Collecting RPG magazines can be a profitable hobby, although those interested in getting maximum value for their investment should resist the temptation to read their purchases. Luckily, most of the collectible RPG magazines listed in this article are affordable enough that you can buy an additional copy.
When you start searching for RPG magazines to collect, be sure to keep the following grading guidelines in mind. The better condition a magazine is in, the greater chance you’ll have of making a profit. The guidelines listed are not exact, but they should give you a rough idea of what condition your magazine is in.
Mint – A flawless copy with no imperfections. Few magazines are in true mint condition.
Near Mint – Only has small imperfections such as minor staple discoloration or tiny indentations.
Very Fine – Small amount of cover wear. Slight staple tears.
Fine – Contains minor spine rolls and splits. The low end of fine might contain light pencil marks.
Very Good – Noticeable cover wear with possible staining.
Good – Page tears, no gloss on cover, or rounded corners.
Fair – Cover may be crumbled, and the pages have numerous tears or folds.
Poor – Severe examples of tears, water damage, or no cover.
Collecting Dungeons & Dragons RPG Magazines
The two major publications for Dungeons & Dragons are, appropriately enough, named Dungeon and Dragon. Dungeon magazine focused almost exclusively on publishing adventures, scenarios, and modules for the game, while Dragon had a broader focus.
The first publication from TSR was The Strategic Review, and its focus was on tabletop wargames. This publication was cancelled after seven issues to make way for Little Wars (again focusing on wargaming) and The Dragon (which specialized in RPGs). Little Wars folded after 13 issues, and The Dragon continued on as Dragon Magazine and later as Dragon. Dungeon Adventures, later known as Dungeon, was introduced on a bimonthly basis in 1986 and would run as a printed publication until 2007.
Dragon is the king of all collectible RPG magazines, and anyone wishing to begin a collection would be wise to focus on these issues. I found issue #1 in near mint condition at Noble Knight for $375, while a copy in very fine condition drew an asking price of $245. Other issues were located on eBay and at Noble Knight, with prices varying wildly: #3 ($75), #7 ($40), #8 ($35.99), #11 ($95), #26 ($21), and #46 ($19.95).
As for The Strategic Review, the forerunner to Dragon, I found both Vol. 1 No. 5 and Vol. 2 No. 2 for $39.95 on eBay. I would have expected these to be higher, but there’s always the possibility that the seller is underpricing their items. Or they could be in questionable condition.
I tracked down two #1 issues of Dungeon, with listings on both eBay and Noble Knight. The eBay version was listed in near mint/very fine condition and selling for $79.95, while the Noble Knight item was said to be in near mint condition and selling for $40. Issue #3 sold for $50 on eBay and $55 on Noble Knight.
Polyhedron started as the official publication of the Role Playing Gamers Association, but it merged with Dungeon in 2002. Issues one through twenty-five were listed in the $20 to $25 range, while a near mint #4 was being sold for $35 on eBay.
Other Collectible RPG Magazines
Many of the popular role-playing games from the ‘80s and ‘90s had some form a magazine devoted to them, even if it was published by fans. While it’s impossible to list them all in such limited space, here are some of the titles to keep an eye out for while building your RPG magazine collection.
Amberzine was devoted to the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game, and a total of 12 issues were released (issue 12 often includes #12 through #15). The first issue lists for over $100 on eBay, while issues three through eleven sell for $50 each on Noble Knight. These are rare, collectible items due to a limited print run.
Tunnels & Trolls, had a number of publications released by Outlaw Press. I couldn’t find any available for online purchase, so be sure to snap up any that become available. Titles to watch for include The Hobbit Hole and Dungeonier Digest.
The Travellers’ Digest was devoted to the sci-fi RPG known as Traveller, and a near mint copy of issue #2 was selling on eBay for $179.99. Issue #3 was valued at $139.99, while anything in the first ten issues sells in the $70 to $80 range. Expect issues #15 to #20 to list for around $35 (if they‘re in reasonable condition).
White Dwarf is still around, thanks in large part to the success of publisher Games Workshop’s line of Warhammer miniature wargames. A #1 issue in very good condition was selling at Noble Knight for $295, while another was listed at $195. Issues #2 through #5 were priced in the $50 to $70 range at Noble Knight.