Thursday, July 9, 2020

My Gaming Soft Cover and Boxed Sets Bookshelves

About two years ago, I wrote a post about my hardback RPG bookshelf and created a series of graphs, inspired by a really fun book, Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe. For anybody who loves comic books, this is a really fun and creative way to look at the history of things like different color schemes for superhero costumes, the differences between Green Arrow's and Hawkeye's trick arrows, or a "Who's Who" bubble map of character relationships for the comic series Sin City, as just a few examples. Graphic designers will appreciate the sheer creativity of how the author organized the information, such as using an 8-Bit version of the Flash to indicate the different Scarlet Speedsters by Personality (Barry Allen is indicated by Red, Wally West by Yellow, and Jay Garrick by tan on the Flash's face; Bart Allen is "not shown; hint-hint") or an 8-Bit Superman to rank the Superman movies (Red for Superman, Blue for Superman II, a bit of Yellow for Superman III, a tiny bit of Black on the hair for Superman IV, and a small amount of Tan on the face for Superman Returns; Man of Steel had not been released yet at the time of this book's publication). For people who need to make graphs for their work presentations, this book will give you a ton of ideas for different ways to present information aside from the standard column graph.

I thought it would be fun to make some graphs to illustrate the state of my soft cover and boxed sets (which are on two different bookshelves). On a few of them, I offer some commentary as to the information contained or to clarify a few things. 

I created all of these graphs originally in Microsoft Excel to make sure the size relationships were correct, but for a few of them, I drew over the graphs with either the box or circle tool so that I could manipulate the images more than Excel allowed. 

Please do let me know what you think of the graphs, or ask me any questions about how I created them or to get further information on the data behind the graphs with regard to my collection. I'd also love to see other people take a stab at creating their own graphs to show off their collection rather than the standard "shelfie pics" that people share. 

These first two graphs look at my boxed sets; after that, everything else is about my soft cover RPG books only. 






The colors on this one above are intended to somewhat portray the items in question; most of my adventures are from TSR and I usually use orange to indicate TSR as an homage to the orange-spine AD&D books from the mid-1980's. The "class guides" are brown because most of this section was made up from the 2nd Edition "Complete Guides" as well as Mongoose Publishing's 3rd Edition "Quintessential" guides, and these both had brown covers. Most "official" DM-related books for both 2nd and 3rd Edition tended to have a blue trade dress, while the 2nd edition "Historical" guides were green. I used the gold color for the campaign settings category as a nod to the 1st Edition AD&D boxed set version of the World of Greyhawk - while I do have the boxed set, I also own both of the books separately as well so I included their data with my soft cover graphs. The dark blue for the Atlas is for my Atlas of Dragonlance book, which has a dark blue trade dress.   





Once again, the colors here are somewhat reminiscent of the companies named. I've already talked about TSR. WOTC gets brown because a lot of my soft covers from them are in the form of the 3rd Edition books like Sword and Fist or Song and Silence, which all had a brown trade dressing that matches those of the 3rd cover hardbacks. My three Bastion Press books all have bright red spines on them, so that's where that color came from. Green Ronin is obvious. The Mongoose color is a lighter brown to indicate that most of my books from them were the 3E Quintessential guides, which were all brown, and Sword & Sorcery gets black because quite a few of their 3rd Edition books were black, although in this case my soft covers from them had a variety of different color covers but I needed to pick a color that I hadn't used for anyone else.   





Again, the colors here are intended to reflect the era; a tan color for the "three little brown books" and the supplements for OD&D (Whitebox), orange for the orange spines on the 1st Edition AD&D hardbacks from the mid-1980's, and grey was mainly because I only owned three soft covers from the 1990's and they all three had completely different colors, but one of them had some grey in it. For 2000, I kept that brown color for the various different class guides I have from WOTC and Mongoose that make up the bulk of the collection from the 2000's, and the purple for the 2010's is actually in reference to one of my books from Evil Hat Productions for their Designers & Dragons series about the history of RPGs. 





I suspect this will raise some questions in regard to its relation to the graph right above it. Out of my soft cover collection of 170 books, 64 of them are modules/adventures, but I've only actually ever played or run a total of 14 of them. As a kid, most of my DMs made up their own adventures and while they would borrow stuff from some of the published things, I didn't count that as having played that module. Frequently my game group also just didn't have the money to purchase things - we shared a 1st Edition Player's Handbook for a few years before I got a second one for us to use, so buying modules wasn't at the top of our list since we could make our own adventures for free. As I got older and got more discretionary income, I acquired a bunch of modules, including quite a few from a sale that TSR did in the 1980's in which a lot of their old modules were packaged in groups of three that were all bound together and sold at a greatly discounted price. It's one of the reasons why, to this day, I have A2, A3, and A4, but I never got A1, because A1 wasn't included in one of those packages but the other three were. 

I didn't start DM'ing until 3rd Edition, so I really haven't run most of my older 1st Edition, B/X, or BECMI modules - even the ones you see above that say "ran" are ones that I converted for my 3E game, with the exception of S3, which I ran using OSRIC

I also didn't include any adventures I've run by using PDFs (such as S4) or some very old photocopies of adventures that I still have from way back in the 1980's when my dad went to his office over the weekend and made a few copies of things for our game group. 

I'm looking forward to running a lot my classic adventures for my daughter and her friends once that campaign gets up and running.   


This is green in homage to my copy of module B1: In Search of the Unknown, which has a mono green cover. Back in the early 1990's, I used to shop at a game store in Diamond Bar, California, called All-Star Games, and at the time, they had a huge wall of TSR products and if you looked hard enough, you could find old mono versions of modules, all at the original cover price. I didn't take as much advantage of it as I should have, because I was in college at the time without a lot of discretionary income, and also I owned a lot of the modules already in their newer, four-color formats. But, I did pick up a few, and acquired a few others over the years. 







I suspect this graph above could be a bit confusing, and a lot of people might not necessary agree with the relationships I have noted between the editions. This was my attempt to map the relationships between the various different games and editions I own for my personal soft cover collection. So, right off the bat, there are going to be things missing because I don't have those pieces in my collection, so I didn't put them on my map. 

The different size of the bubbles shows the relation of how many books in my collection fall into each system. 

Chainmail sits at the top, and gives way to Original D&D, which then diverges into 1st Edition AD&D and into B/X. B/X then gives way to BECMI. All four of these games contribute to the OSR soft covers books that I own, in mechanics, aesthetics, or gaming sensibilities. 1st Edition AD&D connects to 2nd Edition AD&D, and I had both 1E and 2E connect to 3E. To me, 3rd Edition has stuff in common with 1st Edition and the parts that were missing from 2nd Edition (e.g., races like half-orcs, and classes like the monk, to name just two things). 3rd Edition (and I lumped 3E and 3.5 together just for ease of reading the graphs) spawned D20 Modern and some other non-WOTC D20 books, and D20 and 3rd Edition also were responsible for the creation of Pathfinder. I also put a line from D20 over to the OSR bubble, because without the OGL that was created from 3rd Edition and the D20 System, a lot of the legal publication and distribution of a lot of the more popular OSR games wouldn't have been possible. I also felt that Dungeon Crawl Classics was a separate thing, but inspired by the OSR movement (I went back and forth as to whether to just lump it in with the OSR but eventually pulled it out as its own thing). Aside from that, the rest of the graph are things that I have but that aren't really related to the D&D framework. I did consider that since OD&D was the first role-playing game (not including pre-D&D non-published Blackmoor games, but with regard to my collection, OD&D is the oldest RPG on here) that technically I could have said all of the RPGs were spawned from, and related to, OD&D, but I decided to just leave stuff like Ars Magica, GURPS, and any system-neutral stuff (such as Bard games Compleat Alchemist) as their own individual entries.   

That's it for the graphs. I look forward to your comments. 


Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Tap water
Listening: "Jazz Potato" by Mr. Scruff, from the album "Mrs. Cruff." 








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