D&D has been around long enough now to be passed down between generations, and one long-time fan recently bought an enormous treasure trove of RPG nostalgia. On February 5, Donald H. (49), from Texas, shared pictures online of 225 classic adventure modules he’d purchased for “about 50 cents” per book. “I was Bilbo among the hoard”, Donald tells Wargamer. “Laying all of them out on my living room floor, marvelling at their condition, scanning words and artwork I hadn’t seen in almost 40 years – it defies description.”
Many of the sourcebooks in Donald’s collection are from the first and second editions of Dungeons and Dragons, and he tells Wargamer he has strong ties to these early editions. “I’d played D&D as far back as the early ‘80s, beginning as the younger brother tag-along of my brother’s gaming group”, he says. “He’d received a Basic Set and an Expert Set in 1980.” “It was a gift from my mom and dad, and kind of mind-bending at the time because not only were the sets hard to get (in semi-rural Louisiana), but also because of Satanic Panic at the time”, he adds.
Donald held onto many of his family’s original D&D books, and he says he kept his collection of 1e and 2e sourcebooks going (mostly with the help of second-hand bookshops). He came across his most recent score in a local Houston comic shop. “I asked John [the proprietor] if he ever got any old-school D&D, meaning 1e specifically”, he says. Donald received details from a seller, offering “225 adventures – everything I’d ever heard of, plus a lot more”.
“It oddly didn’t include the ubiquitous B1 (In Search of the Unknown) but was beyond belief otherwise”, he adds. “Most startlingly, the seller was asking for a total of $50 for the lot. Any collector can imagine the feeling I had at that moment.” Donald describes “desperately” reaching out to the original seller. “I told him that if the books were in any condition other than ‘I just found these under the washing machine,’ I would gladly take them”, he says.
“I don’t know a tremendous amount about the collection’s original owner”, Donald says. Instead of his name, Donald refers to the books’ original owner as ‘Regulus’, after the man’s beloved RPG character. “My D&D buddies from back in the day refer to this haul as The Vault of Regulus”, he adds.
“The whole thing was too good to be true; except it was true”, Donald says. “When he [Regulus] arrived, he carried with him scores of D&D modules in boxes.” “Many of them still had their original shrinkwrap”, he adds. “All were in immaculate condition.”
Regulus apparently kept back “his most prized items” from the collection, and he’ll likely sell these for higher prices if he passes them on. He did also sell Donald 250 issues of Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine, with issues dated as early as 1977. “I initially told him that I would pass on those”, Donald says. “Then I called him back and bought all of them for another $40.”
“As far as why he was ready to part with them, [Regulus] just smiled and said, ‘It was time.’”, Donald tells Wargamer. “I got the sense they’d sat meticulously on shelves in his home for a long time, with his RPG days long past him.”
“I don’t get to play as often as I would like anymore, and even when we do, it’s often from a PDF online or on Roll20”, Donald tells Wargamer. “The modules themselves now feel like an anachronism, but they are amazing to behold.” “I’ve shown a portion of the collection publicly once, at a small regional museum in the small town of Sulphur, Louisiana”, he adds. “I hope to someday do as [Regulus] did, and pass them to a group of young old-school gamers, who’ll be able to appreciate a tabletop, some dice, a pencil, some graph paper and an imagination for good stories.”