Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Blackmoor Dungeon Map Oddities


The FFC maps are themselves very interesting because they contain little notes and markings that give clues to the dungeon not mentioned in the key. For example, room 29 on level 8 is marked “red eye orcs” but the key just has two were lions there. Curiously the ZGG version map still has “red eye orcs” on its map but puts goblins in the room in the key.


Doors are an especially curious thing on the maps too. For reasons I’ve never understood, instead of drawing doors as a solid line on an angle as is done on normal blueprints, TSR dungeon maps always show doors as little squares. Perhaps it was deliberate, or perhaps Gygax and company just didn’t know any better, but it always seemed very odd that TSR doors were so unconventional.  If you look at the FFC maps however, Arneson has drawn lots of doors that look like the normal blueprint kind – solid lines on a little angle with a small circle indicating the hinge. But there is also lots of places where rooms have one or two small lines or what looks like a thin rectangle at the entrance way. Since these resemble the TSR style doors, I think most people, including the artists who did the ZGG redraw, just assumed these were regular TSR style doors. But there is no reason for Arneson to have drawn dungeon doors different ways unless they really were different kinds of doors. Most of these lines, thin line and or rectangles are unmarked but on some there is a small note S.P. or Secret Passage. In the text, Arneson notes that secret passages are drawn as “thin walls”. So all the straight single or double lines going across corridors indicate secret doors and seemingly dead end corridors.  There's also little connecting lines between rooms and corridors that are of a similar nature and indicate secret doors and passages.

But,what about all those little rectangular TSR style doors?  For various reasons, it's safe to say these are not secret doors.  I think that each of these little rectangular “doors” indicates a locked door and the open swinging style door indicates an unlocked or open door.

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