Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Interesting . . . .

I was looking at the various releases for D&D, I found this interesing -

To play AD&D 1st Edition - you needed the following to play it fully (I've inlcuded EVERYTHING in this list, including "side" books - not essential, but useful) - and I've included publishing dates . . . .

2009 Monster Manual (Note that in 1980 the MM1 was reprinted with another cover)

2010 Player's Handbook (Note that in 1980 the PB was reprinted with another cover)

2011 Dungeon Master's Guide (Note that in 1980 the DMG was reprinted with another cover

2013 Deities & Demigods (Note there are 2 versions, the older one having the Cthulhu and Melnibonean Mythos, the other omitting them - the earlier edition was the best

2012 Fiend Folio

2016 Monster Manual 2

2017 Unearthed Arcana
2013 Legends & Lore
2018 Oriental Adventures

2019 Dungeoneer's Survival Guide
2020 Wilderness Survival Guide

2022 Manual of the Planes)

So, for AD&D 1st Edition - a total of 12 Core Books published over a period of 10 years. Gary and TSR were in it for the long haul with AD&D 1st Ed. Then disaster struck, and Gary left TSR . . . .

So, on to AD&D 2nd Edition - still a nice set of rules (at its root it was basically the same as AD&D 1st Ed) the then (NOT) TSR had tidied it up - BUT they had ADDED the "Complete" Character Books to the lineup of books needed to play the game fully as the new TSR envisoned it.

2100 Dungeon Master's Guide
2101 Player's Handbook
2102 Monstrous Compendium, Vol. 1
2103 Monstrous Compendium, Vol. 2
2110 PHBR1 The Complete Fighter's Handbook
2111 PHBR2 The Complete Thief's Handbook

2108 Legends & Lore
2113 PHBR3 The Complete Priest's Handbook
2115 PHBR4 The Complete Wizards's Handbook
2114 DMGR1 Campaign Sourcebook & Catacomb Guide
2112 DMGR2 Castle Guide

2118 MC 8, Monstrous Compendium, Outer Planes Appendix
2117 PHBR5 The Complete Book of Psionics
2124 PHBR6 The Complete Book of Dwarves
2123 DMGR3 Arms and Equipment Guide
2121 Tome of Magic

2129 MC 14, Monstrous Compendium, Fiend Folio Appendix
2127 PHBR7 The Complete Bard's Handbook
2131 PHBR8 The Complete Book of Elves
2128 DMGR4 Monster Mythology

2140 Monstrous Manual
2138 Book of Artifacts
2134 PHBR9 The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings
2135 PHBR10 The Complete Book of Humanoids
2136 PHBR11 The Complete Ranger's Handbook
2133 DMGR5 Creative Campaigning

2145 Monstrous Compendium Annual Vol. 1
2147 PHBR12 The Complete Paladin's Handbook
2150 PHBR13 The Complete Druid's Handbook
2144 DMGR6 The Complete Book of Villains

2159 Player's Handbook, revised
2160 Dungeon Master's Guide, revised
2149 Player's Option: Combat & Tactics
2154 Player's Option: Skills & Powers
2156 Dungeon Master's Options: High Level Campaign
9504 Dungeon Master's Screen and Master Index
2158 Monstrous Compendium Annual Vol. 2
2148 PHBR14 The Complete Barbarian's Handbook
2155 PHBR15 The Complete Ninja's Handbook
2151 DMGR7 The Complete Book of Necromancers

2163 Player's Option: Spells & Magic
2164 Sages and Specialists
2167 AD&D CD-ROM: Core Rules
9532 World Builder's Guidebook
2166 Monstrous Compendium Annual, Vol. 3

2170 Of Ships and the Sea

2167 AD&D CD-ROM Core Rules Version 2.0
2140 Monstrous Manual
9556 Dungeon Builder's Guidebook
2173 Monstrous Compendium Annual, Vol. 4

11349 Priest's Spell Compendium, Vol 1
11383 AD&D Campaign Option: Council of Wyrms
11453 AD&D CD-ROM Core Rules Version 2.0 (Re-release)

I HAVE NOT INCLUDED in this list, because they weren't really needed, the variant Historical Books, the Spell Compendiums, or the various Card Decks released.

So, for AD&D 2nd Edition - a total of 53 Core Books published over a period of 10 years.

So, since Gary leaving TSR you have gone from 12 Books to play to a whopping 53! FFS! Talking about over-egging the pudding (Black, or course).

Now, onto the WizBro years - I never really got into Wizards (not) DnD - I bought the books, read them - even ran a couple of games - then went back to 1st Ed (with a little 2nd) when 3.5 Came out!

28 'essential' Books released for 3rd Ed in four years making it (on average) the most expensive edition so far.

That was until (also in 2003) 3.5 started pouring out . . . . .

42 Books (correct me if I have fallen short, again I've left out compendiums and such) in just 5 years - putting 3.5 on the top of the expense list.

I have a question for WizkBro - how come thier version of 3.5 (not) DnD needed so many Books to run the game properly. Whereas Pathfinder needs less than a quarter as many books to be up and running properly.

GREED thats why, WizBro and TSR 2 were greedy - Gary made a good living out of AD&D - he did it by producing good, solid product - not by "blanket bombing" the market . . . . .

Right, onto 4th (not) DnD . . . .

In just 3 years, WizBro have released 42 "essential" products for (not) DnD (I've included the Power Cards etc - because they are now essential for smooth play) - FORTY TWO - now thats NOT including the now important Miniature Releases - If you include them the grand total becomes silly (including the 5 Floorplan sets that you will need to go with your miniatures).

Congratulations to WizBro - they have out done themselves this time.

Compare that to Castles & Crusades wich will be 6 essential Products when the Castle Keepers guide finally comes out, Labyrinth Lord which requires but two books (and can be gotten for free), and Pathfinder (if you have a 3.5 leaning) needs only 8 Books (including the Screen) - 9 if you need the conversion guide to bring Characters over from 3.5!

So, to all the 4th Edition (not) DnD fans out there - WHAT A BUNCH OF SUCKERS . . . . . . . . .


  1. Back in the day, I had the 'core' 1e books (MM, PHB, DMG), then acquired FF and D&DG, which you don't really need. Flash forward 20 years and I managed to reacquire them all (including D&DG with Cthulhu and Melnibonean mythos - just a tenner for that one!)and in a deal where I thought I was just getting MM, the seller popped in MM2 included in the price.

    So really, any OS gamer worth his salt should be able to run a campaign on three books.

    I wonder just how many of those 42 'essential' products for 3.5/4e are really essential. Could 4e run on fewer books? Or did WizBro (love that one!) deliberately design the game so that it couldn't be played except with the purchase of product after product. If that's the case, then they are really cynically exploiting the desire of new gamers to 'play the game properly' and deserve everything that Warduke throws at them.

    The low start-up cost of Old School gaming (even lower if you go for one of the retro-clones where the downloads sans illustrations are free) surely must be one of the major selling points of the OSR. I wonder that we don't hear it mentioned more often. Of course WizBro are going to keep it as quiet as they can because they don't want people to know that they can get a simpler game for a lot less.

  2. But the older Games (such as AD&D 1e) AREN'T simplistic, they have more than enought detail to cope with most situations (see the next post).

    The 'essentials' list is really by way of joke (both from me and from a marketing perspective) - and yet the RPG buying public at large KEEP falling for it!

    Well done on getting the original D&DG btw!

  3. I certainly did NOT say simplistic. There is a big difference between that and simple. Simple means basically applying Occam's Razor to a rules-set, reducing it to the minimum required to run a good game. Simplistic is reducing it too far, almost dumbing down to pander to a perceived lowest common denominator.

    Hope that clears up the misunderstanding and underlines my original point.

  4. Sorry, I didn't make myself clear either - I was reffering to the Rabid 4e Fanboys who slag AD&D 1e off!

    I've encountered MORE hostility from them towards eariler editions than generated by ANY OS Rant!

  5. I have played every edition of D&D when it was out. Usually buying the books the day they come out.

    Now I keep my math very simple, I have only kept the core books of each edition, plus some extras. All editions from my Original Brown books to my latest Pathfinder and 4e purchases sit very nicely on my shelf.

    If someone is playing a game and enjoying it how is that a bad thing?

    Is my fun when I play with my Moldvay Basic Set quantitatively more or less due to the number of books I need vs when I play 4th edition?

    You have a good blog here, but this is a weak argument against 4e. So weak in fact in undermines your whole case.

    So what the companies involved make a lot of books. They are businesses and businesses need to make money to survive. The consumer decides what they want to buy. If they buy it and enjoy it does that make it wrong somehow? I don't own any of the "Martial Power" books, but one of my gaming buddies does. He likes them. He gets enjoyment out of them. Is that wrong somehow?

    I don't own any Power Cards, I have maybe one or two sets of Dungeon Tiles, a few minis and no where near all the books. I play D&D 4 just fine. I can then reuse all the tiles and minis all when I play AD&D 1st Ed, Pathfinder or Labyrinth Lord.

    If you don't like D&D4, that's great. But the case you make here doesn't convince me it is a "bad game" to play.

    Personally I like it. I like AD&D 1st ed too. I liked 2nd Ed till those Skills and Powers books came out. Loved Greyhawk, hated the Realms, didn't get Planescape or Spelljammer, but got all squishy inside for anything Mystara or Ravenloft.

    The point?
    We all have opinions on what is good. But they are usually only good for ourselves. To look at a game though and say people are "foolish" for buying it is a bit myopic.

  6. Yes, I had the misfortune to be on the receiving end of one such rant when I quite innocently asked (on Carl Nash's blog) what it was about 4e that people preferred it over the earlier iterations of the game.

    It was a genuine question, the answer to which eludes me. Part of it lies with the prior gaming experience of new entrants to 4e, which seems to be almost wholly MMORPG in nature. There seems to be a need for rapid, repeated and frequent gratification as regards game goals, an unkillable character (more or less) and a linear progression through the story-led game experience. These days, a gamer starting out in WizBro's game can make themselves a custom-built character, rather than play a character that may be (gasp) less than perfect and (even bigger gasp) mortal. There's something quite fun about not knowing what your character's going to be until after the dice have spoken and then making the best of what might be some pretty average rolls. That kind of fun is what 4e players are missing out on. I feel kind of sorry for them.

    @Tim Brannan - your quote "I have played every edition of D&D when it was out. Usually buying the books the day they come out."

    You are clearly more restrained now and are able to make judgements as to what will work best for the gaming that you do. You have answered my point about the 'essential' nature of the 4e product - for you, no they are not. The point that LoDK and I make is that mature adults are not the audience at whom the endless stream of 'essential' books is aimed. Those who define their adherence to an edition by the amount of merchandise that they acquire, in the same fashion that pop fans display their loyalty to a band by getting everything related to that band, also 'on the day it comes out' are the people who WotC intend to target.

  7. Whilst I appreciate your opinion, you are kinda missing my point. WizBro's marketing is such that those who aren't as wise or disciplined as your good self fall into the "Must have everything" trap - that sort of marketing is not only unfair in the current world economic climate but immoral IMHO. WizBro's stance over PDF's was a sneaky way of removing ALL PDF's from sale - including older editions. Leaving people no option but to play 4e (not) DnD if they want to play an (apparently) official game. Playing games is good, extorting money out of your customer base is not.

    Accusing me of being short sighted in my opinions is totally incorrect, as I am seeing the big picture of where the market (and marketing) is going - in making that accusation (and the fact you seem to have pretty much missed my point) shows you are actually being somewhat myopic youself.

    I have DM'ed and played each and every edition since the white box, and since Gary left TSR seen the slippery slide. There are PLENTY more RPG's out there BETTER than 4th (better in rules, better in pricing) - Pathfinder, Hackmaster 4th, Castles & Crusades, Legends and Lore, OSRIC - PLAY a GOOD game Folks.

  8. @ Daddy-G - its the MMORPG-ed-ness I really can't get my head around - why do it, its a step backwards really.

    MMORPG's are simpler by sheer nature of design, they have to be to be played efficiently in a 'virtual' environment - by making 4e (not) DnD so much in the image of an MMORPG its made everything bland (for want of a better term) - sure the spells and abilities are there. But NOW they all pretty much work in the same way.

  9. Let me ask this then. And I will assume that I am also being narrow here (natural).

    If someone plays D&D4 and does not know of Pathfinder, or C&C or OSRIC their fun is somewhat less?

    Can I argue then that everyone playing *D&D is having less fun than me because I discovered C.J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG which I have described as "the most perfect rpg I* have ever played"?

    Of course I can't make that claim. I even said "I*" knowing then I could say that. But I still feel it is best game ever.

    So what is it you want?

    You can't make D&D4 less popular. You can't make Wizards go back to AD&D1.

    I guess all that is left is to extol the virtues of the OSR games you like. Run them at cons, talk about them in your blog.
    But call D&D4 "not D&D" won't win extra fans, only ones that already feel the same and they are not adding to the numbers.

    Here is what a buddy of mine does. He is an RPG evangelist. He believes games are supposed to fun and educational. So he volunteers his time to run the local High School RPG club. He brings in a lot of games to play. Currently he is playing Pathfinder with all the old school modules.
    I met up some of his grads at Gen Con one year, they are still gaming.

    Small numbers yes. But positive ones.

  10. @ Tim - You're bringing it back to purely systems which wasn't originally my point, not at all - my point is they are trying to wring as much money out of the RPG buying public as quickly as they possibly can. It can ony be damaging for the hobby as a whole in the long term, if you can't at least see my point you are either being deliberately obtuse or a pillock!

  11. No. I just don't see how a company making money is supposed to be a bad thing?

  12. You're never going to see my point for whatever reason. Whether you don't want to, or simply can't I don't know. YES every company needs to make money, but mark my words IN THE LONG RUN what they are doing WILL be damaging to the Hobby as a whole. Hasbro are FAMED for flogging the proverbial dead horse until sales start to flag, and then dropping the IP or product line when it stops being profitable. Is that what they should be doing to the D&D license, is it right - I don't think so. Reach inside, to your heart - do you think its right.