JUDGES GUILD HISTORY - Comments and Critique Needed
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Post Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:13 pm 
 

Bill Owen wrote:I found the folder and have not noted any % amount for the TSR royalty.

I have found details of misc. items:

I found tiny notebook pages where I billed JG for the travel agency phone calls to TSR about the royalty discussions (I was working during the day as travel agent still until the end of 1976) for 7 phones calls between 9/4/76 to 11/6/76... and finally an entry that says Milwaukee Lawyer Phone $4.81 and that must be when we achieved agreement because the notebook pages show no more calls to anyone and I reimbursed the agency for a month of other charges through 12/20/76.
SNIP

As I am paring down my lifestyle drastically, it has occurred to me to sell all this stuff in the file because they are unique items, some with Bob's signature.

You can see them on ebay shortly (appearing magically at 1 minute intervals starting at 7PM CCS, Central City State time tonight).

I wrote up a 4 page explanation to go with the 3 little notebook pages. They have jogged my memory in astounding ways. One that I think is amazing now is that we did not go to TSR to ask for permission in the Spring as I have thought for years now. We actually waited until 33 days before Gen Con!

Since you guys have studied a lot of details associated with JG, I thought that you would get a kick out of the incredibly risky timing of this. Bob and I had already done a lot of work by then; what if they had said "no"?!


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:37 pm 
 

33 days!

Industry figures here on the Acaeum have told us that the early days of gaming were much more free and friendly than today.

When you are recalling "33 days before GenCon" is that 33 days before your first GenCon, where the map and subscription were first offered for sale?


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:39 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:33 days!

Industry figures here on the Acaeum have told us that the early days of gaming were much more free and friendly than today.

When you are recalling "33 days before GenCon" is that 33 days before your first GenCon, where the map and subscription were first offered for sale?


YES! At the time it seemed so reasonable (!) that as I have aged, I must have added weeks to the time to match what I'd have done at the current age group. I.e. at age 56 I'd probably gone 6 months before.

It shows how important these written documents are. Otherwise I would still be saying we went in April or May. It just goes to show that we are better remembering the feelings than the details.

Indeed Arneson was very easy going about it and said something like, "sure, fine, go ahead. We can't see why anyone would buy it anyway."


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:08 am 
 

So, are you possibly saying that the original license agreement with TSR was verbal?

Also, you haven't mentioned Arneson before.  Can you tell us what kind of interaction you had with him?

<From an outside view, it seems that Arneson had little to do with running TSR.  It would be interesting to know what kind of decisions he made or what kind of input he had.>


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:07 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:So, are you possibly saying that the original license agreement with TSR was verbal?

Also, you haven't mentioned Arneson before.  Can you tell us what kind of interaction you had with him?

<From an outside view, it seems that Arneson had little to do with running TSR.  It would be interesting to know what kind of decisions he made or what kind of input he had.>


Yes, the original license agreement was verbal from July to November 1976 (or December, I don't know when it was signed). Mark, Bob & I went up to TSR in July and met Dave then. The discussion was brief and pleasant. It was obvious that it had been discussed or delegated to him because we were back on our way home quickly. I don't remember anything about being there. I don't remember talking with him again before his desire to publish his campaign through us (I don't think we approached him; he approached us after being let go from TSR).

The discussions about our paying a royalty came up in September 1976 when Dave Megarry called (I don't remember any other TSR employees involved in that--the only other TSR employee I had ever talked to was Tim Kask because of a typo in an ad*). But then he was gone shortly before (I think) GenCon 1977. I spent some time in my giant suite at the Playboy Club hearing about his tale of woe--having his Dungeon! game design 'stolen'--which I privately wondered if was true theft or he'd signed away rights and regretted it now that he was out of job and had spent the money. But I obviously had no desire to go and join some sort crusade against TSR at that point so I just listened politely and couldn't figure out what we could do with him or for him.

*Since I was in awe of these big names, I think I would have remembered if I'd talked to someone at TSR. Bob's own memoir said that he talked to Gary Gygax at an early stage and while possible I can't imagine why he would have kept that a secret from me. I barely remember running into Gygax once so he was high 'above' my plain of awareness for my 2 years in the industry.


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Post Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:35 pm 
 

I found the following in the nice history:

"The unfortunately named Glory Hole Dwarven Mine was located just outside the city."

That's the ONLY unfortunate name or situation?! All I can say is that what fun I had watching Bob adjust his text that summer when it dawned on him young people might buy the product! It's a delightful memory of listening to Bob brainstorm how to submerge kinky shop descriptions in the Plaza of Profuse Pleasures. It occurred to us that most teens and twenty-somethings would have no problem ramping up the obscenity level! But it would take someone of Bob's puckishness to be subtle and surprisingly mild.

I'd watch how Bob could get so tickled at his latest foolishness and having known him for TWO WHOLE YEARS (at age 21, 2 years is a long time especially when you've seen each other weekly for about 6-9 hours each week), I just delighted in the mirth too.

I suppose much of our games' delight and excitement came from that late-teen age but Bob being 11.5 years older maintained a wonder beyond his expected "decrepitude"

PS here in Belize, my neighbor who is 17 years older than me reminds me so much of Bob ...and so far it's hard for me to put my finger on it exactly how. But it goes to show you never know how far you'll go to find where you've been.

Which sounds almost Dr Seuss like to me... "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go."


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Post Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:07 am 
 

I'm glad you liked the history, Bill.  It was fun to write.

Judges Guild pioneered so many subjects and game aids that are now standard procedure....but were new ideas at the time.

Judges Guild was a part of my high school gaming experience and continues to influence my games decades later.

I get a thrill when I turn up a Judges Guild publication at a store or somewhere online.  It's like a chance meeting with an old friend.

As for Glory Hole Dwarven Mine....it was just one of those phrases that took on new and unfortunate meanings in the 1980's.  It was never a real great name.  What was really funny was the cover art:  The module may as well have been named, The Dwarven Mine With a Major Demon as the Final Encounter Just Like the Mines of Moria as Depicted on the Cover In Case You Were Wondering.  :D

The City State itself remains an accomplishment of imagination that has not really been matched by other publications.  My favorite site is the Park of Obscene Statues...complete with a boat ride tour.   :lol:  The basic idea that the city itself was chaotic neutral in alignment was the foundation that made it really unique for at least the first decade of tabletop gaming.

As I noted in the history, part of the genius of Judges Guild was the ability to deal with adult topics in humorous or otherwise inoffensive ways.  One has the feeling that if Judges Guild had been running D&D much of the demon scare of the early 80's would not have materialized.

I wish you well in your retirement to Belize.  News of the last days of the Franklin Mall was bittersweet...like the end of a famous clubhouse (that I never heard of until later).  

I retain a fantasy in which I visit the church in Decatur that used to house Judges Guild.  If it is like some other old buildings, there may yet be Judges Guild artifacts hidden in old crawlspaces and the like.  At least...that's what I imagine.

Mark


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Post Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:34 am 
 

My dad's main toy store had the same tinge of allure to me. Long after it had been turned into an office supplies store (now a ladieswear) I went by years later and ask to poke around in the basement. Sure enough, they still had the 'train room' (but they didn't know why it was called that) and one could still find bits of the spectacular train layout's background mural painted on the wall by aunt.

Some psychologist could perhaps explain our desire to go back to youthful haunts and find a treasure. An example was the discarded pink Lionel train that even my sister wouldn't play with. My dad brought it home one Christmas because no one would buy it. It sat in a closet under the stairs for years. I later found that it was worth $5000 because no one else had wanted it and became so rare. So I go to and look at the house my brother now lives in and sure enough, our pink train has left the station too.

All one can see of the Judges Guild's original public location is a hole cut through the rafters that allowed 'secret' passages through the upper story. But the Franklin Mall's demise is still too close for me to go inside the building. It is still empty.

I have not been back inside any of Bob's next locations because they more represent my letting go of JG than pleasant memory lanes. Instead if any of Bob's kids still had his dining room table I'd love to see if it still rocks and sways or whether they've made the legs secure. Maybe I should explain that when you get about 6-8 18 year old kids gripping on either side of the table rolling with laughter, excitement and anxiety, the whole table top would orbit one way then the other!

PS Here' a calmer picture of that table Bob Jr found: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid= ... =1&theater


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