Components: One Itty-Bitty Softcover Book
Designer: Sundry Folks (Gygax, Cook, et al)
Publisher: Twenty First Century Games/TSR
I don't know if this counts so much as a review as it does a kind of frantic heads-up, because there's no reason at all to judge this product-line on its content. Its content has been tested by time and judged a classic before I had learned to type: This is first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, exactly as you remember it. Exactly as many of you still play it.
Or, rather, not. Your copies of the Dungeon Master's Guide, Player's Handbook, Fiend Folio, Greyhawk Adventures and other AD&D manuals are probably hardcover. They're probably a little over 11 inches tall. They're probably comfortably readable without the aid of a magnifying glass (and by "comfortably readable," I'm not commenting one way or the other on Gygax's unique approach to the English language, or that of his cohorts). It is on these points that the new miniature AD&D manuals from Twenty-First Century Games (of Italy, produced under license from TSR/WotC) will differ from the ones you're used to.
For whatever reason, I find this impossibly cool. Click here to see.
My days of weekly (daily! more than daily!) AD&D are behind me now, but this brings them flooding all back. These miniatures are entirely faithful reproductions - the only differences apart from those noted above is that the tiny price is no longer printed on the back, and that the inside covers feature logos and information for both TSR/WotC and the Italian publisher.
TSR/WotC is on a nostalgia-kick lately (and why not? There's a lot of us creaky old-timers wheezing along out here confused as to how to waste our paychecks), and this license seems to be a facet of it. That's why the numbers on this review [3 out of 5 on both "Style" and "Substance" when it first appeared on RPGnet] are resolutely neutral - this isn't a game, it's a novelty, and a fascinating one. When I saw the pile of manuals arranged on a barstool at my local game retailer yesterday, my eyes grew wide and a deep sense of shame filled me as I felt myself compelled to buy. But I have no regrets, since if I hadn't bought, I'd end up shelling out $80 for one on eBay a year from now. I just had to have one.
Just one, though. At $10 apiece for an amusing slice of nostalgia, I wasn't about to rebuild my entire AD&D library in a form that I could carry in my coat pocket (what I would have given for that when I was still a regular Dungeon Master!), but I could have, if I was the kind of person who bought a new car rather than to bother refilling the fuel tank, because nearly the entire library was there, from the original "trinity" to the Survival Guides and then some. They're pricy, but that's what happens with something that's both an import and presumably not printed in huge numbers. I suspect these little items will become quite the collectible.
Now, if you'll pardon me, I intend to go randomly roll and stock a dungeon. On very, very small graph paper.
Where's the itty-bitty DM's screen?
Copyright © 1999,2007 by S. John Ross. All rights reserved.
Now stop reading the boring fine print and go play a game, fer chrissakes.