A History of Dungeons & Dragons
Part 29: 2002
In 2002 Wizards of the Coast put out a call to the fanbase, inviting them to submit a one-page summary of a campaign setting for the Great Setting Search, a contest to find the next D&D setting. Over 11,000 entries were submitted; from those, 11 were chosen to send in a longer introduction; from those, 3 were chosen to send in full setting bibles. And ultimately, a final winner was chosen, a setting that combined film noir with fantasy steampunk elements submitted by Keith Baker. Eberron. However, D&D fans wouldn’t get to see the finished product for two years as it was being developed as the signature setting for a revision of the 3rd edition rules.
The d20 market continued to boom, with Wizards of the Coast continuing their own contributions beyond D&D with D20 Modern, a game designed to allow play in the modern world. The example settings include a hefty D&D influence as well.
By this time, Dragon and Dungeon magazines were on the chopping block in an effort to cut costs. Rather than cease publication, Wizards of the Coast instead offered the license to Lisa Stevens who formed a new company from WotC’s own magazine staff, Paizo Publishing.
On the computer gaming front, Icewind Dale II, a sequel to the original Icewind Dale, debuted using 3rd Edition rules. The bigger video game news by far, however, was the release of a game that recycled an old name, Neverwinter Nights. Neverwinter Nights had the normal solo campaign, but also came packaged with the Aurora toolset which allowed gamers to create custom content for the game. This content could then be shared and played online on dedicated servers, with DM tools allowing a very close simulation of the tabletop D&D experience.
2002 D&D Products
January – Blood Spawn: Creatures of Light and Shadow. One of several AD&D 2nd Edition Birthright products released in PDF format on the Wizards of the Coast website, this one a bestiary product.
January – Lord of the Iron Fortress. Seventh in a series of eight loosely connected adventures. A planar adventure in which player characters travel to Acheron to stop a half-dragon duergar from reforging a powerful weapon.
January – The Best of Tales, Volume Two. A Dragonlance anthology collecting the best of previously published short stories.
January – The Book of Regency. A Birthright AD&D 2nd Edition PDF released on the Wizards of the Coast website. The Book of Regency is a book of advice on rulership, similar, in some ways to a gaming version of Machiavelli’s The Prince.
February – Forgotten Realms Dungeon Master’s Screen. A Forgotten Realms specific DM screen which includes a booklet with dungeon and wilderness random encounter trables.
February – The Icewall Trilogy, Volume 2: The Golden Orb. A Dragonlance novel in which an elven outcast helps a human village against the threat of ogres in the frozen wasteland of Icewall.
February – Masters of the Wild: A Guidebook to Barbarians, Druids, and Rangers. The last class book for 3rd edition, providing feats, spells, prestige classes, and other character options for nature-based characters.
February – The Cities, Volume 3: The Jewel of Turmish. A Forgotten Realms novel in which a druid must come to the aid of a city in the Vilhon Reach after an ancient evil awakens and begins gathering an army.
February – The Tomb of Horrors. A Greyhawk novelization of the classic AD&D 1st Edition adventure, in which a fallen paladin joins a group seeking the fabled treasures of the tomb.
March – Bastion of Broken Souls. Final adventure in the series of loosely connected adventures that began with The Sunless Citadel. Player characters must journey to the Positive Energy Plane to confront the half-fiend great wyrm red dragon, Ashardalon.
March – Counselors and Kings, Volume 3: The Wizardwar. A Forgotten Realms novel in which Halruaa faces war as its king falls ill.
April – Deities and Demigods. A 3rd Edition version of the classic supplement detailing deities. This version provides full stats for a variety of gods as well as a detailed system for creating deities that is at least partially inspired by The Primal Order.
April – Denizens of Darkness. A Ravenloft monster supplement published by Sword & Sorcery Studios.
April – Realms of Shadow. An anthology of Forgotten Realms short stories tying in to the Return of the Archwizards trilogy and storyline.
May – The Barbarians, Volume 3: Sister of the Sword. A Dragonlance novel set in the pre-history of Krynn, detailing a massive war between most of the races of the continent of Ansalon.
May – Stronghold Builder’s Guidebook. A supplement providing a complete component-style system of purchasing and building strongholds, along with magic enhancements, spells, and siege weapons.
May – Van Richten’s Arsenal, Volume 1. First in what was planned to be a multi-book series of Ravenloft equipment, magic items, spells, and character options published by Sword & Sorcery Studios.
June – Book of Challenges. A supplement providing a number of readymade encounters which include traps and hazards.
June – Ravenloft Gazetteer, Volume 1. A Ravenloft regional supplement detailing Barovia, Hazlan, Forlorn, and Kartakass. Published by Sword & Sorcery Studios.
June – Sembia, Volume 5: Heirs of Prophecy. A Forgotten Realms novel in which a half-elven daughter of the Uskreven family must find a way to put a stop to a war between Sembia and the Dalelands.
June – The War of Souls, Volume 3: Dragons of a Vanished Moon. A Dragonlance novel by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, in which the One God is revealed to be Takhisis and the fate of the world once agains rests on the shoulders of the kender, Tasslehoff Burrfoot.
July – The Dhamon Saga, Volume 3: Redemption. A Dragonlance novel in which the former hero, Dhamon, finally has a shot at redemption.
July – Epic Level Handbook. A hardcover supplement that takes the power level of the game up a notch, providing level advancement rules for characters above 20th level. The book provides spells, feats, prestige classes, magic items, artifacts, and a custom spell creation system for characters. It also provides epic level challenges with Challenge Ratings up to 66. The first printing of the book came with a promotional “Olidammara’s Die,” a six-sided die with the symbol of the deity of thieves, Olidammara, in place of the 1, modeled on one of the artifacts in the book.
July – Silver Marches. A Forgotten Realms regional supplement detailing the Silver Marches region of Faerun, along with spells, feats, and prestige classes.
July – The Savage Caves. First in an open ended series of novels featuring the 3rd Edition iconic characters. Regdar, Jozan, Lidda, and Naull feature in this story about a dungeon expedition.
July – War of the Spider Queen, Volume 1: Dissolution. First in a six book series focused on the drow of the Forgotten Realms and their capricious and malignant deity, Lolth.
August – Age of Mortals, Volume 2: The Lioness. A Dragonlance novel in which a renegade elf leads a small resistance force against the dragon and dark knights dominating her people.
August – Heroes of Light. A Ravenloft supplement published by Sword & Sorcery Studios that provides new character options for virtuous characters in the demiplane of dread.
August – The Living Dead. A novel centered on the 3rd Edition characters Mialee, Devis, and Soveliss as they attempt to discover what is responsible for attacks on elves and dwarves before the two races go to war.
September – Monster Manual II. A second hardcover collection of creatures for 3rd Edition. One of the few official D&D products published by Wizards of the Coast to contain open game content, namely the Razor Boar and the Scorpionfolk, originally published in The Creature Collection from Necromancer Games and Sword & Sorcery Studios.
September – Oath of Nerull. A novel in the iconics line in which the monk, Ember, becomes involved in a magical competition that threatens her order.
September – Hand of Fire. A Forgotten Realms novel and sequel to Spellfire and Crown of Fire, in which Shandril, the wielder of the powerful Spellfire, attempts to evade those pursuing her by hiding out in Silverymoon.
October – Book of Vile Darkness. One of two supplements published with a “Mature Audiences Only” warning label, the Book of Vile Darkness, inspired by the in-game artifact of the same name, delves into the truly evil and horrific with feats, prestige class, spells and advice for either playing vile characters or DMing adventures with vile villains and plot elements.
October – Champions of Darkness. A Ravenloft supplement published by Sword & Sorcery Studios and companion to Heroes of Light, providing character options and advice for playing anti-heroes in the demiplane of dread.
October – The Kingpriest Trilogy, Volume 2: Divine Hammer. A Dragonlance novel set prior to the Cataclysm in which the Kingpriest begins his crusade against the Towers of High Sorcery.
October – The Hunter’s Blades, Volume 1: The Thousand Orcs. A Forgotten Realms novel by R.A. Salvatore in which the renegade drow, Drizzt Do’Urden, allows the vicious hunter aspect of his personality to take the reins after the apparent death of his companions, declaring a one-drow war against the orcs.
November – Bertrem’s Guide to the War of Souls, Volume Two. Accounts of every day life in the Dragonlance world during the War of Souls.
November – City of Fire. An iconics novel in which Krusk (barbarian), Regdar (fighter), Naull (wizard), and Alhandra (paladin) must thwart a fallen paladin and his army of gnolls.
Novel – Return of the Archwizards, Volume 3: The Sorcerer. Conclusion of the 3rd edition era “Realms Shaking Event” trilogy for the Forgotten Realms.
Novel – Sembia Series, Volume 6: Sands of the Soul. A Forgotten Realms novel in which a daughter of the Uskreven family travels to the Calim desert on a journey of spiritual healing.
December – Crossroads, Volume 4: The Dragon Isles. A Dragonlance novel in which various factions attempt to claim the abandoned island homes of the good dragons.
December – Ravenloft Gazetteer Volume II. A Ravenloft regional supplement published by Sword & Sorcery Studios detailing Darkon, The Necropolis, Lamordia, and Falkovnia.
December – War of the Spider Queen, Volume 2: Insurrection. Second in a six book series of Forgotten Realms novels focusing on the drow and their deity, Lolth. A group of drow from Menzoberranzan seek out rival city Ched Nasad to determine whether they have also been cut off from Lolth.