8
\$\begingroup\$

As the title says, I want to know what was the best selling TSR Dungeons & Dragons module - no matter for what D&D edition - before Wizards of the Coast acquired TSR in 1997.

I suspect it was I6: Ravenloft, by Tracy & Laura Hickman, published by TSR in 1983, but it's only an (un)educated guess, I have no proof of this.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ Actual sales figures are notoriously slippery, obfuscated by the purpose behind releasing them, and sometimes further obscured—accidentally or purposefully—by the number of units shipped or produced (rather than sold). I bring this up because I seriously look forward to any answer that can cite an authoritative source for treeware units sold (However, I don't look forward to a barrage of questions like this… despite being mildly interested in how well Sages and Specialists sold.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 31 '18 at 1:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm closing this question as off-topic because its can only ever be accurate for a given point in time, which unfortunately refuses to stop passing. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 31 '18 at 1:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I do think that this is a question that doesn't exactly fit SE since it doesn't seem to solve a specific problem about RPG, but well, we have History of Gaming tag. Most of these seem to be more about curiosity than solving a problem, being fair. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint May 31 '18 at 2:54
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @keithcurtis Being unanswerable is not a reason to close, though, and surely doesn't make it off-topic. You could argue that, as it is, it's unclear (as you mention, what's a module and what's a sale), but that aside I don't see how it's off-topic. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint May 31 '18 at 5:13
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ This looks like a well-defined question to me now, with a time frame that allows for a (potentially knowable) answer that isn’t a moving target. “Module” and “sale” don’t seem ambiguous — modules are modules, and in normal usage “best selling” means original sale by publisher, so that seems fine to me. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 31 '18 at 14:30
4
\$\begingroup\$

A strong candidate seems to be B2: The Keep on the Borderlands, by Gary Gygax, first published in December 1979.

Wikipedia says:

Lawrence Schick, in his 1991 book Heroic Worlds, describes the adventure as "A good start for new players" and speculates that at the time, there had probably been more copies of B2 printed than of any other role-playing scenario.

Looking for the exact quote, I found this Google site called Zenopus Archives:

"There probably have been more copies of B2 printed than any other role-playing scenario" - Heroic Worlds by Lawrence Shick, 1991 (pg 135).

"The total print run for B2 is easily in excess of a million and a half units" - "Looking Back" by Ryan Dancey in The Story of TSR, 1999 (pg 27).

The Acaeum website, which I didn't know until today, but seems to be a reference for Wikipedia, has a Print Run Estimates page about D&D products, which again puts B2: The Keep on the Borderlands on top, with two runners-up:

B2 Keep on the Borderlands: 1,000,000+. Source: 1999 Silver Anniversary Retrospective booklet

S1 Tomb of Horrors: 250,000+. Source: Gary Gygax verbal comment

S2 White Plume Mountain: 175,000+. Source: WotC employee

There's still the problem of comparing print runs with total sales, specially in the case of B2: The Keep on the Borderlands because - although the module was still sold separately - it was included in the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set from 1979 to 1982, just before the famous 1983 Red Box edition.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.