Bill Owen Q&A
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Post Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 12:40 pm 
 

I was talking to a printer and relayed how I got into large scale printing in 1977 with KK Stevens web press. He said his dad (about my age) was a big fan of D&D and asked if I would send him some old stuff. We'd talked about how our printing capability had upgraded from Hectograph gelatin pan, to mimeograph, xerox and offset ...before JG started and it was pretty obvious that I was influenced by Avalon Hill's professional quality of reproduction and also SPI's lack of fear to produce utter trash (reproduction wise) to get things 'out the door'.

Anyway, since he was kind enough to send a sample pack of his company's work to Belize by postal mail (Fed Ex etc. we have to go to Belize City to pick up), I sent him a few items. And this is what I wrote:

    Because you are a printer, I will also send 2 older newsletters from 1970 and 1971 that illustrate our graphic progress from Hectograph gelatin reproduction (our 48th page at that point from 1968 starting point hand-typed Samzidat repro) and 1971 (our 70th) which is Xeroxed and so the Prestype is hollowed out because at that time copy machines had a problem with large solid areas. There's something I just noticed which is that we manually right justified columns with the film-ribbon typewriter. It's obvious we were aping traditional publishing without the cash to do it 'right'.

So why I am posting today... would anyone be interested in buying my collection ICD Newsletters? These small-run letter-sized (mostly 1 page though we had a 'magazine' called A-Elim which was 8-12 pages occasionally) started in 1968 and probably peaked by 1972 then revived during 1980 as Bob was having regular gaming and so he wanted to drum up local interest and attendance.

This is also where we started numbering the pages like National Geographic did sequentially over editions so by April, page 500 for them and page 70 for us by 1971. This fussy pagination was carried over into JG where we were always concerned about giving enough value to warrant the price.

I may have the most complete (if only) volume of these newsletters out there. And I always assumed that it had no value to collectors because effectively it was too rare since the early days we had a circulation 4-10 copies! And fewer existing... and so not like IFW monthly zine. So I just sort of figured it was irrelevant. But because it was the precursor to JG and what produced the skill set, I have always seen it as a continuum.

PS One concern I have about living in a high-humidity land like Belize is that I will wake up some day and discover that much of our paper goods is growing fuzzy mold, eaten by termites or soaked by a hurricane-liberated roofless house (or all 3). So maybe it's best to move this along.


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Post Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:01 pm 
 

Would permission to reprint be included? Something like this should be available for a larger audience of both collectors and hobbyists interested in the origins of JG and gaming in general.

Mike B.


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Post Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:18 pm 
 

Yes.


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Post Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 4:45 pm 
 

Bill I'm going to have my friend Doug contact you and talk about these.....I think we might be interested!  Do you have any further info on what kinds of information is included in these newsletters?

Mike B


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Post Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 6:39 pm 
 

Later tonight I will post an enhanced scan of one of the pages* (the print is light otherwise) at this webpage:  ICD Newletter ...so you can see how low wattage some of it is! (I want to lower expectations.) But then I was an age 13-17 boardgamer and miniature gamer through most of the ICD News & A-Elim period. As my teacher said: "Sharp enough to stick in the ground and green enough to grow."

Then a few issues of Jungle Eskimo which was between high school and D&D (ages 18-19) when most of the club activity was nearly all D&D so most of that material is already in collectors hands from ages 20-23.

What makes these interesting to me is: what we thought was significant and the graphic improvements (including color and complete games during the Hectograph gelatin period) ...there's a straight line through all of this that it did not occur to me to include in either of the history because I thought of it as pretty blah. But with perspective, I would never have partnered with Bob on JG if it weren't for these developments.

*This one is where we introduced Doug Cragoe who was a huge leap forward as he was a buddy of Gygax, Reese & Tucker and produced the Condensed Fire Virgin (as we called it) for GRT (later Tractics) and lived about 45 minutes west in Springfield. I still have one of Michael Reese's KV85 (HO scale tank model) that I got from Cragoe. We had already made the 6x10' sandtable in the basement but having his guidance and a temporary copy of the Samzidat ruleset of GRT meant that we would start typing like crazy to reproduce the giant rule set.

This was also the point where I turned "pro" in that I think he invested $10 in my 3/4" hex sheet project (which I drew everyone of those darned hexes by hand) for PanzerBlitz and we sold those so we'd graduated to giving away content to for-profit Publishing.


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Post Posted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:10 pm 
 

Bill,
I probably could not complete with Mikes friend, but I am also interested in these publications.


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Post Posted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:28 pm 
 

Thanks to all (I have received some private messages that I have not responded to because I wanted to figure out what actually is there) ...I found even a few odd items from Bob's campaign and JG items plus, original art, photographs documenting the 50+ miniature scenarios. So it's a dumpsite of printed materials and one-of-a-kind mementos. I laid it all out and took a photo which I will post asap.

I think that what I will do is post it on eBay and will note it here. I asked the post office what it would cost to send a kilo of documents and they said $12... although it might be wiser to use their Express service from down here (approx. $25).


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Post Posted: Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:50 am 
 

I have just completed finding all of the game-related stuff and published an overview photo plus snippets of some items.

Go to ICD & Judges Guild

I found some negatives of missing photos including some flier art (of the City State materials) that I don't think was ever used and possibly the photos were never even printed (very common in the 70's that due to cost, to develop your film but only print what you felt was worth it). So since it's unlikely that I will find a old-style photofinisher here in Belize (I think there's only one 70 miles away!) before the auction is completed, I will send the negatives. I found negatives of the guys who moved JG out of the mall after I sold to Bob, including Marc wearing the Woody mask!

I plan to post the auction tomorrow... and will note it here when I do. The last unresolved issue is weighing all this mass of material! But I'm too tired tonight to do even one more thing. :)


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Post Posted: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:47 pm 
 

The residue auction is up at:

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It will be over 4:30 PM mountain time next Sunday.

I included somethings that I was going to keep but thought that I ought to move them along: original half-sheet flier from our 1st Gen-Con, a Dear Dealer letter from the 1st year on heavy skytone stock, some other old aids: front cover (only) from the 1st Guide to the City State, Wizards Guide and Man to Man Melee table. Plus other things that weren't in the overview photo.

PS I decided I would keep just 3 things from JG's first year: a Guide to the City State, City State and Wilderlands Judges Maps. That's it.

NOTE: the postage appears to be quite high. The post office quoted me $12 for a kilo but I neglected to ask the extra kilo rate... might be less. But with 5 pounds of stuff and a box, it theoretically could be this high. Once we have an auction winner's destination I will discount the invoice any overage on the postage.


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Post Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:09 pm 
 

FYI, I added a note to the auction:

NOTES: my estimate of postage to US addresses was much too high. Instead of $36, it is $21.25.

I did not specify how many digital images I am providing to make up for those that got pulled from the photo albums and never replaced. I estimate that it will be around 100. If you read either of my JG History version 1 or 2, then you know which pictures I am referring to. I will not provide special images provided by Bob II and some other JG-specific images. Not all of these were in photo albums but I thought that this would provide extra value for the auction winner.

These scans are in addition to the 100+ original photos noted in the auction listing already.


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Post Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 6:33 pm 
 

$900 congratulations Bill. I'm sure the new owner will be pleased with the purchase too.


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Post Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 6:37 pm 
 

Thanks! It is really amazing to me.


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Post Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:03 pm 
 

FYI, I have posted on eBay a unique box (green hexagonal!) of 85 dice that the ICD & JG used in games from 1970-1985. Two being our standard approach with the Hong Kong D20's: red on 10 sides being the one's and gold being the teens. There are some other weird stuff in there like a mini dice box that we made out brass strips and some sort of Micro-Armor or similar box. If you are needing to beef up your dice stock, here's a great opportunity.

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Post Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:17 pm 
 

I should mention there are 5 board games starting at $7.77 at:

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And while one is very old (1969's Anzio Beachhead from S&T) one is a favorite that Bob, Marc and I used to play a lot: Victory Games' Civil War. A spectacular 2 map game (22x68") in size! We actually finished at least one of the games and while I don't remember the details, I made up a fake newspaper with headlines about the embarrassment of "Old Abe" who was probably Bob; Marc would have reacted much more strongly and I would remember that--whereas Bob was always a good sport. So there's a list of crazy stuff that happened and ridiculous news stories to make this a memorable game.

Soldier Kings (itself with 2 smaller maps) using the very simple "A House Divided" point-to-point movement system could be incorporated as a multi-player campaign context for big fantasy battles and a continent's worth of fun. Just because it's 30-years-war era doesn't mean that there weren't dragons and orcs back then!


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Post Posted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:59 pm 
 

The Last of the Mohicans!

As we get ready to windwalk later in October, I found some fun stuff featuring Bob, JG, ICD etc. and put them up on a very SHORT duration eBay auction. If there was anything else it was sadly shredded with all the various photo albums that we digitized so we wouldn't overtax the bag of holding.

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Post Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:31 pm 
 

re: the JG Kickstarter, I pledged today to help it almost get to 500 and $40,000. Awesome response so far--I am very impressed. But then the response after we had invest $50 in 1976 was pretty good too. :) But those days are gone and this is the new-fangled, super way to get things off the ground.

Here's a question for all you campaign map fans: would you have been impressed if one of our campaign maps being all grassland and featureless? I mean 160x210 miles of nothing? And extended to all surrounding maps? If not and you said it's just JG ripping you off because we were lazy that month, here's a a real such place 200x250 miles in Texas & New Mexico, the Lllano (aka the Staked Plane) which covers all or part of 33 counties of Texas & 4 in New Mexico. One of the largest geological features on the earth.

Spanish conquistador Francisco Coronado, the first European to traverse this "sea of grass" in 1541, described it as follows: "I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limit anywhere I went, although I traveled over them for more than 300 leagues ... with no more land marks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea ... there was not a stone, nor bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything to go by."

From the 1852 expedition to explore the headwaters of the Red and Colorado Rivers, General Randolph Marcy Army reported:
"When we were upon the high table-land, a view presented itself as boundless as the ocean. Not a tree, shrub, or any other object, either animate or inantimate, relieved the dreary monotony of the prospect; it was a vast-illimitable expanse of desert prairie .... the great Sahara of North America. it is a region almost as vast and trackless as the ocean -- a land where no man, either savage or civilized permanently abides ... a treeless, desolate waste of uninhabitable solitude, which always has been, and must continue uninhabited forever."

I admit that our world, above and below the seas, is more fantastic than my imagination has allowed for.


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:41 pm 
 

One of my anti-FRP friends was lambasting D&D for how it (as I remember) makes a 3 hour walk take 5 minutes and a 5 minute melee 3 hours ...and why he didn't like D&D. So I attempted to give him some context. Perhaps it will help give you a bit of a feel for the time.

"I suppose you had to have been there but from 1974-1976 Bob Bledsaw's campaign certainly held our attention week to week and I don't remember anything feeling like it took too long. But back then we were in constant tinkering mode to either streamline some things and add important elements of "realism" (in a fantasy setting to boot)!

I think that many game systems (not just FRP) get encrusted with excessive minutiae. Historical games suffer by allowing decisions and processes below the command level a given player represents.

Bob was exceptionally well read in swords and sorcery, had a sense of humor and remarkably a rare humility to simply play the game letting the player characters develop the story by their actions. Delighting in their discoveries.

He was a judge in the best sense of blind justice not a dungeon master who lusted to kill players or lead them around by their noses to some sort of boring predetermined tour of their diseased imagination. At the end of the day these are my impressions and probably don't really do him justice and may gloss over foibles, because of my respect and friendship."


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Post Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:39 pm 
 

Bill Owen wrote in Bill Owen Q&A: "a treeless, desolate waste of uninhabitable solitude, which always has been, and must continue uninhabited forever."


RQ's Griffin Mountain is pretty good at conveying this sort of landscape in an RPG context. Instead of hiding stuff for the players to explore in dungeon chambers, things are hidden in plain sight by the vast expanse of wasteland.

Bill Owen wrote in Bill Owen Q&A:One of my anti-FRP friends was lambasting D&D for how it (as I remember) makes a 3 hour walk take 5 minutes and a 5 minute melee 3 hours


That would be an issue with storytelling in general, fiction or non-fiction. For instance, Star Wars seems like it all takes place in a few hours, but it could be months. Crucial moments are stretched out, whether it's a fight in The Matrix or the split-second timeline of events at the Kennedy Assassination.

Does your first post today relate to the second? It seems like a campaign with PCs crossing a vast grassland would be challenged by how to pace events. Do you roll for encounters every square mile of a million-square-mile region? How long do the PCs have to search to find any given thing in this desert, & how much game time does it take?

The solution could be to avoid playing-out the trek itself, concentrating instead upon a.) preparation for the expedition, & b.) the results. The PCs spend time in a frontier town on the edge of the wasteland, hiring guides & buying supplies in an effort to find a talisman hidden somewhere in the desert. Based upon their plans (including how they intend to camp or forage, how they intend to search, & how they intend to confront/avoid NPCs), the DM assigns a probability of success, as well as various appropriate encounters along the way. The next game session, the DM has a sequential agenda of encounters prepared.

Bill Owen wrote in Bill Owen Q&A:PS I decided I would keep just 3 things from JG's first year: a Guide to the City State, City State and Wilderlands Judges Maps. That's it.


PPS I have something similar. Over the course of collecting complete City-State & Wilderlands sets, I acquired a few extra copies of various bits & pieces (Booklet I, Booklet O, the digest-size Guide, & a Judges City Map). Whenever I want to look at my collection, I usually go to this assortment of essentials first.

  

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Post Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:44 pm 
 

No, the 2 posts were motivated by different things. Frankly, I would have thought that my friend would have been a great role-player, very theatrical and verbose. But just isn't is his bag. But then I think some of that comes from the excessive detail that goes into the game mechanics.

I don't have any opinion really about what to do with a giant wasteland in the game setting. Your approach is probably effective. But that's part of his complaint. The non-linear aspect of the gaming experience. I think that those of us who came into wargaming (if that is what FRP is part of if not its own thing now), were used to the idea of subdividing the playing surface in hexagons and you could move X number of hexagons in a turn depending on your transport and the terrain.

Of course, the alternate exploring concept is 1 hex per variable-length turn and that turn length could further contract the better you tried to search versus just plodding across it as fast you could.

I still think about the Exploring Terrain facet still because perhaps the barony building was my favorite part of the game.

On another matter...

Earlier I wrote about our obsession before D&D, Gygax Reese & Tucker, "GRT (later Tractics) and lived about 45 minutes west in Springfield. I still have one of Michael Reese's KV85 (HO scale tank model) that I got from Cragoe."

And I had occasion to communicate with Michael Reese and asked if he remembered that particular winter-camo tank and he said he didn't. So it's funny how things pop up 43 years later and may not be as you thought--or his memory purged that long after he sold it to Cragoe when joining the army (I was told).


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Post Posted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 8:15 am 
 

Judges Guild's Bob & Bill: A Cautionary Tale:Amazon:Kindle Store

I just published a new Kindle edition of my Judges Guild history. At link above.

While the first 2 were physical books and I sold a gross of them, this seems more of the big time because it's available all over the world.

I priced it as low as I could for such a big picture-heavy book so that the early buyers can get it cheap.

*Most of the buyers were for the smaller first edition so this third edition has the extra 120% of new material from the 2nd edition plus another 30%!


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