SO now you’ve determined you’re a collector or you wanna be. The question now is, what exactly do you collect? The simplest answer is whatever you want.

Your impulses, irrational or not are usually what will drive you to make yoru choices. It also depends on if you want “complete” collections; in other words every single product made for a given system or you want “directed” collections, which satisy a need (I want every book ever published that had information for AD&D Thieves in it). I’ve seen all kinds.

Then there’s the resources themselves. In addition to the gaming systems and the core products put out by companies, there are many vintage magazine series that often have interesting and sometimes canon little articles for your favored game. I just saw a near-complete selection of GDW’s old Challenge magazine sell at Auction this last year (mine’s complete of course…I was collecting it as it was published). In the case of Challenge, it had modules, mini-campaign articles, new equipment, careers and jobs for a the whole suite of GDW RPG’s like Twilight:2000, 2300AD, Traveller, Dark Conspiracy and Space:1889 to name some of the biggies.

Dragon Magazine is another old favorite. Lots of good information could be found in those for most anything to do with D&D and there are some very handy indexes out there to show what articles are in what magazines for the discriminating collector. Polyhedron magazine had scenarios for other TSR games, like Gamma World (Dragon had a couple too) that were oddly out of place, but fascinating all the same. The Gamma World Aquabots were Polyhedron-only material. It was never printed (to the best of my knowledge) anywhere else.

Beyond that, there are other peripheral items. Take the Battletech novels. The entire campaign history of Battletech was practically written and laid out for anyone who wanted to read it and all FASA’s supplements that covered those eras referenced events (without going into too great a detail) that occurred only in the novels.

So you can see, there’s quite the question to ask yourself. Do you limit yourself and if so how? Not many of us have an inexhaustable supply of money, patience or time. We can’t all get to the games we’d like to get to.

For my personal example, I take a varied approach depending on what I think of the individual game system. Some are simply too big to collect in their entirety. D&D is a perfect example of this. There are hundreds of products if not thousands. In the case of that game, I focused on collecting most everything for the Mentzer D&D sets, a pre-Mentzer D&D set for comparison, everything for the Mystara campaign setting which is highlighted in D&D and the accompanying modules of the B, X, CM, M and IM series.

Conversely, I’ve more slowly built up a restored set of 1st Ed AD&D books to bolster my heavily worn originals and attempted to collect many of the 1st ed modules I used to have or wanted. Dragonlance is one of my prize collections, because I love the story (another facet of collecting).

As can be seen by this brief foray into D&D, it can be seen that the product list is too varied and insurmountable for the average collector. However, there are other systems that make life much easier on the would-be collector of RPG’s.

Take Archon Games’ Noir for one; a wonderful game of pulp fiction role-playing partially based it would seem on West End Games’ tried and true Star Wars d6 mechanics. The game was written as one book that would be a stand-alone. Archon Games vowed they would never print supplements for it as they expected the rules to stand on their own. They did bend that vow a little and produced two works, anthologies really, of short fiction set in the pulp era…pretty much designed to get the blood pumping and give a prospective DM without much exposure to pulp some ideas to mine.

So hundreds of books versus 1 or 3 books. These are extremes, but you can find every variant in between. TSR’s own Star Frontiers, for example, had a very limited but popular series of supplements and it is an easily collectible system. Gamma World with its multiple editions is not so easily collectible.

That does bring us to the matter of mulitple edition games…and there are so many aren’t there? What’s a collector to do then? Well if you’re certifiable (like me), you buy them over and over…D&D or GURPS 3rd edition owner? Buy 4th. Buy the same books over, only possibly with flashier art, revised rules (one hopes) and perhaps the slightest bit of new material. Or, you can take the role of a purist and refuse to buy a later edition, save for a book or book that transcends such mundane thoughts (GURPS Traveller – Interstellar Wars comes to mind – Sure it’s 4th Edition, but who cares?).

What it boils down to is that you can collect whatever you want to collect. You don’t have to collect everything from a series and you don’t have to religiously buy over and over the same books with slightly revised rules…unless you want to, and then it’s ok. You’re a collector. I can proudly raise my hand and say I’ve been there myself a time or two…(4th Edition Traveller…Thanks Marc Miller for such a lovely polished collection of turds…thanks very much…).

Maybe you’ll buy out of loyalty and maybe you’ll buy out of love, but if you’re a collector, one way or another, you will buy. Guaranteed if there’s still a gaming store in your area (and there are precious few with storefronts anymore), you’re one of the persons the surly folks working there always like to see, because you’re coming with your cash and you’re leaving with their merchandise and they can practically set their watches by you. Not saying this was me….ok…it was me.

This leads into our next discussion of where the prospective collector cand best indulge his or her habit.