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D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic)
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D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic)

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Welcome to the DM's Day sale! From now through March 14th, this title has been marked down by up to 40%! For more values, visit our DM's Day sale page.

Whether you're a player or a Dungeon Master, the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia is now the comprehensive sourcebook you need for the original fantasy roleplaying game! For ages 12 and up, the Cyclopedia contains the compete game system and hundreds of features, including the following:

  • All the rules from the D&D boxed set series, including Basic, Expert, Companion, and Masters
  • Guidelines to develop and play characters from levels 1-36
  • Comprehensive lists of weaponry and equipment
  • Expansion rules including optional skills and talents
  • An overview of the Known World and the HOLLOW WORLD game setting, the official D&D campaign world; and Rules to convert D&D games and characters into AD&D 2nd edition game statistics and back again

Fully compatible with the new DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Boxed Set, this volume allows players the full scope of fantasy role-playing from dungeons to the Outer Planes. Now, more than ever, the DUNGEON & DRAGONS game is ready and waiting for you.


Product History

The Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991), compiled and developed by Aaron Allston was the triumphant finale to the BECMI edition of D&D (1983-85). It was published in November 1991.

The End of Basic D&D. By 1991, Basic D&D was TSR's longest running roleplaying line. TSR traced the history of the game back to the release of the original D&D (1974). Even if you don't count that, the first game labeled as Basic D&D - the J. Eric Holmes Basic Set (July 1977) - appeared five months prior to the release of AD&D's Monster Manual (December 1977). It had since undergone two major revisions: the Tom Moldvay D&D Basic Set (1981), which was part of the B/X release, and which kicked off Basic D&D in its modern form; and the the Frank Mentzer D&D Basic Rules Set (1983), which was the first book in the BECMI revision. 

Basic D&D had sold incredibly well at first, back in the late 70s and early 80s. Thanks in large part to the extensive publicity that D&D received from the James Egbert affair, new players were flocking to try out the game, and most of them went to TSR's introductory game - Basic D&D. That interest was in large part what led to the creation of the B/X and BECMI editions of the game, each of which expanded Basic D&D to allow for even more long-term play.

Unfortunately for Basic D&D, the pendulum began to swing toward AD&D as time went on. By the mid-80s, when popular books like Unearthed Arcana (1985) and Oriental Adventures (1985) were released, AD&D was clearly in ascendency, and Basic D&D was increasingly becoming the unwelcome relative who'd overstayed its welcome. The B-series ("Basic") adventures largely ended in 1985. The rest of the BECMI coded adventures finished up in 1987; other than the production of two final introductory adventures, B11: "King's Festival" (1989) and B12: "Queen's Harvest" (1989) a few years later. The "GAZ" line of Known World setting books then stumbled to a halt in 1991, with just one book published in each of the last years.

Although there were some new efforts like the "DDA" adventures (1990-91) and the Hollow World Setting (1990-92), it was clear that Basic D&D's flame was quickly fading.

A Black Box and a Hardcover Book. TSR tried to revive Basic D&D one last time in 1991 with a pair of new rules releases. The first was The New Easy to Master Dungeons & Dragons Game (1991), called alternatively the "Black Box edition," the "fifth edition," and "ten-seventy" (its product code, 1070) internally at TSR. It was a boxed D&D set that TSR described as "the first truly introductory version" of the game (as they had with every other "Basic" version of the game). The Black Box used cards to teach the game, something that had been advocated by Lorraine Williams based on the SRA reading programs (1957).

The Black Box is reported to have sold quickly and well. Approximately a half-million copies were purchased worldwide. It was also supplemented by a set of adventures that were almost boardgame-like with their colorful dungeon maps and figures. Unfortunately, the Black Box had one problem, the same problem that D&D "Basic" sets always had: it was limited in level, though it actually went up to 5th level, a bit higher than Basic's 3rd-level standard.

This limitation dovetailed nicely into TSR's other major plan for Basic D&D in 1991. Though the BECMI set of Basic D&D rules had always been well received, everyone thought it was quite troublesome to go through seven booklets totaling 368 pages when trying to track down a specific spell or magic item. Thus TSR decided to compile all of the rules into one hardcover book. The Rules Cyclopedia was the result - and it also offered somewhere for the Black Box players to go when they finished with fifth level.

Ironically, this was reportedly the exact same setup that Gygax had planned for the J. Eric Holmes Basic Set and also for AD&D, way back in 1977.

The Compilation. The Rules Cyclopedia is a compilation of the D&D Basic Rules Set (1983), the D&D Expert Rules Set (1983), the D&D Companion Rules (1984), and the D&D Master Rules (1985). It contains not only the rules from those boxed sets, but also the monsters, making the Cyclopedia one of two great sources for Basic D&D monsters, the other being the Creature Catalog (1986, 1993). Rules for skills and magic item creation from the "GAZ" Gazetteers (1987-91) are also included, making the Cyclopedia a truly massive compilation of about a decade's worth of Basic D&D rules.

The Immortals Rules (1986) are notably not included in the Cyclopedia, although it does contain seven pages from the Master Rules that include basic information for immortals, including rules on PCs ascending to those lofty ranks.

Rules on jousting in tournaments and on artifacts were also left out of the Cyclopedia.

Not an Introductory Book! Unlike every other iteration of Basic D&D, this one was not intended to be an introductory roleplaying book. It was instead a reference for Basic D&D play, which matched TSR's thinking about the AD&D 2e rules.

Expanding the Known World. The Cyclopedia doesn't expand the Known World in any notable way, but it does include a rather impressive atlas, featuring 16 full color maps, including the maps from the Gazetteers and the world maps from the Master Rules and the Hollow World Campaign Set (1990).

Future History. The Black Box rules and the Rules Cyclopedia got some joint support in the form of the "Thunder Rift" series of low-level adventures (1992-93). The Rules Cyclopedia also was supplemented with a few boxed releases, the most notable of which was Wrath of the Immortals (1992), a new set of immortals rules.

However, after the Black Box was revised one more time as The Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game (1994), all support for the line ended. After 22 years (or 19 if you prefer), Basic D&D was finally dead.

About the Creators. Though lots of people worked on the Rules Cyclopedia, the two most notable creators are Frank Mentzer, who wrote all the original boxes, and Aaron Allston, who led the Cyclopedia project. Mentzer had left TSR for New Infinities back in 1986, which was likely why he wasn't directly involved in this project. Allston didn't work for TSR at all, but instead had been a freelance RPG writer since 1983. Though he only tended to write one or two books for TSR each year, by the early 90s he was writing the biggest releases for Basic D&D, including the Hollow World Campaign Setting, the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, and Wrath of the Immortals.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (96)
Discussions (87)
Customer avatar
Loïc L February 25, 2021 11:35 am UTC
I'm not quite sure if I understand correctly. Is this AD&D Advanced 2e edition ? The presentation says "Rules to convert D&D games and characters into AD&D 2nd edition game statistics and back again", but there is a "(Basic)" inside de name of the product. More precisly, something like the Dark Sun Boxed Set (2e) is compatible with this / this is necessary to play the Dark Sun Boxed Set ?

(Sry for language, I'm a good english reader, but not when it comes to writing)
Customer avatar
Bruce H February 25, 2021 12:12 pm UTC
It's NOT AD&D. It's a compilation of the D&D Basic boxed sets dating back to 1983, reorganized into a single reference book.
Customer avatar
Loïc L February 25, 2021 2:22 pm UTC
Thank you very much.
Customer avatar
Joe B February 12, 2021 6:19 am UTC
I have a few questions. Should I get soft or hard cover? Should I get the pdf with it? How many pages is this book? I think hard cover books over 220 have issues with bindings. Lastly, is this the best price or should I wait because there will be a sale later? Thanks to all who answer.
Customer avatar
Buddy R February 28, 2021 6:25 am UTC
get the pdf with it. Shipping stinks. I am starting to think mine is lost in shipment somewhere. it doesn't take 15 days to ship something half way across the usa.
Customer avatar
Edward A January 26, 2021 6:45 pm UTC
My binding came unglued at the first page. I may try and order this as a softcover. My copy of Dark Dungeons I ordered a few years back is doing just fine.
I have ordered several hard back copies from Drivethru in the past. Glue binding isn’t a great option for big hard back books. I had a copy of Vampire the Masquerade with the same issue. I just received my copy of Mage, The Ascention also. At a whopping 700 pages I am wondering what kind of time I can expect out of that book.
There is a fairly easy fix. I have used my model glue on the Rules Cyclopedia as well as VtM20 to fix my binding. You have to be careful and get the binding down the spine and let it dry there. Letting the glue run down the length of the spine and then close the book. If you put too much glue and it adheres to the 1st page it will harden the pages together and ruin the book.
Customer avatar
Bruce H January 26, 2021 7:03 pm UTC
Re: "My binding came unglued at the first page"

How long have you had it and how much have you used it? If it's brand new, ask DTRPG to replace your copy.
Customer avatar
Edward A January 29, 2021 3:41 pm UTC
Not used much. But it’s been about 6 months
Customer avatar
Edward A January 29, 2021 3:52 pm UTC
I’m more concerned about the Mage The Ascension book having that issue
Customer avatar
Jeremy H January 20, 2021 3:28 am UTC
I had my copy printed at a local shop. They did a good job, but the scan makes some of the text quite fuzzy. I gave them the "new" scan file for printing. Can anyone comment on how the "old" scan looks printed? How about the POD version?
Customer avatar
Sean M January 26, 2021 10:47 am UTC
I can tell you that the POD version is good enough that I bought multiple copies for my players, Its not as crisp as the original, but I wouldn't exactly call it fuzzy, a better term would be... hmmm... it appears softer, though the original was also printed on a magazine page like median, while POD is thick paper. As for comparing Old vs New scans.. I can tell you that the old scan is a bigger file, beyond that I cant make any comment.
Customer avatar
Jeremy H January 13, 2021 3:20 pm UTC
Any chance this one gets included in the New Year, New Game sale ongoing?
Customer avatar
William L January 12, 2021 12:39 am UTC
Things just keep getting better every year. I just received my shiny and new Hard Cover copy of the RC. At least a decade has passed since my last copy of the RC had succumbed to the degradations of time and ultimate destructive depreciation. I was happy to find that WOTC has made available old titles again through print on demand, even happier to receive my brand new print copy. The quality of Drive Thru RPG RC is phenomenal. Binding is tight and the print is really good, highly recommend the hardcover version all BECMI players.
Customer avatar
Bruce H January 12, 2021 1:12 am UTC
Thanks for the update.
Customer avatar
Kristopher T December 28, 2020 2:52 pm UTC
I am curious about whether this is for D&D Basic or AD&D 2e? The title inclines me to think it's for D&D Basic, but if I recall the ProJared video a while back about his copy of the 2e Rules Cyclopedia his book looks just like this one
Customer avatar
Bruce H December 28, 2020 3:01 pm UTC
It's for Basic/Expert.
Customer avatar
David M December 28, 2020 3:17 pm UTC
This is a POD of the 1991 title, which was a consolidation of all 5 BECMI boxed sets. (The I is apparently a bit different from the original boxed set).

Customer avatar
Bruce H December 28, 2020 3:35 pm UTC
Yeah, the "I" section in the RC is a very succinct summary of the Immortals set, more like a simple intro than an actual treatment.
Customer avatar
David M December 28, 2020 4:23 pm UTC
I only went to "E" back in the day, but my DM had over 20+ real world years in the Known World/Mystara setting. He had multiple PCs get to Immortality, and some of his players were actually (real world) children of other players, who grew up during the campaign.
Customer avatar
Bruce H December 28, 2020 4:51 pm UTC
That's pretty cool!
Customer avatar
David M November 18, 2020 11:45 pm UTC
How is the print quality currently? I've seen quite a few posts about blurred text that is making me cautious about purchasing a physical book. I'd love to have this title actually on hand, but I'd rather just keep using my pdf than throw away money on a book that's too difficult to read.
Customer avatar
Dave M November 24, 2020 2:29 pm UTC
I have no problems reading the POD version.
Customer avatar
David M November 26, 2020 3:02 pm UTC
Thanks for the input. I added it to my list.
Customer avatar
Mark V November 29, 2020 3:34 pm UTC
The POD version is a bit larger than the original. I find it easier to read.
Customer avatar
Noel R November 12, 2020 12:57 pm UTC
I was talking to a few other DM's about doing a round table reading/discussion of each edition of D&D. Am I going to lament getting this instead of the individual Basic, Expert, etc books, for that?
Customer avatar
Bruce H November 12, 2020 1:19 pm UTC
If you want to *learn* how to play, then the individual boxes are what you need. It's what they were written for. If you already know how to play and just need a reference set, you're much better off with the RC.
Customer avatar
Ridge M November 12, 2020 6:37 am UTC
I'm considering grabbing a pod copy of this, but I was wondering what other options would be good to have with it? Not considering wrath of the immortals yet, but what content didn't make it into this that would just be handy for a dm to have for their players? I've browsed through one before and liked that it was all there in one time, I even love the weapons mastery present in becmi, but as much as I know, I haven't read EVERY module or accessory available. Any recommendations are appreciated!
Customer avatar
Bruce H November 12, 2020 1:21 pm UTC
Get DMR2 Creature Catalog and the B1-9 adventure module, plus B10, one of if not the best D&D module.
Customer avatar
Ridge M November 12, 2020 7:38 pm UTC
Already own the originals. First prints. But, I thought that was apart of the ac series? Or is that the one that was revised for the basic set?? Regardless, that's pretty cool. I have the mm1 and mm2 as well, and loved running b1-9, but I felt weird with how b1 was handled in it. As for me, S4 is one of my favorites, alongside wg7 (the humor I enjoyed), i3-i5 (the actual original modules), ex1 and 2 (sorry, but it's a blast to whoop the mad hatters arse), and of course one of my personal favorites: da1-da4. But thank you for the help!
Customer avatar
Bruce H November 12, 2020 8:10 pm UTC
You wrote: "As for me, S4 is one of my favorites, alongside wg7 (the humor I enjoyed), i3-i5 (the actual original modules), ex1 and 2 (sorry, but it's a blast to whoop the mad hatters arse),"

Those aren't basic D&D.
Customer avatar
Joe C October 29, 2020 2:39 am UTC
Love my copy great book.
Best D&D by far.
Wrath of the immortals would be awesome
Please can we have more of the Gazatteers in P.O.D.?

Customer avatar
connor S October 04, 2020 4:20 pm UTC
first-time site user here, I want to order a printed copy from the UK, but I'm not sure on what the price is and if it's worth all the trouble for a print copy are there any other UK buyers around who can tell me their experiences?
Customer avatar
Bruce H October 04, 2020 5:07 pm UTC
Connor, start the purchasing process until you can see the UK price. If it's OK, just continue. Otherwise, cancel out.
Customer avatar
October 10, 2020 4:44 pm UTC
Its worth it mate, reprints are my preference over the 2nd hand market( Which is ridiculously over priced), And the Cyclopedia is still the best single rpg product ever written. Pick up a few gazetteers and you'll be well on your way. You can make arguements over the mechanics of the system, but the BECMI gazetteers are still better setting products than most others.
Customer avatar
Bruce H October 10, 2020 4:52 pm UTC
Thanks. Glad you feel that way! =)
Customer avatar
William H August 14, 2020 12:08 am UTC
My favorite edition of the B·X/B·E·C·M·I rules.
There are several minor changes, and it's a heaping tome, but it's the same content as B·E·C·M boxes, and a bit more, as it includes some of the GAZ and HWR content. It also includes 36 level options for Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Mystics. Note that I purchased this before 2004, and it had disappeared, and WotC did the honorable thing and restored access to prior purchasers of the PDF.
The OCR isn't entirely clean, but it's cleaner than the one I downloaded from DTRPG back in the early 00's. It's good enough to use the search on most of the time. If you want expanded elf, dwarf, and halfling character options, add The Five Shires, Elves of Alfheim, and Dwarves of Rockhome. For Humanoid monsters, add Orcs of Thar. For a variety of other nonhumans, add Hollow World boxed set, and/or any of the PC series expansions.
Customer avatar
Tiago M August 08, 2020 2:21 pm UTC
How's the softcover version? Does it look like it will hold, or will the pages come off very rapidly?
Customer avatar
Dave M November 24, 2020 2:32 pm UTC
My copy hasn't had masses of use (I tend to use it as a reference more than something I use at the table) but the binding is good and I have no worries that it's going to fall apart any time soon.
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Adamantine seller
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TSR 1071
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258.27 MB
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