Fitting the Great Kingdom onto the Flanaess

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: , ,

 Here we go.  For fun, take a look at the map below.

What you are looking at is one of the best medieval maps of the world, produced in 1154 by geographer al–Idrisi.

Observe how it is recognizable, yet "wrong".  Some places - like Spain or Arabia, are almost correct, while others like Britain and India are very wrong and in some cases there are places that are likely not even real.

That "similar but wrongness" is one way to look at the Great Kingdom map below.   

This map, as we've talked about before, was published in the Castles & Crusades societies Domesday Book #9 newsletter around June of 1970.  Details are fuzzy, but the map was drawn by some artistic hand, apparently based on a map by Gary Gygax.

Technically, it is the first published map of what we now call the Flanaess.

Originally it was intended to be the shared map Castles & Crusades society member would use for campaigns - using whatever rules - involving their various holdings in and out of the Great Kingdom.

Few labels were put on this map by the cartographer, but using other hand-drawn copies, such as Dave Megarry's below, we are able to fill a lot of those blanks in.

Some of those names are familiar to Greyhawkers - like Nyr Div and Urnst - some, like Catmelun, not so much.

Nevertheless, it was on this map that the earliest Greyhawk adventures took place, and early Blackmoor adventures too, but like the al–Idrisi medieval map above, it was a crude representative of the world.

Sometime in the late 70's Gary Gygax decided a better map was needed - a modern map.  The end result was the Darlene map of the Flanaess.  I don't presume to know all the steps it took to get there, except that it all starts with the C&C Great Kingdom map.  

So I thought it would be fun to map the parts of the C&C map onto the corresponding locations on an official Greyhawk map, along with location labels, to see what may result.

The first thing you will notice is that I have cut the C&C map into 8 pieces where it seemed logical.  In two cases (Nyr Div and Catmelun) sections have been rotated, and in all cases the sections have been resized, bigger or smaller for best fit.

Now I don't for a second think somebody at TSR did something like that.  I expect the process was a lot more free form.  Someone, Gygax probably, sat down with a sketch pad and a copy of the C&C map and drew.  Certain areas, like the sea of dust and the Nyr Div, they copied pretty closely, while others, especially in the east, were more loosely inspired, and a whole lot of new geography was added, or redefined in between places - again especially on the eastern side of the new map.

Even so, there is much in the C&C map that is recognizable on the new Greyhawk maps we have now.

Here is the same map again, but this time I've ghosted the image so you can see what lies beneath and perhaps why the sections are where they are.

You can readily see, if you look closely, how mountains and coastlines follow together, and sometimes even rivers and forest.  The eastern three sections were the most difficult to place, but I think even there you can readily see how someone eyeballing a new map on a sketchpad is being guided by the C&C map outlines, at least in some places.  

Perhaps the NE section is most interesting.  That squiggly peninsula on the C&C map for all the world looks to have been followed on the Greyhawk map to form the line of The Frozen River, leaving the islands of Botulia and Maritz to be paved over by new land.

Here is another look.  This map has all the C&C sections removed but the place names left behind.  Placement for a lot of these labels was straightforward, but there were also a few that are more of a best guess, because they fall on the edge of a section that is separated from it's neighbors by a lot of space.  

There's some very interesting alignments and some possibilities for place names where our current Greyhawk map lacks detail.

Of the places listed, many have direct corollaries on the world of Greyhawk map.  Places like Urnst, Perrenland, Keoland, and Geoff have retained their names and the same general locations.  Some others seem to have simply changed names, while a few seem to be altogether novel.  For these new and usual names we have limited source information, the best source being Andre Norton's Quag Keep novel.  Norton was invited by Gygax to play D&D in his early Greyhawk campaign.  Her 1978 novel mentions several of the unusual place names seen on the various C&C maps, indicating she either had a copy of a similar Greyhawk map or, perhaps more likely given her unusual spellings, had jotted down some notes after having looked over Gygax' map.

Given that there are names in the list that we can identify in Quag Keep, but have been changed - for example Faraz/Furyondy - and that many of these can also be found in the older form in the pages of Andre Norton's Quag Keep, I would suggest that they are simply "old fashioned" or antique regional names, dating from the same period as the Quag Keep events.  Erik Mona, pegs this to CY 498, and I see no reason to argue otherwise.  That would of course also suggest that our "antique" C&C map represents some scholar's knowledge of the world at that time, much as al–Idrisi's world map reflected his knowledge of his time.

Leaving aside the familiar place names that are the same on both maps, we get the following list of new or changed places:

The Hold of Iron Hand - the location of the Hold of The Iron Hand on the coast north of the Paynims places this territory in the Greyhawk realms of Ekbir,  We can take Hold of the Iron Hand to be a nickname or older name for this collection of sheikdoms.  It is possible "Iron Hand" inspired "Stone Fists" but the Stone fists are nowhere near this location, so there's no good reason to take them as being the same, at least in game terms. 

March Slove  - Slove appears to be a small, otherwise unnamed area just north of the Yatil Mountains in an area dominated by lakes.

County of Hither Hills - The Hither Hills are mentioned in Quag Keep (p22) where it is described as a land of "Half Bloods", perhaps some kind of half elves or something else.  These Hills are one of the border areas on the map that are harder to place, but must fall between the Burneal Forest and the Land of Black Ice and appear to abut the Hold of the Iron Hand.

County of Celate - Celate appears in a mountain chain just NW of Blackmoor and west of the Egg of Coot.  While otherwise unknown in Greyhawk lore to my knowledge, Celate falls squarely on a place known only as "The Duchy of the Peaks" in Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign.  This is fortunate, because it allows us to give a "real" name to a place otherwise known by an unimaginative nick-name.   

County of Stabilny - Stabilny is another location seemingly in between C&C map sections.  Best fit seems to be the NW shore of Quag lake. 

Neron March - The Neron March on the old maps falls very near to the "Gran March" on the Greyhawk, map and we can safely assume these are one and the same.  As a name, Neron March is preferable to me.  One of the quirks of both Greyhawk and Blackmoor is the ready use of English words for names (The Cold Marsh or the Firefrost channel for example), so it is nice to have a non-English alternative.

Kingdom of Faraz - Faraz or Faraaz in Quag Keep, is undoubtedly Furyonody.  In Andre Norton's 1978 novel, Quag Keep Faraaz gets mentioned a fair few times.  We learn a for example that it appears to be some kind of theocracy under the control of Holy Lords.

Yerocunby - Yerocunby covers several territories on the Greyhawk map, including Dyvers, Narwell, Verbobonc and possibly Devarnish and Greyhawk itself.  We can imagine this name may have covered a temporary alliance of nations or may represent an old name for the geographic area. Zach Howard of Zenopus Archives made the suggestion that the Kingdom of Furyondy derives from a combination of Faraz and Yeroconby.  That seems very likely to me, and so we can imagine that Faraaz expanded at some point after 500 CY to merge or absorb Yerocunby temporarily - perhaps through a royal wedding, resulting in the merged name Furyondy.  For some reason the area of Yerocunby later Balkanized, but Furyondy retained the name (and perhaps the territorial claim).   Interestingly, as the protagonists travel away from Greyhawk toward the Sea of Dust, Quag Keep also mentions Yerocunby in the same relation we see on the C&C map. "We shall have Yerocunby and Faraaz facing us at the border. But the river then will lead us straight into the mountains." p32

Duchy of Maritz - The island duchy of Maritz or Maritiz as it is spelled in Quag Keep, seems to have been entirely swallowed up by the new NE peninsula drawn on the World of Greyhawk map, possibly falling about where the Atmanship of Kelten lies.  We know nothing of these islands except the useless but colorful fact from Norton that they use half-moon coins with sea-serpents on them.

Botulia - another island paved over in Greyhawk by the added NW peninsula, falling about where the Atmanship of Amaran is now.  Other than being given a name and kingdom status on the old maps, this island was not mentioned anywhere else that I have found. 

Walworth - Walworth derives from the county of the same name in Wisconsin where Gygax lived, and in fact, Earl of Walworth was a title Gygax used in the C&C Society.  It's useful to remember that Gygax envisioned the C&C map as an alternate North America in a parallel  dimension.  Of course the map doesn't look like North America, but it does have the same climactic regions (cold to the north, tropics to the SW and mountains running up the mid west.)  In an article sent to Alarums & Excursions #15 (October, 1976), Gary tells us, "The game world is a parallel earth, but the continents are somewhat different.  Most of our campaign activity takes place on what corresponds to North America, on the eastern half of the continent.  The "Blackmoor" lands lie far up on the northeast coast.  "Greyhawk" is in the central portion."  Elsewhere Gygax specifies that he imagined the Free City of Greyhawk to be positioned similarly to Chicago.  On the Greyhawk map, Walworth falls directly on the Shield Lands.  This may be another case where a real name (Walworth) may be a preferable substitute for an English Language nick-name (Shield Lands).   

Kingdom of Catmelun - The last mystery name we have is the Kingdom of Catmelun, and it is another example of having a name on a map with no other details.  If my guess is right, Catmelun is none other than Sunndi.  Perhaps Catmelun was the name of a royal house who ruled the area around 498, or perhaps the name can be ignored altogether in your Greyhawk campaign. 

For more on Quag Keep people and places, have a look at This Post by Eric Mona.

The New Blackmoor Town Map in the Style of Cuidad Rodrigo

Author: DHBoggs / Labels:

Earlier this month I posted a Blackmoor town map re-designed to properly fit the dungeon below That's Here

Only days later, the Cuidad Rodrigo map (previous post) came to my attention.  So of course it is time to marry the two.

Below are two maps - a labeled DM's map and a blank map.  These were created by matching the size of the Cuidad Rodrigo model image to the walls of Blackmoor village.  I then traced the Cuidad Rodrigo city walls and placed house buildings wherever they were on the model - except that right around the south gate lane some were shifted west to make room for the lane.   Enjoy:

The Town of Blackmoor or is it Cuidad Rodrigo?

Author: DHBoggs /

Lately I've done several posts involving the village of Blackmoor, so Arneson's map below is likely a familiar sight:

For something new, consider this 19th century map of the 1812 siege of Cuidad Rodrigo in Spain during the Napoleonic wars:

Okay Boggs, you are thinking, that's nice.  There is a similarity.  So what?

Indeed, not the end of the story.  Cuidad Rodrigo came to my attention through Bill Hoyt.  Several interviews of Mr. Hoyt were posted on Youtube (here), and towards the end of the video (TC 28:16) we get a glimpse of a model sitting on a shelf in Mr. Hoyt's workroom.  It caught my attention so I messaged Bill and he sent me a still picture along with the information that it was a model of Cuidad Rodrigo in Spain.  I've taken that picture, reoriented it, and applied a pencil sketch effect.  Now here is the model side by side with the town of Blackmoor:

Was Blackmoor Village derived from, or at least inspired by, Bill Hoyt's model?  They have the same general form, same prominent church in the middle, same empty section in the NW (the cemetery), same triangula bastions around the walls and even similar rectangular sections on the left side - something that has always struck me as an odd feature on the Blackmoor map.

According to Mr. Hoyt, the plan for the walls of Cuidad Rodrigo was laid out to scale by Henry Sayire, who had a background in drafting.  Sayire's participation in wargaming was ended at the request of the pacifist Jehova's Witness congregation of which he was a member, but Hoyt took the drawing Sayire had made and created the 3D model on top.  He then "filled it with blocks for buildings." (pers comm 2020)

William J. Hoyt, as many of you will remember, was one of the bedrock members of Arneson's gaming circle.  He was very active in Twin Cities gaming all around and was an early Tekumel player.  Bill is one of the three people cited in Arneson's March 1971 letter to Rob Kuntz and the C&C society explaining his "Northern Marches" campaign where Mr. Hoyt is given the territory of Williamsfort.  It is entirely reasonable then to posit that the first time or two Arneson's N-scale castle model was called upon to represent the Blackmoor Castle, it was paired on the table with Bill's Cuidad Rodrigo model to represent the town of Blackmoor (or perhaps as the town and castle of "Keston/Keiston as it may at first have been named - discussed in previous posts).

As the Blackmoor game progressed, however, Mr Hoyt was less involved due to the tensions between Arneson and Hoffa/Scott with whom Bill was still gaming.  Just as Mr. Hoffa and Mr. Scott were notoriously immortalized in Blackmoor as the Ran of Ah Foo and the Egg of Coot, Mr. Hoyt seems to have provided the inspiration for the waffling Duke of the Peaks (with whom he shares the initials WH).  

At some point, Arneson drew a map of the town of Blackmoor, and it now seem likely he was copying the 3D model.  The copy of the village map we have from Arneson was published in the Domesday book in the summer of 1972. Given that Mr. Hoyt wasn't regularly participating in the Blackmoor games in this late 1971 through 1972 timeframe, Arneson may no longer have had the model of Cuidad Rodrigo in front of him and would therefore have relied on memory to draw the village map onto the butchers block paper on his gaming/ping-pong table and likewise for the map we see in the Domesday Book.   That would certainly explain why the town map in the Domesday Book has all the extra and somewhat wonky triangula bastions and only the one rectangular bastion.  

In any case we should hardly be surprised a Napoleonic battle inspired the form of Blackmoor village.  The walls of the town obviously owe their design far more to Vauban than William the Conqueror.  They are yet another reminder of the wargaming tapestry of which Blackmoor, and ultimately Dungeons & Dragons are a part.

Mordenkainen's Glimpse of Blackmoor

Author: DHBoggs / Labels:

"They entered the store as Mordenkainen looked north towards Castle Blackmoor, another enigma of the North which for now would be left unplumbed by them."  Rob Kuntz, Oerth Journal #6:45

What did Mordy see?  What does castle Blackmoor  look like to those wandering the streets of the village?  

The earliest description comes from Domesday Book #13 (circa July) 1972. Arneson writes "Blackmoor Castle was built... Over a period of six years on the hill that dominated the small village of Blackmoor... The newer structure incorporates many of the underground galleries of the older structures as well as the main tower which has stood throughout the history of the area."

From other sources we know that the hill the castle sits on is one hundred feet higher than the town and both the castle and hill are made of a dense black rock.

Even with details from later sources, there has never been a lot of written description for artist to go on.  The images they have drawn have unsurprisingly depicted all manner of castle types.  Here are a few:

First from the 1975 Blackmoor Supplement cover:

From the 2016 Blackmoor Supplement cover:

This Background image in TSR's DA1 from 1986:

There have also been a number of non-official representations such as this one below on the Three Castles Award trophy.  Blackmoor is the one on top.

No doubt these images are all very lovely.  They're also all very wrong. 

Folks "in the know" have long been aware that the original Blackmoor Castle was in fact an N scale model Arneson owned of Branzoll, a castle in the Italian alps.  This one in fact:

Confirmation of that can be seen readily enough in the top down view Arneson gives of the castle in his Blackmoor village map:

So the Branzoll model gives us some idea of what Blackmoor Castle should look like when viewed from the town.  There are a few details however that make Blackmoor Castle a little bit different from the model.

First, as can be seen in Arneson's drawing, the outer walls are somewhat bigger, wider, and longer.  In fact, they are bigger still if we judge by the dungeon plan as talked about in my previous posts.

Looking at the picture of the model, you can note exterior stairs on the tower.  Not only are these stairs never mentioned anywhere in any Blackmoor material, the two floor plans of the castle (Bob Bledsaws in the FFC and Jeff Berry's done for show at conventions) show no sign of an exterior stair, so we really should discount that detail.

Then there is the gatehouse.  We have two Arneson drawings of this.  One in the FFC that shows a small tower next to a gate with the castle behind:

And a second, older, drawing, shown here from inside a display case at Garycon, that shows an entrance into a larger tower:

This second image seems to me to be a better fit with Arneson's overhead drawing, but in any case, given that the castle was sacked, wrecked and repaired any number of times, we could simply see these drawings as being from different times in the castle's history. 

So keeping these details in mind, what might Mordenkainen have seen high upon the rocky crest above Blackmoor village?

Working a little paint-program magic with an image of the model, here is my rough attempt at the answer to that question (properly speaking, this angle would be from the area of the docks or behind the church):

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