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Post Posted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:11 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:...in various game versions including Green Ronin's somewhat nebulous system called True 20.


So Mark, after explaining the difference between 3.0 and 3.5: what is the True20 system?

  


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:29 pm 
 

Dungeon Magazine D20 Adventure Paths...collectible as well?  I've finally tracked down all the back issues of Age of Worms (Wyrms?) from the later D20 Dungeon Mags.  Some of the issues seem to be pretty rare so would they count?


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:34 pm 
 

simrion wrote:Dungeon Magazine D20 Adventure Paths...collectible as well?  I've finally tracked down all the back issues of Age of Worms (Wyrms?) from the later D20 Dungeon Mags.  Some of the issues seem to be pretty rare so would they count?


I'm not sure. However, there will never be PDFs of the last 12 Dungeon and Dragon mag issues, because when the last mags were produced, Paizo lost the right to produce more PDFs of them.

  

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:42 pm 
 

ericthecleric wrote:
I'm not sure. However, there will never be PDFs of the last 12 Dungeon and Dragon mag issues, because when the last mags were produced, Paizo lost the right to produce more PDFs of them.


Not Authorized perhaps... :lol:


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:48 pm 
 

Gnat the Beggar wrote:
Not Authorized perhaps... :lol:


You're right of course, Gnat.  :lol:
I'll rephrase that: there will never be official PDFs of the last twelve magazines!

  

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:50 pm 
 

IIRC, all 150 Dungeon magazines are available in a single torrent.
And some 353 issues of Dragon.
Allegedly.


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:46 pm 
 

I am not a good source for Dungeon magazine...since I am a bit late on collecting it.

The used versions are likely to be missing essential items like maps that were shipped in plastic with the magazines.

Anyone have any real knowledge on the adventure paths and how they worked?


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Post Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:56 pm 
 


** expired eBay auction **




Tome of Horrors for $15, from an Acaeum member.


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Post Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:38 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:
** expired eBay auction **


Tome of Horrors for $15, from an Acaeum member.




Thanks :)


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:22 pm 
 

So, there I was…standing in the RPG section of the greatest bookstore on earth.  You've got to know someone is a dedicated collector when his wife has agreed to detour through Portland, Oregon on the way home from their 25th anniversary vacation so he can stop at Powell's City of Books.  Fortunately, my wife also loves Powell's, so we were both enthusiastic.  She's pretty tolerant of the whole collecting thing…and she's really pretty, too.  (Best gaming item in my collection!  I'll wager that my copy of gamer girl is nicer than anyone else's!  Neener, neener!)



Powell's has a good selection of modules and other items, but they aren't Half Price Books.  The guys at Powell's generally know what they're holding and charge what they think they can get for the item.  Sometimes they think too highly of their stock, but Powell's isn't exactly under pressure to sell right away.  There were hundreds of people there when we visited, on a weekday afternoon.  It's the place to snag a book you can't find anywhere else, and sometimes one slips through….



Anyway, there is a D20 point to this post....



I found what I was looking for there, but not at the right price.  I wanted a copy of the 3.0 module, R3 Rappan Athuk The Dungeon of Graves: The Lower Levels.  Known generically as Rappan Athuk III, this is the final module of a series that includes:



R1 Rappan Athuk: The Dungeon of Graves: The Upper Levels

R2 Rappan Athuk: The Dungeon of Graves: The Middle Levels

R3 Rappan Athuk: The Dungeon of Graves: The Lower Levels



Fans of the series know that R1 and R2 are still relatively common on Ebay…although their price is likely to creep up in the near future as supplies dwindle.  R3 is a bit more of a challenge.  There are usually copies around, but the price has crept up as high as the $100 range in recent history.  Copies offered for $35 have been available on Ebay and on Amazon, but I just couldn't pay for that.



The copy I found on the shelf at Powell's City of Books was $40.



I actually considered it for a moment.  $40 was not far off of what I would pay when shipping is figured in and the hassles related to that.  I was almost…ready…to…give in and buy, but my stubborn shopping instincts just forced me to wait.  I bought another Necromancer Games module instead, L1 Demons and Devils, for a pretty good price.



When we got home I decided to check Amazon just one more time.  You never know!  What I immediately hit was a new copy of R3 on Amazon for $15.  I could not hit the instant purchase button fast enough.  



Here's the link for the other copies hiding there.  Go get em!:



http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/ ... ition=used



As I type, there are four other used-like new copies of R3 on Amazon for under $15, one for $18 and others ranging up from $30.  It's a good moment for a D20 Acaeum guy or gal to BIN those babies while they're there!



The $15 R3 arrived yesterday.  I have been gnawing on it for a while.



At this point in D20 history, the Rappan Athuk modules aren't going to sneak up on anybody.  They're pretty well nigh infamous.  Some of the focus has shifted off of the original 3.0 modules because of the hoopla over the Rappan Athuk Reloaded boxed set for the 3.5 Edition.



(While I'm gloating, I must tell you that I got my copy of Rappan Athuk Reloaded at a Vancouver, Washington comic book store in April of this year.  It was cover price.  The comic book buyers didn't know what it was.  When I asked the store guy for a box to put it in he said, "That must be something special."  I said, "Oh YES!" Only thing is, it's in shrink, dang it!)



Rappan Athuk is a dungeon crawl across three modules and 15 levels with a nice encounter with a major demon for the final scene.  (I'm not spoiling the module for you.  Orcus is on the Necromancer Games logo and he's also on the cover of R3.  By the time you get to the 15th level the big guy ain't exactly a surprise.)  



R1 and R2 are stapled, saddle stitched.  There are 48 pages in R1 and 64 pages in R2.  R3 is a perfect bound book of 112 pages.  Even with the obligatory wasted space in every D20 product used to list the OGL rules compliance and advertise other publications, all three modules are still great values because they do not fall into the pit that hampers a lot of other D20 items:  They do not waste dozens of pages with new rules.  There are no new prestige classes, new spells, new blah blah blah crap, etc.  Nope…we get right to the good stuff!  



The technical aspects of the Rappan Athuk modules are outstanding.  When I say "technical" I mean all of the presentation details that make a module memorable and a joy for the DM to use.  The maps are black and white and very clear.  They avoid all of the pitfalls of crappy, computer graphics and the hopeless garble that results when color maps are slugged down to black and white.  The artwork is good (if not exactly Erol Otus or Morno) and there is enough of it to give you the feel of the encounters.  



One caveat about the maps:  3rd Edition demands mapping in 5'x 5' squares.  R1 provides maps that do not have squares at all.  R2 is carefully mapped using squares, but a scale is not given…I think it's 5'x 5'.  R3 is mapped with an excellent grid and is very clear, but the scale is 10'x 10'.  The dungeon levels are huge and will require large graph paper where the DM maps in 5' x 5'.   If you're a DM who cannot overcome these technical details, you probably should stop reading the modules and let someone else DM.



The monster stat blocks are perfectly organized without the major errors that creep into too many publications when the rules are as complicated as 3rd Edition.  There are a lot of monsters, so the beasties do not all get their own sidebar.  There is a handy appendix of monster stats at the end of the module that the DM could just copy or print from PDF and hold in his hand for convenience.  



One common 3rd Edition-ism that the Rappan Athuk modules avoid is the use of grey scale or busy graphics.  Grey scale is a background of grey-to-nearly-black ink behind monster stat blocks or even behind the entire page.  In some 3rd Edition products the background for part of the text is actually black, with the letters in white.  Other 3rd Edition products cannot resist jamming the page with repetitive graphics such as elaborate borders for each page.  Similarly, some of the old TSR 2nd Edition modules were printed on parchment type paper.  My suspicion about most of this is that the intent was to make the modules hard to photocopy.  If so, it worked…but it also makes modules really hard to read and wastes a lot of ink and space.  Aside from a small amount of grey scale behind the maps in R2, the Rappan Athuk modules don't do that crap…nor do they test our eyes with impossibly small type or ludicrous fonts.  (Thanks for listening to that rant, by the way.)



Rappan Athuk set the bar very high for 3rd Edition products way back in 2000.  A number of other companies would have done well to copy them.  Too many did not.



Quality can range widely in 3rd Edition products.  The first 3.0 cock-up of the classic Dark Tower, for instance, demonstrated absolutely no command of the new rules but made up for it by showing no respect to the original Judges Guild module and omitting the name of author Paul Jaquays entirely.  Dark Tower had to wait for a Necromancer Games fix.  (You know a module is good when it gets published in the same edition twice.)



The Rappan Athuk modules are written for anyone to use, but they reflect the philosophy of Bill Webb and Clark Peterson:  "3rd Edition Rules. 1st Edition Feel."  The writers tend to assume that their customer is the usual Acaeum-type RPG veteran.  I love these lines from the introduction:



"Why is the dungeon there?  No one knows.  Why do the monsters usually fight rather than talk?  We aren't really sure.  Why are there 16 trolls in a cave with a jug of alchemy?  No one cares.  What do all the monsters eat?  We don't know that either (although "adventurer" probably tops the menu).  And we don't have to know these things. This isn't an ecology experiment; it's a dungeon -- the quintessential setting for pure sword-and-sorcery adventuring!"



R1 is planned for six characters of 3rd level and the plan is for the party to level-up appropriately as they venture deeper and deeper into the Dungeon of Graves.  Peterson and Webb understand well that experienced players will do better than newbies.  They give notes on where the party should go and what they should avoid.  R3 includes a careful buildup to the final encounter.  Completing the various adventures along the way to meeting the Lord of the Dead gives the party advantages that might help them prevail.  Blundering straight into the final show will probably end badly.



Rappan Athuk is not a "killer dungeon" because it does not have the deathtraps and inescapable situations found in a module like Tomb of Horrors.  However, characters are going to die if the party is careless or unlucky.  That's supposed to be part of the fun.  Remember when it was actually frightening to go down into an imaginary dungeon?  Remember when you didn't know if your character was coming back?  That's Rappan Athuk.



The Rappan Athuk modules are not for children.  It isn't that there's gore or sex or anything really lurid.  It's just that the bad guys in this deep dungeon are doing horrible things to people and the atmosphere is pretty grim.  I could actually smell the fetid aura of Rappan Athuk as I thumbed through the modules earlier this week.  (But that might also have had to do with the septic system repairs we were having done that day…you decide.)



There's a ton more I could say about the three Rappan Athuk modules.  This is already a really long post.  Every time I open up these three books I find something that interests me, a great idea, a scary picture, a story hook, or someone really cool to kill...someone who really really reeeaally has it coming.



So, if you read this far rather than just clicking on the link above, Rappan Athuk 3.0 is worth collecting even though Rappan Athuk Reloaded exists.  My advice is to snap up those modules on Amazon and go get R1 and R2 while people still think they're cheap modules.  I don't know if the three 3.0 modules will be super collectible or not, but I do know that any old-school gamer will enjoy at least reading them.



Your thoughts?


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:14 pm 
 

Nice nab and thanks for sharing FormCritic.  I've a few sets of these and Reloaded as well.  Definitely want to run them sometime.  Wish the creators released their original which (I believe) they created for 1E


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:39 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:
<Rappan Athuk rant>

Your thoughts?


Powell's had a copy of R3 on E-Bay for around $45 not that long ago.  I see it on the Amazon page as well.

Great review of a great set of modules.  FWIW, the scale is clear on each map, and the vary from 5ft, 10ft, 15ft, 20 ft, 25ft, 40ft, 50ft, and 300ft per square, depending on the level.  Not that confusing, just allows larger levels and spaces to be fit on one page.

Perhaps blasphemous, but I think Rappan Athuk is the greatest MegaDungeon ever produced, and RaR is my favorite RPG product of any edition.

  

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:39 pm 
 

Grug Greyskin wrote:
Powell's had a copy of R3 on E-Bay for around $45 not that long ago.  I see it on the Amazon page as well.

Great review of a great set of modules.  FWIW, the scale is clear on each map, and the vary from 5ft, 10ft, 15ft, 20 ft, 25ft, 40ft, 50ft, and 300ft per square, depending on the level.  Not that confusing, just allows larger levels and spaces to be fit on one page.

Perhaps blasphemous, but I think Rappan Athuk is the greatest MegaDungeon ever produced, and RaR is my favorite RPG product of any edition.


IMO Undermountain is better, but for me RA is a close second.  Interesting that these two are reallly the only true Megadungeons professionally published for D&D, as much love as our community has for this style of adventure.  Very sad Castle Greyhawk, El Raja Key or another "name" from back in the day never got published.

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:04 am 
 

I would say that Rappan Athuk is a modest megadungeon.  It is 15 levels, but the books themselves amount to only just over 200 pages including brik-a-brak.


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:47 am 
 

RAR may be 15 levels deep, but there are some 36 levels in it?
I don't think we'll see supplies of R1 and R2 disappearing anytime soon. There are thousands of the things in circulation, and a lot of people don't buy, either because they want to secure R3 first (to be sure of completing the set) or they want RAR. Add to that the horrifically bad presentation of R1, the maps are abysmal, and you have a product that most people will stay away from. Especially seeing as the PDFs are freely available online, and people can see what they'd be buying.

R3 and RAR will continue to be good investments, RAR particularly so, but both are close to their medium term stable prices. Abysthor has risen steadily over the last six months, but will also plateau at a simialr level to R3.

R1 particularly is hardly even worth it's cover price in the quality of it's production.

FormCritic wrote:Only thing is, it's in shrink, dang it!)

So you could be sitting on one of the missing golden tickets, and even though you can't collect, that golden ticket would be worth a fair bit of money.
There appears to be no decernable difference in value between a mint in shrink and a mint without shrink RAR. Provided they are stored well, there is no reason at present not to be able to shift RAR without shrink for $200+ and no reason to believe you'd do any better with the shrink on. So I'd suggest unwrapping and finding out what signatures are on the slip of paper inside.

Current values would appear to be...

Rappan Athuk 1 - Mint - $5-7
Rappan Athuk 2 - Mint - $8-10
Rappan Athuk 3 - Mint - $40-50
Rappan Athuk Reloaded - Mint - $170-200
Tomb of Abysthor - Mint - $50

As always, the presentation of the auction has a bearing on the price.


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Last edited by mbassoc2003 on Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:07 am 
 

Enlighten me about the slips of paper inside Rappan Athuk Reloaded?

And aside from the maps lacking grid lines, what is so bad about R1's production values?


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:18 am 
 

Inside RAR, there is a little slip of paper, a certificate of authenticity as it were, signed by Bill and Clark, but, five are signed on behalf of various creatures and deities from within the modules, and those signatures were attached to claimable prises (dinner and a trip to GenCon with NG, a lifetime supply of free NG product, etc.) As I recall, only two were ever claimed. The remaining 3, whilest now unclaimable as NG are no more, would be worth something as a collectors piece in of themselves.

The cartography for R1 is up there with EGGs Hermit is that it's poor quality hand drawn crap, that was not even tarted up for the module but just scanned in in low res and pasted into the printer's file. Thankfully, they redrew the maps for RAR and set the bar quite high. They must have found a decent map maker at some point in the company's development, because much of the later stuff is presented really well.

FormCritic wrote:..., what is so bad about R1's production values?

Maybe it comes from me being a designer that I pick up on these things. Maybe the general reading public don't notice quality in layout, design, artwork and typesetting. You can see it in a lot of the early works of companies. Take a look at PPP's CotSK and see what jumps out as obvious things you could do to improve the presentation right off the bat.

That can be the case with a lot of the early stuff from companies. It's just that when you have a series like that, it's really obvious and a bit of a let down. Paper and cover quality is very noticable in some of their other products of the time, but when you consider TLG were banging out Crusader on a laser colour photocopier at the time, it's not as bad as it could have been.


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:14 am 
 

FormCritic wrote: .....Fans of the series know that R1 and R2 are still relatively common on Ebay…although their price is likely to creep up in the near future as supplies dwindle.  R3 is a bit more of a challenge.  There are usually copies around, but the price has crept up as high as the $100 range in recent history.  Copies offered for $35 have been available on Ebay and on Amazon, but I just couldn't pay for that.
.....
When we got home I decided to check Amazon just one more time.  You never know!  What I immediately hit was a new copy of R3 on Amazon for $15.  I could not hit the instant purchase button fast enough.  

Here's the link for the other copies hiding there.  Go get em!:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/ ... ition=used

As I type, there are four other used-like new copies of R3 on Amazon for under $15, one for $18 and others ranging up from $30.  It's a good moment for a D20 Acaeum guy or gal to BIN those babies while they're there!

.....
Your thoughts?




THANKS for the link to the Amazon sales.



I had a full set of RA 1-3, and had R1 and R2 for another, but like you, I was reluctant to pay $40 or more for the second copy of R3.



I just bought R3 on Amazon for $14.95 plus $3.80 shipping.

Sweet....

Now I will have two sets of Rappan Athuk and now some day I hope to obtain a copy of Re-Loaded.



I agree with your R-Rating assesment of the series too.

I like the story line and the series as a RPG, but I will not DM the grandkids through them.

Too graphic for young ones.



mbassoc2003: I agree with you about the low quality in the mapwork of the original R Series Module R-1 (Dont have the RAR book).


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:53 am 
 

thank you for the heads up, just ordered a copy myself.....still on the look-out for a decent copy of RaR...

  

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:59 pm 
 

Gnat the Beggar wrote:mbassoc2003: I agree with you about the low quality in the mapwork of the original R Series Module R-1 (Dont have the RAR book).

The whole mapset was recrafted. Much more professional. It was also expanded with a vertical section showing the relationships and links between the levels and sublevels, and the wilderness above was added. Altogether, the module set was revisited, corrected and repolished, into what is one of the best products ever to have been released for 3/3.5E. Deffinately one of the top five must haves of the past 10 years, along with CZ:UW et al.


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