Blackmoor: Return to the Origins

One of my art teachers used to like to say, “The essence of originality is a return to origins.” At the time, I think he was trying to tell us something like, “All ideas come from somewhere, so if you like the way a given artist uses leaf shapes or animal shapes, etc., then, instead of imitating that artist, go look at leaves or animals.”

It is in this spirit that I have dug out my old copy of the medieval miniatures game, “Chainmail” and my copy of Dave Arneson’s “First Fantasy Campaign.” I’ve been thinking about running a continuing campaign with fantasy armies battling for supremacy in a fantasy continent reminiscent of Tony Bath’s “Hyboria” campaign for a long time. A few years ago I tried to jump start interest in a D&D campaign that switched back and forth between players RPGing adventurers going on adventures and generals running armies with mixed success by surprising the players with a war game one night. I don’t think the players liked it that much.

Instead of trying to sell others on the idea, I have begun to think about just doing a ‘minis’ campaign for my own amusement, and fighting pitched battles where I can play the part of both generals and allow fate (or the dice) to decide the course of empire.

I already have a fairly substantial collection of minis, including lots of orcs, goblins, humans, etc. I have some scenery (including scratch built buildings) although the terrain in my photos (link above) is long gone. I originally wanted to do this with my own fantasy maps, but recently I came across my copy of “The First Fantasy Campaign” and think I will just use that.
The rules will be Chainmail, with certain modifications (I think Chainmail’s morale system is impossibly complex and want something simpler).

My basic idea is to set up the fantasy kingdom as it is described in “The First Fantasy Campaign” at the start and establish each kingdom (Blackmoor, Egg of Coot, Duchy of Tehn, etc.) with a baseline of resources, including armies, monsters, etc. Then I would like to write the general motivations for each kingdom/power. The Egg of Coot, for example, wants to conquer all others on the map and convert them to his/her/it’s territories. Then I need to come up with random event cards (there are about 50-60 already in the First Fantasy Campaign) which randomly indicate viking attacks, diesease or plagues, storms, invading orcs, etc.

Hopefully, when I am done, like a ‘low tech’ game of the “Civilization” computer game. I can set events in motion and see how they develop. If Egg of Coot conquers or destroys one of Blackmoor’s villages, then Blackmoor is less able to regenerate/replace troops or supplies.

Although given everything else on my plate, I need another project like a hole in my head… but I’ve wanted to do this for a long time and have always delayed because “the time was not right” or I couldn’t find others interested. Enough. I’ll try to keep the general public informed and maybe even set up a blog/site with battle reports once I get going.

4 Comments on “Blackmoor: Return to the Origins”

  1. baronzemo says:

    Well, I'm kinda in the same boat. I'm a big ASL (Advanced Squad Leader) fan & player. Dont get to play no where near as much as I would like too.
    1- I only have one friend that will play and he works 2nd shift and I work 1st shift.
    2- not of alot ASL players anymore ( at least around my area). So if I want to get alot of games in, I have to go to a turnament somewhere.

  2. Mr. Chappell says:

    This sounds like a great plan.

    Let me know when you're doing it – I'd love to come over and be a part of it.

    I'm not a big Warhammer fan, but playing with fantasy armies within the context of the roots of the hobby would be educational and a whole bucketful o' fun.

  3. anarchist says:

    “like a 'low tech' game of the 'Civilization' computer game.”

    Civilization was originally a board game, and a version of it is still in print, so maybe you could play a 'campaign' which was a game of that played in instalments?

  4. limpey says:

    Due to time constraints (drawing, mosaic/art projects and, well, life) I am unlikely to be able to do this any time soon. Still like the idea, though.

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