If you have a Half Price Books location near you, you need to go there. Just make sure you have some spare cash, because you’re not going to get out of there without buying a veritable library. Not only is everything fantastically cheap, but they’ve got more variety in their stock than I would have thought possible for a brick-and-mortar book store. They somehow combine a mom & pop bookstore atmosphere, with the square footage & numerous locations of a national chain like Barnes & Noble. I’ve got two locations near me, and both of them have more tabletop gaming material than I could read in a year.
Pictured above are the RPG books I got from my most recent haul. I got a number of other items as well (including a brand new 10-DVD set of Stanley Kubrick’s films for $24 which made my heart flutter), but this is a tabletop RPG blog, so I figure this is what my readers would actually be interested in.
The Dungeon Master’s Guide by Gary Gygax is the biggest find, for me. This is, as I’ve said before, a seminal work in RPGs. This text was so groundbreaking, and remains so relevant even to modern gamers, that WIRED magazine listed it first among their “9 Essential Geek Books You Must Read Right Now,” which came out a staggering 32 years after the book was originally released. I’ve been reading a PDF of it recently, which has inspired a number of my recent posts, but there’s nothing quite like having a physical copy. The book has been out of print for decades, though Wizards of the Coast is planning to do a limited reprint. So if you can’t find an original, your chance to possess this wisdom is coming up. Plus it supports the Gygax Memorial Fund!
The Dark Force Rising Sourcebook is for the West End Games Star Wars RPG, which is among my favorite games. Back when this RPG was still in print, new Star Wars novels would often be accompanied by a sourcebook, which took elements from that novel, such as ships, locations, characters, or events, and gave them game-rules. I don’t know if that kind of synergy has ever existed between media & gaming anywhere else, but I like it. And Dark Force Rising still reigns as one of the greatest Star Wars novels ever written, so I’m eager to dive into reading this. Plus there are numerous fantastic illustrations for scenes from the book, which is always fun.
Ever since reading Vecna Reborn, I’ve been really aching to get my hands on some Ravenloft materials. Being a fan of undead, and grimdark settings, it just seems like my kinda thing. I picked up three. Ravenloft: Realm of Terror, which is the basic campaign setting for second edition. Van Richten’s Guide to Vampires, which is a detailed 95 page booklet on–you guessed it–vampires. It seems to be written from an in-game perspective, which should be really fun to read. The Shadow Rift is a massive adventure module, filling almost 160 pages. I’m not sure when I’ll have the opportunity to read & run this, but it looks exciting. And I gotta give some massive props to the artist who passed up on an opportunity to sexualize the female adventurer on the cover. Bravo, Todd Lockwood!
Shadowrun is a game I’ve wanted to play for a long time. Cyberpunk has always intrigued me, and throwing magic in the mix makes for a fun time. Apparently the sourcebook I found is actually 1st edition as well. So the vision of future technology is crazy out of date, which kinda works for me. There’s something charming about a world where we all have cybernetic implants, but computers are still bulky and require wired connections.
The last two books are The Fright at Tristor, and the D&D Player’s Companion: Book One. Fright at Tristor is a 3.5 module. I haven’t had much time to look into it yet, but I’ve become very interested in acquiring Pathfinder compatible modules in recent months. I still prefer to design my own adventures, but running modules now and again has proven educational and fun. The Players Companion is a 1st edition supplement which includes more detailed combat rules, information on strongholds, classes, and new weapons. It should be informative to see how a player supplement was handled in 1984.
Now if I could only find more time to read!