A History of Dungeons & Dragons
Part 15: 1988
1988 was the first transition year where one edition is wrapping up and the next edition is on the horizon, similar in that respect to 1999, 2007, and the current state of transition with D&D Next currently in playtest.
The first of the “Gold Box” series of PC video games, Pool of Radiance, hit stores in 1988. Set in the Forgotten Realms, Pool of Radiance was an Origins award winning hit and paved the way for several more games in the “Gold Box” line, ultimately leading to well known and loved titles like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights (we’ll cover those in more depth in future installments).
Heroes of the Lance also debuted in 1988 for the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES (though it was ported to other systems and MS-DOS as well). Heroes of the Lance was set in the Dragonlance world and provided a video game translation of part of Dragons of Despair, the first adventure in the Dragonlance saga, specifically the dungeon crawl through Xak Tsaroth. Unfortunately, it was not as well received, rated as the 2nd worst NES game.
DC Comics began publishing a regular series of comics based on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in 1988. The series would run for 36 issues from December 1988 to December 1991.
And 1988 would introduce the world to a renegade drow ranger called Drizzt Do’Urden.
1988 D&D Products
January – DQ1: The Shattered Statue. The Shattered Statue was a crossover module that featured rules for both AD&D and Dragon Quest, a one time rival of D&D that was acquired by TSR when they purchased the smaller Simulations Publications (SPI).
January – The Icewind Dale Trilogy Volume 1: The Crystal Shard. Originally conceived as a story focused on the northern barbarian character Wulfgar, The Crystal Shard broadened in the writing to encompass an ensemble including the gruff mentor dwarf Bruenor Battlehammer, the greedy halfling Regis, Bruenor’s adopted human daughter Catti-Brie, and the now legendary drow ranger, Drizzt Do’Urden. As with other books in the initial run of Forgotten Realms novels (Azure Bonds and Darkwalker on Moonshae) The Crystal Shard was written as a stand-alone novel but open to becoming a trilogy if it sold well. Needless to say, it did.
February – WG7: Castle Greyhawk. It is, in hindsight, a bit difficult to describe this adventure module. Castle Greyhawk was an anthology of 11 short adventures nominally set in the classic Castle Greyhawk location, but written in an entirely satirical parody fashion. Villains included the Pillsbury Doughboy, Colonel Sanders, and the cast of Star Trek. For some fans, it was considered to be a lighthearted and fun distraction. For loyal fans of the Greyhawk setting it was seen as a low blow and an insult to both the setting and its creator, Gary Gygax. Regardless, the humor is now a bit dated as it relied on cultural references of the 1980s.
March – The Demon Hand. Third of the Greyhawk novels by Rose Estese featuring the barbarian character Mika. Gary Gygax was still writing novels featuring Gord the Rogue at this time, under a different publisher, the fourth of which, Come Endless Darkness, was released at the same time as this novel.
April – Dragonlance Heroes Volume 1: The Legend of Huma. First in the Heroes series telling tales of some of the legendary characters mentioned in the first Dragonlance novels. This book tells the story of Huma, who wielded the first dragonlances.
April – I14: Swords of the Iron Legion. A collection of several short adventures set in the Forgotten Realms, some of which utilize the Battlesystem rules.
April – The Moonshae Trilogy Volume 2: Black Wizards. Sequel to Darkwalker on Moonshae, Black Wizards grounds the series more in the Forgotten Realms and its lore, bringing in the dark god, Bhaal, as a primary antagonist.
May – FR4: The Magister. A Forgotten Realms supplement covering magic items and magic, narrated by Elminster himself.
May – H4: Throne of Bloodstone. An adventure module for levels 18-100. Yes, one hundred. The player characters must put an end to the Bloodstone Wars once and for all by confronting Orcus, stealing his infamous wand and taking it to the Seven Heavens to be destroyed. Actual rules for characters above level 25 were never covered in any detail for the AD&D 1st Edition rules, though this module attempts to provide some basics.
July – City System. A boxed set with numerous, highly detailed maps of the Forgotten Realms city of Waterdeep. Intended as a companion to FR1: Waterdeep and the North.
July – DL15: Mists of Krynn. An anthology of 12 mini scenarios as well as some source material for the Dragonlance world.
July – GAZ7: The Northern Reaches. A setting supplement for the BECMI Known World detailing the northeastern realms of Ostland, Vestland, and Soderfjord, nations based loosely on Viking legends and cultures.
July – The Name of the Game. A Greyhawk novel by Rose Estes in which an enchanted game ensnares the royalty of the nation of Perrenland.
August – FR5: The Savage Frontier. A regional supplement for the Forgotten Realms describing the lands north of Waterdeep including the city of Luskan.
August – FRC1: Ruins of Adventure. A tie-in to the Pool of Radiance computer game (even sharing the same cover), there are disputes as to whether the module was based on the computer game or the game was based on the module. Regardless, they share the same basic plot, saving the ruined city of Phlan from evil.
August – Greyhawk Adventures. The last hardcover volume for the 1st edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, following the same general model as Oriental Adventures and Dragonlance Adventures. The book details much of Greyhawk’s lore, utilizing rules that are a transition from 1st edition and 2nd edition.
August – Dragonlance Heroes Volume 2: Stormblade. A story of an orphan dwarf’s quest for the magical Stormblade in an effort to break a political deadlock in the dwarven nation of Thorbardin. This novel contains a few continuity issues with the Dragonlance Chronicles novels.
August – Spellfire. Written by Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms, this novel details the story of Shandril, wielder of the mysterious and powerful magic known as Spellfire. Unlike the other Forgotten Realms novels of the time, Spellfire did not receive a sequel right away, waiting until the 1994 novel, Crown of Fire, which was part of the Harpers series.
September – Dungeon Master’s Design Kit. A collection of DM tools, blank forms, and adventure hooks.
September – GAZ8: The Five Shires. Another regional supplement for the BECMI Known World, this one describing the Halfling (or Hin) nation known as the Five Shires. Interestingly, this supplement was written by Ed Greenwood of Forgotten Realms fame.
October – Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms. A boxed set supplement for the Forgotten Realms which places the Kara-Tur setting originally described in Oriental Adventures in the far eastern section of the continent of Faerun in the Forgotten Realms.
October – The Finder’s Stone Trilogy Volume 1: Azure Bonds. A Forgotten Realms novel by husband and wife team Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb. Azure Bonds tells the story of Alias, a warrior woman who wakes up one day with no memory of her past and strange blue tattoos on her arms. The novel also introduces a reptilian race based on dinosaurs called Saurials in the form of the character Dragonbait. Azure Bonds would serve as the basis of the “Gold Box” computer game Curse of the Azure Bonds and the tie-in adventure module of the same name.
November – FR6: Dreams of the Red Wizards. A regional supplement for the Forgotten Realms detailing the wizard ruled nation of Thay.
November – GAZ9: The Minrothad Guilds. A supplement for the BECMI Known World detailing the seaborne merchants known as the Minrothad Guilds. The supplement also includes rules and information on trade and the mercantile lifestyle in the Known World.
November – Dance of Demons. The fifth and final installment of Gary Gygax’s Gord the Rogue series from a different publisher than TSR. This novel is noteworthy in that Gygax ends the novel and the series by destroying the Greyhawk setting, paving the way for something new.
December – DL16: World of Krynn. An anthology of four scenarios, as well as some setting information for the Dragonlance world.
December – REF5: Lords of Darkness. A collection of short adventures set in the Forgotten Realms all featuring undead.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14