About Judges Guild: past, present, and future

What is Judges Guild?
Judges Guild is a small game publisher in the business of creating and selling roleplaying game supplements, periodicals and related material.

When did you start the business?
In 1974, I (Bob Bledsaw) was a stereo systems designer for GE. I found out that GE was closing up in Decatur and I did not wish to move. I realized how much effort it took to run an active campaign and decided I could make a business of it. I started Judges Guild in July 1975, in partnership with Bill Owen. We put up $160 each to pay for printing the first City-State maps, rolled them up, and took them to GenCon to sell. Judges Guild was incorporated in 1976.

How big was Judges Guild?
At our peak, we employed 42 people and had over 250 products in print.

What happened to you?
Economic conditions in the 1980's caused a major shakeout in the RPG industry. Distributors and hobby shops went out of business, many of them owing money to Judges Guild. We did not go bankrupt, but we did lose our building and had no money to publish more products. So we had no choice but to close our doors.

Why have you decided to bring the company back today?
The growth of the Internet allows us to reach the customers directly. It is now possible to run Judges Guild without having to depend on a big building and a lot of people in the same place. And, looking at the state of the role playing games industry, we think that people need what we do.

Is there anything I can do?
Of course! We are always looking for submissions for Pegasus magazine and for future products. You can find the Pegasus Writers' Guidelines there. Guildmembers can also contribute ideas to the Sharebooks and everyone can participate on our forums.

What is a Guildmember, anyway?
A Guildmember is someone who has a Guildmember Subscription. That's the short version. The important part is that Guildmembers have never been merely customers or subscribers, but rather participants and contributors as well. This website, and particularly the Guildhall, will be yet another means to that end.

Are you going to be reprinting my favorite old product?
The Revised City State of the Invincible Overlord was released in 1999. New versions of the Treasury of Archaic Names and the Dark Tower were released through RPG Realms. The Player's Guide to the Wilderlands has been released by Necromancer Games, and they are hard at work on an updated version of the City-State of the Invincible Overlord. There are many more re-releases possible; which will be next is dependant on demand and, as always, financing.

Will there be new products?
Of course! To start with, we have relaunched Pegasus magazine. Pegasus 15 is available now for download and we are taking submissions for Pegasus 16. Other new products are planned, both electronic and paper.

Why did you name the company "Judges Guild"?
It was founded in order to act as sort of a clearinghouse for RPG Judges and to gather together diverse opinions. Our game products have never been a one-way street, from the publisher to the player. Our writers are first and foremost players.

Why "Judges", not Gamemasters, Referees, etc?
In the early days, when we were just evolving from wargaming, the concept of "game master" meant the person who organized a big wargame and kept it running smoothly. We wanted something that implied wisdom, something of a higher level, to describe the person who creates and administers an entire game world.

Why don't you put more detailed descriptions in your products?
Our experience has showed that Judges want ideas and background material. They want products that spark their imaginations instead of taking all of the creativity out of their hands. We provide a framework that gives the players and Judges the freedom of action to build their own world. We think that the "read the boxed text to your players" style of adventure gives the Judge less freedom and flexibility. A computer can do that. A human Judge needs flexibility, not restriction.

What's with the website move?
We moved to a host that gives us more bandwidth, more space, faster data transfer, more options, and a lower monthly fee. In short, we're getting a lot more for less. At the same time, the website was redesigned by the person who created the original Judges Guild website back in 1999. It has been greatly expanded, adding everything from new downloads to forums. So now you can expect more than ever from Judges Guild online.

What's the difference between judgesguild.net and judgesguild.com
They are owned by two different companies. Judges Guild itself owns judgesguild.net, where you are right now. This is the official Judges Guild website and home for the overall JG fan community. It centers around the classic Judges Guild products. Necromancer Games owns judgesguild.com. That is the support site for Necromancer's licensed Judges Guild products converted for the d20 game system. They have a lot of great content, forums for discussion of the d20 products, and other great stuff.