City State of the Invincible Overlord
City State of the Invincible Overlord is a fantasy role-playing game supplement first published by Judges Guild in 1976. It was the first published fantasy role-playing game city setting, designed for use with Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), and officially approved for use with D&D from 1976 through 1983. It was later republished under license by Necromancer Games.
Development and release
Bob Bledsaw and Bill Owen founded Judges Guild in 1976 to sell subscriptions to gamemasters, but they needed a real product to get things going, so they began work on a large map of Bledsaw's City State of the Invincible Overlord. They got this first product done just in time for Gen Con IX (1976).:186-187 A listing of cumulative sales from 1981 shows that City State of the Invincible Overlord sold over 40,000 units.:200
City State of the Invincible Overlord was designed by Bob Bledsaw with the assistance of Bill Owen, and was inspired by Bledsaw's own Dungeons & Dragons campaign. City State of the Invincible Overlord was first released at Gen Con IX in August 1976.
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.
From 1987 to 1989, Judged Guild licensed a City State of the Invincible Overlord line to Mayfair Games. Early in 1999 Judges Guild, led by Bob Bledsaw, returned on the web and began selling original Judges Guild products, including a new printing of their City State of the Invincible Overlord (1999).:205
In June 2002 Judges Guild announced a new partnership with Necromancer Games, who would release Judges Guild products starting in 2003. They released large collectors' editions editions of City State of the Invincible Overlord (2004) and Wilderlands of High Fantasy (2005).:206
The City State of the Invincible Overlord setting itself was a single city designed to be both as a base for campaigning, as well as a seed for city-based adventures. A second product, Wraith Overlord, explored the city's subterranean cellars, sewers and catacombs.
The City State of the Invincible Overlord setting was used as a home-base for characters created by Judges Guild in other products. Attention was also paid to synchronising the setting with broader adventure possibilities: a northern Dwarven fortress city Thunderhold with an associated "dungeon" area; and a series of four modules written to explore areas adjacent to the route from the City State of the Invincible Overlord setting to Thunderhold, as well as a fifth which was to introduce a "witch" NPC character class.
The City-State has gone through several editions:
- Campaign Installment I (1976), 16-page booklet.
- Guide to the City State (1977), 56-page booklet.
- Revised City State of the Invincible Overlord (1978–1980, three printings), 80-page book.
- Revised City State of the Invincible Overlord (1981–1983, three printings), 96-page book.
- Revised City State of the Invincible Overlord (1999), 96-page book.
- City State of the Invincible Overlord (2004), 288-page hardcover book, published by Necromancer Games.
Don Turnbull reviewed City State of the Invincible Overlord for White Dwarf #3. Turnbull commented: "The result is something of a triumph, a labour of love (and considerable headache) for the designer and coordinator. It should be welcome in any fantasy gamer's collection."
- Shannon Appelcline (2014). Designers & Dragons: The '70s. Evil Hat Productions. ISBN 978-1-61317-075-5.
- Owen, Bill (2011). Judges Guild's Bob & Bill. Top right of page: Lulu.com. p. 17.
- Ewalt, David M. (2013). Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It. Scribner. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-4516-4052-6.
- Owen, Bill (2011). Judges Guild's Bob & Bill. Upper left of page: Lulu.com. p. 20.
- Turnbull, Don (Oct–Nov 1977). "Open Box". White Dwarf. Games Workshop (3): 13.
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