The new edition of your favorite game is out. It’s hot off the presses and has that ‘new edition smell.’ The cover is new and shiny, the rules fixed all the problems with the old edition, and you want to take it out for a spin.
Too bad all your old books are ‘useless’ now. Time to package everything up, take it to your local gaming store, and hopefully get enough to buy the new monster book.
*insert record scratching sound here*
If there is any pet peeve of mine, it is the idea that, just because a new edition is out, all of your prior edition’s worth of materials is useless. I’ve seen people cash in on their old books just as soon as they get their hands on the new ones, and you know – they often regret it.
Why would anyone sell their old materials in the first place? Didn’t you have fun with them? Even though people did indeed have fun with the previous edition’s materials, they may have reasons for not wanting to keep older edition’s gaming books around. Some of them are legitimate (i.e. game books taking up house space), but I feel that most are based on some basic fallacies.
Most of it seems to fall back on the idea that the books of yesteryear are somehow rendered useless by the new edition. Really? Maybe there’s more that is useful than you think.
For example, take a look at fluff and setting information. Maybe the new edition of your favorite game has all of this. That’s fine and well and good, but sometimes as editions change and timelines progress forward, world events happen that don’t suit your tastes. Your old books are a snapshot back to a time you may have liked more. The Forgotten Realms is a prime example here. Yes, maybe the 4th edition D&D books for the Realms are out now, but then again, maybe you liked the timeline of the pre-4th edition Realms better. Keeping the old books lets you look back towards how things were. This is also good in terms of historical perspective on how a setting evolved. The various editions of Dragonlance are a prime example.
‘But I’m just getting rid of the splatbooks. Those are just rules.’
Shenanigans. They’re more than rules – they’re ideas. Let’s say you have a book called the Completely Quintessential Hobbit. It’s a halfling splatbook, filled with all sorts of alternate or expanded rules for halfling characters. The rules may not jive with the new edition, but those books are also filled with ideas. I may no longer be able to play a Hobbit Ringbearer prestige class, but the idea can be translated to the new edition. Not a game designer? No problem. Online communities are filled with amateur game designers, many of which are quite helpful. Hey, maybe you don’t have those exact rules, but again, we have fluff and background behind your Ringbearer prestige class. Maybe you just don’t need a prestige class in the new edition to represent the same role.
One of my favorite books is the AD&D 2nd edition Arms and Equipment Guide. By far, it is one of my favorite gaming books. The D&D 3rd edition counterpart paled in comparison, and few other sourcebooks out there had all that wonderful info. I could have traded it in years ago, but I kept it, because it continued to be a source of inspiration and knowledge for me. Here I am two editions later (three if you count 3.5), and I still use the book.
Likewise, your favorite adventures can be translated to the new edition. Go ahead and play Temple of Elemental Evil with 4th edition rules. You may find that the new edition mixed with the old module produces some interesting results!
Don’t forget about the collectability factor too. Some of those old books are worth quite a penny. If you can find a first printing Deities & Demigods, you know what I’m talking about.
What happens when you get a new gaming buddy and he plays the old edition only? Now you’re out of books. Oops!
New editions come and go, and often, they produce a knee-jerk reaction to sell all your old stuff, typically out of some fear that your old books are ‘useless.’ While there may be some reasons, such as house space, for trading in books, it may behoove you to look at those books a little closer. You may find that those ancient tomes still hold great ideas.