D&D General Behold! A mega chart of AD&D 1st and 2nd ed monster products sales!


Mind, I didn't need MC 1 or 2 at the time, since I already had the Monstrous Manual, the book that got me into playing D&D.
I was selling D&D books by the time the Monstrous Manual came out! It's funny, because I remember it being a long time between when I started playing regularly and when I started selling them, but this chart shows it was only 4 years, tops!

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Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Yeah, these numbers all seem to suggest that TSR was absolutely hammered in 1984 by the Satanic Panic. Explains a lot.

I dunno if that shows Satanic Panic was a big problem...


1984 saw the last "Big Sales" of the MM1 and MM2, but really it's the start of a clear trend. The Monster Manual in Pink barely does 300,000 before it's discontinued over the course of -six years-. And in it's first year? Less than half as many sold as the MC1 in it's first year.

The Satanic Panic probably helped to exacerbate the speed at which the red and blue lines dropped, but it didn't stop them from being a commercial success, and shows the start of a fairly clear "Half as much as the last offering" trend.

I think that's exactly what their main problem was - they hit the lotto for a few years and thought it was going to be like that forever, and spent money accordingly.

They lost a lot of time during their prime years with infighting and backstabbing instead of planning for lean times, and when the lean times hit they moved heavily into the book market to try to stop the bleeding.
Yes. From reading Game Wizards and Slaying the Dragon, it appears clear that the James Dallas Egbert controversy, which started the scare over D&D, was initially a giant sales driver, due to the publicity. Even once the Fundies started preaching against it, that often was a bit of a sales driver. IIRC there's a story about a preacher raising $1000 to buy & burn D&D books, and Tim Kask helping make sure that the local gaming store got a double-size shipment to serve the market. :D

The satanic panic no doubt had SOME negative impact; being dropped from the JC Penney and Sears catalogues in '84 definitely wouldn't help. But the books were still getting big national mass market distribution in book stores and some toy stores for years after that.

I think the folks who've suggested that it was market saturation are much more on target, and Slaying the Dragon supports that theory. D&D was a fad for a few years and enjoyed a massive sales period from '79 to '83, but TSR execs thought the lines would just keep going up and spent like drunken sailors, rather than consolidating their victories and being cautious.

That is not quite correct. By the time MM2 came out the MM1 had already sold about 700,000 copies and then sold another 200,000 the year MM2 came out and sold 300,000. After that they were pretty much the same. So the MM1 outsold the MM2 by about 600,000 units. If I am reading that chart correctly.

On thing that surprises me about these stats - if you compare them to the 1e DMG and the 1e PHB stats, the Monster Manual was the lowest selling of the three year-to-year. Except for 1980 where it outsold the DMG by fewer than 10K copies.

I'm actually surprised by that - I would have assumed that the MM would have sold more copies than the DMG did. If only because those of us who played B/X or BECMI could also get utility out of it. (But then again, I also owned a DMG and pulled stuff from it too, so maybe that says something...)
I'm almost certain that it did. Note that Ben's charts are missing 1977 and 1978 data (he specifically notes that on his FB post).

The first two years the original MM was out, in which every OD&D player who wanted a single-volume, clean and organized monster book would have been buying it, aren't included in these figures.


I remember having the loose-leaf compendium and needing to get the circle protectors since the pages kept ripping. I never did just take out the monsters I was using for that night like the sales pitch said I should do to make things easier. Maybe that is why I needed to reinforce the pages.
nope still have mine somewhere. They sucked. The only thing that worked was putting them in page protectors. The made the binders really big so you could add more as they released them but the size and shape caused too much stress when you turned the pages. If they'd used a tougher paper but they just used regular paper.


nope still have mine somewhere. They sucked. The only thing that worked was putting them in page protectors. The made the binders really big so you could add more as they released them but the size and shape caused too much stress when you turned the pages. If they'd used a tougher paper but they just used regular paper.
Yep. They are made them really big, but also not big enough if you collected all the MC volumes - by the end we really needed a third binder to be produced, but of course they could never have justified the cost. The switch to softback books for the final volumes was long overdue.

Basically, it was just a bad product. Such a shame.


I had the 1e MM, FF, and MMII and felt they were fine for 2e other than the change in xp, and the upgrade in dragon and giant HD/power. I eventually got the Ravenloft appendix during the 2e period, but that was pretty much it during that time frame. I loved reading my friends' copies of the various appendices though, particularly the outer planes one which introduced the Blood War and the renamed fiends. In the Amazon era I picked up a few of them used. In the PDF era I've gotten almost everything that has come out.

So for the period I was part of that early wave and later drop off.


I had to go googling to see if I could find a list of what was in the MC1 and what was in the MC2 (my own MC is mixed together because MC1 and MC2 were I think the only ones where the intermingling of pages actually worked with no monsters needing to slide in between two monsters printed back-to-back).

Found these lists: List of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition monsters

Just glancing down from the top I see in the MC2 the Basilisk, the Bulette, the Doppelganger, the Dwarf, the Drow, the Ettin, the Cyclops, the Griffin, all of the Hags, the Hell Hound, the Mimic, the Rust Monster, the Shambling Mound, and the Stirge among many others that I would now consider "core" monsters but might not have at the time.

Right - the MM2 was "here are a bunch of new monsters". But if you wanted a 2e replacement for the 1e Monster Manual with almost all of the stats in it you had to get the MC1 and the MC2. Eventually TSR either realized their mistake or the MCs got expensive to produce because they switched away from looseleafs and to actual books, and when they did IIRC the hardcover Monstrous Compendium basically had the creatures from MC1 and MC2 in it.
The MC1 was more core stuff and MC 2 was less core stuff that was still from 1e, with some debatable choices among the categories, but overall that was the design.

Sort of pick any category of monster and compare.

MC 1 - Cloud, Fire, Frost, Hill, Stone, Storm.
MC 2 - Giant Kin Cyclops, Firbolg, Fomorian, Verbeeg

MC 1 - Ghost, Ghoul (Lacedon, Ghast), Lich, Mummy, Shadow, Skeleton, Spectre, Vampire, Wight, Wraith
MC 2 - Groaning Spirit, Haunt, Heucuva, Poltergeist

MC 1 - Black, Blue, Brass, Bronze, Copper, Gold, Green, Red, Silver, White, Dragon Turtle, Pseudodragon
MC 2 - Dragonne


Also someone chimed in with sales numbers from the Acaeum, which has the Fiend Folio selling 190,000 copies world wide.

There are other sales numbers and print runs there.

View attachment 255321

These are not sales numbers. They are print runs. Some of those books could have been returned and refunded but still had to be paid to the printer. So a loss in revenue.
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