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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 24 Jul 2022 :  17:00:30  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
From Forgotten Realms to Red Steel: Here's That Full D&D Setting Sales Chart

quote:
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



There's a chart on the site with the numbers, too.

Personally, I'm really surprised to see that Spelljammer came in #7. I would have laid money on it trailing behind Planescape, and I would have thought that Al-Qadim and Lankhmar would have beat it, as well -- especially the latter, given its age and the inclusion of the novels on Appendix N.

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sleyvas
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Posted - 25 Jul 2022 :  01:16:17  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm surprise oriental adventures beat dragonlance, ravenloft, and dark sun

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 25 Jul 2022 :  11:33:35  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

I'm surprise oriental adventures beat dragonlance, ravenloft, and dark sun



Yeah, that surprises, as well.

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Ayrik
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Posted - 26 Jul 2022 :  03:43:58  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
These charts don't really show what products were on the market at any time.

OA didn't really have much competition during the period it was selling well. 1E didn't have anything like the variety offered in 2E, 3E, and later editions. One book to spend your money on.

Dragonlance was great ... but it was competing with the Realms and - let's be honest - the Old Grey Box was better. Dragonlance then kept up with rules supplements and modules based on the novels ... but the Realms then kept on getting better and better with each new product. Two big products to spend your money on, and if you couldn't afford both then you were likely to buy into the Realms.

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 26 Jul 2022 :  05:48:53  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

These charts don't really show what products were on the market at any time.



I'm not seeing how that's relevant -- it's showing the total sales for each setting. Of course some products are going to do better than others, but this is a comparison of entire product lines. I don't know that information on how Dragonlance Product #72 did compared to the same month's release of New Setting Boxed Set! really adds anything to what the charts give us.

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sleyvas
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Posted - 26 Jul 2022 :  14:23:41  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

These charts don't really show what products were on the market at any time.



I'm not seeing how that's relevant -- it's showing the total sales for each setting. Of course some products are going to do better than others, but this is a comparison of entire product lines. I don't know that information on how Dragonlance Product #72 did compared to the same month's release of New Setting Boxed Set! really adds anything to what the charts give us.



No, Ayrik has a really good point, and one I was thinking about as well but didn't mention. Remember, back then, there was no "Amazon" and most people were lucky if they actually had a big name book shop in their community. For instance, my own nearest book seller was a mom and pop shop that sold novels. That book store was smaller than your average gas station grocery nowadays. The store owner specifically kept catalogs of current gaming and miniature offerings and would order in books when people requested them, but for he most part they were selling what was out at the time. They were usually really good about only ordering enough to cover what they thought would sell pretty fast. So, if you didn't find and buy a product within say 3 months of its release.... good luck finding it except at a convention. For a lot of us, that was also about the time that we were starting to learn about conventions OR that conventions were starting to appear near us. So, it would be very critical to know what settings were available when.... because I didn't buy a lot of Al-Qadim stuff because during those years I WAS buying realms stuff. I didn't have a lot of coins to spread around, and I could barely keep up with the realms releases (and would get really mad when they'd release something big, only to find out that 50% of it was literal reprints... one of the reasons I didn't buy some of the nice boxed sets like the North, because I figured a lot of it was reprints from savage frontier).

Still, I am very surprised that OA beat out the other things, just because I thought OA released around the time of FR. Google says it released in October 1985, and the FR campaign actually came out 1 1/2 years later in May 1987. So actually, yeah, its only competition was dragonlance and greyhawk. That was also while I was still in high school so I didn't have any money for any of it. I only got the first few FR things because I scrimped and saved every penny I got, and then when I got my first job a little over a year later.... I spent all my money on gaming stuff for the first time. However, that's MY story, based on my age... and I know that some folks were a little older or a little younger, and therefore even a couple years makes a big difference on what they were buying.

When the mom and pop book stores started disappearing and chain books stores started appearing in malls, that also became a game changer. No longer was there the friendly book shop owner who would order minis on the hope that people would buy them, so people started ordering them directly and more game shops started appearing to cater to specific clientelle. Then of course, amazon changed book buying for everyone.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Edited by - sleyvas on 26 Jul 2022 14:26:02
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 27 Jul 2022 :  04:00:22  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I still don't see the point behind comparing sales for individual products, just because they came out at the same time. A sourcebook on a specific topic, for a single setting, isn't going to do as well as a boxed set, especially if it's for a new setting. And not only will that sourcebook move less units, there will likely be less units to move, because TSR would be pushing the newer, pricier thing harder.

It's an apples and oranges comparison, and you're talking about hundreds if not thousands of things to compare.

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sleyvas
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Posted - 27 Jul 2022 :  13:37:17  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No, I don't think he's looking for individual to individual. So, this guy says "all Oriental Adventures products", it would be nice if we also knew a time frame that OA was released between. For some that will be VERY broad (i.e. FR), for others like Kara-Tur, Birthright, Spelljammer, etc... we can probably narrow it down to 4 or 5 years (some even less). For instance, I may be wrong, but I'd be surprised if the Al-Qadim product releases were more than 3 years long, and some like Red Steel and Lankhmar may have only have been a year or two. That would allow comparison for competition to a limited degree, and it might also help cement what kind of societal changes may have happened around that time.

BTW, it does sadden me that Al-Qadim ranked so low, but I get it. Like Firefly the tv series, I only really discovered it after it was already cancelled (got the initial boxed set, but not the add ons .... and the add ons were what made that product line).

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Renin
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Posted - 17 Aug 2022 :  23:36:21  Show Profile Send Renin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't understand Planescape as so low! That whole setting was tight in execution and presentation!!

But yeah, I get why others didn't like it as much, too.
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Ayrik
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Posted - 18 Aug 2022 :  01:11:35  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Spelljammer and Planescape - and even Darksun - were edgy avant-garde settings for their time.

Some people are interested in novelty. Settings which can wander the stars, the planes, the cosmos.
But most are interested in familiarity. Settings which can fill gaps in the maps they already know.

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 18 Aug 2022 :  02:33:11  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Renin

I don't understand Planescape as so low! That whole setting was tight in execution and presentation!!

But yeah, I get why others didn't like it as much, too.



I had two issues with Planescape, myself, but I'll readily admit they were personal quibbles.

One was I didn't like the "here's the factions, and EVERYONE belongs to one of them" thing.

The other is that most of the planes are infinite spaces -- and we had dozens to choose from. The scale is simply too large, for my liking.

I'm not saying either of these things is bad, and I get that you don't have to use all of the material -- it was just too much for me.

(I've never been a fan of the planes, in general; it's not that I dislike them, I just prefer to keep things in the Prime. So there may have been some anti-planar bias in the mix, for me)

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Ayrik
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Posted - 19 Aug 2022 :  02:07:11  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
An old player once offered an analogy ...

Planescape is like Star Wars. The characters simply goes from place to place as needed with little concern about what happens in between places. It's about what happens when you arrive at the next scene (your destination), how you get there isn't really important.

Spelljammer is like Star Trek. The narrative is as much about the journey between places as about what happens at those places. It's easy for the story to head off onto "unplanned" paths along the way. It's also easy for character to get bored on long trips.

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 19 Aug 2022 :  02:59:52  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

An old player once offered an analogy ...

Planescape is like Star Wars. The characters simply goes from place to place as needed with little concern about what happens in between places. It's about what happens when you arrive at the next scene (your destination), how you get there isn't really important.

Spelljammer is like Star Trek. The narrative is as much about the journey between places as about what happens at those places. It's easy for the story to head off onto "unplanned" paths along the way. It's also easy for character to get bored on long trips.



That's a good way of putting it.

I've gotten more interested in Planescape, in general, than I was when it first came out... But that said, I'd still got a very strong preference for the Prime.

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The Masked Mage
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Posted - 19 Aug 2022 :  19:19:52  Show Profile Send The Masked Mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'd bet Greyhawk would jump to to no. 1 if it was purely the RPG products (FR has tons more novels / video games to sell), and included all the AD&D 1st and 2nd Ed. stuff that was set there, but not part of the "Greyhawk" product line. There are like 50 of these :P

I also find it hard to believe oriental adventures sold so much... there were so few products it seems impossible. Only 10 total if I'm not mistaken... I'd be curious to see if there are others. Perhaps they marketed it more overseas or something? Maybe they included the Kara-Tur / Crusades stuff in the list?

I agree about Planescape - I would have guessed it was right by Dark Sun and Ravenloft.
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 20 Aug 2022 :  00:38:40  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by The Masked Mage


I also find it hard to believe oriental adventures sold so much... there were so few products it seems impossible. Only 10 total if I'm not mistaken... I'd be curious to see if there are others. Perhaps they marketed it more overseas or something? Maybe they included the Kara-Tur / Crusades stuff in the list?


With the exception of Lankhmar, and the last three entries on the list, I think just about every other setting had more products than Oriental Adventures.

It really looks like timing was a big factor. When the Oriental Adventures stuff came out, you only had two other choices: Greyhawk or homebrew. Plus, there's the added appeal of samurai and ninja and katanas and all that.

Then we got Dragonlance and the Realms, and we had three large, developed settings to choose from. Everything else falls off dramatically after that.

Ravenloft, Al-Qadim, Planescape, and Dark Sun all benefitted from one of the same factors that boosted Oriental Adventures: it was something other than Tolkien-inspired, Western European-ish swords and sorcery.

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Ayrik
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Posted - 20 Aug 2022 :  02:24:59  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Red Steel might've sold a lot more copies if WotC didn't offer it (several times, several versions, several different names) as a free download on their site, lol.

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The Masked Mage
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Posted - 20 Aug 2022 :  10:08:21  Show Profile Send The Masked Mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

Red Steel might've sold a lot more copies if WotC didn't offer it (several times, several versions, several different names) as a free download on their site, lol.


In general, Red Steel was a bust right from the start. 3 products I think? Pretty much no support for it. Also, the Inheritors still seem a bit too Birthright for me.
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TBeholder
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Posted - 22 Aug 2022 :  19:30:42  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I had two issues with Planescape, myself, but I'll readily admit they were personal quibbles.

One was I didn't like the "here's the factions, and EVERYONE belongs to one of them" thing.

In Sigil, yes. Everyone who isn't Clueless has to gang up eventually.
The factions include "Indeps". But then, their main pastime in Sigil is fighting off the Hardheads, so...
It was explained that there were more, but the Lady at some point limited the number of factions active within her kip, which left them with the choice to leave, form chimeric alliances (Sons of Mercy + Sodkillers = Mercykillers, etc), or try to bob the Lady and see what happens (nothing good, obviously).
Outside Sigil, there are many more planar philosophical sects (The Converts, Ragers, Ring-givers, Wylders, etc). But the factions officially active in the City of Doors have obvious advantages and are more widely relevant.

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Edited by - TBeholder on 22 Aug 2022 19:35:07
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 22 Aug 2022 :  23:30:47  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by TBeholder

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

I had two issues with Planescape, myself, but I'll readily admit they were personal quibbles.

One was I didn't like the "here's the factions, and EVERYONE belongs to one of them" thing.

In Sigil, yes. Everyone who isn't Clueless has to gang up eventually.
The factions include "Indeps". But then, their main pastime in Sigil is fighting off the Hardheads, so...
It was explained that there were more, but the Lady at some point limited the number of factions active within her kip, which left them with the choice to leave, form chimeric alliances (Sons of Mercy + Sodkillers = Mercykillers, etc), or try to bob the Lady and see what happens (nothing good, obviously).
Outside Sigil, there are many more planar philosophical sects (The Converts, Ragers, Ring-givers, Wylders, etc). But the factions officially active in the City of Doors have obvious advantages and are more widely relevant.



I may have misread that, or it just wasn't clear in the first boxed set. I found a lot of Sigil's factions limiting, though.

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sleyvas
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Posted - 24 Aug 2022 :  21:40:41  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by Renin

I don't understand Planescape as so low! That whole setting was tight in execution and presentation!!

But yeah, I get why others didn't like it as much, too.



I had two issues with Planescape, myself, but I'll readily admit they were personal quibbles.

One was I didn't like the "here's the factions, and EVERYONE belongs to one of them" thing.

The other is that most of the planes are infinite spaces -- and we had dozens to choose from. The scale is simply too large, for my liking.

I'm not saying either of these things is bad, and I get that you don't have to use all of the material -- it was just too much for me.

(I've never been a fan of the planes, in general; it's not that I dislike them, I just prefer to keep things in the Prime. So there may have been some anti-planar bias in the mix, for me)



I echo your sentiment on the planes as infinite spaces. One thing I recalled from the 4e "prequel" info was that they were going to make all these planar places finite, and I felt that was getting it right. I mean, what does it mean for an abyssal lord to rule an INFINITE layer of the abyss... from their one city in it...

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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 24 Aug 2022 :  21:46:34  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas


I echo your sentiment on the planes as infinite spaces. One thing I recalled from the 4e "prequel" info was that they were going to make all these planar places finite, and I felt that was getting it right. I mean, what does it mean for an abyssal lord to rule an INFINITE layer of the abyss... from their one city in it...



I have no issue with planes being infinite spaces -- it's just that for D&D, having literally multiple infinities to choose from is a bit much to wrap one's head around.

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Lord Karsus
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Posted - 18 Sep 2022 :  23:28:55  Show Profile Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
-If you included novels, I would assume Dragonlance pops to number two? The novels apparently have had an overly large influence as compared to the setting sourcebook/adventure sales.

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