Ever since I began playing Dungeons & Dragons back in 1992, I have enjoyed collecting any form of book or literature for just about any roleplaying game I could find. Mostly hardbacks so they looked excellent on the shelf, I confess to having numerous rulebooks I have never even opened let alone played a single session. Collecting books in general has been a hobby of mine for years, but there is something more about going after roleplaying books. Generally if I ever need inspiration on what to write about in next week’s gaming session, I turn to reading one of those off the shelf.
If you have noticed them on the shelves of your local gaming store, I encourage any gamer interested in the classic of classics to look at the re-printed premium copies of 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons core books. Shortly after Gary Gygax passed away, his wife began an ongoing journey to raise an incredible amount of money to resurrect a statue of Gary in his honor up in Geneva, Wisconsin. Among the various methods, she approached Wizards of the Coast to toy with the idea of reprinting the original 1st editions on high quality paper. Not surprisingly they obliged and even reprinted a few sourcebooks and bundled a couple of module series into their own books. As a result, gamers are able to leave their original, autographed copies in pristine condition back on the shelf while they proceed to spill Mountain Dew all over the newer versions.
There aren’t many roleplaying books I really prefer to leave on the shelf. Off the top of my head, I think my Call of Cthulhu sourcebooks would remain on shelf because most of them are out of print and probably won’t see the light of day on reprints anytime soon. They don’t remain on the shelves forever as I do take them down to browse through from time to time, but in the end, I protect their conditions more than use them.
However, having the “premium” copies of AD&D has allowed me to revitalize the classic and introduce the system to many new players. The books are not very thick – perhaps 130-180 in length at most. And the retail cost will feel a bit steep although they sell for considerably less and more affordably on various online retail sites. Unearthed Arcana was released shortly thereafter along with the core books for 2nd edition and the original edition (pre-1st AD&D) of Dungeons & Dragons. These offer not only opportunities for new players who are unfamiliar with D&D, but also veterans to bring the books back to the dinner table to play again.
I personally get frustrated when books go out of print because the thieving scavengers will swoop in and resell the books for considerably more than the original retail value. They are in it for a profit from something they did nothing to create only making a quick buck by victimizing would be collectors. Usually reprints of books from 20+ years ago are not economical or financially sound, so companies often look away from the notion of bringing back (or even updating the quality) any former literature.
Ever since 3.5 edition came out for Dungeons & Dragons, I have been disheartened by the company on producing new versions of their system so closely together and ignoring or even discontinuing past books after we invest so much (SO MUCH) money into them. All too often we find ourselves rebuying books with enough change to justify the means, but in the end realizing that the two versions are similar enough that we were better off not investing again. Yet if that decision is made, then good luck finding new published material.
With their decision to re-release OD&D, 1st, and 2nd editions to the public in higher quality, longer lasting versions, I have considered re-evaluating WotC again. As with any business, they are looking for profit at the end of the day, but releasing copies of other versions that technically compete with their current product, is usually unheard of. The older copies are significantly cheaper, and they are much lighter to chew on than more modern RPGs. (One may argue that older editions of AD&D contained endless charts to refer to, but those were there for the GM’s benefit when ideas needed to be produced on the fly and the creative juices were running dry).
The covers are produced the same way Wizards of the Coast produces their most current material. There is a mixture of glossy and matte finished throughout the covers, and the paper is of much heavier weight than the originals. Each page feels semi-glossy. The ink is much bolder and richer (as many of our books are faded from age and a lack of using archival ink). There’s a better feeling of durability in these productions simply because literature material is better now than it was 30+ years ago. These will last for quite some time.
Until next time, lie about your dice roll as much as you can get away with. Thanks for stopping by.