Bill Owen Q&A
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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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Post Posted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 2:08 pm 
 

My daughter said I posted the mobile URL so see if this works better on your computer:  

Judges Guild's Bob & Bill: A Cautionary Tale - Kindle edition by Bill Owen. Humor & Entertainment Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.


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Post Posted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 5:24 pm 
 

Works fine from the UK equivalent link;  

Judges Guild's Bob & Bill: A Cautionary Tale eBook: Bill Owen: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

£3.19... bargain. :)

Thank you for all the additional work, Bill; and for the note, too. I hadn't seen the 2nd edition.

From a quick browse-through 02c that you're still holding back a bit on some of the nice stuff about the nature of the D&D campaign from 1974-6 (too shy to reprint those earliest notes? ;p) which I think is quite important for the overall direction of the hobby given that TSR was still somewhat stuck down in the dungeons when JG came around, even aside from their DIY approach. The dungeon "option constriction" paradigm *is* a very useful one and fundamental to D&D's development/success but almost became a choke-point, IMO; the "bigger picture" in Lake Geneva also not really having had the opportunity to flourish since Rob Kuntz's early "top-down" world-creation efforts, which never made it into print.

More reading to do later in the week and looking forward to that!

(I still haven't picked up a copy of the original Tegel Manor map, though :/ => http://www.cafepress.com/judgesguild.280126748 )

Best wishes & Trust things are doing well in general "down south" (I've the same sand dune view with nothing beyond all the way to the North Pole here, btw!)
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Post Posted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 6:12 pm 
 

Thanks David! It's good to know that it works way over there where you are staring down the polar bears.

While it seems as if I have held back on the D&D campaign, I really don't have any more specific memories to pass on. It seemed like a rollicking group and perhaps the "adrenalin" just erased a lot of those memories. On the other hand, maybe they are deeply stored and might take more TNT to blast them loose. To accomplish that breakthrough, I have had the idea of getting 5 of the original party together for a Skype conference call and see what the kibbitzing might turn up.

My money is on Marc Summerlott. Being a machinist he's always been a precise sort of guy AND he has judged or played D&D for nearly the entire time since 1974! The problem is that he just doesn't seem to get into forums, email and so while I have asked him to help with explanations of "how we did it then", he hasn't put anything in, so far.

This is not to denigrate Craig, Carl & Mark's input as they probably will have much good stuff to add also. Perhaps the chemistry will harken back to that time.

Some of you may have come into D&D 'cold' without any wargaming background but I came from being a judge of dozens of miniature games and hosting a variety of boardgame extravaganzas also. To me it was very natural to try lots of different magic and combat systems. It's what we did already routinely. Frequently the changes were evolutionary rather than revolutionary. And we did not document much.

Bob may have and perhaps Bob Jr. will find something in the papers. I have been surprised at what he had literally from our first days in business. Things I had never seen because we operated in such a compartmentalized way: Bob with product creation, assembly and accounting and I will layout and orders. So I inserted some of this in the edition.

Indeed very few people saw the extra material from the second edition because the hard-bound coffee table edition was so expensive via Print On Demand. So the Kindle allows me to get the material out there this way.

I am very pleased that the photographs look a LOT better than some of the Kindle books I have read. But I researched best practices on how to present them to maximize the quality while keeping the file size small enough to make the book inexpensive. I figured that I already made the ideal edition from the standpoint of gorgeous, large photographs and scans on the premium quality paper of the 2nd edition and that the Kindle was never designed for ideal picture reproduction. So my focus was on making it very inexpensive this time. Yet the photos really are better than I expected.

Now I have 2 more books that I could Kindlize ...a war memoir of a guy from WWII and a history from the early days of WWII. So I'm having fun with this! And of course there are other TOP SECRET projects that I can hardly contain myself and not mention. Never hire a marketing guy to be a spy.


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Post Posted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 6:14 pm 
 

Oh, BTW I just noticed again how it says that my book is in the Humor And Entertainment section of Kindle. I am puzzled about that as a I chose FRP and Miniatures... I thought.


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Post Posted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 11:13 pm 
 

Bill Owen wrote in Bill Owen Q&A:My daughter said I posted the mobile URL so see if this works better on your computer:

Judges Guild's Bob & Bill: A Cautionary Tale - Kindle edition by Bill Owen. Humor & Entertainment Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.


Purchased. Thanks for making this version available, Bill.


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Post Posted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:17 am 
 

Thanks Mstro Z!


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Post Posted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 7:55 am 
 

Just a little note about the kindle book: if you look at the web preview or cloud reader, some of the acronyms like ifw or icd appear in lower case letters (as I just rendered them). But in the actual Kindle book they appear as "small caps" IFW or ICD instead. I thought I goofed up something but apparently the preview version does not take into account character formatting.

If those acronyms were really all lower case letters, it would give the book a 1960s ee cummings sort of vibe. Which is no longer cute in my mind. I was going to fix that this morning but first downloaded a preview onto my "Kindle" (it's actually an iPhone version since only my wife has a real Kindle), and the small caps are correctly displayed.

To those who have bought the Kindle edition, there are bound to be other grotesque errors (besides inelegant writing) that if you find'em, would you let me know? Thanks!

PS I think that if an author makes a corrected edition, those who have bought it already can download it free of charge and I think there's a way I can contact all indirectly to let them know. I am just learning this e-publishing thing! To-date the limit of my e-publishing knowledge has been pdf's.


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Post Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 2:16 am 
 

Although I still aim to pick up a print edition, I was mighty pleased to be able to add this one to my Kindle collection (and for only $4.99). Enjoying it so far. Thanks Bill!


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