Monday, January 9, 2012

City State of the Invincible Overlord & Castle Supplement

Click for larger image

I feel that the Mayfair version of the City State of the Invincible Overlord is often overlooked and under-rated. Published in 1987, the Mayfair remake of the City State had an introduction by Gary Gygax. This version was considered completely compatible and given the imprimatur for use with AD&D by The Man himself.

Some people may not like the name Briarwood being given to the City State, but the whole point of the original Judges Guild versions of the it was to name it whatever you wanted to - and of course, even with the Mayfair version, you still could and can do that. All of the zany adventures one had "back in the day" are waiting to be once again! If you have never visited the domain of the Overlord, this boxed set is an excellent way to

I own the original red cover original printing of the JG City State of the Invincible Overlord, as well as the Necromancer hardcover for 3.5e. One reason I recommend the Mayfair boxed set is because they are far cheaper than either of these and they contain basically the same information. A typical Judges Guild copy runs about 75 dollars and about the same for the Necromancer version. The Mayfair version typically goes for 40 dollars on eBay.

All three versions have great maps, so that is not an issue in choice. There is something great about all of them. Yet, the Mayfair set gets completely overlooked so often, when it really contains what an Old School GM needs!

I got my box for about 30 bucks online. The box itself is bad shape, but the contents are in excellent condition! There are players guides for the various classes included, some "new races" to use as PCs, 2 fairly hefty DM & Background books, as well as an intro adventure. The layout is organized well and the print is easier to read than the original JG City State, which is a plus.


Recently, I was also able to purchase the Mayfair Briarwood Castle supplement in mint, shrink-wrapped condition for 16 dollars w/ shipping. This supplement contains the plans of the place that every one of my characters that I have ever run have wanted to enter: the Invincible Overlord's palatial castle complex ...and the dungeons that lie beneath it!

There is information on the the occupants of the castle, including stats and such for the Invincible Overlord and his consort, a typical guard, the Black Lotus, new magic and a host of adventure hooks. This supplement is really packed, containing 64 pages of printed material and 2 fold out maps.


the Guidebook


I really do not know why the Mayfair iteration of the City State of the Invincible Overlord is so maligned, because it is a OSR treasure! Check it out, the cost is low compared to many out-of-print Old School products that are in demand these days.

 maze portion of the dungeons underneath the castle of the Invincible Overlord

EDIT: I purchased the Mayfair Games set as a replacement for my first one that was destroyed in a tornado that ripped the roof off of my house back in the 90s. I have taken several years recently to rebuild the things I treasured most in my collection... very little of which escaped the wrath of nature  ;)

11 comments:

  1. I gamed with folks that had the Mayfair CSIO stuff, and I think I had Briarwood for a while, as well, back in the early '90's, but it has since been vanished.

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  2. I purchased my first Mayfair set for 5 bucks in '90 at some discount store... I was really pleased! It is amazing that it doesn't get the props it deserves.

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  3. That maze alone is a perfect reason to dislike it. Seriously, there is no way that would play well.

    "You round the corner. The passage continues for 80 feet, then turns right."
    "We turn right."
    "After 20 feet, the passage turns left."
    "We turn left."
    "After 30 feet, there is a side-branch to the right."
    etc.

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  4. @Melan : the purpose of a maze it is to be like that.

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  5. Obviously, but mazes tend to make for a repetitive and boring game experience.

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  6. My friend DM'ed a session recently with a maze...it was a fun experience. There is an object to every maze that you are trying to reach. Things can be encountered on the way, Melan. You don't like mazes, that's fine, but some people know how to use them to great effect. Your description above of how you would run it shows you don't.

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  7. http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/myth-of-theseus-and-minotaur/

    One of the most boring and influential maze adventures in history! ;)

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  8. That's nice, but the labyrinth of Knossos, the basis of the minotaur legend, is very different from a generic crossword maze. It actually has a varied layout, accommodates interesting navigation-related decisions, and makes a good basis for an adventure: http://mazesandminotaurs.free.fr/TOMB.html
    It does not, in any way, resemble the map above.

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  9. That tomb map is just as convoluted, only in a different manner... i think you are nitpicking now

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  10. No. The tomb map is convoluted while offering stylistic variety, identifiable sub-complexes with variable degrees of accessibility (turning a one-level map into something similar to a multi-level dungeon complex), and some interesting terrain features (the central courtyard offering access points to individual sub-complexes but being an encounter-heavy zone, the larger corridors running around the complex, etc.). Exploring the maze, the characters will never lack the information they need to make choices - it is possible to get lost, but there are always terrain features which will eventually help them find their way - if they can identify them.

    In comparison, the maze above repeats the same winding corridor theme several times. It is nondescript; on its own (and of course, an encounter key helps), two sections are indistinguishable from one another. Decision between going one way or another comes down to guesswork - and the two keyed rooms are hidden in a neverending texture of passages, while the secret southern exit is on the side of a random hallway.

    My overall point is: there is complexity in map design which offers meaningful choices to the players, and there is complexity which doesn't, or even runs the danger of becoming a chore.

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  11. The point of the original map picture I posted in the article WAS to be a maze, not this monstrous description you provide for the tomb map you like:

    "The tomb map is convoluted while offering stylistic variety, identifiable sub-complexes with variable degrees of accessibility (turning a one-level map into something similar to a multi-level dungeon complex), and some interesting terrain features (the central courtyard offering access points to individual sub-complexes but being an encounter-heavy zone, the larger corridors running around the complex, etc.)"

    You don't even know why the maze is in that module and you are arguing on my blog about YOUR personal preferences. That's the point, you don't like the maze, as I said earlier... that's fine... it does not change the product I reviewed which was created in the 1980's, nor does it make that maze a "boring" place, as you say. You simply don't like it, but continue to make your first comments on my blog argumentative. Do you argue over D&D editions, too?

    The point is, you are comparing apples and oranges - different products, different styles, etc. This post was a mini-review of a piece of gaming history, not an article on how to run a maze or a dungeon.

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