Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Regarding Robert Bledsaw I and Bob's Legacy

Robert Bledsaw I (herein “Bob,” the only one worthy of the name) would not have put up with any of the filth his son and grandson cleave to, and would be ashamed and heartbroken to know what they have become.

In the 10 years of my friendship with Bob we spoke not only of games and gaming, but also of life, death, philosophy, politics… the full spectrum of human life. And I know he had no truck with any of his son and grandson’s beliefs. He was a gentle, kind soul, wishing harm to none and good toward all.

And so, I have chosen not to allow the gross moral and ethical failings of his son and grandson to taint Bob and his legacy.

After all, Judges Guild is not Bob’s Legacy.

Bob’s Legacy lives in every fantasy role-playing game campaign; is reflected in the glint in the eye of every player-character who sought fame and riches in strange cities and fantastic lands.

True, Blackmoor was the First Fantasy Campaign, and Greyhawk the second. But it was the City State of the Invincible Overlord and the Wilderlands of High Fantasy that spawned or most greatly influenced the development of Dungeons & Dragons campaigns at thousands of tables over the last five decades.

Far more campaigns, I’d wager, than even Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms.

And most folks never even know it.

In the early days, Blackmoor and Greyhawk were merely mysterious, legendary names – the Temple of the Frog all but a myth. Far more player characters in those days explored the streets and alleys, palaces and dives of the City State than ever even saw the walls of Greyhawk; far more adventurers earned fame (or infamy) and won riches (or death) in the wilds of the Wilderlands than ever explored the forests and swamps of Blackmoor.

From the judges who ran those games to the players whose characters experienced the City State and the Wilderlands, Bob’s creative “DNA” spread out to become the grandfather of far more campaigns and the ancestor of more adventurers than anyone can ever count.

No two damn fools can ever destroy that Legacy!

The Wilderlands has survived worse; the Invincible Overlord is, after all, invincible for a reason.

And so, while I will not have anything to do with Judges Guild so long as it is owned, operated, or benefits unrepentant Nazi- and Confederate- sympathizing, Holocaust-denying, Anti-Semitic Racist Misogynistic Dominionists, I will not let that stop me from enjoying Bob’s Legacy.

And that includes the City State, the Wilderlands, and everything in between.

Fortunately, my collection of classic Judges Guild materials is one of the few series of lines I own that remains essentially intact; and of course, I have almost 40 years of my own developments to fall back on, when I encounter lacunae in the canon (such as one can say there is “canon” for the City State and the Wilderlands).

Others may not be so fortunate. To you, I say, seek out those who run a City State and/or Wilderlands campaign; join in a campaign exploring Tegel Manor or the Glory Hole Dwarven Mine.

Take a sheet of blank hex paper and build a world; create a new region of the Wilderlands or generate something entirely new!

Judges, let your dreams run riot, build empires of imagination; players, seek out the rich kingdoms of your judge’s world, shining jewels each and every one, and crush them under your sandaled feet!

Take Bob’s Legacy and run with it; expand and build upon it; share your creations and discoveries; but above all, take what you find, and make Bob’s Legacy your own.

Have fun.

That’s what Bob always wanted you to do.


  1. I am so heartbroken over this, but, like you, have plenty of JG items that does not funnel any $ back to these awful heirs.

    Verbosh and the Wilderlands were the first things me and my 11 year old friends wondered and imagined in. They can't ruin that.

  2. Hear, hear! Glad to hear about the original Bob. I can continue to introduce players to the Wilderlands without giving the bad apples one cent.

  3. Thank you for speaking up in a positive and encouraging way.

  4. Well said. And thanks for writing this. I know I found myself wondering about Bob with both sons like this.

  5. Well-said, as always, James! The creators of Judges Guild adventures and content are not the current owners of the IP, and their works should not fall to the wayside in the wake of the inept, ignorant, and bigoted stances of the current management.

    Jon Hershberger has made the Wilderlands come alive in our campaigns over the past 15 years, and I've certainly enjoyed treading the streets of CSIO, Tarantis, Viridistan, and across the rest of region!


  6. Thank you so much for this.

    Heartbroken over the developments from the last couple days as JG has meant so much to me. It’s good to know this is not representative of Bob.

  7. I actually blogged about this topic a couple years ago, and it was the Bledsaws in part that motivated my post. Rather than repeating my argument here, I'll just link back to my original post: https://themichlinguide.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/voting-with-your-wallet-or-public-vs-private-a-guide-to-consumer-ethics/

  8. Well said! I'll of course continue to run Wilderlands games with my collection, until I am no longer able to, and your experiences match mine with Bob Sr. He would have approved of any of the conduct of his son, and grandson. I don't think he would have left JG to them if he had known.

  9. I was almost completely certain that this was the case, but living on the far side of the world does makes it difficult to be absolutely sure. So thanks for the confirmation about one of the heroes of the early days of the hobby.

    Although sadly I think that the infamous last Kickstarter pretty much put the nail in the coffin of Judges Guild as a publisher (as opposed to the owner of a valuable and historic IP to be licensed to others).

    It's sad, but I understand why no creative or licensee really wants to be associated with this polemic, even at a distance. [Calls to burn product on the other hand is just ridiculous stupidity, especially since they already have the money from them; just don't buy any more of them.]

  10. I am wondering about the possibility of submitting a petition of sorts to BobS I and IIo sell the rights to their fathers material and the judges Guild products that predated THEIR FATHER'S PASSINGis passing to a uninvolved third party as a full divestiture with no royalties for their connections or control or input, as a way of allowing his legacy to continue (that could be limited to only offering pre-existing products and material, rather than creating new judges Guild material)but this may be a way to preserve a significant portion of the history of the hobby.

    Personally I do not own any of the judges Guild material and I don't see wishing to acquire any in the future, but as an amateur historian of the game and generally an archivist type person it seems to me that preserving Bledshaw's legacy as a reference point for younger newer players who could not imagine some of the subtleties and nuances of the earlier versions of the game and its origins, would be a good thing.

    The alternative would be that if one of them happened to have "The city state of the Invincible Overlord" and their friends asked about it, they would reply "Oh this is some of that stuff by the Nazi Dungeons & Dragons guy, it's cool isn't it? It's a world totally without Jews!".



    There is just so much wrong with that image.


    Darryl R Taylor ( I can't seem to use my Google account to post this for some reason)

  11. Thank you so much for helping to clear Bob Sr's name. He was not deserving of his son's & gs's hatred & would be SO APPALLED by their actions!

  12. While I only met and gamed with the Bob once during your quick C&C Gen Con game, he seemed a decent chap. As such as I was put aback when I read the statements his heirs had made. Thanks for putting me at ease. Whatever Wilderlands material I bought will have to be it as I can't justify financially supporting such anti-semitic individuals as the current owners of the JG IP. Hopefully, new owners will come about some day.