Wilderlands of High Fantasy (1977)

Wilderlands of High Fantasy (1977) is a massive step forward in terms of what we now know as a campaign setting. It lays out regions of the world totaling about the square miles of Cuba, organized in such a way as to be similar to areas surrounding the Mediterranean. It is a massive sandbox largely unrivaled at the time. By way of comparison, the Greyhawk campaign folio was still three years off.

Wilderlands comes with two booklets. We’re still in the period where the school of thought centers on helping facilitate players in the creation of their own world, so there isn’t a ton of concrete information laid out here. Instead, you have nested random tables, lots of them, to use in filling out the landscape yourself. They work the same basic way as the Random Dungeon Generator in the Dungeon Masters Guide (still a year off!), with the designer moving from table to table, filling in details as indicated, until the thing seems finished. Wilderlands provides tables for tons of fine detail.

With the broad strokes of the world laid out, JG was free to fill it in over time from one end while players did the work in their home campaigns from the other end, meeting, eventually, theoretically, in the middle. Judges Guild would do this in two ways: releasing stuff like Modron, where the details are pre-defined (a nice thing about Wilderlands, too, is that it shows you where the City-State, Tegel Manor and Modron are relative to each other). Then there were more products like this, full of modular tools for creating your own stuff. And so it went, for dozens of products. Ground breaking stuff!

Like most other Judges Guild products, Wilderlands was in a state of constant revision. This is the first edition, far as I can tell. Later ones add color to the cover. They might have gotten revised and expanded over the years too – most of the other popular products did.

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