Friday, July 17, 2020

Recaps & Roundups: JG37 The First Fantasy Campaign part 2

Last week I started reading Dave Arneson's The First Fantasy Campaign, inwhich he sets forth a bunch of details from his Blackmoor game.  It's got far too much content for to cover in a single post, so I've turned this into a series.  let's continue with part 2.

The next section is entitled "Blackmoor's More Infamous Characters", and details some of the PCs and NPCs of significance in the game.

The Egg of Coot is said to have been of human description millennia ago, but now nobody seems to know what it looks like: a mass of jelly, a giant egg, pure energy, a mass of living rock, and a man have all been suggested.  From the description he seems very much like a petulant, power-mad child, who who will go out of his way to crush anyone who gives him even a moment's inconvenience.  (At the risk of alienating certain of my readers, he does sound familiar...)  From other writings, my impression is that he rules the lands to the north of Blackmoor.

The Ran of Ah Fooh was a servant of the Egg of Coot, but left his service when he found himself able to create more perfect spells than the Egg.  The Ran - a 10th lever fighter and magic-user - is logical to a fault, and one hundred percent convinced of his own perfection.  He's renowned for his dragon breeding pens, and is also building up an army of zombies/androids.

There's a bunch of stuff in both of the previous entries about these villains running spell workshops that churn out spells.  The Egg's spells have a failure rate of 30% or more, while the Ran's spells have a failure rate of just 15%.  It seems like anyone can use these spells, as long as they are shown how.  I guess they are like D&D scrolls, with no class restrictions.

Gin of Salik is one of the greatest wizards in the world, and a renowned ladies man, who travels from place to place to woo the most beautiful women.  If he doesn't get his way, he devastates the region with spells and turns the one who refused him into a loathsome creature with a spell.  I suspect a teenage player might have been playing this charming character.

Marfeldt the Barbarian is a seemingly invincible warrior, who is said to have been created a year ago by a wizard that he promptly slew.  He's said to have wrecked several kingdoms to the east, and to be responsible for the upheaval in the Great Kingdom (that's a busy year...).  In addition to being an incredibly ruthless Conan knock-off, he seemingly has the power to infect others with his own mindset; anyone in his presence for more than a few turns will assume his mental characteristics, and can only be cured by a Wizard.

This description is followed by an account from the "archives of Rhun", in which Marfeldt rose through the military ranks of that country, leading it to victory against his enemies but leaving it so devastated that he himself was able to kill Rhun's Duke and entire army single-handedly.  (There is something of a charming absurdity to a lot of this material, but I also feel like it comes with a large dose of "you had to be there".)

The Duke of the Peaks is a perennial turncoat in the wars between the Egg of Coot and the Duchy of Ten, switching sides pretty much any time his forces come under threat.  The only reason his lands have never been conquered is that they shower any invaders with debauchery, and any garrison left there is subsumed into the population within a fortnight.  This doesn't apply to Marfeldt, who rolled through and killed a third of the population because he was disgusted by their wantonness.

The Blue Rider was formerly William of the Heath, who became the Blue Rider after finding a magical sword, plate armor, and a fully-armed warhorse (which seems to be highly intelligent, never eats, and runs on lamp oil).  There's an amusing bit at the end that hints that the armour is some sort of machine, and that the Blue Rider wants out but has no way to stop the thing.  Arneson's humour is weird, but I'm starting to dig it.

Mello and some other hobbits inhabit a village at a crossroads to the east of Blackmoor.  He's the lifelong sidekick of the Blue Rider, and if I'm reading this right is taller than him due to maxed ancestry?  A 5'6" hobbit?  Arneson's sentences don't always quite make sense.

The Great Svenny is the First Paladin of the kingdom, and as described seems to be its primary heroic character (despite a certain reluctance to enter the dungeons beneath Blackmoor castle).  Both the orcs and the Egg of Coot have promised rich rewards for his head.

The Bishop of the Church of the Facts of Life doesn't have much written about him as a person; most of the write up goes to his church, which sounds very much like a shrewdly run business.

That's it for this entry.  I think I'm starting to get a feel for Blackmoorand its idiosyncrasies.  Arneson's writing can be a little hard to come to grips with, though; he really needs a good editor, and it's pretty obvious that he didn't have one for this product.

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