The DA-Series


The DA Modules were published between 1986 and 1987. Dave Arneson had previously discussed the idea of publishing a series of 12 modules for Mayfair Games. It is likely that it was this material that was used in the four modules that were published by TSR for the classic D&D line. The fourth module was published without Dave Arneson being consulted and the fifth planned module was never publihed as the line was cancelled. It has been speculated that this was due to a shift in management at TSR with Gary Gygax having left the company in towards the end of 1985. The demise of the Blackmoor Modules could have been due to a restructuring following those changes. That said, Blackmoor kept being referenced in the Classic D&D line in books such as the D&D Gazetteers and even the epic module Wrath of the Immortals. Product Manager Bruce Heard later revealed that he had plans for bringing Blackmoor back in the late 1990s, but this never happened as TSR was bought by Wizards of the Coast. This in turn lead to Dave Arneson obtaining the rights to publish further Blackmoor material with his own company Zeitgeist Games for the d20 System.

  • DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor by Dave Arneson and David Ritchie
  • DA2 Temple of the Frog by Dave Arneson and David Ritchie
  • DA3 City of the Gods by Dave Arneson and David Ritchie
  • DA4 Duchy of Ten by David Ritchie
  • DA5 City of Blackmmoor (Never published)

    DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor

    Item Code: #9172 (DA1)
    Title: Adventures in Blackmoor
    Type: Adventure
    Author: Dave L. Arneson and David J. Ritchie
    Published: 1986
    Format: 64-page book, tri-fold cover, fold-out map

    Blackmoor is beset!" On every side the storm clouds gather. To south and east, the Great Empire of Thonia plots to end Blackmoor's independence and reclaim its lost province. To the west, the implacable Afridhi are on the move. To the north, the evil Egg of Coot prepares to cross the thundering sea and once again bring fire and sword into the heart of the small kingdom. Beyond the realm of the Egg, the hated Skandaharian Raiders are building longships and preparing to fall upon Blackmoor's unprotected coast while its tiny army turns to meet these other threats. Into this time of black despair, there steps a band of adventurers who cluth strange swords and wear most curious armor - and who claim that Blackmoor sank beneath the ice 3,000 years ago!

    Havard's Comments:
    This is the first of the DA series published for the classic (BECMI) D&D line. Like the other modules in the series, it features many of the locales and characters present in Dave Arneson's original "Blackmoor" campaign as seen in the First Fantasy Campaign. The DA modules are set roughly 30 years after the events of the First Fantasy Campaign.

    More details on DA1 at the Comeback Inn

    DA2 Temple of the Frog

    Item Code: #9175 (DA2)
    Title: Temple of the Frog
    Type: Adventure
    Author: Dave L. Arneson and David J. Ritchie
    Published: 1986
    Format: 48-page book w/tri-fold cover

    Green Death... That's what old hands call the Great Dismal Swamp. For centuries, this tangled maze of sluggish watercourses, stagnant ponds, and festering marshes has defended Blackmoor's southwestern frontier. Large armies and smaller parties have disappeared altogether inside its vast, dripping, claustophobic corridors. Among those who have dropped from sight in the arboreal hell is young Risa Aleford, one of Blackmoor's most important leaders. Carried off to the sinister City of the Frog, she is now being held by the eccentric Monks of the Swamp. By making the baroness captive, the deranged monks have seriously weakened Blackmoor at a time when enemies already threaten it from all sides. Yet, even as the froggies gloat, the king of Blackmoor dispatches a small band of bold adventurers to the rescue. Deep into the Great Dismal Swamp they must go - far from sunlight and sanity - there to seek and save the captive baroness from the foul Monks of the Swamp. There to find - the Temple of the Frog.

    The Temple of the Frog was based on locations used in Dave Arneson's campaign in the early 1970s during the time when the group were banished from Blackmoor Town itself after loosing the Castle to invading forces. An early, abbreviated version of this adventure first appeared in D&D Supplement II: Blackmoor (1976) as a scenario. It was the first scenario ever produced for D&D (or for that matter, any roleplaying game).

    Read more about the history of the first published D&D Adventure here. More details on DA2 at the Comeback Inn
    Temple of the Frog articles at the Blackmoor Blog

    DA3 City of the Gods

    Item Code: #9191 (DA3)
    Title: City of the Gods
    Type: Adventure
    Author: Dave L. Arneson and David J. Ritchie
    Published: 1987
    Format: 48-page book w/tri-fold cover, fold-out map

    New Magic... That's what the flying egg has. New magic unlike any ever encountered in Blackmoor. New magic of a type that could give the fledgling kingdom an important edge in the wars that are brewing on its borders. There are only a few minor problems. Like the fact that the magician who piloted the metal egg to one of Blackmoor's southern outposts was killed before he could utter a word. And the fact that Blackmoor's sworn enemies, the monks of the evil and eccentric Order of the Frog, are also interested in the magic represented by the egg. And, most important, the fact that the egg came from the distant and dangerous City of the Gods. Set amidst the blistered salt flats of the Valley of the Ancients, the City of the Gods is a strange and deadly metal metropolis whose powerful guardians do not welcome intruders. Yet it is to this place of deadly menace that Blackmoor's leaders now send a daring expedition - to bargain for aid in the coming wars - or to steal the magic of the gods.

    Havard's Comments: DA3 is the adventure that fully illustrated how different Blackmoor was from what had by the time of its release become a mainstream understanding of what D&D should be about. The City of the Gods was first introduced in Dave Arneson's campaign and this adventure location proved particularly deadly to his PCs. In 1975 Dave Arneson ran a version of the City of the Gods for Gary Gygax and Rob Kuntz where both barely survived. We would have to wait untill 1987 to see the module available in print. More details on DA3 at the Comeback Inn
    City of the Gods articles at the blog

    DA4 The Duchy of Ten

    Item Code: #9205 (DA4)
    Title: The Duchy of Ten
    Type: Adventure
    Author: David J. Ritchie
    Published: 1987
    Format: 48-page book w/tri-fold cover, fold-out map

    The Well of Souls... That's what Zugzul bade the Afridhi call the evil artifact that he had taught them to make. They must call it the Well of Souls, and they must carry it before them into every battle - and they would be mighty. Thus said the god of Afridhi, Zugzul the One. So the Afridhi did as they were bade. Seeking the volcano called the Hill of the Hammer in the far Barrens of Karsh, they built in its heart a great forge. There, as Zugzul had promised, efreet came to help them make the mighty artifact. There, amid vile, unholy rites, they bound the souls of men into its very substance, and, as it took shape, they sharpened their swords for the red-handed work that must surely follow hard upon its completion. Many were the men who guarded the Hill of the Hammer during the days of making - for their foes in hated Blackmoor would try to unmake that which they had wrought. Yet, it was not men that would keep the Well of Souls from destruction, but a prophecy - that the artifact would be unmade only by the hand of one as yet unborn!

    Unlike the first three modules in the series, Dave Arneson was not credited for this module. As noted earlier, this could be due to the changes in management at TSR in the mid 1980s. Dave Areson later expressed dissatisfaction about this module and stated that unlike the other modules he was not consulted for this module and his "official" Blackmoor notes were not used. He also suggested that he might have liked to take the Duchy in a fairly different direction. On the other hand, DA4 Duchy of Ten still uses locales and characters from the original Blackmoor campaign and is set in the same locale as the first three modules. WotC Product Historial Shannon Applecline has recently confirmed that the name Duchy of Ten first appeared in Dave Arneson's campaign. Gary Gygax later added a Duchy of Tehn to his own Greyhawk though with little resemblance to Dave's realm.
    More details on DA4 at the Comeback Inn

    DA5 City of Blackmoor
    DA5 City of Blackmoor was a Mystara module scheduled for production sometime in the late 1980's, but cancelled. The only references to it are an ad by Esdevium Games in Dragon #131 (page 85), an earmarked TSR stock # (9219), and an advertisement in the Dungeon Hobby Shop catalog. These ads included a pre production cover of the module. There were rumours that the module had been completed before it was cancelled. ZGG staffers later claimed that they had in their posession the manuscript for the module, though this has never been confirmed. Bruce Heard, in charge of the D&D product line at the time, has said that this module was never even designed, let alone produced and shipped.

    More details on DA5 at the Comeback Inn