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Bringing the first published fantasy RPG city setting back to the presses for JG Universal and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game System.
Bringing the first published fantasy RPG city setting back to the presses for JG Universal and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game System.
965 backers pledged $85,130 to help bring this project to life.

CSIO Maps, Minis, and some Bad News

Posted by Judges Guild (Creator)

Hello Backers,

There going to be a lot to this update, so I apologize for that. This is going to be visible to anyone (the last few have been for Backers only) so I want to bring everyone up to speed.

Campaign Map Progress:

For those that don't know, the first 10 maps have been released electronically. We have the first 5 or so in print. We've had to halt progress on the maps until February because not enough people bought into the Miniatures (we lost about $16k on those). We didn't realize this until it was too late due to waiting for all enough of the survey responses to come in. We're still waiting on some final number crunching to give the go-ahead to continue the Campaign Maps.
***Please let me know if you still have yet to receive PDF versions of the Maps***

Miniatures Progress:

The Miniatures are brilliant. We had a sample to bring to Gen Con last year. Everybody loved them. The quality is really superb. Despite the hit we took on them, we are still happy that they were made. Mick Leach with Eastern Front Studios has confirmed that a number of them have been received already from the casters mid-December. I'm awaiting word from Mick as to when the rest of the models will come in so we can start shipping those with the maps, etc.

CSIO Book Progress:

Murphy's Law: "Everything that can go wrong will go wrong." In July, we basically needed to do the finished layout with all the art. We still had a good 3 months to get this to the printers, and 4-5 months to fulfill, so we thought it would be great to bring in James Mishler, a walking encyclopedia of Wilderlands knowledge (seriously, his knowledge (Wilderlands) skill is +18), to collaborate with Bob III on expanding even more of all four parts to this book: the City State, Wraith Overlord, Thunderhold, and Modron.

We knew we were taking a gamble. Everyone was willing to support this if it meant getting a nice, polished, expanded expansion of Wilderlands goodness. We jumped in with both feet and were off to a great start. In September, James' wife had to have surgery. It took her a good 6 weeks to recover and for James' to be back in a position to press on. We've since had to push back the deliver date twice. Which brings us up to today.

A Word from James:


It’s never easy to admit to defeat; it is more than doubly-so when one has failed twice at the same endeavor, as I have with working with the City State of the Invincible Overlord and the Wilderlands of High Fantasy.

But at this point I have to admit to defeat, in the case of re-writing the City State of the Invincible Overlord for the Judges Guild CSIO 2014 Kickstarter. I have tendered my regrets and apologies to the Bledsaws at Judges Guild, and wish to do so now to you, the fans and supporters of the Kickstarter.

There are all sorts of reasons I could mention here; all explanations rather than excuses. Suffice to say that my days of working with Judges Guild, the Wilderlands, and the City State in my past should have remained there, in the past.

Unfortunately, I thought I could return to those glorious days when I published under Adventure Games Publishing; sadly, the truth was I needed an exorcist to rid me of the haunting ghosts of failures past, rather than a resurrectionist to dredge up the bodies of the unquiet dead. Every attempt to go further with the manuscript resulted in an avalanche of dreadful memories and unpleasant thoughts, and brought all advancement to a screeching halt. My joyful expectations were overwhelmed by the potent recollections of previous failures.

And so, after a brief if glorious surge of creativity, my ability to work on the manuscript died a hideous, ignominious death. In fact, my desire to do much of anything with gaming sunk to lows I’d not experienced since the end of AGP.

Once my wife recovered from her operation, and I’d gotten new, regular hours at work, I’d hoped things would change… and though I was able to write once again, every time I turned back to the CSIO manuscript, the whole world crashed in again, and turned hope to ashes.

I have delayed the inevitable long enough.

I wish Judges Guild nothing but the best of luck, in this and all future endeavors.

To the fans and supporters of the Kickstarter I say, nil desperandum! Do not despair! One small man’s failures do not bring down the whole, not when there are heroes ready to leap into the breach. Though there will be further delays, I am sure that the City State of the Invincible Overlord Kickstarter will complete, and Judges Guild will go on to even greater things. And as the maps that have already shipped have proven, their new works will awe and amaze you.

As the works of Bob Bledsaw and Bill Owen once did for a previous generation…

James Mishler

So, yeah. That happened.

This has completely taken us by complete surprise. In fact, we are still at a loss for words. We are going to have a meeting this weekend to revise our action plan and divvy up some additional responsibilities among Bob II, Bob III, and some of the other family members here. We are too far into this to let yet another stumbling block cause us to fail. As requested by backers, we are definitely going to be making the PDF version of the CSIO book available ASAP. We will add a spreadsheet on Google Docs to allow you all to add any corrections you find on each page (brilliant idea Bevan Anderson!). Tentatively, we have not decided to push back the deadline further. Once we convene on an action plan this weekend, we will update all to that effect.

Free Maps!

Last update, we added free PDF copies of the original 1976 CSIO and 1999 Revised CSIO. Due to popular demand, I am making available the original Player's and Judge's maps for CSIO. I tried a few methods of merging them all together, but it really was burning up a lot of time. So, you have the choice between a 300 dpi color scanned PDF that you can print out in letter sized sections, or a high res 1200 dpi color scanned PDF that again has letter sized paper sections. The link below should take you to a Dropbox folder with all the PDFs. Enjoy! And thank you again for your support.

CSIO Player/Judges Maps Dropbox Folder


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    1. Judges Guild Creator on

      It most certainly has not, Matt. We've made 3 updates since this one. Our last update was less than 2 weeks ago.

    2. Matt Maranda on

      It has been 3 months since the last update. What has been happening on this project?

    3. Darren

      I'm still confused how money was lost on the miniatures. Given that they were a stretch goal (implies raising money within KS to cover the costs) plus they were an add on (backers buying them and selling them through other channels), I'm not sure how they impacted on funding the book and maps.

    4. Missing avatar

      Guild on

      btw - I am 100% not interested in whatever-whatever universal stats in my Pathfinder book! Either put the proper stats in or don't put any in!

    5. Missing avatar

      AstralWanderer on

      Sorry to hear of the news, though it was decent of James to give us such a frank update.

      If I might make a suggestion - creativity can be difficult to maintain but it is also equally difficult to lose completely. Nudging it with small, easily achievable tasks (in this case, maybe writing an encounter or mini-adventure or documenting an NPC business in detail) might make it easier to go back to more ambitious ones.

      As for deadlines, I would certainly rather see a better product released later than a weaker one done on time and I would suspect many others here would too. Take the time you need - just keep us in the loop on progress.

    6. Jim McLaughlin

      I'm very sorry to hear of James' troubles. That's not a good place to be in for anyone.

    7. Francois Michel

      If you have too many minis, I am interested in getting some

    8. Jackson Starky on

      For the rest of it, I'm all for a separate appendix for Pathfinder stats, and my sentiments regarding the miniatures and the maps are much the same as those of John Warren. Having backed a few print RPG projects including miniatures, I can say from experience that they rarely go to plan. One was almost a year late shipping, and another I have written off entirely and given up on ever seeing. Still looking forward to getting this one, though... hopefully the maps are back in production. :-) If I had the money, I'd buy in for the miniatures, because they looked like good quality figures, but I'm a continuing plaything of Canada's economic restructuring.

    9. Jackson Starky on

      Wow... sorry to add to the pile, but Dropbox isn't working for me. It demands to save each and every file as "document.pdf" and won't let me rename it until after saving it, which means I have to save each file in its own folder, even though each file has its own name in Dropbox itself. I think I'll hold off on these downloads for a while. I've heard a lot of things about Dropbox in recent weeks, very few of them good.

    10. M.E. Snyder, Master Mason of Valoria on

      Yeah, I am going to use this for 5th Ed so I don't really care what stats are in it, though I prefer the more concise and cleaner looking universal system. The fulf of the city is the biggest draw for me, not monster stats. An appendix and free pdf download sounds like a good way to include the pathfinder stats.

    11. Peter Froehlich on

      For what it's worth, I don't care one bit for PathFinder stats that are going to make this thing so much larger for no net gain on my end. Write the stats in a very basic way just giving a class, level/HD, and a brief description. Focus on making the REST as perfect as you can, that's what the Wilderlands is. It's not a bunch of stats for some weird system. If the product itself is good enough, people will write up stat blocks for their favorite system anyway. Keep on truckin!

    12. M.E. Snyder, Master Mason of Valoria on

      Thank you for the stellar communication and transparency. Just another thought, once the PDF is ready maybe put it up for sale on your website. Might be a way to get some cash flowing quickly.

    13. Judges Guild Creator on

      Jonathon Tucker - We received your survey response on April 28th, however, we had a project update 4 days before that giving instructions on how to purchase add-ons through our website. And we didn't have another update until a couple weeks later in March. Sorry you missed out.

    14. Machpants on

      Ah thanks for the clarification, delay schmelay... I'll always wait for quality! Good luck sorting it out and I await the book patiently.

      As to how the format is, obviously a survey is a great idea. Personally I would be happy with JGU in the book and PF at the back, PF stat blocks just take up too much space!

      I'll be using neither system so it is more for aesthetic reasons. I am mainly after the fluff rather than crunch :D

    15. Judges Guild Creator on

      John, I'm going to look into doing that sometime this weekend.

    16. Missing avatar


      Thanks for the update, guys, I can see how difficult it must have been to make. I trust you guys to make a quality product whatever it takes, and I'm happy to wait as long as that might take if it means you have a book you're proud of in the end.

    17. Lesser Gnome

      I am very understanding of this as a kickstarter creator myself (I feel lucky that mine went off so well- there but for the grace of...etc, etc.). I only pledged for Map I but if it helps with overall fulfillment I am willing to pledge to get them all as a late add-on. You can PM me if that is something that would help.

    18. John Warren on

      Instead of just relying on a few comments that people have made here and there, would it be possible to do some kind of survey to determine which kind of stats people prefer? I'd vote for Pathfinder, so I'm not super happy that the Pathfinder stats might get relegated to the appendix. As someone who didn't order minis, I'm not thrilled that the cost of the minis is affecting the product I pledged for.

    19. John Robertson

      Are the PDfs i just downloaded from the link at the bottom of this update the same ones you mention in the first paragraph of this update? If not, then I don't have the ones you talked about in the first paragraph. I hope all that makes sense. John

    20. Missing avatar

      Los Angeles, CA on

      thanks for the update.

    21. Judges Guild Creator on

      bstern - The stat reference guide will be available for free as a PDF. I will also include them in the backs of the book.

      Jason - The dwarves are from Thunderhold (a section of the book will cover this town) which is to the north of the City State.

      RobRob - I'm thinking that we will format in a way that the Universal stats are inline, but the PF stats will be in the appendix (full stat blocks), a PDF with all the stats (Universal and PF) will be made available for free as well as print copies as a booklet to go with the book for ease of reference. As far as how much of a set back this is, we will have a better idea after this weekend once a revised action plan is in place. Everything has already been written. What James was supposed to do was embellish, polish, and expand.

      Los Angeles, CA - He had revamped the Social Level mechanic, and wrote an amazing introduction chapter for the City State and Wilderlands history and cosmology. He also revised and expanded upon on the Introduction chapter for Modron I had drafted. He did not accept payment for any work he did.

      Machpants - That is not what is being said at all. The maps will be completed. What I was trying to articulate was that the maps were put on hold until mid-February (which is now-ish). I need to re-evaluate my finances to see if we can give the go ahead to Christina and Rob, or if we need to put it off a little longer. We only have 8 left (about $16,000 worth) to do. I'm hoping that getting the book out there and making some rounds at some of the near-by (2-3 hour radius) cheap conventions (GaryCon and Heroicon) this year will help fill in that hole.

    22. Machpants on

      Sad to hear James' woes. Depression and associated mental health issues hit hard, and I can do is wish you the best for the future, and I hope the slack is easily picked up.

      I will be very disappointed if the maps, that I paid over a hundred US dollars to get, don't appear in my mail box one day because of minis. Is that what this update is saying, that this is a possibility? If so we will obviously have to be reimbursed that money.

    23. Missing avatar

      RobRob on

      So how much has this set back the project? And what are the parts that haven't been written?

    24. Missing avatar

      RobRob on

      No PF stats in the universal book it would be very close to ruining it. I would be a disaster if the minis compromised the core product of the campaign.

      I am interested in knowing

    25. Jason Emery, Jester of Valoria on

      I admit I didn't know much about the book before the Kickstarter. To me it was an interesting potential source for world creation plus some nifty maps.

      How the dwarven miniatures fit in is still a mystery. They really have nothing to do with the rest of it except, I'm assuming, fit into the lore somewhere. Most telling is that they don't even have names.

      That being said, I'd be more than happy to forego the grid pad so you don't have to ship anything and can focus more back on the other parts. I wonder how many other people would feel the same way.

    26. Missing avatar

      Los Angeles, CA on

      How much editing did Mishler complete? Was he paid for his work?

    27. Missing avatar

      bstern on

      Now that I've read through the comments I personally prefer PF stats, but I am okay with having both in the same book.

      If you're still planning to release the stats booklet as a free download, I'd be fine with the book having all the stats in the back, because the booklet means I won't have to flip back and forth.

      However, I'm concerned that if the stats are not inline with the entity they're describing, it will be easy to skip some characters by accident. On the other hand, I can see how the stats, especially both sets of stats, will interrupt the flow of the book.

    28. Missing avatar

      bstern on

      It takes a lot of courage to post something like this, and I appreciate it. Please keep us updated, even when it is bad news.

    29. Akimotos on

      I'm patiently waiting. i wish i had some wise words... but all i have is a peanut brain.

    30. Michael Anderson

      While the update is a bit of a downer, I will still wait for the incredible product I know that will come.

    31. Missing avatar

      Brad Hakala

      Thanks for the updates, even when they're difficult. They're really appreciated. Waiting for a good project is no big deal. Good luck wrapping it all up.

    32. Clyde Lee Graham

      Clearly I can speak for no one other than myself, but so long as you guys continue to communicate to us on a regular basis regarding what's going on, I can and will remain patient. This stuff is never as easy as we hope, and I've had enough projects of my own go sideways so I understand.

    33. Judges Guild Creator on

      Thanks for that update, Rob!

    34. Missing avatar

      Robert Conley Collaborator on

      For my portion of the maps, the way I drew it was as one giant master file with all 18 maps combined. I then drew each layer for all 18 maps building up the terrain then settlements, and finally the key labels.

      To make an actual map I cut out a section and then create a new 22" by 17" map file from it. Add the border and the border text. That what get sent to PDF and the final printed map.

      Right now I have all the terrain settlements draw for all 18 maps. What left are the labels for the last set of maps and most importantly the proofing. So when the Bledsaws give the go ahead I will be able to move quickly on getting those done.

      The only reason I didn't do it yet is because I been working on the City State and other settlement maps. Of which City-State is the biggest time sink.

    35. Missing avatar

      Robert Conley Collaborator on

      I am still hard at work on the maps and will give the Bledsaws a link so people can help proof it when I get the first draft done.

      I have the exterior terrain done completely around CSIO.

      I have all the walls for all the building drawn inside CSIO

      I am currently in the process of going block by block, cutting out doors, adding interior detail, and labeling everything. It taking slower than I thought due to needing to compare the scan I am drawing on top of with the original to make sure I don't miss anything. But I got a about a quarter of the inside of the city done at this point and making progress every day.

      Here how the outside looks

      here what the inside of the city looks like with sections in various states of completion.

    36. Joseph Berriman on

      Downloading from Dropbox was great. I can't remember if you've posted downloads to that before, but that's now the preferred method for me. =)

    37. Judges Guild Creator on

      Michael - Actually, the difference between soft vs hardcovers at the quantities we need are surprisingly low. The printer we are using is the same Frog God Games and Goodman Games uses. I was quite impressed to find that I could get hardcovers for the price you'd pay for softcovers from a Print on Demand outfit. Something I AM mulling over though, which would save quite a bit is printing the PF and Universal stats in tandem. Printing 717 of one book is way cheaper than printing 362 Universals and 355 PFs. It seems people here prefer Universal over PF, probably because they find PF to be bloated in the stat department. We may go with appendicized stats instead of in-line stats to help with that, but there are about half of the people who like stat appendices vs about half that like in-line as well. We're still including the stat supplement books, so that will be an easier reference than going back in forth from where you're at in the book and the appendix.

      Bruce - Thank you for your support. I will contact you after our meeting this weekend to see if there's any loose ends we could have you tie up :)

      Bevan - I feel the same about James' work, myself. Unfortunately, depression has bested him. I always wondered while growing up why my grandfather seemed to do little with the Guild in the 90's and late 2000's. I didn't understand how debilitating and disruptive depression can be until I experienced it for myself.

      At this point financially, we're exploring how I can finance the loss myself. We are also going to GaryCon and might be able to recover some lost ground there.

      Chris - We might need to explore that option among some others.

      Bob III out

    38. Chris Perkins on

      I think opening up minis for purchase via PayPal sounds like a great idea. That way you might be able to recoup some of that loss.

    39. Bevan Anderson on

      Wow. I think that is the most intense update I have read from any KS.
      James did stellar work with the Wilderlands- I rate it in the top 10 products of this millennium.
      I wish him no ill will, and thank him from the bottom of my heart for his prior efforts.
      Your transparency in this update is stunning. I only wish all Kickstarters had the guts to do as you have done.
      The minis are incredible, and I hope you recoup those losses in the future- perhaps another update with a reminder or options to add to your pledge via PayPal? I for one would be prepared to chip in to assist.
      Thank you for the additional maps and kind words- I'll be sure to assist as much as I can on the proofing.
      Good luck guys.

    40. Bruce Gray

      James, whatever the reasons, I wish you and yours nothing but the best.

      Bob(s), I've been involved with JG since Bob Sr. If you need anyone to help with anything, let me know. I would be honored to step up to the plate.

    41. M.E. Snyder, Master Mason of Valoria on

      Here's another thought, if the money pool suddenly seems to be short, what about going back to soft cover books? Might want to do a survey or something but I originally pledged for softcover and if I had to give up that stretch goal for a hard back that would be OK with me if it comes down to a choice between that or not fulfilling other parts of the kickstarter. I don't know, maybe it's cheaper to publish it al as a hard back instead of half and half or something, since larger orders usually get a discount, but maybe something to think about.

    42. M.E. Snyder, Master Mason of Valoria on

      Man, I and a few others told you back when you were getting feedback before launch of the KIckstarter that those minis would burn you.

      As for the other stuff, these things happen with small companies. I hope things can come together. Right now I would say the book takes priority over the remaining maps. Not getting some of the maps is not as bad as not getting the book so I think that's a good call on your part. I hope things turn around for you guys soon and, try not to let the stress get to you, just keep pressing on and it will come together!

      Oh, and thanks for the fee maps :) it's a much appreciated touch.

    43. Jason Young aka on

      I'm always a fan of transparency.

      Writing can be a funny thing. Sometimes personal troubles are inspiring and other times they are debilitating.

      It speaks well of your character to disclose this info, and press on.

    44. Judges Guild Creator on

      Francois, you are correct.

      Jonathon, I'll look into your order in the morning.

    45. Missing avatar

      Jonathon Tucker on

      You might want to check the comments on the surveys, I specifically stated that I wanted to add minis onto my pledge, but never was given the option to do so.

    46. Francois Michel

      Well, I am interested in more minis, so if you have an overstock, I could be tempted to take some.
      Shame about the delay, but let us know. If I am reading you right, he was supposed to write additional parts, so maybe the book can stand without them ?