A History of Dungeons & Dragons
Part 27: 2000
In the year 2000, Wizards of the Coast wrapped up AD&D 2nd Edition with a couple of end-of-the-world adventures, The Apocalypse Stone and Die Vecna, Die!
Wizards also acquired a brief-lived license to make tabletop RPGs based on popular computer games by Blizzard, Diablo and Starcraft. Diablo products appeared as D&D was moving from one edition to the next, resulting in the Diablo licensed products having two different rule systems.
D&D 3rd Edition debuted with the Player’s Handbook at Gen Con of 2000. A variety of other products debuted at Gen Con as well. Products from other companies like Green Ronin and Necromancer Games that were written for use with D&D 3rd Edition. This was possible thanks to the Open Game License, or OGL, and the d20 system license. The brainchild of Ryan Dancey, the OGL was written to allow any company to use the d20 system rules to create their own material, thus indirectly supporting D&D. Starting at Gen Con and continuing through the next few years, the response was enormous, with d20 products flooding the market. Even companies with successful games of their own, like White Wolf, jumped on the d20 bandwagon.
The d20 system would be expanded well beyond the fantasy adventure genre of D&D by several companies, though Wizards of the Coast itself had one of the first entries in that race with the d20 Star Wars Roleplaying Game.
In the computer gaming arena, 2000 saw the release of a sequel to the popular Baldur’s Gate game, Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn. Icewind Dale was also released in 2000. Both games continued to utilize the AD&D 2nd Edition rules.
2000 also saw the theatrical release of a Dungeons & Dragons movie. Starring Jeremy Irons and directed by first-time director Courtney Solomon, the movie was something of a box office failure, though two direct-to-DVD and/or cable sequels were produced. Both Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson appear in the movie as extras.
The purchase of Wizards of the Coast by Hasbro the previous year had some unexpected repercussions, namely the departure of Wizards of the Coast CEO, Peter Adkison and WotC’s first full time employee, Lisa Stevens. Adkison would go on to purchase the Gen Con game convention from WotC while Lisa Stevens would start her own company a couple of years later. A company with a somewhat unusual relationship with Wizards of the Coast and D&D over the years and one that would demonstrate the full ramifications of the OGL: Paizo Publishing.
2000 D&D Products
January – Dragonlance Classics, Volume 2: Dalamar the Dark. A Dragonlance novel that relates the early years of Raistlin’s dark elf apprentice, Dalamar.
January – The Vortex of Madness and Other Planar Perils. A supplement detailing five planar locales. By this point, the Planescape brand had been dropped but Vortex was among several products that were still Planescape in all but name.
February – Priest’s Spell Compendium, Volume Three. Final volume in a series of digest-sized collector’s volumes compiling all of the priest spells in the game to date.
February – Rise of the Titans. A Dragonlance supplement dual-statted for use with both the SAGA rules and AD&D 2nd Edition, detailing the ogre nations of Krynn.
February – Secrets of the Magister. A Forgotten Realms supplement detailing the Magister, personal champion of the goddess of magic, Mystra.
February – The Best of Tales, Volume 1. An anthology of Dragonlance short stories, previously appearing in various Tales anthologies.
March – The Apocalypse Stone. A high level adventure specifically designed to end campaigns, featuring cataclysmic events and potentially world-ending catastrophes.
March – Diablo II: The Awakening. First in a short-lived line of D&D products based on the popular Diablo II computer game. The Awakening is a short adventure set in the world of Diablo II using AD&D 2nd Edition rules.
March – Realms of the Deep. An anthology of Forgotten Realms short stories with aquatic and nautical themes.
March – Threat from the Sea, Volume 3: The Sea Devil’s Eye. Conclusion of a Forgotten Realms trilogy centered around an attack by sahuagin armies on coastal areas of Faerun.
March – The War of Souls, Volume 1: Dragons of a Fallen Sun. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman return to the Dragonlance setting with a new trilogy. A mysterious prophet, Mina, acquires followers for “the One God” as magic begins to wane.
April – Counselors and Kings, Volume 1: The Magehound. A Forgotten Realms novel set in the magical land of Halruaa.
April – Slavers. A Greyhawk adventure that serves as a sequel to the “A” series of AD&D 1st Edition adventures, Scourge of the Slavelords.
April – Tales of the Fifth Age, Volume 3: Rebels and Tyrants. A Dragonlance anthology of short stories set during the Fifth Age.
April – Van Richten’s Monster Hunter’s Compendium, Volume Three. A digest sized compilation of Van Richten’s Guide products. Specifically, this volume reprints the Guides to Demons (originally titled Van Richten’s Guide to Fiends) and Vistani and presents a new guide, Van Richten’s Guide to Witches.
May – Death of the Dragon. A Forgotten Realms novel in which King Azoun IV of Cormyr, with age catching up to him, faces the greatest threats his kingdom has ever known, including a powerful dragon.
May – The Dhamon Saga, Volume 1: Downfall. A Dragonlance novel in which Dhamon Grimwulf, one of the heroes from the Dragons of a New Age trilogy, falls on hard times but must somehow find the strength to redeem himself in the face of a new threat.
May – Reverse Dungeon. An “adventure” in which players take on the roles of monsters defending their lairs from marauding adventurers.
May – The Dungeon of Death. A Forgotten Realms adventure in which player characters explore the cursed ruins of an ancient dwarven stronghold.
May – The Falcon and the Wolf. A Birthright novel released in PDF form on the Wizards of the Coast website.
June – Cloak and Dagger. A Forgotten Realms supplement detailing various secret societies and organizations, including the Harpers and the Zhentarim. It was also one of the first products to have a “web enhancement,” additional material available on the Wizards of the Coast website.
June – Descent into the Depths of the Earth. A Greyhawk novel based on the AD&D 1st Edition adventure series of the same name. Also a sequel to the White Plume Mountain novel, featuring the Justicar and his pixie companion.
June – Die Vecna Die! An epic, campaign ending adventure that takes player characters from Greyhawk, to Ravenloft, and finally to the Planescape city of Sigil as they attempt to thwart the evil schemes of Iuz, the Old One, who seeks to seize the power of Vecna, himself. But Vecna appears to be the one holding all the strings. The adventure also served as in-universe way to explain some of the cosmology changes between AD&D 2nd Edition and D&D 3rd Edition, most notably Vecna’s promotion to godhood as one of the sample deities in the 3rd Edition Player’s Handbook.
June – More Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home. A non-game supplement for the Dragonlance setting with a mostly in-universe style, providing details of the Fifth Age era, including songs, recipes, kender taunts, and more.
July – Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn. A Forgotten Realms novelization of the computer game of the same name.
July – Crossroads, Volume 1: The Clandestine Circle. A Dragonlance novel in which a Solamnic Knight infiltrates the dangerous city of Sanction to spy on its governor and the hostile forces gathered there.
July – Sembia, Volume 1: The Halls of Stormweather. A Forgotten Realms novel written by seven different authors, with each taking a single chapter.
July – Volo’s Guide to Baldur’s Gate II. A Forgotten Realms supplement providing further details on the city of Baldur’s Gate.
August – Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition Player’s handbook. The debut product for 3rd edition, the Player’s Handbook contained a D&D that had been rebuilt from the ground up. A core rule, the foundation of the d20 system, ruled every interaction of the game: roll a d20, add a modifier, and attempt to beat a Difficulty Class. Unlike previous editions, higher was always better. The Player’s Handbook brought the half-orc and the monk back to the game and used a bare bones version of the Greyhawk setting as a sort of core assumption, particularly noticeable with the sample deities (including Vecna). Saving throws were reduced to three, Fortitude, Reflex, and Will; non-weapon proficiencies became skills and were more streamlined; and feats were added to the game. A new class, the Sorcerer, was introduced, providing a different take on arcane spellcasting. Racial class restrictions and level limits were a thing of the past. Every race could multi-class by taking a level in a new class upon leveling up and every class used the same experience advancement table. Each class included an illustration of an “iconic” character. These “iconics” would continue to show up in the artwork of 3rd Edition throughout its run. Because the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual wouldn’t be appearing for a couple of months, the first printing of the PHB included a short index with a few monsters and DMing tips. Finally, the book contained a CD-ROM in the back with a simple character generator.
August – Character Sheets. A new character sheet product for a new edition, with separate sheets for each class.
August – Dragonlance Classics, Volume 3: The Citadel. A Dragonlance novel telling the story of the creation of the first of the flying citadels.
August – D&D Adventure Game. A new introductory boxed set designed with the 3rd Edition rules.
September – Barbarians, Volume 1: Children of the Plains. A Dragonlance novel focusing on barbarian culture and set in the setting’s pre-history.
September – Dungeon Master Screen. A new DM screen for a new edition, with player’s side art featuring the iconics and various monsters.
September – Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. The DMG for 3rd Edition contained similar advice for running the game as its predecessors but also covered new ground with an experience point system based on challenge ratings and a new option for higher level play, prestige classes. Prestige classes had prerequisites that had to be attained before a character could enter the class. Examples included assassins, blackguards, and shadow dancers. Magic items were given prices and formulas usable with the proper item creation feats for players to make their own magic items, though this involved the expenditure of experience points in addition to gold.
September – Dungeons & Dragons Gazetteer. A slim, stripped down version of the Greyhawk setting for use as the core world of the D&D 3rd Edition game.
September – Pool of Radiance: Attack on Myth Drannor. A Forgotten Realms adventure designed to tie-in to the Ruins of Myth Drannor computer game coming the following year. Player characters must infiltrate the ruined city of Myth Drannor to stop the Cult of the Dragon from using a corrupted pool of radiance.
September – The Lost Empires, Volume 4: The Nether Scroll. A Forgotten Realms novel in which a young wizard seeks out the Nether Scroll.
September – The Sunless Citadel. First in a series of loosely tied together adventures, The Sunless Citadel sends player characters into a ruined citadel that fell into a crevasse in ages past in search of another group of adventurers that ventured into the ruin and never returned. This adventure is notable for introducing Meepo, a kobold NPC who would become something of an iconic character in his own right.
October – Bertrem’s Guide to the Age of Mortals. A non-game guidebook to the Dragonlance setting during the Fifth Age.
October – Into the Dragon’s Lair. A Forgotten Realms adventure that follows the events of the novel Death of the Dragon. Player characters have the opportunity to claim the treasure hoard of the dragon that ravaged Cormyr.
October – Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition Monster Manual. The first book of creatures for the 3rd Edition of the game, including the classics like orcs, goblins, and dragons, but also introducing a few new creatures like the yrthak and destrachan. Monsters were now built more like player characters, with ability scores, skills, and feats. Each monster also had a Challenge Rating, or CR, that would determine how much experience a party would get for defeating it as well as being a tool for determining what monsters were an appropriate challenge for parties at various levels.
October – Servant of the Shard. A Forgotten Realms novel by R.A. Salvatore. Like his previous novel, Spine of the World, Salvatore focused attention away from the dark elf, Drizzt Do’Urden, in this novel, instead following two of Drizzt’s long time enemies, Artemis Entreri and the drow mercenary, Jarlaxle. The unlikely pair fall under the influence of the crystal shard and undertake a mission to destroy it.
November – Draconian Measures. A Dragonlance novel and sequel to The Doom Brigade, in which the draconian Kang fights to protect the first female draconian from multiple enemies.
November – Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. A more extensive look at the Greyhawk setting and a launching point for the Living Greyhawk campaign, a RPGA program similar to the 2nd edition era Living City, but much larger.
November – Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. A Forgotten Realms novelization of the computer game of the same name.
November – Sembia, Volume 2: Shadow’s Witness. A Forgotten Realms novel featuring Erevis Cale, a butler with a dark secret.
December – Crossroads, Volume 2: The Thieves’ Guild. A Dragonlance novel describing the intricacies of one of the thieves’ guilds of Palanthas.
December – Diablo II: Diablerie. A 3rd edition version of the popular computer game tie-in, providing a full setting, character classes, magic items, etc.
December – Hero Builder’s Guidebook. A supplement providing a plethora of non-mechanics background elements to help flesh out characters, including a randomized background generator, an alignment “test” to help determine a character’s alignment based on their personality, and lists of names for each major player character race.