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Dungeon Master Guide, Revised (2e)

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Here is the essential manual for the AD&D game Dungeon Master.

All the information you need to create and run thrilling, swords-and-sorcery adventures is clearly laid out in the Dungeon Master Guide. Learn all there is to know about magical spells, hundreds of magical devices and treasures, battles, travel, experience awards, and more. This fresh, new format is your guidebook to the challenging world of the AD&D Dungeon Master.

Product History

Dungeon Master's Guide (1989), by David "Zeb" Cook with Steve Winter and Jon Pickens after Gary Gygax, is the second core rulebook for the AD&D 2e game. It was published in May 1989.

About the Title. Like the new Player's Handbook (1989) before it, the new Dungeon Master's Guide reclaimed its apostrophe. The punctuation has been a part of D&D titles ever since … except that the Dungeon Master's Guide temporarily became the Dungeon Master Guide in 1995, losing both its apostrophe and its "s"!.

It appears that the name of the Dungeon Master's Guide almost changed with the new release too. An article that Steve Winter wrote for Dragon magazine suggests that at one time this book was called the "Dungeon Master's Handbook", which would have created a parallel between the two core rulebook names. However, it was once more a Guide by the time it was published.

Moving Toward AD&D 2e. The second edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was the product of two and a half years of work from editor Steve Winter and author David Cook. The Player's Handbook (1989) premiered in February and after that AD&D 2e game modules began to proliferate — including edition-changing adventures like WG8: Fate of Istus (1989) and the Avatar trilogy (1989). The Dungeon Master's Guide didn't appear until three months later, in May, but this was no great hardship for 2e players because most of the rules had already appeared in the Player's Handbook

Many Printings. The new Dungeon Master's Guide following the exact same pattern of production as the new Player's Handbook: it saw more than 10 printings over its first several years, then was revised as part of AD&D 2.5e (1995), and more recently was published yet again by Wizards of the Coast (2013) in a premium edition.

A Different Sort of Dungeon Master's Guide. The original Dungeon Masters Guide (1979) was the core rulebook for AD&D first edition. But now, the Player's Handbook had become the core rulebook for the second edition game. So, for the first time ever, TSR had to ask itself: what should really go in a book for the Dungeon Master?

Like the first edition Dungeon Masters Guide, this new book's structure parallels the organization of its Player's Handbook: character abilities are followed by races, then classes, then alignment, just like in the Player's Handbook. However, one of Steve Winter's major goals for the 2e releases was that there be no repeat of material between the books. Thus the Dungeon Master's Guide instead acts as a commentary and addendum to the Player's Handbook. It's filled with basic GMing advice and additional background on the various topics; it also contains yet more optional rules, including rules for creating new races and classes. These toolkit rules aren't the sort of thing found in more recent Dungeon Master's Guides, but they show off one of Zeb Cook's major goals for 2e: that the new rules be guidelines that players could adjust for themselves.

Magic items are the one truly core mechanic found in the Dungeon Master's Guide — a division that D&D has maintained through every edition of D&D except 4e (2008). Artifacts can also be found, though with the lowest count ever. The scant three artifacts of 2e can be considered a list of D&D's most interesting: the Hand of Vecna, the Rod of Seven Parts, and (somewhat more mysteriously) Heward's Mystical Organ. Second edition would correct its artifact deficiency several years later with the Book of Artifacts (1993), also by Cook.

What a Difference an Edition Makes. Most of the rules changes for AD&D 2e had already appeared in the Player's Handbook, but there was one surprising take back: assassins reappear, not as a character class, but as a "reprehensible mind-set". Though assassins are usually included in lists of the bowdlerized elements in AD&D 2e, their slight inclusion here supports Cook's later statement that he removed them only because they were bad for party unity.

Many Appendices. The original Dungeon Masters Guide was filled with well-loved appendices, including many wacky encounter tables and the famous list of inspirational reading. Steve Winter's article about second edition AD&D in Dragon #126 (October 1987) confirmed that there would be an appendix of "useful tables", but it turns out to be all treasures and magic items.

It was perhaps an understandable change. The many and varied appendices of the first Dungeon Masters Guide were a product of its chaotic creation as a stream-of-consciousness compendium. The second Guide was a wholly different thing, created in a different era of publication.

Expanding the Outer Planes. Though demons and devils were left on the cutting room floor of AD&D 2e due to fear of "angry mothers", TSR hadn't yet cut up the Outer Planes as well. A short discussion of them references their classic names — including the Nine Hells, the Seven Heavens, and the Twin Paradises. These planes would be rebooted in Planescape (1994), then their new names would be tipped into the 2.5e version of the Dungeon Master's Guide (1995).

About the Creators. Cook was the designer for the AD&D 2e project, working alongside editor Steve Winter, who set many of the original organizational goals.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (13)
Discussions (42)
Customer avatar
Christopher T April 24, 2024 9:00 pm UTC
POD in hardcover please!
Customer avatar
Jacob H March 12, 2024 10:50 am UTC
I bought the PDF, but I very much want a hardcover PoD copy.
Customer avatar
Jesper Krag R February 03, 2024 9:53 am UTC
One the one hand, I really want these books. On the other hand, I'd be devastated if they became available as hardcover after buying the softcover editions.
Customer avatar
Bruce L November 14, 2023 5:25 pm UTC
I subscribed to a professional PDF service, which allowed me to strip out the security from some WotC PDF's I purchased legally from DTRPG. I had to do a bunch more work to the PDF's to get them in printable format, for This allowed me to print my own *hardcover* versions of long OOP books: 2e BattleSystem, and the three Priest Spell Compendiums. I do not want to do that again, for the three core 2e AD&D books, but I will, if WotC does not offer them in premium hardcover, themselves. I will never sell my hardcover versions, but I will make copies for myself, if I have to. I would rather pay for proper, official hardcover copies, as my versions lose a lot in the covers, as I am unable to replicate those properly, but the interior pages come out normal. *Premium ink*, *premium paper*, and *hard covers*, are the way to go. Please, WotC, give us what we want, what *we are willing to pay for*! Thank you.
Customer avatar
darren W September 24, 2023 8:16 am UTC
hard cover please!
Customer avatar
rocky M July 23, 2023 4:56 pm UTC
Hi. Will this ever come out as a hardcover?
Customer avatar
Peter B June 22, 2023 9:33 am UTC
The printed version of this AD&D 2e Player's Handbook has meet all my expectations. It arrived here in Adelaide SA fully intact, all the way from the US, and within the stated postage time. Remarkable.
Customer avatar
Geoffrey T January 21, 2024 5:13 am UTC
It's weird you in SA getting them from the US. me in the West gets them from the UK!
Customer avatar
Val S May 19, 2023 3:17 pm UTC
I ordered this book (and the other two 2nd Edition AD&D reprints) back on May 1st. They shipped by May 10th, which I expected for 1000 pages of material. The tracking from UPS listed as "delayed" during the hand-off to U.S. Postal Service on May 12th. There were no updates from the 12th of May until the 19, when I received a USPS update saying they were in Berea and were "Out for delivery" by 11 AM on the Morning of May 19th.

All three books arrived in pristine shape, no complaint there, just a caveat that all tracking disappeared from radar for about a week, and then was suddenly on my doorstep without warning.

-- Honestly not a day too soon, as there is an ALL-DAY forecast for Rain tomorrow. Nice work Postal Service!
Customer avatar
Per L March 16, 2023 8:20 am UTC
Hard Cover, please!
Customer avatar
Joseph R March 14, 2023 6:26 pm UTC
Is this part of the current 30% off sale?
Customer avatar
gary M January 29, 2023 7:41 pm UTC
Please allow hard cover premium quality printing. Thank you <3
Customer avatar
Bruce L August 09, 2022 4:45 pm UTC
Attn: WotC... POD, High Quality paper and ink, Hard Covers, please, for all three core rulebooks. Thank you.
Customer avatar
David W July 18, 2022 11:18 pm UTC
do they really send a printed copy / soft cover
Customer avatar
Bruce L August 09, 2022 4:47 pm UTC
Yes, they do. It is a Print-on-Demand book. Takes a couple weeks to arrive. Ordered a PHB, arrived, in mint condition. Prefer Hard Cover, with High Quality Ink and Paper, but this is what they offer, unfortunately. Cheers!
Customer avatar
Maximilian L July 16, 2022 7:03 am UTC
Will there ever be a POD hardcore version?
Customer avatar
Lesley N July 09, 2022 4:01 am UTC
My main recollection of 2nd edition AD&D was the fact the books were the worst bound books in the hobby. Nothing has since been as appallingly wretched as was 2nd edition. The softcovers were inconsistent in layout. The design might have been ok, but the physical quality was disgusting.

A person would likely be better off with a spiral bound printed pdf than an original hardcover item. Assuming one can even find one intact after this much time. I don't care for softcover items.
Customer avatar
Geoffrey T January 11, 2024 6:18 am UTC
Don't know about that, I had the original Blue covered 1st ed AD&D, fell apart within DAYS! Also had the 1st printing of the 2nd ed AD&D PHB do it as well.
Customer avatar
Thibault M February 20, 2022 7:39 am UTC
Like ADD 1e, please add hardcover with premium paper option
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