back to article D&D geeks were right – their old rule books ARE worth something now

The owner of venerable role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is offering US$50 for high-quality scans of game documents that have so far rolled saving throws against Spells of Digitisation. D&D re-launched in 2014 as version 5.0, but there's still lots of demand for older modules and books. Hence the scanning program …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    What ?

    You are asking me to mutilate my treasured AD&D collection so that you don't have to go through the trouble ?

    Or am I supposed to believe that WoTC doesn't have some copies lying around to do the job ? Or original prints ? Or any sort of archive ?

    My books are mine. I'll agree to digitizing them with a hand scanner if it helps, but no way I'm destroying them because you couldn't be arsed to preserve your own publications.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or am I supposed to believe that WoTC doesn't have some copies lying around ?

      I don't see why they necessarily would, if the originals to which they bought the rights pre-dated their purchase of them - I don't recall that WoC are the originators of all D&D - wasn't that TSR?

      (not that that's a good reason to go round mutilating your originals to help them out, mind).

      1. Grikath Silver badge

        Re: Or am I supposed to believe that WoTC doesn't have some copies lying around ?

        They want the old TSR stuff, yes..

        And indeed.. there is no way I am going to mutilate the originals of pre- , first, and second ed v1 that I have for their profit. Not that any real fan of the Old Stuff would even remotely consider giving WoTC anything other than a firm, spiky boot deep up the arse.

        1. israel_hands

          Re: Or am I supposed to believe that WoTC doesn't have some copies lying around ?

          The spreadsheet lists a few 3rd and 3.5 ed books, so it's their own stuff they're asking for as well...

          I've got a few bits on the list from various editions, even got some doubles of some 3rd ed stuff they want. No chance I'll be slicing them up for approx £30 a time. They'd have to offer me a percentage before I'd even consider it.

          Why don't they do what everyone else does when they want digital copies of old D&D books and torrent them?

    2. Ian 55

      Re: What ?

      Given the attitude to staying consistent, I'd be amazed if even TSR kept copies of everything.

      The main reason D&D became a success is that their original rule books were such a mess - the printer promised to edit it properly and didn't, when I asked Gygax. The result was that players had to invent half of it themselves, rather than look up rule 3.24.3772.1(a).

      And you expect them to have good archives?

    3. FozzyBear Silver badge

      Re: What ?

      They'll get my treasured 1st and 2nd edition books along with my d20 when they pry them from my cold dead hands

      'til then they can stuff themselves into that statue in the tomb of horrors

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: What ?

        They'll get my treasured 1st and 2nd edition books along with my d20 when they pry them from my cold dead hands

        Someone could have mine, frankly, if I had any idea where they were. I used to have all the original AD&D books except Oriental Adventures, plus the D&D Basic box set, lots of modules, many issues of Dragon, a small collection of lead figures, who knows how many dice... but I haven't looked at any of that stuff in years.

        But I wouldn't bother spending time scanning any of it for $50 a volume.

        And, yes, the rules were a glorious mess. I never ran or played a campaign that used more than a small fraction of them (material components for spells? encumbrance? "Age, Aging, Disease, and Death"? nah). Mostly, I must admit, my siblings and friends and I ran ad hoc games with ridiculously overpowered "Monty Hall" characters for the sheer absurdity of it. That and just reading the books and chatting about them, which often proved to be as diverting as actually playing.

  2. jpwarren

    I tried to Save Vs Churlishness and rolled a 1.

    The amount of effort required to put together a high-quality scan to their specifications is not small, and having to destroy the physical object as well?

    And for $50, when they're selling digital copies of some titles for $5 and up? My labour is worth more than that, so no thanks.

    If this was for a library, maybe, but for now I'll keep mine on my Shelf of Preserving so I can play them with my son one day.

  3. Mycho Silver badge


    Just checking a couple of sample prices on ebay suggests this is a poor way to monetise your gamebooks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      Interestingly, one of the major figures in the D&D community during the late 70s and early 80s has weighed in on the vexed issue of whether it's worth cutting up your prized rule books for that sort of money.

      You can see what he thinks about it here.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Hmm

      Without checking ebay I was pretty sure that if I still had me early printing of the Deities and Demigods Handbook I could get at least $75 for it.

  4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Scroll of Lawyer Summoning

      Not if the original copyright owner (WoC) has agreed.

      1. thomas k

        Re: Scroll of Lawyer Summoning

        Oops, missed that phrase "with the blessing". Thanks for correcting me.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Scroll of Lawyer Summoning

        That's a Cursed scroll of lawyer summoning in my version.....

  5. Anonymous Coward

    You what??

    In order to preserve rare books, they kill them then scan them?

    That's akin to saving a dying species by capturing and killing the last survivors, stuffing them and then displaying them in a museum.

    Bloody philistines.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: You what??

      Have you read that Dr Who story, The Last Dodo?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You what??

        I never read any of the books, but I looked it up - yep, the same concept. I was musing on maybe that being the ultimate end of humanity - just a few specimens preserved in a museum. Depressing thought.

    2. DougMac

      Re: You what??

      Sort of like Audubon was a massive hunter as well? He hunted and killed all his own birds at first in order to paint them, but then had to hire hunters to go out and get him a whole new brace every time he started up.

      "I call birds few when I shoot less than one hundred per day."

  6. Flat Phillip

    Has to be a better way

    If only there was a large company filled with nerds that had a really good way to scan books. I'm sure they're not cutting up the library books for the project.

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

      Re: Has to be a better way

      Good point. Also, will the digital versions be simple image files or will they transcribe the text to create searchable documents? If so, then the only real need for high-quality scans would be for the illustrations as the use of digital text will work better than scans will. If not, they are less useful and therefor should have less uptake.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: create searchable documents?

        If you're creating searchable documents, borrow some books, hire a typist, and have them input it fresh. Cheaper and easier in the long run. Really it is.

    2. skeptical i
      Thumb Up

      Re: Has to be a better way

      That's what I was thinking, that either the Oompa-Loompas could do it as part of their online digitizing/ archiving work, or else somewhere there's likely some D&D devotees who've already scanned their books and parked them in an online Cloudy Stash of Lore for their local comrades' use.

  7. BoldMan

    They have got to be kidding! I sold a load of my old 2nd Ed and Forgotten Realms stuff on eBay a couple of years ago and most of it went for a tidy sum, without destroying any books. If memory serves my Castles boxed set (the one you could build a cardboard castle from) went for over £50 let along $50!

  8. Snow Wombat

    yeahh... no

    Yeah I won't be destroying all my 2nd Ed books, that are now pretty much irreplaceable.

    Shame because I have all the planescape box sets, in more or less mint condition too. I still use them to run campaigns now and again.

  9. TRT Silver badge


    I have about 80% of the AD&D1e list. They can go whistle for it. They are staying in my Really Useful Box of Holding along with a huge pile of dessicant gel packs.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've seen old D&D stuff in shops for a lot more than $50... I seem to recall one instances of a 2nd edition DM guide in Yellow Submarine Tokyo, for about £80.

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      I still have my 2nd edition books, used to love the little cartoons in it.

      "Well, either it allows a magic-user to throw the various Bigby's hand spells, or it's a +2 backscratcher. So far we're not sure which . . . ."

      1. TRT Silver badge

        That one was in the original AD&D book too. No bloody 2nd, 3rd or 4th edition (to paraphrase Montgomery Scott).

  11. Mycho Silver badge

    You would have better luck asking volunteers to transcribe them for you. Something like Project AON - pay them in freebies from the digistore or something.

  12. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Sounds like a troll

    Plenty of ways to digitise a book without destroying it.

    Does the website also list "Methods of charging an iPhone using a microwave oven" ??


    "Using an iPad to measure your weight" ??

    1. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like a troll

      Could be an ogre.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AD&D, Digitised

    ...Castle Ravenloft, in 3D please!

    I was fascinated with the beautifully executed multi-layer isometric maps which came with the original module that we played in high school - I can see big possibilities(*) for a digital version.

    (* Can also forsee how a lame implementation would screw it up too)

    1. AustinTX

      Re: AD&D, Digitised

      Ahh, Castle Ravenloft... I was a temporary worker at a printing company who was producing this one. I spirited out several copies of the module as whole uncut sheets. Like a poster, complete with calibration marks along the sides. I wonder what they're worth now? :D

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it's not like

    It's not like they can't be found by a litle web search. Have to be pretty stupid to ask people to DESTROY antiques to scan them. Just go on a popular pirate site and you can get the digital copies easy enough.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: it's not like

      True. Somewhere along the line I legally acquired a licensed digital copy of them which I archived to my hard drive. At least I think it was them. Not sure WHY they need the originals to cut apart and digitize. WoC acuired all the original TSR rights, although there was that troublesome middleman (Mattel?) who might have lost stuff.

  15. Stevie Silver badge


    WoC still haven't fully understood the pdf model. Their 5th ed books are beginning to be aviailable as pdfs - locked pdfs that cannot be annotated which makes them all-but useless in play.

    Paizo, on the other hand, not only sells unlocked pdfs, they sell 'em for a reasonable price. Ditto PEG. Even Chaosium doesn't lock their overpriced, unindexed pdfs.

    IBM locked down all the pdfs on a recent training course and provided no paper copies. So when we had to make inevitable changes to the text, we couldn't.

    I have a policy now, after amessing a very large library of both tech and gaming e-books: If the pdf is locked, I won't buy it.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: after amessing a very large library

      You should hire a maid to clean that up.

  16. Timmy B Silver badge

    I have a few off the list.

    I'd try to scan them but I am NOT cutting them up!!!! not for a few quid. They have loads of notes and memories written all over them anyway. I can even remember the day I went to the shop and my dad bought me the D&D basic box set and a few years later the main books for AD&D. I still have my 5th edition TnT stuff too - my introduction to role playing in 1981 when I was only 10!!!

  17. DXMage

    Go to ebay like everyone else that wants to get a hold of the old good stuff and PAY the going rate. Hell I make my players do that when they magic bazaar come to town once a year to help pull some money out of the players pockets. =)

  18. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Of course, encouraging people to destroy their books will push up the value of the remaining intact copies. Or am I too cynical?

  19. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Sorry but no.

    Destroying a book is sacrilege to me. In this case it would be the ultimate sacrilege as I have packed away in a the Vault of Security every edition from TSR I could lay my hands on, including game modules.

    Ok...maybe this: they can pry them out of my cold dead hands but pay my heirs a Chest of Treasure.

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. sisk Silver badge

    Sell my books? Sure, in a heartbeat. They've not seen the light of day in 20 years now. But destroy them so someone else can pay me less than a fraction of what they're going to make selling digital copies? Not a chance in hell.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about Hell No?

    The book would fetch more than the price you're offering if I sell it on Amazon, Ebay, or to my local game store. That's Strike One.

    You want me to destroy it's inherent value by taking it apart, and then offering nothing to rebind it back to original condition? My Librarian Overlords would burn you at the stake for even THINKING such an atrocity. Strike Two.

    You then want to profit handsomely off my labor by reselling the digital scans, while cutting me out of the fruits of my hard work? Strike Three, you're outta here.

    I *might* be willing to take my stuff to my local Library & have them unbind, scan, & rebind the books, so THEY can offer digital copies for customers of the Library, because that would not only treat the books with the respect they deserve, it would ALSO result in the information being Made Available for the low low price of a Library Card.

    As others have mentioned, you can probably find most if not all of what you're seeking via a simple torrent search, or you could search Amazon/Craig'sList/Ebay/etc for sellers of said material, or you could pay a fair rate for the professional scanning of private collections. But to offer a pittance so we can destroy our own property & be left with now worthless scrap?

    You're not just out of your mind, you've gone off the deep end with an anchor shoved up your arse.

    1. Grikath Silver badge

      Re: How about Hell No?

      "I *might* be willing to take my stuff to my local Library & have them unbind, scan, & rebind the books, so THEY can offer digital copies for customers of the Library, because that would not only treat the books with the respect they deserve, it would ALSO result in the information being Made Available for the low low price of a Library Card."

      This would cause a Great Rising of the Lawyers from WotC. And they're near-impossible to strike down, unless you roll a natural 20 and have mr. Slant as a Retainer/Follower.

      WotC are ..nice... like that..

  23. MrDamage

    I might consider it

    Thanks to a flatmate who recently departed our shores, and left me with boxes of his stuff to deal with, I now have 2 copies of many of these items, but I will only be keen to sacrifice one of them. Only 2 slight problems;

    His copies: Stained with ciggy tar, drink and pizza spillages

    Mine: Due to having some very, very boring economics classes to sit through, I ended up colouring in a lot of the pics. Some very badly, others look like they were meant to be coloured in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I might consider it

      Has to be said - I find war damage to RPG Books part of the charm, unless they do what my SLA book did and simply fall apart for no particularly good reason.

      Dog eared, well warn spines, notes, scribbles and, bits of ancient paper from a campaign long forgotten.

      On the other hand I have games like Anima - which is gorgeous but I've never figured out how to play it so it's pristine.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019