Budget-Friendly Nostalgia: AD&D Books

This is the second post in a series on responsible and affordable AD&D shopping.

So we’ve talked about the nostalgia of tactile gaming.  You’ve got your new dice on the way.  Your DM Screen is hot off the laminating presses.  But we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves, haven’t we?  Yes we have.  You need…


I’m one of those neanderthals who doesn’t have an iPad or a Kindle.  I believe in paper too much.  I love the way paper smells, feels, sounds.  Heck, I probably like the way it tastes too.

Now I’ve got nothing against PDFs.  Well, except a few things:

  1. Legality matters.

    People often use PDFs of gaming books that they illegally downloaded.  People tend to justify this with one of two reasons:First, they might not feel like it’s a big deal illegally downloading especially an AD&D book, since it was written way back in the seventies.  Surely there’s no harm in it now.Second, they may not be interested in buying the PDFs on DriveThruRPG, thinking that there’s no way Wizards of the Coast deserves your money.  They imagine a big hulking company that rules GenCon with new releases, instead of the intern getting paid minimum wage to scan every copy of Gygax’s Fiend Folio.Here’s my point: tabletop gaming (even considering the big dogs like WotC) is a niche business.  That means every purchase counts.  And when the target of a niche business (that’s you) gets a book without paying for it, it hurts the market.  And when the gaming market hurts, it hurts your gaming and your gaming community.

    Keep a budget…and keep it with integrity.  We want to make the gaming community stronger through our gaming and that even includes our expenses.

  2. PDFs just don’t feel right.It’s more than a nostalgia thing.  It’s a scribbling notes thing.  It’s an underlining and highlighting thing.  Yes, it’s tactile.  But it’s more than that.  Call me technophobic, if you like, but digital technology invades every part of our lives.  It seems like it might be healthy to exorcise that demon from some corners.Do we really need to read our cell phones every time we have a spare moment?  Do we really need to fall asleep to television?  And when I want to imagine living in a medieval world of swords and sorcery, do I really need my MacBook screen glaring in my face?I say no.  Why not have a candle flickering on the table?  Why not rid the room of stark, modern, LED lights and introduce some warmth to your gaming table.  Maybe I’m getting old, but isn’t that what Chasing the Dragon is all about?  Recapturing what AD&D players of the past experienced?  Yes, yes it is.

If you must have PDFs, have PDFs.  But please purchase them properly.  And then print them out like my gaming group did.  Props, Elisa.

OK, old man rant over.  Let’s get to the good stuff.

What and how to buy:

First the what: if you’re a starting player or DM for AD&D, I think the best route is the following.

DMs, purchase:

If you go beyond that, you’ll be overwhelmed with content.  That’s a great place to start and you won’t need the later books unless you try to run some of the later published modules.  Players, really all you need is the Players Handbook.  Your DM should be able to provide the material you need out of the DMG.

It is my contention that you should not pay more than $15 per book.  Granted, if you buy a really old printing, a really new fancy reprint, or some other specialty version, you will pay more.  But for a regular use, toss-it-in-the-bag-and-go, actual usage copy, you shouldn’t pay more than $15.  But how is that possible?  Time for a flashback.

Back when I wrote for The Mad Adventurers Society (still an awesome gaming site), I wrote an article on budget shopping on Ebay.  I picked up the principles from my cousin, who works in buying/selling nostalgia items.  So I will direct you to that article to learn the basics of how.  It’s how I bought all my AD&D stuff and I did not pay more than $15 for any of them.  You can do it too!

What about you?  What budget tips do you have for new AD&D players who are wanting to join me in learning the game?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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