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Blackmoor is a 60-page sourcebook for Original Dungeons & Dragons released in December 1975. It is the second Dungeons & Dragons supplement published by TSR.

Although it was named for D&D co-creator Dave Arneson's campaign world, it has little to do with that setting. Its most notable contributions to the D&D game are the monk and assassin character classes, and rules for aquatic campaigns.

Official synopsis[]

Caution! This is the second supplement to the highly addictive game Dungeons & Dragons. Handle it at your own risk. Even a brief perusal can infect the reader with the desire to do heroic deeds, cast mighty magical spells, and seek to wrest treasure from hideous monsters. The most insidious factor, however, is the secondary nature of this work. Any reader who becomes infected from this work will immediately develop a craving for the other parts, i.e. Dungeons & Dragons, Greyhawk (Supplement I), Chainmail (Medieval Miniatures Rules), polyhedral dice, and various and sundry other items. Anyone so completely ex- posed will certainly be hopelessly lost. In short, if you are not already an addict of fantasy adventure, put this booklet down quickly and flee!

Content[]

Blackmoor is a supplement introducing new Dungeons & Dragons content and modifications to existing rules. It is divided into three chapters named for the original three books of the Dungeons & Dragons 3-Volume Set (1974).

The Men & Magic chapter introduces the monk class, initially a subclass of cleric; and assassin, a subclass of thief. It describes a called shot hit location system. It introduces rules for variable damage for monster attacks.

In Monsters & Treasure, statistics are introduced for new monsters, mostly aquatic: merman, giant crab, giant octopus, giant squid, giant crocodile, giant toad, giant frog, giant leech, giant beaver, giant otter, giant wasp, giant beetle (stag beetle, rhinoceros beetle, bombardier beetle, fire beetle, and boring beetle), fire lizard, minotaur lizard, elasmosaurus, mosasaurus, plesiosaurus, giant shark, whale, giant eel, lamprey, sea horse, Portuguese man-o-war, dolphin, aquatic elf, pungi ray, manta ray, water spider, weed eel, sahuagin, eye of the deep (floating eyes), ixitxachitl, locathah, morkoth (morlock), masher, poisonous coral, and strangle weed; and as variants, the lycanthrope, nymph, mottled worm, sea hag, kapoacinth, koalinth, and lacedon. New magic items and treasure are introduced: ring of freedom, ring of movement, clearwater potion, manta ray cloak, nacklace of water breathing, trident of fish control, net of snaring, helm of underwater vision, and pearls as treasure.

In the section The Underworld and Wilderness Adventure, an adventure module Temple of the Frog is included, the first adventure published in a TSR D&D product. It provides additional rules for underwater adventures, sailing, specialists, and disease.

Development and release[]

Development[]

The book was written by Dave Arneson. Art was provided by Dave Sutherland, Mike Bell and Tracy Lesch. Steve Marsh was credited with suggestions and ideas. Editing was provided by Tim Kask, his first project for TSR.

The Temple of the Frog adventure module was written by Dave Arneson. The underwater rules were contributed by Steve Marsh. Marsh also asserted that Gary Gygax adapted Temple of the Frog to work with D&D's rules, and that the hit location rules were also Arneson's invention, making more sense in the fixed hit point system of his own rules.[2] For his contributions, Marsh received a copy of the finished product.[3]

Tim Kask, who joined the company in September 1975, recalls that he had to do a significant amount of rewriting and invention. The original manuscript consisted of a peach basket of around fifty to sixty handwritten pages of a great variety of data, including charts, tables, and maps, some of which was duplicate information. Less than half of this ultimately made it into the finished product, and half of the content which did was substantially edited.[4][5]

Kask recalls that he was given around six weeks to compile Blackmoor from the basket of papers, and had to give up the basket because Gary Gygax's wife needed it for laundry. A week later he began trying to make sense of the ideas in the papers, but found a great deal of ambiguity and repetition. He estimates that aside from Temple of the Frog, 65% to 70% of the remaining work was his own, with the remainder by Gary Gygax, Rob Kuntz, Terry Kuntz, and Brian Blume, although he conceded that some concepts were inspired by Arneson's work. As editor, Kask did not receive royalties.[6]

Gary Gygax also had input on monster design, with Gygax and Kask jointly working on monsters, including the giant beetles.[7] Both disliked the assassin class, an idea from Arneson's notes, believing it improper as a player character concept and too powerful at high level; it was included after Brian Blume argued that few players would reach such a high character level. Blume was also a fan of the monk class, another idea from Arneson's campaign, thanks to Blume's interest in the 1970s TV series Kung Fu. Kask also disliked the monk, but it was ultimately included.[8] Gygax would later assert that the assassin was his own invention,[9] although he asserted that the Blackmoor supplement was written primarily by Arneson with substantial development by Kask.[10]

The sage class was originally devised as a player character class. Kask converted it to an NPC-only class, believing it was not viable as a player character role. As an NPC, it served the DM as a convenient method to impart knowledge directly to the players.[11]

Announcement and previews[]

Blackmoor was announced as an upcoming product in Strategic Review #3 (Autumn 1975). Strategic Review #4 (Winter 1975) apologized for the book's delay, and advertised it for sale at $5.00. Strategic Review #5 (December 1975) apologized again, reporting on a week-long delay getting the proofs back from the printers. Some readers had pre-ordered the book.

Release[]

Blackmoor was released by TSR in 1975 for $5.00 US. The first printing shows a copyright date of December 1975. Subsequent printings were made, the last being the 9th printing in November 1979.[1]

It was reprinted in 2013 as part of the Premium Reprint, with new cover art. This retitled the work from Supplement II to Book V.

On February 9, 2016, it was re-released in digital format. It is currently available on DriveThruRPG and Dungeon Masters Guild for $4.99.

Reception and influence[]

Sales[]

According to Tim Kask in 2024, "Greyhawk sold a hell of a lot better than Blackmoor did."[12]

Critical reception[]

Early reviews of the Blackmoor supplement were generally negative, with the product earning such unflattering nicknames as "Blackbore", "Blechbore" and "Blackmanure". It was compared unfavorably to Greyhawk, which featured 13 more pages at the same price. Other criticisms included the non-traditional monk class, and the decision to dedicate a third of the product to an adventure module. A reader survey in Space Gamer issue 6 rated Blackmoor a 5.2, compared to Greyhawk scoring 7.4.[13]

As of 2023, Blackmoor reached the rank of Platinum seller on DriveThruRPG.

Influence on other works[]

The monk and assassin class went on to become D&D staples, as did many of the new aquatic monsters introduced in Blackmoor. Called shot rules did not remain popular.

The adventure module would be redeveloped as DA2 Temple of the Frog (1986). A sequel for D&D third edition, Return to the Temple of the Frog{{UnknownBook}}, was released as a free web module in 2007.[14]

External links[]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Original D&D Supplements - The Acaeum
  2. Q&A with Steve Marsh, page 4. Dragonsfoot, November 17, 2005.
  3. Peterson, Jon. Playing at the World, chapter 5.9.2, "License to Compete".
  4. Q&A with Tim Kask, page 4. Dragonsfoot, May 13, 2007.
  5. The Curmudgeon in the Cellar YT 14. Tim Kask, YouTube. Dec 31, 2017. 13m 28s.
  6. Q&A with Tim Kask, page 8. Dragonsfoot, May 25, 2007.
  7. Q&A with Tim Kask, page 38. Dragonsfoot, June 3, 2008.
  8. Q&A with Tim Kask, page 68. Dragonsfoot, October 16, 2009.
  9. Q&A with Gary Gygax, page 408. ENWorld, Sep 15, 2007.
  10. Q&A with Gary Gygax, page 270. ENWorld, May 29, 2006.
  11. Curmudgeon in the Cellar 182. Tim Kask, YouTube. Jul 24, 2021. 26m 8s.
  12. Curumdgeon in the Cellar 301. Tim Kask, YouTube. March 9, 2024.
  13. Peterson, Jon. Playing at the World, chapter 5.8, "The Bully Pulpit of Lake Geneva".
  14. Return to the Temple of the Frog
Original Dungeons & Dragons
Core rules
Dungeons & Dragons 3-Volume Set
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