Thursday, January 19, 2012

Go Figure

By now, many of you have no doubt heard the latest word from Wizards of the Coast: they're reprinting the original three AD&D hardcover books this April. They're a limited release, it's true, and they're going to have new covers, but otherwise the books will be unadulterated reprints of the classic books from 1977, 1978, and 1979. That's frankly pretty incredible -- and unexpected.

Even though my AD&D books, which I've had since 1980, are all in near-perfect condition, I'll be buying a set of these new books, making them the first things I've bought from WotC since 2007. So, on that score, I've got to give the company a lot of credit. In addition, some portion of the money earned from these sales goes to the Gygax Memorial Fund, which shows is nice.

As I said, these are a limited release (and, unfortunately, available only in North America through hobby stores). However, I consider it a victory for the Old Ways that WotC even contemplated releasing these books, let alone that they actually will do so. Plus, if sales are very good -- and I expect them to be -- it'll provide solid sales data on the strength of old school gaming. From my perspective, that's a terrific thing all around.

Kudos, WotC! You managed to surprise me (and in a positive way).

42 comments:

  1. Can't wait to get my dirty paws on them!

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  2. Hmm... I have the original 1E books and the later printings with a different cover, but this may be a bit tempting.

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  3. I can hope that, if the GMF even gets $2 or $3 dollars from these books and, say, 100,000 copies are made and/or sold, they'll have enough to make this a reality.

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  4. I may actually get the Monster Manual. My isn't in great condition anymore whereas every other RPG in my collection is pretty much excellent.

    Nice one WotC. Keep up the good work.

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  5. This is actually awesome news. Way to go WOTC.

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  7. I'm going to get a set even though I tend not to play AD&D...I love my DMG (I might get two).

    I'm hopeful this is a test run and success will lead to more of the back catalog being available. Zak's idea of a coffee table compilation of the original modules, for example, would be great.

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  8. Actually, and thinking about what you wrote about playing vs. collectibility on the MA thread, I have to wonder why anyone who isn't a collector, but instead just wants to play AD&D 1E, would want these. Sure, there's the charitable donation to the foundation, but I assume that can be done directly. As for playing, well, OSRIC or LL+AEC are a lot cheaper.

    That said, I can understand the desire to own more of what one loves; I keep hunting for different editions of CoC, even though I'll never use them in play.

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    1. Anthony,

      With respect to the PHB I understand that to some degree and also the MM but a bit less.

      However, nothing in OSRIC or LL+AEC compares to the DMG nor do they try. The only DM oriented books on my shelves that compare at all are from Palladium (the Adventure Book and GM Book for Rifts), Cyberpunk 2020 (Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads), and the JG Ready Ref Sheets (oh, and Matt's Adventure Design).

      But Gary covered most of the same ground as all of those in one book and that is something I try to get every GM, of any game, to buy. I've kept my AD&D1 DMG on the table during D&D, TFT, Traveller, Stars without Number, all kinds of Palladium, and more.

      So, no, OSRIC and LL+AEC aren't the same, at least not for that one.

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    2. Herb,

      Good point about the DMG. While I'm not as admiring of/nostalgic for it as (I assume) most are here, it is the unique entry in the 1E original trio.

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  9. Anthony,

    Neither OSRIC nor LL + AEC has the original text and art of 1e, both of which are huge elements of the game's appeal. The clones are great reference works and publisher's tools -- since it's highly unlikely WotC is going to make AD&D open -- but they can't replace the originals, nor were they intended to do so.

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  10. Maybe this means that WoTC is actually listening to their customers.

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  11. Matthew,

    In a lot of cases, it means WotC is listening to people who used to be customers -- and that's a pretty amazing thing. I never honestly thought they'd do something like this and it gives me hope that, maybe, just maybe the company recognizes that they've not only mishandled D&D but also their relations with its fanbase.

    I have no expectation that this is anything more than a one-time thing intended to garner goodwill for 5e, but, even so, I am delighted by it. WotC has my attention again and that's something I never thought would happen.

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  12. My copies are in great condition, too, but I'll probably buy the reprints. I wish they would show us the new covers, though. (And it would be nice if they would retain the art from the covers as full color plates within the books, especially in the case of the Player's Handbook.)

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    1. Retain the art from the original covers as full color plates, that is (in case I was unclear).

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  13. The Sunless Citadel was the last WotC product I bought... so late 2000?

    I might snag 1d3 of these reprints just to encourage them to do the same for books that are harder to come by.

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  14. Interesting. I might just get them when they come out. If everything but the cover is the same, it might be an interesting addition.

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  15. Wow! Now if they could just throw out OD&D + Greyhawk in a bound volume (like I have from a friend), I'd love to see how that sells.

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  16. I hope they use good acid-free paper.

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  17. I dunno. In my experience you can get good condition originals for less than $30 each. Buy an original and make a donation to the GMF. Why give WotC the business?

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    1. To reward an instance of good behavior, to encourage more of the same?

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    2. Magic the Gathering killed off 3/4 of adventure game publishers and distributors. The remaining publishers then had to deal with the D20 boom/glut. If you had a game not based on D20 it was nigh impossible to find a wholesaler. The net effect was we had a decade of largely crap d20 games. And then we got 4ed.
      WotC beat the adventure game hobby within an inch of it's life and left it bleeding in the gutter. I'm not inclined to give them my money.

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  18. It'd be cool if the new covers are suitably "old'school" in style.

    I'n not sure if I'll get them though. I'm pretty happy with OSRIC, LL/AEC & S&W myself. The $100 for those 3 books could buy a nice pile of OSR goodness.

    But, I may feel differently once the books are actually available... :)

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  19. I agree with captain jack, while the reprint may be interesting, you can get the originals for as cheap as $10... meaning this is not about just the contents if you want to buy the reprints.

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  20. @Lasgunpacker

    Most copies in nice condition cost significantly more that $10, especially if you need to pay additionally for shipping. I'm not a collector, but I still like my books to be in good shape. Now, I already have well preserved copies of the originals, so I'm not sure I can justify buying the reprints, but I'm sure there are many people out there that don't have the originals.

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  21. like i always say: every time a game design company mollifies a grognard, an angel gets its wings

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  22. When they re-release B/X, THEN I'll be excited.
    ; )

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  23. I have just set aside the cash for these three books. They will probably NOT be the last RPG books I will ever buy, but they will be the ones I'm proudest to own...

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  24. I agree with some of the prevous posters - while I have no particular need for additional copies of AD&D books, I want to help reward good behavior and encourage more of it. I'm not so starry-eyed as to believe this is the start of something big, but I'm also not so bitterly cynical as to dismiss it out of hand.

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  25. I agree with some of the prevous posters - while I have no particular need for additional copies of AD&D books, I want to help reward good behavior and encourage more of it. I'm not so starry-eyed as to believe this is the start of something big, but I'm also not so bitterly cynical as to dismiss it out of hand.

    Exactly. I don't really understand the negativity about it. Even if one has no interest in buying the reprints, it's a very nice gesture by WotC to produce them at all. That they're doing so in part to help to help out the Gygax Memorial Fund is pretty classy, too. From my perspective, there are no downsides to this and it gives just the slightest bit of hope that, if nothing else, WotC understands that D&D is more than just a "brand" they own.

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    1. I come off as a bit harsh. My perspective was and is that diversity produces the most creative and interesting products. That's why I am such a big booster of the OSR. WotC's success in the 90s and the monopoly building that follow in the publishing and distribution sides of the industry curtailed diversity in the adventure game hobby for many years after.

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  26. I agree with everyone who has been saying that this is great news, and it is great news. It is great that WotC is willing to make these books available again and via their sales make a contribution to the Gygax Memorial Fund.

    What is not great is that I am being denied the opportunity to purchase and contribute because I am neither American nor Canadian. These books are only available to purchase in North America. Now I have friends that have offered to purchase these for me and ship them. Which is very kind of them and I appreciate their offers. Nevertheless, I feel guilty about having to do so and about having to put them through this effort, let alone the fact that I would have to pay extra. In fact, I would rather that the extra I would pay in shipping go to the memorial fund, but it is unlikely to do so...

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  27. HOLY CRAP!

    Hell just froze over.

    Well, I will be copies of each one.

    The fact part of the profits goes to the EGG memorial fund is awesome.

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  28. I am stunned! I didn't see this one coming at all, but I am thrilled. Hopefully, sales will do well and they will follow up with the OD&D and BD&D books as well.

    Donating in part to the memorial fund is an wonderful gesture.

    The comment about an "attractive new cover design" disturbs me a bit but hopefully it won't be too bad.

    All in all, great move WotC. This move grants you a whole basket full of respect points!

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  29. This is great news for AD&D 1E fans and people who want to see the Gygax Memorial completed! Somewhat infelicitously, it came a bit too late to prevent me from recently picking up ANOTHER DMG, PHB, MM set for less than $30! :-/ I now have TWO complete sets of AD&D 'core' materials! Not to mention, I don't even PLAY AD&D, as I'm a B/X(labyrinth Lord), Tunnels and Trolls 5.5, Basic Roleplaying Guy(But I do read the books for enjoyment, and I LOVE the 1E/B/X Era modules...) But, hey, backup copies, right?

    As this is both for charity(I've given to the Gygax Memorial Fund before, but it's worth doing so again, imo.), and it will help support my local game store. This justifies the (um, re[?])purchases in my mind.

    Personally, I thought they'd do this sometime, probably around 2014, for D&D's 40th Anniversary. Or maybe in 2017, to commemorate the beginnings of AD&D. Of course, 2019 could work, too, as it would mark the 40th year of the publication of the AD&D line.

    Of course, I must admit, I ALSO thought AD&D(and possibly White Box and/or Moldvay/Cook/Marsh, and maybe Mentzer in their respective turns on their anniversaries) would be reprinted in a facsimile edition(possibly super-overpriced) and all the profits would be funneled to Hasbro!

    I'm pleasantly surprised at the relatively good price(matching up with many measures of inflation since the 70's), and the fact that Wizbro will be donating some percentage to the Gygax Memorial Statue Fund!!

    Big ups to them!


    Minor worries: the binding and hardcover quality. Those pre-mid 80's books were frickin' indestructible. Modern standards don't seem so high.

    Re: the cover design.
    As this is at least partially aimed at the collectors market, there needed to be SOMETHING distinctive about it. Now you have Original AD&D, Orange Spine AD&D, and Gygax Memorial Fund Re-issu AD&D PHB, DMG, and MM.

    Of course, what about Arneson and the rest of the TSR crew? How about a good, thorough, impartial history of the game, huh? C'mon Wizbro, make it happen! :-)
    Also, I hope they re-issue affordable White Box, Holmes, B/X, and Mentzer books and Box Sets. And then the modules and supplements of Ages past(including more 1E+ books). They'd clean up on this.(Though probably not from me, I have practically all of these I 'need'.[Sometimes more than one copy, actually!])

    Thanx for the post, James!

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  30. The news inspired me to get a first print PHB on Ebay. My late-print one has lost its back cover and is falling apart (at this point my UA is just a pile of mush, but I pretty much feel 'good riddance'). Re the PHB, since I'm runnng a twice weekly 1e game right now, I need a good one!

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  31. The comment on print quality:

    The reason most of the 1st ed AD&D books have held up so well (except UA) is quite interesting. Gary wanted all of the books to have a damn near indestructible quality, as in a text book. Luckily, one of the people at Random House had a son who played D&D. Random House was, and still is, one of the largest publishers in the world, and print many quality textbooks. So the deal was made and the rest is gaming history.

    Why Unearthed Arcana is not holding up over time is a mystery to me.

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    1. It seems to me I'd heard/read the story(on the acaeum", I think...) about the Random House exec and her/his(?) D&D playing son before, as this is supposedly how TSR got a deal with the company in the first place! One must admit that Random House did a great job on the seminal books in the line!

      'Why Unearthed Arcana is not holding up over time is a mystery to me.':
      I find this EXTREMELY odd, myself, as I've had several copies personally(the 'spares' given away as gifts), and seen/handled about a dozen or so more, and regularly see online sales featuring relatively well-preserved books. That said, almost ALL the Oriental Adventures AD&D books I've seen or possessed are coming apart, and there are quite a few online auctions featuring copies with poor bindings!

      Of course, as I understand it, both UA and OA use the same printing stock and bindings, so there you go. Makes you wonder what happened....

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  32. As someone who entered the hobby with the advent of Pathfinder I find this news exciting. I already went down to my FLGS and reserved copies. I'm very interested in reading the history of the games I love so much, and if I can ever get a group to go for it, I'd love to play it and some of the classic modules.

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  33. Well, I'm not buying into it. WotC/Hasbro destroyed the game I loved and I decided to never give them my money, so I'm not going to back down now. I still have all the original D&D rulebooks(from the LBB through AD&D), both play and collector's copies. I've tossed my hat into the OSR products -- OSRIC, LL, S&W, et al. and that's where I choose to spend my gaming dollars. I think the OSR generally embodies the spirit of the game when I first picked it up (1977) and that's part of the attraction to me -- lots of creativity flowing around unimpeded by corporate BS.

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