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Monday, June 24, 2013

What Are the Best Judges Guild Products?

Serious question.

I have a handful of Judges Guild stuff in print (Rat on a Stick, some RQ stuff, a EotPT adventure) and I'm now checking out the Wilderlands in PDF.

What's the stuff I should be setting my sights on?


  1. #1) Dark Tower
    #2) Caverns of Thracia

    1. Came here to suggest these things.

      There are also several books of maps (treasure maps, villages, castles, and temples) that are useful if like me you're not good at coming up with that sort of thing on the fly.

      The ready ref sheets are also interesting, sort of a proto-Dungeon Master's Guide.

    2. These are my recommendations, too. They are among the best adventures ever written for D&D and are excellent examples of how to design dynamic dungeon environments. Paul Jaquays' elaborate encounter tables turn the dungeons into more than just static encounters, but living adventure settings.

  2. City State of the Invincible Overlord is my go-to city
    Caverns of Thracia is an excellent mini-megadungeon
    Tegel Manor is a great fun-house
    Book of Treasure Maps has some nice drop-in adventures

  3. CSWE is brilliant but hard to find. CSIO a must. Third choice is Book of Treasure Maps 1. Most overlooked on their own merits would be the Bryan Hinnen books, especially Shield Maids of Sea Rune.

    The one thing I would suggest is to gently ignore the question of whether a product is "part of the Wilderlands Campaign" or a standalone title. It's all a vague continuum. Recognize that early on and you'll avoid frustration down the road.

  4. Most definitely "Dark Tower" and "Caverns of Thracia". Anything by Paul Jaquays. About the only one considered a stinker was "Under the Storm Giant's Castle", but even that has its fans. Also remember these are all from the "early" days of RPGness and are sometimes rather quaint (or "nostalgic" for us old-timers).

    If you haven't checked it yet, Tha Acaeum has a good list of products here:

  5. I answered this tersely on G+ but I want to be clearer here.

    Ready Ref Sheets contains most of the non-specific tables from CSIO, Wilderlands and the Campaign Hexagon System booklets and puts them together with some great OD&D reference charts. It's extremely useful, every page has something worthwhile.

    Caverns of Thracia is the best module. It's a complex, full-on Jaquays dungeon - a small megadungeon, really, given its scale - with some excellent flavor and remains a classic of published module design. (Notice I didn't say it's the best Judges Guild module. Others' opinions may vary.)

    Wilderlands of High Fantasy is five maps' worth of clues, villages, castles, ruins, and islands. The maps are exquisite. It's a question of taste between this and CSIO, really, as to whether you like wilderness or city adventuring more. If you fall on the wilderness side, Wilderlands is definitely the book for you. It's worth tracking down a copy if just for the maps, which are exquisite.

    1. Also, I'd say that the overall quality is better on products that indicate compatibility with Dungeons & Dragons or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons on the cover than the ones that say "Universal Fantasy Supplement." At that point, the modules in particular were less than satisfactory.

  6. My fave adventures are Tegel Manor, Caverns of Thracia, and Dark Tower. As far as non-adventure stuff, I think the Ready Ref Sheets booklet is my fave product. There are a lot of little inspiring bits in it.

  7. I'd pretty much echo everyone here - Dark Tower, Caverns of Thracia, Tegel Manor, City State of the Invincible Overlord. I also have a soft spot for Wraith Overlord and City State of the World Emperor, plus Citadel of Fire and the original "First Fantasy Campaign" (this latter for historical interest). Pegasus Magazine is *definitely* worth a scan - there's some great hidden gems in there. For RuneQuest, Duck Tower and Duck Pond are great fun, and I also like Broken Tree Inn and Hellpits of Nightfang, though they're a step down. For Traveller, the deckplans series weren't bad for the time (Doom of the Singing Star, etc), but have aged badly; the rest aren't that hot IMHO, although I just have a nostalgic fondness for Dra'K'Ne Station and Rogue Moon of Spinstorm. Ley Sector isn't bad, though not canon any more.

  8. CSIO, Wilderlands of High Fantasy, Dark Tower, my last one is a very personal preference, but I thing the series is great: Portals of Torsh, Portals of Irontooth and Portals of Twilight.

  9. I forgot to mention First Fantasy Campaign, as I never really thought of that as a Judges Guild thing. That is very good reading.

  10. Ready Ref Sheets was my first Dungeon Master's Guide... I still use them to this day... Awesomeness in the Nth Degree...

  11. Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia, plus CSIO

  12. CSIO is still by far the best RPG city I've ever seen, just for sheer concision and utility. I don't count Vornheim since that's a toolkit, not a complete city.

  13. CSIO - the original is better than any of the other versions, including the 3.5 version. The Necromancer/JG 3.5 Players' Guide to the Wilderlands is very nice though, as is the 3.5 box set - it beats out the original Wilderlands sets imo though they're still handy.
    Original Caverns of Thracia also very good.

  14. Original City State in combination with the 3.5 version is a good combo though. Both of which I use. I would also suggest the 3.5 Players guide to the Wilderlands.

    Original Caverns of Thracia, and Tegel Manor. Are a Must Have.

  15. I pretty much agree with everything said. Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia in particular are must-owns. FFC, CSIO, WHF, Tegel Manor, are all fascinating and include lots of beautiful maps. The only item cited by someone else that I can't get into is Ready Ref Sheets - I just can't figure out how to make a single bit of RRS useful.

    One book that hasn't been mentioned yet, that I HIGHLY recommend is the Dungeoneer Compendium. This has issues 1-6 of the Dungeoneer zine. There are a lot of great adventures, localities, items, monsters, etc. by early luminaries. Excellent classic Jaquays material includes Night of the Walking Wet. Strongly recommended, and usually only around $10 on eBay! Worth every penny.

    1. The charts in Ready Ref Sheets that I keep going back to are the ones for hiring henchmen, "Startling Statues" and the ones for determining the contents of otherwise empty rooms. I never have a game without the book at my table. It's great if you were doing a hexcrawl, or a city adventure, and still useful in dungeons.

  16. Grrrr!

    Most of these suggestions are not available in PDF.

    EBay here i come...

    1. Oh well. PDFs defeat the purpose of a lot of this stuff anyway. Items like CSIO, WHF, FFC, and Tegel Manor are physically appealing artifacts with spectacular fold out maps. The colors, paper, artwork etc. make these beautiful items to behold. Go for earlier printings if you can afford it, because editing and layout changes occurred between some editions. Make sure all maps are included with anything you buy.

      If you're on a budget this is how I would prioritize the higher ticket items (Dungeoneer Compendium, Ref Sheets, Treasure Maps, etc. are pretty cheap so not included):

      1. Dark Tower
      2. Caverns of Thracia
      3. First Fantasy Campaign
      4. Tegel Manor
      5. City State of the Invicible Overlord
      6. Wilderlands of High Fantasy

  17. The publications - Judges Guild Journal, The Dungeoneer, Pegasus.
    The blogs of the 70s, brimming with ideas.

  18. Definitely the Portals series: Portals of Torsh, Portals of Irontooth, and Portals of Twilight.

  19. Just to provide a voice to the "other side" of this: I've been rather disappointed with the original JG products. I grabbed several of them in PDF and found it rather difficult to make much sense of them. The adventures are certainly better than the campaign stuff, at least in my book. Anyway, I started a forum discussion about this if you care to look: Of course many disagreed, but some also admitted that the revised d20/3e versions that came out later are a lot easier to use (just in terms of finding your way around). The only problem with those is the price. :-/

  20. Ready Ref Sheets, Caverns of Thracia, Dark Tower, Tegel Manor, City State of The Invincible Overlord, Wilderlands of High Fantasy, First Fantasy Campaign, and the Dungeoneer Compendium.(Man, these need to be reprinted in their original presentations!)In other words, what everyone else said! :-)

  21. There were some which never saw publication, and I find them the most interesting.
    In the spirit of Duck Tower, there were the ultra-rare:

    - City-State of the Invisible Overlord. Nobody can find that guy.

    - Wilderlands of the High Plains Drifter. Almost impossible to complete a set unless you feel lucky, punk

    - Tinkle Manor. A haunted urinal

    - Moron. An entire town of fishermen who insist on fishing where sea monsters live.

    - First Fantasy Complain. A collection of the earliest comments about reverse armor class.

  22. Good one Grandpa.

    Don't know if it's the best, but way back in high school (early 80's) I remember a lot of time spent in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy and City State of the Invincible Overlord. Good times, good times.

  23. I'm so surprised that no one mentioned "Frontier Forts of Kelnore," that I had to jump in and suggest it 6.5 years too late.

    In my experience it is one of the best adventure supplements ever made. More than an module, it's a "module creation tool" that lets you use it over and over again with the same group. The back story makes sense (though I would be tempted to change it a little from a common design to a magic item that "grows" into a fort).



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