Blackmoor Calendar and the Oeridian Record

Author: DHBoggs / Labels:

Delving deeper into the Greyhawk Blackmoor connection.  I've been fiddling with timelines.

As with the map I did for the previous post, the idea is that we accept the CY 540 date in Oerth Journal #5 for the Egg of Coot's victory over Blackmoor.

That means all the events of Blackmoor's history as known in the First Fantasy Campaign, The TSR DA series, and the d20 Dave Arneson's Blackmoor line of products have to have occurred sometime before this date, because in all those products the Egg is still held at bay.

Of course, for this to work, we have to ignore anything in Blackmoor "history" that has to do with polities, cultures, etc. outside of Blackmoor or find some way to explain them in Greyhawk terminology, so for example, "Thonians" become Aeridians.  There is nothing new about that sort of thing though, given that Blackmoor has jumped settings and time periods several times before, so swapping out a few names and ignoring a few details here and there doesn't cause any problems within the timeline itself.

There is a Blackmoor canon timeline published in the DAB books - the last version of which can be found in the 4e The First Campaign sourcebook (page 148).  

It's not a perfect timeline and its sometimes contradicted elsewhere even in the d20 material, but basically that's the dating framework everybody uses.  In that timeline, events that occurred in the original First Fantasy Campaign, occur around the year 1000.  The DA series is set in the year 1025.  The d20 books are set in 1030 and the MMRPG extends events all the way to 1055 in it's final episodes. 

CY dates are much lower, with current play being around the year 600, give or take a couple decades.  So to start the conversion process, I just arbitrarily subtracted 500 years and looked at the results.  That wasn't enough  - it left no time between Uther and the Egg for the 60 year reign of Rua Morgaiste, mentioned in Oerth Journal #5, so I arbitrarily took off another century.  That meant year 0 of the traditional Blackmoor calendar would correspond to -600 CY.  And so I began to adjust the timeline at - 600.

That worked.  I had to reduce the time between some of the earliest Blackmoor dates, but since these were not locked in it didn't matter.  A lot of those early dates are based on "hundreds of years ago" type statements anyway.  A little more time would have been better for the Councillors who follow Morgaiste rule, though, so I was considering going another 50 years back, when I discovered something kinda cool. 

Looking at a Greyhawk timeline the day after my last post, I stumbled on something I didn't know much about.  Greyhawk has several other date reckoning methods, and seemingly the second most used after the Common Year system is known as the Oeridian Record.

The Oeridian Record is equal to CY -644.

My adjusted Blackmoor Calendar and the OR were only a few years off!

This means that matching the Blackmoor years to Greyhawk years is a straightforward exercise.  All you have to do, is equate Blackmoor dates with OR dates.  Another way of looking at it is to simply say the Blackmoor Calendar is Oeridian Record dating, which converts to the CY system by subtracting 644 years..

Below is a very abbreviated version of the Blackmoor Calendar as converted CY dates:

–644 CY:

Year one of the Oeridian Record - the traditional Blackmoor Calendar year one.  Early settlers begin to clear the land and establish hamlets and farms utilizing hay based agriculture. In addition to sheep, they begin to domesticate the large wild bison (grazers) that constitute one of the most common native animals in the area.  The domesticated bison soon become the dominant farm animal in the Northern Marches. 

Tales abound among Blackmoorians of a legendary hero, King Robert the First of Genyva, supposedly a great warlord and monarch who conquers and rules over the natives of Blackmoor at this time.  Historians are divided regarding the actual existence of this character, but it is supposed he was an Oeridian warlord active in the formation of the Oeridian Confederation.

175 – 195 CY: 
Mage Wars – “Hot period”.  Within a few years of arrival, the Magic Users begin to consolidate political power in the Northern Marches and fight each other.  Warfare is continuous and devastates the country.  Within the first 5 years, 4 major factions emerge.  Much of the population is decimated or flees to safer regions.

350 CY: 
The Northern Marches experience the First invasion by the Egg of Coot.  The castle is besieged.  The remaining defenders meet with a Coot “Peace” mission (actually a crack invasion team led by the wizard Soukup) in the castle hall. The invaders attack and both sides are nearly wiped out but Soukup escapes into the dungeon.  The castle falls.  

352 CY:
2nd Coot invasion. 

Blackmoor Castle besieged. Captain Krey, given the choice of death or treason, chooses treason, opens the door to the dungeon allowing the enemy to flood into the castle from below.  The castle is attacked and conquered by King Funk I of the Black Hand orc tribe of the Black Hills.  

Elven forces swiftly retake the castle.  

369 CY:   
Uther proclaimed Baron of Blackmoor and Duke of Vestfold.

Duke Uther’s efforts to clear Blackmoor dungeon suffer a severe reverse as undead overrun the guards stationed on level 2.  The Duke orders the dungeon sealed, again.  

411 CY:  
The obsidian towers of the Drakon’katha begin to appear throughout Blackmoor.  Uther slays the Drakon’katha leader, the Sorceror King Amanset, but dies of his wounds.  Various nobles vie for power.

414 CY:  
The Crown of Blackmoor is recovered from the depths of Blackmoor dungeon by Engrin Eris, the sorceror of Glendour.  Crown in hand, Eris raises an army and captures Blackmoor.  He begins to consolidate power and rebuild the kingdom, but grows increasingly cruel and oppressive.

422 CY:  
Rua Morgaiste the last blood heir to the Barons of Blackmoor, unifies the resistance to Eris and leads a rebellion that ends with Eris dead.

Morgaiste becomes the first ruling Archbaroness, ruling wisely for 60 prosperous years.

482 CY:  
Morgaiste dies without heir. A council established to decide the matter of succession chooses Fadden of Dantrefaer,

500 - 540 CY: Fadden dies following a successful reign. Three more Lord Councilors are chosen in succession.

540 CY:  
The Egg of Coot unleashes a massively overpowered Move Terrain spell on the Crystal Peaks, moving the entire broken mountain range under the seabed around Blackmoor Bay.  The resulting seismic upheaval causes  the land to shift and rise, dries  up seas, rivers and lakes and drastically changes the geography of Blackmoor.

541 CY: 

Fifth Coot invasion - following on the devastation caused by the seismic upheaval, Coots armies easily sweep across the land.  Blackmoor castle holds out the longest, but falls within a week. The fifth and last Lord Conciliator of Blackmoor Castle, Pernold, dies defending Blackmoor Town from the Egg of Coot’s invading army.  

Lining up the Blackmoor timeline to the Oeridan Record this way has resulted in a number of interesting coincidences.  One item of note regards the figure of "Pygmalion", whose exact story shifts a bit from the original mention Arneson made of her for a PBM campaign set in fabled Atlantis in 1970 to his final write up regarding her in 1974, where she embarks upon a mission to bring peace to the world from her isolated misty islands (Pinnacles of Azor'alq?) following a "great reign of fire".  

Another neat point of convergence is how Robert the 1st is supposed to have swept in from outside to conquer Blackmoor right at the time the Oeridian Confederacy is forming in the north.

I'm sure some of you out there are long term Greyhawkers who might have some thoughts about this, so by all means chime in.

Post Apocalyse Blackmoor

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

Following up on my last post regarding mapping Blackmoor on Greyhawk, let's go in for a closer look at what that could be like.  I'll start with a new map, building on the earlier post and adding better detail. (Edit August 2020; roads added and some other cleanup)

This map is quite accurate in the placement of locations.  It follows the placement of towns exactly as in Arneson's original pre-CHAINMAIL map of 1971, with detail added from his hand-drawn FFC sketch and the maps from the DA and D20 series as needed.  That's why the coastline has a bit more detail.

Here is what I imagined happened, based upon my reading of Greyhawk lore using Greyhawk dates:

540 CY:  The Egg of Coot unleashes a massively overpowered Move Terrain spell on the Crystal Peaks. The entire mountain range is broken up and moved under the seabed around Blackmoor Bay.  The resulting seismic upheaval causes  the land to shift and rise, dries  up seas, rivers and lakes and drastically changes the geography of Blackmoor.  The void where the Crystal Peaks had been instantly floods with sea water.  As the resulting tsunami resides, a new bay is formed between the Black Hills and the Stormkiller Mountains.   

541 CY: Fifth Coot invasion - following on the devastation caused by the seismic upheaval, Coots armies easily sweep across the land.  Blackmoor castle holds out the longest, but falls within a week.  Surviving dignitaries and heroes retreat to the Comeback Inn. The Egg is unable to breech the Inn, but neither could anyone inside escape. It is possible that they still wait for rescue from without. 

542 CY: The archbaron's wife escaps to Dantredun, where she gives birth to the archbaron's son, Bestmo. 

What can we say about this world?  I imagine a place of ruin and desolation, where once prosperous towns are mere ruined piles or half flooded husks where a few poor fishermen eek out a living in the shadow of the ominous Coot.

The elves and dwarves have fled (or have they?), but the great elven forest remains, and has spread eastward, engulfing the abandoned ruins of Jackport.

The Dwarves of the Crystal Peaks are presumed dead, or are they trapped far underground?

Blackmoor Castle is a nightmare ruled by the centuries old vampire Sir Fang (Baron Fant) surrounded by the slaves of Coot, Red Coven Sorceresses, Id cultist and twisted monsters.

The wealth of old Blackmoor lies hidden in moldering crypts, buried dungeons and broken cities.

To the West, the last Noble heirs to Blackmoor have built up the oasis of Dantredun into a small but stable walled town, more of a keep with a small village attached, while still others live a trapped existence in the ComeBack Inn.

The Temple of Id is rebuilt and flourishing.

The Firefrost channel (a river coming down from the Black Ice) is now cut off from the sea, leaving the Western Skandaharians landlocked and warring among themselves.

A great dry plain exists around Blackmoor where once there were lakes and rives - the waters have shifted south and west, but the Root river remains much as it was.

A great swath of the plains to the south and southwest of Blackmoor are now a flooded swamp "the Cold Marsh" which has even turned the dry Valley of the Ancients into a near impassable marsh.  Creatures from the swamps of old Blackmoor have spread and flourished in this expanded habitat.

In short, Blackmoor in the World of Greyhawk is a land of much opportunity for adventure!

Mapping Greyhawk on Blackmoor

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: ,

The Greyhawk setting has a lot of fans - waaay more than Blackmoor.  But, in a way, that's an odd thing to say, because the city of  Greyhawk and the land of Blackmoor were birthed on the same continent at the dawn of the game.  

Of course, after Arneson and Gygax went their seperate ways, so did their campaigns.  Arneson continued to develop Blackmoor, which got transported first into the Wilderlands, and then into Mystara's ancient past, and then into an unspecified world. Each time Blackmoor moved, the setting built on it's own internal history, more or less, even though the outside world changed.

Meanwhile, The world of Greyhawk never lost it's Blackmoor, seemingly a vestigial of games past, largely neglected in play.

Blackmoor, as shown on maps of World of Greyhawk, is radically different from the map Arneson drew of his setting - but perhaps not entirely unrecognizable. Naturally there have been attempts to merge Arneson's vision of Blackmoor, with that neglect spot on the Greyhawk map.  Largely, these have involved redrawing the Greyhawk map - understandably not something very popular with Greyhawk fans.

The other day, a thought occured to me.  What if the differences found on the World of Greyhawk maps could be explained by an actual, world altering event?  After all, cataclysms are a familiar trope in Greyhawk, and indeed in D&D in general.  

Since Greyhawk has it's own lore regarding the current state of Blackmoor, any changes would have to have happened in the past - a past that could be greatly enriched with Blackmoor's deep well of gaming material.  Then what seemed the perfect solution hit me - the Egg of Coot.

The Egg of Coot exists in Greyhawk lore much as in Blackmoor, and has been hell bent on conquering the Blackmoor from the start.  In Blackmoor canon, The Egg launched 4, ultimately failed attempts, however, according to Greyhawk lore, The Egg eventually succeed. 

How is unspecified, but, let's suppose the Egg unleashed mighty magics to alter the face of the land, drain the bay that seperated it's forces from Blackmoor, flatten cities, alter the course of rivers and so on.  What then would the land look like?

Below are the maps to show this.  The first is a printout of the Zeitgeist games Blackmoor map with the "new" coastline drawn in black sharpie.  As a template, I used the version of Blackmoor shown in Dungeon #126 - primarily because it had a scale bar I could and did use to match scale to the Blackmoor map.  

Once I had the scales matched I layed one map atop the other and was delighted to find that the towns of Blackmoor and Maus/Mosshold lined up exactly - probably not a coincidence.  Then I just redrew the coastline following the Greyhawk exemplar.

Note that the coastline is a bit altered by me in the southern portion to account for major mountainous areas which I presume were less likely to flood (though one entire range- the Crystal Peaks - is now underwater).

Here is the Greyhawk map from  Dungeon #126 (2005) I used as a guide:

This map shows the location of major towns onto the Greyhawk map:

And to make it a bit clearer, here is a featureless map with the towns included:

You can see Blackmoor and Maus/Mosshold line up perfectly, as they should.  Glendower/Glendour are quite off, but that is the only significant location that doesn't match, so I would suggest  WoG placement of Glendour is simply a map error.

You might ask: What's the advantage for the Greyhawk player to add these Blackmoor details to their games?  The answer is the wealth of detail that can be mined from Blackmoor products.  Most of these locations will no doubt be abandoned ruins full of monsters and ancient treasure at the CY 590 period in Greyhawk.  Some may be embattled castles and lost enclaves of magic.  The possibilities here really abound.  Enjoy.

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