Monday, October 18, 2021

The Nitty Gritty of Game Collecting (and Balancing the collector with the gamer)

 I've been rebuilding my D&D 3.5 collection for almost a year now, and it's looking pretty robust. Almost 80% of the collection as I remembered it....the books I used with some regularity, or at least wanted to use...are back in the collection. My success at finding clean, nice copies has been pretty good, actually. Aside from a ratty first edition Creature Collection and a water-damaged original Tome of Horrors (oddly labeled "in mint condition" by the seller) I've had some major success.

Now, however, things are starting to get into the tricky gray area of books which I would like, but for which so would everyone else, and there aren't that many to go around. These books hold collector's values, and as a result are really difficult to secure copies for at prices I would consider reasonable for a copy that is destined to be read and used in play at the table. I'm not collecting for the heck of it....I want to use these puppies. 

Some of these books are particularly vexxing, too. Monster Manual IV and V are damned expensive, with the MM IV commanding $125 or more on average (though I found a mildly scratched copy for $79 after shipping, so I'll call that a win). The MM V, for reasons I assume are because of how late it was released in the D&D 3.5 lifecycle, is going for $200 or more easily. Yikes! Odds I will find a copy.....slim. 

One nice thing about Ebay is if you wait long enough, someone will pop up with a good quality copy of a book and either aren't too interested in gouging for it (want to make a quick sale) or they don't know what they have (didn't do the research). I secured a $55 like-new copy of the D&D 3.0 Book of Challenges this way, a price normally too low for a ratty copy, based on months of watching for it.

Still....this does mean that as I move forward, its going to be a harder (and slower) process to secure the books I want. MM V? Probably not anytime soon. Rappan Athuk Reloaded? Hah! Probably smarter to either spend less money on the very expensive D&D 5E edition of that module, or better yet, just go full 3E and buy the original trilogy in much cheaper format....maybe supplement it with the POD version or something. 

The print on demand market has helped, of course. Most Necromancer Games books don't cost too much these days, but I suspect that's because a bunch of them are available in POD at Even Rappan Athuk Reloaded, which is a $60 reprint can be found in POD, and suffers only for not being able to provide the original maps properly. 

Another side effect of collecting for ownership vs. collecting as a gamer is that I can at least narrow down what I want to own to "the stuff I will use." I have so far found no need for Book of Nine Swords (the shadow precursor to D&D 4E) or Magic of Incarnum (a book no one wanted to mess with back in the day). I can preemptively never worry about buying a disastrous Mongoose of FFE splatbook in 2021, since I have the retrospective to look back and know which 3PP were destined to be good and which ones just plain sucked.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying my 3.5E game every other Tuesday almost as much as my Cthulhu 7E and Mothership games. It is beating out Pathfinder 2E as well, which much as I like my world and setting for that campaign, I find myself constantly comparing PF2E to D&D 3.5 and wondering how it is that the many iterations of D20 strayed in such weird yet predictable ways. Even 5E is shelved for me, for a while at least; maybe when D&D 5.5 arrives it will tempt me again, who knows. 

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