I've been trying to figure out the reason behind the madness that is the internal ordering system of Wizards of the Coast rulebooks (for ordering my own collection appropriately)

Sadly, as it turns out, Wizards of the Coast have three different numbering systems, which doesn't immediately seem to be compatible, namely, there's the 5-digit numbers with a TSR or WTC prefix (eg. Players Handbook TSR11550 and Psionics Handbook WTC11835), then there's the 9-digit numbers starting with a 1 (eg. Player's Handbook v3.5 1775240000) and then there's the 9-digit numbers starting with 8 or 9 (eg. Book of Vile Darkness 881610000 and Races of the Dragon 953697200)

So my question is: Does WotC's product numbering mean anything? Can I organize my collection of d20 books according to it?

  • \$\begingroup\$ How should I edit my question to make it more appropriate for this site? I really want a meaningful answer to this question since it has been bugging me for a while. I keep several other collections (films, video games, books, anime, manga, comics) and have a bit of an obsession with ordering things. This site is the best equipped site to answer my question. And I do believe that their are definite answers. (How to RPG shops/WotC order these internally?) \$\endgroup\$ – Duffadash Jul 25 '11 at 18:02
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Duffadash - Perhaps if you reworded the question to try to find the meaning behind the seemingly random official WotC internal organization it would have merit here. Otherwise you are asking for subjective opinions where 100 answers may be 100 right answers for everyone under the sun. \$\endgroup\$ – Sorcerer Blob Jul 25 '11 at 18:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @GPierce - Thank you for the suggestion, I've edited my post accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – Duffadash Jul 25 '11 at 18:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hopefully we can actually find a real question to the WotC internal ordering. I am curious now! \$\endgroup\$ – Sorcerer Blob Jul 26 '11 at 3:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I voted to close, which closed it, so that I could also vote to re-open it. \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Jul 26 '11 at 6:00

First off, as you noticed the numbering is worthless sadly although from all the different companies I've seen this seems to be common!

This is how I organize my D&D books: I separate Wizards products from all the others. That way if I want (or have a DM) who only allows core D&D material it's easily identified on the bookshelf. I then break down the books by uses. Is the book aimed towards DM's, players or a campaign setting?

It can be a bit hard to parse which books are DM focused/player focused as some of them are sort of up the individual owner. I usually divide campaign settings the same way.

I tend to organize my other supplements by company and then line/setting.


Genre (although likely you will be dealing with fantasy with d20), Sub Genre, then setting. Then another category of generic, broken down into categories like NPCS, treasure, campaign, etc. It how I organized my dozens of GURPS Books and my separate fantasy RPG collection (which includes a handful of d20 books).

  • \$\begingroup\$ That doesn't really help me with my D&D troubles though. Right now it's organized by the looks of the spine, and then chronologically/alphabetically where it makes sense, but it's a somewhat illogical system. \$\endgroup\$ – Duffadash Jul 25 '11 at 1:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you want a useful organization you need to figure out what you need out of that collection. If you are going to use it as part of running or preparing games then organize by topic. \$\endgroup\$ – RS Conley Jul 25 '11 at 3:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ However if you are a collector then organize by company, and use the product number or publication date to organize it. \$\endgroup\$ – RS Conley Jul 25 '11 at 3:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ My material is organized by topic. There are lists of stuff (monster, spells, etc), stuff that expand a specific area in more detail (castle, empire, nobles, romance, wilderness, etc), generic setting (cities, regions, npcs), or specific setting info. I have a four books on creating NPCs and they are all together despite being from different companies for different systems and different eras (80s, 90s, etc). \$\endgroup\$ – RS Conley Jul 25 '11 at 3:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RSC Expanding the answer with your clarifications would make it a much better answer. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 25 '11 at 3:37

From the numbers you have provided I see a couple patterns. (no idea what they mean) TSR/WTC 11xxx , then 17xxx0000 and 88xxx0000. Then there is 88xxx7200 and 95xxx7200. Try grouping them by those patterns and sorting them by the 'xxx' within those patterns.

You -might- be able to sort the books by order of the XXX. Try that, and see if a good ordering appears.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've tried writing down the numbers of a lot of WotC products, it seems to be almost completely random, with different Wizards products (d20, novels, star wars) in between D&D products. You can see the list I made below. I tried ordering it by digit #3-6, but nothing meaningful appeared. mediafire.com/?t0gd6qak85o5621 \$\endgroup\$ – Duffadash Jul 27 '11 at 4:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Duffadash Yuck! Sorry that was so unhelpful. I'll keep looking it over to try to find another pattern. I hope its not just "publish date" Thanks for the .txt file that must have been a lot of work. \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Jul 27 '11 at 5:30

My general tendency is to ignore a lot of the numbering and organize by utility and spine. Since Wizards tended to change the covers based on the subset, it's an easy way to work from. I know this isn't related to trying to organize purely by number, but it leads to less teeth-gnashing and looks better on the shelf.

Going left to right on my shelf, it works from:

Core Books (PHB, DMG, MMI) to Semi-Core (PHB2, DMG2, EPH) to Useful Reference (Miniatures Handbook, Spell Compendium, Rules Compendium, Magic Item Compendium, Dragon Compendium, Unearthed Arcana, Weapons of Legacy).

Following that are:

Complete Guides, Heroes books (Battle, Horror), and Monster enhancers (Lords of Madness, Libris Mortis, Drow of the Underdark, Fiendish Codex 1 & 2).

Then follows:

Monster Manuals (II-V, along with Fiend Folio), Environment Guides (Frostburn, Sandstorm, Stormwrack, Cityscape, and Dungeonscape), and Alignment books (Book of Exalted Deeds, Vile Darkness, Exemplars of Evil, Elder Evils).

And finishing out the spined books are:

Expeditions (Ravenloft, Undermountain, Greyhawk, and Demonweb).

After that come the books that don't fit specific niches (Dragon Magic, Tome of Battle, Tome of Magic, various 3.0 hardcovers).

  • \$\begingroup\$ -1 This doesn't answer the question as written at all. The question is trying to infer the seemingly arbitrary organization system as presented by Wizards of the Coast, not how you personally organize your books. If you can reword/write/edit your response to answer the question asked, I will remove my -1. \$\endgroup\$ – Sorcerer Blob Jul 26 '11 at 21:39

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.