Collecting classic World of Darkness, part 6a: Werewolf merchandise

Following the classic age/popularity curve, Werewolf is second for most merchandise, behind Vampire but ahead of Mage.  It doesn’t have as many weird one-off items (such as the Vampire license plate) but is still fairly well represented in the general categories. (One reason for this is that there were fewer licensed items produced by other companies.)  I’ll follow the same format as I did for Vampire; promotional materials and posters will be covered in a separate article.

Dice. The official WtA dice were brown/rust colored, released in a set with 9 regular dice and one Auspice die, with phases of the moon. They came in a box and included a brown dice pouch with the claw mark symbol in white. These don’t show up very often and run expensive when they do.

A set of reproduction WtA dice was available for a while.  The colors were a bit duller than the original, and the Auspice die wasn’t included; if you want to make sure you have an original set, look for the Auspice die and the dice bag.

Miniatures.  Ral Partha released a series of Werewolf miniatures, consisting of some of the tribes in various forms and some Wyrm creatures/antagonists. (Unlike the Vampire minis, these make some sort of sense in play, as Werewolf is more combat-oriented and had systems for map-and-mini play.)

Collectible card game. The Rage CCG was released by White Wolf starting in 1995; two editions of the core set and four expansions were released.  The license was picked up by Five Rings Publishing Group, who released a new set under their ill-fated “Rolling Thunder” program, with a set of regular mini-expansions rather than a few larger sets.  This edition wasn’t compatible with the White Wolf version, and was cancelled after six mini-episodes and one larger one.  Support continued online, with virtual card sets and rules updates.

If you are looking to buy cards, you should be prepared to pay the most for foil cards and cards from the “War of the Amazon” set, which was underproduced.  The “Umbra” expansion was massively overproduced and should be available at giveaway prices; even the foils don’t go for much.  The FRPG sets aren’t as popular as White Wolf’s.

Novels. There were a good number of these, though again not as many as Vampire had.  Their Tribe Novels covered two tribes per book rather than the single focus of VtM’s Clan Novels.  Except for the W20-oriented fiction, these are listed on White Wolf’s checklist.

(Note that one fiction collection, Drums Around the Fire, had the RPG’s trade dress and was trade paperback size, so it’s sometimes mistaken for a game book and included in RPG lots.  There were also two Rage strategy guides that have a similar issue.)

Comics. Moonstone released some WtA comics, and there’s at least one collected edition.  The comics aren’t rare, no matter what eBay sellers might claim; the collected edition is less common.

Book cover. There was a Dragonskin vinyl bookcover released by Chessex, with a werewolf image in silver ink.  Chessex also released a binder for Rage that apparently included some promo cards.

T-shirts. Fewer of these were released than Vampire shirts; the shirts were for the general game line (or Rage) and not individual tribes.  One of the shirts has the same image as the Dragonskin. (These are hard to research because there are a lot of unrelated werewolf shirts out there.) They don’t come up on eBay very often.

Jewelry. Rather than pins, Werewolf had necklaces, “bone chips” on leather cords with the sigil of a tribe or Changing Breed.  The TONS O’SPLATS factor comes in here, as there are twenty-two necklaces, covering the thirteen core tribes and nine Changing Breeds. (The Kitsune and, oddly, the Black Spiral Dancers are left out.) There are two WtA pins, one with four claw marks on a circle and one with four claw marks standing alone.

The White Wolf catalog I have also lists tribe pendants and brooches/pins (including the BSDs this time) as well as pendants and brooches for Rites and a sterling silver klaive.  These turn up very rarely online, if at all.

Coffee mug. This is the only WtA drinking vessel that I know of; it’s red with white marbling and the WtA logo.

High-end collectible. There’s only one of these, a replica Klaive (huge knife/sword).  These run into the hundreds when they turn up.  (There’s also overlap with the sword/weapon collectors’ market, so if you want one it may pay to look outside the usual RPG channels.) (The RPGnet thread linked above has a picture of a sheath, but the available evidence seems to be that it’s not an official part of the product.)

Temporary tattoos: These were sold in packets for each tribe, including the BSDs.  They don’t turn up that often but don’t run to much when they do. (By their nature it’s hard to predict the availability of items that were designed to be consumable.)

Candle? A scented candle was listed for WtA in White Wolf’s catalog.  I’m having trouble confirming the existence of these to my full satisfaction, but I have found a couple of game dealers who list it on their sites.

Apocrypha: As with VtM, I can’t confirm the existence of the Tribe Stickers that were listed in WW’s catalog.

Vaporware: A WtA PC game was advertised in some of their books but was never released.  Other vaporware includes action figures and a WW-produced graphic novel.

I think that hits the main categories.  Next up: Mage!  Until next time, the Woggle-Bug says “Only one of us is going to walk out of here–under his own steam–and it won’t be me!”

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Collecting classic World of Darkness, part 6: Werewolf: the Apocalypse

Werewolf: The Apocalypse was the second World of Darkness core game, released in 1992.  Most WtA products have a product code beginning with a 3.  WtA was one of the games that was supported until the end of the cWoD, and is the second to have a 20th edition released.

Core books

There are four core books: 1st and 2nd edition, Revised edition, and the 20th anniversary (W20) edition.  As with Vampire, the 1st and 2nd ed books can be found for $10 without much trouble, and Revised for under $20.  W20 was only sent out in the last month or so (the Kickstarter for the deluxe version took a long time due to feature creep and production delays) and I haven’t seen any copies on eBay yet, but since the pledge level for a copy of the book was $120 it will probably run to 3 digits.

(Since the W20 Kickstarter’s numbers are public, it’s possible to estimate how many copies of the deluxe edition exist; there should be roughly 1900 that were sent to backers.  There were 157 backers for the Heavy Metal edition (with a metal cover), which hasn’t shipped as of this writing.  Since the pledge level for this edition was $385, there probably won’t be many of these hitting the secondary market, and they’ll run to a lot if they do.  There are probably a few more copies in existence (extras for replacement copies, office/staff copies, etc.) but it’s still a pretty small number overall.)

There was a limited edition version of the Revised rulebook, with a slipcase and deluxe Art of Werewolf.  It’s the second most sought-after deluxe core book, after Vampire and before Mage.

One note on the core books: Every edition except Revised had three “claw marks” cut out of the cover.  This makes it harder to find copies of the 1st and 2nd editions in very good condition.  The 1st edition paperback was the worst–the cuts tended to fray or catch and tear, and the fist page faded and picked up dirt and finger oils under the cuts.  The 2nd edition wasn’t as bad, since the hardcover was stronger and thicker, but the fading and dirt issue still applied unless the book was kept protected.  (W20 may be prone to this as well, but it’s much more recent and as an expensive book will probably be better protected.)

Core supplements

WtA has the usual array of Players Guides and Storyteller Handbooks and Companions.  The 1st and 2nd edition Players Guides include the bare bones of the Changing Breeds (more on them later); for Revised they published a Players Guide to Garou and a Players Guide to Changing Breeds, which is one of the more sought after supplements.

Splatbooks

WtA has a lot of these–the most of any WoD game.  This is because, in addition to 13 werewolf tribes, there are also several Changing Breeds that shift into other types of animals.  There were 9 Breed Books, plus Hengeyokai, a guide to Asian shifters that also includes the Kitsune werefoxes.  Since there were 2 editions of each of the Tribebooks, that’s a total of 36.

The original Tribebooks are fairly common and easy to find.  Like the core book, they have diecut versions of the tribe’s symbol; they aren’t as large as the core book’s claws, but some of the more fiddly symbols in particular are vulnerable to tears or breakage. (The Breed Books have the same trade dress as the Tribebooks, but the symbols are embossed instead.) These were collected in 4 “Litany of the Tribes” collections.

The Revised Tribebooks are a classic example of the principle that earlier=more common and cheaper.  They were released in alphabetical order; the earliest ones (Black Furies and Bone Gnawers) aren’t that hard to find, while the latest ones (Uktena and Wendigo) are hard to find and expensive–the Uktena book was one of the last half-dozen books on my list.  The Wendigo book was one of the last oWoD supplements released.  Likewise, while not as rare, the Ananasi and Rokea Breed Books were the last one released and run to more than the earlier ones.

Setting books

The title formula for the setting books is “Rage Across…”, some of which were reprinted in “Rage Across the World” collections.  Dark Alliance: Vancouver is a combined setting book for WtA and VtM (and features a silly Japanese vampire clan).  None of these are particularly hard to find; however, some of them contain maps that were removable and therefore may or may not be included in used copies.

Other sourcebooks

Revised edition sourcebooks for WtA are often on the rare and expensive side–they often fall into the category of very useful and relatively underprinted.  Book of Auspices, Book of the City, Hammer and Klaive, and Past Lives can all run as high as $30-40 or so.

Screens

Each edition had a Storytellers Screen.  1st ed included a combat information sheet and blank character sheets.  2nd ed had an adventure, “Three Werewolf Stories”.  Revised was shrinkwrapped with the Storytellers Companion, and the W20 version was an addon for the W20 Kickstarter.

In-universe materials

There were two books released in this category, Silver Record and Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth.  CotBL isn’t that hard to find; Silver Record isn’t rare per se but can run around $20.

Historical settings

There are two Dark Ages Werewolf sourcebooks.  Werewolf: the Dark Ages is a paperback that was released during the VtDA era but is part of the Werewolf line, and isn’t very hard to find.  Dark Ages Werewolf is a hardcover, part of the Dark Ages line, and hard to find (running around $50).

The Werewolf historical setting was Werewolf: the Wild West, which wasn’t very popular.  None of the books from it are hard to find or expensive.  A couple of the supplements were released under the Arthaus line, which was supposed to be a more economical way of marketing books for less popular lines (Changeling wound up here as well), and in practice often meant a ridiculous amount of white space.  On the other hand, one supplemental item, the Wild West Poker Deck, is stupidly hard to find and expensive (generally $100 minimum).  (If I sound slightly bitter it’s partially because this is the one older WoD game item from the official checklist that I don’t own–if anyone has one they want to let go, please let know…)

Pinnacle Entertainment produced three Deadlands crossover adventures under their Dime Novel line: Under a Harrowed Moon, Savage Passage, and Ground Zero.  They can generally be found for a few bucks each, but since they’re Deadlands and not WoD products, they may not be found or listed with other WoD products.

There’s enough Werewolf merchandise that I’ll handle it in a separate article, as I did with Vampire.  Until next time, the Woggle-Bug says, “Truly, we live in an age of wonders.”

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?”