book say nothing about them, besides the fact that they exist below the castle.

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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Big Mac » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:28 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:04 am
My book say nothing about them, besides the fact that they exist below the castle.
What book are you actually looking at?

There is something called The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor from Zeitguiest Games. Here is the Amazon blurb:
The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor on Amazon wrote:Revisit the most classic dungeon crawl of all time! The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor will take adventurers on a journey through the dungeon that started the roleplaying game genre!

The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor details the 20 known levels of the dungeon including the first 10 levels as originally created by Dave Arneson himself. Designed to scale with varying party sizes and power levels, this incredible dungeon includes adventure material for character levels 1-20. Classic-styled maps and artwork make this hardback a great nostalgia piece and an excellent tie in for new adventurers to Blackmoor! Take your party back to the birthplace of RPGs for an incredible adventure through the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor!
If that book has the first 10 levels created by Dave Arneson, those levels might already have been released in an earlier product. (Maybe there are some additional details or NPCs or somesuch.)

And if it adds another 10 levels, then that doubles the original size, but I don't know if there is any documented canon that says there are more than 20 levels.

Does anyone know of anything that explains how deep the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor are known to be?

EDIT: DriveThru RPG have The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor in PDF form. (Sadly it is not in Print on Demand format.)
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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Zeromaru X » Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:04 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:28 pm
What book are you actually looking at?
4th edition's "Blackmoor: The First Campaign" sourcebook. AFAIK, it has the same lore from the D20/3.5 sourcebook, with the obvious changes in mechanics and the additions of some 4e concepts (ie. dragonborn and warlocks)
Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:28 pm
There is something called The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor from Zeitguiest Games.
I going to see if there is a PDF in DriveThru or the DM's Guild. Thanks for the info!

I guess that I will have to adapt the levels of the dungeons to 4e standards, thought.
Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:28 pm
And if it adds another 10 levels, then that doubles the original size, but I don't know if there is any documented canon that says there are more than 20 levels.

Does anyone know of anything that explains how deep the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor are known to be?
I don't know how deep, but the 4e sourcebook hints as how wide: according to the section talking about the town of Booh, the tunnels under the nearby mountains are connected to those of Blackmoor City.
Last edited by Zeromaru X on Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Zeromaru X » Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:08 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:28 pm
EDIT: DriveThru RPG have The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor in PDF form. (Sadly it is not in Print on Demand format.)
Is ok, PDF is good enough for me right now. Thanks for pointing out.

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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Khedrac » Sat Dec 29, 2018 6:26 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:28 pm
There is something called The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor from Zeitguiest Games.
A friend of mine has that book, and he asked me to run it for our group (he hadn't read it) so I borrowed it to peruse.

Unfortunately on my read-through it was terrible. (I said it needed far too much surgery for me to run.)

First up - on the first few levels the maps and the key/description don't match up. I believe these maps may have been reprinted from Judges Guild? How to get from level to level of the dungeon isn't necessarily obvious to the DM even for the lower levels (I could not see how some of the maps were supposed to connect).
Worse, the "design" is such that the party is expected to go through the dungeon until it gets too hard, then leave and level up elsewhere before going back in at a higher level...
Most of the dungeon is fairly static, but once a certain point a reched the inhabitants are supposed to go to war with each other - which if the party leave to level up at just the wrong point means they miss much of the remaining encounters. (it is easy to write the "war" so that most rooms are set for where the war has got to when the layers get there - which makes life much easier for the DM - but no one seems to do this; worse they rarely say how the war should proceed either...)
FInally, although the dungeon is for "characters level 1 to 20" the encounters tend to be CR = level of dungeon, so the final level (20) simply has a few CR 20 opponents.

I think the module was rushed out in a hurry in the early days of 3.0 before the authors had come to understand how 3rd Ed D&D worked - something that was pretty different to 2nd Ed, especially for players who were not using "Skill and Powers" - as a result the module is a mess and I would recommend thinking long and hard before buying it. If you can borrow a copy to peruse and evaluate first, do so.
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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Zeromaru X » Sat Dec 29, 2018 7:33 pm

Khedrac wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 6:26 pm
I would recommend thinking long and hard before buying it. If you can borrow a copy to peruse and evaluate first, do so.
That would be pretty difficult in my hometown, right now.

However, as I'm not playing 3.x, and therefore I would need to convert a lot of stuff for 4e, I'm more interested in the lore. 3.x and 4e are really different mechanically, and I would still need to do the surgery you mention.

I guess that in the end the issues with the book wouldn't be a problem if the lore is consistent.

I do see a problem with the layout of the maps, tho.

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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Morfie » Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:43 pm

The Drivethru page has a link to an updated map in the comments.. https://blackmoor.mystara.net/pdfs/Blac ... pdated.pdf

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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Zeromaru X » Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:02 pm

Is the lore from this book canon? Because, if yes, then it answers a few of my doubts about the setting. And raises a lot of others.

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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Wangalade » Sun Dec 30, 2018 4:22 am

I think the dungeons were first described in 'the first fantasy campaign' published by judges guild. I think the 3e stuff is pretty similar. Havard's blackmoor blog and the comeback inn forums have a lot more info and resources.
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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Khedrac » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:32 am

Zeromaru X wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 7:33 pm
I'm more interested in the lore.
Zeromaru X wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:02 pm
Is the lore from this book canon? Because, if yes, then it answers a few of my doubts about the setting. And raises a lot of others.
I don't remember much real "lore" in the book at all. Futher, I would doubt that much of it would be canon. The closest is that I remember reading somewhere the origin of the dungeon and it might have been in that book.

Said origin was a scenario where there had been an incursion into the castle above so the royal guard were sent to investigate. As in 30 or 40 1st level fighters (fighting men or whatever). The players each controled an individual guard, switching characters when theirs died and it was an exercise in seeing how far they could get. Nothing in the adventure suggested that any of the encounters of the original version had been preserved.
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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Dread Delgath » Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:06 am

Khedrac is spot on. That was supposedly Dave Arneson's first "Blackmoor dungeon campaign" on that map link posted above, it looks similar to the one found in the First Fantasy Campaign book. :)
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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Zeromaru X » Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:11 pm

Well, the book tells about some reptilian race (that seem to be either sahuagin or their ancestors) that created the first dungeons (the last levels), and then how were they defeated by dragons, who took the dungeons and built their own levels, above the ones made by the reptilians. Dragons were defeated in turn by giants an age later, and the giants by the savage humans of the north, in the next age. Both also built their own levels of the dungeons, above the ones made by the dragons. The Thonians were the last to come to the party, and they built the current Blackmoor city.

This lore is pretty interesting, as it serves to explain not only the history of the dungeon, but also hints to the pre-Thonian history of the setting as well.

It seems it was created for this book, then?

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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Havard » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:02 pm

Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor is canon, as much as any of the D20 material. It was published by ZGG which was co-owned by Dave Arneson and Arneson read and approved of all the books. (The MMRPG is an exception to this as authors were gvien more free reign and the modules were declared unofficial. They are still a great resource though).

As Wangalade says, the First Fantasy Campaign (1977) detailed the first 10 levels of the dungeon. That book also decribed the castle itself and town surrounding it, which are sadly not included in Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor. Some additional details from the Dungeon can be found at The Comeback Inn forum, shared by Dave Arneson's players such as the statue of Neptune, the rooms where the Blue Rider found his armor etc.

The Sar-Aigu/Sahuagin backstory is likely based on the Sahuagin backstory found in Supplement II: Blackmoor from 1975. While Stephen R. Marsh is usually credited for creating the Sahuagin, Blackmoor fans have speculated that the unusual amount of background for this creature was likely taken from Dave Arneson's submitted material to that book and merged with Marsh's stats/concept. The name Sar Aigu and connection to the Blackmoor Dungeon is new to the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor d20 book.

I have posted a lot of my own ideas for the Age of Dragons, Age of Giants etc on my blog and website for those interested.

I can dig out more if you want! :)

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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Big Mac » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:30 am

Zeromaru X wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:04 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:28 pm
What book are you actually looking at?
4th edition's "Blackmoor: The First Campaign" sourcebook. AFAIK, it has the same lore from the D20/3.5 sourcebook, with the obvious changes in mechanics and the additions of some 4e concepts (ie. dragonborn and warlocks)
Doh! Of course! You are a 4e fan! Of course you would have that book. Sorry, I didn't think. :oops:

I'm not sure how similar the 3.5 and 4e books are (aside from the rules changes). I had heard something about a time jump. The only thing I really know is that it has a black cover. :lol:

Havard probably knows all the differences. (Mind you, I did once confuse him with something that was in a softback version of a book that didn't exist in the hardback. That was fun*. :lol: )

* = Fun starting with "what are you talking about?" comments and ending with Havard buying a copy of the softback. Good times! :P
Zeromaru X wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:08 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:28 pm
EDIT: DriveThru RPG have The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor in PDF form. (Sadly it is not in Print on Demand format.)
Is ok, PDF is good enough for me right now. Thanks for pointing out.
It would be nice if they could sort out Print on Demand in your region though. I think it would be a big boost for your area. (But that's something for another topic.)
Zeromaru X wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:08 pm
I guess that I will have to adapt the levels of the dungeons to 4e standards, thought.
If you do make 4e conversion notes for older Blackmoor products, they might also be able to help other fans. :cool:
Zeromaru X wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:08 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:28 pm
And if it adds another 10 levels, then that doubles the original size, but I don't know if there is any documented canon that says there are more than 20 levels.

Does anyone know of anything that explains how deep the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor are known to be?
I don't know how deep, but the 4e sourcebook hints as how wide: according to the section talking about the town of Booh, the tunnels under the nearby mountains are connected to those of Blackmoor City.
That sounds similar to how Undermountain connects to Waterdeep (in Forgotten Realms).

If you can't find enough Blackmoor material, you might be able to reboot some of the Undermountain maps. :)
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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Big Mac » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:32 am

Morfie wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:43 pm
The Drivethru page has a link to an updated map in the comments.. https://blackmoor.mystara.net/pdfs/Blac ... pdated.pdf
That's something on Havard's website, but they have pointed directly to the download, rather than Havard's doorway page (which I presume would tell you what it was).

It does look pretty professional. Maybe it's a Web Enhancement that Havard is now hosting after the offiical website went offline. :?

We need to cast the "Summon Havard Spell". ;)
Last edited by Big Mac on Tue Jan 01, 2019 12:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Havard » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:55 am

Big Mac wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:30 am
I'm not sure how similar the 3.5 and 4e books are (aside from the rules changes). I had heard something about a time jump. The only thing I really know is that it has a black cover. :lol:
There are many changes between the 3E book and the 4e book. The most significant deal with incorporating 4e classes and races into the setting. I really like how the 4e book is organised though. Maybe this is worth a separate thread? :)
Havard probably knows all the differences. (Mind you, I did once confuse him with something that was in a softback version of a book that didn't exist in the hardback. That was fun*. :lol: )

* = Fun starting with "what are you talking about?" comments and ending with Havard buying a copy of the softback. Good times! :P
Indeed! I didn't realize they had made changes between the hardback and the 3e softcover version. I was confused about that first, but glad you helped me find out so I could get that one as well :)
Zeromaru X wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:08 pm
I guess that I will have to adapt the levels of the dungeons to 4e standards, thought.
If you do make 4e conversion notes for older Blackmoor products, they might also be able to help other fans. :cool:
Seconded. Dave Arneson originally had a much more flexible system with regards to which monsters were mapped to which room, so that might make things easier for 4e. I like Matt Colville's approach to 4e dungeons where he only selects a handful of the most important combats in the dungeon to actually play out since 4e combat takes so much more time.
Zeromaru X wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:08 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:28 pm
And if it adds another 10 levels, then that doubles the original size, but I don't know if there is any documented canon that says there are more than 20 levels.

Does anyone know of anything that explains how deep the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor are known to be?
I don't know how deep, but the 4e sourcebook hints as how wide: according to the section talking about the town of Booh, the tunnels under the nearby mountains are connected to those of Blackmoor City.
That sounds similar to how Undermountain connects to Waterdeep (in Forgotten Realms).

If you can't find enough Blackmoor material, you might be able to reboot some of the Undermountain maps. :)
Indeed the Blackmoor dungeon was rumoured to connect to large parts of the underworld with tunnels connecting it to the Glendover dungeon, the stormkiller mountains and possibly Vestfold, Tonnisborg
(Soon to be released with the Secrets of Blackmoor Kickstarter) and other places. The MMRPG launched a massive area called the Dweomer Realm, which could be used to expand the dungeon further.


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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Big Mac » Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:44 pm

Havard wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:55 am
Big Mac wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:30 am
I'm not sure how similar the 3.5 and 4e books are (aside from the rules changes). I had heard something about a time jump. The only thing I really know is that it has a black cover. :lol:
There are many changes between the 3E book and the 4e book. The most significant deal with incorporating 4e classes and races into the setting. I really like how the 4e book is organised though. Maybe this is worth a separate thread? :)
I went for a more general thread: What has each edition given Blackmoor? rather than just compare two books.
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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Zeromaru X » Tue Jan 01, 2019 2:30 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:30 am
Doh! Of course! You are a 4e fan! Of course you would have that book. Sorry, I didn't think. :oops:
:) don't worry.

As for the other thing, I've already answered in your other post.
Big Mac wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:30 am
If you do make 4e conversion notes for older Blackmoor products, they might also be able to help other fans. :cool:
I will. The players are considering the idea of go into the dungeons to take a look. They worry for their characters, thought, because I said to them that Blackmoor's dungeons are as deadly as the Tomb of Horrors, lol.

Even if they decide in the end that they like their characters that much and prefer them alive, I'm already reading Dungeons of Blackmoor and I have some ideas on how the first 6 levels may work in 4e. I have had a difficult time trying to understand the maps, thought.
Big Mac wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:30 am
That sounds similar to how Undermountain connects to Waterdeep (in Forgotten Realms).

If you can't find enough Blackmoor material, you might be able to reboot some of the Undermountain maps. :)
This would be a good idea.

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Re: Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Havard » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:51 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:32 am
Morfie wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:43 pm
The Drivethru page has a link to an updated map in the comments.. https://blackmoor.mystara.net/pdfs/Blac ... pdated.pdf
That's something on Havard's website, but they have pointed directly to the download, rather than Havard's doorway page (which I presume would tell you what it was).

It does look pretty professional. Maybe it's a Web Enhancement that Havard is now hosting after the offiical website went offline. :?

We need to cast the "Summon Havard Spell". ;)
Yes, this was an official errata for the first Dungeon Level. It is currently hosted at my website, but it used to be hosted at the official ZGG site before they shut it down.

We are doing our best to keep Blackmoor alive :)

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