Wizards of the Coast has announced that they’ll be reprinting the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons core rulebooks, with the original art and new covers. A portion of the proceeds will go directly to the Gary Gygax Memorial. Sounds great, but…
The cover prices are $44.95 for the Dungeon Masters Guide, and $34.95 for the Players Handbook and Monster Manual. Fine, that’s in line with what hardcover roleplaying books cost these days, even coming in at the low end compared to what Pathfinder books cost. I should be excited, but I’m not feeling it. Here’s why.
First, you can get the original books on Amazon or eBay for around $10-$15 each. If there’s some value-add, like revision or additional material, then maybe the new books are worth it. Yet, if there’s new material, they’re not really the old edition, are they? I’m not seeing the attraction.
Second, for $115 I could donate $50 to the Gygax Memorial directly, then spend $50 on Old School Revolution stuff. The memorial would get more out of it, I would get more stuff, and I’d be supporting the fan/pro efforts that have tried to faithfully carry the torch all along. Hasbro (parent company of Wizard of the Coast), doesn’t need my money.
It’s a neat idea, to be sure, but I’m not swayed over. It looks like an olive branch to appease the fractured fan base, but it feels like a scramble by the current Dungeons & Dragons development team to show Hasbro that there are ways to monetize the game and get some cash out of old product. Maybe I’m being unduly cynical, but I’m not sensing a love of the game here so much as a concern about the corporate bottom line. It leaves me cold. If you want to win me back, bring back PDF releases of both new material and the back catalog so everyone can play whatever version of your products they want, and tell me that 5th Edition will have a robust Open Game License so 3rd parties and fan can add their creative voices as well.