Bill Owen Q&A
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Post Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 9:00 am 
 

Thanks THG! I appreciate hearing from gamer/readers.


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Post Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 9:02 am 
 

As much as I have to come to like Kindle for its convenience of carry in my phone and especially the instant delivery (living in the southern extremis of the globe), I know that some people really like physical books. So here I want to announce here that I am planning to release a nearly identical print edition to the 3rd edition for Kindle. The book size will be 6x9", 148 pages* with full-color cover.

I was planning to do the photos in Grayscale only, on cream-colored inside pages to keep the price moderate.

But being that it is Print On Demand through Create Space (Amazon's POD unit I guess), I can't see any reason not to offer a color photos version also (on white paper of course). The colored photos version is also questionable since most of the pages will not have color on them because the photos being grouped onto a page(s) of "plates". If there were a vendor that would only charge for the pages that ARE color then I could consider using that. But I don't know of a POD like that If no one one bought the color page version, I will have just lost a few hours of my life and if 2 people to do I will have converted those hours to a valuation of about $3/hour!

*I couldn't keep to the original plan of making the book identical to Kindle because of the total difference beween how pages are displayed. So I have added a few pages of photos/scans. Namely a Diplomacy variant Bob made on posterboard, sales list by month which seems to say that we did not start wholesale sales until February which is later than I remember. I tracked per-item sales by month for some time after leaving because of my royalty so the period is beyond my departure in spring of 1978. The text is the same.


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Post Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 9:25 am 
 

As a full disclosure, the 3rd edition does not add anything extra about how Bob's campaign was run. That was the only caveat that reviewers of the first edition made. I know a lot of you guys that is of prime interest and I just have not dredged up any more written materials or memories to pass on. So I don't want anyone to buy this and be disappointed.

I wrote the book with two other goals (than describing the campaign) and that was dealing with the wonder of Bob's friendship and the business aspect of DIY gamer publishing. I know that the latter is very tempting for people to get into as they have a fun time with their unique approaches and the light bulb turns on "why don't we sell this?" That can work out fine and that's great but I think that the wise counsel is to consider what sort of changes your hobby may go though. Like extinction. And how if failure doesn't get you success an too. But there are some unique aspects to small scale publishing that I try to go into in the book and "exit strategies". You get into the "dungeon" and have a bag of loot; how do you get out? I deal with that at length in the new edition. If only I had that to read at age 23!

While my role in the RPG hobby was modest, I wanted to produce a mini-autobiography from the gaming standpoint because I think that there is a tendency to put some of the big guys on pedestals and I am not aware of their ever writing a homely version of their game playing times like I have done. I wanted to show it as accessibly ordinary. The key difference between Bob and I was the incredible breadth of his reading versus my preference for miniatures games and the graphic design.

Everyone has unique interests and you can't really force them. I remember Bob pushing me to do original writing of dungeon/wilderlands settings. He saw my bookshelf and said that I should just use that but at that age I had not read all of those having bought some of them with good intention to read eventually, cherry-picking bits out of some, or, as "what the book would say about me"--superficial, yes, but all so common a reason to buy a number of products. I was a game fan and Bob was a Swords & Sorcery fan.

Now back to the primary interest for many. In November I will make it a point to get as many of the original campaign on a Skype conference call to go over the old days with special attention paid to how we did it back then and the evolution of that. Maybe the familiar voices (and faces if we can get everyone to have a camera on) will help me remember more. So stay tuned!


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Post Posted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:47 pm 
 

I am pleased to report that the printed copy version of the Third Edition of the JG history is "up" at Create Space and can be found at:
Judges Guild's Bob & Bill: A Cautionary Tale

When you click there you can see the description. Please note two things particularly:
1. Photos/scans are black and white
2. The edition is nearly identical to the Kindle version of the Third Edition in respect to text
3. There are some extra photos and scans as I mentioned in an earlier post.

So for those of you who like a physical book, this is a MUCH better value than either of the first 2 editions at Lulu which have less material BUT have larger photos/scans. I suppose you could say that the first 2 editions have a bit more design insofar as the photos are scattered through the book whereas they are mostly gathered into pages of "plates" in the Third Edition similar to how old time books did because they used cheap paper for the text pages and quality paper for the photo pages.

I hope you enjoy it but if you don't feel free to besiege the Tower of the Elephant catapulting any dead animals into my castle courtyard herein. Then I will give you my feeble explanations from the ramparts.  :?


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Post Posted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:58 pm 
 

They say that it will be "up" at Amazon in 3-5 days and might be at like one book store in Ulan Bator in 6-600 weeks. So if you are within an ox cart's ride of Ulan, pop in and advise the store's carrier sneetch to fly off with the ISBN/EAN13 are: 1503071332 / 9781503071339

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Post Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:41 pm 
 

Thoroughly enjoyed the book, Bill! Thanks for sharing this with everyone. It was, in my opinion, too short. Or maybe I just read fast, hard to tell. The "what if" scenario about potential buyers of your share was very intriguing - hard to tell how that scenario could have played out, but fun to think about nonetheless.

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Post Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:58 pm 
 

Thanks Tom! Perhaps it could have been fluffed up to make it longer but at the 3 stages* I wrote it, I just ran out of memories. And I think I hoped that the hundreds of pictures were each "worth a 1000 words" but perhaps with Kindle particularly seem so small that they don't have the impact that they did in the larger editions. All the same, even if the book was a tiny morsel, I'm glad it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Unrelated progress report (but might address the "too short" issue): I have now made overtures to 4 other guys in Bob's campaign (& waiting on 2 replies) to have a Skype video group chat and see if we can stir up specific memories about how we did things back then with specific words on combat/magic systems and their evolution. I think one of the things that would be worth trying to grapple with is Bob's approach. My never having played in another person's campaign, I don't think about style or approach of the Judge any more than the fish is aware of the water he swims in and "breathes". So stayed tuned to this spot because I will try to provide more details asap.

*Underlying the writing was something of the stages of grief and perhaps that held me back initially but memory not getting sharper.

TollHouseGolem wrote in Bill Owen Q&A:Thoroughly enjoyed the book, Bill! Thanks for sharing this with everyone. It was, in my opinion, too short. Or maybe I just read fast, hard to tell. The "what if" scenario about potential buyers of your share was very intriguing - hard to tell how that scenario could have played out, but fun to think about nonetheless.

Tom


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Post Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:52 pm 
 

paging Bill Owen!

Interesting Auction next week over at Bonhams, Thought you would appreciate a look at this!

Important Maritime Paintings and Decorative Art
Bonhams : Important Maritime Paintings & Decorative Arts


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:59 am 
 

Thanks but my budget for naval art acquisition is limited to non-rare South American postage stamps!

Speaking of naval battles in South American waters, we have had a couple of refights of the River Plate battle of 75 years ago. One being with older guys never played wargames before (a success and shown below) and the other younger ones who had diverse gaming backgrounds including FRP.
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Next week I hope to have another such game as there are several who want to try it out. Good to do in the afternoon when the summer sun is strong enough to drive us indoors.


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Post Posted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:50 pm 
 

It's 18 months since I last posted and now I am the one who looks south and sees nothing but Antarctica but it's only 55 degrees out and very rainy right now.

Anyway, I just realized today that it was exactly the 40th anniversary of Bob & I and shaking hands to start our partnership, Judges Guild!


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Post Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 12:21 pm 
 

That is cool.  Currently in the process of acquiring the Judges Guild books for my game collection.  While I never used them back in the day, only discovering them many years later and not actually owning any till recently, I am now about 60% done with my attempt to collect every book (at least 1 printing of it).  A few of the really early ones I will probably have to be happy with later printings, but still been fun searching them out.  About 2 dozen arrive today actually from various sellers :)

Thanks for putting together some great books, I find them quite enjoyable to flip through and really hope to use them in some games in the next year or so as I start to play all the stuff I have been buying over last year!

  

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Post Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 1:13 pm 
 

WyvernLord wrote in Bill Owen Q&A:That is cool.  Currently in the process of acquiring the Judges Guild books for my game collection.  While I never used them back in the day, only discovering them many years later and not actually owning any till recently, I am now about 60% done with my attempt to collect every book (at least 1 printing of it).  A few of the really early ones I will probably have to be happy with later printings, but still been fun searching them out.  About 2 dozen arrive today actually from various sellers :)

Thanks for putting together some great books, I find them quite enjoyable to flip through and really hope to use them in some games in the next year or so as I start to play all the stuff I have been buying over last year!


You're welcome! I had fun for the first 18 months with JG and then as turning my hobby into a two full-time jobs wore on me, I returned to the real world. Of course Bob made most of the initial materials but at the time I did not realize how important the Guildmember submissions would be as his creativity was burning out.


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Post Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:30 am 
 

I wanted to give an update on a few bits of news:


1. You may already be aware of Goodman Games giant Volume 1 of several of JG's early fantasy play aids most notably including Tegel Manor! What you may not know is that I provided some new material for that edition which is more nostalgia than helpful to a D&D campaign: namely a precise plan of our JG offices at the Franklin Mall (which has now been razed and turned to a parking lot)... showing the dreaded Rain Zone.

There's also a Exposé of Wikipedia's inaccuracies about Bob and early days of JG on his bio page. I used to dutifully correct that Wiki article on the strength that "I was there" and the people changing it "weren't". But then I realized that Wiki is based on "sourced" material so I started referring to my published, in-print JG history as source, but they still kept referring to sources that had never interviewed me and possibly not even Bob. So I got tired of it and figured that this section in Goodman's volume would have to be "it".


2. I am moving all my wargame materials to a wordpress blog: Wargame Campaign -- Game Design and there are two JG* related pages there:

Judges Guild & after by Bill Owen -- Wargame Campaign  
...this is the news page where I update what's going on with my wargame activities.

ICD, "Middle Earth": Judges Guild's precursors -- Wargame Campaign  
...this one was posted when I sold the final unique items associated with both the ICD, Middle Earth & JG in July 2013 on eBay. I updated a few things on this page.

This blog will take the place of both g-design.us and the blogger/blogsite.


3. I just passed by my 45th anniversary of becoming a travel agent and if it weren't for that job, I wouldn't have been able to attend or exhibit at as many wargame conventions or meet various gamers around the world. Time marches on and these days I have been working with a Swiss company to do online bookings for our US tours from here in Uruguay.

Back in the early 70s we had no computer and called the airlines directly, calculated fares from a giant loose-leaf 3-hole punch binder adding them up on a mechanical calculator (which went wha-chunka chunka chunk flonk) but being just 17 and lazy I would usually add two columns of figures in my head rather than get up and use the one "adding machine" in the office.

This reminds me of a letter we got from a D&D fan who imagined that our office in 1976 was staffed by perky young women operating what she called Electric Compunters. Bob and I smiled about that as we looked at the D&D Supplements, graph paper and other coffee mug stained piles. Really, with too many perky young women in the office, you would have had a lot fewer JG play aids now!

*One can just click on the JUDGES GUILD category on the lefthand column of the page. Word Press is a lot more user friendly than Google's Blogger/Blogsite so eventually that old blog and the g-design.us domain will disappear in PUFF OF SMOKE.  8O


PS Reset your browser's WINDWALKER SPELL to find yourself at the new JG pages (or prosaically Favorite Bookmark).


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Post Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:41 pm 
 

Thanks for the update! How are things progressing along the Rio De Plata?

Doing good here. Not playing wargames much at the moment. Do have an active D&D group consisting mostly of college kids going at the moment, and managed to attend U-Con in Detroit last November, GaryCon back in March, and Origins in June, so am having my best gaming convention year this year so far, since 2011.

Did score a couple of awesome older games in a used bookstore in Cincinnati recently, Metagamings The Ythri based on the Poul Anderson Sci-Fi book, as well as Strategy & Tactics #70 The Crusades, complete with the game, both together for less than $10! Finally managed to get my hands on a copy of SPI's Strategy I flatpack, for less than $50, and was lucky enough to have SPI's NATO flatpack included for that price as well, from a Texas non-gamer widows auction on E-Bay.


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Post Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:21 pm 
 

Winter has been very mild here with sunny, dry (15mm) and 60-70° in June, then 50-60° and 2-3 days of rain every 10 days in July (177mm). Just 2 nights that got down to 32°. When the sun is out here, we are down to t-shirts when in the olive grove. So we have used only a ton of firewood so far, and just in the evenings.

So before we know it will be spring and likely a warm summer which compared to Belize is a piece of cake because less humid.


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:55 pm 
 

Good to hear from you Bill!  I hadn't heard about the 3rd edition of your book before scrolling backward a bit today.

Have you considered a 4th edition that includes some of the updated biographical material that you've published in the GG Judges Guild archive book?  

Jon Hershberger and I sell copies of the GG and JG materials at GaryCon and the North Texas RPG Con, and would love to be able to stock Judges Guild's Bob & Bill: A Cautionary Tale too.  If you're interested, please shoot me an email at [email protected], and we can work out terms :D

Allan.


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:27 pm 
 

Hi Allan,

I had not considered a 4th edition mainly because of the new material may be pretty thin to base a new edition on. OTOH I have used these new editions as a chance to learn a completely different publishing approach ...because a big part of this, for me, is the interesting challenge of a new format and concept of printing:

Edition #

1. DIY with my super duper MFP (used for travel fliers) that was so far beyond anything that we had access to in JG. JG had no copier ...or printer because we had no computer either! Our most expensive tools were IBM Selectric Typewriters which were close to $800 each. In 1976 that may have been like $3400 now if you believe US inflation statistics (I thing $7000 is more like it). So I signed a contract for about $300/month and could print full color, folded and stapled booklets for pennies of actual paper/ink cost. My first computer was in 1978: an Apple ][+.

2. POD thru Lulu, this giant 'coffee table' (big hard cover) with premium paper stock was really a white elephant with few sales but I enjoyed working on it.

3. POD thru Create Space and Amazon Kindle with the latter being an interesting challenge.

Perhaps I may come up with a new format that makes a 4th edition of special interest to me. And if I had more material from Marc, Craig, Tony and Mark that itself could spur me on. Unfortunately my limited recollections of the period are already on paper.

PS In my weather report I did not mention that the Amazon and I have two thousand more trees to prune so we have appreciated the mild winter. Another little tidbit: did you know Atlantida, a nearby resort town here in Uruguay, is Spanish for Atlantis? So having married and Amazon and living near Atlantis, my fantasy "career" follows me.

grodog wrote in Bill Owen Q&A:Good to hear from you Bill!  I hadn't heard about the 3rd edition of your book before scrolling backward a bit today.

Have you considered a 4th edition that includes some of the updated biographical material that you've published in the GG Judges Guild archive book?  

Jon Hershberger and I sell copies of the GG and JG materials at GaryCon and the North Texas RPG Con, and would love to be able to stock Judges Guild's Bob & Bill: A Cautionary Tale too.  If you're interested, please shoot me an email at [email protected], and we can work out terms :D

Allan.


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:03 pm 
 

Bill Owen wrote in Bill Owen Q&A:I wanted to give an update on a few bits of news:

I am moving all my wargame materials to a wordpress blog: Wargame Campaign -- Game Design and there are two JG* related pages there:

Judges Guild & after by Bill Owen -- Wargame Campaign  
...this is the news page where I update what's going on with my wargame activities.

ICD, "Middle Earth": Judges Guild's precursors -- Wargame Campaign  
...this one was posted when I sold the final unique items associated with both the ICD, Middle Earth & JG in July 2013 on eBay. I updated a few things on this page.

This blog will take the place of both g-design.us and the blogger/blogsite.


Hi Bill,

Hope everything has been going good with family, and with your Olive Tree Gardens! I've been reading the Wargame Campaign Wordpress Blog, and have been enjoying it immensely, Thank You! I'm on the RSS feed there, so whenever you post, the entire article just shows up in my email inbox, and that's pretty sweet! I really need to post more over on my gaming website this year, and will, right after I get back from GaryCon next week.

You plan on running another European Battlefields/Normandy tour this summer?

I'll be traveling down to some of your stomping grounds in Central America this year, visiting Mexico, Honduras, and Belize, taking my family, the wife & kids! Next year, ....Europe...working on visiting Germany & Austria, ...and maybe France too, for a couple of weeks, and then on to the Middle East for a visit with some close family friends in Israel for a couple more weeks, complete with a tour of the holy lands and some of those ancient battlefields.

I have a few questions for you today, not so much about the wargaming, though I would be interested in hearing an AAR on the Battle of the Beach where you were giving your new 1/76 minis a workout. These questions are about D&D, ...not Judges Guild, and the early days there, ...but about your first D&D Campaign. I just learned last week that you had run games in your own campaign setting, set in ancient Wales, and I'd be super interested in learning a bit more about that, ...so much so, in fact, that I wrote up a list of ten questions that I'm hoping you'd be willing to answer for me (and everyone else here too!);

Ten Questions for Bill Owen on his original D&D Campaign.


1. Okay, so It was mentioned that one of your very early D&D campaigns that you ran was a Welsh campaign. Was that primarily historical, or more fantasy... did you allow players to play all of the early D&D character classes including Wizards as well as D&D style Clerics?

2. Do you happen to have any of your old campaign or local game maps from the Welsh Campaign that you would care to share with us?...

3. Was that it's actual name, or did you just call your campaign world Wales?

4. Did Bob Bledsaw ever play in that campaign? If so, what kind of characters did he like playing?

5. Was there any large scale battles?... i.e. where the player characters were only in a small part of the Battle?

6. What was the most common monster found in that campaign world?

7. What was the most exotic monster in that campaign world that the players encountered?

8. Was the world in any way connected to the Judges Guild/ Wilderlands Campaign Setting? Like Portals, or gates and such?....

9. What was the favorite thing that you created, and included, for this campaign world?

10. Is there anything else you would care to share about that first campaign world?

That's it.

In 1977 I made my first campaign world, it was heavily influenced by the Lord of the Rings, and the campaign was centered on a small continent only fifteen hundred miles wide and about eight hundred miles from North to South (basically six five mile scale hex maps 3 wide and 2 high) with two rather large series of mountain ranges running parallel north to south about three hundred miles apart . In the highlands in between these mountain ranges lived the humans, the elves, and the hobbits, and of course, the dwarves lived in the mountain ranges. I remember the hobbit villages all had names like Brandywine, and Brandybuck, and like Thomas's Ford, most of these human, eleven, and dwarven settlements had Old English Names, and not a few names lifted directly from LOTR, which included some Welsh variant names, and Olde German. Like that.

To the South, there were Jungles, and a Great inland Sea, which was filled with pirates, and like many ancient Egyptian settlements. To the west, over the mountains were the charred or ash plains, an evil area about the size of Nebraska, filled with forgotten ruins and plentitudes of many different variations of undead with some demons, and lots of evil warlocks, and evil high priests in citadels and dungeons, and secret lairs. Me and my gaming friends played lots of campaigns continuously from when we started in 1977 until about 1981 or so, when I made my second campaign world.

The second Campaign World called Tamerthya, also had great Jungles to the South, and a great desert in the middle of the continent. It was a huge continent made up of hex maps laid out in a 4x5 pattern, so, as large as Australia, and with about 65% of the land mass of the United States. I can't even remember all of the details about that, right now. I do remember adding in entire areas from favorite fantasy books... On the West coast, for example, was the Grey Towers and the Green Heart of Midkemia, along with Crydee, and Carse, and yes, there were stone teleportal rings that led directly to the Empires of the Petal Throne. Along the East Coast, I had placed most of the world of The Land, from the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeleiver, and I also had  totally ripped off the best ideas from Earthsea (Island Kingdoms in the Southern Oceans), and along the Southern Coast, Tamertheon and Drantos from the planet Tran, from Jerry Pournelle's  Jannissaries series of books. On the North side of the great central desert, Stygia, and then many of the Kingdoms of Hyborea, ending with Cimmeria on the Northern Coastal Mountain Chain. In the middle of all that I threw in anything, and everything else that I dreamt up, and ran games in that campaign setting until 1985. Then I got a divorce, and in a fit of spite, ...my ex-wife sold off my entire gaming collection. I didn't play D&D or wargames for about three years after that, and then started very slowly again. I'd guess almost a hundred people played in those early game worlds. In 1983, I had a campaign going with fourteen regular players, and five or six temp players who liked to play one-shot characters, and there were like five to fifteen additional people that would just show up and sit in on gaming sessions. They didn't even play, they just liked to sit around and watch us all play.


...and built my third campaign setting. Which was begun in 1987, and finished in 1991, and i have that here now, right here in my office.

...anyway, was just curious about your first D&D campaign setting.


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