Supplement II: Blackmoor (1975)

This week is about some D&D odds and ends. The first is a big one: Supplement II: Blackmoor. It’s the third D&D product (after the box set and Gygax’s Greyhawk) and an extremely important one. Though Arneson’s name is on it (and his world of Blackmoor was the original D&D campaign setting), there is some debate over who wrote the bulk of this book, but whoever typed the words, the constituent ideas feel very different from what we’d consider the core of D&D, and thus are likely firmly from Arneson’s Twin Cities group.

There’s a hit location system that is never again revisited. The monk and the assassin are introduced here as are a host of water-based monsters, including the classic sahuagin, morkoth and Ixitxachitl.

The main attraction, though, is the very first D&D adventure, The Temple of the Frog. Detailed over 20 pages, it is the first serious look players got at what a D&D adventure could be. It doesn’t really line up with our modern conception of the game — there is a mass combat component, for instance, and a good dose of science fiction (the proportion of science fantasy here reminds me more of Arduin than Barrier Peaks). In a truly bizarre oversight (again, reminding me of Arduin), there are no attributes provided for the frog people who live at the center of the temple.

Most interesting of all, though, is how clearly you can see the path not taken when reading through this book. There’s a whole parallel universe of RPGs in this book.

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