A History of Dungeons & Dragons
Part 28: 2001
In 2001, 3rd Edition was getting into full swing with a number of sourcebooks and supplements with familiar names: Oriental Adventures, Manual of the Planes, Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Ravenloft Campaign Setting and Kingdoms of Kalamar.
Three of those products, however, were either created or supported by other companies.
Thanks to the d20 system license and the acquisition of Five Rings Publishing by Wizards of the Coast, the 3rd edition version of Oriental Adventures replaced Kara-Tur with the Legend of the Five Rings setting of Rokugan. Support products were produced for the setting and the Oriental Adventures rules by Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG).
Ravenloft, the setting of fantasy gothic horror, was licensed out to none other than White Wolf, the company responsible for the World of Darkness, under the Swords & Sorcery Studios imprint. White Wolf would also handle a couple of other licenses, as we will see in a future installment, including a D&D branded adaptation of the most popular MMO of all time.
Kingdoms of Kalamar originally appeared in 1994 as an independent setting, published by Kenzer & Co, the creators of the Knights of the Dinner Table comic strip. When Wizards of the Coast produced the Dragon Magazine Archive CD-ROM, they took a bit of a gamble by including the Knights of the Dinner Table comics that appeared in the magazines. Whether or not this had anything to do with the licenses that Kenzer & Co acquired (publishing Kingdoms of Kalamar with the D&D logo, publishing D&D comic books, and using the AD&D rules to create a parody game, Hackmaster, based on the game the characters of Knights of the Dinner Table played) is a subject of internet rumor and speculation to this day.
The acquisition of Wizards of the Coast by Hasbro had been mostly a quiet one, but it did have one interesting side effect in 2001, the creation of the Dungeons & Dragons Clue board game. The 3rd Edition iconics took the place of Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, and the rest; the classic mystery game’s board was turned into a dungeon; and the weapons became classic D&D magic items like the vorpal sword and staff of power. The game also introduced wandering monsters which give players items useful to winning the game when defeated.
D&D video games in 2001 were mostly sequels and expansions: Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter, Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, Icewind Dale: Trials of the Luremaster, and Pools of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. 2001 also saw the release of the first D&D based game for the then-current generation of consoles, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, available for the Playstation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, and the Game Boy Advance.
2001 D&D Products
January – Sword and Fist: A Guidebook to Fighters and Monks. The first of the class supplements for 3rd edition, this softcover book contains advice, new uses for skills, new weapons, new feats, and, setting the trend for the edition, a plethora of new prestige classes.
January – The Speaker in Dreams. Third in a series of loosely connected adventures, The Speaker in Dreams departs from the standard dungeon setting as player characters become embroiled in events leading to an insidious invasion of the town of Brindinford.
February – Icewall, Volume 1: The Messenger. A Dragonlance novel in which an exiled elf helps a barbarian village fend off an attack by ogres in the frozen land of Icewall.
February – Monstrous Compendium: Monsters of Faerun. The last monster book to bear the 2nd Edition era “Monstrous Compendium” title, this supplement provided new and updated monsters for the 3rd edition Forgotten Realms.
March – Diablo II: To Hell and Back. An adventure for the Diablo II license that recreated the story of the computer game for a tabletop roleplaying experience.
March – Psionics Handbook. A hardcover updating the psionics system to 3rd edition. In particular, 3rd edition psionics did away with the random wild talents of previous incarnations; a player wanting psionics for their character had to play a psionic character class (psion or psychic warrior). The book also presents several psionic prestige classes, monsters, and feats.
March – Return of the Archwizards, Volume 1: The Summoning. A Forgotten Realms novel and first in a trilogy that serves as a “Realms Shaking Event” to transition the setting from 2nd edition to 3rd edition, featuring the return of the ancient Netherese from the Plane of Shadow.
April – Counselors and Kings, Volume 2: The Floodgate. A Forgotten Realms novel in which the Magehound seeks revenge against those who defeated her in the first book of the series.
April – The Standing Stone. Fourth in a series of loosely connected adventures, in which player characters come to the aid of a tiny, secluded village menaced by a ghostly rider…but nothing is as it seems.
May – Classics, Volume 4: The Inheritance. A Dragonlance novel which tells the story of the birth parents of half-elven Hero of the Lance, Tanis.
May – Defenders of the Faith: A Guidebook to Cleric and Paladins. Second class supplement for 3rd Edition. Defenders of the Faith provides new feats, magic items, deities, and prestige classes for clerics and paladins.
May – The Temple of Elemental Evil. A novel based on the original T1-4: Temple of Elemental Evil adventure.
May – War of Souls, Volume 2: Dragons of a Lost Star. A Dragonlance novel in which the dark prophet, Mina, leads her army of the One God across Ansalon.
June – Dhamon Saga, Volume 2: Betrayal. A Dragonlance novel in which the fallen hero, Dhamon, leads a band of mercenaries in search of a long forgotten treasure and a means to lift the curse afflicting him.
June – Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. A hardcover 3rd Edition update to the Forgotten Realms setting. Setting changes include the presence of the Empire of Shade in the Anauroch desert, the return of the deity Bane, and the presence of Red Wizard enclaves selling minor magic trinkets in many major cities. Mechanically, the book introduces regional benefits to encourage players to choose a homeland for their character, as well as spells, feats, and prestige classes.
June – Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. A sequel to the 1st Edition Temple of Elemental Evil adventure and the last of the “Return to” series of adventures that began in 1999, as well as being the only one of that series designed with 3rd Edition rules.
June – Sembia, Volume 3: The Shattered Mask. A Forgotten Realms novel involving a quest for revenge by the matriarch of the Uskreven family.
July – Crossroads, Volume 3: Dragon’s Bluff. A Dragonlance novel in which Ulin Majere, son of Palin and grandson of Caramon, travels to Flotsam to investigate a murder.
July – Magic of Faerun. A Forgotten Realms supplement covering spells, the weave, deities of magic, and other details of magic in the Realms.
August – Barbarians, Volume 2: Brother of the Dragon. A Dragonlance novel set in the pre-history of Krynn, in which a new town faces threats from within and without.
August – Elminster in Hell. A Forgotten Realms novel in which Elminster finds himself in the Nine Hells after an attack by the returned Empire of Shade.
August – Heart of Nightfang Spire. Fifth in a series of loosely connected adventures. Player characters explore a mysterious spire filled with undead and face an enemy they may have unintentionally unleashed in The Sunless Citadel, first adventure in the series.
September – Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. A Forgotten Realms novelization of the computer game of the same name.
September – Bertrem’s Guide to the War of Souls, Volume One. An “in character” look at the War of Souls era from the point of view of the common folk.
September – Manual of the Planes. A 3rd Edition look at planar adventuring. In addition to detailing a slightly streamlined Great Wheel cosmology, the book also provides guidelines on creating customized cosmologies for your campaign.
September – The Cities, Volume 2: Temple Hill. A Forgotten Realms novel in which a rogue in Eversult hires a drunkard, down on his luck fighter as a bodyguard to protect her from the Purple Masks thieves’ guild. The pair also quickly becomes involved in the plots of the Cult of the Dragon.
October – Enemies and Allies. A softcover supplement providing game stats for a variety of NPCs.
October – Lords of Darkness. A Forgotten Realms supplement detailing a variety of villainous organizations, as well introducing new feats, spells, and prestige classes tied to those organizations.
October – Oriental Adventures. A 3rd Edition version of the classic 1st Edition Oriental Adventures hardcover. The example setting provided in the book is Rokugan, the setting of the Legend of the Five Rings CCG. The book presents new races, new classes , and new prestige classes, all tailored to a mythic fantasy Asia style setting.
October – Sea of Swords. A Forgotten Realms novel by R.A. Salvatore that returns to Drizzt. The dark elf reunites with the barbarian Wulfgar as they seek Wulfgar’s magic hammer, Aegis Fang, and meet an unexpected old foe along the way.
October – Queen of the Demonweb Pits. A Greyhawk novel in which the ranger Justicar and his pixie companion Escalla take on Lolth herself in this adaptation of the classic 1st Edition adventure.
October – Ravenloft Campaign Setting. Officially licensed to White Wolf Game Studio through their imprint, Sword & Sorcery Studios, this hardcover updates the demiplane of dread for 3rd Edition. Because White Wolf did not have the license to any other D&D worlds, certain domains had to be revised or simply left out. Luckily, iconic characters like Lord Soth and Vecna had already escaped Ravenloft toward the end of the 2nd Edition era.
October – The Search for Magic: Tales from the War of Souls. An anthology of Dragonlance short stories set during the War of Souls.
November – Deep Horizon. Sixth in a series of loosely connected adventures, Deep Horizon takes player characters into the underdark and to the aid of a race of bat-people called Desmodu.
November – Keep on the Borderlands. A novelization of the basic edition adventure of the same name, though setting the Keep and the nearby Caves of Chaos in Greyhawk.
November – The Kingpriest Trilogy, Volume 1: Chosen of the Gods. A Dragonlance novel set prior to the Cataclysm dealing with the rise of the Kingpriests of Istar, as well as the manipulations of Fistandantilus.
November – Sembia, Volume 4: Black Wolf. A Forgotten Realms novel focusing on the intrigues of the Uskreven family of Sembia.
December – Age of Mortals, Volume 1: Conundrum. A Dragonlance novel focused on a gnome submersible vessel’s attempt to circumnavigate the world.
December – Return of the Archwizards, Volume 2: The Siege. A Forgotten Realms novel in which the Chosen of Mystra attempt to fend off an invasion by the returned ancient Netherese.
December – Secrets of the Dread Realms and Dungeon Master Screen. A Ravenloft supplement detailing the backgrounds of most of the dark lords of the setting, as well as a Ravenloft DM screen, published by White Wolf.