A History of Dungeons & Dragons
Part 21: 1994
1994 saw RPG companies scrambling to meet the competition offered by Wizards of the Coast and their new collectible trading card game model. TSR’s initial foray into this arena was Spellfire: Master the Magic. The game featured art and characters from many of D&D’s well known worlds, including the Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Dark Sun, and others. Spellfire never reached Magic: The Gathering’s level of success and, by 2000, had been turned over to the fans.
The Letter/Number code that most non-hardcover, non-boxed set products had carried since D&D’s beginnings was officially retired in 1994. Several series that had carried the codes continued on without them, resulting in, for example, PHBR11: The Complete Ranger’s Handbook being followed by The Complete Paladin’s Handbook (without the code).
The cycle of new campaign settings started back up again after a lull the previous year. Planescape took the “Great Wheel” of the outer planes, introduced in the 1st Edition Manual of the Planes, and turned it into a full-fledged setting. The core of the setting was the city of Sigil, a ring situated at the top of a spire in the Outlands. Sigil had a unique aesthetic with a culture modeled loosely on Victorian London, a slang “cant” that influenced all of the “in character” material of the Planescape line, and a truly exotic mix of sentient beings wandering its streets. Like Dark Sun’s relationship with Brom, artist Tony DiTerlizzi provided the visual identity of the setting.
Also in 1994 came a revision of the Ravenloft Campaign Setting, a spinoff of Ravenloft called Masque of the Red Death set in a gothic 1890s Earth, and a stand-alone boxed set, Council of Wyrms, that provided rules for playing the game’s most iconic monsters, dragons, with a setting designed specifically for dragon-based campaigns.
1994 D&D video games included Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager, Slayer, Ravenloft: Strahd’s Possession, Al-Qadim: The Genie’s Curse, and Menzoberranzan (based partially on R.A. Salvatore’s novels).
Meanwhile, Wizards of the Coast experienced massive success with Magic: The Gathering and began funneling much of their creative and financial resources into it. Their RPG lines, which now included Ars Magicka, began to suffer. This would result, ironically, in a decision to drop RPGs from their game lines entirely in the next year, as we will see in the next installment.
1994 D&D Products
January – Cormyr. A Forgotten Realms supplement detailing the kingdom of Cormyr.
January – Deck of Encounters, Set One. An encounter building resource in card form.
January – DLT2: Book of Lairs. A Dragonlance adventure featuring several short adventures based around monster lairs.
January – The Dwarven Nations Trilogy, Volume 3: The Swordsheath Scroll. Third Dragonlance novel covering the history of the dwarven peoples of Krynn.
January – The Harpers, Volume 8: Elfsong. A Forgotten Realms novel by Elaine Cunningham and sequel to Elfshadow, in which the memories of bards are being magically manipulated, thus changing their stories and songs and rewriting history.
January – Van Richten’s Guide to the Created. A Ravenloft supplement that takes a look at golems, with a particular focus on flesh golems.
January – Dragonlance Villains, Volume 4: Hederick, The Theocrat. A Dragonlance novel telling the story of one of the primary leaders of the Seeker movement just prior to the War of the Lance.
February – Black Spine. A Dark Sun adventure in which player characters must stop an invasion from another plane of existence.
February – Ruined Kingdoms. An Al-Qadim boxed set detailing several ruins and their inhabitants.
February – The Enemy Within. A Ravenloft novel that explores the dual nature of a darklord inspired by the story of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.
February – The Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep Levels. A Forgotten Realms boxed set adventure that explores more of the labyrinthine dungeon beneath the city of Waterdeep.
February – The Second Generation. An anthology of Dragonlance short stories, all by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, about the children of the Heroes of the Lance. Most of the stories previously appeared in the Dragonlance Tales anthologies.
February – Treasure Chest. An anthology of 16 non-world specific adventures, most based around treasure hunts of various sorts.
March – Adam’s Wrath. A Ravenloft adventure in which player characters are shipwrecked in the domain of Lamordia and must face the flesh golem known as Adam and his mysterious creator.
March – Age of Heroes Campaign Sourcebook. A historical reference accessory in the “green book” series (previous titles had the “HR” code) detailing ancient Greece in AD&D 2nd Edition terms.
March – Fighter’s Challenge II. An adventure for a single fighter player character in which the PC must brave a haunted forest and deal with intrigues and discord in the throne room of a dying kingdom.
March – Elves of Evermeet. A Forgotten Realms sourcebook detailing the elven homeland of Evermeet.
March – The Dragons of Krynn. A Dragonlance anthology of short stories focused on the setting’s dragons.
March – The Harpers, Volume 9: Crown of Fire. A Forgotten Realms novel by Ed Greenwood, continuing the story of Shandril from the novel, Spellfire.
April – Defenders of Magic, Volume 1: Night of the Eye. A Dragonlance novel set during the rare convergence of all three of Krynn’s moons.
April – First Quest. A new introductory product for AD&D 2nd Edition, which included an audio CD to augment the adventure.
April – Forest Maker. A Dark Sun adventure in which player characters investigate rumors of a magical forest in the middle of a desert wasteland.
April – Planescape Campaign Setting. A boxed set that took the material from the 1st Edition Manual of the Planes and expanded it into a full campaign setting, accessible from 1st level on. A central element of the setting was the factions, based around the various alignments and outer planes, often described as “philosophers with clubs.” Central to the setting is the city of Sigil, the City of Doors, with portals leading to most of the other planes of existence.
April – The Complete Book of Villains. A “blue book” supplement for DMs (previous books in the series bore the DMGR code) that provides a guide to creating in-depth and detailed villains.
April – Tribe of One, Volume 2: The Seeker. Second in a trilogy of Dark Sun novels focusing on a character with multiple personalities.
May – Council of Wyrms. A boxed set providing rules for playing dragons. The set also includes a full setting, the Io’s Blood Islands, ruled by a draconic council. Elves, dwarves, and gnomes have symbiotic relationships with the dragons and a player character dragon may have a secondary character of one of these races (almost like a familiar). Humans in this setting are the villains, feared as dragon slayers from another continent across the ocean. 15 dragon types are presented (metallic, chromatic, and gem dragons, five of each type) with four class options (standard dragon, dragon wizard, dragon priest, and dragon psionicist).
May – Marco Volo: Departure. A Forgotten Realms adventure in which player characters get caught up in the misadventures and misdeeds of a rogue named Marco Volo (sometimes confused with the Volo of Volo’s Guides…which is intentional on the part of Marco).
May – Mordenheim. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this Ravenloft novel expores the story of mad scientist Victor Mordenheim, who creates a monster in his quest to find a way to revive his dead wife.
May – Ravenloft Campaign Setting. A revision and expansion of the first Ravenloft boxed set, including details of how the domains of dread have changed after the Grand Conjunction.
May – Temple, Tower, and Tomb. A non-setting specific adventure in which the player character are sent after three artifacts to save a kingdom on the brink of war.
May – The Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game. A slightly revised and repackaged version of the “black box” introductory set for the BECMI version of D&D. It would also be the final BECMI D&D product.
May – The Complete Paladin’s Handbook. A “brown book” player’s supplement in what was the PHBR line, providing kits and other character options for paladins.
June – Cities of Bone. An Al-Qadim boxed set describing three ruined cities rumored to hold fabled treasures.
June – Deck of Encounters, Set Two. A second card-based resource for encounter building.
June – Fighter’s Screen. A cardboard screen similar to a DM’s screen with charts and tables useful for fighter characters.
June – Priest’s Screen – Similar to the Fighter’s Screen but with charts and tables useful for priest characters.
June – The Cleric Quintet, Volume 5: The Chaos Curse. Final book in the saga of the cleric Cadderly by R.A. Salvatore in which Cadderly returns home, only to face one final challenge.
June – The Eternal Boundary. A Planescape adventure in which player characters investigate why dead souls have been returning to Sigil after they die.
June – The Will and the Way. A Dark Sun supplement covering psionics.
June – Thief’s Screen – Similar to the Fighter’s Screen but with charts and tables useful for thief characters.
June – Wizard’s Screen – Similar to the Fighter’s Screen but with charts and tables useful for wizard characters.
July – Chronicles of Athas, Volume 1: The Brazen Gambit. A Dark Sun novel telling the story of a rogue templar in the city of Urik.
July – City of Splendors. A Forgotten Realms boxed set detailing the city of Waterdeep.
July – Dragonlord of Mystara. A novel set in Mystara, specifically in the era prior to the establishment of many of the major nations in the “Known World” region.
July – Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure. A boxed set updating the Mystara setting to the AD&D 2nd Edition rules as well as updating the nation of Karameikos to the post Wrath of the Immortals time period. The set included an audio CD meant to be used as an adventure aid.
July – Marco Volo: Journey. Second in a trilogy of Forgotten Realms adventures involving the rogue Marco Volo.
July – Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix. A softcover book (unlike the previous loose-leaf binder Monstrous Compendium appendices) updating a variety of Mystara monsters to AD&D 2nd Edition. All Monstrous Compendium volumes from here forward were softcovers.
July – Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix. A collection of planar monsters for the Planescape setting.
July – Van Richten’s Guide to the Ancient Dead. A Ravenloft accessory detailing mummies and other forms of “ancient” undead.
July – Dragonlance Villains, Volume 5: Lord Toede. A Dragonlance novel telling a story of the slovenly hobgoblin Toede.
August – City by the Silt Sea. A Dark Sun boxed set adventures in which player characters investigate a lost city.
August – Corsairs of the Great Sea. An Al-Qadim boxed set detailing the Corsair Domains and the pirates of the Great Sea.
August – Siege of Darkness. A Forgotten Realms Drizzt novel that covers the Time of Troubles era for Drizzt and his companions, specifically the arrival of Lolth in Menzoberranzan and a full scale assault by the drow on Mithril Hall.
August – The Awakening. A Ravenloft adventure set in the domain of Nova Vassa.
August – The Complete Druid’s Handbook. What would have been PHRB13, a “brown book” player supplement providing kits and other character options for druids.
September – DLC3: Dragonlance Classics, Volume III. A Dragonlance adventure anthology, compiling and updating the original Dragonlance adventures Dragons of Dreams, Dragons of Faith, Dragons of Truth, and Dragons of Triumph.
September – Elminster’s Ecologies. A Forgotten Realms boxed set providing geographical guides to eight different regions of the world.
September – Fighter Player’s Pack. A sturdy black plastic carrying case containing booklets, minis, stickers, a pencil, dice and other goodies for players of fighters.
September – Hour of the Knife. A Ravenloft adventure set in the city of Paridon in which the player characters witness a murder and must find the murderer before he finds them and makes them his next victims.
September – Priest Player’s Pack. Similar to the Fighter Player’s Pack but with the contents specific to priest players.
September – Tales of Ravenloft. An anthology of short stories set in Ravenloft.
September – The Twilight Giants, Volume 1: The Ogre’s Pact. First book in a Forgotten Realms trilogy focusing on giants.
September – Thief Player’s Pack. Similar to the Fighter Player’s Pack but with contents specific to thief players.
September – Wizard’s Challenge II. An adventure for a single wizard character, who is called on to save farmers from a beast which cannot be harmed by normal weapons.
September – Wizard Player’s Pack. Similar to the Fighter Player’s pack but with contents specific to wizard players.
October – Deck of Psionic Powers. A card-based resource with every power from The Complete Psionics Handbook, plus the Dark Sun books Dragon Kings and The Will and the Way.
October – Defenders of Magic, Volume 2: The Medusa Plague. A Dragonlance novel in which a young villager sets out to find his wizard uncle to help cure a mysterious plague.
October – Hail the Heroes. A boxed set adventure set in Mystara that includes an audio CD to supplement and augment the adventure.
October – Masque of the Red Death and Other Tales. A Ravenloft expansion that takes the feel and rules of the Ravenloft setting and transplants them to 1890s Gothic Earth, a fictional version of Earth inspired by the works of Stoker, Shelley, Poe, and others.
October – Night of the Vampire. A Mystara boxed set adventure with an audio CD included to supplement and augment the adventure.
October – Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness. Another collection of Ravenloft monsters.
October – Red Steel. A boxed set expansion of the Mystara setting for AD&D 2nd Edition detailing the Savage Coast, an Age of Exploration style setting afflicted with the Red Curse, a sort of magical radiation poisoning from the red steel in the area. Includes an audio CD.
October – The Crusades Campaign Sourcebook. A “green book” historical reference supplement detailing the Crusades era of Earth’s history in AD&D 2nd Edition terms.
October – Tribe of One, Volume 3: The Nomad. Conclusion of a Dark Sun trilogy in which the main character seeks to separate his multiple personalities into separate entities.
October – Volo’s Guide to the Sword Coast. An “in character” travel guide to the sword coast region of the Forgotten Realms.
October – Well of Worlds. An anthology of Planescape adventures.
November – Caravans. An Al-Qadim boxed set detailing the High Desert and featuring a sentient magic carpet.
November – Encyclopedia Magica, Volume I. First of a four volume set of faux leather-bound collector’s books containing every magic item ever printed for D&D and AD&D up to that point, updated to 2nd Edition.
November – In the Abyss. A Planescape adventure in which player characters seek to salvage a lost ship from the Abyss.
November – Marco Volo: Arrival. Final adventure in a trilogy of Forgotten Realms adventures in which the player characters are caught up in the misdeeds and misadventures of Marcus “Marco” Volo.
November – Poor Wizard’s Almanac III & Book of Facts. A digest sized supplement for Mystara detailing the world as it stands in the year AC 1012, with game stats updated to AD&D 2nd Edition.
November – Tower of Doom. A Ravenloft novel inspired partially by the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
December – Book of Lairs. A Forgotten Realms anthology of short adventures based around monster lairs.
December – City Sites. A collection of floor plans and details of various places in a fantasy city.
December – Elminster: The Making of a Mage. First in a long running series of Forgotten Realms novels by Ed Greenwood focusing on the iconic character of Elminster. This book tells the story of Elminster’s childhood and his first encounter with the Goddess, Mystra.
December – Howls in the Night. A Ravenloft adventure in which player characters must solve a hundred year old murder mystery.
December – Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume 1. A compilation of monsters published in the last year in modules and Dragon and Dungeon Magazines.
December – Realms of Infamy. An anthology of Forgotten Realms short stories focusing on many of the setting’s more notorious villains.
December – The Deva Spark. A Planescape adventure that puts player characters in the middle of a conflict between a deva and a bebilith.
December – Dragonlance Villains, Volume 6: The Dark Queen. A Dragonlance novel focusing on Takhisis, the Dark Queen herself.