Jun 27, 2023

TSR's Top 100 on DriveThru

As of June 24, 2023, the top 100 best-selling TSR products on DriveThru RPG paints an intriguing picture. It is noteworthy to say TSR here because the vast majority of these entries date back to the era before Wizards of the Coast's acquisition, a topic that could undoubtedly fuel an in-depth blogpost in its own right.

Obtaining concrete, reliable data from the world of tabletop gaming is a difficult task, yet the "Hottest Titles" feature on DriveThru RPG provides a somewhat transparent view into the fluctuating ranking of sales. This dynamic list reshapes itself daily, but amidst the fluctuation, some titles manage to consistently secure their places within the top rankings.

A casual perusal of the list yields predictable results, yet there are a few unexpected gems. To further delve into this intriguing panorama of gaming sales, here are some reflections on the top 12 items on the list:

1. D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic)

What does it reveal about the enduring appeal of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, the only edition of Dungeons & Dragons ever to be published as a single, complete hardcover tome, that it consistently tops the sales chart? Its steadfast presence in the leading position is well-deserved. This is, after all, TSR's most outstanding creation, despite some of its imperfections.

2. Players Handbook (1e)

First published in 1978, the 1e AD&D Player's Handbook heralded a defining moment in tabletop role-playing game history. It was among the pioneer hardcover rulebooks for RPGs, establishing the foundation for many future iterations of fantasy gaming. Despite being reimagined through several subsequent editions, including 2e, 2e revised, 3e, 3.5e, 4e, and 5e, the 1st edition continues to reign as the highest on this list. Crafted in the high Gygaxian style and with all the organization of a collapsed Jenga pile, it remains the quintessential guide for players.

3. Dungeon Master's Guide (1e)

Perhaps the greatest RPG book ever written, it is no surprise it is in the top 3. The train-of-thought disorganization makes the player's handbook seem orderly in comparison. While it doesn't actually explain how to play or even run a game really, it is nonetheless inspirational. If you watched Empire Strikes Back never having seen A New Hope is what this book was like the first time I read it. Yet I was still entranced. To this day it is still enjoyable to read.

4. B2 The Keep on the Borderlands (Basic)

Rated on many "best of" lists as the greatest D&D adventure ever written. Many a D&D fan cut their teeth on this module, including me. I still use it to introduce players to D&D.

5. Monster Manual (1e)

Classic. The 1e Monster Manual, initially published in 1977, served as a crucial bridge from OD&D to AD&D. It introduced players to a wide array of monsters, each detailed and unique, ranging from common beasts like goblins and ogres to powerful dragons and otherworldly entities. Being the first of its kind it was able to lay claim to all the greatest creatures from mythology, as well as the fiendish creations Arneson and Gygax cooked up in their home games. Despite its age and the emergence of numerous revised editions, the 1st Edition AD&D Monster Manual maintains its popularity due to its comprehensive content, iconic artwork, and nostalgic value.

6. Planescape Campaign Setting (2e)

The settings explosion of the 90's led to the death of TSR. I've heard this is a great settings and it still has a vocal fanbase.

7. Player's Handbook, Revised (2e)

My gaming group and I never adopted 2e when it came out, and I wandered around trying out many other systems in the 90's. Only somewhat recently have I revisited this edition and have come to appreciate much of the excellent design work that was done.

8. Dungeon Master Guide, Revised (2e)

The 2e DMG, before this revised edition, was a large part of the reason we rejected 2e. This book corrects the main problem with that version (that it was useless to the DM) and is actually a fairly useful book.

9. T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil (1e)

The best supermodule, built off the bones of the 2nd greatest D&D module: The Village of Hommlet.

10. B10 Night's Dark Terror (Basic)

This is, to me, the one surprise in the top 10. I am not particularly familiar with this adventure, but now that it has my attention and I see that the reviews of it are very good, I might have to pick it up.

11. OD&D Dungeons & Dragons Original Edition (0e)

Not in the top 10? Still, it is something that the original, as janky as it is, to be the top 11 seller.

12. d20 Modern Core Rulebook (d20M)

Another surprise, my understanding was that d20 Modern didn't sell that well when first released, and Wizards quickly abandoned the line. Also of note, this is the highest Wizard's original product on the list.

The complete list:

1. D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic)

2. Players Handbook (1e)

3. Dungeon Master's Guide (1e)

4. B2 The Keep on the Borderlands (Basic)

5. Monster Manual (1e)

6. Planescape Campaign Setting (2e)

7. Player's Handbook, Revised (2e)

8. Dungeon Master Guide, Revised (2e)

9. T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil (1e)

10. B10 Night's Dark Terror (Basic)

11. OD&D Dungeons & Dragons Original Edition (0e)

12. d20 Modern Core Rulebook (d20M)

13. Unearthed Arcana (1e)

14. A0-A4: Against the Slave Lords (1e)

15. N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God (1e)

16. Spelljammer: Adventures in Space (2e)

17. Gamma World (1e)

18. Monstrous Manual (2e)

19. Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn

20. B4 The Lost City (Basic)

21. I6 Ravenloft (1e)

22. Player's Handbook (3.5)

23. GAZ10 The Orcs of Thar (Basic)

24. Chainmail: Rules for Medieval Miniatures (0e)

25. GAZ1 The Grand Duchy of Karameikos (Basic)

26. War of the Lance (3.5)

27. World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (1e)

28. D&D Basic Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)

29. GAZ9 The Minrothad Guilds (Basic)

30. Red Hand of Doom (3e)

31. B1-9 In Search of Adventure (Basic)

32. Dark Sun Boxed Set (2e)

33. GAZ12 The Golden Khan of Ethengar (Basic)

34. GAZ11 The Republic of Darokin (Basic)

35. T1 The Village of Hommlet (1e)

36. The Planewalker's Handbook (2e)

37. G1-3 Against the Giants (1e)

38. Player's Handbook (4e)

39. D&D Basic Set - Player's Manual (BECMI ed.) (Basic)

40. In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil (2e)

41. Wilderness Survival Guide (1e)

42. B6 The Veiled Society (Basic)

43. Boot Hill Wild West Role-Playing Game (3rd Edition)

44. Fiend Folio (1e)

45. D3 Vault of the Drow (1e)

46. Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (1e)

47. D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)

48. Dungeon Master's Guide 2 (4e)

49. U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (1e)

50. B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)

51. Monster Manual II (1e)

52. Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (4e)

53. Deities & Demigods (1e)

54. Player's Handbook 2 (4e)

55. Volo's Guide to Waterdeep (2e)

56. GAZ2 The Emirates of Ylaruam (Basic)

57. Draconomicon: The Book of Dragons (3.5)

58. B5 Horror on the Hill (Basic)

59. Rules Compendium (3.5)

60. GAZ8 The Five Shires (Basic)

61. Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3e)

62. Planes of Law (2e)

63. L3 Deep Dwarven Delve (1e)

64. Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms

65. Night Below: An Underdark Campaign (2e)

66. Planes of Conflict (2e)

67. GAZ6 The Dwarves of Rockhome (Basic)

68. Neverwinter Campaign Setting (4e)

69. Dawn of the Emperors: Thyatis and Alphatia (Basic)

70. Grand History of the Realms (3.5)

71. D1-2 Descent into the Depths of the Earth (1e)

72. B11 King's Festival (Basic)

73. D&D Basic Set - DM's Rulebook (BECMI ed.) (Basic)

74. Gamma World Game Rules (4e)

75. Dark Sun Campaign Setting (4e)

76. GAZ13 The Shadow Elves (Basic)

77. Dungeon Master's Guide (3.5)

78. Greyhawk Adventures (1e/2e)

79. Dragonlance Campaign Setting (3.5)

80. Dragons of Autumn (3.5)

81. Monster Manual (3.5)

82. Magic Item Compendium (3.5)

83. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (3.0)

84. Return to the Keep on the Borderlands (2e)

85. B3 Palace of the Silver Princess (Basic)

86. Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (1e)

87. S1-4 Dungeons of Dread (1e)

88. B12 Queen's Harvest (Basic)

89. N4 Treasure Hunt (1e)

90. Urban Arcana (d20M)

91. Dungeon Master's Guide (4e)

92. d20 Weapons Locker

93. Monster Manual (4e)

94. The Ruins of Undermountain (2e)

95. WGA4 Vecna Lives! (2e)

96. Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits (1e)

97. D&D Gamma World RPG (GW7e)

98. Dungeons and Dragons Expert Set (Basic)

99. City of Splendors: Waterdeep (3.5)

 100. L1 The Secret of Bone Hill (1e)

Jun 15, 2023

WotRP: Haunted Ruins of Koris Nesh print edition available

This took a little longer than usual, but the print proofs for Haunted Ruins of Koris Nesh came in yesterday and they look good. So the books are approved for sale. If you were waiting to get the Print + PDF combo deal the link is live now.


Treasure Island and Beasties: Loathsome Horrors print editions are available now too:



Jun 12, 2023

Guardians: Bruiser's Handbook

Guardians, the best OSR superhero roleplaying game, has been in need of a book of NPC's. Creating superhero characters can be a tedious process, with lots of little numbers and details to fiddle with. Even with a system as simple and straightforward as Guardians it can take some time.

As an added bonus we wrote up 100 plot hooks, many of them featuring a Bruiser, but they are really designed for any supervillains the Referee wants to throw at the party.

The book was written by my friend Wahab who has been working in the indie comics field for a while, his most well known title being the Society of Unordinary Young Ladies, a fun homage to the great after school sitcoms of the 80's.

The stats were written up by Andrew Warren who is very active in the Superhero RPG community.

Eventually I'd like to have a book of NPC's for each of the basic classes: Bruisers, Gadgeteers, Power Users, and Super-Agents. We'll see how well this book does first.

Check it out:


Jun 8, 2023

Kublacon 2023 After Action Report

Another fun Kublacon is in the history books now. 

This convention takes place in Burlingame, CA. Just south of San Francisco. It is a mid-sized convention, I don't recall the exact numbers but it was around 3800 attendees, very nearly what it was before the Covid lockdowns. It has always been a very good convention for the Night Owl Workshop booth, as well as my own Studio Denmark art shop.

This year NOW had a few new products: Beasties Loathsome Horrors (their first full color book), Ruins of Koris Nesh adventure for WotRP, A Midsummer Night's Dream adventure for old school D&D, and Treasure Island adventure for Freebooters. Along with a few other small miscellaneous items like bookmark dungeons and handcrafted "woodgrain box" editions of some of NOW's games.

This year I didn't get to do much gaming, and there were no real standout items at the show that I noticed, except maybe the fold-out dungeon in a box by Tenfold Dungeon. But they were sold out by the time I saw people walking around with them.

And of course I did buy some dice at the Chessex booth. No matter how many dice I have I just can't resist.


Next year I have to make it a point to play games! That is what these conventions are for after all.

Jun 5, 2023

Wizard Towers - Tower of the Egg Adventure

The enigmatic Wizard Tower, is there a more interesting adventure locale? What treasures and forgotten lore can be found in these arcane places of learning? 

The Tower of the Egg was introduced early last year when I was drawing a series of wizard tower maps. This was when I was exploring methods to draw maps more efficiently and I worked out a system of layers and textures in Photoshop that allowed me to quickly produced professional looking old-school style maps. 

It was based off of a painting I'd done (the cover above) as a demo for my environment concept art class. Seeing as it was one of the better maps I'd produced it was a good candidate to develop further, here is an adventure based in and around the tower.

I've been reading a lot of Clark Ashton Smith lately, as several excellent compilations of his work were recently published on Audible. Yes, much of my book reading these days are audio, as I can draw while reading. At times the language may have gotten a little thick, but I hope it is still intelligible. 

The Tower of the Egg

Birthed from the warped intellect of Joam Trassis the Unnatural, who was one of the last great Eldritch Lords, the tower has been rediscovered.

Once a proud testament to Joam's insidious genius, the Tower of the Egg fell into legend, its existence thought to be expunged by the relentless tide of time, its horrors banished to oblivion. Yet, like the quiet rustle of a dead leaf on an autumn wind, whispers of its enduring presence began to permeate the hushed tavern corners. An erratic map, penned with feverish, tremulous strokes, has surfaced, alluding to the Tower's clandestine sanctuary. If the legends and conjectures bear truth, and the Tower of the Egg indeed perseveres, hidden amidst the gnarled wilderness, then its dreadful progenitor may yet endure. Trassis' grotesque creations, bred within that blighted monument, may still writhe in its shadowed recesses, awaiting the dread command of their master. And if such abominations continue to breathe, then the horrors and marvels housed within the Tower of the Egg remain, waiting to birth a new era of unnatural domination.

This OSR adventure for 2-5 characters of levels 6-8 is compatible with Basic editions and related systems.

Get Tower of the Egg on DriveThru