AD&D Settings Sales Comparison 79-98

I know there have been a lot of these threads, and I'm holding off on any kind of overarching summary/compilation article until they're all in, but this one in particular jumped out at me. Again, this is from Ben Riggs, author of Slaying the Dragon, a history of TSR-era D&D, going out next month.


This graph shows a number of legacy settings and the total sales of their core setting product. Forgotten Realms is, of course, the top one. Interestingly, the other two settings that WotC has revisited in 5E -- Ravenloft and Spelljammer -- are near the bottom of the chart.

Ben says he will be providing the remaining settings tomorrow, and I'll update this post with those when he does.
  1. Forgotten Realms
  2. Greyhawk
  3. Dragonlance
  4. Ravenloft
  5. Dark Sun
  6. Spelljammer

settings.jpg
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Ah. Ok. But my question still applies to core products. From the ashes is not included? FR 1e or 2e? RL had 2 core boxes over the decade and one setting book. And it's still not controlled by time. Just saying maybe DS would fare better taking the confusor variables into account. I would love to have a look at the data.
Which books are counted has been included in each posting. Greyhawk includes From the Ashes (which bombed), Greyhawk Adventures, and and original box set (but not the Folio). Forgotten Realms includes the Grey Box, FR Adventures, and the revised 2E box set.
 

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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
All of the rules sets included Mystara setting material. The Rules Cyclopedia had a whole chapter about Mystara.
The Basic sets had zero setting info, right? I also don't remember much of anything in my copies of Companion, Master, or Immortals, and even Expert is just really the setting map.

If the RC has a whole chapter, I think you've got a much better case there.
 

Reynard

Legend
The Basic sets had zero setting info, right? I also don't remember much of anything in my copies of Companion, Master, or Immortals, and even Expert is just really the setting map.

If the RC has a whole chapter, I think you've got a much better case there.
I just flipped through my Expert rulebook. it has a couple pages on threshold, plus a larger map. If I recall, The Isle of Dread that came with also had a couple pages. But there is significantly more information in the RC.
 

darjr

I crit!
I dint think you can include Basic set sales as Mystara sales. Some of those were before Mystara existed as a thing.

And if that were the case then the 1e core books would count as Greyhawk and Blackmoor, so would the grey, white and Holmes editions.
 

I dint think you can include Basic set sales as Mystara sales. Some of those were before Mystara existed as a thing.

And if that were the case then the 1e core books would count as Greyhawk and Blackmoor, so would the grey, white and Holmes editions.
Only Holmes Basic was before Mystara/Known World.
 


The Basic sets had zero setting info, right? I also don't remember much of anything in my copies of Companion, Master, or Immortals, and even Expert is just really the setting map.

If the RC has a whole chapter, I think you've got a much better case there.
Moldvay Basic had the Haunted Keep, which was placed in Karameikos. Mentzer Basic had the Caves west of town and Castle Mistamere, both of which were located in Karameikos. And the later print runs of Modules B1 and B2 were set in Karameikos.
 

That doesn't change the fact that neither Basic nor Expert book was a campaign setting.
The Expert boxed sets did include a campaign setting: Threshold, Karameikos, and the D&D Continent (aka the Known World). Just not as many pages of setting as the WOG or FR set.

And the Basic sets featured locales from that campaign setting.
 

Reynard

Legend
The Expert boxed sets did include a campaign setting: Threshold, Karameikos, and the D&D Continent (aka the Known World). Just not as many pages of setting as the WOG or FR set.

And the Basic sets featured locales from that campaign setting.
I get that you like the setting but it seems weird to want to literally change the definition of "campaign setting" as a product type just to give your favorite a boost.
 

darjr

I crit!
The words Mystara or even the name Known World are not even in the Moldvey Basic set. Yes, it was Moldveys personal setting and he used an element of it in Basic. If that makes it a Mystara sale then all of the D&D core books are Greyhawk sales.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
As others have been mentioned, I think it's very important to view these sales figures in context. When were they released? What was happening to the market at that time?

For example, Ravenloft seems to be surprising folks about its lower sales. Look at how D&D sales were during that time period, and look at what else was going on. The Goth and vampire pop culture fad was in full swing in the 90s, so you'd think that would help, however, there was this game called Vampire the Masquerade at the time. Might have heard of it ;) I know this is anecdotal, but nearly everyone I knew and saw (which was a lot because this was during my military enlistment so there was a huge churn in gaming groups as we all shifted duty assignments) who wanted the gothic vampire vibe played Vampire and not D&D Ravenloft. We played D&D when we wanted typical high fantasy.
 



I get that you like the setting but it seems weird to want to literally change the definition of "campaign setting" as a product type just to give your favorite a boost.
Yet the Mentzer Expert Set refers to it as a “setting” called the “D&D Campaign” and the “campaign game.” Besides that chapter, the intro paragraphs are also focused on the setting—indicating that it’s the main theme of that boxed set.

It is a Campaign Setting; just formatted differently than the archetypal 1990s-style TSR “campaign setting” boxed set.

In any case, my point is that the way that Ben has picked and displayed products, is going to give short shrift to Mystara for several reasons:
1) Mystara’s initial campaign setting—the Cook and Mentzer Expert Sets, weren’t counted.
2) Later, Mystara was mostly displayed in the GAZ series, which Ben didn’t count.
3) The Hollow World boxed set, Champions of Mystara (Voyage of the Princess Ark campaign box), and Red Steel boxed set weren’t counted at all.
4) the AD&D Mystara boxed set, was, at the last minute, split into a whole series of boxed sets: Karameikos, Glantri, etc. which is why Jeff Grubb quit TSR.

Glad to hear (over on fb) that Ben is going to show the Karameikos boxed set sales. But again, this will be a measly under-representation of how many “consumer impressions” were made by the Mystara setting.

I’d ask Ben to really bundle all of the world-specific products, including adventures, campaign expansions, etc. —then we’d see a truer picture of how many consumer impressions each setting made.

His comparisons so far are just the tip of the iceberg.
 

More probably Magic: the Gathering. it did huge amounts of damage to the TTRPG industry.
Not really. Many were playing both (myself included). But during the VtM era, I played a lot of it. I went down to a single group of D&D (my oldest group, still in action even today) and we were playing VtM even then too! 3 games of VtM was I in. Two as a Storyteller and one as a player. D&D was down the drain at this time and still playing D&D was seen as a "weird" thing to do. Hey, remember Buffy? Interview with a Vampire? Heck... Twilight... Everyone were after "cool" vampires.
 

Reynard

Legend
Not really. Many were playing both (myself included). But during the VtM era, I played a lot of it. I went down to a single group of D&D (my oldest group, still in action even today) and we were playing VtM even then too! 3 games of VtM was I in. Two as a Storyteller and one as a player. D&D was down the drain at this time and still playing D&D was seen as a "weird" thing to do. Hey, remember Buffy? Interview with a Vampire? Heck... Twilight... Everyone were after "cool" vampires.
I wasn't expressing an opinion. there is huge amounts of data that shows that the CCG boom killed large numbers of TTRPGs as stores stopped ordering TTRPGs in order to sell CCGS, and the bust killed large numbers of stores. CCGs did far more damage than Vampire did.
 

Reynard

Legend
Yet the Mentzer Expert Set refers to it as a “setting” called the “D&D Campaign” and the “campaign game.” Besides that chapter, the intro paragraphs are also focused on the setting—indicating that it’s the main theme of that boxed set.

It is a Campaign Setting; just formatted differently than the archetypal 1990s-style TSR “campaign setting” boxed set.
Words have no meaning on the internet.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Yet the Mentzer Expert Set refers to it as a “setting” called the “D&D Campaign” and the “campaign game.” Besides that chapter, the intro paragraphs are also focused on the setting—indicating that it’s the main theme of that boxed set.

It is a Campaign Setting; just formatted differently than the archetypal 1990s-style TSR “campaign setting” boxed set.
Disagree. I think this is a categorical error. The Mentzer Expert set is a rules set with a couple of pages of example setting info. This is vastly different from a book or boxed set whose primary focus is detailing a specific setting. Which is what all of Ben's charts have been talking about, and the conversation we're having.

In any case, my point is that the way that Ben has picked and displayed products, is going to give short shrift to Mystara for several reasons:
1) Mystara’s initial campaign setting—the Cook and Mentzer Expert Sets, weren’t counted.
2) Later, Mystara was mostly displayed in GAZ series, which Ben didn’t count.
3) The Hollow World boxed set, Champions of Mystara (Voyage of the Princess Ark campaign box), and Red Steel boxed set weren’t counted at all.
4) the AD&D Mystara boxed set, was, at the last minute, split into a whole series of boxed sets: Karameikos, Glantri, etc. which is why Jeff Grubb quit TSR.
I agree that 2-4 should all be included to get a Mystara total. I do not think it's reasonable to include any of the B/X or BECMI core sets toward that. The tiny amounts of setting info in there do not make those rules sets into setting books. I'm sympathetic to the idea of including the RC, though, since it's got a whole chapter on Mystara.

Glad to hear (over on fb) that Ben is going to show the Karameikos boxed set sales, but again, this will be a measly under-representation of how many “consumer impressions” were made by the Mystara setting.

I’d ask Ben to really bundle all of the world-specific products, including adventures, campaign expansions, etc. —then we’d see a truer picture of how many consumer impressions each setting made.

His comparisons so far are just the tip of the iceberg.
I'd love to see more detailed and complete numbers too. Obviously if we want a full picture of, say, Dragonlance, we'd need sales numbers for the modules, as those were the core original way the setting was presented for the game, prior to the later hardcover Dragonlance Adventures book.
 


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