Gary Gygax has died. Most of the Book Shop Blog readers are probably scratching their head at who Gary Gygax is, but in certain parts of the internet there is a great weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over this. Gygax (along with Dave Arneson) was the creator of the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game which is the quintessential nerd hobby. Many people spent their formative years chucking polyhedral dice on Friday nights.*
D& D spawned legions of books, plus TV shows, movies, video games, and helped created the gaming industry as we know it. Tabletop roleplaying games like D&D helped drive the creation of the videogame industry. Many of the most popular videogame franchises are roleplaying games.
Early books command high prices from gamers because once people started gaming, they tended to hold onto their books and never let them go. Many are highly sought after collectibles. Many also came in box sets, so it’s rare to find the book, the box, and all the contents of the box in good condition.
Expect early D&D and AD&D books to see a bump in sales at this news. (we sold one the day the news broke!) A lot of the early books had material that was later cut out due to legal issues or just play bad taste. Some were even recalled. Some books to be on the lookout for:
Deities and Demigods- 1st edition- The first editions contained stuff that was later cut out due to some questions about legality. Look for Cthulhu. (of H.P. Lovecraft fame) If he’s in there, it’s the first edition. $60 and up, depending on condition
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual AND Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide- Two more “oops, maybe we shouldn’t have put that in there books” $200+ depending on condition
The Dragon Magazine- early issues. Dragon is still in production. It provided lots of supplementary material. Early issues may go for $100 and up. #1 expect over $200
Early numbered modules- It varies a lot depending on the module. The earlier the better. Many were reprinted later, making them less valuable. The truly valuable ones were ones that weren’t reprinted or had some sort of massive difference between editions.
AD&D Palace of the Silver Princess- 1st edition- Look for the Orange Cover. Due to questionable content, the first printing of this goes for big bucks…. To the tune of $3050 on Ebay for a copy still in the shrink wrap. Later editions aren’t worth anywhere near that.
The original printing of Dungeons and Dragons pamphlets- HA! Good luck finding these pamphlets! Later printings (5th and later) show up relatively frequently and average $150 and up. The earlier you go, the higher the price climbs. There aren’t a lot of complete sets in good condition left. They were loved to death and fell apart.
For booksellers, if you happen to trip over some of these early items, you will probably have better luck selling that on Ebay than on ABE or Biblio. The hard core players aren’t looking for them there so won’t find them. If it’s languished in your shop for awhile, put it on the auction block.
(*I still have quite the collection of polyhedral dice and game every Friday night, but nobody but other gamers wants to hear about THAT. Gaming stories make non-gamers eyes glaze.)