I Roll a Natural 20, Get a Critical Hit on eBay

A week or so ago, I got an alert in my email that one of the items I’ve been on the prowl for on eBay had come up for sale; FGU’s “Bireme and Galley”, which is a set of naval rules for use with ancient and medieval ships, as an adjunct to their Chivalry and Sorcery game. So I clicked on the link and took a peek, and discovered a list of RPGs as long as my arm, with a “buy it now” price of $150.

Now, immediately this raised some alarm bells for me, because there were no pictures of the books themselves, no indication as to their condition, and although the seller had been on eBay for 2 years, had only a single feedback in all that time. And that as a buyer. So more red flags.

But then my gaze lingered hungrily over the list of promised treasures. The entire set of C&S books, including the much-coveted “Saurians”. Empire of the Petal Throne and Legions of the Petal Throne, the wargame to do large-scale battles. Adventures in Fantasy, Dave Arneson’s RPG post-D&D, which I had heard of but never seen. Bushido. A ton of Fantasy Trip stuff. Arm’s Law, Claw Law, and a ton more ICE stuff. Palladium’s The Mechanoid Invasion (all three books). Space Opera. Other Suns. GDW’s Dark Conspiracy game, and most of the supplements. TSR’s Star Probe and Star Empires. And tons more.

But it was a “buy it now” auction, and I knew at least a few hundred fellow collectors had to have gotten the same eBay email as I did, so the clock was ticking, so I would probably lose the opportunity if I waited to ask the seller about the condition of the items.

I took the chance, and rolled the dice. I figured that if it was a hoax, I’d be protected by either eBay or PayPal, and if the stuff was in terrible condition, I might be able to salvage something out of it.

So today while I was at Dexcon I got a text from my wife saying that two large boxes arrived, but they were “poorly wrapped”.

Uh-oh, I think. I’m doomed. I blew it.

But then I got home. The boxes really were in terrible shape, entire edges ripped open revealing the contents of the box, one had the post office blue and white “arrived in damaged condition” tape resealing one of the edges. Double uh-oh. Anything placed in the box in the wrong direction would have slipped out along the way. I opened the first box.

Gold. Pure old-time RPG gold. Everything in great condition. Sure, the things that had originally come in boxes were missing the boxes. A few things were punched for 3-hole binders (but I’m going to have to do some research on those; they might have come that way). I’m sure a few maps are missing here and there, but more were included than I had dared hope.

I started taking stuff out of the boxes, and it was all the same. In GREAT shape, and a trip back in time to the early 80’s and mid-late 70’s. Tons of stuff I used to own, had heard of but never seen, and had never before heard of. Mostly RPGs but a few wargamey things and miniatures rules that were naturals for an RPG collector of the era to have acquired. Things I’ve been pining for for years, like Saurians, Bireme and Galley, Star Probe, and Star Empires. And it just kept coming out of the box, stacks and layers of it. Behold…

Ebay been veryvery good to me. 🙂

EDIT: Here’s the list as it appeared on eBay. I still haven’t cross-referenced everything, but it seems to be a complete list.

Warhammer 40,000 rogue trader.
Warhammer fantasy
Warhammer campaign the enemy within, shadows over Bogenhafen
hIgh fantasy, rules
adventures in high fantasy and Fortress Ellendar
Earthdawn (FASA)
legions of the petal throne.
Empire of the petal throne.
Sword’s path glory book 1, book 2.
The reptiliads (RAFM co.)
Tunnels and trolls. Fifth edition.
Sword Lords (archive)
wizards and warfare (Leicester wargames)
adventures in fantasy.
archworld (fantasy games Unlimited)
middle Earth role-playing (ICE).
Thieve’s Guild 1-10, Haven, Secrets oif the LAbyrinth, Within the Tyrant’s Demesne
call of Cthulhu
Dragonsquest books1-3 (SPI) .
Adventure one the Palace of Ontoncle
adventure two the blade of allectus
Cities: the game Master’s guide – Stephen Abrams and John Everson.
Midkenmia press: The city of carse,  outland cities
thieve’s world.
    The spirit stones.
    Dark assassin
catacombs of the bear cult.
Chivalry and sorcery (FGU)
    Saurians (FGU)
    sourcebook 2.
    swords and sorcerers.
    bireme and galley.
    the Dragon Lord.
    Rapier and dagger.
Bushido (FGU) book 1 and 2 small and full-size.
    Valley of the mists.
The land of the rising Sun (FGU)
Powers and perils (Avalon Hill) books 1 through 5+ tables was character record plus adventure record.
    Power of the dead.
    Perilous lands     .
    Encounter, combat, and magic screens.
The Lord of creation (Avalon Hill) rule book, book of foes.
the fantasy trip (meta-gaming)
    Wizard(Spells only)
    advanced melee.
    advanced Wizard.
    in the labyrinth
    The Fantasy Master’s Codex
    Fantasy Master’s Screen
    the forest Lords of dhad
    the warrior Lords of darok
    interplay numbers one through eight.
    Death test
    death test 2
    master of the amulets.
    Orb quest
    Dragons of underearth
    the fury of the Norsemen.
    The Lords of underearth
    Security Station
    Treasure of the Silver Dragon
    Treasure of the Unicorn Gold
Runequest (Chaosium)
    scorpion Hall.
    The snow King’s bride
Runequest (Avalon Hill) books 1 through five.
    Adventure book
    city book.
    Daughters of darkness
    dorastor land of doom
    eldarad velocity map book only.

Dangerous journeys (GDW)
    Mythus prime.
    Mythus magick
torg (West End games).
    World book.
    Adventure book
    basic role-playing.
    Future world.
    Super world.
    Magic world.
    Character law and campaign law.
    Arms law and claw law.
    Spell law.
    Future law.
    tech law
    the world of Vog Mur
    the shade of the sinking plane.
    Rolemaster companion.
    Rolemaster companion 2
    space master companion.

The Palladium role-playing game.
The Mechanoid invasion
The Mechanoid invasion book 2. The journey.
The Mechanoid invasion book 3 home world.
Weapons and castles.
Weapons and armour.
Weapons and assassins.
Weapons and castles of the orients.

Battle Lords of the 23rd century (optimus design)
    no man’s land planetary Atlas.
    The Galactic underground.
    Lock n load.

Superhero 2044 (game science)
renegade Legion legionnaire (FASA)
alien space (lou Zocchi)
strike team Alpha (lou Zocchi)
fringeworthy (Tri Tac)
    rogue 417
war of the sky cities (FGU)
space Opera, volume 1 (FGU)
space Opera, volume 2 (FGU)
space Opera ground and air equipment (FGU)
space Marines (FGU)
space Opera star sector Atlas one. The Terran sector (FGU)
space Opera martigan belt (FGU)
starships and spaceman (FGU)

Other Suns (FGU)
    book 1 characters and skills.
    Book 2 starships and world building.

Starfleet wars (superior models)
StarRovers (?)
Universe (SPI)
spacefarers guide to planets: Sector 1 (Little Soldier Games)
hero systems rulebook (hero games) number 500
fantasy hero (hero games) number 502
villains and vigilantes (FGU)
enemies hero games.
champions hero games.

Star  empires
Star Probe
space quest

Steve Jackson games.

SHadowrun (7100)
the grimoire (7106)
Street samurai catalog (7104)

dark conspiracy (2100)
New Orleans (2101)
darktek (2102)
heart of darkness (2103)
Hellsgate (2104)
dark races, volume 1 (2106)
among the dead (2107)
proto-dimensions sourcebook, volume 1 (2109)
ice daemon (2111)
PC booster kit (2112)
nightsider (2114)
minion nation (2115)

traveler 2300
    players manual.
    Referees manual.
    The tricolors shadow.
all edition one.
2300 A.D.
    adventures guide
    directors guide
    Energy Curve (1031)
    Kafer Dawn (1032) two copies

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

22 thoughts on “I Roll a Natural 20, Get a Critical Hit on eBay

  1. Yes, that is an amazing score. I saw the watch list notification in the morning, long, long after you pulled the trigger on it.

    Did the 1st ed V&V rulebook come with the two cardstock sheets (one with reference tables, the other with a character sheet) somewhere in all those stacks?

    Also, the listing mentioned Sword's Path Glory (both 1 and 2 IIRC). Did you get the red cover version of SPG?

    If there's anything you don't want, be sure to list on eBay and mention your listings on The Acaeum. There are a number of items in those stacks that I would throw plenty of $$$ at.

  2. Guy: Yes, V&V came with the cardstock inserts; one blue character sheet, one cream/parchment sheet of tables.

    No, the SPG was the white cover version, but both volumes are in there. I had never heard of it before, and flipped through it briefly. Hundreds of pages of computer-generated printouts reproduced in all their dot matrix glory. Endless minutae of damage to endless different body parts, and incredible numbers of formulae and acronyms to describe just about everything.

    The ultimate expression of the simulationist's art, and completely unplayable. Anyone who bitches about AD&D's "weapon vs. armor type" table needs to be shown just a few pages of these books, and they shall depart the room screaming in abject horror.

  3. 1st ed V&V usually sells fairly well. The last one on eBay (in May; still shows up in completed listings) went for $51. If there hadn't been a misspelling in the listing ("Villians" instead of "Villains"), and if it had been explicit about the fact that it had both cardstock sheets (I asked – it had the sheets), it could potentially have gone for more. (The JG V&V module in the listing isn't significantly interesting enough to have boosted the price.)

    I didn't keep a record of the last SPG auction. I *think* there has been only one in the last year or so, and IIRC it went for around $250. But my memory could be faulty. It was for a white cover one, but I remember whether it was for book 1 or book 2.

    From the pics it looks like there are no boxes from a bunch of the stuff that comes in sets? If so, that's too bad.

    Also, there's something with a black comb binding (2nd picture, just above High Fantasy and the 1st ed Call of Cthulhu rulebook). What's that? The type of comb and thickness of the book looks just like Superhero '44, but that wasn't in the listing. (I do see the Superhero 2044 in the other pic, though.)

  4. Oh wait, the comb binding is probably one of the SPG books. IIRC, Leading Edge did some printings of their products with a comb binding.

  5. Heh… thanks everyone.

    Guy: The piece with the black comb binding you see is Empire of the Petal Throne. Looks like it's the book that originally accompanied the boxed set, but the box and the maps are, alas, missing. (It does have a single cardstock page of tables, though.)

  6. Incredible, like two time capsules. That "Space Quest" RPG by Tyr Gamemakers is exceptionally rare, and is one of the few Sci-Fi RPGs that pre-dates Traveller. 1st edition is 1977, 2nd is 1979. Get your d30 ready!

  7. Wow … simply wow. Lots of cool stuff – Thieves World, Carse, Melee/Fantasy Trip, the ICE stuff, Space Opera, Universe/DeltaVee … Whew.

    Do you plan to post a complete list for drooling purposes? 🙂

  8. Andrew: I just edited the original post with the list as it appeared on eBay.

    And yes, I will be reselling some of the items in smaller themed lots or as one-offs. I'll make sure to post the details when I do.

  9. On the off chance you want to part with Star rovers, please please please let me know ! (drop me a line at Crawdads and dragons, my blog)

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