Dungeons and Dragons Manuals

Dungeons and Dragons Manuals

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 youto 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.

Rob O'Hara

I'm into old video games, old arcade games, old computer games, writing, photography, computer/network security, and of course, the 1980s!

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. One of the reason I am a fan of books over E-books is that books bring back memories in ways a PDF never will as I think this shows. Had you just moved all your files onto a new hard drive you wouldn’t have rediscoved these and we wouldn’t have been able to share it through this awesome blog post.

    I can’t say I’m nostolgic for these but every once in a while I’ll pick up one from half price books if it is in good shape as I love the classic 80s fantasy art in them and they’ve still got a lot of good ideas for games, monsters and adventures even if the rule sets are not very popular these days.

    I’m looking foward to what else you find.

  2. Wow, those are great! Love the sketch.

  3. Can one post a pic here? I just created a sign to hang over my D and D books.

  4. I found a lot of sketches in my binder, many of them awful, and some of them great (which makes me think I probably traced or copied them).

    The great thing about different editions of those books is that they always updated the artwork, so two different versions of the same book (like the two different Player’s Manuals I own) are likely to contain completely different sketches.

    I know I told this story on one episode of my podcast, but on one adventure, I got the opportunity to roll a die to determine what kind of treasure I would discover. I made two amazing rolls back to back and ended up discovering “The Throne of the Gods”, which was this powerful throne that, among other things, granted the owner wishes. Pretty soon I had wished for so many stupid things that nobody wanted to play with me and my characters anymore. I ended up having to make new characters (who of course were friends with my old characters and had all the money and equipment they could ever want!).

  5. I used to own the bottom 3. I have no idea what happened to them… I have most of my books from when I was a kid (including my Commodore programming guides) so it’s weird they’re missing. I shudder to think what they’re worth now.

  6. @Kid Ice: Sadly only about $10-$15 at Half Price Books from what I’ve seen.

  7. To be honest, that’s one of the reasons I still have all of mine. I remember checking the going rate on eBay a few years ago and thinking, for that price, I’ll just keep ’em.

    My Dad got me a $50 gift certificate for my birthday to Half Price Books. I need to go check and see what they’ve got on hand!

  8. Great post, Flack! You picked one of the illustrations of a great artist of the D and D Universe, Larry Elmore, to use your color pencils on. Of course Bill Willingham (Elementals, Fables) did some awesome artwork as well, especially those memorable Dungeons and Dragons advertisements!


    Keep posting all those treasures you’ve stored as you come across them, friend!

  9. Ah, yes, that was wonderful, but also reminiscent of the fact I have somehow lost my boxed AD&D Ravenloft setting.

  10. Deities and Demigods can actually be worth quite a bit if it’s the 144 page first edition. TSR was forced to remove the Cthulhu information in the second edition for copyright reasons.

  11. These are still great fun for a night with friends!

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