The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition RPG had a good run, 1989 through 1997. The original 2e core rule books saw a re-release into handsome black hardcovers in 1995. While the text was completely reorganized, the rules remained essentially the same.

I had a pair of the Player’s Handbooks in front of me for a photo, comparing the slight graphics change on the covers between the first and second printings (the headline photo). My wife started looking through them, and said there were a few changes inside. I gave her a camera, and she went through page-by-page.

AD&D 2e did not remain static through its print run, here are the Handbooks as an example:

AD&D 2e Complete Handbooks (1989-96): A Guide to the Guides


The 1st print had “Player’s Handbook” in lower case letters. 2nd print went with all caps to match the Dungeon Master Guide and subsequent releases.

Just over a year apart: April 1995 (1st print), May 1996 (2nd print)

2nd print PHB added a mini catalog the other products from TSR to the front and back flyleaves. Some might find it tacky, but I rather like it.

Pages 78 and 246, the 2nd print (left in both photos) eliminated the full page versions of the Jeff Easley PHB and DMG cover art. The new pieces are recycled from Mystara product covers of the time (Glantri and Mark of Amber).

Pages 297-299 had their layout altered to add the Regenerate Priest spell to the 2nd printing (again, on left sides of photos).

And that’s what my wife found. Wouldn’t surprise me if a few minor rule changes slipped past, but this covers the more prominent alterations.

Search Wayne’s Books inventory for Player’s Handbook


Dungeon Master Guide (1995? 96? vs 1997 printing)

I had my wife check a couple of late 2.5e DMGs for differences. She saw no differences in the text. But there were some other interesting details.

At first glance, there is little to distinguish them.

The Credits page didn’t change. Nothing in the text changed. I find the 1st printing statement to be suspect in the earlier DMG, as it has the ads like the PHB 2nd print. I’ll have to watch for that in the future.

The 1997 printing is visibly thinner. But the page count is the same. The 1997 paperstock is a thinner paper; the difference can be felt at a touch.

Unlike the PHB above, the later DMG is the one without ads. What gives?

The back of the book has the answer. The later printing is dated 1997, after TSR was bought by Wizards of the Coast. TSR was a bankrupt mess, and WotC’s first job was to right the ship. So they ran a print run of the core rulebooks. Wizards had no need of the ads inside the flyleaves because many items in the advertising would be unavailable anyway. They also raised the MSRP and went with a cheaper paper.


See Also:

AD&D 2e Complete Handbooks (1989-96): A Guide to the Guides

Identity Crisis: AD&D Monstrous Compendium Volume Two

Monstrous Compendiums: 10 different sleeve covers of AD&D’s MC-series