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Treasure Type D(ave)
May 4, 2012 7:38 PM   Subscribe

D&D co-creator Dave Arneson's lost personal collection of gaming material -- 114 boxes worth -- was found last year in an abandoned storage locker. Fortunate for geeks everywhere, everything was not just tossed into a dumpster. The collection is now scheduled to be auctioned off on eBay. (previously)
posted by fings (42 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Auction winners to be decided by highest 3d6 rolls.
posted by zippy at 8:24 PM on May 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


There's something very poignant about this stuff all being left behind in an abandoned storage space. The life work of a guy who, in large part, created one of the archetypal games of the past 40 years - a game that has provided millions of people untold joy - sitting and rotting away unnoticed.

On the other hand, there's something very cool about stumbling upon a trove of arcane scrolls, tomes and relics from an old wizard. It's like something right out of a campaign...
posted by darkstar at 8:41 PM on May 4, 2012 [23 favorites]


(In order)
posted by Decimask at 8:41 PM on May 4, 2012


Gasm.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:44 PM on May 4, 2012


*SQUEE*

I check for traps before opening the door.
posted by Mezentian at 9:01 PM on May 4, 2012 [13 favorites]


You just know at least one of the books is going to melt someone's face off when they try to read it.
posted by mightygodking at 9:03 PM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I DISBELIEVE!
posted by SPrintF at 9:05 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Taking out my Bag of Holding while the dwarf guards the door.
posted by GoodDesign at 9:08 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, to be an anthropologist in 2249.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:12 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


wowwo. I hope a moral archivist has the winning bid.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:12 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am glad his stuff did not wind up in a landfill! I never games but both my kids certainly did.
Some religiously conservative parents of his friends had a problem with all the 'spells'.
So I had one call me, all upset with those spells. 'Aren't the spells and wizards a little Satanistic? She asked me. 'Well my kids aren't allowed to play Monopoly, all that wheeling and dealing! Let them play that and they will turn into Capitalist pigs who only care about money!'
Gaming was good for the kids.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:14 PM on May 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


I feel like a flumph shufflin' off to Buffalo.
posted by Nomyte at 9:15 PM on May 4, 2012


Easily the best episode of Storage Wars ever.
posted by LarryC at 9:21 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's something very poignant about this stuff all being left behind in an abandoned storage space. The life work of a guy who, in large part, created one of the archetypal games of the past 40 years - a game that has provided millions of people untold joy - sitting and rotting away unnoticed.

The only thing I keep in my storage unit is a gelatinous cube.
posted by 445supermag at 9:23 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


wowwo. I hope a moral archivist has the winning bid.

With a really good scanner and lots of internet space and bandwidth for making it available for upload. In short, I hope jscott get it.
posted by JHarris at 9:39 PM on May 4, 2012


Even selling original notes and shit, the heirs retain IP? This seems like a total rip off.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:09 PM on May 4, 2012


Even selling original notes and shit, the heirs retain IP? This seems like a total rip off.

Why do you say that? I don't blame them. They are selling artifacts, not ideas.
posted by Camofrog at 10:32 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Meatbomb writes "Even selling original notes and shit, the heirs retain IP? This seems like a total rip off."

Copyright remains with the estate. The buyers are able to resell any particular physical object they want (1st sale doctrine) but that doesn't give them the right to make copies (for sale or merely to post on the internet) anymore than buying the latest NYT best seller allows me to scan it and put it on the internet. Sadly it'll be another 70 years before it'll be legal to publish the contents without permission by which time it's unlikely anyone will care. Thank you Disney, the assorted AA and the others who have made a mockery of the limited time provisions of copyright law and have therefor strip mined the public domain and greatly contributed to the unnecessary loss of culture.
posted by Mitheral at 12:08 AM on May 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


The eBay link from the Wired Geekdad page doesn't seem to return any actual items. ?
posted by newdaddy at 4:47 AM on May 5, 2012


Check again tomorrow night: "The first 200 items go up for sale Sunday evening, May 6"
posted by fings at 6:44 AM on May 5, 2012


Re: The Hall of Fame idea - there really isn't anything like that for RPGs right now? That seems quite the omission. Even Comics gets a bunch of museums.
posted by Artw at 7:08 AM on May 5, 2012


@Artw: There's the GAMA Hall of Fame. It's about as old as D&D so it's not just RPGs, but a lot of old-timers are in there.
posted by 23 at 8:12 AM on May 5, 2012


"Dear Diary: Really not sure about Gygax's idea that magic-users can cast a particular spell only once a day before having to re-learn it. Seems to make the magic-user really weak. And what's up with the monk requirements? Way too strict for the return you get. Oh well, I don't wanna fight about it."

NOOOOOOOOOO!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:57 AM on May 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


wowwo. I hope a moral archivist has the winning bid.

Interestingly: Moral Archivist was a prestige class in Arneson's later writings...
posted by darkstar at 11:01 AM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Dear Diary: Really not sure about Gygax's idea that magic-users can cast a particular spell only once a day before having to re-learn it. Seems to make the magic-user really weak. And what's up with the monk requirements? Way too strict for the return you get. Oh well, I don't wanna fight about it."

Just memorize multiple castings. MUs start out weak and end up massively powerful.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:03 AM on May 5, 2012


Even selling original notes and shit, the heirs retain IP?

Yeah, this is standard in any sale of manuscripts or personal papers. Ownership of the content never automatically follows ownership of the physical materials.

Sadly it'll be another 70 years before it'll be legal to publish the contents without permission by which time it's unlikely anyone will care.

Could be longer than that. As I recall—and it's been years since I reviewed this, so don't take this as gospel—in the case of unpublished materials the copyright clock doesn't even start ticking until publication.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:41 AM on May 5, 2012


Just memorize multiple castings

Lame! Our house rules gifted magic-users at character creation with a wand of some useful first-level spells, with limited charges, that couldn't be used by anyone else, and could never be recharged. Just to get them over the hump. A first-level fighter could stand next to a stack of arrows and act like an Anti-Orc Turret for hours, but a first-level magic-user goes "abracadabra" once? Lame.

Later rules versions took several steps to mitigate this, I know, e.g. the sorcerer class in 3.0, making it easier to create single-use scrolls, and the at-will powers of 4.0. All well and good.

But still. You're supposed to be Gandalf or Merlin. You think Gandalf ever looked at Aragorn and went, "Sorry, dude. I'm fresh out of Magic Missiles. How about Knock? I got one of those left. Will that help?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:46 PM on May 5, 2012


The problems with the survivability of magic users at first level are infamous for being something that got *worse* with D&D before it got better. In the very original version of the rules, mages got the same size hit die as everyone else (D6), and that dagger they're stuck with did D6 damage like all the other weapons. In other words, magic users were almost as survivable as fighters at that level, except for armor, AND they had a spell to use when they needed it.

It was the first supplement, Greyhawk, that messed things up for low-level magic users. Perhaps tellingly, that one was Gygax's baby. The second supplement, Blackmoor, was Arneson's.
posted by JHarris at 2:14 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


octobersurprise: "As I recall—and it's been years since I reviewed this, so don't take this as gospel—in the case of unpublished materials the copyright clock doesn't even start ticking until publication."

According to the Cornell copyright page and the U. S. Copyright Office, unpublished works have copyright protection for 70 years after the author's death. As you say, they used to be under copyright until they were published - something that I, as a massive fan of the public domain, found appalling.

(I had thought that was a very recent change, but the US Copyright Office page seems to say that unpublished works lost perpetual protection in 1976.)
posted by kristi at 2:32 PM on May 5, 2012


As you say, they used to be under copyright until they were published - something that I, as a massive fan of the public domain, found appalling.

Emily Dickinson's poems being copyright are an example of the old rule in action:

The President and Fellows of Harvard College claim the sole ownership of and sole literary rights and copyrights therein to the texts of Emily Dickinson.
posted by zippy at 4:07 PM on May 5, 2012


and I think it's not "under copyright until published," but that the copyright expiration clock doesn't start until they are published."
posted by zippy at 4:08 PM on May 5, 2012


But still. You're supposed to be Gandalf or Merlin. You think Gandalf ever looked at Aragorn and went, "Sorry, dude. I'm fresh out of Magic Missiles. How about Knock? I got one of those left. Will that help?"

No, you're not supposed to be Gandalf or Merlin. You're supposed to be Turjan or Mazirian from The Dying Earth, clever roguish wizards who skulk about in dark places in order to increase their stash of magical lore (that is to say, spells). Gandalf and Merlin are far better known, but Vancian wizards are not unappealing, and the need to build up your spellbook gives wizards an extra incentive to adventure.
posted by JHarris at 4:47 PM on May 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


'Stand back, Fighter. I can cast Fireball and Lightning Bolt now. Watch this!'
'It resists magic.'
'What?'
'Yeah, most creatures you're going to meet at this level have really high magic resistance.'
'Outta the way, Raistlin. Imma double specialised with this thing.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:57 AM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fortunate for geeks everywhere, everything was not just tossed into a dumpster. The collection is now scheduled to be auctioned off on eBay.

Isn't eBay just the internet's dumpster?
posted by Rykey at 1:01 PM on May 6, 2012


Cool Papa Bell: "But still. You're supposed to be Gandalf or Merlin. You think Gandalf ever looked at Aragorn and went, "Sorry, dude. I'm fresh out of Magic Missiles. How about Knock? I got one of those left. Will that help?""

Gandalf is a Maia, so roughly, an angel. Merlin, in the standard mythology, is the son of a demon. These are not the kind of guys who are going to have the standard 1st level magic user issues.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:49 AM on May 7, 2012




Fortunate for geeks everywhere, everything was not just tossed into a dumpster.


Fortunately for one wealthy collector somewhere.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:54 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


As long as the material exists there is hope it'll actually be published or otherwise made available to the public at some point.
posted by Mitheral at 8:32 AM on May 7, 2012


Chrysostom, my fondness for Gandalf as a character is directly proportional to my ability to forget tht Maiar thing. It's not explicitly mentioned in Lord of the Rings, and it's not even hinted at in The Hobbit, thank Iluvatar. Clever slightly dickish old coot who never lets his friends down, who can blow ships out of pipe smoke and likes making fireworks? Wonderful. Secret angel-being sent by the gods off in the West who shines light and goodness out his speckled ass? Groan. Wizards are more interesting characters than angels.

Of course, Gandalf can afford to be because he's far above first level in any case, and doesn't have to worry that Bilbo could get a lucky shot with a sling stone and kill his ass dead in one round.

It's like how, by deifying Jesus, Christians actually gave themselves permission to ignore his example. If he's a guy who came to his conclusions naturally then he's some kind of genius; if he's a guy who was fathered by God himself using the sacred midichlorians, then it seems disappointing that he didn't have more of an effect on his world. "Well he's a demigod. He has access to secret knowledge. We can't hope to match that, so let's not even try." Phooey.

JHarris' guarentee: you give me a random thread, and I'll find some way to turn it into a criticism of Christianity! GROAN
posted by JHarris at 2:23 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


To continue my previous comment...

Dragon Magazine (completely overlooking the Turjan/Mazirian thing I mentioned earlier, but no matter because almost everyone else does too) once published an article speculating what level various fictional wizards would be in D&D terms. This thread lays out the reasoning. The verdict: Gandalf is fifth level. Sauron may be only eighth! Both of them have some abilities outside of the D&D level structure, though. Aragorn/Strider is a 4th level Ranger, and Legolas and Gimli are both 2nd-level fighters. The hobbits, of course, are first level.

This backs up something me and others have noticed about D&D: it gets much less intersting when the characters reach high levels. Under 1st edition D&D rules only humans get unlimited level advancement anyway, and all classes, once they reach around 9th level, stop gaining hit dice. 3E was the version that changed this, granting all characters unlimited advancement and hit dice gaining up to 20th level. (And maybe beyond, it's been awhile since I read the Epic Level Handbook.)
posted by JHarris at 2:39 PM on May 7, 2012


This backs up something me and others have noticed about D&D: it gets much less intersting when the characters reach high levels.

After about 9th level the stakes get too large and there is too much instant resolution. Kinda like how the high point of war was WWII bacause after that there is pretty well no way to "win" an all out war. So instead you have proxy wars. 4e flattened this quite a bit but also neutered the all powerful wizard.
posted by Mitheral at 2:46 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


4E has many other problems though, and what it did to wizards in the name of fixing them makes them much less interesting. (NO I WILL NOT ELABORATE MY DOCTOR TOLD ME TO CUT DOWN ON RIGHTEOUS SCREEDS.) I think D&D works best when it has the high levels as kind of a destination, or when it neuters those high levels in some way so that the power gain is slighter.

In real life, like, even an experienced swordsman cannot afford to take a fight against a peasant with a pitchfork lightly. The swordsman might win 99 times out of a 100, but all it takes is that natural 1 and his days of teaching Arya to dance are over. This feeling is largely absent in high-level D&D. Veterans always get to be that way with a non-inconsiderable amount of luck, but in D&D even a mid-level type has pretty much nothing to fear from kobolds.
posted by JHarris at 4:53 PM on May 7, 2012


JHarris: "Veterans always get to be that way with a non-inconsiderable amount of luck, but in D&D even a mid-level type has pretty much nothing to fear from kobolds."

They'd better watch out for Tucker's kobolds.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:34 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


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