I’m still processing the boxes of gaming loot I brought home from the Spring Games Plus Auction. Honestly, this could take a while. You may want to get a coffee or something.
I find it fascinating to watch the items that set off a bidding frenzy. The Descent games I talked about last time, for example. Or absolutely any expansion sets for Wizard of the Coast’s out-of-print Heroscape — lordy, yes. I wish I had a closet filled with those babies. I’d retire to Bermuda.
But it’s no fun to bid on stuff that far out of my price range. Gape while everyone else bids like crazy? Sure. But bid yourself? No. It’s like asking the Homecoming Queen to Prom. Sure, everybody’s doing it, but it ain’t easy on your self-esteem.
But you know what is fun to bid on? Cheap stuff, and especially cheap stuff that was once very expensive. Like premium D&D products that are now one or two editions out of date and selling at rock bottom prices. Items like a brand new copy of Lost Empires of Faerûn, which originally retailed for $29.95 and which I snapped up for 6 lousy bucks.
Let me paraphrase from the back of the book. Something, something, secrets of past empires of the Forgotten Realms, comprehensive sourcebook, new feats, stuff, prestige classes, magic stuff, equipment stuff. Can I use this to put together an adventure in 10 minutes when I manage to forget game night switched to Friday? Yes? I’m sold.
Apparently, the book also contains gaming advice on ruins, including rules for how to build and sustain a ruin-based campaign, a bunch of detailed adventure sites with maps, artifacts, and some new monsters. You had me at “ruin-based campaign.” Take my money already.
Lost Empires is a sourcebook exploring the ruins and secrets of the fallen empires of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. Admit it — any time “sourcebook” and “ruins” go together, you know you’re going to get good some use of it.
Here’s the blurb from the back of the book.
The ruins and remnants of once-mighty nations lie scattered across the lands of Faerûn. Hidden within the dusty vaults and passages of these crumbling monuments, great treasures and terrible dangers await discovery. Only those bold explorers armed with courage and equipped with knowledge dare to delve into these earliest secrets of the Forgotten Realms setting.
Which means — in case it’s not obvious — that use of this book requires the Forgotten Realms 3.0 sourcebook (that’s the one with the rather bland cover, at right). In practice, almost any version of Forgotten Realms will probably do in a pinch. And if you haven’t got one of those, you’re clearly not going to enough auctions.
There’s a dark side to these auction bargains. After winning Lost Empires of Faerûn, I promptly won a whole series of Third Edition adventure settings, including Cormyr, Shadowdale, and Underdark. All brand new, and all for seven bucks or less.
That’s a little distressing, actually. Don’t get me wrong, I love carting home cheap dungeon swag. But these auctions are like a barometer for gaming trends. When I’m getting great bargains, it’s because the industry has lost interest in the stuff I’m buying.
Why the sudden apathy towards all things 3.0/3.5? I’m not really sure, to be honest. Perhaps it’s simply that players are waiting for the impending 5th Edition. Perhaps WotC simply overprinted these books (wouldn’t be the first time).
Or perhaps the industry as a whole is moving away from D&D altogether, as Pathfinder, OSR, and fantasy board gaming all continue their decade-long ascendance.
Who knows. What I know is that I got a lot of great bargains and my wife won’t let me buy any more new games for at least the next three months, so I expect to get a lot of use out of these (the ones that aren’t in shrinkwrap, anyway.)
So far we’ve covered five Third Edition Forgotten Realms products, most of them from the Spring Games Plus Auction:
Explore the Echoes of a Vanished Product Line in Lost Empires of Faerûn
Descend Into the Depths of the Earth in Forgotten Realms: Underdark
Delve Into a 3-Part Supermodule With Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave
Against the Giants of Chaos: Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land
A Shadow Falls Over Faerûn: Anauroch: The Empire of Shade
Lost Empires of Faerûn was published by Wizards of the Coast in February 2005 and written by Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, and Travis Stout. It is 192 pages in full color, priced at $29.95 in hardcover. There is no softcover or digital edition. It was written for Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons, version 3.5.