Thursday, January 19, 2012

Speaking of Reprints

James M. Ward has made the 1st edition of Metamorphosis Alpha available as a print-on-demand book through Lulu.com. Needless to say, I've ordered a copy for myself. How could I not? This is the first out-of-print RPG book I remember actively seeking out when I was a kid and it frustrated me beyond all measure that I couldn't find. Nowadays, of course, you can find it, but, thanks to absurd speculation, the cost of acquiring it is more than I'm willing to pay.

Here's the thing: I want old RPG materials like this so I can use them. I don't care about their value as collectibles. The value of games is in being played. I simply do not understand the point of owning a game and then hermetically sealing it away from the elements. As my players can tell, I use my LBBs and other OD&D materials at my game table. That means they'll eventually fall apart, but that's the nature of well-loved games.

Thanks to Jim Ward for making Metamorphosis Alpha available again for a new generation. Now, if only WotC would do the same with some of their back catalog, I'll be even more impressed with them than I already am.

NOTE: I am well aware of the AD&D reprints, since I just wrote a post about it. When I say "back catalog," I am talking about WotC's other old school D&D products, in particular the adventure modules.

21 comments:

  1. Actually, they are. There's a lot of rumoring about 1E AD&D manuals reprint today in the blogosphere.

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    1. Wow. Always cool to see reprints, especially for a good cause.

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  2. How delightful! Finally, I can afford a copy!

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  3. WotC has in his catalog the core OAD&D hardbacks. Your wish has been fulfilled :)

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  4. Please, check: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Product.aspx?x=dnd/products/dndacc/02410000

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  5. Here's the thing: I want old RPG materials like this so I can use them. I don't care about their value as collectibles. The value of games is in being played. I simply do not understand the point of owning a game and then hermetically sealing it away from the elements.

    More accurately: the value of gaming products is in deriving enjoyment out of them, even if you don't have the time to play much anymore. I agree there's no sense in keeping collectibles for collectible sake (other than the possible monetary). But I've had loads fun this past year just rereading classic TSR and ICE modules and reliving old adventures. I'll never throw them away, doubtfully ever sell them... but will probably rarely play them again either. There are a couple of missed classics I could even see myself buying (for a reasonable price) just for the sake of reading, and this is especially true of, say, ICE's Middle-Earth modules, which offer scholarly backgrounds to Tolkien's world.

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  6. I've never played it but I guess I'm lucky enough to own an original copy of the game. It has a little bit of wear but overall it is in good shape. One of the final bits of Coast Con in my hometown of Biloxi, MS was an auction for charity. People donated items for the auction and like I said, all the money went to charity. It was towards the end of the day on Sunday and a lot of people had left so the auction was thin of bidders. This book came up and I don't think most people even knew what it was....I won the bid with something like $16. This was around 1989 or 1990.

    Yay me!!!!

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  7. Is this new news? I already had this in my shopping cart over at Lulu, and I haven't been there since December to shop. Maybe they just hadn't announced it.

    But next Lulu order I'll get one too, just because.

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  8. Peter,

    It's news to me. If I'd have known about it sooner, I'd definitely had snagged a copy back in December.

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  9. Reprinting AD&D is neat. it's something wen wanted for a while, and i suppose I could use another DMG, but this blows it out of the water for me. I've wanted MA for years now, but the prices are absurd on ebay most of the time. I almost feel bad buying it at $15. I would have paid double that with out batting an eyelid, knowing that it benefited Mr Ward. I guess I'll just have to order two.

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  10. Wow, pt. 2! Totally agree on the "so I can use them" proselytizing.

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  11. So James Ward kept the rights to the game and not WOTC? That's real interesting, anyone know why? And is there any other former-TSR property like that?

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  12. I would love to see a collector's hardcover that included all of the B modules. And another that had all the X ones. Ooh, and one that had all the Tournament modules... Ok, I'd rebuy any of the classic modules in reprinted form. Mostly so I won't feel guilty using the falling apart copies I already own. The staple bound modules are hard to keep from wearing out.

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  13. So James Ward kept the rights to the game and not WOTC? That's real interesting, anyone know why? And is there any other former-TSR property like that?

    The only other one I can think of is Empire of the Petal Throne.

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  14. I would think that Fight in the Skies/Dawn Patrol (which I believe Mike Carr retains ownership of) and Divine Right (which saw a reprint in recent years) would also be in that category. Probably also games by non-TSR employees like Warlocks & Warriors and Cohorts.

    IIRC, Jim Ward was not a TSR employee at the time he created Met Alpha, but was when Gamma World was created. His contract for Met Alpha may have allowed for him to retain ownership.

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  15. This is awesome news! Although I'm not really a fan of sci-fi RPGs, I have always wanted to take a look at this. If nothing else, it is a part of the history of our hobby. At $15 for a physical copy (which I think would be reasonable for a PDF), I can't imagine anyone wanting to miss out on this.

    Thank you Drawmij!

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  16. This is great! $15 for the ORIGINAL ME, and for a good cause, too! Not to mention it is a historical document in its own right. Get multiple copies, people.(If you can afford it, it goes without saying, but...) I plan to.

    Thanx for the post, James! I, too, missed this the first time it was announced!

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  17. I, too, remember reading that Messrs. Carr and Ward retained the rights for their respective games for those reasons.

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  18. I purchased the Met Alpha POD. This is my first Lulu purchase. I'm curious how it will turn out.

    I used this coupon code:
    LULUBOOK305

    25% off your order, good through January 31.

    With this coupon, the total was $15.23, including shipping. Payable by PayPal.

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  19. Hi!

    Yes, Jim does retain the legal rights to MA. I spoke to Jim about price and the absolute most we considered was $19.99, and we decided that was too steep for a book that was $5.99 in the day. The $14.99 price tag keeps the price low and still allows Jim a small (and not unreasonable) profit from the book.

    Jim owns the rights to MA, and the Dragon Magazine articles relating to MA. There's more info about this in Wikipedia.

    Craig J. Brain
    WardCo.

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  20. I too look for older RPG products to actually use. Many hard core collectors have made that impossible for some items.

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