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The Quest for One Thousand Dragons (Part 2 of 2)

The Quest for One Thousand Dragons (Part 2 of 2)

Marc Conquers the Dragon[previously]

At first, the prospect was pretty daunting, and I really wasn’t sure exactly how to go about it. I was preparing to find and purchase something like 100 issues of Dragon magazine! And, to make my quest even more difficult, I decided I only wanted issues that were in extremely good condition. No Dragons with missing pages or ripped covers for me this time around!

Part Two: Baby Steps

The nice thing in the beginning was that there were people selling lots of multiple issues for reasonable prices. If I found 5 or 6 issues in a lot of older Dragons in good condition, I just took a shot and bid on them. It was quite a thrill when that first package of magazines arrived on my doorstep. Paging through them, I was immediately transported back in time. Various articles sparked memories of specific games, specific people, or even specific moments. Bits of art and even ads caused a rush of memory and emotion…

As the quest continued, I quickly realized two things. The first was that I needed to get organized. On at least one occasion, I actually bid on (and won) a group of issues only to discover I already had every one of them! So, I went to Paizo’s web site, which had every issue arranged by year and issue (thanks Paizo!), printed out each individual page, and organized the pages by year in a 3-ring notebook. Now I was able to systematically check off each issue I currently had as well as each new issue as I acquired it. Now I was cooking!

The second thing I learned was that, as my collection grew, I had to become more and more selective. Those lots of multiple issues I continued to find in my searches now started to contain issues I needed along with issues I didn’t need. I had to start deciding if each lot was worth the asking price, given that I only needed a few of the issues. As this new, more selective phase of my quest started to sometimes result in multiple copies of certain issues, I hit on what I saw as a win-win solution. I listed those extra issues (as long as they were in excellent condition, of course) back on EBay myself. That way, the extra issues I didn’t need would go to good homes and in return, I was able to help fund my continuing quest for the remaining issues I still did need. I felt like a high power investor—buy low, sell high!

Eventually I came to the point where it no longer made sense to buy multiple lots. I had to start looking for elusive individual issues. It was actually a great deal of fun. I was like a big game hunter, patiently hunting his prey. Of course, in my case, the prey was a Dragon (well, Dragons) and my hunting ground was EBay. I suppose I was also a bit like a little kid, collecting baseball cards as I went through my notebook checking off each new issue as I acquired it—have it, have it, need it, have it, need it…

Part Three: The Missing Years

Eventually, I had them all! In addition to the complete run of 3E issues, my bookshelf now had all of the issues I used to have as a kid. Because these older issues were saddle stitched instead of perfect bound and therefore more prone to their covers getting pulled off, I stored the older issues each in their own clear, acid-free magazine bags. I was happy and, honestly, more than a little proud. But then of course, I noticed something. Between issues 45 to 140 and issues 274 to 359, there was a pretty sizable chunk of issues that were NOT checked off in my notebook and therefore NOT sitting happily on my bookshelf! This lead to a big question in my mind—did this matter to me? After all, I had all my 3E issues, and I had all my issues from when I played D&D as a kid. I had accomplished what I had set out to do. Besides, this large block of missing issues didn’t mean to me what the others did. They were from a time when I didn’t really play D&D anymore. I was certainly much less invested in these issues. However, if this was truly a quest, then I decided I needed those issues as well!

So, I started the process once again. First, the larger lots of multiple issues, followed by smaller lots, re-listing the duplicate issues on EBay in order to help fund the endeavor and then focusing in on the final individual issues. Paging through these issues of Dragon as they slowly began to arrive in the mail was a very different experience for me however. Because I’d never even seen them before, there was no flood of memories, no sense of nostalgia. They were, essentially, brand new issues for me, albeit issues containing info about a game and a time that had now come and gone. I found myself reading the issues with a great amount of curiosity and wonder. I was like an archeologist, discovering fascinating insights into that period in D&D’s history. There were also lots of great ideas within those pages—and even though the issues dealt with an edition I didn’t play and had little interest in, I still found plenty of worthwhile things I could enjoy and incorporate into my current Pathfinder games. I suppose it’s probably a good lesson to keep in mind today …

Part Four: The Final Quest

I now had every single of issue of Dragon magazine, from issue 45 all the way to the final issue (they sit right next to my complete collection of Kobold Quarterly issues, in fact). I had 315 wonderful issues, all organized and carefully stored on my bookshelf to read, remember, enjoy, and even share with my teenaged son. It’s a pretty darn impressive sight to view all those issues lined up together like that. Of course, by now it’s probably fairly obvious what came next …

I quickly realized my collection was still missing issues 1 to 44! The first issues! How could I allow such a thing? The final stage of the Great Quest for Dragons was at hand.

This time around, there were no multiple lots. The process was slower, more exacting and, in many ways, even more exciting. It was harder to find these earliest issues and even harder to find them in top condition. And, of course, when I did find an issue I needed, they weren’t cheap and the bidding was often fierce. More than once, I lost out on one, but my resolve only increased! Slowly but surely, I began to fill in the remaining issue. As before, looking through their pages was a new and unique experience. These were issues of Dragon that had come out in the very earliest period in D&D’s history! The magazines provided me with a little window into those early days and it was wonderful.

Today, as I write this, the quest continues, but it’s nearly over. I still need a handful of the early issues of Dragon but it’s only a matter of time until I capture them. Then, and only then, when I know I have every issue from 2 all the way up to 359 will I set my sights on the most ancient, elusive, and wondrous of all the Dragons… issue #1. I do occasionally see a copy of it on EBay, but I never bid. Not yet, but soon…

And then, when I finally acquire that final, first issue of Dragon, I’ll slide it carefully into its clear, acid-free magazine sleeve, and put it in its rightful place of honor in my collection. On that day, I’ll sit back, breathe deeply, and smile in satisfaction. Because on that day, my quest will at long last be complete.

Of course, I only have about 20 issue of Dungeon magazine…

6 thoughts on “The Quest for One Thousand Dragons (Part 2 of 2)”

  1. Thanks for sharing this collecting history! You’re inspiring me to maybe gun for the issues I’m missing (all in that early period from #1 to #20 or so).

    However, I do have a complete run of Dungeon on my shelf. :)

  2. Welcome to the club Mark! I recently undertook a quest to locate every Dungeon Magazine and succeeded – all 150 issues! They are an invaluable resource for DMs and recommend you try and get them all. Ebay, Amazon and Nobleknight games were more than helpful in filling my collection.

  3. Thanks Reebo!

    At the very least, I’d like to try getting all the Third edition era Dungeons at some point.

    Thanks for the tip about Amazon and Nobleknight games! I’ll have to check them out.

  4. Awesome.

    Marc, there needs to be a Part III when the deed is done. (No pressure, but you level when you do. . .)

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