Lately I haven't had the time to visit the local game stores here in Eugene and find out if they knew about Free RPG Day or if they'd decided not to participate for some reason. Today though, I had to go to Portland on business, so on the way back home I hit up the only store listed on the Free RPG Day website that seemed doable to me. The list there appears to have been taken down since I last looked, but I believe Ancient Wonders in Tualitin was the only participant in the Portland area. There was also one in Salem, but unfortunately I've now forgotten its name.
Ancient Wonders is very easy to get to from I-5, it's about two minutes off the freeway. There was off street parking, and from the outside it looks very modest. I recommend the owners consider putting up a sign on the south side of the building as you have to be driving right past it to know it's the place you're looking for.
Stepping inside, I immediately liked it. It had a friendlier, older feel to it than the two game stores I've been to in Eugene. It was well stuffed with a great variety of games, all of the usual things you'd expect, as well as a lot of older used items. An employee asked if I needed any help finding something and directed me to some shelves that were stacked with 1st and 2nd edition AD&D books. They also had a large box of vertically stacked and bagged B/X and 1E AD&D modules, and some older supplements.
I asked if they'd participated in Free RPG Day and if they had any swag left and the employee said "Sure, tons!" and showed me to another large box of an assortment of goodies. It still had some items from the previous year in it too.
While I was poking around through that box and talking with a couple other patrons about early '80s D&D, the employee said, well if you're into that stuff, come check this out.
He showed me to a part of the store where hanging on the wall, within a glass frame, was a pristine copy of "The Palace of the Vampire Queen", published in 1976 by Wee Warriors. This is said to be the first ever stand alone adventure module. It had a price tag of $2500. There's a Near Mint one for sale on eBay at just over $2000 if you're looking for a bargain. Cool, a bit of gaming history I'd never seen before! Jeff has a fine article on this item over at his game blog, as does Acaeum.com.
I forgot to look and see if there was a bulletin for "game/gamers" wanted, but there was clearly an active gaming community at the store, and though the website looks a little dated, there is a calendar of events (I see Hackmaster was or still is being played on a regular basis there). The owner had never heard of Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord though.
So what free swag did I get? I wanted one of everything in that free box, but tried to limit myself to a few items that I've had the most interest in either re-acquiring or in checking out the rules systems. So, I picked: Traveller Book 0 (I had the original Traveller digest sized books and miss them), Paranoia: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Alpha Complex, the short rules version of Tunnels & Trolls, the short rules version of Castles & Crusades, and finally a hard copy of my previously mentioned Paizo Bestiary Supplement.
Even better though, were the great deals I got on a number of old D&D items - certainly better than what I would've paid on eBay. I went a little overboard, but just couldn't walk away from that box knowing I'd regret not snagging some of its goodness while I still could. I'll be back.
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