Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blackmoor as a CHAINMAIL Campaign

Rob Kuntz:
"No one knew what to call it so we have a "place-holder" for it. However, people today are quite literal-minded.  So the sentence could or would convey the implication of the Chainmail derivation.  Those who know, know.  Those who don't know are left with what appears to be."  Read more: LINK

That Blackmoor was a CHAINMAIL(TM) campaign who's unique qualities accreted through play is a "truth" repeated so often by so many voices over the years it is surely something "everybody knows" and has known for a long time.  So why question what everybody knows?

I might say: "Because nobody does.", but that's not completely true. I won't cite quotes from specific personalities, (pro or con) because I'm not looking to call anyone out or burn any heretics, but suffice it to say that amid those who have opined on the subject, several of the original Blackmoor players have, from time to time, made the seemingly odd claim that they didn't play CHAINMAIL at all in Blackmoor.   

To be clear, what I'm specifically talking about is the rules of CHAINMAIL as the basis of the wargaming component of Blackmoor.  CHAINMAIL isn't an RPG ruleset or a guide to world building, it is a wargame, so the narrative understood by addressing Blackmoor as a CHAINMAIL campaign is that when battles were being fought by armies or just men and monsters it was under the rubric of the CHAINMAIL ruleset. 

In other words, CHAINMAIL was the go to set of rules for battles and warfare, which in turn, so the narrative goes, was the initial and primary focus of the games.  It is the first part of that narrative, the CHAINMAIL as the rules for Blackmoor, we will examine here.

Our primary documentary sources for the Blackmoor campaign 1971-1975 are The First Fantasy Campaign(TM), The Corner of the Table Newsletter, and the Blackmoor Rumormonger and Gazette newsletter.  

What follows is a thorough but not exhaustive look at these sources.  I've gone through and isolated "rulesish" references that point to or from CHAINMAIL as a source and I've divided these into pro and con segments. 

First - Evidence in favor of Blackmoor as a CHAINMAIL campaign.

TITLES
Anyone reading CHAINMAIL (hereafter CM) and the First Fantasy Campaign (hereafter the FFC) will surely notice the co-incidence of descriptive terms such as Hero, Superhero, and Wizard peppered throughout both works.  There are many instances, so I'll note just two:

"Superheroes - 8 plus one per 40 villages per year." (FFC 77:7)
"....Dale Nelson (Hero, magic sword)..."  (CoTT V4, #5.  Lake Gloomey) 

Blackmoor derived these terms from CM.  There is absolutely no reason to think otherwise.

WEAPON LIST
  
Below is a table comparing hand to hand weapons.  For simplicity I excluded projectile weapons, however very similar results can be obtained for that class of weaponry.  The first column contains the weapons list from the CM 1st  edition Man to Man table, the second is from the list found on Pete Gaylords very early Blackmoor character sheet, and the third column is from an equipment list found in the FFC.  I have retained the exact order, spelling, misspelling, and punctuation in each case.


Cm 1ST EDITION
Pete Gaylords Character
FFC 77:4
Dagger
Dagger
Lance
Hand Axe
Hand Axe
Dagger
Mace
Mace
Mace
Sword
Sword
Hand Axe
Battle Axe
Battle Axe
Battle Ax
Morn. Star
Morn. Star
Flail
Flail
Flail
Pole Arms
Spear
Spear
Halbeard
Pole Arms/Halbear
Pole Arms
Sword
2 Hnd Swd
Halbear
Morning Star
Mtd. Lance
2 Hnd Swd
Spear
Pike
Mtd. Lance
2 hand Sword

Pike
Pike

The single difference between the first and second columns is that 
"Halbear" is separated from Pole Arms.  The third column FFC list is also nearly identical, but for some minor rearrangement and spelling.  

There can be no doubt that Blackmoor Weaponry lists came straight out of CM.

TROOP UNIT TYPES

The FFC gives extensive statistics on the various forces engaged in the "Great Coot Invasion" miniatures battles.  The Coot invasions were medieval fantasy battle scenarios Arneson organized to take place in Blackmoor within the first year of play (likely fall of '71).  Below is a comparison, in order of unit types listed in CM and in the FFC Coot invasion tables.


Cm 1ST EDITION (point cost table and elsewhere)
FFC 77:4
Peasants
Peasant (Fyrd)
Levee
Levee (local)
Light Foot
Light Foot
Heavy Foot
Heavy Foot
Armored Foot
Armored Foot
Light Horse
Light Horse
Medium Horse
Medium Horse
Heavy Horse
Heavy Horse


As can be readily seen, the lists are nearly identical, aside from two adjectives (fyrd, local).  Clearly once again we see Blackmoor drawing directly on the CM rules.

TROOP COSTS



Game Element
CM Cost (points)
Blackmoor Coot Invasion Cost (Gold)
Light Foot
1
10
Heavy Foot
2
25
Armored Foot
2.5
32
Light Horse
3
25
Medium Horse
4
40
Heavy Horse
5
55
Pike
1
10
Arquibus/Crossbow
1.5
15
Bow
3
25
Long/Composite bow
4
40
Lt. Catapult/Cannon
15
150
Hv Catapult/Cannon
20
200
Bombard
30
300



The table above illustrates the comparative costs in both sources.  One can readily see that Blackmoor derives it's basic cost structure from CM, multiplied by a factor of 10, with some variation.

MONSTER TYPES

Another clue showing the relationship of CM to early Blackmoor are monster lists.  The first column of the table below shows all the "Neutral" and "Chaos" monsters listed in CM (75:39).  For convenience I've relisted them alphabetically.  One of the oldest pieces of material found in the FFC is a table of wandering monsters for wilderness encounters - those monsters are listed in the second column.  The third column is from a stocking list of the Loch Gloomen monsters dating to 1972.


CM
FFC Wilderness
FFC Loch Gloomen
Anti-heroes


Balrogs
Balrogs
Balrog
Basilisks
Basilisks
Basilisk
Chimerea


Dragons
Dragons
Dragon
Elementals, air
Elementals, air
Air Elemental
Elementals, earth,
Elementals, earth,

Elementals, fire


Elementals, water
Elementals, water

Elves


Ents


Ghouls
Ghouls
Ghouls
Giants
Giants
Giant
Goblins
Goblins
Goblins
Kobolds


Lycanthropes
Lycanthropes
Lycanthrope
Ogres
Ogres
Ogre
Orcs
Orcs

Pixies


Rocs  
Rocs  
Roc
Sprites


True Troll
True Troll
True Trolls
Wight


Wizards


Wraith



Bandits


Nomads


Pirates


Troll


Wrights


Notice that both Blackmoor tables are similar subsets of the CM list.  The FFC wilderness monster table does add three types of men, Trolls - a CM monster seemingly forgotten on the chaos/neutrals lists, and possibly a new monster - the Wright - which is likely some kind of wight/wraith combo.   However, these few additions do not disguise the fact early Blackmoor was populated largely with monsters straight out of CM.

PART TWO - Sand in the Air.

We've already seen a lot of unequivocal evidence pointing to the presence of CHAINMAIL in Blackmoor.  The question of Blackmoor as a CHAINMAIL campaign seems like an open and closed case.  For anyone familiar with the Twin Cities gamers that really ought to be quite a big surprise.  Why?  Because of Strategos.

Strategos N (Napoleonic), if you are not familiar, was Dave Weseley's distillation and adaptation of Charles Tottens 19th century "Strategos: A Series of American Games of War" book into a set of wargaming rules used by the Twin Cities gamers.  

However, Strategos N wasn't just some pet set of rules introduced to the group by one of it's members for some of his games, Strategos N quickly and completely dominated their game play from the late 60's onward.  Strategos was their set of club rules.  They soon began to develop appendixes and amendments to cover different campaign and time periods.  Virtually all the membership became invested in the Strategos ruleset in one way or another.

The Corner of the Table newsletter from the 1960's is rich with Strategos related material.  It was practically all they talked about.  Several historic period variants were typed up and published separately, including an Ancients variant co-written by Dave Arneson and Randy Hoffa.  Remember that famous old story Arneson and others related of a battle featuring Roman legionnaires and a druid with a Phaser? (DW#3, Space Gamer 21, et al)     That was a Strategos A (ancients) game.

So, given the deep commitment the Twin Cities group had to "their" Strategos ruleset, it should strike any Blackmoor researcher as kind of a shock that they would switch to a new and quite different set of rules for the Blackmoor campaign - especially considering that the club member organizing the affair, Dave Arneson, had already authored a set of Ancients rules readily adaptable to the period.  One would think a rule switch like that is something that might be remembered or have triggered some discussion and controversy.

However, the historical materials we have from the time are entirely silent on the matter.  The only player discussion touching the subject is from years later and can be summed up as "We didn't play CHAINMAIL games"   Curious.

Thus far, we've looked at where early Blackmoor material clearly points to a close relationship with CHAINMAIL.  We've seen fantasy types, troop types, monsters, and some spells - compelling evidence to be sure - but the question remains as to whether any "rulesish" material points to Strategos or anywhere else, and if it does, what might the relationship of CHAINMAIL to Strategos be in Blackmoor?

First, I will exam facets of early Blackmoor that buck the CM trend we've seen, problematizing CM campaign issue.  

MAGIC SWORDS

Dave Arneson's original magic sword details harbor many curious facts and indicate statistics tied intimately to his original rules and methods.  Deciphering that information is less than straightforward. In introducing his earliest material regarding the creation of magic swords, Dave Arneson had this to say: 

"Prior to setting up Blackmoor. I spent a considerable effort in setting up an entire family of Magical swords. The swords indeed comprise most of the early magical artifacts. A small table was prepared and the swords' characteristics set up on cards.....   The nature and the powers of the spells and swords were taken right from the available copies of Chainmail, which served as the basis of all our combat." (FFC 77:64)

We should tackle the end of that quote first, because at first blush it would seem to be strong support for the thesis that Blackmoor was indeed a CM campaign.  It would be unwise to be so confident however, especially given Arneson's history of less than precise use of the English language.  "Combat" here should not be seen as necessarily synonymous with "battles", but rather with "fights", meaning character melees as much as anything.  It's also not particularly clear what he meant by "basis".  Further, in this passage Arneson is speaking  topically of the initial development of Blackmoor when magic swords were first created.  That he could not have been referring to the entire Blackmoor Campaign is also obvious, given his multiple statements of abandoning the CM Fantasy Combat Table after a few games, and the simple fact that the last two years of Blackmoor were played under the published D&D rules - letting alone the year of the playtesting phase. 

Of greater import for the purpose of examining CM rules in a Blackmoor context, is Arneson's curious claim regarding "The nature and the powers of the spells... "

Here's what's curious, CM swords have but two facets; they grant a bonus in combat - usually +1 - and they shed a magical light.  Arneson's swords are quite different.  Here is just one example:

Grey
Double Values (7) Mortals, Goblins, Pudding, Ghouls, Wraiths, Balrogs, Giants; 
Special Values (6) See in Darkness III, Paralyze II, Raise Morale, Strength +6; 
Combat Increase  +8; 
Intelligence +6; 
Appearance - 880 GP

Let's tackle that in order.  Double Values refers to combat multipliers.  An example from Arneson's early monster section reads: "Trolls & Ogres:  These creatures are worth 18 points (or hits) with variations. Elves get DBL value hits while hero types and magic weapons get hits times six." (FFC 77:91) 

This quote indicates clearly that Double Values multiplies damage, but numerous other entries in this section indicate an attack value was also doubled, as in "... ""When young are present, the Mother Dragon will fight at double value if the young engage in combat. The Father is not doubled. If a young Dragon is captured, badly wounded, or killed, the Mother will attack at Six times normal value for Six turns while the remaining young disengage (immediately) and withdraw two moves. If the Mother is killed, seriously wounded or captured, the Father will attack at double value for three turns with a 1/6 chance the young will return to the Mother." (FFC 77:90)

"Double Values" as a term doesn't appear in CM, but the idea can be made to make sense in the mass combat rules.  The Lycanthrope entry gives an example.  "If they are fighting inside of or within 6'' of , a wood, they will double their melee capability.  Lycanthrope  attack as four armored foot and defend as four heavy foot."  

So in this case, "double their melee capability" to attacking as eight armored foot and defending as eight heavy foot, might be taken as synonymous with attacking at Double Values.  How double values might apply on the Man to Man or Fantasy Combat tables is unclear, but we might assume it should mean two attack rolls.

However, there's a problem with this interpretation.  Notice on the example sword "Grey" above that it also has a +8 Combat increase statistic.  How does one reconcile a +8 combat increase with a double value attack in CM mass combat terms?  There is no statistic to add +8 to in the mass combat rules. It's nonsensical.  For example, using the CM mass combat rules, a hero attacking as as four heavy foot against a light footman would roll 4 dice, with a 5 or 6 indicating a kill.  The same hero wielding "Grey" would get double values against Mortals, meaning 8 dice rolls with a 5 or 6 indicating a kill.  As can be seen, there is nothing to add the + 8 combat increase to.  

Yes, possibly, the Combat Increase was supposed to be ignored in mass combat.  Perhaps it was meant to be something added to an attack roll in conjunction only with the Fantasy Combat Table (FCT) and Man to Man rules, while "Double Values" translated into two attack rolls on those tables.  Again that's problematic, as "mortals" aren't part of the FCT and neither are Puddings for that matter, and Fantasy creatures like ghouls don't fight on the Man to Man tables.  Nevertheless I suppose you could work around these difficulties by switching back and forth and adding new tables.  However, what about cases of triple, quadruple, or even six times values?  Was Arneson really suggesting an Elf wielding the magic sword Grey in battle with a troll would get 6 unanswered rolls on the 2d6 FTC with a +8 bonus to each (or at least one) roll?  Why would you do such a thing?  

One way to reconcile Combat Increase with CM is if we assume "Combat Increase" applies to the "hits" (hit points as Arneson devised them) of either the wielder or the victim.  If appled to the victim as a kind of "damage bonus" we face the confusing issue of how a combat increase which adds a damage bonus works with multiple values across three different CM systems, when those multiple values also multiply damage, as we saw earlier.   Applied to the hits of the wielder, the bonus is more workable with CM, though we are still left with the issues previously described for values.

In short, with some fiddling things can more or less be made to work, but it is particularly suspicious that Magic Sword combat statistics and terms fit so incredibly awkwardly, if at all, with the CM combat rules they were supposedly designed for.

Now let's turn to those "powers of the spells" Arneson claimed were lifted from "the available copies" of CM.  The table below shows all the "Special Values" powers of the early Blackmoor swords and a reference in CM to an identical power.



FFC Sword Magic Powers
CM equivalent
Invisibility Detection 
Elven ability
Magic Detection 
Wizard Spell
Magic Ability*

Evil Detection

Cause Moral Check 
Superhero, Rocs
Invisibility 
Sprite ability
See in Darkness 
Wizards, Goblins
Raise Morale 
Heroes, Wraith
Paralyze 
Wraith ability
(Control?) Dragons



*Magic ability refers to any magic spells the sword could cast.  Arneson determined the spells by random rolls on a spell list we don't have.  There are only 6 spells in CM 1st edition, yet most of the swords with Magic ability have more than 6.  In fact in the "color swords" list there's one with double magic and 17 spells.  It seems unlikely that these would all be multiple copies of the same 6.  Further, one of these spells is "detection" which is already a part of the list above.

Arneson chose only 10 such Special Values powers for his swords, two of which appear to have no parallel in CM (Dragons, Evil Detection).  The remainder can be found in the booklet, but require one to closely read the monster descriptions and note some of their powers.  That's a bit curious.

One might presume the reason for delving into the minutia of monster listings to find these special powers is that one of the powers given is the ability to cast spells, and that "covers" any magical power identical to an existing spell.  However, that didn't stop Arneson from listing the spell Magic Detection as one of the ten powers.  So avoiding redundancies with CM spells doesn't explain the list.  It gets even more peculiar, from a CM as source standpoint when you consider what isn't on that Special Values list:

No "impervious to missile fire" (Treant, Wight)
No "fly" (fairies, wraiths, dragons)
No Dragonsbreath
No "impervious to dragonfire" (elementals)
No "impervious to normal attacks" (elementals)
No venomous sting (purple worms)
No "turn to stone" (Basilisk)

(Note that fireball and lightning bolt are also not included and neither is Wizard light, or Darkness, though these could have been in the lost spell list.)  

Also note that the wizard spell  "Detection" in CM detects the type of magic or the location of hidden enemies.  While the "detect magic" part of that is in the swords Special Values list, the "detect enemy location" portion is not.  Why would that second part of Detection be missing from the Special Values list if the Special Powers were simply pulled out of CM?

These facts cast doubt on whether any of the Special Values powers  were taken from CM - except, presumably, the spells that fell under "Magic Ability" - despite what Arneson wrote five years later.  The list itself is quite generic (invisibility, paralyze, etc.) and it seems wholly unnecessary for Arneson to have dug those powers out of some monster description while ignoring others more prominent in the text, and adding two new ones of his own.   

 I have no doubt Arneson began his sword design project with the +1 vanilla magic sword found in the CM rules, along perhaps, with some other inspiration, but the bulk of the design was certainly a product of his own fertile imagination. 

Taken as a whole, the magic swords don't seem to have much of a relationship with the rules of CM.  I don't think the evidence is conclusive, but it does seem to point to systems of magic and combat developed independently of CM without intent of compatibility.


WIZARDS AND MAGIC

That wizards would be included in a fantasy wargame is practically a given.  We've already shown that "hero" titles in Blackmoor tie directly to CM and "wizards" are surely no exception.  That said, it is clear that wizards and magic in Blackmoor are quite distinct.

In 1st edition CM, under the description of Wizards,  there are three types of what we would call magic users: Wizards, Sorcerers and Warlocks.  Second edition adds Magicians.  These all have the ability to turn invisible until they attack and to see in darkness.  

It's been argued that these CM ranks of magic types were ported directly into early Blackmoor, essentially forming 3 levels of Wizard, expanding to 4 with the printing of CM 2ed in 1972.  The problem is these CM "ranks" are rare to non-existent in early Blackmoor material (pre D&D).  "Sorcerer" as "wizard or sorcerer" appears in the write up on Blackmoor Arneson wrote for publication in the Castle & Crusade society newlsetter (July 1972), and that's about the extent of it, with the only similar reference being found in the Loch Gloomen report in CoTT V4 #5 to a level 12 ! Sorceress.

Instead what we see is that wizards are ranked into levels, and we see them called "wizard" regardless of their level.  Some examples:

"Wesely (Superhero, magic sword, Level I Wizard....)" (CoTT V4, #5.  Lake Gloomey) 

"Wizard, one Lvl 3, 12 GP/week." (FFC 77:8 Coot Invasion, City of Maus)

"Kurt Krey (Anti-Superhero, Level IV Wizard...) " (CoTT V4, #5.  Lake Gloomey) 

"Wizard.  Lvl 4, 16 GP/week....; plus 50/spell." (FFC 77:7 Coot Invasion, Duchy of Ten)

"Wizard, 1 Lvl 6, 24 GP/week." (FFC 77:8 Coot Invasion, Nomads of Ten)

"Wizard Gaylord... Level 7 (3 without soup*)" (Pete Gaylord character sheet, 1971, in Peterson; Playing at the World 12:367)

"...the Ran and one of them has become his assistant (Level 7, Warrior and Magic) while the Ran brought another who looks exactly like the Ran (except 20% smaller) who is Level 8 in both catagories. (FFC 77:19)

*meaning without his superberry elixers

So we see, not just the three ranks of wizard in 1st ed. CM, but at least 8 levels of wizard operating in early Blackmoor (12 if the Sorceress counts).  A level 6 wizard, as indicated in the Coot Invasion tables from the 1st edition CM era, makes no sense at all in terms CM rules.  

Levels aren't the only problem shown here, we also see something perhaps even stranger in the context of a CM campaign.  We see a number of combo, or what we might now call "dual class" characters with seemingly any mix of level in each type possible.

There is a short section at the end of the CM rules discussing such Combination Figures.  We might otherwise consider these sort of combo characters to be a direct violation of the CM rules.  In CM wizards have their own combat rules, and of course, heroes have theirs.  They don't mix.   Unfortunately, the Combination Figures paragraph in CM contains little guidance beyond saying they should be rare, something they are certainly not in Blackmoor, and not too powerful, otherwise leaving it entirely unclear how you would even begin to handle a melee involving a multi-level hero/wizard character in CM.  Arneson must have created his own procedures for handling these combo figures in Blackmoor.

Blackmoor sources don't tell us what it meant to be a particular level of wizard, except to say, according to Arneson, "Progression reflected the increasing ability of the MU to mix spells of greater and greater complexity.... So to progress to a new level one first learned the spells, and then got to use that spell." (FFC 77:74)

Segueing to magic, the Blackmoor system resembles nothing we see in CM.  In 1st ed CM there are six spells given  (phantasmal forces, darkness, wizard light, detection, concealment, and conjuration of an elemental) and there is every reason to think Arneson ported these spells into Blackmoor, along with the spell like abilities of fireball and lightning bolt.  

However, the CM method was for a player to choose from among these spells for a particular Wizard figure to have and be able to cast repeatedly during a game.  The spells themselves once cast, never fizzled.

Blackmoor magic was alchemical and consisted of physical spells a wizard could make and carry around.    Once a spell was used, it was used, which put a curb on the unlimited casting of CM. Also unlike CM spells there was always a chance a Blackmoor spell could fail.  Further, spells were ranked into seemingly only 4 levels which like D&D, are a separate ranking from character levels.  Level 4 spells were apparently exceedingly rare and powerful, so much so that only the Gin of Salik is recorded as being able to make them. (FFC 77:20)

CM magic and Blackmoor magic utilize two entirely different, and contradictory approaches to spell casting.

It's clear that while the "wizard" and perhaps to a lesser extent, magic, as game elements, borrow some pieces from CM, the rules governing their use in play in Blackmoor stood independent of the CM rules, apparently from very early on.  Blackmoor wizards were not CM wizards at all.

What we have seen so far with magic swords, and especially with Wizards, Wizard Levels, Magic Levels and Blackmoor Alchemy, is that they utilize terms and methods that are not familiar to CHAINMAIL at all and in some cases are seemingly incompatible with that ruleset. 

We see what are apparently new rules.  Nevertheless, new rules, no matter how contradictory and how awkward the fit, could be argued to be "houserule" amendments to a CM based game.  We haven't yet seen anything that outright contradicts CM or that points directly to Strategos, or any other ruleset, and so we come to our last segment.

PART THREE - Evidence for Blackmoor as a Strategos Campaign.

The fact that the game elements we have examined so far work perfectly well in a Strategos based game and not so well in CHAINMAIL is no proof of anything.  To prove Blackmoor was a Strategos based campaign, we would need to show elements that are directly specific to those rules.  We have two cases to examine. 

THE MINI MONSTER MANUAL

Tucked into the last few pages of the FFC is a list of monsters and description Arneson prepared sometime in the first year or so of the Blackmoor Campaign.  The text is apparently incomplete, but what has survived covers the following monsters:


Dragons
Orcs
Bandits
Nomads
Trolls & Ogres
Wights & Ghouls
True Trolls
Rocs
Tarns
Basilisk
Balrog
Giant

It's certain that these monsters owe their inclusion in the Blackmoor Campaign because they are drawn from CM, aside from Tarns and the human types.  Tarns, however are said to be the same as Rocs, and Nomads and Bandits are divided into CM troop types. The "hits" (hit points) of all the monsters also usually come from the CM point cost of these monsters, but are adjusted to fit into d6 ranges like 4-24.  However we also find a wealth of new information in Arneson's monster listings.

In fact, it is interesting that these monster write ups exist at all in the context of a CHAINMAIL campaign.  There is simply no reason to create a new description and rules for monsters that are already well defined in the CM booklet for the purposes of running battles.  So why would Arneson bother?

Let's consider one example that appears to be particularly informative.

Here is the description of Giants found in CM:
"Giants are one of the most effective fighters.  They can demolish normal opponents with ease, for they melee as 12 Heavy Foot with an extra die for their oversized weapons.  The defend as 12 Armored Foot and Giants must take cumulative hits equal to a number sufficient to destroy 12 Armored Footmen before melee or missiles will kill them.  Moreover, Giants act as highly mobile small catapults (20 inches), without minimum range restrictions, and they can move on turns they don't throw missiles, for reloading for them simply consists of picking up a boulder to give it a heave.  Giants never need check morale." (75:34-35)

Here's the FFC description:
"These creatures carry their wealth with them and vary in size. Wealth ranges from 2 - 12,000 Gold Pieces and from 12 -72 hits with those over 36 getting DBL attack value with 3/2 missile and 3/2 movement.  In Woods 8 - 48 Hits; 3 -18,000 Gold Pieces in MTNS.  In groups of Giants, only one may be over 36.  However, total Gold for Giants over 36, or travelling with one. is increased by 3/2. 
1/5 chance of being encamped when encountered resulting in: 
1. DBL Gold, 
2. Triple no. of Giants (females and children) Non Combatants that will flee if attacked, 
3. Palisade and Ditch around village (as curtain wall for siege), 
4. Building (as square tower; one per two Giants.  
Captured as Dragons, 1000 x point value for worth."


The FFC giant entry can be considered supplementary to the CM entry.  Arneson adds information crucially important to adventuring, such as how much gold giants in different encounter locations might have.  It is just the sort of information one would need to run encounters with Player Characters, and arguably this is the main reason these entries were created.

However, notice also the combat information:
"....those over 36 getting DBL attack value with 3/2 missile and 3/2 movement."

As a side note, that 3/2 missile and movement rule puzzled the heck out of me for years, so I asked some of the original Blackmoor players if they knew what it meant and Ross Maker supplied the answer "...they move 50% farther than usual and have a 50% longer missile range (usually thrown rocks, etc. for giants)."

Again we also see Double Value mentioned.  As we discussed earlier, "Double Attack Value" can be made to make sense in CM mass combat terms, but becomes a question mark when applied to combat on the FCT.  In this case, in CM terms, giants with over 36 hits would presumably attack as 24 Armored Foot instead of 12 and get two rolls on the FCT.  

That's a real possibility, but here's the thing; nowhere in the entire monster section do we see any explanations like that given in the paragraph above, using actual CM terms like "24 Armored Foot" or two attack rolls or what have you.  That's just peculiar.   Instead what we actually see are lots of references like those in the Magic swords section to attacks at double and quadruple values.  In a few cases we see even six times normal attack value.

So again, in terms of a CM campaign, it is very strange that across the 12+ monsters described we never once see combat strength expressed as "x# Foot" or "fighting cabpability" as it always is in CM.  Instead it is always "x# Value" in the Blackmoor material.  Why?

The answer is fairly simple.  "Value" is the basic stat used to express troop strength in Strategos.  Below is an example from Arneson & Hoffa's Strategos A**:



Without going too deep into the Strategos rules, suffice it to say that a troops' Value is the core statistic used to determine the "odds" of opponents in combat, which is then resolved in accordance with dice rolls referencing "Table T".  In the Strategos A example above, a unit of Heavy Cavalry fighting at Double Value would have a base Melee Value of 6 instead of 3.

The use of the term "value" throughout both the Magic Swords and Monster sections of the FFC are a strong indicator that Arneson is engaging in a conversion of the CM combat terms and stats into something compatible with Strategos. 

Of course, this isn't unequivocal evidence of Strategos.  One could argue that the use of the term "values" throughout the early Blackmoor material was merely one of habit and familiarity, and doesn't necessarily mean the Strategos battle rules were employed instead of CHAINMAIL rules when dice began to roll.  Indeed, Arneson continues to talk about double and triple values in his 1975 Temple of the Frog adventure which is quite clearly written with D&D in mind.  That's a fair objection.  Nevertheless the continuous use of the core Strategos term coupled with the complete lack of CM "x# Foot" etc. certainly favors a Strategos rule base for the Blackmoor Campaign.

So far we've seen a lot of apparent and circumstantial evidence pointing at Strategos, but perhaps the reader of this tediously long essay is hoping for a smoking gun, some item of inarguable proof. Given the fragmented state of our records, that might be an unreasonable expectation.  Nevertheless there is indeed a smoking gun:

MORALE

If it is intended to bear any semblance to reality, morale will be at the heart of any good wargame, as indeed it is for both CHAINMAIL and Strategos.

Morale in CHAINMAIL:
Here is how morale works in CM.  There are two types, "Instability Due to Excess Casualties" and "Post Melee Morale".

"Instability Due to Excess Casualties" is a check that occurs when a unit has suffered casualties below a certain percentage allowed for that type of unit.  When the casualty threshold is crossed, a saving throw must be made or the unit will be removed from the game.

"Post Melee Morale" occurs only when troops are engaged in a melee, immediately after casualties are removed.  The calculation then follows a somewhat complex formula involving troop numbers, and a morale rating.  Once calculated the result 
is compared to this table:


0 - 1 9 difference
— melee continues
20 - 39 difference
— back 2 move, good order
40 - 59 difference
— back 1 move, good order
60 - 79 difference
— retreat 1 move
80 - 99 difference
— rout 1½ move
100 & + difference
— surrender

These morale rules are core functions of the combat system.  The difference determined in the post melee morale calculation results in either a continued melee, a forced movement, a retreat or a route.  The morale "condition" of these units doesn't change, that is it remains in good order, unless they are in retreat or route.  Otherwise, when not directly in combat, morale is not a factor.

Morale in Blackmoor:
As was discussed above, the earliest major battles fought in the Blackmoor campaign involved the invasions by the notorious Egg of Coot, and one of the major figures in those invasions was the Ran of An Foo.  The Ran of An Foo is actually a pun on Randy Hoffa, though Mr. Hoffa himself never played the character, others did for the battle scenarios.   The player in charge of the Ran controlled the province and all the armies of the Duchy of Ten.  However, we learn that the Ran's player operated under certain restrictions.  This information is found in one of the oldest bits of material found in the FFC - The Infamous Characters section, which served as a handout for players back in 1971.  (For more discussion on this topic see this post here.)

The instructions Arneson wrote for Ran's player are these: 
"To reflect the superior planning on his part, and the fact that the troop' are then all conditioned to follow the plan, do the following:
The plan for the battle are drawn ahead of time (as specific as possible) where upon the troops have +l on all combat die throws while following the plan and a two level increase in their morale while the plan is followed.  If the troops are forced to deviate from the plan, they suffer a -1 on combat throws (or additional troops needed for the throws to be made) and a -3 on morale condition." (FFC 77:19-20)

Let's compare the highlighted information to our CM rules.  The first and last items highlighted are related so lets look at the second item first.

they suffer a -1 on combat throws (or additional troops needed for the throws to be made)

That can be restated as "adding new troops to a combat will negate the -1 penalty and allow a throw to be made normally".  There is no complementary rule in CM like this.  That is, there is no rule in CM whereby a player would "need" to bring in additional troops to avoid or cancel a penalty while affecting a "morale condition".  It doesn't make any sense in CM terms.

a two level increase in their morale 
-3 on morale condition

Neither "Instability Due to Excess Casualties" nor "Post Melee Morale" has anything like a "Morale Level".  The statement makes no sense whatever in CM.  There are no levels.  CM troops are either in good morale, or they are in retreat or rout.  Likewise there is no way to subtract -3 from their morale "condition".  There is no list or statistic representing morale conditions or states.   

The special instructions for when the player of the Ran of Ah Foo engages the forces of the Duchy of Ten in battle are simply nonsensical jibberish in a CHAINMAIL based game.

But do they make any sense in Strategos?  Lets go back through them: 

they suffer a -1 on combat throws (or additional troops needed for the throws to be made)

As explained earlier, troops in Strategos are assigned a value.  These values are used with other factors to determine combat odds.  Below is the rule for adding new troops to an existing melee** :


(Strategos N p17) 

And

 (Strategos N p15)

In Strategos, adding new troops to a melee increases the combat odds.  The Blackmoor rule appears to be taking this into account by negating the -1 penalty.  Certainly, unlike with CM, the Blackmoor rule makes perfect sense in Strategos terms.

a two level increase in their morale 
-3 on morale condition

To examine these two statements, we need to look at how morale works in Strategos.  Here is the Morale Table in Strategos N:1.



Seem Familiar? Perhaps you have seen the version published in the Arneson/Gygax collaboration from 1972, Don't Give Up The Ship(TM).





Here is how those tables work;  At any given time in the game, all units have a morale condition or class.  Typically, troop morale will of course be "Normal", but will move up or down morale levels according to circumstances.  A unit at Normal condition that achieves a victory will move up a level to "Flushed with Victory".  Likewise, a -3 on morale condition as in the case of when the battle plan falls apart for the Ran, means that if the unit started in "Normal" condition they would drop 3 levels down to "routed" condition.  

There can be little doubt the the Blackmoor player instructions for the Ran of Ah Foo are referencing the Strategos morale and combat rules so well familiar to all those in Arneson's gaming circle.  This was the lingua Franca they all shared for the rules they all used.  From the time Wesely discovered and distilled Totten's rules in the mid 1960's through the mid '70's Strategos ruled the table for Arneson and company.  They used Strategos N as the building block for games set in the Russo Turkish war, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, Ancient battles, Medieval battles, WWII armor conflicts, and all the Braunstein games. The Twin Cites gamers lived and breathed the Strategos rules.  Indeed, they still play them.  To those gentlemen, the references to values and morale levels in the FFC were immediately recognizable, but to the gaming community at large who's knowledge of and exposure to Strategos was limited and who's relevance remains downplayed at best, the confusion is certainly understandable.  

However, we can now draw the inescapable conclusion:The battles in Blackmoor were being fought with Strategos as the go to rules, not CHAINMAIL.

Strategos makes immediate sense of the terms and data presented, whereas CHAINMAIL leaves one bewildered trying to make it work.  The evidence shows that it is perfectly accurate to say the the first Blackmoor games began with CM in hand.  It is also undoubtedly true that a couple of the very first experimental games in the setting utilized the Fantasy Combat Table in CM.  However, for the remainder of the campaign, character combats were resolved, first with Arneson's own methods, and later with the D&D ruleset itself.
Magic likewise was a system of Arneson's own invention, borrowing only a handful of spell descriptions from CM.  

Large scale battles, logistics and wargame campaigning, while they drew some organizational information from CM were fought in accordance with their usual Strategos ruleset.

Given the information highlighted in this article, how then should we characterize the relationship between CM and Blackmoor?  Is it proper to refer to Blackmoor as a CM campaign?

Perhaps the best way to answer that question is through analogy.  Suppose, I decided to start a Napoleonics campaign with the locals using Wesely's Strategos N rules (not so hypothetical as I really would like to do that someday).  As it happens the Strategos N rules have no information on Unit costs, troop types of various nations, organizational differences, national wealth and logistics, and so on.

To run a campaign you would certainly need all that information.  Fortunately, I have a copy of Donald Feathersone's wonderful little book "Napoleons Campaigns in Miniature", and I would happily turn to that book for all the needed supplemental information, while completely ignoring the last chapter therein where Featherstone presents his own set of rules.  

So if someone asked me, I would tell them I was running a Strategos N campaign.  I might add I was supplementing Strategos with information from Featherstone, but never would I claim or endorse the claim that I was running a "Featherstone Campaign"

Blackmoor was a Strategos campaign, wherein CHAINMAIL functioned as supplemental information; a sourcebook for ideas, a primary Monster Manual, and a kind of guide to medieval typologies.  In retrospect, it is hardly surprising that Arneson would exploit the easy to hand information present in CM, while continuing to game with the rules he and the other Twin Cities gamers knew by heart.  The rules of Blackmoor developed in the mileau of Strategos on the heels of Braunstiens and Ancients and medieval battles.  It was not a CHAINMAIL campaign

**documents courtesy of Secrets of Blackmoor archives.  While the references above from the FFC have been available for 40 years to ponder over, many documents have been extremely hard for researchers to access, a condition exacerbated by collector markets.  Now, thanks to the tireless and generous work of the Secrets of Blackmoor team in cooperation with many of the original Twin Cities gamers, these resources are becoming available electronically.   I applaud their efforts and I'm honored to consult with them and provide whatever insights I can on documents whose significance is sometimes unclear. Secrets of Blackmoor