It’s an interesting reversal. During the past two holiday seasons, online stores and sellers were trying to clear out their 3.5 D&D books to make room for 4th edition supplements, usually carting them off at wholesale prices. You could find generally any book you wanted for well under list price, while most Eberron and Forgotten Realms books bottomed out and could be bought for pennies on the dollar. Similarly, most third party supplements were either made worthless, or were cleared out in massive discount sales, much like the Paizo-Green Ronin of winters past where all the books were $5 or $10.
I stopped paying attention to prices over the spring and summer, expecting them to go down some more, and did some brief comparisons for the GenCon run in August. Now, in the middle of running Paizo’s Legacy of Fire adventure path, I go back and see that 3.5 books are no longer bottoming out—instead, they’ve stabilized for the most part and are going higher. While I have most of the 3.5 books I need, there’s always a few that slipped away (Libris Mortis, Frostburn), and finding they’ve jumped back up to list price or more is damn irritating.
This could be an interesting statement on 4th Edition popularity, or the growth of Pathfinder and Paizo as an outlet for 3.x D&D materials, or just the standard post-fall boom-and-bust market fluctuations. (Go look for any of the Old World of Darkness revised editions of the core books for an example of how shorter print runs and player demand can make the secondary market a gold mine or impenetrable slope.) Since the web wasn’t developed enough back then, there’s no real comparison between the 3.5/4e change and the 2nd Ed AD&D/3e D&D changeover—Amazon’s Marketplace didn’t exist, and eBay was a pale shadow of what it would become.
So, here’s a quick list of some of the ridiculous prices some 3.x supplements go for on the internets. Maybe it’s incentive to trade some of your old supplements for cold hard PayPal dollars, or stop putting off a purchase from your FLGS and finally pick up that book you’ve been passing up. Note that the prices are quick and dirty, you could always go to Noble Knight or Troll and Toad and take your chances, and that the Amazon prices are the starting prices for used/new items.Complete Arcane Price this Minute: Amazon $23/47, $25-40
Why it’s Valuable: Complete Arcane added a wide selection of things for the 3.5 game. First, it’s got the Warlock class. If you needed more than that, it adds the Warmage from Miniatures Handbook and Wu Jen from Oriental Adventures as revised 3.5 classes with spells for both, a long list of new spells and feats, some variant rules, some vaguely useful monsters, and a ton of prestige classes. So, mostly, it’s got the Warlock.Complete Mage Price this Minute: Amazon $40/100, eBay $25-150 (with one starting at $2.50)
Why it’s Valuable: The companion to Complete Arcane, it has more Warlock invocations and some Wu Jen and Hexblade spells, new prestige classes (including two for the Warlock), magical locations as treasure/rewards, some so-so fluff on specialist wizards which consumes an entire chapter, and a wide selection of rules and prestige classes ranging from meh to fascinating about how to give non-arcane classes a little arcane power. Also, a vague and nearly useless overview on magic. At least it avoids the Warmage.Complete Adventurer Price this Minute: Amazon $40/60, eBay $20-100
Why it’s Valuable: People bitched when it came out since it just reprints old material from Dragon Magazines and the 3e class splatbooks, upgraded to 3.5. But, if you didn’t originally have them, this book is a godsend. It’s got a number of awesome prestige classes, ranging from the Beastmaster, Thief-Acrobat, the Daggerspells and Shadowbanes, Dread Pirate, Vigilante, Ghost-Faced Killer, and the Shadowmind. Plus, it’s got the Ninja, Scout, and Spellthief as base classes, plus new spells, feats, and various other stuff for the classes which get no respect. Needless to say, it’s a highly recommended book for people without the original material, and it generally goes high—it was starting on Amazon at $30/100 earlier this week, so it’s interesting to see the numbers equalizing toward the middle.Heroes of Horror Price Last Week: $12-20 Price this Minute: Amazon $25/89, eBay $20-30
Why it’s Valuable: Heroes of Horror contains a nice selection of horror-based rules, though sadly a lot less modular than I’d like. It’s a good sourcebook for running a horror themed campaign, probably the best you could ask for this side of the Ravenloft logo, which updates a lot of the old Ravenloft box set horror ideas as well as Taint from 3e Oriental Adventures. It’s also got a variety of useful classes and feats and such, but only if you use Taint. I picked this one up two weeks back for $16, only to watch it suddenly spike in price shortly thereafter.Fiendish Codex II Price this Minute: Amazon $44/50, eBay $12-100
Why it’s Valuable: People happen to love demons and devils—I don’t understand it myself, since they’re so horribly overused at this point. I like demons and devils in moderation, and really liked Planescape and the Blood War. But while first edition had its dragons, and second edition had its drow thanks to Drizzt, third edition ended up ridiculously demon/devil heavy. (Dungeons and Demons?) In any case, this book details a lot about the Nine Hells, both the environs and its inhabitants, and includes some interesting rules for playing humanoids in the realm of devils and some new devils themselves. It’s awfully thin for an MSRP $35 book, even more so for a $50 book, but it has some good rules, and great setting detail, and people use devils a lot.Book of Fiends Price this Minute: Amazon $48/150, eBay $—
Why it’s Valuable: The Book of Fiends compiles Green Ronin’s earlier Legions of Hell and Armies of the Abyss supplements, fully upgraded to 3.5 rules. Meaning, it’s a massive tome of demons and devils for 3.5, which came out before the Fiendish Codices. Unlike the Codices, the focus is on the stat blocks and adding new demons and devils, rather than detailing the planes and the Blood War, so if you’d rather have crunch than fluff it’s the obvious choice. Paizo’s also used small bits and pieces of it in their Pathfinder adventure paths, so it’s got to be good.Tome of Horrors II Price this Minute: Amazon $42/83, eBay $40-50
Why it’s Valuable: To be honest, the Tome of Horrors I is more valuable, since it collects several hundred monsters from old AD&D monster manuals and adventure modules. Tome II is mostly new monsters made by Necromancer for its modules or for Tome II itself, so while they have the first edition feel, they’re just not as good as the originals. Still, useful monsters abound, especially if you like Daemons, Demons, Yugoloths, or things which don’t really make sense. Oddly enough, Tome I was impossible to find last year, so I ended up getting Tome II for around $7. Now, Tome I is slightly more available, while Tome II is ridiculously expensive. While the Tome I still has some listed at over a hundred on Amazon, since there’s plenty of $12 and $20 copies I don’t consider it an egregiously expensive book.Bloodspeakers Price this Minute: Amazon $131, eBay $132
Why it’s Valuable: New rules for bloodspeakers and blood magic, various new feats and monsters and spells and other crunch, and generally useful information for Shadowlands characters. Oh, and all the other Oriental Adventures/Rokugan books by AEG are in the $5-15 price bracket, so there’s got to be something interesting about this one.Wilderlands of High Fantasy Price this Minute: Starting at $550 on Amazon, N/A on eBay
Why it’s Valuable: ENnie wining re-creation of the classic Judges Guild product. Oh, how I wish I’d picked this up from Barnes and Noble when I saw it all those years past. It’s a massive box set detailing the (wait for it) Wilderlands of High Fantasy. It’s nothing but a massive selection of poster maps and location source text detailing adventure locals, islands, cities, villages, etc. It’s like getting one of those Morrowind cheat guides, only with more RPG stats in it. Probably the most over-detailed setting known to man, it’s certainly an amazing guide, one which few of us will ever hope to afford at this rate. The other Necromancer reprints of Judges Guild products, City of Brass and City State of the Invincible Overlord, are somewhat expensive on their own (about $75-80 each starting prices), but nothing like the Wilderlands.Tome of Artifacts Price this Minute: Amazon $80, eBay $180-250 (or $20 from England)
Why it’s Valuable: It’s kinda like Weapons of Legacy, only there’s more of them, and they’re different. Lots of relics and wonders, many of which are pretty awesome, written by some major names in gaming (Keith Baker and Rich Burlew are two of them). It’s also one of the last 3.5 books done by Necromancer, with a shorter print run. That’s about it.Beyond Countless Doorways Price this Minute: More than you’ll pay. Or, starting at $35.
Why it’s Valuable: It’s one of books from the company owned by Monte Cook, master of variant rules and modifying the 3.x base system. Essentially, it’s variant rules to make a modified version of Planescape for 3.5, featuring a reunion of some of the Planescape writers. What you end up with is a bunch of various planes to adventure in, as well as rules for planar traveling and other stuff related to the planes. A fascinating book, which would be a good source for a Planescape or Spelljammer game. On eBay it’s still over a hundred dollars a pop, except for the short-lived copies posted at $10 or so, while on Amazon it fluctuates rapidly.Any Warcraft/World of Warcraft book Price This Minute: See below
Why they’re Valuable: Warcraft/WoW d20 books were spiking pretty high back before 4e was announced, so it’s no surprise that they can range into the stupid amounts of money. They’re pretty solid in terms of detailing the Warcraft universe, with plenty of fluff books as well as some amazing crunchy books. If you like Warcraft or WoW, you’d probably love these. Only problem is they cost an arm and a leg. The Alliance and Horde guides are incredibly useful, packed full of good rules and new everything, so they go from around $30/50-$80/100. The monster guide and core book, both being required, range from $30-65. Shadows and Light, the book with the cosmology, epic rules, and iconic character stats, can go into the hundreds of dollars, despite having such niche use. The remaining books can go from as low as $15, which is definitely not bad, but most of them have copies listed “starting at” around $75. eBay prices are randomly skewed; there’s always a few copies of the original Warcraft RPG with no bids starting at $10, while buy-it-nows are around $25 and $50. The original Manual of Monsters and Magic and Mayhem are similarly priced. The final book, the Dark Factions guide to independents and neutrals, is really the only cheap book, is fairly cheap at $20-25 at the moment.Any Iron Kingdoms book Price this Minute: Too high for you.
Why they’re Valuable: Iron Kingdoms was Privateer Press’ attempt at a steampunk d20 system. Not steampunk like Etherscope mind you, but a fantasy mecha-based steampunk. You might remember the Warmachine and Hordes miniatures games? This is the world they’re based from, and was a fantastic game before Privateer began to focus predominantly on its miniatures lines over its RPG. On eBay, the 128-page Liber Mechanika supplement goes from $100-250, while the massive hardback Character Guide generally goes from $60 to $90 easily. Even the slim Lock & Load Character Primer goes for $65, about a dollar per page. Don’t even bother attempting to buy them off Amazon, which, like the Warcraft books, has enmeshed them in ridiculous overcharges and graft fees—most of them start used for $50 or so, and start new for $100 or more.Player’s Handbook 3.5 Price this Minute: Amazon $40/100, eBay $15-130
Why it’s Valuable: It’s the most important core book for shit’s sake, and it starts used for ten bucks over MSRP. I’ve seen “New” copies for $75 or more on eBay, and generally all the bids are around MSRP. The 3.5 DMG is usually a bit cheaper, and the 3.5 Monster Manual is usually in between the two, though occasionally more expensive. At this point I’m holding out for Pathfinder to replace my core three, though I wouldn’t mind a 3.5 Monster Manual for the iconic monsters which won’t show up in Pathfinder since they’re Wizards’ IP—beholders, aboleths, illithids, displacer beasts, and the like.