RPG Soap (The Culling Dilemma)

Time for an RPG post and I think I'll go into my handy hat full of reader suggestions (ooh, almost empty, don't be shy) and I pull out... "Soap". Ok... How do I go about this? Hm...

Two associations come to mind: Cleaning up and soap opera. I think I covered soap opera well enough in Subplots: They're not 2nd rate plots anymore, so I guess I'll have to do the other thing. Let me clear my throat here, hem hem, ok, here we go...

Cleaning Up: Throwing Stuff Away Is Hard to Do
In fact, I find it damn near impossible to do. I don't mean used bags of chips or anything (though I've gamed with someone who actually kept those if you said it was a "gift"), but role-playing products. On occasion, I've sold some second-hand to my gaming store in exchange for something new, or participated in Christmas exchanges on RPG.net (of course, you get as much as you give), and almost always, I've kind of regretted the loss. Even when I didn't play specific game. Even if I never would.
I'm a pack rat. I admit it. And the pack rat's psychology holds that everything can be useful, potentially. And that's how I look at my gaming shelves. Never plan to play Underground? Hey, maybe there are some nice MEGS-compatible builds for that Days of Futures Past storyline! Have an adventure for Weird War II, but not the basic game system? I might convert it into a Dream Park scenario! Am I really going to launch a GURPS Vikings campaign? No, but those Viking proverbs made ginchy epigrams for my essay on Beowulf. What about that crappy Top Secret S.I. boxed set I got for 5$ in the bargain bin? Well, if I never use the Monaco stuff, there's always the off-chance of finding the Top Secret game as a pdf one day and THEN who'll be the master of the world? Huh?! WHO, I ASK YOU!!!

(Settle down, pack rat.)

That big collection of disparate stuff has actually molded my gaming. I'm consistently attracted to "multi-genre" games that allow me to draw on any of those books. Dream Park with its stand-alone scenarios in never to be repeated worlds... GURPS where the wealth of sourcebooks cajoles you into crossing the dimensions on a regular basis... Superhero games, because comics have the same pack rat attitude towards their subject matter. I'll often find myself considering to start a campaign on the basis of how much material (both on my shelves or on the net, I consider fan-made stuff just as good a resource) I can use if, let's say, the campaign goes on for years (they rarely do, but the packrat thinks in terms of potential, not reality).

Does your collection's size affect how you game? How do you feel after culling it? If you have an opinion, the comments section is for you!


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Great post and while I'm not a gamer, I too am a pack rate of all things collectable [or potentially as you put it].

It's funny I read this today because last night I spent about 2 hours trying to downsize by basement collection. I tossed out about 25 boxes of old Star Trek, Stargate and other assorted cards. It was painful to do but liberating.

So, I really feel your pain and there's a whole of other things I should throw out too. But WILL I BE ABLE TO DO IT?

Siskoid said...

Ah man, you just reminded me of that TV-sized box full of STCCG cards I have in a closet.

Jeff Moore said...

I just went through and culled my collection this past summer. I pulled a bunch of old stuff and we put it in a yard sale. The thing is, almost none of it sold (All the comic books I put out sold, but none of the RPG books sold that I know of.) So it went into the garage and for the most part I have been okay with it.

But, I did change my mind at least once in the last few months and "rescue" one of the game books. On the other hand, when I got the new Traveller Corebook by Mongoose, I tossed the T4 book out in the garage and didn't even blink.

There is a kind of "security blanket" thing going on with the fact that I can just go out into the garage and rescue a game if needed, but the garage is hardly weather proof and I am achingly aware that the longer they stay out there the less viable they will be.

The whole process has been kind of like wearing a nicotine patch. I am weening myself from the games and I imagine by yard sale time this year I will be ready to throw whatever remains in the garage away.



The Acrobatic Flea said...

I've been having culls every five or so years since I started buying gaming stuff... and I ALWAYS regret in later years; I also get rid of one or two that I "really should have held onto".

Then I end up buying it all back (where possible) via eBay (now) for probably more than I got selling it off in the first place. Much to the amusement of my friends and despair of my wife.

Or- as been the case recently - I discover the things I sold off for a few pence in job lots are now worth HUNDREDS of dollars and I'll never get them back :(

So I'm trying to stop now. Now I just look at all my stuff as "potential research material" ;)

Siskoid said...

Which blogs are a great justification for, I find!

De said...

Had to sell all of my RPG material for security deposit money after divorcing my first wife. Felt like cutting off a limb.

Tracking down the old FASA Star Trek stuff has been a nightmare. I had everything FASA published. I almost always get outbid on eBay and used copies of the more popular stuff online seem to command a king's ransom (the pair of Klingon sourcebooks, for example). The stuff published toward the end of the run (like White Flame) is now very hard to find.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Well put Acrobatic Flea. I really hate regret and I have been there. I hate having to try and buy stuff back. That happened from time to time as well. This brings us to our friend Siskoid's conundrum and ours.... maybe we should just keep hanging onto it. : )


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