Saturday, December 17, 2016

El Raja Key Archive review

Rob Kuntz has finally published his collection of maps and notes from the early days of D&D. It is available from Three Line Studios as the El Raja Key Archive. From the blurb on the website:

The El Raja Key Archive is an interactive, searchable, fully indexed, virtual museum of roleplaying game artifacts from the dawn of the Dungeons & Dragons game! Contained within the Archive are over 1,000 high resolution scans of adventures, maps and keys, campaign notes, character sheets, and manuscripts from the Original GreyhawkKalibruhn, and Blackmoor Campaigns. That's right, from the very creation of Dungeons & Dragons! Includes all maps & some keys for Rob's Castle El Raja Key, the dungeons where Gary Gygax cut his teeth as Mordenkainen; Rob's manuscript for his lost Dungeons & Dragons Supplement V: Kalibruhn; maps, keys, and notes for over 40 adventures from the Original Greyhawk and Kalibruhn Campaigns including, maps & some keys for 16 of Rob's Original Greyhawk Castle levels, the map for the first ever D&D demo, the Machine Level, at GenCon VII in 1974, and the map for the first ever D&D tournament, Sunken City, and notes, NPC cards, and adventure maps and keys for the Original City of Greyhawk!
Given my love of old maps from the seventies, this was a purchase I wasn't going to pass up. I ordered the DVD standard edition, which showed up promptly in my mail box a few days after my order. I chose the standard because it contained all the old maps which were my primary interest, although i am missing out on the new adventure included in the Deluxe and Collectors editions. I have posted a sample copy of  a typical map at the top of the page (so as not to reveal too many secrets I have used the same map Rob posted to his webpage). True to its billing it provides large quantities of maps and notes from Rob's early days. I liked finally seeing at least some of the actual Castle Greyhawk (Rob only includes the levels he drew), including the infamous Black Reservoir (subject of a Gary Gygax play report). I am not that enthused with the woodgrain/notebook paper .html interface, but much of the material is directly accessible as .jpg files as wel. I wish more of the levels had the key as well as the map. After looking at Castle Greyhawk I was a little disappointed  to discover that El Raja Key is most of the same levels just arranged in a different order. It will require some intense study of  Robs scratchy handwriting to decipher the contents of the El Raja Key supplement. It seems to be in the floating charts and tables style of the original books, as well as the Greyhawk and Blackmoor supplements. I am grateful to Rob for getting this stuff out in his lifetime, rather than taking his secrets to his grave like Gary did. I much more interested in seeing stuff as it was in the day, than waiting for a modern polish to suck the life out of it (TEKUMEL SOCIETY LISTEN UP!!). For me this purchase was money well spent.

P.S. The job of cross indexing these scans with clandestine photos of Gary's notebook, and the other pieces of Castle Greyhawk in published  modules is left to others for now. I can tell you the levels presented do not match the maps of Greyhawk Ruins at all, and although the style is somewhat similar to Grodog's Greyhawk the levels are different.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Death of Lone Wolf author Joe Dever

From EN world

We are sorry to be the bearers of such tremendously sad news, but our father passed away peacefully at 10:15 yesterday morning. This follows twelve years of an illness that he kept secret to all but those closest to him. We appreciate this news may be a shock to many.

He died as he lived - with colossal bravery and dignity - and held by those that loved him. He was working on the final three Lone Wolf books until Monday evening. His thoughts were with his work and thusly his fans until the last possible moments. His work clearly meant a lot to his fans, and your loyalty meant everything to him.

It is with enormous honour and great responsibility that these notes for the final three books of the saga, and the legacy of his incredible universe, are passed to us to complete.

Please allow us time to attend to the family, and his personal affairs. We will be in touch via this page and his website with further news about a memorial service that we hope to arrange for late January. We will also share how you can apply to attend the memorial, with full details of the time and location.

With love,
Ben Devere & family

Joe and I in happier times

You can find a great deal of his work available for free at the Project Aon website. One of his latest and perhaps last project (although the obituary mentions three more books in the works) the Lone Wolf Adventure Game is available from Cubicle 7 .

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