A Beginner’s Guide to Pen and Paper Role Playing Games Part 2 – Purchasing the Game

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Hopefully by now you have done your research. Maybe you have even tried a few of the games out and found the local gaming community in your town. Now you are ready to level up and acquire a game set of your own. If you remember what I said in my last post and probably experienced it your self in doing your research that Role Playing Manuals and equipment can get really expensive. And unless you have a large treasure chest filled with gold pieces from your last dungeon crawl you need to find the most affordable ways of purchasing your set, so you can fund future quests.  In this part of my series A beginners guide to Pen and Paper Role playing Games I am going to give you a few tips on saving money in getting that D&D core set that you had your eye on.


    -Shop around: As much as I would love to see one set price for lets say the Dungeon & Dragons 3 core rulebook set, the reality is that different shops have different overhead costs and it is reflected in the cost. In my own city, I have seen at least two different prices with a variance of at least $10 on the same product in another store. So the best thing for you to do is shop around for the best deals.

     -Look for deals online: If you are a Canadian like me you know that books are always priced higher here in Canada then in the United States, even when we are at par with the US Dollar. I mean there have even been times when I have shopped on Amazon.com and I have paid way less for manuals than compared to its Canadian counterparts, and that is even with shipping costs. Another thing to remember is that Online stores have a much lower overhead than brick and mortar stores, which also helps.

     -If possible purchase the Game Manuals in a e-reader format like PDF: I remember back in the early 80’s when I was playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Man the manuals that were produced were awesome, and there were tons of them on every sort of subject from a to z in the Dungeons and Dragons world it was a book collectors dream. yet hauling them around was a nightmare to the 10th level with no +2 sword or bag of holding to help. Every time I went to a friends house I had a back pack full of manuals that felt like I was lugging a ton of bricks. It was even worse when it was my turn to DM the game,I mean all the stuff a young lad had to take on the bus. No wonder my knees are shot now. To a hard core Pen and Paper gamer, an e-reader or a tablet (heck even a cheap laptop) can be a godsend. I see more and more gamers (and DM’s) using these devices to store there manuals,and other materials needed on them. It is like having your own bag of holding. and from 2oz to a pound at the most, there is no more hauling 20+ manuals to the weekly game while killing your back and knees. And that is where Pdf and e-reader files come in. They are cheaper to purchase because there is no materials into making the manuals, like paper and glue. they don’t wear. And it is much easier to find that monster on page 160 of the Monster manual or pull up an obscure rule about combat from a rules compendium just to irk the DM off “you know what I am talking about, because we all done it”. But does this mean that we have to give up on print matter? The answer is No, I am a huge book lover of the paper kind and when you pick up that used manual and flip through it it gives you a unique experience, so you keep buying your beloved hard covers I know I still do, but just remember there are other options.

Ahhh... the infamous Dungeons and Dragons Backpack. This guy was carrying far to many manuals, and look what happened.

Ahhh… the infamous Dungeons and Dragons Backpack. This guy was carrying far to many manuals, and look what happened.

{A word on Scanlon’s and other free online manuals} Unless it is promotional, free because of a Open Licensing Agreement, or a simpler (Lite) version of the game, that the game publisher has posted to get you interested in the full game (GURPS Lite from SJ games is a perfect example of this), I would strongly advise you against you doing it for a few reasons (1)Publishers, designers, and artists don’t get paid for their hard work, which not only drives up the price of the game for all the honest people who play but also forces the said creator,designer,artist to to work on something else besides our beloved games causing the quality of the game to plummet. (2) You don’t know if rules are missing or have been edited so you are kind of playing blind.(3) Viruses love free PDF files, and because it is a not a trusted source, your $1800 Alienware is now a brick. I would rather take on a Beholder than have a nasty computer virus total my rig.

Beholder encounter by Deimos Remus

Beholder encounter by Deimos Remus

     -3 Look for second hand copies either online, at your local game store, or used bookstore: Role Playing games are a lot like musical instruments. One person might become really frustrated and not understand or take to the game and his new $300 purchase finds a new home on the used book market for a lot cheaper price. hey maybe Johnny didn’t like his Dungeons and Dragons set and of to the local yard sale bin where some true warrior of valor will find his treasure. I have picked up in my time a lot of great manuals second hand that look practically new for only a fraction of the cost, because someone lost interest in the game. Like the old saying goes ones man’s loss is another mans treasure, so roll up the sleeves on the +1 cloth armor and browse through yard sales, used bookstores and like every good dungeon crawl you will be justly rewarded. Also check out sites like Kijiji, Craigslist and E-bay for some really good deals.

     -Ask friends or other people in your gaming community if they have any manuals that they would like to get rid of if you can take it off their hands: may be you have a friend that likes the Forgotten Realms campaign setting and decided to try the Dark Sun campaign setting and didn’t like it but it might be a setting that you would really enjoy. Or maybe that such friend or gaming community has just finished of a campaign and have moved onto another one and don’t want their manuals any more. There are tons of reasons like the one above that I could give you to ask you friends and fellow gamers if they have any manuals,core books etc… that they are not using, so don’t be afraid to ask, you might even be surprised at the response. Speaking of which does anyone have AD&D TSR-2018 Oriental Adventures for Dungeons and Dragons (or even the 3.5E edition of Oriental Adventures) that they wouldn’t mind parting with as I am looking for them to start up a Kara-Tur campaign setting. Please e-mail me if you do?

safe_image.php  oriental-adventures-1 AD&d version TSR-2018 (Left) and version 2 for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 (Right)

Join me next time, when I help you set up for your first game as a player and we do a bit of character creation, as well as discuss what to bring as a player to you weekly role playing meeting. Until then,

Happy Questing



Posted on August 11, 2013, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Most people are put off by the number of books and costs involved with modern pen & Paper RPG. Add in a new edition turn around every 3-5 years and its not looking all that inticing. Retro clone reprints of First Edition revilals aside, the pdf and the rise of Tablets, specificly the Samsung Gal Notes with stylus have managed to punch throughfrom a different angle, allowing more cost effective options.

    • You can say that again Simon about the number of books and costs associated with RPGing in general, especially with the new edition turnaround time. Goodness knows how much D&D “next” 5e is going to cost, and likely WotC will release not one but three core manuals like they always do (Player’s Handbook,Dungeon Master’s guide, Monster Manual) and that is before they decide to release supplements to character classes and such that you want to use but aren’t in the original manuals. 4e did that to me, I had to wait till the players manual 3 came out so I could play my favorite class the monk augg…. talk about frustrating.

      I like the idea of PDF Files not only for cheapness especially if you find great deals at RPGnow and DriveThruRPG but also the portability. In my gaming group I know a lot of players who are using computers and tablets “especially the DM’s”. I myself when I need to use my laptop although I am a bit old school and love the feel of a good manual in my hand “my wallet doesn’t though” but the Samsung Gal Notes with stylus sounds like an interesting option to look out for. How much dose the Samsung cost??

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