Keeping JG World Alive
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Poll: If new JG adventures were produced would you buy them?

Yes 60%       60%  [ 26 ]
No, I like the original stuff 9%       9%  [ 4 ]
Might, I'd like some previews if possible 30%       30%  [ 13 ]
Total votes : 43

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Post Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 5:35 pm 
 

As it so happens,
I use(d) a lot of clip art (Gustave Dore) in my latest project (Hell's Outpost). But wanted the cover to be something original. Seeing Eric's samples on line, I contacted him and arranged to use a couple of his pieces.
I think I achieved a nice blend of the two mediums.

Bill, if you'd like a comp pdf let me know.


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Post Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 6:11 pm 
 

It's pretty clear that the clip art was driven by finances and not artistic tastes.

Some of the later items manage to be excellent even with the clip art.

If it were easy, everyone would print up and sell their modules.  

I'd rather see clip art than the CGI artwork that some companies obviously think is real cool.  In most cases, I'd rather see a blank page than CGI art.

This is also (or even especially) true with maps.  The computer mapping programs I see in use in so many publications were intended to produce color maps for private use.  When these color maps are slugged down into black and white, they look sloppy, dark and second-rate.  I'd much prefer a hand-drawn map created by a non-artist...especially for town maps, where the CGI sins are magnified.  These sins make a product seem ill-conceived and poorly produced.


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Post Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 7:01 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:It's pretty clear that the clip art was driven by finances and not artistic tastes.
SNIP

This is also (or even especially) true with maps.  The computer mapping programs I see in use in so many publications were intended to produce color maps for private use.  When these color maps are slugged down into black and white, they look sloppy, dark and second-rate.  I'd much prefer a hand-drawn map created by a non-artist...especially for town maps, where the CGI sins are magnified.  These sins make a product seem ill-conceived and poorly produced.


I'll react to your comment about finances.

When I left JG it was very profitable and I sold at a ridiculous price. Because of my loyalty and respect for Bob. It's funny to say it now but I was walking down town the other day and had my initial realizations re this. I might have gotten 10 times as much from Gary Gygax (who may have wanted to have 50% share of cash cow as TSR's structure was so weird). And then it occurred to me that it might have been the best thing that happened to Bob (although he might have initially resented it) in that together they might have been better partners and mutually avoided some glitches that both faced in their respective companies. Oh well. I know that this seems counter-intuitive to employee-minded people (which I probably had too much of or I would thought of it 34 years ago) but sometimes the biggest, fattest capitalist might actually bring the best outcome.

Anyway, we were in the black from the afternoon at Gen Con 1976. Of course, I can't say that would be so if we'd paid ourselves retroactively a specialist salary but we hadn't earned that yet had we. If they added too many people who didn't contribute to enough productivity it's possible that finances were tighter sooner than I became aware of it. I was not at all involved in that except insofar as Bob might mention something later on. It would have been vindication for my focused preference  if they elected not to buy excellent art (when it was obviously available) when tens of thousands of dollars was "locked up" in hobby store inventory. I resisted starting a hobby store for the local market because I felt it would be a distraction (even though personally I would have loved to buy stuff @wholesale*) and its sluggish velocity add little to mail order income.

I think our strongest suit was our maps. And the fact that they were designed to be modified. This seems kind of obvious to gamers but it's not really obvious from the spectacular failures you've seen, right? Beautiful maps on slick paper seem artsy but aren't they impractical for gamers to add their own stuff? Likewise dark or densely patterned maps. I think I am agreeing with when I say that a gamer with some graphic skill can beat out a fine artist who has never played or judged a game and probably wasn't told key issues like leaving room for gamer customization. But his editor or publisher should have rode herd on the impractical points.

You're right that even when they had the right resolution the muddy B&W maps were a backwards step. Making complex maps in grayscale is hard work. But complex color maps have their own challenges including a lot of ways to offend the tastes of fussy customers. :(

I have since gotten a lot more understanding and forgiving about gaming supplies I buy. You might say that I go for the low hanging fruit. Too many times I have criticized some crappy job (in graphics or miniature table/troops) and all that did was cast a perverse boomerang 'spell' on myself. It mean that when I went to do something similar, now I had to do better (or be a hypocrite). And you know what, often I had to say that the 'better' wasn't worth it.  :oops:

*And I didn't realize yet the best personal reason to not have the stuff at wholesale was working at my hobby and while it sounds appealing, at some point I needed a new hobby.


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Post Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 1:07 am 
 

An example of the power of the basic Judges Guild approach to maps and art...

In high school, I played in a group following a treasure map to a forgotten temple.  The dungeon master concealed the fact that he was using a published Judges Guild module.  (In this case, it was The Lost Temple scenario from The Book of Treasure Maps, by Paul Jaquays...a simple yet enjoyable stand-alone episode.)  Since the twists and turns were the work of an unfamiliar author, the scenario kept us guessing.  Obviously, since I remember it well, we had lots of fun.

The centerpiece of the scenario was a hand-written note, a very basic map and a crude picture of an idol at the center of the module.  This was Jaquay's work, photocopied from the module, but we couldn't really tell that from looking at it.  I didn't know for sure that this wasn't our dungeon master's own work until I found The Book of Treasure Maps at Goodwill (99 cents!) two decades later.

(Ironically, the other artwork in The Book of Treasure Maps is first rate because Jaquays was a professional quality artist as well as a writer.  Where the treasure maps are amateurish, this was a deliberate choice by Jaquays.  Where else can you find a module that was illustrated by the author and has a goofy picture of the author and his gaming group in costume on the cover...and the result is brilliant?  And, while I'm on the topic, the third chapter of The Book of Treasure Maps...The Lone Tower...was IMHO the best short AD&D scenario of the era.)

Today's approach, which is supposed to be cooler and more sophisticated, would have been impossible for the dungeon master to use on the fly without considerable re-working.  We would have known right away from the ugly CGI map and document that it was a module, and reacted accordingly.  "Professional" is not necessarily better, and sometimes it's a lot worse.

That was the genius of the Judges Guild approach.  (That, and the spirit of innovation at Judges Guild that I have written about a lot.)


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Last edited by FormCritic on Fri May 11, 2012 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
  

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Post Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 1:19 am 
 

I kept everything that I won from Bob's dungeon. He would draw these great maps, spells etc. Typically they were made to look olden by either some sort tempura paint I think but mostly tea bags (very into reuse/recycle then!) and the piece de resistance the toasted edges of these made with cigarettes or stove burners. And he did occasionally burn up his lovely artwork. These were labors of love long before we ever talked about doing a little service business for game judges.

So I totally understand the appeal of the "starter" (in your case) though ours were desserts! If we had been clever, we should have provided something from the beginning... ambiguous like what you described that the refs could xerox. I think it would have added even more value and I would have paid for that art if Bob couldn't keep pace.


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Post Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 1:23 am 
 

As far as I can tell, the collapse of Judges Guild in 1982 or so had much more to do with changes in the game market, TSR's revocation of the game license and the national economy than it did with business decisions by Bob.

WOTC made similar decisions about staffing and headquarters before they sold out to Hasbro.  Anyone who visited their gamers' paradise world headquarters in Seattle (as I did) would have seen the minds of gamers at work rather than the minds of businessmen.  Yet, WOTC was wildly profitable at that time.  The gamers' paradise they made was hardly breaking the bank.


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Post Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 1:29 am 
 

Bill Owen wrote:I kept everything that I won from Bob's dungeon. He would draw these great maps, spells etc. Typically they were made to look olden by either some sort tempura paint I think but mostly tea bags (very into reuse/recycle then!) and the piece de resistance the toasted edges of these made with cigarettes or stove burners. And he did occasionally burn up his lovely artwork. These were labors of love long before we ever talked about doing a little service business for game judges.

So I totally understand the appeal of the "starter" (in your case) though ours were desserts! If we had been clever, we should have provided something from the beginning... ambiguous like what you described that the refs could xerox. I think it would have added even more value and I would have paid for that art if Bob couldn't keep pace.


It was those labor of love aspects of Judges Guild publications that made them worth buying.  You just cannot get any more old school than Judges Guild.


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Post Posted: Fri May 11, 2012 1:42 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:As far as I can tell, the collapse of Judges Guild in 1982 or so had much more to do with changes in the game market, TSR's revocation of the game license and the national economy than it did with business decisions by Bob.

WOTC made similar decisions about staffing and headquarters before they sold out to Hasbro.  Anyone who visited their gamers' paradise world headquarters in Seattle (as I did) would have seen the minds of gamers at work rather than the minds of businessmen.  Yet, WOTC was wildly profitable at that time.  The gamers' paradise they made was hardly breaking the bank.


Yes, those were all big issues. I am sorry if I made it sound like Bob ran himself out of business. I really can't say as I had little awareness. I just had what I thought were glimpses. But I wasn't even as involved as the chicken is with your breakfast ...and yet Bob was like the pig. You know... every breakfast shows the difference between involvement and commitment: the chicken was involved but the pig was committed! One needs to be both a good business person and inspired about the mission. In leaving I felt that I was unleashing Bob and indeed his actions may have kept it going longer than I would have. He certainly had the passion and what seemed like unending story line that I marveled at as recently as a con we were both at not so many years ago--he told me the grand galactic background of everything and I was dumbfounded by it all.

Anyway, to the degree I thought I knew better about certain things may have proven to accentuate trouble rather than steer a path between the rocks of old Scylla and Charybdis.


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Post Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:07 pm 
 

I voted that I might buy, and would want to see a preview.

The deal is that I can't spend much at all on my gaming interests these days, so my purchases are few and far between. I loved JG products, especially how they could fit together. But my interest varied from product to product, ultimately depending on the author.

So, a well-imagined and -written adventure or location that felt (subjectively of course) like the CSIO world would be a winner for me. If it didn't tie in to that world, I probably wouldn't be interested. There are plenty of old-school products out there already that don't tie in to the whole CSIO thing, and I don't follow them at all.

  

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Post Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:49 pm 
 

Re gamer's paradise mentioned above:

I think that Bob had some of that: a portion of the staff were gamers. But not so sure it was a gamers paradise per se. And without knowing for sure, I got the impression that a big portion were family etc. that may not have been gamers at all. I can understand the desire to give family paychecks and surely there would be jobs that didn't require gamer fanaticism* but I think the part that I questioned was what those non-gamers were really adding; did they just have a 9-5 attitude (and with some not really applied to that job)? But if they had all been gamers first, then it may have been a different dynamic.

I also realized that I implied that Gary Gygax was "biggest, fattest capitalist" but in my universe that is high praise not a criticism. If an entrepreneur can ethically stay in business that seems like a roll of 11-12 on two six-sided dice, so I really salute them. Nowadays it's fashionable to either minimize a businessman's achievement or actively loot it... but that's no way to get more of the "ideal" product. A businessman has to have a rare combination of inspiration for what people want and while producing it, not go out of business due to a wide variety of reasons. Most are sprinters or fumblers and few can handle the marathon aspect.

The ideal would be for JG to find that rare combination again.

*A gamer "kid" hired to swab the decks might indeed end up becoming a positive force because he would so eagerly want to move into the creative part.


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Post Posted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:05 pm 
 

Bill Owen wrote:I also realized that I implied that Gary Gygax was "biggest, fattest capitalist" but in my universe that is high praise not a criticism. If an entrepreneur can ethically stay in business that seems like a roll of 11-12 on two six-sided dice, so I really salute them. Nowadays it's fashionable to either minimize a businessman's achievement or actively loot it...


I'll take it as praise of Hasbro, the currently-most-obese capitalist in the game. Praise it with great praise, & woe to all seeking to undermine it with off-brand knockoffs!

  

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:04 am 
 

Is Hasbro putting out modules now?


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Post Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:21 am 
 

Hey don't knock those d20 rehash works. They kept JG alive until Bob died in 2008. We tried to get new material approved, but no one would let us write any. Writing new or rewritten material for OSR or Universal will not keep JG alive. To do that it needs to be written for the latest systems. A combined S&W/Pathfinder release might have worked, but like many I fear that ship has sailed. Putting out product that will only sell a few hundred copies isn't good for anyone except people on these forums. The hard core fans will be happy and the collectors if that. This isn't 1976, it is 2013 and there are hundreds of small companies that will sell pdfs in greater volume than your POD. You have to have a certain base of quality in print design now, also artwork and cartography. All of the websites are down and the Bledsaws have burned every bridge with their publishers. I hate to say it after 33 years, 27 of it working for JG, but it is time for me to say Rest In Peace.


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Post Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:33 pm 
 

brvheart wrote in Keeping JG World Alive:Hey don't knock those d20 rehash works. They kept JG alive until Bob died in 2008. We tried to get new material approved, but no one would let us write any. Writing new or rewritten material for OSR or Universal will not keep JG alive. To do that it needs to be written for the latest systems. A combined S&W/Pathfinder release might have worked, but like many I fear that ship has sailed. Putting out product that will only sell a few hundred copies isn't good for anyone except people on these forums. The hard core fans will be happy and the collectors if that. This isn't 1976, it is 2013 and there are hundreds of small companies that will sell pdfs in greater volume than your POD. You have to have a certain base of quality in print design now, also artwork and cartography. All of the websites are down and the Bledsaws have burned every bridge with their publishers. I hate to say it after 33 years, 27 of it working for JG, but it is time for me to say Rest In Peace.


Everyone's entitled to their opinion. The sites were down temporarily only because Godaddy never sent a renewal notice email. As for your statement about needing a base of quality, artwork, and cartography implies that our latest product, Lost Man's Trail, was somehow lacking. I've only seen and heard people say the contrary. If you would care to give some feedback, it would be appreciated instead of generalizations. We offered POD, because that's what everyone wanted at the time. We have not "burned every bridge" with our publishers. The only publisher we've cut ties with is Necromancer (and by association FGG). We have many publishers that would be glad to print anything for us. Only problem is capital. If the d20 rehashes by NG kept JG alive at all, there was but a faint pulse and shallow breath when we came into the business. JG is doing better financially now that the certain revenue hemorrhages have been rooted out and stopped. You also seem to inflate your years with JG..

  

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Post Posted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:21 am 
 

I have been away from the forums(here and elsewhere)lately, but am eager to return with renewed vigor and motivation.

But I'm kind of confused about the last two posts.

Is JG , indeed, alive and active and back in the saddle again? Other than The Lost Man's trail and CSSK(--I do not consider revamping old material to the d20 system new material, even if it includes newer, by the author additions)...2 things in how many decades?...doesn't seem like much progress. If small indies like me can crank out stuff, what's the hold up here?

Does an OGL of any kind exist for writing JG adventures?


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Post Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:51 pm 
 

Lost Man's Trail marked the first original JG product in about 25 years. It was release just 2 years after my grandfather had died. I'm sure you understand that it took some time to get things in order, then once we started gaining some steam family issues of another nature arose. It took even more time for our family to adjust to that. I think it should also be mentioned that the Guild when we came into it could not even support 1 person full time. We have day jobs, and I also was working on my Engineering degree full time at some time. It hasn't even been half a decade since we came into the Guild and we've released 2 product and have 3 more on the way. We've also been talking with companies about a line of Wilderlands based miniatures.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 8:08 pm 
 

Understand I do. I've had a bit of my own family tragedy this year. So, please do not be offended by my quieries.

I do not claim to know how to run a business--especially one that might actually have employees. But I hope JG succeeds in coming back. Not with a fancy, frilly, shiny new product! however. There are scores of those being cranked out every day by comps and indies all over the place. Part of TSR's reason for toppling, IMO, was that it got entrapped by the $ and satisfying the kiddies that needed shinier toys each month. I'd hate to see JG return if it meant it was attempting to do that.


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Post Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:09 pm 
 

Thork N Hammer wrote in Keeping JG World Alive:Understand I do. I've had a bit of my own family tragedy this year. So, please do not be offended by my quieries.

I do not claim to know how to run a business--especially one that might actually have employees. But I hope JG succeeds in coming back. Not with a fancy, frilly, shiny new product! however. There are scores of those being cranked out every day by comps and indies all over the place. Part of TSR's reason for toppling, IMO, was that it got entrapped by the $ and satisfying the kiddies that needed shinier toys each month. I'd hate to see JG return if it meant it was attempting to do that.


I couldn't agree more!

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 2:47 am 
 

Is there anything we--the independent inhouse writer/publishers--can do to help?

Would a Kickstarter program be an option?


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Post Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:19 pm 
 

Thork N Hammer wrote in Keeping JG World Alive:Is there anything we--the independent inhouse writer/publishers--can do to help?


The impression I got from previous inquiries is that at this time Judges Guild is closed to the vast majority of outside help with the exception of what is currently being worked on such as CSSK by Chris Bernhardt and the works of Robert Conley. All I can say is that I offered copies of all the OCR/Edit work I had done for Bob Sr back around 2006-2008 and was politely turned down ... so I've archived off all this work plus the modules I had started on with the hopes that Goodman Games would continue partnering with Judges Guild before 4E was announced.  Someday I may start working on the two modules I had started on which contain no current Judges Guild IP and format them for a different campaign setting ... dunno at this point.

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