chirine ba kal wrote:
Right; let me take things in order for you...
First, happy to be here; I liked Dave a lot, enjoyed working for him, and had a lot of fun watching him in action.
Second, all three of the 'first three' (Dave, Gary, and Phil [Prof. Barker]) all affected each other; you have to remember just how small the gaming world was back then. I'd be willing to say that this forum has more members then were around in the Twin Cities and Lake Geneva *combined*. Both Dave and Gary were hugely impressed at Phil's work on Tekumel dating back to the 1950's, and he in turn was impressed by their ability to run games and write the rules needed for those games. The D&D world-settings became a lot more detailed and 'culturally aware' after Phil's work became familiar to Gary and Dave. Likewise. Phil elaborated on elements of Tekumel that he'd largely neglected until he'd had a chance to work with Dave and Gary.
Brilliant! This is a topic that I think is of great interest to most of us here, and definately to me personally. Trying to gain as much information about the kinds of ideas that would have been exchanged back in those days will help us understand how each setting was born and developed in its early stages.
"Frogmen": All three had frogmen because all three read a lot of H. P. Lovecraft, and you just had to have frogmen and other servants of the Old Ones infesting the place; it gave the players something to do when they weren't exploring the dungeons.
Excellent! I have been using Lovecraft's Deep Ones as inspiration for my own Frogmen, including their tendency to spawn with humans (ewww) and the Innsmouth Look for people who live near the swamps. So I guess I was pretty close to the original idea then!
"High Technology": Depends on your definition of that; Dave had the elves in Blackmoor pretty well equipped with stuff like the holy water pumps, which were Roman in concept,
Interesting! I always considered the Holy Water pumps a kind of joke, but I like that they were based on Roman design. Maybe something can be made from this afterall. I was considering replacing them with Water Elementalists, but now I might reconsider...
and eventually they had developed black-powder technology to about a horse and musket level.
I do see references to gunpowder weapons in the First Fantasy Campaign, yeah.
Only the elves had the "Magic Bang Sticks", and those were pretty rare on the ground.
More advanced technology, such as Tekumel's ancient star-faring civilization's devices, never really seemed in my time with Dave to be part of his original conception of what was basically a medieval world.
It is possible that this became more prominent with the Sniders...
The medieval feel definately remains strong in Blackmoor.
I should also note that both Dave and Phil agreed on Clarke's Law that stated that "Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"; I think Phil's technological approach to what we on Tekumel see as 'magic' did influence Dave's own approach to it in Blackmoor.
Makes sense. This is probably the best way to handle it.
"Other Influences": Well, Dave's interest in ships and naval combat really influenced Phil; we spent several years exploring Tekumel by sea on Dave's ship, and got transported to the most unlikely places. Phil was familiar with boats and the water, but was in real awe of Dave's expertise with sailing ships and nautical matters.
Interesting. As mentioned in the other thread, this is something I would like to explore further. I like hearing about how much Dave knew about the subject.
"Playing in Blackmoor": Yes, Phil did play in Dave's Blackmoor for a while; the two of them conspired to transport us there in our ship, and we just appeared in Blackmoor Bay one day. Phil wanted to take a break from GM duties, so Dave took over the job of running our Tekumel PCs in his world. Phil played a Livyani character he'd rolled up, and was a very active player.
Great! This is something I have been wondering about (hearing rumours) for a long time. I think it is really interesting to learn that you used Tekumel characters in Blackmoor! Now I really must read up on Tekumel! Maybe you can share some of your experiences in Blackmoor? What character did you play?
It was really funny; Dave was really hoping to get us to go down into the dungeons under the castle, and nobody in the group would take him up on it except Phil. Everyone was convinced that the two of them were out to kill us, so nobody wanted to go anywhere near the castle. We had several really fun weeks of virtuoso role-playing as all of the party explored everything but the Castle, and generally made a mess of things with the locals as nobody understood anyone else. Watching Dave and Phil trying to communicate with each other, simulating the language problem, was worth every minute of the game sessions; Phil had actually written an article about this very situation back in the late 1940's, so it was great to see him and Dave put it all into practice. No dice rolling, no tables, just two very talented guys having a lot of fun misunderstanding each other. Dave would try to ask Phil something in English, Phil would respond in one of the various languages he knew like Urdu, and they would do asides to the rest of us to keep us informed of what was happening. The two of them played off each other like a well-rehearsed comedy duo; in one wonderful misunderstanding, Phil and Dave got one of the players married to a prize sheep, which took the player ages to live down...
"Dave as player": He was just one heck of a lot of fun; like a lot of his friends, he was very fast on his feet and very, very smart. He threw himself into any role that he took; I once did a huge Brownstein-style "Star Wars" game set in Mos Eisley, and Dave played Jabba the Hut with his two friends and fellow gamers Ross Maker and Dave Wesley as his henchmen. It was hysterical, as they started to take the town over right under the noses of the Imperial Stormtrooprs; playing with Dave was an matter of yelling "GO!" and then holding on for dear life as he took the game and ran with it. Crafty, clever, funny, and a genuinely great guy to play with.
Wow, what a great idea! Were you all Star Wars fans? Its great hearing about Dave as a player as I have always thought of him primarily as a DM/Designer.
It is interesting to hear about you playing with Maker and Wesely. I think I have seen Wesely referring to himself as part of the older gamers, with Greg, Bob and the others who joined when Blackmoor was really developing into its modern form as the younger group. How well did you know Arneson's group? I might be totally misrepresenting things here, just basing myself on random quotes from various places on the net.
When he rolled up Captain Harchar, Phil had no idea what he'd unleased on his Tekumel; Dave played Harchar as an operatic Pirate King, and payed it to the hilt. My personal favorite was the time Phil's NPC customs officers had finally nailed Harchar for some elaborate smuggling scheme, and Dave got Harchar off by proving that he'd been dead at the time of the crime; Harchar had gotten himself accidentally killed at one point, and before I brought him back to life Dave very carefully got Phil to write up an official death certificate for Harchar (in Tsolyani, of course). Dave claimed that he'd need it for tax purposes, and Phil duly wrote out the document never thinking that Dave would keep it for a later emergency like being arrested.
Hillarous! Obviously, I am going to steal this character for my own Blackmoor campaign.
Dave's showing up out at Phil's was always a good indicator that it was going to be a good night; we'd just hang on to the roller coaster, and watch the fun unfold.
Again, great hearing about this! I can really tell from the way you are talking about this what great fun you must have had. Just like when I talk to Greg Svenson and Bob Meyer, it reminds me of my own early days of gaming.