Last night while boxing up some books out in my garage, I ran across my stash of old Advanced Dungeons and Dragons manuals. The books with the orange spines are AD&D Version 2 books, printed back in the 1980s. The bottom three books are from the first printing and date back to around 1980. Except for the two duplicates, I bought all of the orange ones new. Most of them still have their price tags on the front, ranging in cost from $15-$20. The first two books I purchased (the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide) came from Toys ‘R Us.
The Player’s Handbook contained all the rules a player needed to play the game, while the Dungeon Master’s Guide contained even more rules and number needed by a Dungeon Master to run a game. Books like Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures expanded the game’s boundaries by adding new races, classes, spells and items. (If you ever wanted to play as a ninja or a samurai, Oriental Adventures was a must own!) Although the Dungeon Master’s Guide came with a list of monsters to battle, Dungeon Masters could expand their worlds by purchasing the Monster Manuals and Legends & Lore, which contained hundreds of additional monsters, creatures, ghouls and goblins to attack players with.
Next to my stack of Dungeons and Dragons Manuals I found my old 3-ring binder, containing all of my old D&D characters.
This picture was photocopied (in black and white) from one of the manuals. My mom made a copy of it for me at her work, and I distinctly remember coloring it with colored pencils. This was probably around 1985 or so. The picture has been inside the binder so long that the ink from the original photocopy has literally melted on to the plastic. I couldn’t remove the picture even if I wanted to … which I don’t.
Inside the binder are years of memories, characters I took on countless adventures. In my mind they are all still hanging out somewhere together, waiting for the next adventure to come along. Perhaps they are all sitting in a tavern on the outskirts of town, drinking a mug full of ale and trading old war stories.
Each character sheet, along with dozens of little lines and boxes designed to track all sorts of information, contained a big empty square in which you could draw a picture of your character. I wasn’t a great artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I can remember spending lots of time on those little drawings. Sometimes I would find a picture in a magazine or in a computer game and then work on reproducing it on those paper sheets. One of my characters, “Elric”, was a half-Orc that I used to pretend was an old crotchety grandpa. No matter what other players wanted to do, I would always make Elric argue with them until they agreed with him. And when they finally did, I’d change my mind and argue the other way!
Elric wants you … to give him your gold!
The more I pack for my impending move, the more I realize some of my most valued possessions, like these Dungeons and Dragons Manuals, are the things that, at least from a financial standpoint, many people would consider worthless.