From Forgotten Realms to Red Steel: Here's That Full D&D Setting Sales Chart

Whether this will end a thousand internet arguments or fuel another thousand, Ben Riggs, author of Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons, has finally published the combined chart of cumulative sales for every AD&D setting from 1979 to 1999.

Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Oriental Adventures, and Dragonlance lead the pack. The least selling setting was Red Steel in 1994. There was a clear decline in sales of all settings from 1989 onwards, so that's not necessary a comment on quality. Planescape, certainly a cult favourite, sold surprisingly few copies.


In order, the best-selling settings were:
  1. Forgotten Realms
  2. Greyhawk
  3. Oriental Adventures
  4. Dragonlance
  5. Ravenloft
  6. Dark Sun
  7. Spelljammer
  8. Lankhmar
  9. Al-Qadim
  10. Planescape
  11. Birthright
  12. Maztica
  13. Karameikos
  14. Red Steel

dndsales.jpg


These stats were compiled as part of his research into his book, Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons, which you should totally buy.


Let's dive into some individual sales charts! Note, these are for the primary setting product, not for additional adventures, supplements, etc.

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al-qadim.jpg
lankhmar.jpg
darksun.jpg
ravenloft.jpg
realms.jpg
dragonlance.jpg
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greyhawk.jpg
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
A lot of people equate generic with boring. Personally I don't think generic is a particularly accurate term anyways.
They also equate Vanilla with boring, when literal wars have been fought over how desirable Vanilla is. When I say the Forgotten Realms is "generic," I mean it is archetypal of the tropes of the Fantasy genre: when Joe or Jane Bloe off the street is asked what constitutes "Fantasy fiction," odds are that the Forgotten Realms has them covered.
characteristic of or relating to a class or group of things
Namely, Heroic Fantasy tropes, or really any Fantasy tropes: you can deal with Pharohs and Aslan, and every kind of Fantasy has a corner in the Realms. See also all the below which I feel readily apply to the Forgotten Realms
collective
inclusive

all-inclusive

all-encompassing

broad

comprehensive
sweeping

universal

cross-disciplinary

interdisciplinary
 

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GreyLord

Legend
Ben Riggs here!
These numbers are taken from internal company documents I've been given. As such, they are apparently what the company considered settings. Your points are well taken. But I'm a historian at the mercy of what data has trickled down to us from the past. There's tons of data I don't have. Everything in your post for example. Also, I have no data on the vast majority of novels, and the vast majority of adventures.

Late to reply here, and perhaps you already were able to do this and have that data. Contact Random House. They probably still have the data...somewhere.

You'll need to contact the main offices most likely, if you haven't already. Get an appointment with the CFO or at least have them enable you to get a contact within the main archives for their financial records. They should have some records on the books sales and returns (so not complete information, but a good deal of information).

A LOT of money came from novels in the 90s from what I understand.
 

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