Frequently Asked Questions                                  Home Up


Compiled from several years' worth of questions directed at The Acaeum's resident Sage.
 

  1. How on earth do you use this site?

  2. I can't find (item name) on the site.

  3. Why don't you cover 2nd Edition / 3rd Edition / 4th Edition AD&D material?

  4. What is The Acaeum Valuation Board?

  5. How does the Valuation Board determine the estimated value for an item?

  6. How much of the Valuation Board's work is open for public examination?

  7. What are the current scales & formulas used by the Valuation Board?

  8. Are the sales listed in the Auction History sections used by the Valuation Board?

  9. Do you include private sales in your auction histories?

  10. Can I submit eBay auction results to you, for inclusion in your auction histories?

  11. My auction was completed in British pounds, but all your values are in dollars?

  12. I think your opinion of (item name) being worth $8 is completely off.  I saw it on eBay selling for (50 cents / $80).

  13. How does the Board come up with an estimated value for an item that has little or no auction history?

  14. Are you (selling/buying) any of the items depicted on The Acaeum?

  15. I submitted a (question/submission) WEEKS ago.  When am I going to get a reply?

  16. I noticed different sizes / different color shades of a module.  Are these separate printings?

  17. Can I link to your site?

  18. Will you link to my site?

  19. Can I use your cover scans on my web site / in my auction?

  20. Can I use your printing information on my web site / in my auction?

  21. How far can a halfling toss a dwarf?

  22. Do you plan on offering a disk-based version of The Acaeum?

  23. Do you ever plan on covering non-TSR material, such as Judges Guild products?

  24. What does "acaeum" mean, anyway?  I looked it up in the dictionary and couldn't find it.

  25. How do you pronounce "Acaeum"?

  26. What is a "flyleaf", an "endpaper", a "textblock", etc?

  27. What is the TSR Piece Code?  Module Code?  Product Number?

  28. I'm interested in insuring my collection.  How should I go about it?


  • How on earth do you use this site?

    Please see our How To Use This Site essay.  :)


  • I can't find (item name) on the site.

    If a search on The Acaeum Search Engine was negative, then first be sure you've spelled the title correctly.  Also, fewer words in your search will often provide more results; if you're looking for Queen of the Demonweb Pits, try searching for just "Queen" rather than the whole title.  Searching for "Queen IN the Demonweb Pits" (an incorrect title) might result in "no items found".  Finally, be aware that only items produced or distributed by TSR, before 1990, and that directly interface with the game, are covered on The Acaeum.  To this, you can add items covered by our various subwebs (currently, only two are online: The Judges Guild Booty List, which covers every item published by Judges Guild, and All Things Planar, which covers all items released for the Planescape campaign setting).  By definition, therefore, we are not currently covering such items as Fez 1: Wizards Vale (produced by the Role Aids company), The Necromancer's Handbook (produced after 1990), or the D&D Lunchbox (does not interface with the D&D game directly).  The Acaeum Wiki is not directly affiliated with The Acaeum, though it's managed by several of our forum members; check there for D&D items later than First Edition, produced by companies other than TSR, or material for other roleplaying systems entirely.


  • Why don't you cover 2nd Edition / 3rd Edition / 4th Edition AD&D material?
    and
    I know you've said that you don't want to cover (item name) since it was produced after 1990, but I've noticed that it's selling for thousands of dollars on eBay, and I really think you should cover it.

    We've chosen to concentrate on 1st Edition (pre-1990) material for a number of reasons.  For one, none of us here collect 2nd-or-later Edition material, so our knowledge about such items is limited.  While we may consider covering selected later items at some point in the future, our current workload will keep us busy for quite a while.  Secondly, the site's main purpose is not to be a collectibles price guide, but to provide information on what constitutes a first (or early) print of an item.  It is VERY unusual for any TSR item produced after 1990 to have different, distinguishable printings -- or to have a small print run.  By 1990, TSR was a sizeable publisher, cranking out professional-quality products on big presses.  Contrast to the early 70's, when Gygax and friends were hand-boxing the game in their living rooms.  If an item produced after 1990 is selling for lots of money, it's generally NOT because it had a small print run, nor that it's a rare first print of an item -- it's because the item is popular.  If we covered it, it would simply be to show a cover scan of the item, and give our opinion on its worth.  That sort of coverage is absolutely useless, because YOU could just as easily look on eBay at any given time and get an even more accurate guess of the item's worth.

    The Acaeum Wiki is not directly affiliated with The Acaeum, though it's managed by several of our forum members; check there for D&D items later than First Edition, produced by companies other than TSR, or material for other roleplaying systems entirely.


  • What is The Acaeum Valuation Board?

    In August 2004, I initiated a change in how items are valued on this site.  The old method -- my personal opinion, coupled with random eBay searches of completed auctions -- had numerous problems.  For one, I don't have the free time, nor the resources, to comprehensively track eBay sale prices for every item on the site.  Secondly, any automated software that I might employ would miss a critical factor in the final price -- condition of the item.  Lastly, the accusation that my valuations were biased was not without merit; while I endeavored to provide a fair and accurate opinion of what items were selling for, I also happen to be a collector myself, and not a truly neutral third party.

    Thus, the Valuation Board was born.  The Valuation Board is a group of individuals, selected from the membership of The Acaeum Forums, who are charged with monitoring auction sales and adjusting the Estimated Values for all items on this site.  At the moment, the Board consists of roughly a dozen volunteer people.  Each was selected based on several factors, namely, evident maturity, demonstrated ability to work well with others, solid grasp of the D&D collectibles market, and enthusiasm for this hobby.  The Board is composed of both active collectors as well as resellers, hailing from several different countries.  Additional members will be selected in the future, based in large part on their contributions to the forum, website, and/or hobby as a whole.  Any Acaeum member may volunteer for board membership; together with the Valuation Board moderator, we'll select the new membership.  Even if you were a past VB member and resigned / quit / passed out / for whatever reason, you're welcome to apply again.  Clean slate.  Our memory of your past performance on the Board, if any, has been wiped clean.

    It should be noted that I have removed myself from the valuation process completely, aside from the selection of new Board personnel.  Therefore, the Estimated Values you see on the Indexes are completely a product of the community's most active and respected members.


  • How does the Valuation Board determine the estimated value for an item?

    Largely, based on past auction results.  A Board member's most time-consuming duty is to monitor eBay sales for the items assigned to him/her -- not only the ending price, but an estimate of the item's condition.  This data is then merged into a master database, which weights the sales based on the year -- a sale that completed last month will carry more weight than a sale that completed three years ago.  The sales data is then graphed against a "value curve" -- the composition of that curve being decided upon by consensus agreement of the Board.  Any discrepancies or aberrations are discussed, and corrected if need be.  The final values are then published.

    Regardless of how it may look, the process places little weight on personal opinion.  The "value curve", at the moment, is a straight percentage based scale (see below for specifics).  We're considering making a separate curve for class-5 Rares, but have not implemented such a scale yet (the theory here being, collectors will typically pay disproportionately higher amounts for rare items in top condition than they will for common items in top condition).  Additionally, personal opinion is sometimes needed in order to make determinations on discrepancies and aberrations.  Should a single rare module sale, sold by the module's author and fetching a ridiculously high sale price (for example), affect the module's estimated value?  Probably not, and that's what the Board is there for.


  • How much of the Valuation Board's work is open for public examination?

    Open for review:
     
    • current Board members (viewable from the Usergroups screen in the Forums)
    • the current modifiers used to calculate values of less-than-near-mint condition, the current weighting scale applied to the sale year, and all other necessary formulas used to calculate the estimated values
    • the site Indexes, of course, showing the final results of those calculations

    Not open for review:
     
    • discussion between Board members, conducted in a private forum
    • individual item sale prices collected by the Board
    • individual item conditions assigned by the Board

    The reasoning behind what is/is not public is simple.  The Valuation Board is not intended to be a secret cabal, assigning values at whim, but rather a group of people collecting as much data as possible, applying standard formulas to come up with average sale prices, and finally applying a dose of reason and common sense to that result.  Their deliberations should not be open to public scrutiny, else the resultant "noise" would prohibit any real consensus from being reached.  However, utilizing the formulas provided, you at home could monitor all eBay sales of an item, apply the formulas, and generally come up with the same values the Board is getting.

    Why not make all the item sales (and conditions) public?  The Acaeum is not a grading service.  The Board members take their best guess at an item's condition, and that guess is based solely on the scan of the item and the description provided by the seller.  Small differences between the estimate and reality will not have an impact on an item's average value -- "it all evens out in the end", as the saying goes.  However, if the sales and grades were made public, people would take that estimate as the official "grade" of their item, which it's not -- and not intended to be.


  • What are the current scales and formulas used by the Valuation Board?

    A complicated question.  You can peruse the full-page explanation here.


  • Are the sales listed in the Auction History sections used by the Valuation Board?

    No.  These are simply example sales that I have pulled from eBay over the years, and are more comprehensive for class-5 Rares than for items of lesser rarity.  They are provided for informational purposes only; these auctions *have* been included by the Valuation Board in their calculations, but the assignment of condition for those items is conducted independently by them.


  • My grandmother sold her copy of ST1 Up the Garden Path to me for $50,000.  Can you include this private sale in your auction history?

    We enjoy the security of having publicly-researchable sales (i.e. eBay auctions) as some sort of proof that we're not just making these values up.  With a private sale, it comes down to hearsay.  While our method of estimating values is certainly far from a scientific approach, we don't even want to think about the accusations of price-fixing that would pour in should we include private sales -- "The Acaeum's in secret collusion with Ed's Comic Shop to drive up prices", etc.  Whose values do we include -- everyone's?  Only online dealers?  Which online dealers?  An exclusive club?  Etcetera.  Another reason to avoid private sales is the lack of competition in the setting of the price -- maybe Lucy's Games was able to sell I3 Pharaoh for $90, but should that idiot buyer affect the market value of the module?  On eBay, at least two idiots have to agree that the price should go that high. 

    With all that said, there are some private sales included on The Acaeum right now.  We've included them only as further auction history on extremely rare items, and because I know both the buyer and seller.  Of course, this decision is mostly contradictory to all the reasons listed above, so we may have to rethink this policy in the future.


  • Can I submit eBay auction results to you, for inclusion in your auction histories?

    Almost certainly, the Valuation Board has already seen your auction and recorded the sale.  It may not end up appearing in the Auction History section of that item's page (since those are sales that I randomly gather myself), but the Board doesn't miss much.  Your best bet to ensure "maximum exposure" is to post a message in the Classifieds forum before the auction is over -- you'll not only attract the notice of the Valuation Board, but bidders as well.


  • My auction was completed in British pounds, but all your values are in dollars?

    We convert all currencies to U.S. dollars, to facilitate easy comparison between markets.  We also round off all amounts to the nearest dollar, so slight discrepancies will disappear anyway.


  • I think your opinion of (item name) being worth $8 is completely off.  I saw it on eBay selling for (50 cents / $80).

    The site's main purpose is not to be a price guide.  We've debated on whether or not to have the value estimations at all, and ultimately decided that these estimations do more good than harm.  They are intended to be a guide -- and a guide only -- to help collectors gauge what an item should fetch at auction.  Since eBay is fickle, there's certainly going to be eBay sales that are way off our estimated value, in either direction.  Those wild values tend to balance themselves out over time, however, and that balance is what our Estimated Values hope to reflect.


  • How does the Board come up with an estimated value for an item that has little or no auction history?

    We're very cautious when assigning value to items with absolutely no public (newsgroup or eBay) sale history.  While we're tempted to assign high values to everything super-rare, we've learned our lesson with a couple of items, notably Strategic Review issues and the First print of Greyhawk.  There's no earthly reason why Strategic Review issues sell for $10 apiece, but they regularly do, regardless of our attempts to point out their rarity and age.  When we initially learned of the existence of the ("true") First print of Greyhawk, we assumed it was super-rare, and put a fairly high value on it... only to have three copies pop on eBay and the newsgroup within 24 hours.  (Thankfully, those were the only three copies to turn up for at least a year afterward, so it really is rare).

    Much of the reason for the Board's creation was to make judgement calls in such situations.  The resultant values (again, only for items with insufficient sales history) is based on group discussion and vote.


  • Are you (selling/buying) any of the items depicted on The Acaeum?

    No.


  • I submitted a (question/submission) WEEKS ago.  When am I going to get a reply?

    Unfortunately, we have much less free time to devote to the site now than we used to.  Rest assured that your question or submission has been received, and we'll get to it as soon as possible.


  • I noticed that my three copies of (module) are slightly different sizes, and/or they are all slightly different shades of blue.  Are these separate printings?

    Yes, they are, but they're not printing differences that we're tracking on The Acaeum.  Over the years, TSR changed printers, or the printers would change inks/paper stocks, and the size or color of the module would change slightly.  We were going crazy trying to figure out which module printing came first (and often the difference is in the eye of the beholder, especially concerning color), so in mid-2001 we decided to drop sizes and minor color differences.  In summary: size and color shade of the module, for our purposes, do not constitute separate printings, unless the difference is substantial.


  • Can I link to your site?

    Of course.  I'm not sure there's any site on the Internet that would be adverse to someone linking to them.  Unfortunately, we do not have our own banner to provide to you (because we don't host banners ourselves, we feel it is unfair to ask anyone else to host ours).


  • Will you link to my site?

    Depends.  If your site falls into the category of Conventions (any convention that has an auction, or dealer booths, carrying D&D material), Resellers (any site providing D&D material for sale; this includes retailers and resellers), or Resources (a site that directly provides a resource for role-playing-game collectors in some fashion), we will provide a text link and short summary in the appropriate section.  We do not host banners.  We also do not provide links to web sites that fall outside one of these categories; The Acaeum is for collectors of D&D material.  "Outside the categories" includes sites that exclusively deal with playing D&D, of which there are hundreds.


  • Can I use your cover scans on my web site / in my auction?

    Please see our Credits & Legal page for specifics.  In short, if you wish to use a cover scan for whatever purpose, please ask us first.


  • Can I use your printing information on my web site / in my auction?

    Yes, but we ask that you credit the source of that info, just like you would if citing a source in a research paper.  A simple "information courtesy of The Acaeum" will suffice.  Note that this does not give blanket permission to copy large sections of this website for your own publication -- a run-down of a certain module's printing history is certainly within the definition of acceptable use, but your own comprehensive index lifted from this site is not.  While the distinction should be obvious to a reasonable person, if you have a question on your proposed use of any material, check out our Credits & Legal page, or ask us first.


  • How far can a halfling toss a dwarf?

    None of us here have played D&D since probably 1985.  Frankly, we'd be hard-pressed to tell you the difference between a halfling and a dwarf, let alone how far one could toss the other.  There are a plethora of web sites out there that cover every nuance of how this game is played; The Acaeum staff is unfortunately only able to answer questions related to D&D collectibles themselves.


  • Do you plan on offering a disk-based version of The Acaeum?

    At this time, no.  The constant updates, additions, and corrections to the material on the web site are not conducive to putting on a CD or DVD, since the information would be at least partially superseded as soon as you received it.  The Internet remains the best medium for the site, in our opinion.


  • Do you ever plan on covering non-TSR material, such as Judges Guild products?

    Funny you should ask!  We're now covering Judges Guild, via our Judges Guild Booty List subweb (edited and maintained by Plaag), and the Planescape campaign setting, via our All Things Planar subweb (edited and maintained by Azurah).  As far as covering other companies, or various other types of role-playing games, we've unveiled our Distributed Computing Project in an attempt to solicit the public's assistance in expanding the site.  Want to see the Runequest game covered?  Why not join the Project and become the administrator of your own Acaeum subweb covering it?


  • What does "acaeum" mean, anyway?  I looked it up in the dictionary and couldn't find it.

    That's because it isn't a word... we made it up.  Hopefully, it conjures images of "lyceum", which is an ancient library.  More deviously, it happens to fall alphabetically before "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons", so on those web directories that are organized alphabetically, The Acaeum will be near the top.  That is, of course, unless they alphabetize "The"....


  • How do you pronounce "Acaeum"?

    uh-SAY-um.  Or at least, that's how we pronounce it.


  • What is a "flyleaf", an "endpaper", a "textblock", etc?

    Please see our reference on Book-Binding Definitions.


  • What is the TSR Piece Code?  Module Code?  Product Number?

    Please see our reference on TSR Codes.


  • I'm interested in insuring my collection.  How should I go about it?

    The main difficulty in insuring a D&D collection is that most insurance companies require you to show "evidence of value" before they will insure.  Unfortunately, there's a notable lack of qualified D&D appraisers -- to be officially certified as an appraiser, you have to have worked professionally in the field of appraising for a number of years; sort of a chicken-and-egg dilemma.  A State Farm employee had this to say: "Contact a bookstore (preferably a used bookstore) and tell them that you need to know the estimated value of the books for insurance purposes.  Get something in writing if you can.  According to our claims office, various bookstores have a system that they use to determine the value of rare and out-of-print books (because they have to be able to price them for resale in most cases) and this evidence can be used to support an insurance claim.  At least, it satisfies State Farm."  Most likely, the valuation that the bookstore conducts will be based on either eBay or The Acaeum -- either way, you'll have what you need.


    Back to Top