The CSIO Kickstarter page header. The CSIO Kickstarter page header.

The Silence Is Broken – An Update On The City State of The Invincible Overlord Kickstarter

Judges Guild has a Kickstarter for a re-print/revision of their City State Of The Invincible Overlord book. As all successful Kickstarters, there is the blurb about the number of backers and the amount raised: “965 backers pledged $85,130 to help bring this project to life.”

This was a respectable amount of pledges, but had problems from the start. First, the add ons included minis that were not factored in before the start. Second, none of the pledges included shipping, or did include shipping, as it cost in 2014. James Mishler was supposed to do some writing for the project, and his own personal issues led to nothing happening from him and the February 13, 2015 update revealed that his portion had not been done. (This was a major setback, but it seemed to be OK, since they could just clean up what they had with maybe a few additions.)

After many updates and back and forth, the layout is supposedly being done by Bob 3. Bob 2 has stated somewhere online that he gave Bob 3 money to pay for a layout person. (I wish people posting in the updates would share all these link. I don’t have time to track them down to back this up. So consider this heresay.)

A few pages of layout were supposedly being done each month. I think someone built a spreadsheet to show how close it must be.

The last update prior to today was September 28, 2017. A monthly update was promised after less than monthly updates were not forthcoming. Each update indicated the number of pages of layout, etc. Often filled with stories of sick family, moving to a new apartment, fumigating for pests, et. al.

After radio silence from Judges Guild, and Bob 2 and 3, Rob Conley, one of the cartographers, stepped up and got permission and a license from Bob 2, to share his map with the Kickstarter backers, then sell it on OBS to recoup the license cost. You can read about it here, here, here, and here on the Bat In The Attic blog. It’s pretty bad when one of your artists/cartographers has to step up and do something for the backers.

Change of Attitude

I greatly appreciated Rob Conley’s efforts. But after all this radio silence, I decided I had enough. I sent the following via the Kickstarter email feature:

JG-CSIO-KS-RefundRequest_Screen Shot
JG-CSIO-KS-RefundRequest_Screen Shot

Unlike many others who have requested a refund, I received an answer today. The KS email feature only shows the date. I checked my actual email, and it was sent at 1:20 AM EST.

Here is the reply:

JG-CSIO-KS-RefundRequestDenied_Screen Shot
JG-CSIO-KS-RefundRequestDenied_Screen Shot


I was careful to quote the Kickstarter Terms of Use that apply to this Kickstarter, which can be found here.

You will notice that Bob 3 uses the same document to deny my request. I did a search and he has accurately quoted two parts of the section Projects: Fundraising and Commerce, lines 13 and 14, and lines 20 & 21.

So, under this Terms of Use, we can’t get our money without the free will of the creator, or proof of fraud. I am not a lawyer, but it looks like I have no recourse, unless I want to spend a lot of money for a lawyer to find out what my options are.

I feel that I only got a response based on what is discussed in the rest of this blog article. There are others in the comments who have also asked for a refund months ago, with not even a reply. They are eagerly waiting for me to post this.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Today’s (January 24, 2018) update appears to be prompted by an article over on Tenkar’s Tavern yesterday. After the unexpected update on Kickstarter, Tenkar posted a follow up today.

Until the last few weeks, I have only followed the saga of this project via the updates and comments on the Kickstarter page. It was in reading over the comments a few weeks ago that I learned that Bob 2 has been saying that the CSIO Kickstarter is NOT an official Judges Guild adventure. (I’ll look up the links with quotes, etc. unless someone wants to send me the links. Just hearsay otherwise.) There are two screenshots someone has shared to Imgur showing that it was stated as a Judges Guild endeavor on their website. I’ll share that screenshot below, for the record.


Supposedly Bob 2 has been deleting comments from the Judges Guild Game Company Facebook page. The most recent post is from January 22, 2018 with a picture of Bob 1’s office scissors. Before that December 23, 2017. So it is not a very busy page.

There is a Kickstarter page on the Judges Guild website, but it requires a password. It is unclear what the purpose of this page is. Why have a publicly visible page? It is trivial to make a page only those in the know can even see. I am sure this just invites more criticism.

Facebook page for the Kickstarter with no updates since 2014.

Dragonsfoot has a thread about the KS, as I am sure many other discussion boards do.

RPGNet’s 2017 year in review has comments wishing for a completion of this Kickstarter.

I don’t normally visit forums, and found the above forum links via a search on Google. It is not difficult to find a lot of talk about this Kickstarter and how many plan to boycott Judges Guild products and projects until something happens with this Kickstarter.


If you do a Kickstarter, plan to communicate with your backers with substantive and demonstrable things that don’t sound like you don’t want to do the work you said you’d do.

I think there are two courses of action for Judges Guild and the Bobs:

  1. Admit defeat and refund what you can’t deliver. Deliver what you can.
    1. Some have suggested a PDF of what they have now to prove it exists and renew trust.
  2. Do a PDF as mentioned above to show that there is a real product. Backers would then get off your back asking so many questions from being kept in the dark.

Anyone who is thinking about doing a Kickstarter can learn from this what not to do. If JG and the Bobs can pull it off, it will be an example of how to rise from the ashes. If they can do it, it will be too little to late for many, in my opinion.


This is not a well written post, but I said I’d do it tonight, and don’t have time to track down links for sources, or to polish it before a quick supper before tonight’s Roll20 game.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 thoughts on “The Silence Is Broken – An Update On The City State of The Invincible Overlord Kickstarter”

  1. If Bob III is shopping the project around to other companies for completion, that would seem to be an admission that Judges Guild is unable to complete it–not that it’ll matter for getting money back.

    I’m pretty sure only legal action by the Illinois attorney general or an involuntary bankruptcy petition would have a chance of dislodging funds.

  2. I’m not a lawyer. I have no idea what might move this along. I’m guessing I won’t see further return on my investment. The amount of time I have spent researching and writing my refund request and this article took more time than it was worth. That time invested, when converted to my hourly equivalent wage, was worth more than my pledge.

    Yes, I’m frustrated, but I’ve got other things to do using stuff from Kickstarters that have delivered.

  3. “So, under this Terms of Use, we can’t get our money without the free will of the creator, or proof of fraud. I am not a lawyer, but it looks like I have no recourse, unless I want to spend a lot of money for a lawyer to find out what my options are.”

    You could try contacting your state AG. Some people who did that managed to get their money back from Gareth Skarka’s Far West KS.

  4. I’m not out a lot of money, I just thought I’d see if I’d get a response. The timing of the post over on Tenkar’s Tavern is probably the only reason I got a response.

    Any effort to get back the money will be further effort that makes going after it worth even less than the value of the time spent going after it. I’ve waited this long, maybe I’ll get something out of it….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *