Friday, April 12, 2024

Writing to Inklings

So, thanks to the Tolkien Society (thanks, Asli), I now have the link to my Oxonmoot paper, recounting my meetings and correspondence with a half dozen or so Inklings or what we may call Inklings-adjacent figures. Included are Humphrey Havard, Owen Barfield, David Cecil, Mrs. Tangye Lean,  J.  I. M. Stewart, and Christopher Wiseman. 

Also, revealed at last is the history behind the notorious 'Nerd Nyren'.

 Included are slides of some previously unpublished photos. Enjoy.

--John R

current reading: uncollected and unfinished ghost stories by M. R. James  (re-reading) 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Judges Guild List

Judges Guild list



So, I like to make lists. 


In part this is probably part of my endless, and essentially unsuccessful, efforts to get organized. But for me it's also a way to get to know the material, on a word-by-word level: to spot connections not otherwise apparent. 


Anyway, seeing the new Judges Guild expanded reprints at GaryCon last week* reminded me of the Judges Guild list I put together a few months back, which I thought I'd share.  It differs from the listing on Wikipedia in that those are alphabetical whereas mine is chronological; my list also emphasizes authors. It's a working document, not as complete or polished as one, now lost, that I did back in Lake Geneva days. But I hope some may find it useful, or at the least enjoy a glimpse back into our hobby's sometimes eccentric roots. **


—John D. Rateliff 

March 25th 2024


*More on this one, my most recent publication, in another post.


**If nothing else it shows just how much Judges Guild churned out at the rate of about a module a month over the course of their relatively brief run. The only two other rpg companies to match them on this I think wd be Mongoose in the early days of 3e/d20, and TSR itself in its later Lake Geneva days.




14. Ready Ref Sheets. For Use w. DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. (1978)

            Second Edition: revised, enlarged, in booklet form


#20. The Judges Guild Journal.   Issue 20 (April/May)


48. Wilderlands of High Fantasy—Bill Owen & Bob Bledsaw, 

            w. Marc Summerlott, Debra Bledsaw, & Norma Gledsaw. (1977) 

            six mapsheets.   back cover = City State hex.


52. The Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor—'concepted' by Marc Summerlott. designed by Mike Petrowsky, Craig Fogel, Bob Bledsaw, Mark Summerlott, Bill Owen, & Tony Floren (1981)

            [2 editions]


55. Gen Con IX Dungeon—Bob Blake (?1980).

            Baldemar Castle & Staff of Albalon

            Temple of Diklah & Helm of Valasdum


59. Village Book I: Campaign Hexagon Sub-system. 'guidelines & villages on numbered hex grids'


60. Castle Book I: Campaign Hexagon Sub-system (universal supplement).  n.d.


62. Revised Edition CITY STATE OF THE INVINCIBLE OVERLORD—Bledsaw & Owen. 94p bklet + mapsheets.


#64. The Judges Guild Journal.  issue10 June/July 1978.  [2 copies]


68. War Cry—Dave Petrowsky. new 2nd edition 'Emperor' series


75. Judges Guild Referee Screen.  TRAVELLER.    green screen.


78. The Traveller Logbook—Dave Sering (n.d.).  TRAVELLER


80. Of Skulls and Scrapfaggot Green—Bob Blake (?1977) [GenCon X tournament]


87. Character Codex—Paul Jaquays (1978)


88. DARK TOWER—Paul Jaquays


93. Under the Storm Giant's Castle—ThomasMcCloud (1979)


95. Survival of the Fittest—Michael Mayeau (1979)  solitaire dungeon 


105. Drakne Station—Bill Paley. (1979?)   TRAVELLER.    


107. Broken Tree Inn—Rudy Kraft  RUNEQUEST


113. The Book of Treasure Maps —Paul Jaquays (1979)


[113. The Book of Treasure Maps II—Daniel Hauffe & Rudy Kraft]


114. The Maltese Clue—Paul Karczag (1979)


117. Temple of Ra Accursed by Set—Thomas & Edward McCloud (1979)  


140. Castle Book II. (?1979)


[150] CITY STATE OF THE WORLD EMPEROR. 1980. book  +mapsheet. 

            —Creighton & Bob Bledsaw, w. Rudy Kraft & Clayton Miner.  The City of Spices, 

            • Judges Map (Campaign Map Six, w. Gheu lost Island) 

            • Players Cartogtaphy. (w.Gigabolt Mountains

            • Color City Map

            • SHOPS

            • CITY


160. The Judges Guild Journal. issue #19 (February/March).


180.  The Dungeoneer. issue #16  (March/April 1980).


200. The Judges Guild Journal. issue #20 (April/May).


220. Legendary Duck Tower and other tales. Paul Jaquays & Rudy Kraft. sw.


230. The Dungeoneer. #17 (May/June 1980). interview w. Greg Stafford.  sw.


240. The Fantasy Cartographer's Field Book. 'complete fantasy mapping system'


250. CHIVALRY & SORCERY. Gamesmaster's Shield.  <sw, therefore n.d., no author>


260. Portals of Torsh.  Rudy Kraft. 1980.  lizardmen.  with detached color cover/products list


270. Spies of Lightelf.  Bryan Hinnen.  Wilderness Book Two. 1980. 


280. THE JUDGES GUILD JOURNAL. #21 (June/July 1980).


            ?Mythlogy <boardgame: advertised in DUNGEONEER #17 p 31> 

            ?Witch's Caldron <[Ral Partha set]]: advertised in DUNGEONEER #17 p 34> 


300. Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches.  <sw: adv. bk & mapsheet>



            [At about this point, loses TSR License]



310. City of Lei Tabor. Paul Nevins & Bill Faust  [RUNEQUEST]]  (cover credited to 1979


330. Tancred. Dave Sering. [TRAVELLERS, Ley Sector 1232]  (1980)


340. Ley Sector. (maps and booklets). no designer credited, art credited to Ken Simpson.  (1980).


400. The Toughest Dungeon in the World.  Ken St. Andre. (covers 1980). [TUNNELS & TROLLS]


410. The Astrogators Chartbook. 'complete science fiction mapping system'.  1980.


420. The Unknown Gods. by Bob Bledsaw, Mark Holmer, Paul Jaquays, & Mike Petrowsky. 1980


430.  [SUPERHERO 2044]  Hazard. by Robert Bingham (n.d.) [IPSP.ISIS Official Map 7]]


440. Temple Book I  <sw> 


[?470] or [?400]. THE DUNGEONEERS JOURNAL issue #25.(Feb/March 1981


480. Fifty Starbases.  (1981)    TRAVELLER.


490. Glimmerdrift Reaches  [TRAVELLER]  [sw]


500. Doom of the Singing Star  [shrinkwrapped w. Map & Guidebook]   TRAVELLER


530. Ravenscrag — Scott Fulton, assisted by Dave Sering & Steve Crow. 1981. Universal 

            supplement.     [came shrinkwrapped w. map pad (4 maps).]


††540. Nightmare Maze of Jigresh.  EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE.  




• The First Fantasy Campaign. by Dave Arneson. 1977

• City State Campaign Map One. 1977.  

            "Cartography to the Wilderlands about the City State"   (includes Brezal Isle)

• Tegal Manor: Judge's Map 

• Tegal Manor: Players' Map

• Barbarian Altanis: Campaign Map Two  (1977)

   Valley of the Ancients: Campaign Map Three (inid.)  [winedarksea]

• Thunderhold: Castle of the Dwarven King (1976)

• Lenap Campaign: Map Ten (Players' Map)/

            verso = Elphand Lands: Map Nine (Player's Map)  (1978) 

• Mouth of Roglaroon. Brezal Isle.  back blank. 

             City State just below center.  see also 48 

• blank hex sheets.


550. Field Guide to Encounters. by Dragon's Byte. 1982.  two volumes.


560. Portals of Irontooth.  Rudy Kraft. 1981.


570. Lara's Tower.  Kevin Nunn. 1981. 


xxx.  PEGUSUS. Premier Issue.  interview w. Dave Arneson, article on Disease. 


620. PEGUSUS #3. (1981).


630. Dragon's Hall. Jim Simon. 1981. 


640. Marooned on Ghostring. Walter & Dorothy Bledsaw.  nd. [TRAVELLER]


660. Zienteck. Mark Harmon. 1981. 


670. House on Hangman's Hill. Jon Matttson. 1981.


680. The Tower of Indomitable Circumstance.  Corey Cole.  1981


690.  Masters of the Mind. Charles M. Wilson.  1981.


700. Restormel.  Scott Fulton.


710. Amycus Probe. Dave Sering. 1981  [TRAVELLER]


720. Rogue Moon of Spinstorme.  Dave Sering. 1981. [TRAVELLER]


730. Simba Safari. Dave Sering. 1981. [TRAVELLER]


740. Tarkin's Landing.  Dave Sering. nd. unlicensed 'science fiction suppplement'


750. The Illhiedrin Book.  Daniel Hauffe.  <sw>.  1981 


760. Maranantha-Alkahest Sector.  Dave Sering. 1981   [TRAVELLER]


770. Portals of Twilight.  Rudy Kraft.  nd <sw>


790. F'Dech Fo's Tomb. Scott Fulton. 1981 


800. Glory Hole Dwarven Mine.  Edward G. Mortimer. 1981.


820 (1). Heroic Expeditions. Edward R. G. Mortimer. 1981


820 (2). Fantastic Personalities. Bill Paley & Edward R. G. Mortimer.


840. Prey of Darkness. Edward R. G. Mortimer. 1982.


850. Rat on a Stick. George R. Paczolt. 1982. [TUNNELS & TROLLS] 


880. Corsairs of the Turku Waste. Dave Sering


890. Magebird Quest. Dave Sering. [DRAGONQUEST]


900. Heroes and Villians. Edward R. G. Mortimer. [DRAGONQUEST] 


940. Waspwinter. Walter & Dorothy Bledsaw. nd. [TRAVELLER]


960. Darkling Ship. Dave Sering. nd.  [TRAVELLER]


990. The Book of Treasure Maps III. Edward E. G. Mortimer. nd.


1010. Shield Maidens of Sea Rune. Bryan Hinnen & Dan Hauffe.1982. Wilderness Book Three.


1030. Pirates of Hagrost. Bryan Hinnen & Dan Heuffe. nd. Wilderness Book Four.  


1040. Wondrous Weapons. Joseph Weingand. 1982. 


1090. Witches Court Marshes. Bryan Hinnen, Mark Holmer, & Joe Wiengard. 1982.


1100. Caves and Caverns.  John Mortimer.  <circa 1982?>


1130. Druids of Doom. Bill Pixley & Diane Mortimer. 1982. 


1140. Demons of Dundurn. Derek Watson. pt 1 Rood of Parth Series. 


1180. Jungle of Lost Souls—Glenn Rahman (1983).  TUNNELS & TROLLS. solitaire adventure.



            Castle Thrax. Paul Burdick (1985)  [DM-less. Spellbinders Games]


            Tegal Manor. Bill Webb & Thom Wilson, w. Gabor Lux (Frog Gods 2019, 212p hc)


Wednesday, March 27, 2024

My Favorite Story from GaryCon

 So, my favorite story from those I heard at GaryCon, and also the shortest, came from David S. LaForce, a.k.a. DIESEL. Diesel was one of the original three artists who defined TSR's style back in the late seventies and early eighties through their work  on the PLAYER'S HANDBOOK, MONSTER MANUAL, and DUNGEON MASTER'S GUIDE, the other two being David C. Sutherland (DCS)* and Dave Trampier (TRAMP).

Anyway, the story  went like this. 

We were at his booth in the Dealers' room talking about people (designers and artists and editors) from the early days. Most of these I know only as names among the credits but whom he actually knew, and in many cases worked with. One such person, he told me, only worked at TSR for one day. His name was Dave Dorman, who was hired as a staff artist but then had second thoughts. He showed up for his first day of work, a Monday, and told them he'd changed his mind. Then he turned around and drove back to Florida.

I mentioned this story to other ex-TSR folk there at the con, several of whom knew the name, though they'd didn't know of his TSR connection. I did a little checking, and found he went on to a successful career in graphic novels So TSR's loss was comic books' gain I guess.

--John R.

*who I think was TSR employee number six

Thursday, March 21, 2024

GaryCon Begins

So, we're in Lake Geneva and all settled in. Yesterday from 5 to 8 was check in and, while in line, we ran into the first of what shd be many encounters with familiar faces from Lake Geneva days; Ed Stark, Jeff Grubb, Skip Williams, and Michele Carter, plus brief hellos to a half dozen or so. 

I picked up what looks to be an interesting documentary on dvd: THE DREAMS IN GARY'S BASEMENT. And speaking of basements, through a contact of Janice's we got some pictures of what the old TSR building on Sheridan Springs Road looks like inside now.

Today it's a late start, in hopes that starting the con well-rested will make for a better con experience. My first scheduled event, TOWER OF DARK SORCERY, is for the Middle-earth rpg, so it'll be unfamiliar rules along with what shd be v. familiar setting. It's at five o'clock to eleven tonight, so there's plenty of time to see folks and see what the Dealer's Room might be like.

But first, a late breakfast to start things off. 

--John R.

--current reading: M. R. James' THE FIVE JARS (re-reading) and light fare on the Kindle.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Here in Lake Geneva

So, now we're back in Lake Geneva, in time to settle in before the GaryCon* festivities begin. There will be much rolling of polyhedral dice in the days to come. I'm signed in for two events. First, a long session for THE ONE RING, the Tolkien-based rpg, which I've never actually played before, though I have seen it played. Second is a return to Hommlet sequel. Other events I was too late signing up for or cdn't make fit in the schedule, like the Castle Amber** and a Call of Cthulhu adventure that sounded like it had a good set-up.*** 

And in addition to the games is the looking forward to catching up with fellow co-Workers back in TSR days.

Looking forward to it.

--John R.

*One of the few places I can think of where "Then I rolled a two and a five and took Irkust" is a meaningful statement.

  **I actually worked on one of these, back in the day (MARK OF AMBER, circa 1995).

***It's set in a lighthouse, which sounds promising.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Farewell to Jim Ward

 Just heard the sad news that Jim Ward, who was my boss most of the time I was at TSR, has died.

I hadn't seen him in a number of years but had hoped I'd run into him at this weekend's GaryCon, where he was one of the guests. 

Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

The Delicate Art

 So, thanks to Doug A.  for sending me a piece that recently (Febr 28th) appeared in the NEW YORKER, about the increasing role constructed languages play in today's movies and series: "Dune and the Delicate Art of Making Fictional Languages"  by Manvir Singh. Singh not only provides a good survey of the rise of conlang and its current ubiquity but in the process shows the way Tolkien's use of invented languages set the standard for today's fantasy and science fiction. And in doing so shows yet another way in which Tolkien was ahead of his time. 


To show just how far we've come in sixty years, compare Tolkien's statement that THE LORD OF THE RINGS was essentially "an essay in 'linguistic esthetic' " (Reilly.136) with the abrupt dismissal of any such thought by early Inklings scholar R. J. Reilly, for whom the mere suggestion was absurd.Reilly refuses to even take Tolkien's words seriously:



"No one ever exposed the nerves 

and fibers of his being 

in order to make up a language;

it is not only insane but unnecessary" 




Despite Reilly's confidence, with the benefit of decades of seeing Tolkien's ideas at work in theory and in practice, there seems nothing any more odd in creating languages than composing music or working crossword puzzles. 


People like to say 'Tolkien wd have loved this' or, more often, 'Tolkien is rolling in his grave' --a habit we shd resist when we can. But I have to admit to a bit of envy at seeing there's a biopic coming out this summer that creates a fictional encounter between C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud.  I'd love to hear and see what an encounter (say a one-act play) between Tolkien and some of his fellow language-creators wd have been like. Maybe somewhere down the track someone will be inspired to put together a JRRT-meets-RIchard Plotz play or film. I'd love to see it --though I have to admit my philological skills are miniscule and I suspect like most of the other attendees I probably wdn't be able to follow their discussion. But it's nice to think .  . . 


--John R. 




"Tolkien and the Fairy Story (1963), collected in Isaacs & Zimbardo, TOLKIEN & THE CRITICS (1968).