Saturday, October 9, 2010

Black Blade News

Yesterday, Black Blade Publishing made the following announcement:

Black Blade Publishing is proud to announce an agreement with Robert J. Kuntz to publish his Lake Geneva Castle & Campaign™ (LGCC) dungeon levels. Jon Hershberger, President of Black Blade, said, “It is a privilege to publish these Lake Geneva Castle and Campaign™ dungeon levels in partnership with Rob Kuntz. Their historical value dating back to the origins of the RPG hobby is significant. Rob's distinctive adventure modules are very creative and serve as both challenging settings for veteran gamers and as inspiration for future game designers.”

The agreement includes the publication and distribution of:

  • Six original Lake Geneva Castle dungeon levels, including The Machine Level, The Boreal Level, and four additional levels that feature such famous and infamous encounters as the Giants Pool Hall, the prototypical set-piece encounter for The Garden of the Plantmaster, and connections to several other planes of existence for off-world adventuring. Each dungeon level will be published upon completion by Mr. Kuntz, beginning this winter with The Machine Level, which will be 32 to 36 pages in length.

  • .PDF editions of Kuntz’s out-of-print adventure modules CAS1 Cairn of the Skeleton King and CAS2 Tower of Blood, with additional titles to follow as their print runs sell through (including RJK1 Bottle City).

  • The .pdf edition of the adventure module Ice Grave (originally published in Troll Magazine #1 in 1997), the proceeds from which Kuntz will use as a special fund to be awarded on a recurring basis to excellent up-and-coming RPG game designers.

Future publications will release the full scope of Kuntz’s massive original manuscript collection that spans the history of the development of the first fantasy role-playing game, as played in the Lake Geneva campaigns. These publications will primarily be issued in .pdf format, with select titles also targeted for in-print releases.

Robert J. Kuntz said, “Black Blade was my first choice as a publishing partner due to their commitment to producing high-quality, printed books. I can trust them to reproduce my manuscripts with the respect, fidelity and attention to detail that reflects their historical value and context.” Allan Grohe, co-founder, project manager and editor for Black Blade, will manage the Lake Geneva Castle & Campaign™ product line. Grohe said, “Rob Kuntz’s designs stand out across the history of RPG publishing for their originality in design and challenge to player skill. It’s a pleasure to continue my long-standing publishing relationship with Rob under the auspices of Black Blade.”
I'm guardedly optimistic about this announcement. As ever, a lot depends on whether these plans actually come to pass. In the short time I've been paying attention, there have been several other similar announcements of new material pertaining to the Lake Geneva campaign forthcoming from Mr Kuntz and they've all sputtered out after a release or two. If Black Blade can overcome this curse and get this stuff out there as promised, I'll be very pleased.


  1. Hmm.

    Set piece encounter you say?

    Color me intrigued!

  2. It'll be interesting to see how much one of the original "campaign dungeons" matches up with what Old Schoolers have attempted to reconstruct in their own campaigns.

    (Assuming of course this is from his actual campaign notes and not something wholly new "in the style of" that old dungeon.)

  3. It seems to me that this is the most important thing to happen in the OSR. The whole point of the OSR has been about taking nostalgia and turning it into something new, something that lives today. This is as foundational a piece of material as will materialize. Unearthed arcana indeed.

  4. Great -- although I thought RJK had sworn off ever "looking back" anymore. Mixed signals not so great.

  5. This isn't a mixed signal.

    Even in his "bridge burning" post, he noted that he was making plans to turn over one last passel of his 1970s era stuff to competent hands and then move forward with his own interests.

  6. "Each dungeon level will be published upon completion by Mr. Kuntz... Future publications will release the full scope..."

    That sounds different from "turn over one last passel".

  7. I disagree. One need not publish it all at once and, particularly since most of his notes are still in manuscript that date back nearly 40 years, it would be silly to expect that to be so.

  8. I don't see any mixed signals; like Flambeaux - it sounds like he's just transcribing notes, which isn't going retro, it's just typing in old notes. And since it takes time to type stuff, it makes sense that it wouldn't come out all at once. Plus, if BBP is getting covers and editing (even if just for typos in the transcription), that would also mean that things wouldn't come out in one big lump.

    I think it sounds pretty cool. I'm no historian of the game, and I really doubt I would use any of this material, but I will likely start buying it to read, and if it keeps holding my attention, I'll keep buying it for the duration. It's a good development.

    But I wouldn't exactly say this is an OSR thing - I don't see the publication of historical manuscripts as being something that stems from the new ideas that have been coming out since 2002 or thereabouts. Same exact target audience, though -- and that's not a criticism. I just think it means that RJK isn't being inconsistent, or sending mixed messages.

  9. Kudos to Mr. Kuntz and Mr. Grohe on this new venture. I'm unguardedly optimistic about this. Mr. Kuntz's work deserves far more recognition, and this new project can only help.