Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Recaps & Roundups part 33: JG1 City State Map

Judges Guild was founded in July 1974, by Bob Bledsaw and Bill Owen. Their goal was to sell D&D products, and so they made a trip to TSR headquarters hoping to convince the company to publish some of the material from their home campaign. They weren't achieve that, but they did get verbal approval from Dave Arneson to produce their own line of D&D play aids.

Their first product was a huge city map, which they sold on the first day of GenCon out of the trunk of Owens' Mustang. By Saturday they had their own table, and the maps continued to sell. At a size of 34" x 44" (so big that it was actually sold as 4 sheets of 17" x 22") and with over 300 buildings, the detail was staggering, and people started asking Owens and Bledsaw what was actually in those buildings. These details hadn't been written yet, but Bledsaw came up with the idea of selling subscriptions to the City State on that day. Within a couple of months the first installments were being mailed out, and Judges Guild was a going concern.

Bill Owens left Judges Guild in late 1977, but with Bob Bledsaw at the helm it would go on to publish scores of products for D&D, AD&D, and other RPGs such as Traveller and Runequest. By the early 1980s it started to decline, and stopped producing new products in 1983, but in its hey-day Judges Guild was a vital part of the hobby, and D&D in particular.

I wasn't able to get a hold of the original City State Map, as they are something of a rarity and there don't seem to be any scans on-line. There's a reproduction available at, which features a number of maps with varying levels of detail, some intended for the DM and some for the players. Most are in colour, but one is black and white like the original. Here's an image below.

Obviously that image is too small to give away any of the finer details, but every single street has a name, every building is mapped, and most of them are labelled to show their purpose. There are so many intriguing areas I want to read more about: the Cryptic Citadel, the Goblin Reservation, the Redoubt of the Dead, the Plaza of Profuse Pleasure. I gather that every location on the map is detailed eventually, and I'm psyched to read it (in approximately six posts' time).

Eventually these details get fleshed out into the Wilderlands of High Fantasy campaign, which I guess is the first published campaign for D&D? Given that Judges Guild were producing TSR-approved material, their stuff is at least semi-official, so I have to include it in the Ultimate Sandbox. I already have a long list of portals to other worlds that I need to include in and around Castle Greyhawk, and I so no reason not to add one that leads to the City State. If I ever got to the point where I can run multiple groups, I'd consider basing one in the City State as well. There's certainly no lack of material.

1 comment:

  1. Judges Guild was founded on a very patriotic day: July 4, 1976. :)