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DA4 The Duchy of Ten (Basic)

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The Well of Souls. . .

That's what Zugzul babe the Afridhi call the evil artifact that he had taught them to make. They must call it the Well of Souls, and they must carry it before them into every battle? and they would be mighty. Thus said the god of the Afridhi, Zugzul the One.

So the Afridhi did as they were bade. Seeking the volcano called the Hill of the Hammer in the far Barrens of Karsh, they built in its heart a great forge. There, as Zugzul had promised, efreet came to help them make the mighty artifact. There, amid vile, unholy rites, they bound the souls of men into its very substance, and, for the red-handed work that must surely follow hard upon its completion.

Many were the men who guarded the Hill of the Hammer during the days of making? for their foes in hated Blackmoor would try to unmake that which they had wrought. Yet, it was not men that would keep the Well of Souls from destruction, but a prophecy? that the artifact would be unmade only by the hand of one as yet unborn!

Product History

DA4: "The Duchy of Ten" (1987), by David J. Ritchie, is the fourth of the four Blackmoor adventure. It was published in June 1987.

Origins (I): The Departure of Arneson. The most shocking thing about TSR's final Blackmoor module is that it doesn't have Dave Arneson's name on the cover. Arneson would later say that his "relationship with TSR was already brewing into anther [law] suit" at the time, and that David Ritchie, who had developed all of the previous adventures, was "heavily involved in doing the last module". In fact, Dave Arneson receives no credit at all in the book.

Origins (II): The Departure of Blackmoor. TSR had scheduled one more Blackmoor adventure, DA5: "City of Blackmoor". It was far enough along that it was given a stock number (9219) and advertised in TSR's Fall 1987 catalog. However, it never appeared.

Why not? Dave Arneson was later adamant in stating that "the sales figures were not a factor in terminating the original series". Instead, he says that after Gary Gygax left TSR in 1985 "new people came in, and they suddenly weren't interested in working with me for various reasons". This change is usually laid at the doorstep of TSR's new president, Lorraine Williams. The supposition is that she didn't want to work with people associated with Gary Gygax, so folks like Rob Kuntz and Dave Arneson were frozen out, as Williams pushed D&D toward a new direction and (eventually) a new edition.

Origins (III): Many Duchies. Though this supplement is largely (perhaps entirely) the work of David Ritchie, The Duchy of Ten originated in Dave Arneson's Blackmoor game, where it was a kingdom to the west of Blackmoor. The Duchy's Ran of Ah Fooh was one of the major enemies in Arneson's original Blackmoor game — alongside the Egg of Coot, the Skandaharians, the Afridhi, the Great Kingdom, and others.

Meanwhile, Gary Gygax had introduced a Duchy of Tenh into his own World of Greyhawk. He said that he wasn't "privy to any campaign material that was created by Dave", but that he'd used a similar name to one that Arneson had mentioned.

Which of these Duchies is the one depicted in DA4: "The Duchy of Ten"? It might have some relation to Arneson's original Duchy, but various sources suggest that Ritchie took the locale in different directions than Arneson intended. In the '00s, Arneson said that Zeitgeist Games would publish a book offering a more official look at the Duchy, but it never appeared.

As a result, DA4: "The Duchy of Ten" is probably the closest we'll ever have to a canon look at Blackmoor's Duchy (and it's de facto the canon Duchy for the Known World's Blackmoor).

Adventure Tropes. "The Duchy of Ten" is a traditional MacGuffin Quest: the players must find the Well of Souls. However, this evil artifact must then be destroyed, turning the adventure into a "MacRing" quest.

The boat journey that kicks of "The Duchy of Ten" is a rather open design. The GM is given the complete deckplan for the boat as well as a series of hazards that the players might (randomly) encounter. One major encounter occurs in the town of Robinsport and even features a chase flow chart(!). An overland journey follows, which is laid out as a large-scale hex crawl, but it largely focuses on set encounters. Finally, an assault on an Afridhian outpost allows more open adventuring, followed at last by a traditional dungeon crawl!

Expanding Blackmoor. The major map at the center of DA4: "The Duchy of Ten" is a little disappointing, because it's the same map that was in DA1: "Adventures in Blackmoor" (1986), with a few forts and roads added. However, this was the map that reset the scale of Blackmoor from 24 miles per hex to 12 miles per hex, better matching the older depictions of the world.

Despite the similarities in the maps, "The Duchy of Ten" contains considerable textual information on the lands west of Blackmoor, including The Duchy of Ten, the Plains of Hak, and the Empty Lands. The Afridhi people also play a major role as the occupiers of the Duchy; this is one of the things that fans of the settings suspect didn't originate with Arneson, but it was nonetheless an opportunity to spotlight another of the major enemies from Arneson's original campaign.

Some scant details on the Duchy had previously appeared in Judges Guild's The First Fantasy Campaign (1977), including a description of the Ran of Ah Fooh. Surprisingly, the Ran of the Duchy doesn't appear here, which is another reason this adventure's canonicity has been questioned.

About the Creators. Ritchie got his start at SPI, and by 1987 was the last former SPI employee still working at TSR; it didn't last, this was his final book for the company.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons—a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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Discussions (4)
Customer avatar
David T June 30, 2022 11:05 pm UTC
And they all come tumbling down! Yeah! Thanks for the Blackmoor PODs!
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Kevin R June 23, 2022 4:13 pm UTC
Can we get a POD version of this one next? I am very excited about the availability of the other three. Can we get this one soon?
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Ilias L June 17, 2022 12:53 pm UTC
waiting warmly.
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Douglas B August 16, 2016 6:12 pm UTC
There's a typo ("babe" for "bade") in the adventure summary text on this page: it's correct on the PDF's back-cover page.
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