Monday, April 19, 2010

Bob Bledsaw on the origins of the Wilderlands

"A group came to me asking me to monitor or judge a game for them which they had tried on four seperate occasions to play. After a brief look at the three books, I pointed out that many of the rules were incomplete and I would have to rewrite much of it before we could attempt a game. I had always loved fantasy and science fiction. Although a stereo systems designer at General Electric with limited free time, I reworked the game and designed a small dungeon located near Weathertop in Middle Earth.

Despite the misfit magic, this campaign grew to consist of around eight large hex maps from the Grey Havens to the Lonely Mountains and from the Iron Mountains past Mordor. We experimented with many combat systems and magic systems along the way. I had a gigantic dining room table which was filled with gamers and around thirty or more spectators from the local college and high schools. My original group began to beg me to run a session everynight and even tried chasing me down the road in automobiles when on family outings. Some all night sessions did not end until dawn and the magic system became less Tolkien like over time.

To permit the gamers to justify this more Vancian type of magic, I created a gate to the City State of the Invincible Overlord just before General Electric closed the plant I worked at. I will add more on the history of my campaigns later but suffice it to say for now that I have ran several campaigns besides the original based upon the Wilderlands. Lord Dunsany and Fritz Leiber are two of my most favorite storytellers.

Naturally, I placed in this world much of what I loved in my extensive library. This was prior to the publication of Greyhawk or any other city for this genre' that I am aware of. At the 1975 Gen Con, Bill Owen and myself sat at a small table where I sold the first City State installment with all four map sections rolled up to prevent creases."

RIP Bob.


  1. Wow...I've never seen this comment before. Very illuminating. Thanks so much for posting.

    It constantly amazes me how popular this game was way back before the electronic medium became so pervasive. I long for the days of the game when having more players than you knew what to do with was the norm.

    Indeed, RIP Bob.

  2. I wouldn't mind seeing Middle Earth Wilderlands-style, with the campaign hexagon system, lairs and all that. It will never happen, but still. It should.

  3. It would be awesome to see Bob's eight Middle Earth maps. I wonder if Bob Jr. has them?

  4. I would love to have sat in on these early sessions --- or the 'Blackmoor' adventures. I remember reading this somewhere before (perhaps over on the Necromancer forums where Bob Bledsaw had his own corner?) and am intrigued by his statement, I will add more on the history of my campaigns later...
    Did he get a chance to do so? If so, where are these histories?
    Thanks for posting this!

  5. Very cool glimpse into the past!

  6. If you look over on the right hand side of my blog, there is a link for Bob under "The Shoulders of Giants - Wisdom from the Masters". :)

  7. Al, that was the best. RPGs are built for our type of people, the kind of people that Bob Bledsaw is/was. Being creative is great, and Roleplaying offers one of the best outlets.

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  9. Wow, a session every night and thirty spectators!



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