Mentzer / BECMI Dungeons & Dragons ran the gamut from Basic Rules all the way to the Immortals set. It was to be the final iteration of the classic D&D rules. One issue at the game table was that the rules were spread out over 9 rulebooks. The Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia filled the need for all the rules under one cover (Well, not the Immortals rules…)
The Cyclopedia was not aimed at beginners, but instead a reference volume for Dungeon Masters. It is comprehensive, covering 1st level characters all the way through the high level endgame. The Cyclopedia makes a fine resource for folks playing any edition of D&D who want to “Old School” their game.
1991 … Aaron Allston … 304 pages (hardcover) … TSR 1071 … ISBN 1560760850
The Cyclopedia became a collectible long ago. Careful with eBay… many of the listings are reprints and not the original hardbacks (you can distinguish the reprints by the white border surrounding the cover art). Get the reprints direct from DTRPG in Paperback ($25) or Hardcover ($30).
Table of Contents and Credits
The Cyclopedia kicks off with character creation of course. Note the small print – they packed a lot into these pages. The interior art by Terry Dykstra is workman-like, and occasionally quite good.
An optional PC class is the Mystic – an adaptation of the Monk class from AD&D.
Encounters and Combat
Mass Combat (The War Machine returns!) & Weapon Mastery Tables make Fighters more interesting.
High level play (forgotten in D&D 5e!) gets 5 pages about running Strongholds and Dominions.
Over 60 pages of Monsters!
Tired of Bahamut & Tiamat? The Cyclopedia has 4 dragon rulers: Pearl, Opal, Diamond, and The Great One.
The Immortals get a short section (For full rules, see the Wrath of the Immortals box set.) Also the Planes of Existence get a quick look.
D&D’s Known World (Mystara) setting, with pages of maps in the back of the book. Includes Hollow World maps as well.
The Cyclopedia caps off with an Appendix section and an Index (several actually).
Bonus pic: My very used personal copy!