Collecting classic World of Darkness, part 7a: Mage merchandise

Mage: the Ascension is the last of the oWoD games that had a large amount of merchandise produced back in the day.  This will be the last standalone merchandise article, therefore, because from here on out it’s mostly going to be “a set of dice and a pin”, which isn’t worth an entire article.

As follows the usual pattern, Mage is #3 in the amount of merchandise available, after Vampire and Werewolf.  One reason for that is they didn’t generally market Tradition/Convention-specific items in the way they did with the clans and tribes–there are no Tradition pins or necklaces.  As a result, most of the Mage merchandise is part of a set of three that cover the first three games.  It also doesn’t have much third party licensing–it’s not a concept that lends itself to, say, PC/console games as well as some of the others, and it doesn’t have a notable amount of awareness outside the gaming world.

The symbol usually used for Mage as a whole is the symbol of the Prime sphere, which looks like this:

Prime

Also note: One thing you’ll run across when searching online is material from Matt Wagner’s Mage comic book; make sure you’re not mixing the two up.

Dice.  Going by what I’ve found online, there were two versions:

  • Pre-Revised: Purple bag with Prime symbol, dice lighter purple and slightly marbled with gold numbers, box with Magician Tarot card on front
  • Revised: Purple bag with Prime symbol, dice darker purple and solid with gold numbers, box with Revised logo and Prime symbol

As with all of the WoD dice sets, these tend to run expensive when they turn up on eBay.

Miniatures. Ral Partha released a few miniatures in male/female pairs, representing some of the splats.  These show up from time to time and run about $5 or so per set.

Cards.  There was no MtA CCG; however, for the true completist, some mages appear in VtES and Rage.  The Tarot decks were covered in the previous article.

Novels. The MtA fiction line continued until the original WoD was shut down, so there are a reasonable number out there; they’re covered on White Wolf’s official checklist.

T-shirts.  The catalog I have lists two, an original and a Revised; there may be others.  These rarely turn up online, and run in the $15-20 range when they do.

One of the Mage 20th Anniversary Edition Kickstarter tie-ins will be POD Tradition/Convention T-shirts; the final designs haven’t been released yet.

Jewelry.  I only know of one Mage pin, with the Prime symbol in light purple (and a slightly odd shape because the points on the top are one unit.  It turns up from time to time, at the usual pin price range ($20+).

The catalog I have doesn’t list Mage jewelry in the Java’s Crypt entry, but there was at least one, a silver necklace of the Prime symbol (surprise).

Coffee mug. Purple with white marbling, the 2nd edition Mage logo on one side and the Prime symbol on the other.  This one doesn’t turn up too often.

Lighter. A purple Zippo with the Prime symbol and revised Mage logo in yellow.  It turns up on eBay about as often as the Vampire lighters and more often than Werewolf, and runs around $30-40.

Temporary tattoos. Update!  I originally had these listed under Apocrypha, but I now have a set in my actual possession (Virtual Adepts, for the record).  They’ve run around $10 on eBay.  One noteworthy thing about them is that they’re the only classic Mage merchandise that’s specific to a Tradition rather than the line as a whole.

Apocrypha:

Scented candle. This is listed in the WW catalog along with the Vampire and Werewolf candles.  However, I have less reason to believe this was ever released than the others–Noble Knight and the game store product listing both have the VtM and WtA candles listed but not the Mage.

 

These are all the MtA tie-ins I’m aware of.  As always there are probably some limited and promotional items I don’t know about, but unlike Vampire I don’t get the impression that there are more than I could ever keep track of.  Next up: Mage, possibly with a special bonus!  Until next time, the Woggle-Bug says “Damn these electric sex pants!”

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Collecting classic World of Darkness, part 7: Mage: the Ascension

Mage: the Ascension is the third World of Darkness game, both in terms of time and general popularity.  (However, while its fans aren’t as numerous, they often make up for it in terms of devotion.) It’s the third of the games that continued publication until the line stopped, and had an equivalent as a core game in nWoD.

Core books

As with VtM and WtA, there are three core versions: paperback 1st, hardcover 2nd and Revised. (Note: Amazon has a listing for a paperback edition of Revised, which is actually the original Tarot deck.  This led to me receiving the wrong product once, so read listings carefully.)

The usual age/price inverse relationship applies: 1st edition is generally cheap, Revised more expensive.  The Revised core book can run to more than the other ones, especially on Amazon; $30 isn’t an uncommon price to see, but with a bit of patience it can be found between $10 and $20.

Note that, while it’s not as vulnerable as the WtA cover, the gold effect on the covers (particularly 1st ed) is prone to wearing off, so that’s something to watch for if you care about condition.

Limited editions

The Revised Limited edition comes with a slipcase and limited art book, the same as VtM and WtA.  This generally runs third in cost, behind Vampire and Werewolf but ahead of Dark Ages.

As I write this, the Kickstarter for the Mage 20th Anniversary Edition (Mage20) is running and doing quite well; if you want the Deluxe version of that, pledge now because you’ll never see it for this price again.

Core supplements

Unusually, Mage didn’t have Players or Storytellers Guides for the first two editions (except Hidden Lore, the book that came with the 2nd edition Storytellers Screen) until the Guide to the Technocracy, a late 2nd edition supplement.  Although it’s not quite in line with the Revised version of the Technocracy and still has a bias toward treating them as villains, it’s still an important supplement and often starts at around $20-25.

Revised had a Storytellers Companion (with the screen, under $10) and Storytellers Handbook, which is less common and can run between $20-30.  In lieu of a Players Guide they had the Guide to the Traditions, which usually starts at $10-15.

Splatbooks

There are two sets of splatbooks, original and Revised.  The original had books for the 9 Traditions and 5 Conventions, which were gathered into compilations (3 and 2 volumes, respectively).  None of these run to very much, but the Tradition books had shiny metallic covers that show wear like a beacon, so they can be hard to find in good condition.

There are 10 Revised Tradition books (the Hollow Ones, originally treated as an unaffiliated catchall, got its own book this time around).  Only one Revised Convention Book (Iteration X) was published before the line stopped, but the remainder have been published as PDF/POD.  The Revised Tradition books generally follow the alphabetic/price correlation, with Akashic Brotherhood and Dreamspeakers running closer to $10 and the Verbena and Virtual Adepts closer to $20 or more.  The exception is the Order of Hermes book: for whatever reason, this one seems to be particularly expensive and sought after. (One reason may be that they’re one of the more complex Traditions, so having a book collecting all their Houses is more important than it is with a looser group.)

Other supplements

A general note on Mage supplements: Some but not all of the first two editions’ supplements were numbered in approximate chronological order (generally the purple-covered non-corebooks; the Convention books were numbered but the Tradition books weren’t).  According to the Mage FAQ, this was dropped because it wasn’t being applied consistently (numbers followed when books were assigned, not necessarily when they were released).  The FAQ also says that the number 21 was put on some copies of Digital Web 2.0, which should have been number 22.  My copy has 21; I haven’t been able to confirm the existence of both numbers or their relative frequency, but that’s a variant to watch out for.

As usual, Revised has most of the books that are sought after/hard to find/expensive.  Noteworthy examples:

  • Infinite Tapestry, the Umbral guide.  The price on this one can vary a lot but it’s generally above $20.
  • Sorcerer Revised.  The original version was a collection of hedge magics, but the Revised version collects all the Numina (mortal psychic powers) from various supplements as well, which makes it very useful as a resource for hunters and the like. (Ignore the clueless 1-star review on Amazon.)
  • The Fallen Tower: Las Vegas. A setting book/adventure.  To be honest, I got this one at a store for a reasonable price so I hadn’t realized it had gone up in value, but at the moment it’s running around $60 on both Amazon and eBay.
  • Forged by Dragons Fire. A collection of and guide to magical items; runs around $30.

In-character books and other items

There is one in-character text, Fragile Path: Testament of the First Cabal. For those who are interested, there are two distinct versions of this; the original printing had a purplish cover, while the later printings were red.

The other collectible items of note were the two editions of the Mage Tarot.  These were full-color decks using the cards that appeared in the frontispieces of the booksl  There are two versions; the original has a box with a horizontal orientation and the word “Tarot” most prominent, while the Revised version’s box has a vertical orientation and the “Mage” logo in Revised style as the prominent word. (I don’t know how the interiors differ, because my Revised deck is still in the shrinkwrap and I’m not opening it, thank you.) These run to serious money: expect to pay $50 for the original and $70 or more for the Revised.

Sorcerers Crusade

This was the historical game for Mage, set during the Renaissance.  It doesn’t seem to have been terribly popular, but was more successful than Werewolf: The Wild West, with eight supplements total.  The core book and most of the supplements can be found for $10 or so; the exception is Infernalism: The Path of Screams, which can run around $60.  The Witches and Pagans book was listed on White Wolf’s checklist but not released; it turned up as a PDF on DriveThruRPG, but (annoyingly) hasn’t had a POD version yet.

I also found the Storyteller’s Screen surprisingly hard to locate.  The Companion that came with it is relatively common, but finding a reasonably priced copy that definitely had the screen with it was harder (one Amazon seller was surprised that I’d even care about the screen).  There are a couple on eBay right now, but they’re not the cheapest.

That’s it for Mage!  I’ll be doing a short article on merchandise, and after this the articles will get shorter; I may cover more than one game in one article, and will probably make the merchandise part of the article (since it doesn’t take long to say “dice, a pin, and a few novels”).  Until next time, the Woggle-Bug says “FIRE BAD!”

Collecting classic World of Darkness, part 3: What to expect when you’re collecting

Now that we’ve covered the general outline of cWoD collecting and the improved checklist, it’s time to cover the sort of items you’ll be buying.  We’ll also cover a couple of terms you’ll want to know.

First, though, a quick review of supply and demand.  High supply and/or low demand means lower prices; low supply and/or high demand means higher prices.  In the case of cWoD, this translates to one key principle: In general, the less time a book spent in print, the more it will cost. For example, the Revised edition Werewolf tribebooks were released alphabetically, and the last ones were released shortly before the game went on hiatus.  Therefore, the Black Fury and Bone Gnawer tribebooks are easier to find and cost less than the Uktena or Wendigo books.

Corebooks. These are the main rulebooks for each game. Unlike nWoD, there was no central rulebook for the entire system.  A couple of games required you to have another Storyteller book for the rules, but generally they reprinted and adapted the same couple of chapters from book to book.

For the core five games (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Wraith, and Changeling), the pattern was to release a paperback 1st edition followed by a hardcover 2nd edition.  For the first three games, they also released a Revised edition. (The Revised editions can be controversial, especially Mage, which saw the biggest changes to rules and metaplot.  I personally think they did a good job of cutting away some of the silliness that had built up during the 2nd editions and that the Revised-era books are generally the most useful, but not everyone will agree.) The remaining games had a single hardcover rulebook (Mummy is kind of a weird exception, but I’ll get into that later).

The other exception is the Dark Ages line.  It was originally a historical setting for Vampire, under the title Vampire: the Dark Ages.  The Revised edition was titled Dark Ages Vampire and was followed by Dark Ages books for some of the other games (Werewolf, Mage, Changeling, and Hunter, specifically).  This was the only non-core game to have two editions.

Following the first principle above, the Revised edition rulebooks are generally the most expensive, but it’s not that hard to find reasonably-priced copies.  The other corebooks that can potentially run into money are Demon and Orpheus, which were the last two games released.

Core guides. Generally, Storyteller and Player guides, or guides to key aspects of the setting (such as the Camarilla/Sabbat, Changing Breeds, or the Technocracy).  If it has “guide” or “companion” in the title, it falls into this category.

These are often the second most important rulebooks for any given game.  As with many other categories, Revised versions tend to be more expensive and earlier ones less so. (Some of the 1st edition Vampire guides practically can’t be given away.)

Two books of note: The Revised Player’s Guide for Vampire and Guide to the High Clans for Dark Ages Vampire are particularly expensive.  They were both released near the end of cWoD, so quantities are low.  The High Clans book is a key book, so demand is high; the Player’s Guide was an expensive hardcover that had practically no rules content (it’s mostly essays on running the game) so it wasn’t particularly popular when it was released, making supplies relatively low.

Splatbooks. This term comes from the use of an asterisk as a wildcard, referred to by programmers as a “splat”.  Each game had its own set of subgroups (clans, tribes, Traditions, etc.), each of which had its own book under the banner of “* Book X” (Clanbook Tremere, Tribebook Glass Walkers, etc.).  All the core games had splatbooks for their various splats (although Kithbook: Boggan for Changeling was never released, and Wraith had to squeeze the later ones in).  The only later games that had individual splatbooks were Kindred of the East and Hunter, although some other games had books that covered the same territory (e.g. the Libellus Sanguinis books for Dark Ages, Houses of the Fallen for Demon).

Splatbooks are fairly key supplements, since they go into much more detail about the history, culture, and powers of the splats than the core book can hope to. (They’re also known for having weird and potentially broken powers, but that’s up to the individual Storyteller to deal with.) Vampire, Werewolf and Mage had two sets of splatbooks, one set during 1st/2nd editions and one for Revised.  The Revised books are the most sought after, since they’re rarer, are better written, and have more pages (and fewer pages devoted to character templates).  The later Werewolf tribebooks in particular are hard to find (Tribebook Uktena was one of the last books I found).

Note that Convention books for the Technocracy in Mage were released, but only one (Iteration X) was released for Revised edition.  The remaining four were released as PDF and POD through DriveThruRPG. (As of this writing, the POD of the Void Engineers book isn’t available, but it’s just a matter of time.)

If all you care about is content and not owning every single book, the first editions of the Werewolf Tribebooks and Mage Tradition and Convention books were reprinted in collected editions.  The books they collect aren’t expensive or rare, but the collections are more efficient if you just want to read them.

Other books and adventures. This is too broad a category to cover in much detail.  There are four general categories:

  1. Setting books. (“X By Night” for Vampire and “Rage Across X” for Werewolf are the blanket titles.) A combination guide to a geographical area and the supernatural beings in it, focusing on the gameline the book is from but generally mentioning others as well.  These range the gamut of quality from good to really awful.
  2. Adventures.  Just what it sounds like.  Some adventures were folded into other products, such as Nights of Prophecy for Vampire, which combines advancement of the metaplot with (sometimes very railroad-y) adventures.
  3. Sourcebooks.  These explore an aspect of the game setting but don’t fall into any other category and are generally more focused than the guides/companions.
  4. General World of Darkness supplements.  These either covered the WoD setting as a whole or some aspect thereof that spanned all the games (such as Blood-Dimmed Tides, which examined underwater settings).  These were released under the general WoD banner, although there are some outliers. (A World of Darkness was originally a setting book for Vampire, for example.)

Storyteller screens. I’m mentioning these because they can be a bane to the completist.  ST screens are useful for hiding your notes and holding handy charts, but not everyone uses them, and they’re less likely to be kept than books.  They’re not exactly rare, but they are more of a challenge to collect than the books, particularly if you want all the elements.

The 1st and some of the 2nd edition screens were released with inserted booklets containing adventures, characters, or other reference materials.  These items did not have their own product numbers or ISBNs, so they’re harder to find through the secondary market and weren’t on White Wolf’s checklist. (I will be adding them to my checklist at some point.) If you can find a copy that has its original shrinkwrap, you can be reasonably sure you have all the elements but may not want to affect its collectibility by opening it. (This is the reason I own three copies of the 1st edition Werewolf screen.)

Later screens were released with Companion books, generally compilations of rules material that weren’t put in the main book and crossover rules for other games.  These do have their own product codes and ISBNs, so the difficulty here is not finding the books but finding the screens.  Most of these were opened, and there isn’t always a guarantee that a lot will have both the book and the screen. (This is particularly true on Amazon; an eBay seller is more likely to make it clear.) Again, the only way to be sure is if you find a shrinkwrapped copy.  The Sorcerer’s Crusade screen is particularly hard to find by itself, since it wasn’t a terribly popular game line.

In-setting books. These are books that replicate books released in the world of the game, the most famous being the Book of Nod.  They don’t contain game content but are considered part of their parent game’s line.

Mind’s Eye Theatre. The LARP books are their own animal, and I’m treating them as a separate line for the purpose of this guide; what I’ve said above doesn’t necessarily apply to them, and they’ll have their own article.

Limited editions. For Revised edition, White Wolf released high-end, limited hardcover versions of some of the games and sourcebooks. Each of these had a leatherette cover, metallic edging, bookmarks, and in some cases slipcases.

Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, and Dark Ages Vampire had slipcased core books with a limited softcover art or fiction book. (The art books were released separately, while the Dark Ages fiction book is only available in the limited edition set.) Vampire’s Guide to the Camarilla and Sabbat and the Storyteller’s Guide also had slipcased editions.  There were non-slipcovered editions of the Vampire, Werewolf and Mage LARP books and The Book of Nod as well.  Encyclopaedia Vampirica was only released in a deluxe edition.

These can be a challenge, especially if you don’t want to spend a lot of money.  The Vampire rulebook is the hardest to find, while Dark Ages and Mage are less sought after and easier to find.  The Vampire guidebooks are less sought after than the core books (I won a copy of the ST Guide on eBay for under $10 once).

Other issues: Some of these editions had binding problems, especially Encyclopaedia Vampirica.  Since there are multiple components, there’s a risk of not getting a complete set.  There’s also the occasional problem of getting a limited version when you wanted a regular one (it took me a while to get a regular Art of Werewolf because the inexpensive copy I found on Amazon turned out to be the limited edition).

The only limited editions that have new content are the Mind’s Eye Theatre books, which contain a few pages of exclusive in-setting content (such as pages from the Book of Nod).  Therefore, you may choose to skip these in your collection, or at least make them a low priority until you can find a bargain.

Kickstarter and other limited editions. Starting with V20, many of the books were released as limited editions, including all those released through Kickstarter.  This will also be its own article, but a quick summary: If you want these, support the Kickstarter.  I’ve never seen one of these sell online for less than the original price.

Magazines and weird outliers. This will be its own article as well.  “Weird outliers” include licensed books released by other publishers.

That’s a pretty long overview, and it still doesn’t cover everything!  I’ll be getting into more detail in subsequent articles.  Until next time, the Woggle-Bug says “Oh, dear me, how will it be if I die an old maid in the garret?”