The Arduin Trilogy covers
|Designer(s)||David A. Hargrave|
|Genre(s)||Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror|
Arduin is a fictional universe and fantasy role-playing system created in the mid-1970s by David A. Hargrave. It was the first published "cross-genre" fantasy RPG, with everything from interstellar wars to horror and historical drama, although it was based primarily in the medieval fantasy genre.
- 1 Brief history
- 2 The Arduin Trilogy
- 3 Arduin partial bibliography
- 4 Controversy and criticism
- 5 One-of-a-kind Arduin items
- 6 Notable Illustrators (partial listing)
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Arduin was one of the earliest challengers to TSR's Dungeons & Dragons. It began in the mid-1970s as a personal project Hargrave created to share with friends, but became so popular that he was inspired to publish the material.
The original Arduin suite of supplements, dungeon modules, and gaming aids were initially self-published (1977-78), but were then later produced by Grimoire Games. Dragon Tree Press produced four further Arduin supplements in the mid-1980s before the Arduin rights and properties were purchased by Emperors Choice Games and Miniatures in the early 2000s.
The Arduin books attempted to add many interesting and notable features to the fantasy role playing milieu. In addition to new rules, there were many classes, races, spells, and magic items that were new to role-playing gamers.
While the original series of Grimoire supplements were intended as supplements for original Dungeons & Dragons, mention of D&D was prohibited legally. Although the Arduin books did not explicitly claim to be a Dungeons & Dragons supplement, they were treated as such by most users. As follows, there was contention in the RPG world that the Arduin system lacked cohesion. It was only with the publication of the later book The Arduin Adventure (1981) that a true standalone system began to evolve, where other systems were not needed to adequately run a game. The Arduin Adventure was eventually written to replace use of the D&D core book. Material from all of these were subsequently used as the basis for The Compleat Arduin (1992), a standalone system.
The Arduin Trilogy
The first three Arduin tomes are known as The Arduin Trilogy. They are, in order, The Arduin Grimoire, Welcome to Skull Tower, and The Runes Of Doom.
The Arduin Trilogy contained unique new spells and character classes, new monsters, new treasures, maps, storylines, extensive demonography, and all sorts of charts and lists which detailed the Arduin "multiverse".
Arduin partial bibliography
- The Arduin Grimoire (Arduin Grimoire Vol. I), 1977.
- There are four different editions(printings) of this volume. These editions(printings) differ via internal verbiage, cover and back cover artwork and some internal artwork (p. 79, among others).
- The first edition (printing) of volume one features cover art by Erol Otus and references to Dungeons & Dragons.
- The second edition (printing) of volume one features cover art by Erol Otus and the references to Dungeons & Dragons have been whited out and typed over.
- The third edition(printing) has the cover picture of multiple characters fighting and on the back cover the female character is topless and is the David Hargrave character known as Shardra the Castrator that appears topless in the drawing on page 1 of Vol III The Runes of Doom, the page following the Table of Contents.
- The fourth edition (printing) and later printings, which comprise the vast majority of copies of Vol 1, are identical to the third edition (printing) except that the topless woman on the back cover has a halter top (editorial swimwear) added to cover her up.
- Welcome to Skull Tower (Arduin Grimoire Vol. II), 1978.
- The Runes of Doom (Arduin Grimoire Vol. III), 1978. The first printings of the first three books were self-published by Dave Hargrave.
- The Arduin Trilogy is a box set containing the first three Arduin Grimoires and published by Grimoire Games.
- The Arduin Adventure, 1980. Arduin introductory boxed set. Contained the Arduin Adventure book (which was also available separately), a few sheets of magic items, three character sheets, and two 20-sided die. The 'Arduin Adventure' book also contains a basic adventure, 'The Forgotten Tower'.
- Revised Arduin: A Primer, 1984. A short (11 page) booklet outlining the "battle factor" system featured in Compleat Arduin.
- The Lost Grimoire (Arduin Grimoire Vol. IV), 1984
- Dark Dreams (Arduin Grimoire Vol. V), 1985
- The House of the Rising Sun (Arduin Grimoire Vol. VI), 1986
- Shadow Lands (Arduin Grimoire Vol. VII), 1987
- Winds of Chance (Arduin Grimoire Vol. VIII), 1988 (published posthumously)
- Compleat Arduin, Book One: The Rules, 1992
- Compleat Arduin, Book Two: Resources, 1992
- End War (Arduin Grimoire Vol. IX), 2002 (published posthumously)
- Monsters from Arduin (24 monster cards) (First and second printings with different images exist.)
- Magic Weapons from Arduin (24 weapon cards) (First and second printings with different images exist.)
- Magic Artifacts from Arduin (24 Artifact cards) (First and second printings with different images exist.)
- Arduin Treasure Pack (a combination of the three items above).
- Arduin Character Pack (illustrated character sheets; listed elsewhere as Arduin Character Sheets Combined Pack) This is a set of 24 character sheets for different Arduin races/character classes. Each sheet has a unique illustration.
- Arduin Dungeon No. 1: Caliban (1979, high level adventure)
- Arduin Dungeon No. 2: The Howling Tower (1979, low-level adventure)
- Arduin Dungeon No. 3: The Citadel of Thunder (1979, mid-level adventure)
- Arduin Dungeon No. 4: Death Heart (1980, high-level wilderness and dungeon adventures)
- The Map of Arduin; A 2' × 3' four color poster-sized map of the Country of Arduin printed on parchment complete with legend and scale.
- World Book of Khaas: The Legendary Lands of Arduin; A world guide to the country of Arduin and the world and continent upon which it rests. 865 pages of world/campaign material. Unique for size and the absence of any game mechanics.
- Swords and Dragons Fantasy Card Game; Fantasy themed card game from the world of Arduin.
- Vaults of the Weaver A compilation of the 4 Arduin Dungeons along with Hive Home (the only example of a Phraint Hive ever completed by their creator David A. Hargrave) and the 13 part Heart of Darkness campaign, both never before published. Vaults was compiled and co-authored by his friend Paul Mosher.
- The Black Grimoire All of Dave Hargrave's published spells.
Controversy and criticism
The TSR legal issue
In 1977, TSR objected to certain contents of the first Arduin book. David Hargrave negotiated with TSR about two points. First, Hargrave's foreword made it appear as though he advocated people copying game books (such as D&D) without buying them. Hargrave removed that foreword from later editions. Second, a Prismatic Wall spell in Arduin appeared to be plagiarized directly from D&D; Hargrave changed some of the description, including some colors. Hargrave further distanced himself from controversy by using white-out and typing correction tape to mask all direct references to Dungeons and Dragons, and then the volumes were reprinted exactly that way. In some versions of the Arduin printings, these so-called "corrections" are clearly visible.
Upon their publication in 1979, White Dwarf magazine reviewer Don Turnbull gave the Trilogy a 4 out of 10 rating, stating that he was perplexed as to whether the books were supposed to be a supplement to Dungeons & Dragons or a standalone game. In later years, however, RPGnet gave the Trilogy a 6.72 out of 10.
Greg Stafford and Chaosium
While David Hargrave was considered one of the "best of the best" of game masters, he was also known for having a somewhat volatile personality. The original role-playing community at large was split between love and mere tolerance of Hargrave's passions, and his infamous falling-out with Greg Stafford, which resulted in Hargrave naming an Arduin spell after him as revenge, is one such example. The spell was called Stafford's Star Bridge (The Arduin Grimoire, Volume 1, Page 41):
|“||Stafford's Star Bridge is a 9th Level Mage (Magic-User) spell. It produces a rainbow-hued bridge of coruscating light that is 5 ft (1.5 m) wide and 20 ft (6.1 m) long per level of the caster over the level needed for use. The bridge will carry any weight, and it cannot be hit by non-magical things. The bridge can also be "keyed" to support any single type (or more), letting all others fall through selectively.||”|
Hargrave felt that Stafford had betrayed him over a Chaosium publishing deal, thus "falling through selectively". According to Stafford, Hargrave was later very upset with himself for having created this spell and for his behavior in the situation.
One-of-a-kind Arduin items
Hargrave's death in 1988 left many Arduin items press-ready but unpublished and/or incomplete. A few items he created on a whim for those he especially liked or was close to. Among these are the following:
The Book of the Shining Land
Created December/January, 1980-81. Dedication and signature inside front cover. This is a complete campaign area, designed as a generic adventure campaign suitable for insertion into any RPG, written by David for his longtime friend, writer Paul Mosher. The Book of the Shining Land comprises 118 handwritten pages of 101⁄4 × 77⁄8 quad ruled paper in a composition style notebook. It includes a Master Map of the area (approximately 100 miles square) and 59 "keyed" adventure area maps all cross-referenced off of the Master Map.
The Book of Dreams of Lost Sardath
Created October 1981. Similar in size and concept to The Book of the Shining Land, this work comprises 158 handwritten pages of 10 × 77⁄8 quad ruled paper in a composition style notebook. Includes a Master Map of an area approximately 100 miles square. This work was written by David for his longtime friend, writer Paul Mosher. It comprises a "lost" island kingdom containing 136 villages/towns/cities cross referenced on the Master Map as well as 79 adventure area maps, of which 31 are "keyed".
Created October 1987. One of the last game-related items created by David A. Hargrave before his death in August 1988, Lancer's Rest was Lance Mazmanian's personal burial chamber, a very large single-level dungeon adventure which included an Arduin "Hell Spiral" and a 3,000 ft (910 m) pool where Mazmanian's corpse was entombed. Created by Hargrave as a tongue-in-cheek tribute, the adventure itself was essentially a quest to gain life-prolonging treasure while avoiding Mazmanian's wandering Avatar, an extremely powerful Lich-like entity who would either attack or help a party on random percentage roll.
Notable Illustrators (partial listing)
Several notable illustrators worked on Arduin materials at various times over the years, including the following:
The first printings of The Arduin Grimoire (specifically, The Arduin Trilogy, Vol. 1) contained artwork by Erol Otus, an artist who would later become known for his illustrations appearing on and in TSR's Dungeons & Dragons publications.
Otus' artwork was later removed from subsequent printings of The Arduin Grimoire.
Greg Espinoza contributed many of the Arduin covers and interior illustrations (close to 80 pieces) from approximately 1978 to 1981. He drew many of the monster and artifact cards for several of the standalone dungeon modules, and also painted the box art (with airbrushing by Anthony Delgado) for Grimoire Games' The Arduin Adventure. Espinoza has created high-level work for decades via Blackthorne, TSR, Malibu, Eclipse, Antarctic Press, Tundra/Kitchen Sink Press, and Image Comics, among others. His Image Comics graphic novel "Pug" (with Derek McCulloch) was nominated for the 2011 Spinetingler Award, in the category of Best Crime Comic/Graphic Novel. In 2009, he was hired by Emperor's Choice Games to create new cover art for a hardcover reprinting of the original Arduin Grimoire Trilogy.
Brad Schenck (also known as Morno) contributed the cover of Welcome to Skull Tower (AG II). His is also the original design for the Arduin "Shield" now featured by Emperor's Choice Games and Miniatures as their trademark. He also did the cover for The Arduin Adventure rule book.
Michio Okamura was a regular contributor from the earliest volumes of the Arduin books, his distinct woodcut art style was featured on the cover of Dark Dreams (AG VI). Michio would later find employment at Blizzard North where he worked on Diablo and Diablo II.
- Turnbull D (April–May 1979). Livingstone I, ed. "Arduin Grimoire I-III". White Dwarf (12): 13.
- Emperors Choice Games and Miniatures
- "TSR vs. Arduin," citing a publication from 1977 https://blackmoormystara.blogspot.com/2016/06/tsr-vs-arduin.html?m=1
- RPGnet RPG Game Index: The Arduin Trilogy Listing
- Q&A with Greg Stafford Q&A with Greg Stafford
- David A. Hargrave: Lancer's Rest
- Erol Otus:: Pen & Paper RPG Database Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.