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)

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