The “Big Box” Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting was a latecomer to the 2nd Edition of Advanced Dungeon & Dragons product line.
When the AD&D 2e rulebooks released in 1989, the Forgotten Realms setting was turned upside down as the FRE module series chronicled the Avatars and the Time of Troubles.
The modules were followed up by the Forgotten Realms Adventures hardcover (left) in 1990, which detailed Ed Greenwood’s changed world.
However, the original 1st Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Set would soldier on in repeated print runs through 1992!
Remarkably, it took several years for TSR to develop a 2nd Edition Campaign Setting that actually matched the current state of the Realms.
The 2e FRCS would itself see 3 distinct printings. We’ll go over the differences between the 1993, 1994, & 1996 box sets. And then catalog the cornucopia of contents in the 1994 set. (The 3 sets were largely the same in the internals.)
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting
1993, 1994, 1996 … Ed Greenwood & Jeff Grubb … TSR 1085 … ISBN 1560766174
Contains: 3 books; 8 MC pages; 6 card sheets; 4 poster maps; clear map overlay, (1993: poster of the Clyde Caldwell art found on the cover of Forgotten Realms Adventures hardcover).
Identification of the three FRCS 2e box sets
The FRCS 2e set began as a black-bordered box in 1993. The logo (TSR Gold Badge) interestingly was mostly phased out in 1992 in favor of the TSR Shield logo.
Then in 1994, box graphics were changed to a gray border around new cover art. Books remained the same.
In 1996, the box graphics were slightly altered, as well as the book covers receiving the gray border format, with different back cover graphics.
In my opinion, the first set is the most handsome; others must feel the same way as it tends to sell for more than the others in the used market.
Also, Black Box included a poster (below) of the Clyde Caldwell art found on the cover of Forgotten Realms Adventures hardcover.
I have never seen the poster in the later gray box sets.
Box Bottom Details
Note the copyright dates. This will be important later.
The UPC changed little over the 3 printings. ISBN remains the same, as well as the 13-digit EAN. Prices changed slightly.
Top Lid Graphical changes 1994, 1996
1994 set has “AD&D 2nd Edition” logo bottom right corner of top lid, which was discarded in the 1996 printing, in favor of the red Advanced Dungeons & Dragons logo that was used ca. 1995-6. Likewise for the box side panel.
So how do I know the 1994 Gray Box was actually released in 1994? There’s no new copyright date on the box or contents; all still claim “1993”. TSR was very hit-n-miss about dates on updated products.
It’s a bit of deduction.
- The last box has 3 copyright dates, the middle date being 1994.
- The “AD&D 2nd Edition” logo style was used in TSR AD&D products ca. 1994. (See Council of Wyrms as an example)
- The Fred Fields cover art is dated 1994.
The book cover graphics changed with the 1996 printing of FRCS 2e. Here are front/back covers of Shadowdale. A gray border was added on the front cover, and TSR product releases in pictures on the back. This style of advertising was common practice for TSR in 1996.
Inside the 1994 box
Box top & bottom
Grand Tour of the Realms. 128 pages. TSR 1085XXX1901
Running the Realms. 64 pages. TSR 1085XXX1902
Shadowdale. 96 pages. 1085XXX1903
Monstrous Compandium pages. 8 sheets, 15 monsters: Aballin, Baneguard, Bonebat, Deepspawn, Dracolich, Gambado, Gibbering Mouther, Gibberling, Helmed Horror, Lock Lurker, Naga (Dark), Nishruu, Quaggoth, Skum, Tressym.
These sheets are frequently missing from sets in the used market.
6 card sheets “showing nearly 100 signs, trail glyphs, symbols, magical sigils, and religious symbols of the Realms in full color”.
These were intended to be cut into little cards, and are indeed sometimes found that way in the wild.
Maps 1 & 2: The Realms in large 1″ = 90 miles scale (1085XXX0701 & 1085XXX0702)
Maps 3 & 4: The Realms in small 1″ = 30 miles scale (1085XXX0703 & 1085XXX0704)
2 clear plastic mylar overlays. XXXXXXX0701