I’ve had a few people ask me what that sepia-toned picture is in the background of my blog. That’s a shot taken with my phone of one section of my game bookshelves. This particular section is dedicated to RPGs in book form (as opposed to boxed games). As you can see, it’s heavily weighted toward 3rd Edition D&D and all of its d20 supplements and spin-offs, like the Pathfinder RPG. But, 1st, 2nd, and 4th Edition D&D are represented as well, over toward the left. And there are some other RPGs toward the far right-hand side, like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Vampire: The Masquerade, and the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer game.
On the bottom shelf there’s my collection of old Basic/Expert D&D and 1st Edition AD&D modules, along with some soft-cover 3rd Edition and d20 stuff, a bunch of 2nd Edition Complete Guides and a couple of the historical Campaign Sourcebooks like Charlemagne’s Paladins and A Mighty Fortress. This bottom shelf is also home to sourcebooks for some other RPGs as well, such as Ordo Nobilis for Ars Magica, and the d20 Fading Suns book, both of which I used for inspiration and research when writing the Quintessential Aristocrat for Mongoose Publishing. I’ve also got only one single GURPS book, GURPS Russia, which I randomly found one day on the discount rack of this old game shop I used to visit in Diamond Bar, California. Figuring that one day I’d get around to detailing the Russia-inspired country of my campaign world, I picked it up for ideas. I also have a copy of the Atlas of the Dragonlance World, which is kind of odd considering that I don’t remember buying it (so it must have been a gift), and although I own the first six Dragonlance modules, I never actually read any of the novels and was never all that into that world. I’ve also got a really old copy of Bard Games’ The Compleat Alchemist, which I got to help with detailing the alchemists of my own campaign world and also as research for working on the Quintessential Expert for Mongoose, which sadly I never finished writing.
The remaining section on the far right of the bottom shelf is reserved for some issues of Dragon and Dungeon magazines, mostly from the very end of each of their print runs. I’ve got three more boxes of The Dragon out in the garage that I’d love to have in the house, but we just don’t have room. There are also some recent comics toward this end of the shelf as well that I just never got around to filing with the rest of my collection.
The photo I put in this post is of part of my game nook in my office, which is this very odd 2 ½ foot wide by 2 ½ foot deep “indentation” in the wall. I have no idea why it’s there. It’s clearly too small to have once been a closet or anything else useful. There was no door on it when we moved into the house, so we just put some shelves in it and decided to use it as storage for all of our games. It’s mostly full of party games, like the Last Word , Cranium, and Apples to Apples, but also strategy board games like Carcassonne, Citadels, Shadows Over Camelot, Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, and New England. There’s a drawer in the bottom for some really old school games like Car Wars and its supplements, and also the old Saga mini-game by TSR. I also put my old Magic the Gathering cards in there, along with some random things I’ve collected over the years, like a starter box of the Jyhad TCG, random booster packs of TCGs for which I don’t own the actual rules, a couple sets of Mage Knights, Marvel and DC Heroclix, and miscellaneous discarded Lego bricks.
The main part of this game nook is reserved for my boxed RPGs, including the Moldvay Basic D&D set which got me started on D&D, an old Empire of the Petal Throne, the World of Greyhawk boxed set, 1st and 2nd editions of Gamma World, a beat up Star Frontiers, Marvel Superheroes, two copies of Boot Hill (one, acquired from a friend back in Jr. High School, was missing about half of the pages from the rulebook), Top Secret, and a few things I got for free while working on the advertising for Wizards of the Coast back in the early 2000’s (the Star Wars RPG intro game The Invasion of Theed, and the 3rd Edition introductory D&D Adventure Game). It’s also fun for me to see a copy of the Starship Troopers strategy board game, a gift given to me about 25 years ago from my Dad’s cousin, who gave it to me when he learned that I was interested in gaming. And, I also get a kick out of the 2nd Edition Dark Sun boxed set, because I remember buying it in college and using it in a project for a marketing class. It was a sales class and I had to pretend like I was an employee of TSR trying to “sell” a retail distributor on why they should make shelf space to carry the game.
This isn’t my entire collection, which I think is kind of telling. Just listing all of this stuff out, I realized that I have a pretty big game collection, even though I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a collector. I buy things to use as inspirations, either for my homebrew campaign world, or as research when writing for publication. I know a lot of people are against buying games that you read but never play. And, I can understand that kind of thinking. It is a very low return on investment to pay $30+ for a game just to read it and then file it away on a shelf. For me, though, I like to think that many of those ideas that I read about in these other games seep into my subconscious and manifest themselves in my writing or my refereeing. I can tell you, for example, that it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll ever play Vampire: The Masquerade, but back when I acquired the rulebook, the idea of noble houses of vampires warring against each other was fresh and unique. It’s hard to imagine, since these days it is so omnipresent in the vampire genre as to almost be required part of world-building, but back then it really sparked my imagination. It was a new way of looking at vampires and it inspired me to relook at how I integrated all sorts of intelligent monsters into my games. I consider that to be money well spent.
What’s your game collection like? What sorts of things do you look to for inspiration in your games?