The hardcover printing of the book.
This is the first in a series of posts covering the many treasures I found at GenCon this year. I'm going to begin with an item that probably wasn't on anyone's "hot" item list.
Hunters of Dragons: The Original Dungeons & Dragons Collecting Guide is a nice compilation of history, interviews, and product information focusing on Dungeons and Dragons. The author is Ciro Alessandro Sacco, an Italian, put this together I think largely due to the great popularity of "Classic" D&D in the European market. AD&D has always been much more popular in the U.S. historically. This edition of the book is a translation of the original Italian edition and has been published by Chronicle City, a British game publisher. There are a few minor issues with language translation in the work, but nothing that really detracts from its value.
The book begins with a brief history of Dungeons and Dragons. I have played D&D since the early '80s and the "Red Box" was my intro to the game (thanks, Dad!). However, I'm ashamed to say that my knowledge of the game's history was a bit spotty. This book provides a relatively brief yet thorough overview of the history of D&D and TSR.
Some BECMI edition modules
Next, the book dives into products, beginning with the core rules. It goes through every edition of the rules and provides information such as who designed it, when it was printed, variants, rarity of all variants (from Common to Very Rare), description, and trivia. Also, the book has pictures of covers for every product listed. In my opinion, the inclusion of the pics is one of the coolest aspects of the book. The pics put a "face" on all the items and they help make it a handy reference for collectors who may have never seen a "Moldvay" box set.
This process of cataloging is continued with separate chapters on adventure modules, accessories, boxed sets, hollow world, other products (such as calendars, magazines, pinball machines, etc.), Unreleased Products, and Judges Guild. The adventure modules and accessories chapters are broken down by rules editions. The fourth edition of the game has by far the most products under its belt. This edition is often referred to as BECMI (Basic, Expert, Companion, Master, Immortal after the boxed sets of the same names) and was the most popular version of the rules. In fact, BECMI D&D is still widely played today, especially overseas.
A sampling of Judges Guild products.
The chapter on Judges Guild begins with a brief history of that company and the many innovations they introduced to the RPG hobby. These innovations included GM screens, overland modules, fully realized campaign worlds, etc. I had no idea of Judges Guild's impact on the hobby.
The book wraps up with three interviews. The first one is a fairly thorough interview with Gary Gygax that sheds a lot of light on the history of TSR. The next is one with Dave Arneson. Finally, Larry Elmore answers some questions about what it was like in the early years of TSR and the industry. I found all three of the interviews entertaining and informative, especially the one with Gygax.
The book doesn't try to do everything; it has a very specific goal and it achieves it. It doesn't list prices or provide a price guide - that's not the product's purpose. The product is designed to give you as complete a catalog as possible of what is out there for Original D&D. I never realized that some of these items even existed. If you have an interest in D&D or RPGs in general, then this book is worthwhile. If you are a collector of D&D/TSR items, then I would go so far as to say it is essential for your library.
You can find out more info or purchase a copy of the book here: http://www.huntersofdragons.com/
Avid gamer, historian, teacher, organizer of the MAG Con gaming convention, and owner of Ettin Games and Hobbies.