TSR settings sales numbers from Ben Riggs, starting with Lankmar, Maztica, Al-Qadim and Planescape!

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Yeah, it looks like the 90s were just a really hard time for TSR, which certainly fits the known history. It is still surprising to see just how bad some of these numbers were, though. I mean, almost anything after 1994 or even 1992--wow.
It's likely multiple things coming to a head. Huge swathes of the '80s fad players dropping out. The rise of Vampire: The Masquerade. Resistance to edition change. Player/referee inability to keep up with releases. Self-competition. Etc.
 

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R_J_K75

Legend
This is completely anecdotal, but in my area if you didn't get things like Maztica and Lankhmar when they first came out, you never did (they were never stocked again). This was the pre-Internet era too; if you didn't see it in your local store, you often gave it no thought even if in the back of your mind you knew it existed.
Where I live it was the opposite. I used to see old boxed sets at local game, hobby stores and even bigger chains like Media Play all the time in the mid to late 90s. sometimes they were used but they were available. I usually never had a problem finding stuff, Actually I wasn't looking for specific stuff but could take a day once every few weeks and make the rounds and find something.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Where I live it was the opposite. I used to see old boxed sets at local game, hobby stores and even bigger chains like Media Play all the time in the mid to late 90s. sometimes they were used but they were available.
Oh wow. Media Play. That takes me back. I haven't thought about them in years. They were the source of a lot of my D&D purchases as moving to a city with Media Play in it coincided with me getting my first actual job after college...

(From @darjr's update)
Because real life has interfered, I am stopping my posts for today. I'll start up again on Monday with TSR's less-famous settings: Red Steel, Planescape, Birthright, and Karameikos.
Some suspense for the weekend - does this suggest that we're going to find out that the Planescape core sold in the same numbers as the other three boxed sets listed there? I actually wouldn't have lumped Planescape in with those settings, because my perception was that it was a much more popular setting than the others...
 

Oh wow. Media Play. That takes me back. I haven't thought about them in years. They were the source of a lot of my D&D purchases as moving to a city with Media Play in it coincided with me getting my first actual job after college...

(From @darjr's update)

Some suspense for the weekend - does this suggest that we're going to find out that the Planescape core sold in the same numbers as the other three boxed sets listed there? I actually wouldn't have lumped Planescape in with those settings, because my perception was that it was a much more popular setting than the others...
Heh, same with Media Play myself, although I also had a great comic/gaming book store nearby as well.

I'm pretty sure Planescape will be higher. I know a lot of people who purchased products from that line compared to the others, and it received a lot more support (and good support at that! It's still useful go-to material even today in 5e for campaigns that visit the planes).
 

This is completely anecdotal, but in my area if you didn't get things like Maztica and Lankhmar when they first came out, you never did (they were never stocked again). This was the pre-Internet era too; if you didn't see it in your local store, you often gave it no thought even if in the back of your mind you knew it existed.
LOL, In Vermont it was the opposite. You could always find any old TSR stuff in the back of the FLGS. I remember those Lankhmar sets gathering dust on a rack back there for like 10 years. I wouldn't be too surprised if they are still there, lol. The owners of that shop were a bit odd though, they were rich as heck and were big comic book fans and collectors, the FLGS was just what they did with the upstairs space, and losing money was fine with them, they needed the tax writeoffs anyway. It was, still is AFAIK, a pretty good shop, but lets just say they didn't feel a ton of urgency about clearing out old stock!
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I'm pretty sure Planescape will be higher. I know a lot of people who purchased products from that line compared to the others, and it received a lot more support (and good support at that! It's still useful go-to material even today in 5e for campaigns that visit the planes).
One example of memory playing tricks on you is that I could have sworn that Planescape predated the merging of Mystara into the AD&D line by a couple of years. But a quick Wikipedia check shows that the publication date of the Planescape set and the two Mystara sets here were all in 1994, and Birthright was just the year after.

1994 onward is really bad in the overall numbers for other products. I'm expecting Planescape to be higher than the other three, but I'm also preparing for it to be smaller than I would have guessed from my own impressions. All of these numbers have been along those lines.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
It's really too bad we don't have supplement data. It would be interesting to see which settings held the attention of its fans better, regardless of the number of initial boxed sets/books sold.
 

Yeah, it looks like the 90s were just a really hard time for TSR, which certainly fits the known history. It is still surprising to see just how bad some of these numbers were, though. I mean, almost anything after 1994 or even 1992--wow.
Well, by the mid-90s at least they were pretty much broke and reprinting stuff, even if people wanted it, was a dream. As others have amply documented by that point they had warehouses full of excess inventory of stuff nobody wanted, and probably Lankhmar et al was completely sold out and impossible to get. The little pop when they did a 2e version kinda hints at that, there may have been some demand, but no supply! The other problem they had was nobody wanted to stock their stuff anymore, they'd pretty well burned the bridge with the book trade, and I can remember even the Hobby distributors were tired of getting stuck with demands that they stock Dragon Dice or whatever that was just never going to sell.
 

Oh wow. Media Play. That takes me back. I haven't thought about them in years. They were the source of a lot of my D&D purchases as moving to a city with Media Play in it coincided with me getting my first actual job after college...

(From @darjr's update)

Some suspense for the weekend - does this suggest that we're going to find out that the Planescape core sold in the same numbers as the other three boxed sets listed there? I actually wouldn't have lumped Planescape in with those settings, because my perception was that it was a much more popular setting than the others...
Yeah, my impression is that SpellJammer and Planescape were in a whole other category. They also put out several products in each of those lines IIRC.
 

G

Guest 7034872

Guest
I can remember even the Hobby distributors were tired of getting stuck with demands that they stock Dragon Dice or whatever that was just never going to sell.
Dragon Dice! Oh, wow--I had completely forgotten about that. Yeah, I don't know anyone who actually bought that thing.
 

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