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Dungeons & Dragons FAQ

What is D&D®?

D&D is an abbreviation for the Dungeons & Dragons® game, a fantasy roleplaying game published by TSR, Inc. (hereafter referred to as "TSR"). It made its first public appearance in 1973, hit the general market in 1974, and has been wildly popular ever since. It is generally referred to as "the grandfather of all roleplaying games." It was later revised to become part of AD&D®, or the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons® game. AD&D is the most widely recognized and played roleplaying game.
 
To prevent confusion, "*D&D" is used as a generic term referring to all of the forms this game has taken over the years.
 
What is the history of the game now called AD&D?

E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson were tabletop wargamers; that is, they used lead miniatures to reconstruct historical battles or construct their own battles. Their favorite era to set their battles in was the medieval period.
 
Gygax, with Jeff Perren's help, codified a set of rules for conducting both individual and group combat. They and Brian Blume published these rules through Guidon Games (which consisted of Gygax and the others and was run out of Gygax's basement) in 1969 under the as the ChainmailTM game.
 
At some point, their battles received an injection of fantasy. (Dave Arneson, possibly under the immediate influence of a Star Trek episode, is usually credited with actually starting the ball rolling.) Originally, the fantasy elements were limited to special military units for wizards and heroes. Eventually, however, the basic concept behind the existing idea of the play-by-mail military campaign, where each player took the part of a ruler who sent out armies as well as engaged in diplomacy and intrigue, was soon combined with the game. Soon, the wizard and hero "units" were removed from the battlefield and sent upon individual quests of mythic scope, as Gygax and Arneson discovered that playing a single character was as much or more fun than playing an entire military unit or army.
 
One of these first times a group of heroes and wizards took on a fantastic mission took place in 1970 when Dave Arneson created a scenario in which a group of adventurers had to sneak into a castle and open the gates from the inside. He brought his scenario to Gen Con 4 (1971). Gygax, who already had some individual adventuring guidelines of his own, was one of the people who played it. Gygax and Arneson then pooled their efforts to create a game specifically intended for fantasy adventuring.
 
The concept of character advancement was added to the game via experience points, levels of proficiency in combat and spell use, and a few other refinements. Thus individuals could grow in personality and power instead of just being anonymous members of battle units.
 
This game had now grown far beyond wargaming or even the Chainmail rules. The group called it The Fantasy Game and proceeded to take it around to all the game manufacturers, including Avalon Hill. Every single company turned the game down, usually because it seemed too open-ended and did not incorporate a way to win.
 
Gygax and Don Kaye, later joined by Blume and Arneson, were not about to let mass rejection stop them. In 1973, they formed their own company, which they named Tactical Studies Rules after a local wargaming club, the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association. This company was formed to market the "fantasy wargame to be played with paper and pencil" that they renamed Dungeons & Dragons (after a suggestion by Gygax's wife, Mary). The game first appeared at the 1973 EasterCon, had a limited availability throughout 1973, and the first print run of 1,000 copies was officially released (in a white box) in January of 1974. It sold out within the year.
 
The game consisted of three booklets: Men and Magic, Monsters and Treasure, and Wilderness & Dungeon Adventures. It was also recommended that owners get a copy of Chainmail as well as the Avalon Hill game Outdoor Survival. There were three classes: Fighting Man, Magic-User, and Cleric. The terms were intentionally vague and much research was done to prevent putting anything into the game that actually resembled real-world magic systems. The authors eventually decided to base the game's magic system on the fantasy writings of Jack Vance. Thus, Magic-Users must memorize spells daily, and once cast, the spells are erased from a Magic-User's mind and must be memorized again. There were also four different races: human, dwarf, hobbit, and elf. Objections and legal complaints from the Tolkien estate caused the "hobbit" race to be changed to the "halfling" race later. Humans could be any class and could attain any level of proficiency. Dwarves and hobbits were limited to being Fighting Men and were restricted in the levels they could reach. Elves could alternate between Fighting Man and Magic-User, but they could only switch classes at the beginning of an adventure. Finally, there were three alignments based on the fantasy writings of Michael Moorcock: Law, Neutrality, and Chaos. The original intentions of the game equated law with good and chaos with evil.
 
At this point, both Gygax and Arneson were running their own campaigns using the game. When the game started getting somewhat popular after the first year or so, they decided to publish some of the details of their campaigns along with some expansion rules for the game. This product was the original Greyhawk. It introduced the Thief character class and had notes on magic, monsters, and more. Then they published Blackmoor, which introduced the Monk and Assassin classes and included the very first module: Temple of the Frog. Then came Eldritch Wizardry, which introduced the Druid class and psionics. The last book of this series was Gods, Demigods, and Heroes, which listed several pantheons for use with the game. During this period, Tactical Studies Rules also began publishing two magazines. In the spring of 1975, it started The Strategic Review (note the creative acronym), and in the summer of 1976, it first published The Dragon (soon renamed to Dragon® magazine).
 
In 1975, Arneson and Gygax parted ways, and Don Kaye had a fatal heart attack. Kaye's wife decided, along with Gygax and Blume, to break up the company. Gygax and Blume went on to create TSR Hobbies, Inc. later that year.
 
At this point, the game was comprised of many rules spread throughout numerous books, supplements, and magazines. In addition, Gygax had amassed a pile of campaign notes and new rules that he wished to add to the game. It was decided that a new edition of the game should be released, but instead of calling it a second edition and discontinuing the first, TSR launched Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. This expanded and updated version commenced with the release of the Monster Manual in 1977. It was followed in 1978 by the Player's Handbook and in 1979 by the Dungeon Master's Guide. TSR continued to produce the slightly renamed Basic Dungeons & Dragons.
 
AD&D was originally intended to be a standardized system that combined all of the new and updated rules into one location. It would therefore be the version of choice for tournaments, as everyone using it would be able to easily follow the same set of rules.
 
The "Advanced/Basic" D&D game lines were apparently executed in an attempt to work around some legal difficulties. When Arneson and Gygax had parted in 1975, Arneson, under the terms of the original partnership, still held some royalty rights to the D&D game. When Gygax went ahead with the new edition, Arneson took TSR to court. The matter was settled in 1981 when both parties signed a mutual agreement.
 
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons skyrocketed in popularity. TSR came out with sourcebook after sourcebook and published many of the now-classic adventure modules set in the world of Greyhawk®. The first issue of Polyhedron newszine was published in 1981. In 1984, TSR released the Dragonlance® saga, a grand epic detailed in both novels and a series of adventure modules. This was followed in 1986 by the first issue of Dungeon® magazine. The very next year, the world that saw birth in Ed Greenwood's home campaign was published as the Forgotten Realms® campaign setting.
 
By the end of the 1980s, the AD&D was enormous. Its rules and the campaign information for the many fictional places in which characters could exist sprawled across more products than when AD&D was first created. TSR (by this time, the word "Hobbies" had been dropped from the name) decided to once again create a new edition and roll a lot of the new rules into the core books, as well as regularizing, clarifying, and revamping many of the existing rules. Gamers would again have all of the necessary rules in one place, tournament players could once again have a common rules foundation to base play on, and new players could locate a clear starting point into the game. Thus was 2nd edition AD&D born in February 1989.
 
However, just as it had previously, the game ballooned out over succeeding years as players' demands for new information and more options drove the release of additional sourcebooks and several new campaign settings. In 1995, TSR revamped the look of the 2nd edition AD&D core books and came out with three sourcebooks designed to be optional changes to the system. These optional rules provided players with different ways to create characters, to resolve combat, to have their characters think about and use magic, and to play high-level characters.
 
In 1997, Wizards of the Coast, Inc., publishers of the wildly popular Magic: The Gathering® trading card game, acquired TSR. In 2000, Wizards of the Coast will publish the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the wholly reworked successor to 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The Player's Handbook is scheduled for release in August, the Dungeon Master® Guide in September, and the Monster Manual in October.
 
I've found a mistake in the latest TSR module. Where can I report it?
If you discover a major typographical error in a TSR publication (such as the infamous "damage/dawizard" search-and-replace error), a reversed or missing map or table, or any other mistake, feel free to write to TSR and report it. The contact person for errata reports is Keith Strohm. He will see to it that the appropriate people at TSR are notified of the error.
 
There is not much need to post reports of typos or errata for all to see unless they actually affect game play in some way, such as the Fighter/Ranger/Paladin experience table heading problem in the first printing of the 2nd edition AD&D Player's Handbook or mislabeled maps in modules.
 
What do those letter/number combinations on older modules and handbooks stand for?

Up until late 1994, TSR gave every product an alphanumeric code as well as a numeric product code. The letter codes were based in some way on the product, and the number following the letter designated what number a product was in the series. For example, Against the Giants was G1-3, the Vault of the Drow was D1-3, and Queen of the Demonweb Pits was Q1. Some codes were based on other factors; for example, competition modules for tournament use were given a "C" designation, and the special series was labeled with an "S."
 
This use carried over into 2nd edition, with the Player's Handbook reference series (PHBR), Dungeon Master Guide reference series (DMGR), and historic reference series (HR), as well as the GA/R (general adventure/reference), RA/R (Ravenloft® adventure/reference), WGA/R (World of Greyhawk adventure/reference), FA/R (Forgotten Realms adventure/reference) series. Late in 1994, TSR decided that this system was getting out of hand and dropped it. Now products are only coded by product number, a four- or five-digit code that TSR uses to track its products.
 
Wasn't there a Saturday morning cartoon about *D&D?
 
Yes, there was. Dungeons & Dragons premiered on September 17, 1983 on CBS and ran for two seasons. The main characters were real-world people who rode the new D&D roller coaster at the local theme park and somehow got transported by the Dungeon Master to a fantasy world. Each of the main characters had a personal magic item, and a vast majority of the show's plots revolved around the evil Venger trying (and failing) to get their items so that he could become all-powerful. The heroes spent most of their time trying to find portals back to the real world and failing to use every one they found for one reason or another. All of the episodes were available on video at one point, though they are currently without a distributor, so it may be possible to find them at conventions, in video stores, for sale on the Web, or elsewhere.
The main characters were:
 
  • Hank (Ranger): The leader. His bow shot magic arrows that never missed.
  • Eric (Cavalier): The scaredy-cat (which wasn't much like a cavalier should behave, but that's another matter). His shield projected a force field.
  • Presto/Andrew (Wizard): The comedian. He could pull items out of his hat, but rarely, if ever, got what he wanted.
  • Sheila (Thief): The second in command. Her cloak made her invisible when she put on the hood.
  • Diana (Acrobat): Her 10-foot pole could extend 10 feet on command.
  • Bobby (Barbarian): Sheila's kid brother. His club caused a miniature earthquake when he struck the ground with it and struck powerful blows against any enemies he hit with it.
  • Uni (Unicorn): Token cute creature. How can you hate a show that features a baby unicorn with big, blue eyes and a plaintive bleat?
  • Dungeon Master (DM): The DM, of course. He was a short, bald guy who talked in riddles and sent the party into the face of certain doom. They always managed to solve his riddles and survive, yet always failed to get home.
  • Venger (Fiend): The bad guy. He had one horn, fangs, and rode a winged nightmare (a black horse with bat wings). He always had some scheme to take over the world, and it usually involved stealing the heroes' weapons first.
  • Tiamat (Dragon): The ultra-evil girl. What's big, has five heads and a nasty temper, is mindlessly evil, and wants revenge on Venger for something that happened in the first episode? I don't know, but it's standing right behind you. . . .
What *D&D-specific comic books have been published?
 
There have been a number of comic series over the years that have dealt with various TSR worlds. DC published most in conjunction with TSR. Here is a list of known *D&D comic books:
  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (DC) #1-36, Annual #1
  • Avatar (DC) #1-3
  • Birthright®: The Serpent's Eye (TSR freebie)
  • Dragonlance (DC) #1-34
  • Dragonlance (TSR freebie)
  • Dragonlance Saga (TSR) #1-3
  • Dragonlance Saga (DC) #4-5
  • Dragon Strike® (Marvel) #1
  • Fineous Fingers collection (TSR)
  • Forgotten Realms (DC) #1-25, Annual #1
  • Forgotten Realms: The Grand Tour (TSR freebie)
  • Gammarauders (DC) #1-10
  • Labyrinth of Madness (TSR freebie)
  • Planescape® (TSR freebie) [finished, but never printed]
  • SnarfQuest collection (TSR)
  • Spelljammer® (DC) #1-15
  • TSR Worlds (DC) Annual #1

Whaever happened to SnarfQuest, What's New?, Wormy, and Yamara?

For those who don't recognize those names, all four were very popular, long-running sequential art features (comic strips) in Dragon magazine at one time or another, and references to and queries about these regularly crop up. (Other regular features have been Fineous Fingers, Pinsom, Tal'n'Alan, The Twilight Empire (Robinson's War), Floyd, and Knights of the Dinner Table.) In alphabetical order:
 
SnarfQuest by Larry Elmore began in issue #75 and ran for several years. The episodes were collected together into a single book in the late 1980s (long since out of print, unfortunately), and a special one-shot episode appeared in Dragon #200. Larry currently works freelance, and his material graces the pages of many TSR products.
 
What's New? with Phil & Dixie by Phil Foglio first appeared shortly before issue #50 and ran until issue #84, when Phil went on to work on other projects. One of those projects was the comic book adaptation of Robert Asprin's Another Fine Myth; Phil, Dixie, and the dragon made a special guest appearance in issue #5. The entirety of the Dragon run of What's New? and two new episodes ("How They Met" and the long-threatened "Sex and D&D") were published in two parts in 1991 and 1994 by Palliard Press. After a hiatus from regular publication of some years, new episodes of What's New? themed around trading card games appeared in the pages of the Duelist magazine. With the Duelist ceasing publication to become Top Deck magazine, the location of future What's New? episodes is still up in the air.
 
Wormy, by Dave Trampier, ran concurrently with What's New? and SnarfQuest. Its run ended suddenly in the middle of a story, and this has been the center of no small amount of confusion and consternation on the part of its fans. However, Dave Trampier is still alive and well. He does not currently work in gaming or comics, however.
 
Yamara was the most recent strip of these four. It ended its several-year run in 1996. A Yamara collection (up through at least the episode from Dragon #202 and including descriptions of each of the characters) was released around 1994. It was originally published by Steve Jackson Games and is currently available on the Yamara website. Yamara is now available as a web strip at www.yamara.com. The creators of Yamara can be reached at Yamara@earthlink.net.
 
Wasn't there a TSR module that was banned?

No, there have not been any banned modules. There was, however, one that was recalled and re-released in a different form, thus making the original a rare find.
 
In 1980, an adventure entitled Palace of the Silver Princess was written for TSR. It was published in 1981 for basic D&D characters as module B3. It had an orange cover. Shortly after publication, TSR discovered several serious flaws in the content and presentation of the module. It was recalled. Every copy of B3 that TSR could locate was returned and destroyed. The module was then heavily revised, fixing the errors and inserting new art. It was re-released shortly thereafter with a green cover.
 
However, not every copy of the original version was returned. The first time this was revealed was at the auction at the 1984 Gen Con game fair, where one came up for sale and went for $300. A couple of other copies have come up for sale since, but none have sold for quite that much.
 
Aren't the new printings of the core books actually the third edition of AD&D?

The latest printings of the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master Guide (with the black cover graphic treatments) are definitely not third edition AD&D. They are merely new graphic treatments of the same content as in the earlier 2nd edition AD&D books. If you read the introduction to the new printing, it is made quite clear that this is not a third edition. The third edition of Dungeons & Dragons will be released in 2000, beginning in August. It will be released under the name Dungeons & Dragons, dropping the now superfluous "advanced."
 
What was removed from Deities & Demigods?

The first printing of Deities & Demigods included the mythoi of Cthulhu (based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft and others) and Melnibone (based on the work of Michael Moorcock). TSR was later asked to remove them from the book for legal reasons. When the book went into its second printing, they were removed. Later the book was republished under the name Legends & Lore. The two mythoi remained absent.
 
When Legends & Lore was updated to 2nd edition AD&D, several more mythoi were removed to allow space for the new format of the product and expanded content on the mythoi included. The Babylonian, Finnish, nonhuman, and Sumerian mythoi were omitted. The Central American mythos was renamed the Aztec mythos. Contrary to rumor, the Newhon mythos was never removed and, in fact, was included in 2nd edition Legends & Lore. Nonhuman deities were reintroduced in Monster Mythology. Other products with notable discussions of deities include Faiths & Avatars, Powers & Pantheons, and Demihuman Deities (the three large Forgotten Realms campaign setting deity lorebooks), and the Player's Guide to Greyhawk and the Scarlet Brotherhood (for the Greyhawk setting).
 
Was Legends & Lore really originally a 1st edition book?
Yes. Legends & Lore was originally a reprinting of Deities & Demigods with a new title and cover. It was later recast into a 2nd edition book. The 2nd edition version contains new content.
 
What are the major changes in AD&D 2nd edition from 1st edition?

What follows is a list of the major differences between 1st edition AD&D and 2nd edition AD&D. Because some of the changes actually occurred within later 1st edition books (such as Unearthed Arcana and the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide) or in the pages of Dragon magazine, players who adopted the rules presented in those books saw fewer changes to the core rules when 2nd edition came out.
 
Characters
  • Monk and assassin were removed as standard character classes. The four basic classes have been reshaped into the warrior, wizard, priest, and rogue groups into which all classes fall. The fighter, mage, cleric, and thief are classes that are the equals of the ranger, druid, bard, and other classes.
  • Druids can now progress up to 20th level and have a new progression table.
  • Thief abilities now have a degree of player choice in their improvement.
  • Rangers have been reworked. They now get a d10 for Hit Dice, no mage spells, and so on. They also are able to use two weapons at once in combat in certain situations with no attack penalties.
  • Wizards may now have specialties (for example, illusionist, necromancer, and so on) based on the wizard spell schools. A specialist has enhanced spell capabilities within his or her specialty. The mage class is but one member of the wizard group, as is each of the specialist wizards.
  • Mages' Hit Dice extend only to 10d4 instead of 11d4.
  • Druid spells are now mixed in with clerical spells to form a single priest spell list.
  • Illusionist spells are now mixed in with mage spells to form a single wizard spell list.
  • Nonweapon proficiencies have been added to the core rules as an option.
  • Half-orcs are no longer a standard player character race.
  • Some ability score tables (for example, the Dexterity table in the instance of Dexterity bonuses) have been changed.
  • Clerics now have spheres of influence into which all clerical spells have been divided instead of automatically having access to every spell on the list. Clerics have access to one set of spheres and druids have access to another overlapping (but not identical) set of spheres.
  • Specialty priests are new priest classes that have their own unique sets of spheres of influence and may have different granted powers, combat abilities, class weapon and armor restrictions, and ability score or racial requirements.
  • Bards have been totally reworked and are now in the rogue group with thieves.
  • Experience points given per gold piece of treasure acquired is now an optional method for assigning experience.
  • Optional experience bonuses may be given for actions that reinforce the nature of one's class (for example, spellcasting) and for roleplaying. The majority of experience is given for scenario completion.
  • Saving throws no longer always fail on a roll of 1.
Combat
  • Segments no longer exist. That is, casting times are given, but the casting time number represent an arbitrary short period that is not directly a measure of time but instead optionally modifies the initiative roll. See below for how this affects spellcasting.
  • A d10 is rolled for initiative instead of a d6. To the roll are added optional modifiers (casting time, weapon speed factors, and so on).
  • The THAC0 system is now standard. Combat charts with six 20s no longer exist. A natural 20 always hits; a natural 1 always misses.
  • Unarmored combat has been greatly simplified.
  • Weapon size and length effects have been deleted from standard rules.
  • (Optional) Weapon specialization is possible for the cost of a certain number of weapon proficiency slots. For example, a 1st-level fighter could specialize in the longsword, giving him three attacks per 2 rounds at +1 to attack/+2 to damage bonus.
Spells
  • Damaging spells (for example, fireball, lightning bolt, and so on) are limited to a maximum number of dice of damage (10, for fireball and lightning bolt).
  • Almost all spells common to both 1st edition and 2nd edition have had minor details changed or added (for example, identify has different percentage chances to determine the powers of the item identified). Sometimes even the level of the spell has changed. This is especially true (by necessity) for any spell that existed at different levels for different classes.
  • Illusions now do temporary damage instead of real damage if they are believed. They can kill by system shock or cause their victims to faint under certain circumstances.
  • Some spells that cause aging in the caster now age by different amounts (for example, the aging caused by casting wish has changed from 3 years to 5 years). A system shock roll is required for all magical aging, whether it is part of the casting or a result of the spell. (For example, if you are hasted, age 1 year and roll a system shock survival roll to see if death ensues.)
  • Mages must now be 9th level rather than 7th level before they can scribe scrolls.
  • The number of wizard spells omitted from 1st edition to 2nd edition: 12.
  • The number of wizard spells added in 2nd edition: 89.
  • The number of priest spells omitted from 1st edition to 2nd edition: 11.
  • The number of priest spells added in 2nd edition: 43.
  • Casting times of less than a round are now optional initiative modifiers and not the actual time a spell takes to cast. Spells with casting times of a round or more go into effect at the end of the last round, turn, or other time period of casting time.
Monsters
  • Many monsters have had some details changed, if only the number of experience points awarded for their defeat. Experience points awarded are somewhat higher in 2nd edition than in 1st edition. Some changes include a strengthening of the creatures' combat abilities. For example, the balor (formerly known as the Type VI demon) now has a vorpal sword. The changes are often minimal in nature, and the reader will recognize an orc as an orc. Only giants, dragons, and Outer Planar creatures have had major reworking (see below).
  • Some monsters from 1st edition were removed from the core collections of monsters (either the Monstrous Compendium, Volumes 1 and 2, or the Monstrous Manual tome). Others were added from books and scenarios other than the 1st edition core monster books (the Monster Manual and the Monster Manual II). Outer Planar creatures (demons, devils, and so on) were originally solely detailed in supplementary 2nd edition texts. Some have been added to the core Monstrous Manual book.
  • Dragons have been completely reworked. In general, they are much more powerful than their 1st edition counterparts. They are also rolled up differently than in 1st edition, have magic resistance, cannot be subdued, have physical attack forms other than just their claws and bites, and so on.
Miscellaneous
  • Many other small changes were made, such as to open doors rolls, to surprise rolls, to monetary exchange values and coin weights. A death due to massive damage rule was added, and artifact descriptions were removed from the Dungeon Master Guide. Most changes were minor, and there are too many to list here.
What do those weird abbreviations mean?
 
Here is a guide to the most common abbreviations and acronyms found in online discussions of TSR products.
 
*D&D Any version of the D&D game
  AD&D, ADnD Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
  AD&D1 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 1st edition
  AD&D2 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 2nd edition
  AD&D2R Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, revised 2nd edition
  AD&D2.5 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, revised 2nd edition
  AoE Area of effect
  BD&D, BDnD Basic Dungeons & Dragons, as opposed to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
  BoA Book of Artifacts
  BR Birthright campaign setting
  C*HB Complete [class] Handbook series; Fighter's, Priest's, Thief's, Wizard's, Psionics, Ranger's, Bard's, Druid's, Paladin's, Barbarian's, Necromancer's, Ninja's
  CB*
Complete Book of [race] series; Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes & Halflings, Humanoids
  CT, C&T Player's Option®: Combat & Tactics
  D&D, DnD Dungeons & Dragons, any version except Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
  DDG Deities & Demigods
  DL Dragonlance campaign setting
  DMG Dungeon Master Guide, any edition
  DMG1 Dungeon Master's Guide, 1st edition
  DMG2 Dungeon Master Guide, 2nd edition
  DMG2R Dungeon Master Guide, revised 2nd edition
  DMO Dungeon Master Option book(s)
  DS Dark Sun® campaign setting
  FR Forgotten Realms campaign setting
  GH Greyhawk campaign setting
  GM Game Master
  HLC Dungeon Master Option: High Level Campaigns
  HW Hollow World® campaign setting
  L&L, LL Legends & Lore
  MC Monstrous Compendium® tome (usually followed by the appendix number)
  MM Monster Manual/Monstrous ManualTM tome
  MMII Monster Manual II
  MoP Manual of the Planes
  MUD Multiple-user dungeon
  OA Oriental Adventures rulebook
  OD&D, ODnD Old/original D&D, as opposed to the later Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
  PBeM Play by email
  PBWWW Play by World Wide Web
  PH Player's Handbook, any edition
  PH1 Player's Handbook, 1st edition
  PH2 Player's Handbook, 2nd edition
  PH2R Player's Handbook, revised 2nd edition
  PO Player's Option books
  PS Planescape campaign setting
  RL Ravenloft campaign setting
  RPGA Roleplaying Game AssociationTM network
  SP, S&P Player's Option: Skills & Powers
  Sp&M, SPaM Player's Option: Spells & Magic
  ToM Tome of Magic
  UA Unearthed Arcana
  WoG, WG World of Greyhawk
  WotC Wizards of the Coast; also referred to as Wizards
 
How do you pronounce...?
 
Here are some commonly mispronounced words and their dictionary pronunciations where they are available and common-practice pronunciations or TSR rulings where they not. For more general pronunciation help, see the article "Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd" by Frank Mentzer in Dragon #93 (Jan. 1985). For help pronouncing words and names specific to the Forgotten Realms setting, see the Forgotten Realms box and the trilogy of Forgotten Realms deity books. For help pronouncing the names of the various tanar'ri and baatezu types, see MC8 Outer Planes Appendix.
 
Aarakocra: a-rah-KO-krah
Arquebus: AR-keh-bus
Baatezu: bay-AH-teh-zu or BAH-teh-zu
Bardiche: bar-DEESH
Bulette: boo-LAY
Catoblepus: kuht-OH-bleh-puhs, also kah-TA-ble-pus
Chatkcha: CHAT-k-cha (thri-kreen throwing weapon)
Chimera: ky-MAEE-ruh, or ky-MAIR-ruh (rhymes with "care of")
Chitin: KITE-in
Cuirass: KWEE-rass
Drow: DRAU (as in drowsy; rhymes with now and how)
Dweomer: DWEH-mer (rhymes with "hem her"), or DWIH-mer; sometimes DWEE-mer
Falchion: FAL-chun
Geas: GEE-ass, or GYASS (both with a hard "g")
Gygax: GY-gaks
Halberd: HAL-berd, (not HAL-bread)
Herb: ERB
Ioun: EYE-oon
Iuz: YOOZ or EE-uz
Ixitxachitl: iks-it-ZATCH-i-til or ik-zit-zah-chih-tull
Lich: LITCH (as in ditch), *not* LIKE or LICK
Lycanthrope: LY-kun-throhp, LY-kan-throhp (like lichen rope/my tan rope)
Lycanthropy: ly-KAN-thruh-pee
Mage: MAGE (as in age), *not* MADGE (as in badger)
Melee: MAY-lay
Otyugh: AHT-yuhg
Sahuagin: sah-HWAH-gin
Scythe: syth (rhymes with tithe)
Svirfneblin: svirf-NEB-lin
Tanar'ri: tah-NAHR-ree
Tarrasque: tah-RASK
THAC0: either THAK-oh, or THAKE-oh
Vargouille: var-GWEEL
Vrock: vrahk
Wyvern: WIH-vern (as in did learn), or WHY-vern
Zaknafein: zack-NAY-fee-in
 
What magazine resources are there for *D&D?
TSR publishes two magazines. They are aptly named Dungeon and Dragon, both of which are commonly available at most stores where roleplaying games are sold and by subscription. Dragon magazine concentrates on the roleplaying industry, with news, previews, and new rules and additions to various games, especially *D&D. Dungeon magazine includes new adventures and modules, usually for use with *D&D, but adventures for other games are often included as well.
 
Members of the Roleplaying Game Association network (the RPGA® network) also receive a copy of Polyhedron® newszine as part of their subscription. The magazine is by RPGA members (some of whom are professionals in the game industry) for RPGA members. It contains a variety of interesting articles, some of which fit into a number of campaign settings, some of which are geared toward transmitting member information.
 
Subscription information for Dungeon magazine, Dragon magazine, and the RPGA network can be found at their specific pages on the website.
 
What books do I need in order to play *D&D?
Technically, you need absolutely nothing to play. A pencil, paper, and dice certainly are useful, but they can easily be borrowed. The rules can be explained by the Dungeon Master (DM) or more experienced players. In addition, you might want to pick up the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game, which introduces new players to roleplaying and to the Dungeons & Dragons game. It's available in most hobby stores.
 
It is usually most convenient to have a personal copy of the rules to read and reference during and outside of gaming sessions. Because of this, most players purchase the Player's Handbook. The Complete Handbook for your character's class or race may be a welcome addition, as may the Player's Option books, but they are not required. Beyond that, which books you use or purchase are a matter of personal preference.
 
What books do I need in order to be a Dungeon Master (DM)?
 
Unlike players, for whom it is possible to play with just pencil and paper, a DM generally needs a bit more in the way of rulebooks. The minimum needed by most people to DM a satisfying *D&D game is the Dungeon Master Guide, the Player's Handbook, and the Monstrous ManualTM tome. These three references are the core of the game. Everything else adds more options and further detail.
 
What happened to my favorite TSR campaign world?
Some campaign worlds start off with very strong sales and then slowly dwindle down to the point where the sale of new products can't support continued line development of the world. This doesn't mean that no one is playing in the world any more, only that many players and Dungeon Masters purchased the original campaign setting box or hardcover and then went their own way with the setting. Because they didn't need more supplemental products, they didn't buy them. TSR views such drops in sales as consumers voting with their dollars and uses this information in its decisions about when to drop a line in favor of something new. In any event, as a business, TSR can’t continue to produce products if the products don’t at least break even. However, with various electronic venues becoming more popular and cost-effective, TSR is looking into a number of options that would allow it to support many of its presently inactive lines on some level.
 
In addition, some campaign worlds are designed to be limited in scope. They are published for a certain number of years, after which they are no longer actively supported. The Al-Qadim® setting was one of these. It was conceived as a two-year project, but due to its popularity, it was extended an extra year.
 
The only new material for inactive worlds appears in Dragon magazine, Dungeon magazine, Polyhedron newszine, and online at the webpage. It's always possible that TSR will resurrect one of these worlds for a relaunch, but there are no plans to do so right now. See the following question for a list of which campaign worlds are currently active and which are inactive.
 
How many campaign worlds are there?
 
TSR has produced quite a number of campaign worlds over the years. The campaign setting you choose to play in is largely a matter of personal taste. TSR continues to develop a number of active campaign settings. A large number of inactive campaign settings also exist that you might find in for sale at places like E-Bay, rec.games.frp.marketplace, in hobby stores, at convention auctions, and through other sources.
 
Active Campaign Settings
These campaign settings are those for which you'll see a steady flow of new products. In addition, you'll see more articles in our magazines (Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron) for these settings than for inactive worlds.
 
Dragonlance

The Dragonlance setting takes place on the world of Krynn. The epic saga of Dragonlance and is well known through the series of novels and modules that have told it. On Krynn, gold has little or no value, as the world is on a steel standard. Clerics are relatively unheard of. The focus for the world is the ongoing battle between the deities Takhisis (evil; a chromatic dragon) and Paladine (good; a platinum dragon). Dragons are more active on Krynn than elsewhere, as they are strongly polarized by the Takhisis-Paladine battle. Dragonlance: Fifth Age takes place long after the War of the Lance, and uses the SAGA® system rather than the AD&D game. The Dragonlance line is primarily supported through novels, not game products.
 
TSR has recently released the Dragonlance Classics volume, which collects all of the original 15 classic adventures into a single volume and provides both AD&D and SAGA rules to play them by. It's available at the online store.
 
Forgotten Realms

The Forgotten Realms campaign setting is the classic world of sword and sorcery. The most exhaustively detailed fantasy world ever developed, the Forgotten Realms campaign offers something for every player, regardless of his or her tastes. Whether your interests lie with the subtle political machinations of the city of Waterdeep or stretch into the dangerous dungeon delves that populate this land, you'll find what you're looking for in the Realms.
 
Faerûn, the main continent of the Realms, is intended to be a generic *D&D campaign setting. It has many similarities to medieval Earth. It also has enormous cities, many countries with a foreign and exotic flavor, hordes of nonplayer characters for a DM to use or not (as desired), and more room to maneuver than anyone could ever need. Wild magic and dead magic zones, where magic can surge in power or not work at all, spice up the use of magic when the DM thinks things may have become too predictable. Many supplements, including adventures, campaign expansions, lorebooks, and sourcebooks have been published for the Forgotten Realms setting, and a lot more are on the way.
 
Greyhawk
 
The Greyhawk campaign setting is the default setting you're using when you're playing the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game. Many of the spells, magical items, artifacts, and other references in the game all relate back to this setting and its nonplayer characters, history, and geography. The Greyhawk setting was the first widely known campaign world and was originally published in the early 1980s. Most of the classic adventures, such as Tomb of Horrors, White Plume Mountain, Against the Giants, and others, were set in the world of Greyhawk.
The goal of the Greyhawk campaign is to allow players and Dungeon Masters to explore a world largely of their own creation. Adventures and other supplements produced by TSR provide a very general framework for the world, but much of the source material (stories, politics, and so on) is provided by each individual DM.
 
Any *D&D core material you see (starting in late 1999) uses the Greyhawk campaign setting as the default. This means we'll be giving you fantastic adventures, spells, magical items, and other treasures that can be used in any *D&D campaign world. But, the products they appear in will use Greyhawk references and names that allow you to locate them within the Greyhawk setting rather than purely generic names and references.
 
Inactive Campaign Worlds

In our 25-year history, TSR has produced a large number of campaign settings. As customer interests have changed, these campaign settings have been retired to allow us to concentrate on future products. It's possible that you might see a product or two released from TSR in the future that deals with these settings, but the primary sources for new material about them are Dragon magazine, Dungeon magazine, and Polyhedron newszine.
 
Al-Qadim: This setting is located far to the south of Faerûn, the core of the Forgotten Realms setting, but it can easily be placed on any campaign world or exist as a setting in its own right. It encompasses the genre of the exotic tales of the Arabian Nights, with djinn, magic lamps, Sinbad-like sailors, emirs, and the ever-present Hand of Fate. It is intended that players in the Al-Qadim setting use Al-Qadim characters, but it is possible to take outsider (regular *D&D) characters into the Al-Qadim setting.
 
Birthright: In this setting, the players are characters of noble birth. They must deal with intrigue, spying, wars, the occasional adventure, and succession to the throne. Special powerful magic spells whose power is drawn from the land one controls as well as the possibility of magical traits caused by royal bloodlines are also thrown into the mix.
 
Dark Sun: Athas, the world of the Dark Sun setting, is a metal-poor desert world, which by itself makes life quite a challenge. Add to that the fact that almost everyone on the planet has some degree of psionic ability, and you get a pretty lethal environment. Clerics are different in that they are either templars, who are granted spells by their sorcerer-kings, or clerics, who gain spells by worshiping the elements around them. Mages, too, are changed. All magic is powered directly by the life force of the world around them, which tends to be a detriment to the continued existence of any plants and animals in the area of a mage casting spells.
 
Kara-Tur: This setting is located far to the east of Faerûn, the core of the Forgotten Realms setting, but like the Al-Qadim setting, it can be located anywhere a DM wants to put it or run as a setting in its own right. It is an Asianlike setting, with much of the flavor of ancient China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and even accents of Malaysia and India. The setting features the use of martial arts, lots of intrigue, highly civilized empires and courts, family honor, and "barbaric" horse riders. It is intended for use with oriental characters, but regular characters can easily be worked in.
 
Masque of the Red Death: This setting is based on the Ravenloft setting but with a twist. It's set in the equivalent of the Victorian era, but in a world where magic has existed since the very dawn of time. There is a much higher technology level in this setting than in most *D&D worlds, but like in the Ravenloft gothic horror setting, terror is everywhere, though here it is aided by the aftereffects of the Industrial Revolution. Every time a character casts a spell, that character is drawn a step closer to the Red Death, a powerful force of evil in this world. However, Masque is technically and thematically a separate game from *D&D that happens to use the Ravenloft setting's fear and horror rules.
 
Maztica: This setting is located far to the west of Faerûn, the core of the Forgotten Realms setting. It is meant to represent the Americas during the time of the Spanish conquistadors, and its flavor is a heavy mixture of fantasy and pseudo-Native American culture (especially Aztec, Incan, and Mayan). While it is possible to play a conqueror from Faerûn, it is intended that native characters be created. This setting has its own unique magic variant (hishna and pluma) that not only changes the way priests and wizards operate, but also the way many warriors do as well.
 
Mystara®: This is the world that used to be the setting for basic D&D altered to fit the AD&D rules. Like the Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk settings, it is a high fantasy world with its own individual flair. It is distinct from the other worlds in that several of its supplements also come with audio CDs for sound effects and storytelling. The Red Steel® and Savage Coast lines are also part of the world of Mystara.
Spelljammer®: In a nutshell, the Spelljammer setting is *D&D in outer space, but in more of the swashbuckler pirate vein than a hard science fiction one. It is intriguing in that it presents its own system of fantasy physics to explain the behavior of spelljamming vessels in space and the way that *D&D solar systems (called crystal spheres) work. Many of the typical *D&D player character and monster races are present, but they may act very differently in the Spelljammer setting from the way that you may have become accustomed to them behaving. In addition, the Spelljammer setting can accommodate adventuring in many of the other published game settings, since spelljamming ships visit almost all of them from time to time.
 
Planescape: Many Advanced Dungeons & Dragons players feel that a trip to the planes is an exotic monster safari or a death sentence, depending on the whim of the Dungeon Master. This campaign setting shows that the planes are complex places with unique cultures of their own where adventures and intrigue of cosmic importance can be experienced by characters both native to the Outer and Inner Planes and to the Prime Material. In the Planescape setting, characters can interact with tanar'ri, baatezu, modrons, deities and their proxy representatives, and the many legendary inhabitants of these infinite places where belief determines reality. The city of Sigil provides a meeting ground from representatives of the many factions that try to make sense of planar existence to meet and butt heads.
The Planescape setting has not so much been discontinued as absorbed into the core *D&D product line. Planar campaigning has been a part of the *D&D game since the early days, and demons, githyanki, slaadi, and other planar creatures are familiar elements in many campaigns. The Planescape setting explored the multiverse in stunning (both in a good and a bad sense) detail, but many players were put off by the amount of material required to fully understand the setting, and they began to think that planar campaigning was strictly for Planescape fans. In order to continue to produce materials for planar gaming, TSR decided that it was necessary to pull Planescape back into the core line to keep it accessible to everyone.
 
Ravenloft: The Ravenloft campaign setting draws on the elements of fear and terror that have fascinated folk throughout the ages. Isolated from traditional aid, heroes must struggle in anonymity against the unspeakable evils and terrifying villains that make the Demiplane of Dread a setting for classic horror. Combine with this the components of traditional fantasy--knights, monsters, swords, sorcery, legend, and romance--and you have a *D&D world where heroes must use their wits as well as their weapons to fend off their worst nightmares or go insane trying. Death lasts only an instant, but horror can last a lifetime.
 
Similar to the Planescape setting, the Ravenloft setting developed a highly specialized fan following, making the average gamer think that horror in *D&D was strictly for Ravenloft setting fans. TSR intends to continue support of the Ravenloft setting, but subsequent products will be branded with the core *D&D logo and designed so that they can be played in any campaign setting. The Ravenloft setting elements will not be lost on those who run Ravenloft campaigns, but any DMs or players can use these products if they wish to inject a little horror into their campaigns.
 
Credits
We'd like to thank the following individuals. This FAQ is based on the extensive FAQ Joel A. Hahn wrote and compiled for the rec.game.frp.dnd Usenet newsgroup. The list of major changes between 1st and 2nd edition AD&D was compiled by Lawrence "DMGorgon" Mead and Ian Malcomson.

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