The Arduin Trilogy covers
|Designer(s)||David A. Hargrave|
|Publisher(s)||David A. Hargrave, Grimoire Games, Dragon Tree Press, Emperor's Choice Games and Miniatures|
|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.
Arduin was one of the earliest challengers to TSR's Dungeons & Dragons. It began 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, but were then later produced by Grimoire Games. Dragon Tree Press produced four further Arduin supplements before the Arduin rights and properties were purchased by Emperor's Choice Games and Miniatures.
Although the Arduin books did not explicitly claim to be a Dungeons & Dragons supplement, they were treated as such by most users.
Elements of Arduin
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 players of the Dungeons & Dragons game.
- Martial Artist
- Star Powered Mage
- Phraint—amoral, logical grasshopper/mantis humanoids who were noted for their acrobatic, leaping attacks where they would throw a javelin at the apogee of their jump, flip over their opponent, and strike from behind with a two handed sword.
- Deodanth—loosely based on Jack Vance's Deodands, these were interstellar refugee, matriarchal, vampiric catlike elves.
- Kobbit—half kobold, half hobbit. They were good with slings, and somehow figured out a way to poison sling bullets.
- Throon—four armed giant, loosely based on four armed Green Martians from Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter novels. They were fierce warriors and expert jugglers
- Morgorn's Red Death—this was a 6th level spell that turned a target inside out.
- Curse Of Tindalos—summon the hounds of Tindalos to hunt down your enemy.
- Blaze Of Glory—causes the caster to explode with the magical power of all their uncast spells.
- Air Sharks—flying sharks filled with explosive hydrogen
- Kill Kittens—cute kittens with toxic paralyzing claws
- Ring of Maybe—a ring that allows its possessor to avoid three possible dooms
- Golden Drops of Heavenly Essence—restores someone to full life from even the tiniest of remains
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. At least two different editions of this volume exist. These editions differ via cover artwork and some internal artwork (p. 79, among others). The first printing volume one features cover art by Erol Otus. Later printings do not.
- 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.
- 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 (high level adventure)
- Arduin Dungeon No. 2: The Howling Tower (low-level adventure)
- Arduin Dungeon No. 3: The Citadel of Thunder (mid-level adventure)
- Arduin Dungeon No. 4: Death Heart (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.
- The Black Grimoire All of Dave Hargrave's published RPG spells etc.
Controversy and criticism
The TSR legal issue
David Hargrave was served with a cease and desist order from the offices of TSR when it was found that the original publications of the Arduin books contained direct references to the Dungeons & Dragons gaming system. Hargrave's method of handling the controversy was to simply use white-out and typing correction tape to mask the disputed references, 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.
There was also contention in the RPG world that the Arduin system lacked cohesion. It was only with the publication of The Arduin Adventure that a true standalone system began to evolve, where other systems were not needed to adequately run a game.
Greg Stafford and Chaosium
While David Hargrave was considered[who?] 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 unpublished and incomplete. A few items he created on a whim for those he especially liked or was close to. Among all 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 friend, writer Paul Mosher. The Book of the Shining Land comprises 118 handwritten pages of 10¼ × 7⅞ 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 × 7⅞ 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 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 a 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.
Illustrators (partial listing)
Several 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.
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). Open Box. In Livingstone I. "Arduin Grimoire I-III". White Dwarf (12): p13.
- RPGnet RPG Game Index: The Arduin Trilogy Listing
- http://www.acaeum.com/forum/about4109-0-asc-20.html Q&A with Greg Stafford
- David A. Hargrave: Lancer's Rest
- Erol Otus:: Pen & Paper RPG Database