Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Blackmoor Castle Map - I Hope You'll Pardon My Amusement...

Who would have thought???
Paul Stormberg, a very nice chap who is both the kind of 'preservationist' that I am (read 'packrat') as well as a dealer in game exotica, had an auction recently in which this single page went for some $646.

I laughed a lot. A whole lot.

The joke, you see, is that I printed off about fifty of these sheets for Origins in 1984, where the model of Blackmoor Castle that Dave Arneson had asked me to build was being used as an attention-getter for the AGI trade-show booth for most of the weekend. Like with Phil's Temple of Vimuhla model (which was also on display at that convention), I asked the gifted artist Ken Fletcher to draw a map of the castle that we could hand out at the convention to the passer-by. We handed something like forty, forty-five copies out, and I think I still have three-four of these maps in the files in the game room.

The map was done from my model, which was generated from the plans that Dave had drawn for his Blackmoor campaign. which was in turn were governed by Dave's N-gauge/scale plastic model of the castle (Kibri #37304, to be exact). My model also had the 'dungeon' levels as well, so the entire thing sat some three feet high above the plywood box base. The biggest issue with Dave's plans is that the stairways generally didn't line up; as Dave said to me: "It doesn't matter in the game, so do what you can." I did, and it was a chore. Dave was a great GM, but not the best of architects.

As a historical footnote, the 'L&M Engineering Dept.' listed on the sheet is from my original model railroad: the 'Lackawampum and Miskatonic Railroad', operating in the nether regions of the model railroad hobby. I still have the crack passenger express, the fabled "Soapstone Star" in it's deep midnight blue and brushed-silver livery, with the lit drumhead sign on the observation car showing The Eldritch Sign.

(And yes, the train crew figures were what you think they were, courtesy of the miniatures hobby...)

I am hugely delighted that Paul was able to find one of these hand-outs after all these years, and that somebody got to add it to their collection. Hopefully, they'll use this in a game; mayhem, as I like to say, will ensue...

Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Hee hee. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

  2. Great info as always Chirine. So I'm wondering from what you wrote if that means Ken Fletcher came up with the room layout on his own or if he was following a sketch of the rooms you created or if the layout of the various floors was based of some sketch Arneson did? Sounds like Ken just created it himself based off the written description and the model.

  3. Great catch! Thank you! I've edited my appalling sentence structure; the correct order is Kibri model, Dave's plans taken from same based on the window and door placements, an then my model taken from his plans. Ken worked from the model and Dave's plans, so I'd assume thatt they were accurate - Dave like them.

    One thing to remember about the castle is that the two square buildings are on different levels; the half-spirals connect the level, while the other stairways as internal to their particular building.

    Dave was also right up front that his palns had no relationship to the actual castle; I don't he ever got any plans of the place, at least in the time I was working for him.

    Does any of this help?

  4. Immensely - thanks much once again Chirine.

    I did a crazy amount of work a while back digitizing and lining up the FFC Blackmoor dungeon maps and what I found was that, aside from a few hiccups, the stairs between levels line up really well. Lining up the castle though with the dungeon was a lot less straightforward. After countless tries this way and that, it seems that switching the stairs down to the dungeon from the first floor room marked "kitchen" to the room marked "supplies" makes the most sensible fit of the walls of the castle over the dungeon.

  5. You're welcome! Agreed about the line-up issues, too. I asked Dave about it, and he said that as it never came up in the game, he didn't worry about it - no fights on stairways, I guess...