The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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LoZompatore
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The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

Post by LoZompatore »

At the following link a rather long PDF file I wrote trying to piece together all the 20 levels of the dungeon of Castle Blackmoor, starting with the infamous stairs of the first 10 levels (there are more than 150 of them!).
The file is some 6 Mb in size and about 40 pages long (mostly low-res figures), mixing information from 1977-1980 "First Fantasy Campaign" book by Judges Guild and 2006 Zeitgeist Games "The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor" module, both of which are still needed for running adventures in the dungeon.

It started as a side project for a map of Blackmoor Town I was making, and it was originally meant as a thread to be posted online here on the forum, but then things got way more complicated - and longer - than expected! This dungeon is really a labyrinth. A wonderful labyrinth, I must say. :cool: So I wrapped everything up in a single reference document for you to use.

Please be aware that it is just my personal, fan-made attempt to connect the various levels; it does not pretend to be neither "official" nor "the solution" to the alignment of all dungeon levels and almost surely it does not correspond to what was originally conceived at the time. Anyway, I tried to make sense to the myriad of stairs, changes of scale and (very few) inconsistencies I found in the maps, while staying true to the info provided in the original modules.
I also included my personal suggestions / adventuring ideas here and there, see if you like them.

In the spirit of making Blackmoor setting more "user-friendly" I believe that what you'll find in the PDF is better that no information at all and I hope it could save some work to anyone wishing to use the dungeon for its own adventures.
Enjoy!

;)
Last edited by LoZompatore on Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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WAUW!!! just wauw
what a deep seeded research. great map overlap, you can now literally make a 3d map of this. Great
Awesome
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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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Lovely labour of love!
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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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LoZompatore wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 11:27 pm
To the Admin: This thread should belong to Blackmoor Section; nevertheless I post it here under Mystara to give it some greater initial visibility (hopefully). Feel free to move the thread to Blackmoor when you see fit. ;)
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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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LoZompatore wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 11:27 pm
At the following link a rather long PDF file I wrote trying to piece together all the 20 levels of the dungeon of Castle Blackmoor, starting with the infamous stairs of the first 10 levels (there are more than 150 of them!).
The file is some 6 Mb in size and about 40 pages long (mostly low-res figures), mixing information from 1980 "First Fantasy Campaign" book by Judges Guild and 2006 Zeitgeist Games "The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor" module, both of which are still needed for running adventures in the dungeon.

Incredible work LoZompatore!

The questions about which stairs lead where is something that have kept coming up over at the Comeback Inn forum and many other Blackmoor related sites. I have wanted to tackle this issue for a long time myself, but as you have ydemonstrated it is such a huge undertaking that I have been putting it off. Thank you for doing this, probably much better than I ever could have :)

I have only had the time to read through it very quickly, but in addition to mapping the stairs, I really like seeing the maps which show the extent of the dungeon compared to the surface map illustrated particularly well on p 25, p 33, p 37 and p41.

The theory about a gigantic annelid having created a massive tunnel from level 20 to level 12 is also incredibly fascinating! I love it and it also is yet another nice tie in to some deep Mystara lore.

This is surely a PDF I will keep returning to many times in the future, but I wanted to put some of my immediate thoughts out there right away!

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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While I don't know very much about Castle Blackmoor, looking through what you've created, I'm blown away. That's an amazing amount of detail, and clearly a labor of love. Thank you for sharing it with the community!

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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AWESOME ! Really like the use of semi-transparent layers.

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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Tim Baker wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:39 pm
While I don't know very much about Castle Blackmoor, looking through what you've created, I'm blown away. That's an amazing amount of detail, and clearly a labor of love. Thank you for sharing it with the community!
The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor was the first RPG dungeon ever created and one of the first adventuring locations explored in Dave Arneson's campaign. It predates D&D by several years and the first 10 levels appeared in published form in 1977 in the First Fantasy Campaign. Levels 11-20 were not shared with the public untill the 2006 publication of the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor.

The dungeon has several features that make it different from how later D&D dungeons were designed, including the oddly angled dungeon corridors and long corridors that seem to lead to no rooms. Also, there has long been questions about where each of the hundreds of staircases lead.

LoZompatore does an amazing job in examining how the dungeon levels are connected and how the dungeon layers correspond to the surface world, which I believe was central to Dave Arneson's dungeon design method.

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Tim Baker »

Havard wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 11:58 am
The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor was the first RPG dungeon ever created and one of the first adventuring locations explored in Dave Arneson's campaign. It predates D&D by several years and the first 10 levels appeared in published form in 1977 in the First Fantasy Campaign. Levels 11-20 were not shared with the public untill the 2006 publication of the Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor.

The dungeon has several features that make it different from how later D&D dungeons were designed, including the oddly angled dungeon corridors and long corridors that seem to lead to no rooms. Also, there has long been questions about where each of the hundreds of staircases lead.

LoZompatore does an amazing job in examining how the dungeon levels are connected and how the dungeon layers correspond to the surface world, which I believe was central to Dave Arneson's dungeon design method.
That's super helpful. I knew about its origins, but not about the unique aspects. Thanks for filling me in.

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

Post by LoZompatore »

Thanks a lot for the appreciation, everybody! I'm glad you find the :D :cool:

First of all, the
Big Mac wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 3:56 pm
MODERATOR NOTE: Please use the report post button, on your own post, if you need to make a request like this, to the moderators, as it will drop your request into the moderator queue. (Just add something like "NON-ABUSE NON-URGENT" to the report you fill out so we know you are asking for help and not complaining about yourself) I'm going to get your post reported and then ask for that message to get pulled out, after the topic is moved.
Thanks a lot Big Mac, I was not aware of the correct procedure to follow. Next time I'll do exactly as you say. Thanks also for the help, by the way! ;)
Havard wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:04 pm
The questions about which stairs lead where is something that have kept coming up over at the Comeback Inn forum and many other Blackmoor related sites. I have wanted to tackle this issue for a long time myself, but as you have ydemonstrated it is such a huge undertaking that I have been putting it off. Thank you for doing this, probably much better than I ever could have :)
Well, thank you Havard! :cool:
Just remember it is just one of the many (infinite?) possible solutions about the aligment of the stairs! :mrgreen:
Moreover, I must say that the alignment was way harder than I expected. :roll:
As I told you in the opening post, I was drawing a map of Blackmoor Town for Mystara, the idea being to update it to DA1-4 era modules so the PCs have a suitable base settlement to explore when they emerge from the Comeback Inn. While trying to add further information to the map I thought that the underground dungeon levels may provide some details to what is aboveground, so I started figuring out the correct proportions and connections among levels. In the end it took me around a month of my free time. ;(

One thing I'm almost sure of by now is that Dave Arneson should have used transparent acetate sheets to draw the dungeon, superimposing the several levels one above the other to see where the stairs would go. Unfortunately we do not know which (and how many) levels a given flight of stairs was going to connect, and that's where the difficult part enters the equation.
Arneson was also pretty precise in setting the changes of scale (level 4 and level 5 external tunnels at 20" per square and level 10 to level 9) which is quite an endeavour in itself as he was not helped by any software at the time.

The "new" levels 11 to 20 have a different set of problems, mostly due to the lack of details in the available maps. Scale is not always specified and at least for Level 19 is quite tricky (i.e. level 17 is at 10 feet per square, level 18 scale is unknown but likely is also at 10 feet per square, then level 19 scale jumps at 20 feet per square but you just infer it from the description of the dungeon areas, not by the map. Then level 20 is back at 10 feet per square, again inferred by dungeon areas descriptions).
The theory about a gigantic annelid having created a massive tunnel from level 20 to level 12 is also incredibly fascinating! I love it and it also is yet another nice tie in to some deep Mystara lore.
I like a lot the idea of an evil burrower being paralyzed just a few hundred meters below Blackmoor Town, and exerting its nefarious influence on the most sensitive minds (like it happened to Wastoure the wizard in DDA modules), over decades and centuries. In Mystara the burrower could be one of the reasons for the corruption of Blackmoor upper echelons, ultimately leading to the Great Rain of Fire.
This is surely a PDF I will keep returning to many times in the future, but I wanted to put some of my immediate thoughts out there right away!
I'm thinking about a Rev 2 of the document adding a few more details, most notably a map on what is directly beneath the Comeback Inn and the large temple of Blackmoor Town. Could it be of any interest?
Last edited by LoZompatore on Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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Could it be of any interest?
Of course it is!
One of my (slowly progressing) projects is about connecting the network of tunnels to the dungeon of the Temple of Id as well... I will get there, eventually!
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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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Amazing resource indeed!
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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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LoZompatore wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:27 pm
Thanks a lot for the appreciation, everybody! I'm glad you find the :D :cool:

....

I'm thinking about a Rev 2 of the document adding a few more details, most notably a map on what is directly beneath the Comeback Inn and the large temple of Blackmoor Town. Could it be of any interest?
Hey you earned it...it is a great Work.Respect

As The Comeback Inn; It is build on a large black rock, and has its own little dungeonlike basement. There do not seem to be connections leading elsewhere. Of course they could be created, yet the canon Inn did not have these...at least not in the adventure itself. Other sources may hint at tunnels going there. Yet as far as I remember the only passage is the temporal gate in the basement, leading to the same gate in another time(mostly random, sometimes controlled).
If you do create connections, which of these would have survived the relocation to the Broken Lands....something to keep an eye on. Especially as the Comeback Inn (possibly due its powerful enchantments) survived on its rock, frozen in ice, times underwater, frozen and resurfaced, then transported by glacial friction (and possibly some Immortal push here and there),and glacial movements along the Brun continnent to the new South, then in the blistering heat of the Broken Lands. The bowlshaped rock the Inn is placed on surely reveals lots of erosion, yet the inn itself (due its magics) is still intact. The black rock may have survived 1000 years of displacement and erosive battering, it was itself not protected by the Inn's magic, so this explains the erosion. The black rock is however placed on different rock (sedimentary volcanic) than it has been before. So any connections stretching beyond the initial rock would be ruptured and affected by the above mentioned erosive effects.

Not to criticize, just to add some more information, you might need to be aware of.
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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

Post by LoZompatore »

Robin wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 1:04 pm
As The Comeback Inn; It is build on a large black rock, and has its own little dungeonlike basement. There do not seem to be connections leading elsewhere. Of course they could be created, yet the canon Inn did not have these...at least not in the adventure itself. Other sources may hint at tunnels going there. Yet as far as I remember the only passage is the temporal gate in the basement, leading to the same gate in another time(mostly random, sometimes controlled).
Indded this is true for the Inn Between the Worlds found in the Broken Lands as of AC 1000, but what about the Comeback Inn of BC 4000?
Notice that the gate in the basement is a hole in time and space (DA1, page 6) so the various iterations of the Inn found across the ages may not be placed at the same location, as you point out.
AC 1000 Inn Between the Worlds is placed in the Broken Lands, but the Comeback Inn of BC 4000 may be placed elsewhere in the world. For this reason I think it is possible to assume that also the underground of the BC 4000 Comeback Inn may be different from what is found in AC 1000 Inn Between the Worlds.
If you do create connections, which of these would have survived the relocation to the Broken Lands....something to keep an eye on. Especially as the Comeback Inn (possibly due its powerful enchantments) survived on its rock, frozen in ice, times underwater, frozen and resurfaced, then transported by glacial friction (and possibly some Immortal push here and there),and glacial movements along the Brun continnent to the new South, then in the blistering heat of the Broken Lands. The domeshaped rock the Inn is placed on surely reveals lots of erosion, yet the in (due its magics) is still intact.
And the black rock may have survived 1000 years of displacement and erosive battering, it was itself not protected by the Inn's magic. The black rock is however placed on different rock than it has been before.so any connections stretching beyond the initial rock would be ruptured and affected by the above mentioned erosive effects.
Definitely this is what would happen to AC 1000 Inn Between the Worlds: there may be signs that the very rock over which the Inn was built was part of a different landscape. Broken connections with the BC 4000 tunnel and cave system may be still visible.
Clever PCs (especially dwarves) investigating the outside of the building should be able to figure out this fact and deduce that the Inn is a foreign body with respect to its surroundings, leading them to infer the magical nature of the place (perhaps inducing the magic users of the group to try to analyze the materials of the inn and its bedrock...). ;)
Not to criticize, just to add some more information, you might need to be aware of.
Of course, and thank you for pointing out all of this! The message boards are here for this kind of debate, I guess! :D :cool: Moreover, it led me to do some deeper research on DA1 module, which is always a good thing ;)

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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Yaztromo wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:48 pm
One of my (slowly progressing) projects is about connecting the network of tunnels to the dungeon of the Temple of Id as well... I will get there, eventually!
That project of yours is interesting.
How far are you locating the Temple of Id? Are you following DA 1-4 maps for its location?
As you know, FFC maps (at least on Levels 4, 5, 9, 10) show several external tunnels going somewhere far from the dungeon axis. Plus there is the 2-miles long tunnel of Level 1.
Did you already establish which of these are going to the Temple of Id?

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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Yes, but so far I did just the pre-work and I have plenty of ideas. I have a few other projects to complete before picking up again (and hopefully complete) the Temple of Id...
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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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I could not resist the urge to delve into DA1. I came up with the following which might help....one way or another
LoZompatore wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:30 am
Indded this is true for the Inn Between the Worlds found in the Broken Lands as of AC 1000, but what about the Comeback Inn of BC 4000?
Notice that the gate in the basement is a hole in time and space (DA1, page 6) so the various iterations of the Inn found across the ages may not be placed at the same location, as you point out.
AC 1000 Inn Between the Worlds is placed in the Broken Lands, but the Comeback Inn of BC 4000 may be placed elsewhere in the world. For this reason I think it is possible to assume that also the underground of the BC 4000 Comeback Inn may be different from what is found in AC 1000 Inn Between the Worlds.
DA1 Page7, midtext middle; wrote:...and used the rest of the money to build an inn on the Town's main square, just a short distance from Blackmoor Castle....
PDA1 age 7 right text; wrote:...Fredigar took to have it permeated with expensive and rare magical spells...
DA1 Page 8 right text; wrote:...The Inn between the Worlds....Exists in the world described in X1(1000ACMystara)....4000years after the Blackmoor Comeback Inn and a few years before Prison Out of Time...
DA1 Page 8 right text; wrote:..All Comeback Inns use the same floor plan. However, the contents of the inn's various rooms are different in each case.
DA1 Page 12; wrote:However, whether located in the future or the past, each inn is identical to the first in Between the Worlds, ecxept as follows;
(several intrusion effects are listed)
DA1 Page 22 right text; wrote: Instead the inn sits atop a gentle slope, cloaked in a lush green lawn. There are trees and shrubs all round. Towering in the distance is a solid looking black castle on a hill above the inn.
There are no other buildings although source line 1 places it in the town's square...maybe an empty section? or artists freedom(not done often in those days, most relied on reality)
The picture on page 30 however shows a bustly street/market...so it is best to assume the patch behind and next to the Inn is held empty (and horses are maybe stationed here in the open, or it is a section of farmland, of friendly garden park between the Inn and the castle
At the same time the described text, is a picture on the cover of the adventure where indeed NO buildings are created...Yet it is also not clear water between the castle and Inn as the Judges Guild maps give.
Image
The best assumption after combinning this information is that this picture is soon after its creation, when the town was not filled.
Unknown to any then, the black rock, indiginous to the Blackmoor region, is underneath the inn (and of course elsewhere around).

This picture; Image reveals a sign pointing to the Inn at a more settled time, there are cleary structures next to it. and also a discomforting view inside the Inn where a maiden seems to be bounsd or dancing before a mass of helmed viewers.
The link https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1177 ... 38369.html reveals a lot from the Judges Guild material where the Castle Blackmoor is a Haunted ruin. So this must be later than the 4000 years ago(or some more as
Other sources
revealed Blackmoor in 3500BC,; so further back from DA1, and still before the GRoF of 3000BC. So which date would this be??
http://www.pandius.com/blkmtime.html gives a better timeline in this respect and places the DA1 adventure 4000BC, not 4000 years ago. The judges guild material itself thusfar does not reveal any futuristic advancements, so this must be after the DA3 city of the Gods adventure yet before the mages acquired the knowledge to copy the found technics. (I do not have this Judges Guild material :( :o so I could not check how and when ;( )
Mystara Timeline wrote:3500 BC: The Blackmoor civilisation is flourishing. It conducts trade and intermittent war with the southern elves, at the other end of the world. Four clans of elves colonise in the region near Blackmoor. Both the southern and the colonial elves embrace Blackmoor's technology. Blackmoor priests demand the extermination of the "unnatural" beastmen in the Borean Valley, and promote holy wars to hunt down and destroy those creatures.
So Blackmoor Castle would be an abandoned ruin after 4000BC and before 3500BC. that is my conclusion.
Such an event would certainly have affected underground connections, maybe the connection from the castle to the Inn is closed then.
LoZompatore wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:30 am
Definitely this is what would happen to AC 1000 Inn Between the Worlds: there may be signs that the very rock over which the Inn was built was part of a different landscape. Broken connections with the BC 4000 tunnel and cave system may be still visible.
Clever PCs (especially dwarves) investigating the outside of the building should be able to figure out this fact and deduce that the Inn is a foreign body with respect to its surroundings, leading them to infer the magical nature of the place (perhaps inducing the magic users of the group to try to analyze the materials of the inn and its bedrock...). ;)
That would indeed be logical. as these quotes reveal
DA1 Page 8 right text; wrote:..Swept beneath the sea in the cataclysm that utterly destroyed the ancient kingdon of Blackmoor
DA1 Page 10; wrote:...tortured Lands, climbing its rocky peaks, negotiating its sanddy-bottomed canyons...
DA1 Page 10 wrote:...a squaling sound of metal on metal...This gives an average range of 500 yards to 1000 yard depending on wind
DA1 Page 10 wrote:...brittle rock falling away beneath the horses' hooves....
DA1 Page 10 wrote:...Invisible from below, this ledge of rock is different from the chimney you just climbed. That was the same crumbly sandstone as the surrounding hills and canyons. This is different. Harder, denser, smoother, it has the same feel as the igneous rock found further north in the volcanic heart of this broken land. Unlike the surrounding rock, the ledge is black as ebony and unbroken, though scored with many grooves and folds. You follow it until the ledge begins to fall away into a shallow depression, almost perfectly rounded bowl of black rock set atop the sandstone chimney.
...before you craddled in the bowl of black rock, rests a tall L-shaped building of indifinable archaic construction...
..These walls are built of the same dense black stone as the bowl itself, but the walls are stained a greenish hue like the moss in the bottom of an old Millcourse.
The only tunnel I could imagine; is located behind the gate (and only accessible when the gate is not active). Following the descriptions in the text, this could lead to the castle Blackmoor as
DA1 Page 41 left text #5; wrote:The King is an honorary employee of the inn. If he is alive and well he can exit the Inn and pull the PC's through to the outside world.
The text earlier also claims the King did visit the Inn incognito, and a tunnel to the Inn would surely be a means of secretly exiting and entering the castle without anybody knowing. That would mean it has a tunnel, yet entering the tunnel from the Inn would fall under the same magical warding rules...normally...It could also be possible this is not so and this could be the only way out. The description of the ara described the wall there as the same rock the Inn is build upon....., yet maybe this is the only place in the warding enchantment where a "well placed PassWall" effect or Dimensional Door would enable passage. Thus far my rambling of thoughts.
LoZompatore wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 11:30 am
Of course, and thank you for pointing out all of this! The message boards are here for this kind of debate, I guess! :D :cool: Moreover, it led me to do some deeper research on DA1 module, which is always a good thing ;)
Thanx. This helps. I always feel insecure when doing so. sorry.
In my research on the location of the comeback inn in the making of the Broken Lands 1 mile map I had made this visual compilation of the rock. It is located just east of Gnollistan.
Image
I know of a discussion of the direction the Comeback Inn made after being Flooded, frozen, uplifted, floating moved, glacial moved (with some Immortal help I assume) over Brun, towards the Broken Lands....Yet I can't locate this discussion anymore (Here, pandius, Old site, I really do not know,
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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

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Robin wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 4:01 pm
I know of a discussion of the direction the Comeback Inn made after being Flooded, frozen, uplifted, floating moved, glacial moved (with some Immortal help I assume) over Brun, towards the Broken Lands....Yet I can't locate this discussion anymore (Here, pandius, Old site, I really do not know,
Do you mean this one? viewtopic.php?f=24&t=18957

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Robin »

ripvanwormer wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 5:53 pm
Robin wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 4:01 pm
I know of a discussion of the direction the Comeback Inn made after being Flooded, frozen, uplifted, floating moved, glacial moved (with some Immortal help I assume) over Brun, towards the Broken Lands....Yet I can't locate this discussion anymore (Here, pandius, Old site, I really do not know,
Do you mean this one? viewtopic.php?f=24&t=18957
Thanx Rip. ;)
Not sure. :?
As a map fanatic :mrgreen: I remember the continental map where the trajectory of the inn through times was displayed, and I can't find a map there....the descriptions are familiar though.


Today (drawn into this discussion and checked the module intensely) I readjusted the Comeback Inn art from the DA1 adventure's Cover.
Image
This is a readjusted picture by Jim Holloway. (originally made for the D&D BECMI adventure " DA1-TSR9172 Adventures in Blackmoor") and displayed on the inside cover.
As this picture should depict the Comeback Inn and the Blackmoor Castle in the background and still conforming to the map of the City of Blackmoor, some readjustments had to be made to enable this.
Mostly the colors were wrong as only 5 colors were used in the art. I think Jim Holloway made this Black&White, and the Distributor company colored these; Roughly.
Also I had to recolor the waters as the map of the City of Blackmoor, reveals a lake or sea around the castle island and a view from within the city (apparently from the roof of a building opposite of the Inn
Secondly The road was not coloured although several squinty lines did reveal these. I followed these and colored the road and water areas accordingly
Thirdly and last; the perspective was somewhat off on the left side and I move the distant coast upwards.
I hope I still do the artist right in this readjusted art.
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(to see all fantasy art; log inn and declare you are an adult...frigging exposure rules)

My personal Mystara Blog;http://breathofmystara.blogspot.nl/ with lots of information, soon active again.

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Raymond »

Wow!

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Havard »

Robin wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 4:01 pm
Instead the inn sits atop a gentle slope, cloaked in a lush green lawn. There are trees and shrubs all round. Towering in the distance is a solid looking black castle on a hill above the inn.
There are no other buildings although source line 1 places it in the town's square...maybe an empty section? or artists freedom(not done often in those days, most relied on reality)
Yeah, that illustration made little sense to me. I suppose, in theory the painting could predate much of the construction of the town itself, making the Comeback Inn one of the oldest buildings in the town. Overall, the DA modules do not go out of their way to reconcile the setting with how Blackmoor was described in the FFC which TSR didn't hold the rights to.

The link https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1177 ... 38369.html reveals a lot from the Judges Guild material where the Castle Blackmoor is a Haunted ruin. So this must be later than the 4000 years ago(or some more as
Other sources
revealed Blackmoor in 3500BC,; so further back from DA1, and still before the GRoF of 3000BC. So which date would this be??
http://www.pandius.com/blkmtime.html gives a better timeline in this respect and places the DA1 adventure 4000BC, not 4000 years ago. The judges guild material itself thusfar does not reveal any futuristic advancements, so this must be after the DA3 city of the Gods adventure yet before the mages acquired the knowledge to copy the found technics. (I do not have this Judges Guild material :( :o so I could not check how and when ;( )
I can see how this is confusing, but the FFC is set roughly 30 years before the DA modules. The reason the Castle was described as a haunted ruin back then was because it had been taken over during the invasions from the Egg of Coot and then liberated by the elves.

DA1 should be set around BC4000.




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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Robin »

Havard wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:07 pm
Yeah, that illustration made little sense to me. I suppose, in theory the painting could predate much of the construction of the town itself, making the Comeback Inn one of the oldest buildings in the town. Overall, the DA modules do not go out of their way to reconcile the setting with how Blackmoor was described in the FFC which TSR didn't hold the rights to.
I hope the painting is better now ;p
That could indeed well be. that the Inn was build as per DA1 shortly after the creation of the castle and city.

Havard wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:07 pm
The link https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1177 ... 38369.html reveals a lot from the Judges Guild material where the Castle Blackmoor is a Haunted ruin. So this must be later than the 4000 years ago(or some more as
Other sources
revealed Blackmoor in 3500BC,; so further back from DA1, and still before the GRoF of 3000BC. So which date would this be??
http://www.pandius.com/blkmtime.html gives a better timeline in this respect and places the DA1 adventure 4000BC, not 4000 years ago. The judges guild material itself thusfar does not reveal any futuristic advancements, so this must be after the DA3 city of the Gods adventure yet before the mages acquired the knowledge to copy the found technics. (I do not have this Judges Guild material :( :o so I could not check how and when ;( )
I can see how this is confusing, but the FFC is set roughly 30 years before the DA modules. The reason the Castle was described as a haunted ruin back then was because it had been taken over during the invasions from the Egg of Coot and then liberated by the elves.

DA1 should be set around BC4000.

-Havard
Indeed it is confusing. yet this explains all. So the painting is from about 4030BC, DA1 4000BC DA2 4000-3999BC, DA3, 4000BC-3990BC, DA4 3995-385BC
Thanx Havard
My Deviantart page; http://6inchnails.deviantart.com/ For Mystara hexmaps and Fantasy art
(to see all fantasy art; log inn and declare you are an adult...frigging exposure rules)

My personal Mystara Blog;http://breathofmystara.blogspot.nl/ with lots of information, soon active again.

All my collected works on The Piazza

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Aldarron »

Super cool. Its very intriguing to me to see someone else tackle this and I'm enjoying the doc immensely.

My guess is the Lozompatore is unaware of the 3d Gimp model I did aligning all the shafts and stairs and what not - which is probably just as well or he probably wouldn't have tried to figure it out himself! heh. I've really only shared it around to people who were asking about it so that's not surprising, but since there has been so much interest lately I posted a link in a blog post https://boggswood.blogspot.com/2020/06/ ... rs-in.html

Note that the Gimp file is only for the FFC levels 1 -10, so I can't provide much guidance for the ZG levels, but the rest should clear up any other difficulties.

Historically it may also be of interest to point out the start of this topic at this thread https://odd74.proboards.com/thread/3246 ... ngeon-line

Here are a few quick notes I took as I read through the pdf. This is not a complete list by any means, but some things for consideration:

So when Arneson points out the Orchian way ends 250' down - he is actually talking about level 6, the original bottom, not level 10, the expanded bottom. For those who don't know, Arneson originally drew up the first 6 levels, and then some months later added 4 more. Level 6 is -150 feet below the town, per Megarry's 1972 maps, so that means Blackmoor castle sits on a hill 100 feet above the town. The Orchian Way of course ends on level 6, just west of room 5. Funk's throne room is room 14. The confusion came in later when people remembered the Orcs were on the bottom, and they knew the bottom was level 10, so the orcs must be on level 10 right? Wrong. It is an easy error to make, one Greg Svenson, for example, has often made, such as in this story https://blackmoor.mystara.net/greg02.html where he accurately describes level 6 and the throne room (#14) but mistakes it for level 10 - where of course, no such room exists.

The town map - well, that was a valiant attempt. The problem is that the tunnel maps align with Arneson's original town map. Bob Bledsaw's redraw is really messed up, and the scale is wrong. :( Using Bledsaw's map will send your tunnels off in completely wrong directions, so that, for example, the tunnel to the elf stump ends up underwater in Blackmoor Bay, or the tunnel to the temple of the Id will end up in lake Hope instead! I'd suggest trying to resize Arneson's original town map with the level 4 tunnels map until you get a match between the buildings listed on the tunnels map and the buildings above. (This is one of those things I've never gotten around to doing in the Gimp file).

Alignment of the castle to the basement. Hmm well this is a tough one, but the alignment is off by 90 degrees. Here's an old post where I discuss it. https://boggswood.blogspot.com/2017/01/ ... ngeon.html
The thing to notice about this is that when Arneson drew the basement back in 1971 he was modeling it on the walls of his Kibri model castle. If you follow those, you will see how the basement fits.

Aligning Stairs - well the first thing to take into account is that we are dealing with printed maps redrawn from lost originals. That means that scale must be understood to be imperfect. So when aligning levels some slight scale adjustments will need to be made for everything to align tightly, and they will when the adjustment is made. Typically this meant that in Gimp I might have to resize a layer by 2 or 3%, Not a lot, but it makes a big difference in how well the levels align. Had to do the exact same thing recently with the Tonisborg maps.

The other thing to realize is that the FFC maps have instances where corridors where shortened or passages slightly re-angled to fit better on a printed page. Megarry's 1972 maps are invaluable for identifying things like that. There are only a handful of such things but if you don't know about them it can really mess up your map.

Staircase Loz labels "D" does not go down. It goes up as it says on the FFC map. In fact, it is a staircase leading up into the wall that surrounds the castle. For reference, this is stair 0e1 in the Gimp file.

It looks like Loz maps are mostly good on my quick scan through. He has the Orchian way right (1Orc256) and a few others I checked so that's terrific.

Level 9 connects to level 10 through a whole bunch of shafts marked by black squares. Loz seems to have missed that :( Understandable, since on other levels black squares are used to mark the location of devil statues. Check the Gimp file if you are curious. HOWEVER the observation about the collapsed floors/pools/pits being directly over level 10 rooms is FASCINATING! I never noticed that!!! Really good work there.

Oh, by the way there is NO RIVER on level 9. That was simply a mistake by some of the ZG folks. The "river" was nothing more than a border line Arneson drew to mark of the territory of the Red Hand orc tribe for one of his games. Bledsaw copied it in the FFC map (even though the key mentions nothing about the Red Hand orcs here) and the ZG cartographer mistook it for an underground river.

I realize I'm basically saying Lozamptor will need to go back to the drawing board for a good bit of this, but overall I thought it was a good attempt with some interesting insights and impressive graphics. And Lo, if you are reading this and you would like to talk to me about it, I'd be happy to. Just drop me a pm or email.

I will say however that the 3d model Gimp file I made is a highly accurate alignment of Arneson's original, so any questions that arise with Loz material for levels 1-10 can be checked and corrected with that.
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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

Post by LoZompatore »

Aldarron wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:29 am
My guess is the Lozompatore is unaware of the 3d Gimp model I did aligning all the shafts and stairs and what not - which is probably just as well or he probably wouldn't have tried to figure it out himself! heh. I've really only shared it around to people who were asking about it so that's not surprising, but since there has been so much interest lately I posted a link in a blog post https://boggswood.blogspot.com/2020/06/ ... rs-in.html
Thanks a lot for the links! :cool: :cool: :cool:
I never imagined someone else came up with a similar (and much better documented) work on the same subject 10 years ago, otherwise I would have never replicated the effort! :roll: I was completely unaware of your model and the issues you already solved!

Unfortunately the link you added in your blog post appears to be broken, at least to me: the browser tries to connect to some Dropbox cloud space but no actual content is in it and just a blank page is shown.

As I wrote in the beginning of this thread, my attempt at aligning the stairs started out as a side project, as I wished to draw and updated fanon map of Blackmoor Town to be used as a reference home town by Player Characters involved in DA1 - DA4 modules (I mostly play in Mystara setting). I must admit I never expected Backmmor Castle to be such a puzzle and I badly underestimated the effort needed to reconcile everything. And so, what I originally tought as a (long) post here on the message boards ended up in the (very long) document you just read.

My only sources were the FFC module and ZG supplement: I do not have access to historical documentations and other material coming from the original players of Dave Arneson, so my work is definitely amateurish at best.
Here are a few quick notes I took as I read through the pdf. This is not a complete list by any means, but some things for consideration:
Well, thanks for your help and suggestions! It is always useful to learn something new. :cool:
So when Arneson points out the Orchian way ends 250' down - he is actually talking about level 6, the original bottom, not level 10, the expanded bottom. For those who don't know, Arneson originally drew up the first 6 levels, and then some months later added 4 more. Level 6 is -150 feet below the town, per Megarry's 1972 maps, so that means Blackmoor castle sits on a hill 100 feet above the town. The Orchian Way of course ends on level 6, just west of room 5. Funk's throne room is room 14.
Ok, cool. I also noticed your table about elevations in your blog post, which is very interesing (and funny since it seems I unknowingly followed the same stream of thoughts as yours about the subject).
About the Orcian (Orchian) Way I just followed the description in FFC saying that it ends on Level 10. On Level 10, in the bottom right corner of FFC map (South East), there is also a barely readable tag labelled "Orcian Way" so I supposed the end of the route was moved there when the new levels were added.
The town map - well, that was a valiant attempt. The problem is that the tunnel maps align with Arneson's original town map.
...
I'd suggest trying to resize Arneson's original town map with the level 4 tunnels map until you get a match between the buildings listed on the tunnels map and the buildings above.
Thank you ;) . What you say is very interesting: I was aware of the misplaced location of the Inn/Church/Town Size shown in the map of the external tunnels of Level 4, I just decided to ignore them as a gross mistake but if you say it is mostly due to an error in the scale with respect to the main Level beneath the castle then I guess it can be handled.
Let's try to see what happens with a rotation / rescaling of the external tunnels of Level 4 (and Level 5) and see if they make more sense.

By the way, do you have any idea about what the tree stump (aka "elfhome" or similar name, IIRC) actually represents?
Alignment of the castle to the basement. Hmm well this is a tough one, but the alignment is off by 90 degrees. Here's an old post where I discuss it. https://boggswood.blogspot.com/2017/01/ ... ngeon.html
The thing to notice about this is that when Arneson drew the basement back in 1971 he was modeling it on the walls of his Kibri model castle. If you follow those, you will see how the basement fits.
I agree, this is a tough one. I just read your post and I'm not sure what to think about the correct alignment between the basement (and the dungeon in general) and the aboveground castle. I'd really prefer not using the old Domesday Book map of Blackmoor Town, as it would force me to change the largest part of my work but, maybe, the issue can be solved just by rotating just the castle building/walls layout and leaving the rest unchanged, who knows.

Aligning Stairs - well the first thing to take into account is that we are dealing with printed maps redrawn from lost originals. That means that scale must be understood to be imperfect. So when aligning levels some slight scale adjustments will need to be made for everything to align tightly, and they will when the adjustment is made. Typically this meant that in Gimp I might have to resize a layer by 2 or 3%, Not a lot, but it makes a big difference in how well the levels align. Had to do the exact same thing recently with the Tonisborg maps.

The other thing to realize is that the FFC maps have instances where corridors where shortened or passages slightly re-angled to fit better on a printed page. Megarry's 1972 maps are invaluable for identifying things like that. There are only a handful of such things but if you don't know about them it can really mess up your map.

Staircase Loz labels "D" does not go down. It goes up as it says on the FFC map. In fact, it is a staircase leading up into the wall that surrounds the castle. For reference, this is stair 0e1 in the Gimp file.
Staircases alignment is really approximate on my side: I just superimposed all levels assuming scales at face value and then I grouped all stairs into clusters based on how much they were close to each other, at the same time ignoring all "up" and "down" labels. I'm pretty sure you did a much, much better job than mine in this. I was not looking for perfect alignment and just suggesting potentail connections among levels, contemplating also stairs without exit on a given level and possible collapses.
Of course if there is an exact match between stairs - as I understand you managed to highlight with your Gimp file - then connections among levels become indisputable and everything changes (and I have to modify it :mrgreen:).
Level 9 connects to level 10 through a whole bunch of shafts marked by black squares. Loz seems to have missed that :( Understandable, since on other levels black squares are used to mark the location of devil statues. Check the Gimp file if you are curious.
Really good to know, thanks! I read about devil statues in FFC module, but I really was not aware about this detail about shafts.
I located the black squares on FFC map of Level 9 it should be easy to match them with the corresponding areas of Level 10.
Oh, by the way there is NO RIVER on level 9. That was simply a mistake by some of the ZG folks. The "river" was nothing more than a border line Arneson drew to mark of the territory of the Red Hand orc tribe for one of his games. Bledsaw copied it in the FFC map (even though the key mentions nothing about the Red Hand orcs here) and the ZG cartographer mistook it for an underground river.
Of this I was aware, but ZG module detailed a whole area around it so I thought it was a nice add-on to the description of the dungeon with respect to a simple border line. Moreover the underground river makes sense in providing a source of water and some food (fish) to the denizens of this level. Finally, it is also a dangerous trap for those falling into it, as they could end up disgorged at quite some depth into the bay with little chance to come back alive to the surface.
I realize I'm basically saying Lozamptor will need to go back to the drawing board for a good bit of this, but overall I thought it was a good attempt with some interesting insights and impressive graphics. And Lo, if you are reading this and you would like to talk to me about it, I'd be happy to. Just drop me a pm or email.
I'm afraid so! :facepalm: ;(
I just hope revision 2 will not take as long as the first draft. Thanks for your unvaluable help, anyway. I'm really interested in comparing you Gimp file with mine and make corrections as needed, just let mw know where I could find your file.
Definitely you'll get credits for this and links to your blog as soon as I manage to revise what I wrote down.

How do you prefer to be addressed, for your credits? Is Aldarron fine for you?
By the way, you can call me "Zomp" (as most people on Mystara message board address me :mrgreen: ) or Michele, as you like. ;)

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Re: The Stairs of Castle Blackmoor

Post by Aldarron »

That' s super weird about the link. I'll get that sorted out tomorrow. Anyway, I've tried adding in the village map to the file and so I'll update the gimp file before I figure out what is wrong with the link. :)
LoZompatore wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:28 pm
..... I was aware of the misplaced location of the Inn/Church/Town Size shown in the map of the external tunnels of Level 4, I just decided to ignore them as a gross mistake but if you say it is mostly due to an error in the scale with respect to the main Level beneath the castle then I guess it can be handled.
Let's try to see what happens with a rotation / rescaling of the external tunnels of Level 4 (and Level 5) and see if they make more sense.

By the way, do you have any idea about what the tree stump (aka "elfhome" or similar name, IIRC) actually represents?

The castle and village really don't fit the tunnel maps well. It's close enough to see what Arneson intended, but when you scale the town close to matching the spacing of the buildings on the tunnel map, it makes the castle way to small for the dungeon. To make it work, some of the tunnels leading to the town would need to be extended a bit and a new castle/town map drawn with a bigger castle, and the town buildings actually matching the tunnel map, I think. This could be done..... (Edit: done and updated to file.)

Be that as it may, you are taking a different and valuable approach - trying to make the printed material match, whereas what I was doing with the town has more to do with how it was actually set up for play back in the day.

The elf stump is a classic cliche fake stump that covers a secret entrance to the dungeon.

LoZompatore wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:28 pm
How do you prefer to be addressed, for your credits? Is Aldarron fine for you?
By the way, you can call me "Zomp" (as most people on Mystara message board address me :mrgreen: ) or Michele, as you like. ;)
Zomp - I love it. Oh, on the boards I get Aldy a lot, but in credits you probably should go with D. H. Boggs.
Game Archaeology 'blog with a focus on Blackmoor and Twin Cities gaming https://boggswood.blogspot.com/

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