Sunday, July 22, 2012

Forgive Me Father, For I Have Sinned...

I said I wouldn't put any more money into the pockets of WotC/Hasbro, and yet today I dropped over a hundred bucks to pick up the shrink-wrapped, leather-bound, re-issuing of the AD&D Players Handbook, Dungeon Master Guide, and Monster Manual...three books I already own in duplicate (variant covers).

And, of course, I don't even play AD&D anymore.

Well, I haven't yet broken the shrink-wrap, and I've decided to give myself a couple days to decide whether or not to return them to the store (for now, I guess you can say I'm removing them from the marketplace). And I was feeling pretty generous...since putting it on sale Thursday I've sold more than 10% of the print run for The Complete B/X Adventurer...sight unseen and with zero reviews. My readers' faith in me is fairly astounding (considering this print run was double the size of any of my previous ones for my B/X Companion). I really, really hope they find it useful to their games, inspiring and fun. That was my goal anyway (oh, yeah...and to make enough money to fund my next book).

So with cash in my pocket, I figured I could afford to pick up the new AD&D books. While I haven't opened my own copies yet, I did have a chance to look through an opened copy of the Monster Manual. The quality of the pages is, well, meh...the equivalent of the 2nd edition Vampire book (kind of shiny without being nice) and everything appears to have been scanned (which is probably the case)...and the fact you can tell it's scanned should inform you on the quality of the scan.

Still the gold leaf and leather is great and if I decide to hang on to 'em they look sturdy and completely useable. My own copies (all of 'em) have water damage and ripped (or removed) pages and pencil marks (and erasures) scattered throughout. The binding on the originals is still quality but the volumes look like they've been well-used (and hard use at that)...which is, of course, the truth.

The marketing department of WotC has let it be known that purchasing these books will support the Gygax Memorial Fund, though I am skeptical about just how much of the profits are going to said fund. 1%? $1 per book? The Gygax family isn't saying (and why should they? ANY extra money for the fund, I'm sure, is welcome...even a pithy amount), and neither is WotC. Which leads me to think that this is mostly a stunt to milk the ca$h cow one more time (like they did with the "fake Basic set box") and inject their own accounts with a little capital provided by the nostalgic.

At least this time buyers will actually be getting the game they grew up playing. If I was a 35-45 year old who had somehow missed the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th editions and wanted to return to the game of my youth (perhaps to play with my own kids or old friends) this would be the set to buy to "get back into the game." And I am still amazed at how much goodness is packed into these slim volumes. Stacked on top of each other, they're still not as thick as the Pathfinder core rules...and Pathfinder's core doesn't even include a monster list. You can play for years with the information in these three books...I know because I did. And with all the old school web sites and forums existing these days, you can probably find good insights for cutting the dross and running the game (helpful considering the organization of info within the AD&D books).

I wonder if WotC understands the possible consequences of their money grab. I mean, 4th edition alienated a large group of fans from the D&D flagship, and while an AD&D release might bring back customers, it's just as likely (in my opinion) to drive them away from playing 4th or 5th edition. I mean, AD&D IS the real deal after all. But perhaps they're cagier than I give 'em credit for. It's not like they're re-publishing the most coherent earlier edition of D&D: 2nd edition or B/X or BECMI are much more thought out and better organized.

On the other hand, maybe it IS all on the "up-and-up;" no other edition is as associated with Gary Gygax as AD&D. His name is the one on the AD&D books, not Arneson's. With the exception of The Keep on the Borderlands, all his adventure modules were penned for the 1st edition AD&D game, as was his World of Greyhawk. If you really wanted to collect some scratch for a Gygax memorial, this would be the (appropriate) edition to use.

*sigh* Obviously I am a jaded cynic that needs to stop worrying about other game companies and focus on my own enterprise. Hell, I just found out this afternoon that I was nominated for an Ennie award (fan favorite publisher: Running Beagle Games). This I was informed of when I was at Gary's Games today (apparently, it had been the subject of some in-store discussion). If they hadn't told me, I wouldn't have even known...are nominees not informed of their nominations? Am I eligible for a cash prize of some sort? And if not, is being nominated recognition enough or does one have to actually win to have any kind of crowing rights?

And who the hell nominated my company anyway when I've published exactly two books (and the second only a couple days ago)?

[I suppose someone might have been counting my one-page micro-games published on the blog over the last couple years...]

Ah, well...the Ennies are a subject for a different blog post (if that...); the subject of this blog post was the confession of my WotC support (by purchasing their books). I haven't even taken them out of the bag since I got 'em, I'm that ashamed. Either I'm a big-ass hypocrite, OR I'm a fawning nostalgic, OR I'm a weak-willed waffler who can't stick to my guns when it comes to my principles.

And it just gets worse I write this...I find myself leaning more and more towards keeping the books.

Hmm...maybe there's some way I can atone for my transgression. Baby D and I went out for a beer tonight with one of my old high school/college buddies (an he did not buy a copy of the new book) and our discussion reminded me of much of the dumb-assedness of AD&D. Maybe I need to actually RUN an AD&D game and house-rule the hell out of it...publish a series of posts or PDFs or "corrections & clarifications" in aid of those who would rather run the familiar game of their youth but have hard time reconciling its craziness with their mature, adult minds.


Damn, there are so many things I want to do, or wish I had more time to do. But we all do, right? Just the usual pain associated with growing up.

Thank goodness you can grow up without growing old.
; )


  1. JB - according to Wizards the books are more than a scan

    It's an interesting read but I personally don't think I will pick up the AD&D books

  2. @ Ghost:

    Heh. When I first read your comment I thought you wrote, "...according to Wizards the books are more than a scaM..."
    ; )

  3. I've been following the 5E playtest, not playing it, tho - as it feels like a watered down version of my hoserules on Basic Fantasy RPG. I get the distinct feeling that 5E is a stalling tactic and this rerelease is kind of "testing the waters". D&D brand manager Mike Mearls has made it exceptionally clear that he loves classic D&D, and would love nothing more than to put AD&D or the 1991 Rules Cyclopedia back on the shelves in packaging that would sell in today's market. And I hope it's true. I pray to all of the gods I can that this AD&D rerelease blows 4E and PF out of the water and the WotC suits get it into their thick skulls that opening up the archives of D&D for POD (with something like the RC on shelves) is the best idea.

  4. @Steveman I largely agree with you and I'd love to support the older editions with a purchase but I can't justify the expense right now. NOW if they re-released B/X I think I'd find a way but I never played AD&D 1st and the much touted "character" and "charm" of the text is a bit of a turn off to me as a newbie trying to learn the rules. I guess they are re-issuing their most popular rules sets with AD&D and now 3.5 to be put out in the fall. I wonder what comes in at 3rd place?

  5. I bought them the day they came out and I love them.

    But WotC has been getting money from me for years and likely continue to do so, but then again I am also still buying OSR stuff.

  6. Thanks for the tiplink ghostofmarx, I don't follow the WotC site but that article was worth a read.

    Steveman I echo your hopes in the highest. A reprint of the Cyclopedia would be fantastic, and I purchased these premium reprints partly with an intent to show my support for reprinting in general.

    At any rate I, like Tim, love the books. Plus I can now give away one of my sets of the originals to a friend who keenly feels the lack of AD&D in their life :)