The Old AD&D Books

Earlier this month we visited my brother and his family and got on a little AD&D. The game was great, but the best part might have been going through the books and stuff that he had. What made this special was that these were the EXACT books we had used so much back in the day.

1e AD&D Hardback Books

1e AD&D Hardback Books

The Unearthed Arcana is a little out of place, as not only did it not join the others until late in the game, so to speak, but we didn’t actually use it all that much even after it did. And the Deities & Demigods cyclopedia was not used a whole lot, either, despite the fact that we had it for a long time.

Most of these books were mine. The Player’s Handbook was “jointly owned.” The Fiend Folio belonged to my brother. I don’t recall the exact details, but at some point I traded most of my Traveller stuff to my brother for his share of the Players Handbook and some other stuff (or maybe cash). Later, as 2nd Edition was coming out, I traded all of these to him and got my Traveller stuff back.

AD&D Books

The big six

As I’m sure is the case with others and their books, each of these has a bit of story (or several stories) that go with it.

The Players Handbook is the “new art” version because we had been borrowing a friend’s PHB for a long time. Instead of buying a PHB like I planned one day, I grabbed the DMG instead. By the time we saved our pennies and bought a new PHB, the new cover was out. Though at first we liked the new artwork, it didn’t take me long to wish for the original.

Our Dungeon Masters Guide, like I mentioned, was bought one day when I was supposed to buying a Players Handbook so we could give back the borrowed one. The DMG was a few dollars more ($15 instead of $12, if I remember right) but I bought it after seeing all the wonderful stuff inside. Up until that point we had been playing with the PHB only. This book saw a lot of hard use and looks it, but it still works great.

This Monster Manual was bought when I and a friend (the one we were borrowing the PHB from) made a spur-of-the-moment decision to drive an hour to the nearest game store and buy it. Except, when we got there, the store had just closed for the day. It was next to a mall and I knew that a toy store also carried D&D stuff, so we ran in only to see the portcullis closing on that store as well. My friend talked the manager into getting us a copy of the MM and sliding it under the gate, and we slipped him the cash.

The Fiend Folio was bought by my brother, maybe even before we got the Monster Manual. Though we had the regular monster stats in the back of the DMG, I didn’t know too much about the FF monsters. For many months he guarded it like a spellbook in an attempt to keep the new monsters a secret from me. I seem to recall whole adventures where I ran into nothing but unfamiliar FF monsters. In the days when we lived an hour from the nearest store that carried D&D and no internet, you could get away with moves like that.

I bought Deities & Demigods with the store credit I got when I returned Star Frontiers. I remember that the store manager was not happy that I was returning the game (in perfect condition except that I had punched the counters) but after Traveller I was terribly disappointed in it. So we got Deities & Demigods, which I was also pretty disappointed in once the novelty of statting up gods and goddesses wore off. Also, my brother liked Star Frontiers and turned around and bought his own set not much later.

The Monster Manual II was also a bit of a disappointment, though we did use a lot of the monsters quite often over the years. I already owned The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth module, so a lot of the monsters in MM2 were not new to me. I think my favorite single thing about the book was the d8+d12 random encounter table method it introduced. That remains my favorite.

Looking through the books, seeing the familiar pencil marks, tears, and stains was quite a trip down memory lane. And playing a game with my brother, the first time we had played an RPG together since 1989 or 1990, was a blast. The fact that my son played, too, was icing on the cake.

AD&D Game

AD&D Game: A good time was had by all.

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5 Responses to The Old AD&D Books

  1. JB says:

    Damn. Yeah…my books have similar stories attached, including joint and swapped ownership, mis-buys, stains and tears with meaning (like my DMG being left out in the rain and then the sun and having a big section in the middle that’s totally, like, F’d up now).

    Someday, I hope to play again with my own family. I’m glad you got to, man.
    : )

  2. bat says:

    Cool story and yeah, my collection was assembled, disassembled, stolen, replaced and now I have two copies of each book, one for show and one for blow.

  3. OnlineDM says:

    I love this story! It’s things like this that make me regret not having gotten into D and D until my 30s. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Mark says:

    I too recall the fond days of joint ownership and shared texts. My copies have some badges of honor around the edges from hundreds of hour of use. It is fun to open them up and see some minor underlining on a subject. Wondering what spawned the need to denote it brings back memories of games, players and times long past. Great post!

  5. Telecanter says:

    “For many months he guarded it like a spellbook in an attempt to keep the new monsters a secret from me.”

    We DMs would probably be necromancers in a fantasy world:

    I remember in the fifth grade my friend telling not to look at the Monster Manual because it would ruin my fun knowing all the monster secrets. I couldn’t help myself . . . 🙂

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