Thursday, September 19, 2019

Commentaries On Judge's Guild's "City State of the Invincible Overlord" By Bill Owen and Bob Bledsaw With A Castles & Crusades Twist

"The City-State of the Invincible Overlord was the first fantasy RPG setting ever published (1976). It features a huge walled city that is ruled by the eponymous (lawful evil) Overlord and the surrounding environs that are full of adventure possibilities. What was so striking at the time that it was first released was the incredible level of detail that the product contains. Hundreds of streets are mapped, named, and populated with shops, temples, inns, taverns, brothels, houses, barracks, and the like. Hundreds of NPCs are listed along with their stats and rumors they know (for starting adventures). The history and political system of the City State is described along with relevant laws the PC's must abide by while inside the city. It includes dungeon levels beneath the City State and detailed information for nearby adventure / dungeon sites: the dwarven fortress "Thunderhold" and the "Sunstone Caverns".
The City State was designed for Dungeons & Dragons (Original Edition) but was not officially licensed for D&D until 1978. The license ended in 1983. It was printed many times over the life of Judges Guild and changed in size and configuration in subsequent editions." 
From the RpgGeek Entry here

There are times when I really need to start thinking about fading into the background of the OSR for a nano second. Tonight's been one of those nights & when this happens I go & do a bit of research. In this case it was Judge's Guild's City State of the Invincible Overlord  .  City State of the Invincible Overlord was first released at Gen Con IX in August 1976.[3] City State of the Invincible Overlord launched Judges Guild as a company, and was the centerpiece of its Wilderlands of High Fantasy campaign setting, the first licensed and published Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting"

I was sorting through a thread on Dragon's foot when I came across this little gem from poster The Invincible Overlord was mostly lawful Evil. However he would do good or benevolent deeds once in a great while, especially if it would strengthen his rule. Slavery as well as Torture, Whippings or Public Floggings, Gauntlets, and being Impressed, or Drafted into Service, is all legal in the City State of the Imperial Overlord by his decree. Torture aswell asmost of the other punishments herein doesn't make the Lawful Neutral playbook.

My CSIO Booklet I in the Background Guidelines on page I-16 describes him thusly;

The Overlord himself is Lawful/Evil leaning towards Good and employs all alignment types in his efforts to maintain a firm power base. The strict enforcement of laws and lack of religious bigotry has widened the Overlord's Power. There is a 16% chance per week of an emergency tax of 2 Gp per LVL on Nobles, 1 Gp per LVL on Gentlemen and Merchants, and 1SP per LVL on all others. In addition, the Overlord's Secret Police (called the Black Lotus) pervades all social levels to the extent that any organized rebellion will come to his attention (1 in 6 chance per day) no matter how secret.

I won't describe all the awesome magic and weapons the Overlord carries, but will mention that his personal bodyguard includes a Mind Flayer, a Beholder, and a Balrog, as well as two Dwarven Myrmidon Champions, three Hell Hounds and in the Throne Room, an Iron Golem. None of this sounds very Lawful Neutral to me.

The Summer Palace,is of course guarded by all LG creatures."

Any military commander that travels into the City-State with an army of 200 or more without a direct invitation of the Invincible Overlord is automatically guilty of high treason and will be arrested and/or assassinated depending on the circumstances."
Another poster on the thread had said that the Invincible Overlord sounded like a stone cold bad ass. And I have to agree with that sentiment.  While Water Deep from the Forgotten Realms claims to be a hive of scum & villainy, the city state was/is the real deal. A campaign setting with everything a dungeon master needs to set his original Dungeons  & Dragons or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games.
And another thing that I didn't realize is that James Mishler did a whole host of conversion & new material for Castles & Crusades for 
the Wilderlands of High Adventure. These were authorized & approved by Judge's Guild for the Castles & Crusades game. 

Basically this is making me think about a 
 Judge's Guild's City State of the Invincible Overlord powered by a Castles & Crusades engine. For the moment this is only a fleeting thought on my brain & one which I'm filing away in the back of my lizard brain for handy reference later on. The advantages of a Castles & Crusades fueled campaign are many including pulling out older Judge's Guild material into the mix. James Mishler is a solid writer & game designer so the advantages weight on my mind a bit.

There are a myriad of reasons why
 Judge's Guild's City State of the Invincible Overlord powered by a Castles & Crusades engine would work:
  1. A huge number of JG's beloved & solid products to pull from 
  2. Quickly & easily convertable number of supplements & adventures that are beloved by OSR & old school players. 
  3. Many of the Judge's Guild products are easily converted over to a Sword & Sorcery theme with a back bone of AD&D style high fantasy on the fringes. 
  4. Many of the Judge's Guild products are out in the rpg wilds & easy to get as pdfs and relatively unknown by the majority of 5th edition players. 
  5. A stable & easy to reach group of players & audience 
  6. AD&D goes easily with Castles & Crusades 
  7.   Judge's Guild's City State of the Invincible Overlord is bad ass & easily clampable with Greyhawk, Blackmoor, & even.. Mystara. But Mystara could even be pushing it unless I use the AD&D Mystara material. 
  8. Even Astonshing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is convertable to this sort of a campaign so win/win in my book. 
  9. There is so much to explore in Wilderlands of High Fantasy & it will take years. 
  10. Prep time is cut in half with this sort of a campaign. 

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