A History of Dungeons & Dragons
Part 16: 1989
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition debuted in 1989. AD&D 2nd Edition was a major overhaul of the game, rewriting the rules to be a bit more player friendly than 1st Edition had been. 2nd Edition also eliminated, at least in the initial core books, some of the more controversial elements of the game, namely the assassin and monk classes, the half-orc race, and, perhaps most notably, demons and devils.
2nd Edition also brought with it changes great and small to the game’s campaign settings. While Greyhawk and Dragonlance would get away with only a few changes, at least initially (the Greyhawk Wars and the Second Cataclysm happen a bit later in our timeline), the Forgotten Realms suffered the first of what have come to be known as “Realms Shaking Events.” The Time of Troubles saw the gods of the Realms banished to the mortal world, forced to possess mortal bodies. Several gods died, including Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul, while new gods rose to take their place, including Kelemvor and the now infamous Cyric. The goddess of magic, Mystra, was replaced by the mortal known as Midnight, though she would take Mystra’s name upon ascending.
D&D’s love affair with computer games continued through 1989. Curse of the Azure Bonds, Dragons of Flame, Hillsfar, and War of the Lance all arrived in 1989 for either the PC or NES. TSR’s comic book partnership with DC also continued to prosper with the debut of a Forgotten Realms comic in 1989.
1989 was a huge year for TSR. The next year would see the start of another game company whose beginnings were, to put it mildly, tumultuous…Wizards of the Coast.
1989 D&D Products
January – GAZ10: The Orcs of Thar. Tenth in the Gazetteer line of regional supplements for basic D&D’s Known World, the Orcs of Thar covered the humanoid dominated region known as the Broken Lands and provided rules for playing orcs and other typically evil humanoid races.
Januray – Dragonlance Heroes Volume 3: Weasel’s Luck. The third in the Heroes series of novels tells the story of Galen Pathwarder, a rather unlikely hero and Knight of Solamnia.
January – OA5: Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw. Now firmly set in the Forgotten Realms, this module sends player characters in search of an evil martial arts school. This would also be the last module to utilize 1st Edition rules.
January – The Icewind Dale Trilogy Volume 2: Streams of Silver. The second novel to feature Drizzt Do’Urden, Streams of Silver takes Drizzt and his companions on a quest to reclaim Bruenor’s ancestral home, Mithril Hall. This book also features the debut of the assassin Artemis Entreri, who would become Drizzt’s nemesis throughout much of the rest of the series.
February – DLE1: In Search of Dragons. The first 2nd Edition Dragonlance product, this adventure sends player characters on a quest to learn what is causing the people of Krynn to lose respect for the good dragons and why some good dragons are dying off.
February – FR7: Hall of Heroes. A collection of AD&D 2nd Edition stats and brief histories of many of the major and minor characters featured in Forgotten Realms novels including Drizzt.
February – Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Player’s Handbook. The first core rulebook for the 2nd Edition of AD&D, the Player’s Handbook contained a revised and streamlined version of the rules of its predecessor. Unlike the 1st Edition PHB, this Player’s Handbook contained the rules for combat as well as character creation. The book included an optional section on Proficiencies which had been introduced in several different books late in 1st Edition’s run. Also notable was the parallel chapter arrangement between the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Each contained the same chapters, with the information tailored to the player and the DM respectively. Thus, for example, Chapter 8 in the PHB is only one page long as it dealt with Experience, a topic more fully covered in the DMG.
March – FRC2: Curse of the Azure Bonds. Adapted from the computer game of the same name and based on the novel, Azure Bonds.
March – GAZ11: The Republic of Darokin. The eleventh in the Gazetteer line of regional supplements for basic D&D’s Known World. Darokin was a plutocratic republic, ruled by a council of merchants. The supplement included rules for a Merchant player character class.
March – The Moonshae Trilogy Volume 3: Darkwell. Final book of the Moonshae trilogy by Douglas Niles.
March – WG8: Fate of Istus. The first 2nd Edition Greyhawk product, this module contains a series of linked adventures, each focusing on a separate character class, as the world deals with a magical plague from the goddess Istus, designed to weed out the weak (and, from a game mechanics standpoint, transition the setting to 2nd Edition).
April – WG9: Gargoyle. A light-hearted (though not as satirical as Castle Greyhawk) adventure in which player characters must find the stolen wings of a pair of gargoyles.
May – Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. The second core rulebook for the 2nd Edition of AD&D, the Dungeon Master’s Guide replaced its weightier predecessor by providing a clearer and more concise set of rules and advice for the DM.
May – FRE1: Shadowdale. The first in a trilogy of adventures that transitions the Forgotten Realms from 1st Edition to 2nd Edition via a huge, world altering event known as the Time of Troubles. As gods walk the Realms, player characters are tasked with tracking down the legendary Sage of Shadowdale, Elminster.
May – Dragonlance Prelude Volume 1: Darkness and Light. The Preludes series of novels deals with the Heroes of the Lance during the five years prior to Dragons of Autumn Twilight, during which they separated and dealt with personal quests. Darkness and Light tells the story of Sturm Brightblade and Kitiara and their unexpected trip to one of Krynn’s moons.
May – The Avatar Trilogy Volume 1: Shadowdale. Telling the same story as the adventure module of the same name, though featuring characters who would eventually become new gods, Kelemvor, Midnight, and Cyric.
June – FR8: Cities of Mystery. More of a toolkit for designing cities, including cardstock buildings, than an actual supplement for the Forgotten Realms.
June – MC1: Monstrous Compendium Volume One. The third core rulebook for AD&D 2nd Edition wasn’t a book at all. The Monstrous Compendiums were three-ring punched loose leaf binder pages, with the first volume including the binder itself. Designed so you could mix and match your monsters to fit your needs, the design suffered from a few problems. First, the holes in the pages tended to wear out and rip after extended use and second, monsters were often printed on both sides of a page, making alphabetical organization of later volumes impossible. Still, the format lasted through 15 products, with binder pages also being sprinkled into various boxed sets before finally being replaced by a hardcover volume, the Monstrous Manual, in 1993.
July – B11: King’s Festival. A Basic level adventure for the BECMI version of the game, King’s Festival was a new introductory module, designed to be an aid to beginning Dungeon Masters.
July – REF1: Dungeon Master’s Screen. A new screen for a new edition. This one included a short adventure, Terrible Trouble at Tragidore.
July – The Avatar Trilogy Volume 2: Tantras. The novel version of the continuing events of the Time of Troubles. The book features a titanic battle between the mortal forms of Bane and Torm. Cyric also shows his true colors near the end of the book.
August 1989 – Dawn of the Emperors: Thyatis and Alphatia. A boxed set in the Gazetteer line, detailing the mightiest empires of the Known World. Thyatis is modeled on the Roman Empire, complete with gladiatorial combat, while Alphatia is an empire ruled by magic-users.
August – LC1: Gateway to Raven’s Bluff, The Living City. Designed collectively by members of the RPGA (Role Playing Gamers Association), this supplement was initially only available by mail to RPGA members.
August – MC2: Monstrous Compendium Volume Two. The second collection of loose leaf binder pages completing the essential menagerie of monsters for the AD&D 2nd Edition game. Later products in the MC line would be labeled appendices.
August – Dragonlance Preludes Volume 2: Kendermore. Kendermore chronicles the many and outrageous adventures of the kender Tasslehoof Burrfoot during the five years prior to Dragons of Autumn Twilight.
August – TM1: The Western Countries. A map product, covering the western region of the Known World.
September – DLE2: Dragon Magic. The second adventure in a trilogy, in which the player characters find the secret home of the good dragons, but find themselves in the midst of a greater conflict.
September – FRE3: Waterdeep. The third and final Time of Troubles adventure, in which the players track down the Tablets of Fate and the gods return to godhood, minus a few casualties, plus a few risen mortals.
September – REF2: Character Record Sheets. New character sheets for a new edition.
September – The Avatar Trilogy Volume 3: Waterdeep. The final book in the trilogy covering the Time of Troubles.
September – The Eyes Have It. The last Greyhawk novel by Rose Estes.
September – TM2: The Eastern Countries. Second Trail Map product, this time covering the eastern portion of the BECMI D&D Known World.
September – TM3: The World of Krynn. The Trail Map series continues, moving to a different setting, namely Dragonlance.
September – WG10: Child’s Play. A short module designed as an introductory product for new players and new Dungeon Masters.
October – PC1: Tall Tales of the Wee Folk. A new line for the BECMI version of D&D, detailing monstrous player characters. Specifically, this supplement deals with various fey creatures and their hidden realm.
October – Spelljammer: Adventures in Space. The first of several new settings introduced during the 2nd Edition era, Spelljammer took D&D where no setting had gone before. Space. The setting brought the magical characters and creatures of AD&D into the final frontier in a rather unusual manner. Instead of dealing with the logistics of real world physics, Spelljammer imagined the worlds of AD&D as existing within massive crystal spheres (big enough to hold an entire solar system) that floated in a fiery otherspace known as the Phlogiston. Ships were similar to sailing ships in function if not design (many were quite fantastical) with open decks that, thanks to the fantasy physics of the setting, simply carried their atmosphere with them when they left a planet, as well as generating their own gravity well. Spelljammer also served as a way of connecting the existing worlds of AD&D as travel was now possible between the Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Greyhawk settings.
November – B12: Queen’s Harvest. Another introductory module for the BECMI version of the game, as well as a direct sequel to King’s Festival.
November – Battlesystem Miniatures Rules. A revision and update of the Battlesystem rules for the 2nd Edition of AD&D.
November – DLE3: Dragon Keep. The conclusion of the first trilogy of 2nd Edition Dragonlance adventures, in which the player characters confront the daughter of Takhisis.
November – FR9: The Bloodstone Lands. One of the few game supplements written by R.A. Salvatore, author of the Drizzt novels. This regional supplement covers the lands featured in the “H” series of adventures.
November – MC3: Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix. A collection of monsters for the Forgotten Realms setting.
November – PHBR1: The Complete Fighter’s Handbook. First in a series of supplements detailing options for specific classes and races. The line featured a brown, leather appearing cover with no art and introduced the concept of Kits, minor variations on a character class with added mechanics or features.
November – Pool of Radiance. A novel based on the computer game of the same name.
November – Time of the Dragon. A Dragonlance boxed set detailing the previously unexplored continent of Taladas.
November – TM4: The City of Waterdeep. Fourth in the Trail Map line of map products, this one detailing the Forgotten Realms city of Waterdeep.
November – WG11: Puppets. A two part adventure in which the player characters must deal with an evil leprechaun.
December – PC2: Top Ballista. A supplement for the BECMI version of the game providing player character rules for various flying races, including the sky gnomes of the flying city of Serraine.
December – PHBR2: The Complete Thief’s Handbook. The second in the “brown book” line of class and race supplements, providing kits for the Thief class. Notable for reintroducing the assassin to the game, albeit as a Thief kit.
December – TM5: Kara-Tur. A Trail Map product detailing the eastern lands of the Forgotten Realms.