The Mists gather

Am I fully back to things? No. I’m still somewhat on hiatus. However, I am putting in something for Threshold Magazine Issue #30. This continued Mystara – Ravenloft crossover contains two more ancient domains. The first looks at the later years of Blackmoor, as a crusade against the Beastmen truly kicks off. And for a post-Great Rain of Fire realm, there is one taking from Taymora.

The former examines a torn apart colony besieged by endless war and enemies on all sides. A glorious admiral is not the man he once was, lacking the confidence and passion to truly bring a new age for Blackmoorians under his protection. And worse, he can’t even bare to fill his ego by looking at himself, as he only sees the beast that he acted like. However, in rare moments, he can muster enough of himself to gather volunteers to always fight back and uphold their sense of ancestral pride.

The latter explores a post-apocalyptic wreck, degraded from their days of glory, but still advancing and moving forward. This corruption of Taymora is a warped look at an old culture. And despite their attempts at pushing towards a better vision of the ways, they are viewed as backwards by the seas at large. As for their leader, once a great daughter of one of the many Vampire High Priestesses, she is cut down in both beauty and sanity. Still very powerful, she alienates and horrifies the public, as her gifts will never work as she desires them to again.

Likewise, I elaborate on some of the tortures facing the Black Rajah of Jaibul. Lifted right from the words of the Voyage of the Princess Ark, the Rajah faces new troubles in the Demiplane of Dread. Likewise, his call for allies falls on mostly no ears.

Stay tuned.

Threshold Magazine # 29 Now Available

As I’ve posted before, I have an article in the current issue of Mystara’s greatest fan magazine, Threshold. The article, “Beyond Nebligtod: Mystara in the Mists” explores three new Domains of Dread that have a distinctly Mystaran influence/perspective. Likewise, check out the other amazing contributions as well. Also, shout-out to the editors and layout designers for their amazing work.

You can find Issue # 29 here.

I LIVE… AGAIN!

“Open for Business!”

So, what gives? I vanish from you fine people for a long time with barely a word.  Well, I owe at least some explanation.  In short, things have not been exactly exemplary, tearing me away from creative stuff.  Lots of personal problems I may divulge in another post.  On top of that, being hardcore burned out on D&D has made things a bit rougher in general.  Either way, I’m back with a bit of an announcement.  Without telling you too much about my life, things have been a bit hectic during my semi-hiatus from the page here.  But, I’ve still kept busy with at least something.  

So with that, I’d like to inform that my contribution for Threshold Magazine is nearing completion.  The theme?  More victims of the Dark Powers hailing from the world of Mystara.  Read the frantic notes of the Black Rajah of Jaibul as he tries to make sense of his own situation.  Dare to seek more on other prisoners of the mists, even a word on Meredoth of Nebligtod!  While two of these domains are based on previous creations seen on my blog, this article expands a little on Vasfar and Ylar.  Joining them is a domain that connects to the mysterious pocket domain of Acotlaza.  This is the Scarred Crags, a mockery of Tiger Clan attempts to conquer their siblings of the Atruaghin Clans.  While the themes of fighting lycanthropy, colonization and oppression are no strangers to the Demiplane of Dread, hopefully this new Darklord’s pain pleases the Dark Powers.  And likewise, I hope that those reading this are just as eager as I am to make some more mad creations for the Demiplane of Dread.  Should things prove popular enough, this might continue.  Beyond Threshold, I might make a follow-up for Fraternity of Shadow’s Quoth the Raven or perhaps Threshold once more.  Likewise, musings on converting Ravenloft content to BECMI.  The Darklords and related creatures get only minimal mechanical considerations in the current article though.  In the meantime, the mists are parting once more and something dark lingers nearby.

Blackmoor Week 2020: Blackmoor, Into the Future

https://daemonsanddeathrays.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/8b57f-blackmoorweekbanner2020.jpg

Blackmoor week celebrates the birth of Dave Arneson and his creation of the Blackmoor setting.  As the co-founder of the game and other grandfather of roleplaying games, he deserves some love as well, hence this week on the web.  You can click the image above to see more of what Blackmoor Week has to offer.  But, should you be interested in my own mad ramblings and homages to Arneson’s setting and beyond, do continue here as well!  Doc’s Laboratory awaits!

Since its inception, there have been a number of iterations of the lands of Blackmoor.  The ones most tied to Arneson were the first and last incarnations.  And to an extent, even the alteration into Mystara’s history counts.  My experience with Blackmoor started mostly with the final versions, the 3rd edition and 4th edition source books provided by Zeitgeist Games at the time.  While I knew it was put into the distant past of The Known World and beyond, I never had a chance at the Mystara friendly version of it for a while.  None the less, I favor a blend of the classic vision with the Mystaran one.  It even factored into a game friends took part in long ago.  Said game was a multiple campaign arc in Mystara, with tons of crazy time travel and other antics with reality.  The last game ended after our travels back and forth into Blackmoor’s history.  For numerous games, we were called to deal with progressively evolving threats in the kingdom-turned-empire.  However, our final threat was something we weren’t prepared for, a Blackmoor in the modern age.  Sadly, the campaign ended as we caught a glimpse of an imposing and bleak city over the horizon.  Mind you, this was during the days when many of us still thought Blackmoor would be fit in the Broken Lands, before we realized that later developments changed that.

This isn’t the end of Returned Blackmoor, just it in active campaign form.  Years and years passed, before the Mystara Reborn Facebook group became the encouragement I needed to give life back into this new Blackmoor.  With old notes in hand and scrambled bits from the rest of the old table, I cobbled together an image of what a Blackmoor might look like if it used time powers to survive its doom in the Mystaran world.  It turns out, having your land rotated into a frigid wasteland can massively throw one off.  This, combined with plague and political instability lead to a trusted member of the military staging a coupe and establishing a harsh dictatorship.  While the arcane-infused high technology of Blackmoor recovered and developed anew, the culture became far more stagnant and stale, as leadership forbid it to develop further.  As the decades passed since it leapt into the near-present, the leader began to lose a grip on reality as well as physical health.  Ultimately, he would become something of a quasi-undead cyborg, a major campaign reveal.  (A brain-in-a-jar piloting a robot body, a staple science fiction trope.)   Meanwhile, movements arise in the shadows to oppose him, some more extreme than others.  Other forces stir, many of which driven by wicked ends.  All sorts of enemies roam this new Blackmoor: wasteland raiders, rogue robots, mutant animalmen, atomic undead, acolytes of new dark Immortals or even the slumbering Egg of Coot!  Those are only a few examples.

Now, how does this involve the players?  Well, many games could involve them in the mayhem and wonder of this forbidden land.  For starters, they could help shape an uprising against the corrupt usurper state.  Heroes may choose to help remnants of the old ways help restore classic order within the realm.  They might consider radical change instead, favoring one of several other factions, ranging from reformists to new potential overlords.  They might even earn the trust of the regime and become ambassadors to the greater world.  Over time, the current ways of Blackmoor may become less extreme in their own way.  For the more Arneson approved old school experience, there are a number of dungeons both classic and infused with gonzo science-fantasy, even Castle Blackmoor has received modifications over the eons.  It seems with time that many of the kinks that caused Blackmoorian tech to go haywire are more properly ironed out too.  Or at least, more attention to potential sabotage.  Potential for larger plots exist too:  Blackmoor trying to integrate safely into the greater world, the Immortals having none of it and punting the land into the Hollow World (alongside the Blacklore Elves), a massive war risking a Greater Rain of Fire, the rise of a new Blackmoor Empire and much more.

To dive more into Returned Blackmoor, check out Threshold Magazine!  Issues 20, 22 and 26 (edited) have articles by me.

Threshold Magazine – The Egg be Dammed

Image

Return to the dark mirror that is Returned Blackmoor!  While issues remain in more populated lands, an ancient conspiracy has been unearthed in a zone far detached from prying eyes.  The Cootsbane Dam, a derelict turned military grounds, has had rumors of weird activity and stranger trespassers.  Investigate into the dark secrets and keep them from being unleashed upon the world at large!

Check out the current issue and “The Egg Be Dammed” Here!

Author’s Note: I wrote an edition neutral adventure for Threshold Mystara.  Admittedly, this was because I didn’t know what version of the game to tackle and Threshold tends to focus more so on BECMI, which I don’t have too much exposure to (outside of reading setting information of The Known World and beyond.)  I might update things for 5E or AD&D, maybe ask for a hand with BECMI for the next issue.