AD&D: Regarding the Reprints

Yes, I know I'm late to the party on this, but I'd like to address the reprints of the first edition DMG, PHB, and Monster Manuals. My own personal feeling is that everyone in the old school community should be preparing to buy these when they come out.  I should've expected the bitter whining that has erupted in some areas (though thankfully, it seems, a vocal minority) from over-entitled gamers about this: Yes, you can get them for FAR cheaper on ebay.  But you know what sellers on ebay don't have?  Modern printing costs, overhead, warehousing, and distribution costs. The reason to buy these is obviously not because they're cheap.  You should buy them to support the effort. Show WotC that this was indeed a good idea; that the audience is here and we are willing to buy our game again, should it come back into print.

And seriously, the costs aren't all that out of line with other gaming books of similar size.  Maybe a bit higher, but so be it, really.

Really, so you hate 4e.  So do I--and Hell, I found the 4th ed version of Tomb of Horrors, and the 4th ed Basic Set more than a bit insulting to my sensibilities as well.  But you know what?  It wasn't WotC's intent to slap grognards across the face--that such was a result was, to my mind, pretty wildly unintentional.  I honestly believe that they were trying in their way to offer a tribute; it just backfired in the old school community. And more than a little of that backlash is coming from these self-same over-entitled gamers who think Hasbro is some sort of Evil Empire out to screw them at every turn.

It's now quite nice to see WotC actually recognizing the old school community and paying real tribute to the history of the game.  To see them getting it right.  To see them paying credit to the resurgence of interest in old editions of the game.  The only thing better would be to see them re-release OD&D. Maybe in 2016, for the 40th anniversary!

As for this re-release, I'm looking forward to the new cover art, and I believe that if these versions of the books are a success, we could in fact see more official support for them again. Lord knows they've got a potential cash cow in the libraries of old modules they could re-release, in the other AD&D hardbacks, etc.  But if old-schoolers turn our noses up at this effort, all it does is validate the opinions of the newer generation that we're just bitter old people for whom nothing is good enough.

We are sabotaging ourselves (once again) if we don't recognize and support this effort.  And if your opinion is "We already have a thriving first edition community; we don't need them anymore," well, then there's nothing I can say to change your mind on that.  And I'll keep my rather colorful opinions about that attitude to myself, save to say that you're right--we don't need WotC.  Nor do most of us need OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, Spellcraft & Swordplay, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Basic Fantasy, or any of the other retro-clone or nostalgia games or publishers out there--Hell, we can get AD&D on ebay for dirt cheap and it's readily available, as are the old modules, and with some creativity we're all capable of writing our own modules for our groups.

But I, for one, am happy as a pig in shit to have them on board. Every last one, from WotC to LotFP.


  1. I am not sure if I will actually play AD&D, leaning more toward heavily house-ruled OD&D (actually LL) but with bits of Advanced thrown in. However, I will be buying the full set of these.

  2. I've heard it suggested that the re-print is to satisfy a more nefarious purpose... to renew the copyright.

    But i'll still be buying them.

    Now, if only they came with new Trampier artwork...

  3. I completely agree with your post. What I find really funny is that all of the players I know bought the PHB, DMG, and MM all over again when TSR put the new covers on them back in the 80s. Yeah, I hear the people that are saying the price has increased but tell me how much gas is now!

  4. Aaron: that's completely laughable, the idea that this is to renew copyright. As a corporate publication, under current copyright law AD&D remains in copyright until 2068. It's a bit early for WotC to be concerned about that. Not to mention, renewing copyright is just stupid on their part because the OGL has made it possible to re-create the game free and clear (as OSRIC has shown us), and the D&D Trademark (as a trademark) has no expiration date, so long as WotC continues to enforce it.

    But then, some gamers will find nefarious conspiracies in everything the Evil Empire does.

  5. I am buying it and I am going to play AD&D 1st ed with my kids. Hell they want to do that now more than D&D4. So THAT is the secret purpose of WotC, to make people forget all about D&D4!

    Seriously the grognards (lower case g) need to fucking get over themselves and stop bitching and seeing conspiracies where there are none.

  6. Your position doesn't leave any room for people, like me, who don't want to support Hasbro. Don't care about their printing, warehousing, etc costs. They've milked that cow long enough. Release the damn things into the public domain already.

    Also don't like AD&D that much.

  7. My position directly addresses people like you: gamers with an over-inflated sense of self-entitlement. "Release it into the public domain already" says everything I need to know about your "don't want to support Hasbro" stance. See my statement about the "Evil Empire."

    And if you don't like AD&D that much, why the Hell are you bothering to read these blogs, save for looking for a chance to troll?

  8. Just a few random comments...

    * I don't mind people making predictions of a rosy future if everyone gets on board and buys these reprints... but I chafe when someone says we all SHOULD buy them.

    * To me, WOTC "getting it right" would be re-releasing the existing PDFs.

    * Not everyone who wants nothing to do with WOTC sees a conspiracy around every corner. If they were irrelevant to us in December, why is it so crazy to say they're irrelevant to us now?

    1. And clearly I'm not talking about people who feel that for them these re-releases are irrelevant. I am, quite clearly and explicitly, addressing the people who are whining about the cost and decrying WotC as having some sort of nefarious purpose.

  9. When you get right down to it this is just an emotional fault line between people who maintain that the RPG hobby lives and dies by the fate of "D & D", and those of us who have simply moved on.

    How exactly does reprinting a 30 year old rulebook show them "getting it right"? Aren't they just reprinting stuff out of the back catalog to appease the OSR? Bigger question: where do they stop? Where do you? If they decide there is enough support to reprint the first 25 modules TSR made, will you buy those too -- so you can "show your support"? At modern-day printing costs -- say, $20+ per module? Seems like an awful steep price to pay just to live in the past.

    Tell me again why I need to repurchase the same set of rules every few years to show my love for a game I already own and to placate a corporate interest I no longer care about?

    As for WotC "recognizing the old school community and paying real tribute to the history of the game"? This is just as naive as the tin foil hat crowd that thinks WotC "agents" are infiltrating every OSR blog to stir up discontent. WotC, and by ownership, Hasbro, are corporate entities which pay attention to one thing, and one thing only: the bottom line. Hasbro especially has a reputation for holding onto entire product lines for decades and then re-releasing them on a new generation. They're a toy company, it's what they do. That prayers to these "industry gods" has produced this bounty -- and hopes of a white box anniversary release -- do, however, seem as feckless as eternal hopes they'll release the "copyright" to "D&D". (While IAMNAL, the OGL seems to have granted the wishes of both parties with the S&W White Box and the panorama of retro-clones.) Emotional appeals to things without emotion is a rhetorical dodge.

    For the record, I don't *hate* 4th Ed. -- or 3.5, 3.0, or 2 -- as I never got around to playing them, having given up on D&D just before 2nd ed. appeared. What I've seen and read of them indicates they're not to my taste, so I play something else (Swords & Wizardry, with some Labyrinth Lord and Lamentation of the Flame Princess thrown in for good measure). When I discovered the "retro-clones" you know the thing that struck me most? That someone loved the old game enough to bring it up to snuff with modern game theories without destroying fond memories of the old game. Sure, THAC0 will always have a special little place in my heart, but Ascending Armor Class is better. Playing it "Rules As Written" can be a nice way to relive the old times, but mostly I want new things so tearing it apart in new and strange ways keeps me going creatively.

    Should we force WotC from the RPG tent to fend for itself in the wilderness? No, not really. If enough people have an interest and they stay afloat, more power to them. Should we be applying these kinds of strong-arm bully tactics on each other to support them -- or any of the other OSR publishers? Nope, again, market forces being what they are, winners and losers will be picked regardless.

    I am painfully aware that it is my own naivety to think we can all just get along -- even without Cook & Mearls & "D&D Next/5.0" -- but it sure seems worth a shot. The hobby is, to borrow an over-wrought line, made up of people. That's us Grognards, it's the guys secretly playing 2.0 away from prying eyes, it's the 3.0/3.5 & Pathfinder gangs, even the ones playing "small book" Traveller and true "war gamers" using Chainmail rules with their immaculate minis; even -- Orcus save me! -- folks playing White Wolf stuff and (*shiver*) LARPing.

    We, together, ARE the gaming industry.

    Grow the hell up and play...or shut the hell up and go home.


    1. Yes, actually I would buy every single re-release WotC wants to put out there. But there gets a point where no, not everyone needs to be on board. The only point I'm making is that people should quit pissing and moaning and accusing WotC of having nefarious purposes--the purchase of these three core books in large numbers will show them that yes, the old school community is relevant and worth supporting in huge numbers. This could lead to *gasp* NEW branded support for the old editions of the games.

      And claiming that I think the hobby lives and dies by D&D proves that you don't read my blog regularly--so thanks for showing up just to troll.

      You see, a few months back I did a post which was one of my most widely read and commented upon, wherein I suggested it would in fact be GOOD for the industry if D&D were to die as an RPG.

      You can take your foot out of your mouth, now.

    2. Oh, I guess you also missed the part where the proceeds are supporting the Gygax Memorial Fund. But yeah, you're right: it's all about the bottom line.

  10. Actually I have been reading your blog for awhile, which is why I finally commented on this topic. It seemed odd to me that someone who was advocating a position in favor of "D&D" (the trademark) die off for the good of the industry as a whole, suddenly thinks it's a good idea to feed the rapid and cornered grizzly in the hopes it won't tear your arm off in the process.

    Color me confused.

    As to the Gygax fund support: my original post had mention of it, but was too long for the 4,096 character limit. I raised the point that the notice I saw simply mentioned they would donate an unspecified $0.01 per book? $1.00? $5.00? Nothing I found included a dollar amount or percentage they intended to give. Most people pushing that kind of marketing include some sort of figure (including a maximum amount they're willing to go).

    So, per my usual process, after every purchase of an OSR product, I set aside an amount or percentage I can afford and every quarter I send them a check. This time I think they deserve the full cost of the books instead.

    Not sure where the hostility is coming from, but, in the end, it really does make my point (as well as countermand your own): this is an emotional issue caused by folks looking to make a living, as folks are want to do. That I choose not to support them doesn't make me your enemy. It makes me a free actor in a free market already saturated with great products. If it's not OSR stuff, then it's video games, cable TV, music, etc. Most people who played "back in the day" had no intention of staying anyway...shouldn't we be happy we have the tools to continue on after WotC is gone?

  11. WotC isn't going to be re-releasing PDFs anytime soon. It was done to apease the store owners, not an anti-piracy measure.

  12. Wow. All this vitriol sure does show the nasty grogs! You get 'em, bro! And totally disregard any valid points they may be raising for extra points.(Perpetual copyright is a good, in your eyes?) Wizbro's case isn't helped by any of this vapid spluttering against 'self-entitled gamers', though.

    The market for older stuff is severely limited, as many collectors have acquired wanted items by through hunting down books over the years, and/or through the PDFs, OCR'd during the lean years of WOTC's stewardship of the Game, of practically ALL the pre-3.X material doing the rounds. As such , Wizbro is highly unlikely to bother with either much in the way of reprints or an official re-release of *their* PDFs.(Many of which were badly scanned and proofread, from many complaints noted on fora all over the net.) It's a pity, the work's been done and with little effort, Wizbro could get *some* jack from this stuff. And some's better than none.

    I expected Wizbro to release AD&D, OD&D(maybe B/X, too), and perhaps some of the more choice adventures on their respective anniversaries, but the AD&D reprints caught me by surprise. Not a bad move, especially with the charity donation(however much) attached. But I give to the Memorial Fund already, and I have two sets of Core AD&D, and I don't even like *AD&D*, I'm a homebrew, B/X, T&T 5.5, and BRP guy. My new set will be given as a gift. But hey, now some more people may get to see some'a dat High Gygaxian Prose! Most importantly, I'm buying them to support my local game shop!

    As to the notion of Wizbro utilizing this as a test to see if the Grognards and whoever will be older stuff and possibly newer supplements for old games, well... If the books are snapped up, and feedback indicates a demand, perhaps. I wouldn't bet the farm on it, though. Corporate culture being the beast that is, and all.

    1. I never even implied that perpetual copyright is a good. I said it's ludicrous and laughable to suggest that was WotC's nefarious plan--copyright for corporate-published works is 90 years from the date of publication, and trademark is perpetual so long as it is enforced. It's not a good or bad--it just is. For the record, I think copyright is a mess and has gone completely away from its original intent. However, this "just release it into the public domain already" whining is just self-centered, self-entitled crap.

      WotC's failure to keep the out of print PDFs on the market for sale is baffling to me--I don't agree with Tim that it was done to appease store owners, who generally don't have a glut of OOP AD&D stuff to appease. I think it's more likely that some overzealous corporate attorney told them it was creating piracy (nonsense, as the level of piracy didn't change before or after the release of the PDFs legally).

      WotC (or "Wizbro," as you so lovingly address them) is not some evil empire who is out to sow discontent and infighting amongst the community--AD&D Grognard actually suggested that this is exactly what they want, which both amused and dumbfounded me. They're not some nefarious group seeking to undermine and destroy the grognard community.

      They're also not a pure charity out to grace us all with free stuff.

      They're a business, that's all. TSR was also a business. Paizo is a business. Troll Lord Games are a business. And there is nothing wrong with being a business. Did they make some missteps? Yes, absolutely--4e was a HUGE misstep. Their first efforts to pay tribute to the roots of D&D, the red box and the re-release of Tomb of Horrors, were also HUGE missteps.

      This effort, I don't think is a misstep. I think it's the right move for them to pay tribute to the history of the game. And from what I've read around the Web, most of the old school community agrees. As I said, it's a vocal minority of angry, self-entitled gamers who don't.

      Let's not forget here that I'm not saying NOBODY has an excuse for not buying these books--for some people they're just irrelevant, and that's fine. My post was specifically addressing people who are laboring under the sad delusion that WotC is out to screw them personally, and people who are crying because they can get an old copy for $5.00 on ebay, but WotC is *gasp* charging normal prices for new printings.

      Big Jay has accused me of "hostility," which I find amusing. The gamer community seems to have a disproportionately large number of people who take anything someone says that disagrees with their own fragile sensibilities as a hostile attack. I just said I'm in favor of supporting the effort of the AD&D reprints. I said I think WotC is at last doing right by us, and for that I'm now a convenient scapegoat for that same vocal minority. Whatev. People are free to not read what I write if they disagree. I'm not going to get into cross-blogging flame wars (as some have already tried to draw me into) over my own opinion on my own blog. Big Jay invited me to "grow the Hell up," but somehow I'm the bad guy. I invite him to go the Hell away.

      These people remind me of college students who justify file sharing by saying "screw the recording industry and film industry's corporate mentality!" and then whine that the industry doesn't care about them when their favorite band gets dropped because they're not selling albums, or the movie they've been waiting for, for a decade, doesn't get released because someone stole an unfinished print and leaked poor quality copies online, so suddenly there's no money to be made in its release.

  13. I not sure where this WotC-hate or paranoia is coming from.

    They are a company that wants to make money. Anything else is just imagination.

  14. Latest info--WotC has stated that they intend to re-release more old edition stuff, but they need to work on a plan that is financially viable for them and fair to the fans.

    "We are looking at making a lot of that older material available to you, but we want to make sure we do it right for you guys and for Wizards. We'll have more news on that."


  15. Of course WotC is a business...a business that has mismanaged D&D and made it into a game I am not interested in. There are plenty of FREE D&D/AD&D resources out there without 'supporting' these hipster hacks and their trading card games. I'll torrent before I give them a red cent.

    1. I'm sure you'll be missed. Hope you feel better having posted that rant, though.


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