Today’s deal at Gamerati’s Loot! website is definitely of interest to readers of the Mule: five classic adventures by Rob Kuntz, who co-DMed the original Greyhawk campaign along with Gary Gygax and created many of the seminal pieces of early D&D history. Much of this stuff remains unpublished, such as El Raja Key, Rob’s own castle + megadungeon combination – third in the lineage after Blackmoor and Greyhawk – and the world of Kalibruhn, which was once slated to be Supplement V for OD&D and then later a Pied Piper release based on “400 typed pages out of the several thousand pages of notes, maps and ancillary material extant on it.” Pieces of Rob’s work which did make it into print, like Maure Castle (Mordenkainen’s Fantastic Adventure), are amazing, especially (to my tastes) when they haven’t been translated into later-edition d20 presentation, and that’s what Loot! is offering up today.
Here’s the description; since their website only shows each day’s deals, if you’re not reading this on May 19, 2011 you’ll need this to tell you what you missed out on:
For all you collectors of awesomeness we have a great out of print deal from 1987. Maze of Zayene #1-4, Garden of the Plantmaster & City of Brass Promo Flyer (1st Printings). As an little bonus this includes a promotional flyer for the NEVER released “City of Brass” module! Written by Rob Kuntz one of the most memorable writers for TSR.
Full titles included:
Maze of Zayene Part 1 – Prisoners of the Maze
Maze of Zayene Part 2 – Dimensions of Flight
Maze of Zayene Part 3 – Tower Chaos
Maze of Zayene Part 4 – The Eight Kings
Garden of the Plantmaster (stand alone adventure)
All are in near mint to mint condition IN THE ORIGINAL SHRINKWRAP.
Some notes to make this not just a “buy this now” post – although yes, you should do that right away, I’ll wait here while you do.
- I believe Garden of the Plantmaster, like Bottle City, is derived from one of the special areas in the original Castle Greyhawk dungeons, making it a fragment of one of gaming’s Holy Grails.
- From a collector’s point of view, it’s nigh unbelievable that you can get these all at once, in shrinkwrap, with a promotional poster, for such a low price. However, having been a publisher it makes perfect sense. The customer sees scarcity because they’re on the far end of a distribution pipeline. There are ever so many ways this pipeline can break down, from troubles in the distributor and hobby store chain to lack of initial consumer demand to suck things through, at which point the publisher on the other end gets stuck with crate after crate of ’em. What seems beautiful, precious, and jewel-like in isolation – and oh, how I can’t wait for my copies of these modules to arrive – seems like so much slowly yellowing tree pulp when you have a lot of it on your hands.
- Even in the long-tail days of the Internet, maintaining these distribution networks is costly and effortful. In theory, my old company Behemoth3, Inc. still has print copies of A Swarm of Stirges and Maze of the Minotaur to sell you – in the dog days following the collapse of the d20 boom, we sure didn’t run out of even the 600 we did print-on-demand. However, the website we had that would have let you order them from us direct is long gone; we weren’t making enough to justify paying its hosting fees, especially when each year in which we didn’t dissolve the company’s assets meant another annual cost to stay current as an S-corp. (B3’s foolish decisions would fill another post by themselves). Assuming you reached us somehow, it would take some effort to figure out whose attic has the boxes of these copies, and more to haul them out and mail ’em. And we’re just talking about a six-year-old smallest-of-the-small-presses product here!
- The stories of TSR’s vast warehouses, filled with endless crates in which relics are hidden, winding up in the dumpster make more sense to me from this perspective; yes, it’s tragic, but in publishing as in war, veterans have a jaded perspective on tragedy. All the more kudos to the Gamerati, then, for not only uncovering this wondrous treasure hoard but also moving it through a working distribution network that transforms it from burdensome crates of paper into gaming jewels once again.
- Erik Frankhouse, the Gamerati Network’s sales manager, was at Gary Con III; although I didn’t get the chance to meet him this year I’ll be sure to do so next time. Might this bode more such treasures of interest to old-schoolers coming down the pike? It can’t hurt to sign up for Loot!’s email notification service just in case…