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Volo's Guide to All Things Magical (2e)

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For aeons, folk have struggled to master the world of Toril through the use of magic. The human race has stolen what magical knowledge it can from the elves and other races, gained more through worship, and created the rest by building on the work of those who have gone before. For centuries, human wizards have experimented with new spells and variations on existing magic, striving to grow ever more powerful. They have succeeded to an astonishing degree, but through the death of secretive mages and the hidden, or distorted.

To pierce this heavy cloak of missing knowledge, cryptic sorcerous codes, and misinformation requires a writer of rare daring, peristence, and magical skill. Such a man is Volothamp Geddarm, famous traveler of the Realms - and this is his most important, long-suppressed work, the book that archwizards could not keep from your hands!

Read this 128-page tome, and learn:

  • how do mages gain special powers for themselves, including the awesome ability known as Spellfire?
  • how may items be enchanted to fire forth magic once, twice, or whenever called upon?
  • what are the best materials from which to construct magical items?
  • what powerful spells have hitherto been the secrets of the most puissant archmages?
  • what are many of the fell, awesome artifacts of the Realms known to exist?
  • what lore exists about teleportation, magical wards, guardian spells, and sites of power?
  • and much, much more that most wizards would have liked to remain hidden forever from the eyes of their rivals - and from common folk not skilled in magic!

Suitable for all levels of play.

Special Note: This edition of Volo's Guide, intended for travelers from beyond the borders of Faer?n, has been heavily rewritten and contains game notes and commentary by the famous sage and archmage Elminster of Shadowdale.


Product History

Volo's Guide to All Things Magical, by Ed Greenwood with Eric L. Boyd, is a side trek for the six-book series of Volovian travelogues. It was published in October 1996.

A Long Time Coming. When Volothamp Geddarm was first introduced in Forgotten Realms Adventures (1990), it was to comment on "Volo's Guide to All Things Magical," an early guide by Volo that had made some magicians rather cross. Over the years, this "suppressed" book took on an almost legendary aura, as it was occasionally referenced in Dragon magazine, in the Forgotten Realms sourcebooks, and even in novels. Thus it's appropriate that TSR at long-last published All Things Magical, following the release of their last travelogue, Volo's Guide to the Dalelands (1996).

Mind you, TSR's published book isn't the "original" edition of All Things Magical that got suppressed. Elminster says in his introduction that though he decided to release a version of Volo's book, "it was not going to be the same opus Volo fondly thought of as his great gift to all seekers after magic."

Not Exactly a Volo's Guide. Despite its title, Volo's Guide to All Things Magical isn't a typical Volo's Guide: It's not a travel guide like the previous five books, nor was it published in Volo's traditional digest size. Most notably, while some of the book is in-character (like the previous Volo Guides), there are also a lot of crunchy game mechanics where Volo only gets to offer footnotes.

Greenwood says that the differences are due to All Things Magical being shoehorned into the Volo's Guide series. Its contents are also a bit of a mishmash, containing lots of Realmslore by Greenwood; an updated article on gems by Greenwood from Dragon #72 (April 1983); detailed artifact descriptions by Eric L. Boyd; rules on magic item enchantment; and lots more. Of course this sort of mish-mash was entirely appropriate for a Volo's Guide.

About Spellfire! All Things Magical offers one of the first mechanical looks at the "Spellfire" of the Forgotten Realms. Greenwood had written about it in the novels Spellfire (1988) and Crown of Fire (1994) and would return to the topic in Hand of Fire (2002), but this was the first time that players could actually use the power in their games.

The rules also appeared in the Heroes' Lorebook (1996) around the same time, as that book included stats for Spellfire wielder Shandril Shessair.

About Artifacts. When TSR published the Book of Artifacts (1993), it included a couple of artifacts specific to the Forgotten Realms. Some artifacts specific to the gods of the Realms also appeared in Faiths & Avatars (1996). However, All Things Magical offered the first large collection of non-divine artifacts of the Realms.

Many of these artifacts were drawn from the Forgotten Realms novels, with the Avatar series (1989) being a particularly popular source. Sadly, the artifacts from DC's Forgotten Realms comics aren't included - despite the fact that Jeff Grubb's Forgotten Realms (1989-91) was all about hunting down artifacts! (They're mentioned, at least.)

About Lab Work. All Things Magical includes some scattered rules on enchantments and the various materials used for making magic items. This was one of AD&D's first attempts to provide lengthier rules on the topic. Player's Option: Spells & Magic (1996) had included some more extensive, but less evocative rules just a few months earlier.

About the Creators. Ed Greenwood is the creator of the Forgotten Realms and the alter-ego of both Volothamp Geddarm and Elminster the Sage. His Volo's Guide series ran five books from 1992-96. Not being a travel guide, All Things Magical is sort of the "fifth-and-a-half" Volo Guide. The series returned a few years later for an encore with Volo's Guide to Baldur's Gate II (2000).

Eric L. Boyd was one of the primary authors for the Forgotten Realms from 1996-2008. His first two books were Faith & Avatars and Volo's Guide to All Things Magical.

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.

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This title was added to our catalog on October 01, 2013.