Secrets of the Not-Dalluhn Manuscript

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

The Beyond This Point be Dragons manuscript has had an interesting history in the OSR community, a history marked both with fascinating revelations and, at times senseless posturing.  It has stirred up controversy and continues to generate interesting discussion.

My part in all this began in September of 2010, when I was contacted by Keith Dalluhn, and asked to make heads or tails of his copy, and ascertain whether it had a direct connection to Dave Arneson, as he suspected.  Keith must be credited for being the first to try to bring BTPbD to the attention of the gaming community.  He was also first to study the manuscript and write up his findings.  In turn, I worked off and on on BTPbD for a year before writing up a preliminary report for Keith (that formed the basis of my 2012 blog series).  I came to the conclusion that BTPbD was a dead end fork in the history of D&D drafts, a "cross draft" if you will, and the only record of such a draft I knew of was one Arneson had claimed to have made.  That identification seemed to be corroborated by the apparently similarity of the internal art, to Arneson's sketches, and certain internal references whose only analogs were in the FFC.  At that point, I had really only systematically gone through the section of playing tables for my 'blog posts, but planed to write a similar reports for the remaining text sections.  Work on that was delayed by a project I thought to be of greater importance - Champions of ZED.  It's all well and good to write papers talking about data, but what are you going to do with that data?  The Beyond This Point be Dragons manuscript held many intriguing ideas, methods, and assumptions about how to play our favorite game, and these deserved to be brought into the light and promoted.  Thus the idea of Champions of ZED was born as a way to preserve the gaming goodness of BTPbD and ultimately of many such rare bits of gaming goodness from other scattered and obscure places.  Working on CoZ in 2011 didn't leave a lot of time for working on analysis papers.

Early in 2012 Jon Peterson started his Playing at the World blog. We didn't circulate in the same circles and I had never heard of him before then, but it was clear he was some kind of collector with access to a lot of material researchers such as myself didn't have.  So I sent him a collegial email, and eventually a copy of the BTPbD manuscript.  After a little convincing on my part that it was indeed a "real" draft, Jon soon began his own, very detailed study, which pretty much freed me up to concentrate on CoZ and other matters.  Jon's thoughts were often at variance with my own, but ultimately, as often happens, he too was right about some of his conclusions (the editor was not Arneson and he didn't draw the art), and not so right about others (It wasn't a Gygax edited draft).   In any case, Jon decided early to drop the "Beyond This Point be Dragons" moniker and begin calling it the "Dalluhn" manuscript.  His publicly stated reasons for doing so involved a puzzling argument about a paperclip stain.

That winding journey brings us to now.  We have learned that Mark Bufkin, a player in a splinter group run by of one of Dave Arneson's players, was the man responsible for putting together the Beyond This Point be Dragons manuscript, and that Beyond This Point be Dragons was indeed the title he intended for the work.  There's no need to be coy about the title anymore and indeed it is disrespectful to the late Mr. Bufkin to change Beyond This Point be Dragons to anything else.  One might reasonably refer to the particular, incomplete photocopy recovered by Keith Dalluhn from M. A. R. Barker as the "Dalluhn" manuscript, but not to the more complete work as we now have it.

So what do we have now?

There are three key items:
- A handwritten outline
- A series of maps
- A typed and illustrated manuscript including a previously missing page.

The outline, we have already discussed HERE, so lets move on to the maps and manuscript starting with the latter first, but it will be useful here at least to again post a picture of it.

According to the outline, the following sections were planned, but were never written or perhaps were lost.

An Introduction
The Spiritual Life
And Other Creatures
For The Referee

Moving  on to the text we do have, one of the first things to note is that we got the whole thing wrong.  Okay, I got the whole thing wrong.  I was the first one to break BTPbD into two "books" based on the page count and the order of the text as it was to be found in the pdf Keith Dalluhn made.

So, per the pdf, Book 1 consists of the Title Page (Beyond this Point be Dragons) followed by the "Playing Tables" on pages 2 - 17, and the "Glossary of Terms, pages 18 - 32.

Next comes "Book II".  The first page is a full illustration labeled "Before Setting out for Fame and Fortune". Pages 2 - 29 consist of the rules of the game  (see identical breakdown below).  Page 29, as discussed way back when, ends in mid sentence within the "Baron and the Lord" section.

Mark Bufkin, organized his text differently, as one could infer from the handwritten outline shown above.  Beyond this Point be Dragons is actually organized as follows:

Title Page (Beyond this Point be Dragons)
Before Setting Out to Fame and Fortune - pages 1 - 8
The Underworld -pp 9 - 14
The Upper World - pp 15 - 21
Melees and Combat - pp 22 - 25
The Rewards of Success - 26 - 29

Following page 29, BTPbD picks up directly with "The Playing Tables" page 2 - 17, and the "Glossary of Terms, pages 18 - 32.   The document ends with page 32 and this illustration.

For this second section, it's clear that some kind of title page was intended.  I believe it quite likely that this was the "For the Referee" section indicated in the outline.  If this is correct, the missing title page would have said "For the Referee" underneath some illustration, as is the case with the other section pages found in the document.

So rather than being organized into two books, beginning with the tables and ending with the rules, Bufkin actually began with the rules and included a second section, Which I will suggest was intended "For the Referee", consisting of tables and a glossary and ending on the page shown above.

To avoid confusion with earlier references to Book I and Book II, I will simply call the tables and glossary section the "addendum" and all other references will be to the main text.

Mark Bufkin's BTPbD manuscript also contains a page that was missing in the manuscript recovered by Keith Dalluhn.   This is page 22 in the spell description section and it contains the text description for the following spells: Conjure Elemental, Move Earth, Transmute Rock to Mud, Wall of Stone, Wall of Iron, Animate Dead, Magic Jar, Contact Higher Plane, and The Glittering Eye.  Here is a sample:

Another page seemingly missing from the BTPbD text is the map,  Mr Bufkin seems to have enjoyed drawing maps - Heather Bufkin sent me one file with nearly a dozen of them in various states of completion.  Several of these maps have places labeled "Cylorn" or "Lalkel" - place names the text in BTPbD mentions in conjunction with the missing map.  However, despite the similarity of place names these maps are usually very different.  One of these maps - shown below - conforms to the text description significantly better than the others, and may well be the map intended for inclusion with BTPbD.  It is unfinished, as can be seen.

In addition to these maps, there are a number of partially keyed (simple descriptions) maps of building and dungeon levels, which include references to people and places mentioned in the BTPbD text, such as the manor house and dungeon of Brysbane the Blue (p2).  That particular document is illustrated with the pencil sketch versions of two of the BTPbD illustrations (Rewards of Success and opening the dungeon door.)  Note that although nearly identical, these are not the same drawings that appear in the manuscript.  Here is one for comparison;

As it stands, we don't have the last few sentences of the "The Baron and the Lord" section of page 29, or those last couple sections in the outline.  It seems likely these were never written, but who knows?  Perhaps something will turn up.  Even though not quite complete, the Beyond This Point be Dragons manuscript and related material provides us with a fascinating glimpse into the gaming world evolving around and from the Twin Cities circle of gamers around the time D&D was published, and it illustrates what one gamer with a little creativity could do with a draft copy of the rules.  It is a remarkable work.

A pdf of the Mark Bufkin copy of Beyond this Point be Dragons and other materials is available to subscribers on my Patreon site. (HERE)

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Game Archaeologist/Anthropologist, Scholar, Historic Preservation Analyst, and a rural American father of three.
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