Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Tome of Horrors Complete

Looks like the long-awaited updating of Necromancer Games's The Tome of Horrors is almost upon us -- this time with a version converted to Swords & Wizardry. As its title suggests, this update includes material not just from the original The Tome of Horrors, but also from volumes II and III. The whole thing is apparently 1,000 pages long and is available for pre-order for $89.99 until June 1, 2011, after which the price will increase by $10.

I consider The Tome of Horrors one of the best books produced during the 3e era and an invaluable resource to the old school community, since it opens up a large number of classic monsters that weren't included in the D20 SRD. So, it's great that Frog God Games is again going to make these monsters available to gamers who didn't buy it the first time around.

On the other hand, by combining it with the second and third volumes, both of which were good but nowhere near as essential, they've boosted the pagecount -- and sticker price -- to ridiculous heights. I honestly cannot imagine using a 1000-page book, even as a reference. Likewise, paying nearly $100 (more, once shipping is factored in) isn't something I could countenance for almost any RPG-related product, so I'll be giving this one a pass. With luck, there will be a PDF version of The Tome of Horrors available at some point and, if it's priced reasonably, I may pick it up.

22 comments:

  1. The binding of the original Tome of Horrors was a bit on the fragile side. At 1,000 pages, the thing will likely split into two or three pieces after a handful of openings, unless they're spending some serious money on a fine binding (which I seriously doubt).

    And as you mention, since the charm of the original largely came from the inclusion of monsters WotC wouldn't touch, what is really the point of doing an S&W version? I still have my MM and FF... and anyone else can get them for about $20 for the pair. Why pay $90?

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  2. Even as a hardcore fan with disposable income I'm having a hard time seeing how I will purchase this. And I agree that the original Tome of Horrors was one of the top d20 releases, possibly earning a place in the top 5.

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  3. I'll buy pdf of this weighty tome in a heartbeat (as long as it's 2/3rds or less of cover price).

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  4. Holy MF.

    You know, Monday I was in NYC Compleat Strategist and looking at the Hero System 6E Character Creation book, which is a 464-page behemoth (and looks a lot larger -- maybe 2-3 inches thick on the shelf?) Partly I'm amazed, partly I'm almost jealous that I have no need for any such thing in my gaming. Tome of Horrors might be maybe the one thing of that size that might possibly entice me to look and consider it.

    Or just a bound compilation of Gygax's original, raw writings. But they'll never do that.

    Rambling on...

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  5. Since the book will replace my homemade binder version of Tome of Horrors Revised, and update the stats to Pathfinder, I am definitely getting a copy. I do hope it has a multi-file PDF for ease of use though.

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  6. 1,000 pages at $89.95?? Ummm... No, thanks. I'm impressed with S&W (and other D&D clones), but, if I want more critters, I can just take my old AD&D monster collections and convert them.

    Shipping must be a killer on this thing.

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  7. $90 as a headline-grabbing release price?! The industry - including Nec.Games - truly is a world away from my lived experience of the hobby.

    I thought that FFG were bonkers for pricing their Dragon Dice/WFRP crossover that high, and that was a complete game.

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  8. A video game is $80, which gives me maybe 10 to 20 hours of play time.

    If I am going to buy an RPG product I don't care if its $120 or $10. I am as likely to buy it either way. I have disposable income and my other gaming hobbies (video and boardgames) means the price point isn't unreasonable.

    So if a product hooks me, I'll buy it even at $100. If it doesn't I won't even if they dropped the price to $1.

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  9. So its come full circle. Wasn't it one of the main guns at the now-defunct Necromancer games(Clark?) that went on and on about how the retro-clones were all illegal and blah blah blah a few years ago?

    Now one of the biggest Necromancer books is going retro-clone!

    Delicious irony.

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  10. You forgot to mention one interesting part:

    "But it’s more than just that, because the entire compilation has also been updated to the Swords & Wizardry rules for release as another version of the volume. And in this version, the space freed up by the smaller stat blocks is filled by sample monster lairs and encounters with the hundreds of different monster types featured in the tome."

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  11. Seems like the best-case scenario for using something that big might be an iPad app providing a customized UI for browsing and searching a PDF of the content.

    A regular PDF viewer would also work, of course, but a UI built for the specific content and structure of the text might be more efficient, and could be tuned to facilitate fast in-game usage.

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  12. The pdf comes free with the preorder dead tree version. Shipping within the USA is not as bad as I thought. I'd imagine it will be made available as a seperate pdf product after release. I'm up for the PF version myself.

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  13. @Mr.Castle: Now that does sound interesting! I was wondering how on earth they were gonna release a 1000 page monster book for S&W!

    Aside from that my thoughts were echoing what dhowarth333 said -- you can pick up a copy of the original classic AD&D MM, MM II & FF on ebay for substantially less than the cost of this new book. Easily compatible with S&W, and (most likely) way cooler!

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  14. Considering the standard in Australia was to simply double the US list price (although with the strong Australian dollar and the Internet this is no longer the case as it meets, shall we say, with considerable buyer resistance* and most stores [and the main distributor] now run about 166% to 175% of the cover price at the retail front-end), we are looking at a massive cover price for this book in Australia. Probably so large that it's not even worth the distributor bringing in any copies, unless they are specially ordered in advance by customers.

    Which makes any game a boutique purchase.

    This is something small press publishers sometimes forget, especially in their quest to produce a great (and impressive) product. Just a few extra-pages, if it pushes the weight over the US postal service mailing categories, can effectively make a game economically unviable outside of the continental US, simply in shipping costs alone.

    [* Although given that freight and shipping costs have risen from about 40% (sea) / 60% (air) of a game/book when I started collecting, to often more than 100% of the price of the book (especially if you can't hit the sweet spot, and this book definitely doesn't won't the sweet spot), it's not really as much of a markup as it used to be.]

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  15. I love me some monster book, and I have the OSRIC Monster of Myth and XRP's Malevolent & Benign in hard copy, and recommend them both to anyone playing older editions of D&D and their clones.

    I just have to question who exactly this Tome of Horrors is aimed at. Long time players of OOP D&D games will already have these monsters. And is a $90 book going to get people new to OOP D&D and their clones?

    Wouldn't a multi-volume Hacklopedia-style work better. But instead of doing it alphabetically, maybe thematically, or by power level.

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  16. I did not know what this book was supposed to contain in term of monster content. I thought it would have had the usual and a lot of custom-made/brand new monsters. What you guys are saying is that it is mostly a compilation of the monsters from the FF and the MMs ?

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  17. Lord Stark, Isn't irony such a sweet dish? :)

    I have the 3rd ed tome and feel no need to pay for the conversion to S&W. I ridculed people at the Necromancer Games forums for needing a 3.5 revision.

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  18. The content sounds great but 1000 pages is completely impractical and $90 is ridiculous. I'm out.

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  19. If I decided to buy the danged thing - which is tempting - I'd have to choose between the PF and S&W versions; I play or plan to play both systems.

    @ Reverance Pavane: I feel the pain. The Canadian dollar (like the Aussie) has been sitting at par with or above the greenback for about a year, but SRP on novels, RPGs, etc. is still about US + 25-40%. It leads to some pretty crazy situations - a lot of game stores end up having to discount to US cover (and I can't think that is really helping their survivability).
    The big box book stores are true fiends: they invariably charge full SRP (say 130% US) in-store, but if you order from their websites you'll often get the same book at 1/2 that price (say 75% of US)!

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  20. Dom, the first Tome of Horrors had a ton of monsters retooled from the the MMs & FF into 3e stats. The other two volumes of Tome of Horrors were almost exclusively new monsters that had nothing to do with refitting old AD&D monsters to 3e.

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  21. I tend to agree with Zzarchov's view these days. If you start comparing these prices with other gaming options out there (video games, board games, etc.) and consider the use/replay value, it's not as bad as it might seem. Granted, when we're talking about OSR prices, this stands alone.

    I own the d20 versions of all these books, so I don't have much interest in getting them again.

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  22. ToH (revised) vol.1 had MM/MM2/FF conversions along with new critters. If you don't already have these then it may make sense. If you do, it becomes a question of whether you want more monsters. I'll go and take a look at my ToH vol. 2 and see what proportion look usable. For me the PF version is of interest, but a number of ToH monsters have already been converted, so it's pretty low on the list.

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