Someone with a fair bit of cash could be the new owner of the manuscript for Deities & Demigods, a supplement for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first printed in 1980, which is now listed for auction on eBay. The unbound, hand-typed pages are accompanied by a letter from author and former TSR game designer James W. Ward.
Deities & Demigods was one of the first hardcover reference supplements released for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, updating and expanding the information found in the earlier Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes published in 1976. The book contained the notable first appearance of figures that would go on to become staples of Dungeons & Dragons’ mythology, including the orc god Gruumsh and dwarven creator god Moradin.
The manuscript is currently going for $11,100 (£7,832), and photos show a stack of slightly yellowed typewriter paper full of text, stat blocks and lore for the various pantheons outlined in Deities & Demigods. The seller, eBay user clay.74, has no immediate tie to Ward, but the author and TSR Games Twitter accounts have posted about the listing, which includes a letter typed and signed by Ward.
“What you hold here is a unique and amazing piece of TSR history,” it reads. “The editors at TSR gave me 750 copied sheets of paper with the form for what they wanted me to start with for each of the listings at TSR. I would then take a single sheet, put it in my typewriter and type up a deity or magic item, hero, or monster.”
“What you get to see here are all of my bad spelling, my grammar mistakes, and the true text of each deity I made for that book. This manuscript is an important piece of TSR history of one of the most controversial products at TSR.”
That controversy alludes to a brief licensing dispute between TSR and both Chaosium and author Michael Moorcock over the inclusion of the Cthulhu mythos and Melnibonéan gods, respectively. Ward and the other authors had received direct permission from Moorcock and Arkham House, Lovecraft’s licence holder at the time, to include the depiction of their pantheons in the book.
According to a 2017 Facebook post from Ward, game company Chaosium sent TSR a cease and desist letter after Deities & Demigods had published claiming it had purchased the licence for both inclusions - it was developing Moorcock’s Elric series into a board game and had promised while also working on what would eventually become Call of Cthulhu. Given Ward’s documentation and neither entity’s wish to turn the ordeal into a protracted and expensive court case, Chaosium was formally credited in the second printing before being removed from future versions beginning in 1981.
The manuscript on offer presumably includes all of those pages from the initial printing, along with editor’s notes and any other markings by Ward and the other TSR authors who worked on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons at the time. The winning bidder will receive the manuscript as-found in the cardboard box with “For Jim Ward” scrawled on one side in black marker, along with Ward’s letter. The auction runs through June 18th.