"...the scope of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game is much larger than the most expansive dungeon."
This book, for new players and Dungeon Masters as well as more experienced campaigners, presents rules for adventuring in the outdoors. Opportunities and challenges await characters brave enough and hardy enough to take on the biggest "monster" of all - the wilderness!
Wilderness Survival Guide (1986) is the tenth hardcover release for AD&D and was the second for the year. It was released in November 1986.
A Paired Book. The Wilderness Survival Guide was paired with Douglas Niles' Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (1986), released four months earlier. As such, the history of the WSG largely matches that of the DSG. They were both a new sort of hardcover release, providing very specific and complex rules for a specific locale. They both built out the idea of non-weapon proficiencies which had been introduced in Oriental Adventures (1985) and in doing so created what's been recognized as the "1.5" era of AD&D. Finally, they both had sales problems and ended up repackaged in early 2e days.
The biggest difference between the DSG and the WSG is that the Wilderness Survival Guide consists almost entirely of rules, whereas the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide was much more varied, containing rules, an extensive setting, and even DMing advice.
Welcome to the Wilderness. The original D&D game (1974) offered up two settings for adventure: the dungeon and the wilderness. Basic/Expert D&D matched that pairing, with the Basic Set (1977, 1981) focusing on dungeon delving and the Expert Set (1981) extensively featuring wilderness play.
AD&D never put the same focus on wilderness adventures, so a full wilderness adventure like N2: "The Forest Oracle" (1984) was a real rarity. The WSG tried to change that, opening up the wilderness as a new place for players to explore. If it ultimately failed, that failure was probably due to the fact that the complexity of the wilderness rules in the WSG was tens of times greater than those found in the Expert Set.
The Guide Repackaged. As noted elsewhere, the Wilderness Survival Guide undersold (or was overprinted). A year after the release of second edition AD&D (1989), there was still too much of it in stock, so TSR put together a new 32-page book of mini-adventures called Wild Things and packaged it with the WSG as a "limited edition." The entire package sold for $8.95, compared to $15 for the original WSG. In the package, the new adventure book was labeled "second edition," though the WSG was (of course) first edition.
The Adventure Continues. The next year, TSR put out a sort of "planar survival guide," Jeff Grubb's Manual of the Planes (1987).
About the Creators. Kim Mohan finished work on the Wilderness Survival Guide on September 13, 1986. It was his first major book for TSR, as he'd previously focused on publishing Dragon magazine and creating the brand-new Dungeon magazine. In October, Mohan joined New Infinities Productions, where he would co-author Cyborg Commando (1987).
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.