Blackmarsh setting is released
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Post Posted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:12 pm 
 

In the days when man knew only the working of stone and fought for their existence against the orc and the goblin, the sky turned to ash and down fell the fiery mountain onto the land. The world tore open and the grey waters rushed in. Those who survived the impact were lost as boiling clouds rushed out in all directions leaving a wasteland in its wake.

The Mountain That Fell left a gift; magic. Near and far, those of learning and strong of heart discovered new powers to shape the world. In the desolation around the Smoking Bay the adventurous found viz, magic in physical form. And there was more, scattered amid the landscape were strange artifacts and stranger creatures that survived The Mountain That Fell. For a time men, dwarves, orc, goblins, and other races braved the dangers and fought each other in the wastelands. Then the elves came into Blackmarsh expelled the feuding races, drove the monsters out, and healed the land.

In the present day, many come to Blackmarsh to harvest viz, kill monsters, or seek the strange artifacts left by The Mountain That Fell. The only force that stands against the wilderness is the Blackmarsh Rangers. Anyone who is willing to defend the land and its people are welcomed into their ranks. Powerful kingdoms outside of Blackmarsh are beginning cast a covetous eyes toward the land's riches. Will the adventurers of your campaign become wealthy and powerful? Or will their bones join the many that have sunk into the swamps?

Blackmarsh is a complete, ready to run setting for your campaign. It can be run as its own setting or an expansion of your existing world. Contained in Blackmarsh are 17 geographical entries, 78 described locales, and one detailed town; Castle Blackmarsh. Each entry provide one or more adventure hooks to use in your campaigns.  The text and map for Blackmarsh have been released under the Open Game License for anybody to use for commerical and non-commerical purposes.

Blackmarsh package on RPGNOW (FREE!)  (pdf)
http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php? ... rs_id=2993

Blackmarsh Setting Book ($7), (letter size print)
http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php? ... rs_id=2993

Blackmarsh Setting Reference Document (doc, pdf, zip)
http://www.batintheattic.com/downloads/ ... sh_srd.zip

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Post Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:14 am 
 

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Post Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:47 am 
 

I was wondering the same thing. Are these products related? If so, has the author and Games Workshop given permission? If not, is there a breach of copyright on the name?


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:24 am 
 

No they are not related, never heard of Nightmare in Blackmarsh. Nor it is related to the Blackmarsh region in Dragon Age by Bioware. Which I was aware of after doing a search for Blackmarsh RPG.

Blackmarsh isn't trademarked and I don't use the title "Nightmare in Blackmarsh" so I doubt there any issue over confusion which is the only area where this could run into trouble.

Also it is marketed as a Dungeon Planner Set 2 and mine is marketed as a setting. From reading up on it I do realize Nightmare is also a mini-setting but that not what it says on the cover.


Last edited by robertsconley on Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
  

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Post Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:35 am 
 

Presume there is no copyright on Blackmarsh like there is on Greyhawk and Blackmoor? If there is, it would be owned by Games Workshops. Might be worth asking rather than receiving a cease and desist letter. Honest mistake, but they are very litigious and protectinve of their IP. If there is a historical reference to a location 'blackmarsh' somewhere in published history, then you'll be will covered as the name, even if copyrighted, could not be enforced. Just tread carefully when using someone elses product name to market a similar product towards the same RPG market. Just cos something is onl and for old skool D&D doesn't mean it's freegame for reuse.

At the end of they day, so long as you're unsuccessful, you won't attract much attention from GW, but I doubt they'll let you build a successful product line or campaign setting based on that name without resistence, so if you think you can build a successful setting, probably pick an original name and avoid other people's product lines.


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:36 am 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:Presume there is no copyright on Blackmarsh like there is on Greyhawk and Blackmoor?


Greyhawk and Blackmoor are covered by trademark. You can't copyright a name but you can trademark it. In addition you can't present things is such a way that a person would be reasonably confused as to their relationship. There is no trademark in the United States on Blackmarsh or Black Marsh.

http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=s ... cgrquv.1.1

mbassoc2003 wrote: If there is, it would be owned by Games Workshops. Might be worth asking rather than receiving a cease and desist letter. Honest mistake, but they are very litigious and protectinve of their IP.


I am aware of that. Thanks for the heads up. Note however Blackmarsh is a prominent region in the CRPG/RPG Dragon Age. Black Marsh is also a name of a place in Shropshire, England.

mbassoc2003 wrote:At the end of they day, so long as you're unsuccessful, you won't attract much attention from GW, but I doubt they'll let you build a successful product line or campaign setting based on that name without resistence, so if you think you can build a successful setting, probably pick an original name and avoid other people's product lines.


GW doesn't have those kinds of rights to the name Blackmarsh. However I do appreciate discussing the issue. And for the forum members for pointing out Nightmare in Blackmarsh. That is useful to know in the case of future work on the setting.

While duplicate titles are not automatically a copyright violation it could be and what "could be" has to be hashed out in court. In which case it just be better just to come up with one of your own. But in the case of Blackmarsh I don't see any issue arising from the existence of Nightmare in Blackmarsh.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:50 am 
 

robertsconley wrote:... Black Marsh is also a name of a place in Shropshire, England.

That puts you in the clear right there. It also maybe explains why GW have a product named that way.

I like the presentation and the drawings. Very evokative, and I always liked the short punchy numbered hex thing (JG) because it allows DMs to get a flavour for a region and just run with it without being bound by long winded description. A nice well presented and flexible product for a DM to ground an adventure in.


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:16 am 
 

Hey Rob, I am curious as to why you decided to go with RPGNow instead of Lulu this time around?

And I have been remiss in not following John Adams' blog as closely as I should but it seems that he has made a few changes to how he is planning to release Delving Deeper.  At one point John was planning on adding the Blackmarsh setting to his pre-orders of Delving Deeper.  From what I can tell, this is still going to happen.  I was wondering if there will be any specific differences between the one released here and the one he plans to include with the DD set?

Either way, I am looking forward to it.  Thanks.


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:35 am 
 

Kingofpain89 wrote:Hey Rob, I am curious as to why you decided to go with RPGNow instead of Lulu this time around?


RPG Now is cheaper. For $2.50 in printing cost I can get 16 pages of interior color. This is cheaper than the cheapest b/w option on Lulu (for 16 pages).

Lulu is competitive with RPGNow for Majestic Wilderlands because I was able to use the Publisher Grade paper and the page count was more than the minimum. The economics of printing on Lulu is pretty odd right now with the minimum page count for publisher grade paper.

While Blackmarsh is not a color product it does mean that the full range of grayscale has been properly printed.  But there is a caveat in that that in addition to using the color printing option, I also made sure my PDF was in PDFX/1a format. So I will be testing the b/w option privately on RPGNow and Lulu.

The copies of Blackmarsh I ordered for proofing were the best I ever seen come out of print on demand.

Kingofpain89 wrote:I was wondering if there will be any specific differences between the one released here and the one he plans to include with the DD set?

Either way, I am looking forward to it.  Thanks.


Only that it is digest size. Which I think in some ways is more pleasing the letter size version I made for print on demand. Mainly because of the single column layout.  I left the free PDF that way as Adobe Reader makes it simple to print booklets.

I think I figured out a way to do the letter size map using digest size but I need to test it first. Because what I will be trying to do is see if I can print the map across the spine in the center pages and how well it can be pulled away from the staples. I don't think the pulling part will work well but it doesn't hurt to see.

But if it does work then I have a way to do 17" by 11" maps with the letter size version provided I keep the page count low enough to make it staple bound.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:16 pm 
 

robertsconley wrote:RPG Now is cheaper.


Well I cant say that my first experience ordering from them was a memorable one.  Lulu may charge a bit more for shipping but their coupons usually offset that extra amount.  And RPGNow could learn a thing or two from Lulu about protecting what they ship.  Blackmarsh came in a simple cardboard mailer.  The wonderful postal service managed to dent one side of the mailer and so they also dented the book.  :(   Lulu packages each book with a separate cardboard backer, wraps the book in a padded foam envelope, and then shrinks each individual backer so the book doesnt move around during shipping.  I just hope the other book I ordered (shipped separately) doesnt turn up with the same problem.

The contents of the book itself are very nice.  Love the cover (nice bit of homage to the original World of Greyhawk folio) especially.  The concept of Viz is an interesting idea.  All in all a really nice setting that can be dropped into any campaign.  Looking forward to more Rob!


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:14 pm 
 

Hey Robert!

I just noticed this thread.  Copy ordered!   :D


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:23 pm 
 

Kingofpain89 wrote:
Well I cant say that my first experience ordering from them was a memorable one.


Yeah, it took me a couple tries before I got an acceptable copy of the Pendragon hardcover I ordered.


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Post Posted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:48 pm 
 

My copy arrived, today, less than one week after it was ordered.

The copy I got was shipped secure in a wrap-around cardboard mailer that kept the publication in excellent shape.

So, my initial foray into ordering hardcopy print products from RPGNow is a success, with first-class service.

Blackmarsh is a nice-looking product.  I was expecting digest-sized, but it is a full-sized, saddle stitched publication 15 pages long (including the title page).  There is a 16th page that is mostly blank except for product numbers.

Blackmarsh reads much like a Judges Guild product with somewhat better writing and production values.

The cover is a nice echo of the Greyhawk world publication, printed on heavy, glossy stock.  The binding is solid and there are no printing flaws on my copy.

The interior maps are good. One is the area map around Smoking Bay and Castle Blackmarsh.  The other is a large scale map of the castle and castle town.   I could have used a player's map to go with the game master map, as well as a more detailed map of the castle and town.  That said, the maps are very useable illustrations, rendered in clear black and white.

The interior art is quite small, but the pieces are good and convey a sense of the setting.  I like the art.

The text is a hex by hex description of the setting.  It is what I like to call a "micro-campaign."  That is, a campaign set around a single important settlement with wilderness areas to explore in the immediate area.  Robert S. Conley has a good command of the English language and his writing is straightforward and technically sound.

There are a lot of interesting things to explore on the map.  There are very spare descriptions of local villages.  There are wilderness areas and points of interest.  There are adventure hooks everywhere.  Much is left up to the game master to decide.  If names like The Black Marshes and The Crimson Hills don't immediately prompt you to start placing monsters there, you have no business being a game master.

Blackmarsh is transparently linked to Blackmoor, with a few name changes.  The area map could be a section of the First Fantasy Campaign map.  No apologies for that...consider it a tribute and a re-birth of the older campaign setting.  The association with the older publication is a bonus as far as I'm concerned.

The $7 price tag (less than a TSR module cost in 1979!) is entirely appropriate for the value of the publication.  You could buy the book, download the free pdf and start running adventures in Blackmarsh right away.  At just over $11 including shipping, it is still an excellent value with lots of old-school goodness.

If you are any sort of OSR gamer, you should pull the trigger and buy this product, both to support Robert and because Blackmarsh is good.

I am looking forward to further publications linked to this setting.

Blackmarsh package on RPGNOW (FREE!) (pdf)
http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php? ... &products_ id=89944&filters=0_0_0_0&manufacturers_id=2993

Blackmarsh Setting Book ($7), (letter size print)
http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php? ... &products_ id=89944&filters=0_0_0_0&manufacturers_id=2993

Blackmarsh Setting Reference Document (doc, pdf, zip)
http://www.batintheattic.com/downloads/ ... sh_srd.zip


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Post Posted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:26 pm 
 

My only problem with this product is that I do not need another setting. The low price is certainly an enticement, but what I would rather have are;

1) Adventures
2) A detaled piece of real-estate like a section of forest (with interesting encounters and encounter areas). An Inn (I know there are a dozen dozen of these but I can always use a new one). A castle. A manor house. A lake, like the forest, but with underwater encounters and encounter areas. A mountain with a cave system. A village or town. A ruined temple. A crypt. A graveyard. I could make good use just out of maps of these kinds of things.
3) Adventures
4) NPCs. All kinds, from groups of bandits to border patrols, wandering minstrels, a circus, gypsys, tribes of nomads or monsters, adventuring groups, monks, pilgrims, witchhunters, angry mobs, a funeral procession, a lone courier, etc...
5) Adventures
6) Anything but another freaking setting


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:05 am 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:2) A detaled piece of real-estate like a section of forest (with interesting encounters and encounter areas). An Inn (I know there are a dozen dozen of these but I can always use a new one). A castle. A manor house. A lake, like the forest, but with underwater encounters and encounter areas. A mountain with a cave system. A village or town. A ruined temple. A crypt. A graveyard. I could make good use just out of maps of these kinds of things.


Blackmarsh is a form of this. It describes a region 190 miles by 95 miles (27 hex column by 19 hex row).  It occupies a level between what in Greyhawk vs what in Keep on the Borderland.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:17 am 
 

robertsconley wrote:
Blackmarsh is a form of this. It describes a region 190 miles by 95 miles (27 hex column by 19 hex row).  It occupies a level between what in Greyhawk vs what in Keep on the Borderland.


The scale is still too freaking large to be the kind of product I'm looking for. Smaller scale (much smaller 1-7 hexes) and I can easily drop it into a setting that I am using. The larger it gets the more work I need to do to make any use of it. Something around 20,000 square miles is fairly useless for me.

So it isn't anything like what I'm talking about. I'm glad you've got customers but I think it is a mistake to push settings first instead of other products that might have a wider interest and usefulness. But that's just me. I'm not looking for new settings.


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:21 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:The copy I got was shipped secure in a wrap-around cardboard mailer that kept the publication in excellent shape.

So, my initial foray into ordering hardcopy print products from RPGNow is a success, with first-class service.


Glad it arrived in good condition.

FormCritic wrote:Blackmarsh is a nice-looking product.  I was expecting digest-sized, but it is a full-sized, saddle stitched publication 15 pages long (including the title page).  There is a 16th page that is mostly blank except for product numbers.


Thanks for the compliment. The 16th page is there as that is a lightning source requirement. They print a barcode that is used to match the print with the cover.


FormCritic wrote:The interior maps are good. One is the area map around Smoking Bay and Castle Blackmarsh.  The other is a large scale map of the castle and castle town.   I could have used a player's map to go with the game master map, as well as a more detailed map of the castle and town.  That said, the maps are very useable illustrations, rendered in clear black and white.


I was trying to hold to a 15 page limit to keep the price at $7. Costs jump to a $1 more per copy when you go from 16 to 20 pages.  So I figured with this being the age of computers putting a Player's map in the PDF package would suffice. You can print out as many as you need.

Note that my plan is to include the PDF for free with all print copies even if I charge for the PDF.

FormCritic wrote:The interior art is quite small, but the pieces are good and convey a sense of the setting.  I like the art.


The Forge Studio guys really make good art for this stuff. You can buy it for your own project form the RPGNow Stock Art section.


FormCritic wrote:Blackmarsh is transparently linked to Blackmoor, with a few name changes.  The area map could be a section of the First Fantasy Campaign map.  No apologies for that...consider it a tribute and a re-birth of the older campaign setting.  The association with the older publication is a bonus as far as I'm concerned.


I drew the map the same way as Arneson did Blackmoor. Took a 16th century map of holland flipped it around and traced over it. Of course I used a different map than he did so the result wasn't quite the same.


FormCritic wrote:If you are any sort of OSR gamer, you should pull the trigger and buy this product, both to support Robert and because Blackmarsh is good.

I am looking forward to further publications linked to this setting.


Note that I placed the ENTIRE text AND maps of Blackmarsh under the Open Game license. Anybody who wishes to publish it or make their own version is free to do so.

To date I either wrote or collaborated on nine of these types of settings, Points of Lights I (4), Points of Light II (4), the Wild North (in Fight On! #3). And I got ideas for me. My general plan is to alternate these types of releases with my Majestic Wilderlands material.

Thanks for the kind words and hope everybody has fun with it.

  


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:32 am 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:The scale is still too freaking large to be the kind of product I'm looking for. Smaller scale (much smaller 1-7 hexes) and I can easily drop it into a setting that I am using. The larger it gets the more work I need to do to make any use of it. Something around 20,000 square miles is fairly useless for me.

So it isn't anything like what I'm talking about. I'm glad you've got customers but I think it is a mistake to push settings first instead of other products that might have a wider interest and usefulness. But that's just me. I'm not looking for new settings.


I understand. All I can say is that I deliberately designed these settings to drop into an existing campaign. I wrote or collaborated on nine of these and they are all designed to do thise. Most referees I know have blanks on the edge of their maps or areas that are lightly detailed. On a greyhawk map this will roughly fit 6 hex across and 3 up and down. It occupies a quarter of a Wilderlands map.

I do plan on trying something similar to the Judges Guild Wilderness scale where each hex is .2 miles. With the locales detailed rather than lightly described. Probably will have that finished that next year. I got other stuff in the queue before that.

I am not trying argue with you but using this as an opportunity to explain why I write these the way I do.

I agree that between Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Golarion, Tekemul, Blackmoor, that the broad fantasy setting has been done to death. But I feel aside from the Wilderlands and Keep on the Borderland nobody has done much work with hexcrawls. That it is a useful format to develop.

As general note for everybody reading this, the free PDF is designed to print as a 24 page digest book using Adobe Reader. I know people don't really like reading a lot of text on the screen so made it easy to get into a readable format.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:22 am 
 

robertsconley wrote:
I understand. All I can say is that I deliberately designed these settings to drop into an existing campaign. I wrote or collaborated on nine of these and they are all designed to do thise. Most referees I know have blanks on the edge of their maps or areas that are lightly detailed. On a greyhawk map this will roughly fit 6 hex across and 3 up and down. It occupies a quarter of a Wilderlands map.

I do plan on trying something similar to the Judges Guild Wilderness scale where each hex is .2 miles. With the locales detailed rather than lightly described. Probably will have that finished that next year. I got other stuff in the queue before that.

I am not trying argue with you but using this as an opportunity to explain why I write these the way I do.

I agree that between Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Golarion, Tekemul, Blackmoor, that the broad fantasy setting has been done to death. But I feel aside from the Wilderlands and Keep on the Borderland nobody has done much work with hexcrawls. That it is a useful format to develop.

As general note for everybody reading this, the free PDF is designed to print as a 24 page digest book using Adobe Reader. I know people don't really like reading a lot of text on the screen so made it easy to get into a readable format.


Not an argument. Just saying what, as a customer, would get my money. Good looking product. But when you point to what I am saying and say 'this is what this product is!' I just want to make sure you understand that, no it isn't.


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:40 am 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:Anything but another freaking setting


I need more freaking settings Rob.  Sandbox or otherwise.  The freakier the better.  8)

I have enough adventures to last me a lifetime.  Same with NPC's.  If I find out one day that my Rogues Gallery and all the other books with pregenerated NPC's I have were all written in disappearing ink and I am that desperate for an NPC, I'll have my freaking cat write one up.  :wink:


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