Monday, July 05, 2010

you gotta be kiddin' me

Everbody here familiar with Noble Knight Games?  They're a great online vendor with a huge selection of out-of-print gaming crap.  They also carry some new stuff produced by the old school scene, like Jim Raggi's cool stuff.  One of the cool features of Noble Knight's website is a Finder service, where if they don't have what you want in stock they will automatically email you when they get a copy in.  Their database of out-of-print junk is quite extensive.

So since 2007 I've had a search in place over at Noble Knight, for a crazy old book called Exotic Characters & Worlds.  That link is to an old Gameblog post describing the exact place on the awesome/terrible axis you can locate this obscure old game manual.  Just today, almost three years later, I get an email from Noble Knight letting me know they have a copy.  The problem is, they want ninety-five freakin' bucks for this thing.

Now obviously rarity will have an effect on the price of any item, but a rare dog turd is still a pile of poop.  And I've never seen anyone claim Exotic Character & Worlds is any good.  Quite the opposite in fact.  So I'm left wondering exactly how Noble Knight arrived at this $95 price.  More specifically, I am now curious of the effect on the pricing of the fact that at least one person had a search out for this book.

I guess I can think of a couple of gaming items I would spend a hundred bucks on.  This is not one of them.  Maybe that makes me a cheapskate, but I think the real issue here is that despite the big pile of gaming crap I own I've never considered myself a 'collector'.  I don't buy anything unless I am entertaining the notion that I might actually use the item at the table.  My OD&D books are probably the most beat up copies you're ever likely to see, because I bought the cheapest, crappiest copies I could find.  In my mind 'Mint condition' equals 'too good to play with' which equals 'no thanks, I'll wait for a more used copy'. 

I suppose I'd spend a hundred bucks on a mint condition OD&D boxed set, but that's only because it'd be a bargain by an order of magnitude or so.  The Wilderlands of High Fantasy boxed set is worth that kind of money, despite being a 3.x product.  The Great Pendragon Campaign is probably another item I could see myself dropping that kind of dough on.  Both of the latter are whole dang campaigns in a box, so I guess nigh-inexhaustible material is one criteria I'd use for top dollar prices. 

Then there are the never-published rarities, like the pre-pub manuiscript for OD&D that briefly made the rounds in Lake Geneva while Gary and crew were working the kinks out of the rules.  Or the pre-publication edition of the D&D Companion Rules meant to supplement the original '81 Basic/Expert duo.  I've seen a grainy photo of a circa 1980 TSR convention display that looked like it had a D&D Companion book on a shelf, but that may be wishful thinking on my part and/or a cover mock-up with no content.