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Metamorphosis Alpha.

One of the first Sci-Fi RPG's from the dawn of the industry. It lead to the TSR Gamma World system, which was always one of my favorites. Metamorphosis Alpha has been rebooted a number of times, always as kind of a one off. The Goodman Games version had a few modules and the Epsilon One box set.


Well, we are finally getting all 17 decks (plus the dome) of the famed Starship Warden in a new Troll Lord Games product. Now funded on Kickstarter, the new product will showcase the full ship in a huge 650 page monster book.

Have to say, I am looking forward to this one.



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Machine Learning, AI and our inevitable new robot overlords

I was recently reading the Occam's Razor blog of Avinash Kaushik, a Googler who I was fortunate to see speak a few years ago when I visited Google for an event with my day job.

He spoke about the recently published achievement of an AI program now being ranked higher than nearly every active Starcraft II player. It's been years since I was an active PC gamer and haven't played Starcraft in a long, long time. I do recall that game AI started surprising me occasionally in the early 2000s.  There was the time a couple of guards in Half Life used cover fire and a grenade to break up an assault my character was making. But a machine learning how to beat nearly every human player? I've seen that movie....it didn't end well. And really, what do we expect to happen when we test out robots like this?

Paging Mr. Asimov.....





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When will you get that item back in stock?

Often asked, very hard to answer.  For newer items, it typically means just adding the item to the next order with my suppliers. Depending on the company, there may or may not be extra product available for reorder. It’s getting harder and harder to restock some lines, as companies move to a model like Print on Demand, Print to Order, or distributors aren’t willing to put much, if any shelf stock beyond what was initially ordered by retailers.  It’s part of the business.  But when an item goes out of print, then the real hunt begins.

The older the item is, the less likely there are copies to just be reordered. Gone are the days of many regional distributors, who might still have some copies left. Odds are once it sells out with one supplier, they are all going to be sold out.

For long out of print items, it’s likely to only find an item as part of a collection or possible being sold off individually.  Since it rarely works out that I can buy single pieces and still be able to price them to make a profit, the main source of used items is a collection someone has put up for sale.  You take the good with the bad.

Over the years, I’ve noticed a few significant trends on used product re-enters the marketplace. In no particular order:

  • Gamer has left the hobby.  Generally, will be a smaller collection, might be made up of a couple of different systems.  For whatever reason, they are no longer interested in holding on to the items.
  • Gamer got married, spouse wants those books out of the house. This one is rough, I’ve seen large collections be put up for sale. Even worse a few times I’ve seen the seller attempting to replace their beloved books after the marriage didn’t work. Heartbreaking.
  • Spouse puts up deceased partners collection for sale. I always treat these with great care.  A spouse usually wants them to go to someone who will appreciate the collection as much as the former owner did but doesn’t want a lot of hassles that come with selling it off piecemeal. I make it a matter of honor to be beyond fair in these dealings. I don’t want any bad karma coming my way.
  • Gamer has Real Life issues (health, kids, bills) that necessitate selling off part or all of their collection.  Usually they are at peace with it, but not always. Generally, they peel off the layers of the collection that mean the least to them though.
  • Upgrade system/format. I’ve seen quite a few people who start a new edition of a game sell off all their old books.  Often it depends on the system, and the edition. I have seen this when a gamer moves to PDF versions of books as well, choosing to sell of their dead tree editions.

In the early 2000s, people dumped their 2nd edition AD&D books to jump into 3.0. That lasted up until 2008, roughly around when Gary Gygax passed away, when suddenly people started seriously looking for 1st and 2nd edition books again and the supply really dried up. With 5E out, I’m seeing more and more 3.0 and 3.5 being sold off (4th Edition never really had much demand as a secondary market). And now we are starting to see the oldest members of the RPG hobby, leaving it completely (due to health or other reasons). If they don’t have a family member to pass their collection on to, then those 1970s and 1980s books are starting to trickle back into the market. Rare items that hadn’t been seen for years are popping up more frequently.  Conversely, the people who cut their teeth on AD&D 2nd edition are now in their high-income earning years and have been filling out their collections.  What was common to have in stock in the early 2000s is now in enough demand that finding a book is often a real unknown. 

Invariably, it comes down to finding that seller looking to find a home for the 12 boxes of old gaming books that their Uncle X left them and making a deal that makes everyone happy.  Hopefully the book you need is in that next collection that comes through here.