Archive for March, 2012

Selling the family silver

March 22, 2012 2 comments

Dice not included. Except when they are.

Surprisingly with a title like that, this is not a post about the budget. Nor is it a post about the family silver, since we don’t actually have any. Mind you, after that budget announcement the nation as a whole doesn’t have any either (ooh! politics!)

No, Gentle Reader, this is a post about freeing up some space, trying to get a little (probably very little) cash and taking a look at a hobby I’ve enjoyed for*cough* thirty years or so.

Games, role-playing games in particular, are something I’ve loved since I stumbled across confusing references to them as a child. Back then, with no Internet and limited understanding of “hobby” games in the media, deciphering what something like Dungeons & Dragons was and how to play it (indeed, how to actually find a copy to buy) was not an easy task, as I’ve briefly mentioned before. It’s no accident that the bulk of players who discovered the games back then tended to do so because of an older sibling or friend – or friend of a friend – who had themselves stumbled across D&D in some odd, random way. Since the games are essentially social activities – direct, face-to-face across a table social activities – it’s understandable and appropriate that word of mouth was the main way in which news of them spread at first. This was made all the more important given that the first games of this type were rarely written clearly and were particularly bad when it came to explaining how to actually play them. The concept may have been brilliant, but trying to convey just what it was and how to do anything with it was tricky: “It’s like a boardgame… except there’s no board and you can do anything you want… Except there are rules, so you can’t just make it up… Well, you do make it up but…” and so forth.

Like any number of kids who loved to read (mostly science-fiction and fantasy for me at that time) role-playing games were instantly attention-grabbing. Creative, exciting and fairly cheap, things started to make a lot more sense once I heard about the upcoming Fighting Fantasy games from a newspaper article and fantasy games became a pretty big craze for a time. I bought several, along with numerous books about them such as the reassuringly directly-titled What is Dungeons & Dragons? Over the years I’ve bought more and sold many, although a fondness for the history of the hobby means that I kept all of those “how to” and “what is” books.

These days I still play the games, face-to-face with friends as a social activity after work and more recently via web-based video through Google+. I can only play so many, though; and a good number of the games I’ve picked up over the years either don’t suit me or are simply never going to make it onto the schedule. It’s a slightly awkward point as far as the business of making RPGs goes, but if you buy one that you like then you need never buy another; indeed, you need never buy any extras for it either. A game like Marcus L. Rowland’s wonderful Forgotten Futures, based on the “scientific romances” which preceded the modern form of science-fiction, not only has enough material provided with it to last a lifetime, but it also has a virtually inexhaustible supply of adventure ideas and background details available in the form of the original stories (often free to obtain electronically) and period magazine articles. The Internet makes discovering such things easy and more or less free, so how many new games and supplements are really needed?

All of which brings me to a hard look at the books and boxes on my shelves and a long overdue paring down to the games I actually get to play or find particularly enjoyable to read. A few things have found their way onto eBay already, but in the case of a couple of rare items and a number of quite recent titles I’m not sure that’s the best way of selling the surplus. For now I’m popping a list of some of the books I intend to sell here, partly as a way for me to organise myself and partly to see if anyone has any good ideas for what to do with them or would like to make me an offer for one or more. Links provided for more information, where possible:

Obviously many of those links lead to the publisher websites where the games are offered for sale. If you’d rather buy new than used then I doubt they’d mind. I might cry just a very little, though.

A couple of other games are trickier, since they are rarer and reasonably valuable in these editions, but not necessarily hotly sought-after. If you can find a copy then the price is high, but an eBay listing isn’t likely to attract many bids unless I’m very lucky:

  • High Fantasy, along with its three supplements and adventures: Adventures in High Fantasy; Wizards & Warriors; Goldchester.
  • The Book of Mars: a combat system, 1st complete edition.

And if I do manage to sell anything then I promise not to blow all the cash on games.