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DMGR1 Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide (2e)


Whether you're a novice DM getting ready to referee your first AD&D game or an old pro who's running an established campaign, there's something for you in the Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide. We've included dozens of helpful tips to help you better organize your games, design adventures, and make your NPCs come to life. In short, there's something for everybody in this exciting addition to the AD&D game system.

Product History

DMGR1: Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide (1990), by Jennell Jaquays and William W. Connors, was the first book in a new series of Dungeon Master releases for AD&D 2e. It was published in March 1990.

Another Leatherette. By 1990, TSR was already publishing their best-selling leatherette-covered "PHBR" series, which had begun with PHBR1: The Complete Fighter's Handbook (1989). TSR was fond of the format because it was relatively cheap to produce (unlike a hardcover or a box), but it was nonetheless more prestigious than a saddle-stitched module. Thus, it was natural to extend the leatherettes to the new DMGR releases.

The DMGR series overall provided a very nice complement to the similar PHBR series, as the one supplemented the Dungeon Master's Guide (1989) and the other the Player's Handbook (1989) - though in the end the DMGR line as a whole would be a lot less coherent than TSR's PHBR series, for better or for worse.

Not Quite the Dungeon Master's Guide. The story of the Campaign Sourcebook began with Warren Spector, who was then putting together the 2e Dungeon Master's Guide. He wanted to include material about writing campaigns, running campaigns, and being a good GM, and so commissioned Jaquays to produce it. Unfortunately, the resulting 100 or so pages of text were ultimately pulled from the DMG because other material for that book had run long.

Enter William W. Connors, a brand-new staff writer for TSR. He was handed Jaquays' manuscript on his first day at TSR, advised that it needed to be expanded to book length, and told that the deadline was last Friday. Connors says that pretty much sums up his time at TSR. He added the information on dungeons that makes up the last 25 or so pages of the book.

Origins of the Anecdotes. The book contains various anecdotes about Game Mastering. Though they were usually based on real-life happenings, they usually were not based on D&D games. For example, the story about painting a dead minotaur to look like a demon (page 34) took place in a RuneQuest game using a setting that Jaquays had created for Dragonquest (!). Two of the players were actually game designers Lawrence Schick and B. Dennis Sustare.

The story about the gelatin green slime miniature (page 40) happened too, and the players are still embarrassed about it. That one was really about a RuneQuest Gorp.

A History of GM Books. In its earliest days, TSR incorporated GMing advice directly into their "beginner" adventures, starting with B1: "In Search of the Unknown" (1978). Subsequently, B2: "The Keep on the Borderlands" (1979) and B4: "The Lost City" (1982) also contained introductory advice for GMs of different sorts. There was even one AD&D adventure with introductory GMing advice, Aaron Allston's N4: "Treasure Hunt" (1987).

It was only in the late 80s that TSR began to produce standalone books of GM advice, each with increasing scope. For instance, C6: "The Official RPGA Tournament Handbook" (1987) contained advice on designing and running tournaments, while Aaron Allston's Dungeon Master's Design Kit (1988) was a bit more expansive, including extensive discussion of creating adventures (and lots of adventure hooks to fill them with). Thus, the Campaign Sourcebook was really the culmination of a trend toward GMs' advice at TSR.

In the broader world of RPG publication, the only book with the same (wide) scope as the Campaign Sourcebook was probably Gary Gygax's Master of the Game (1989), published the previous year.

About Gaming Culture. Jaquays offers information on running games, creating worlds, and plotting adventures that remains relevant today. However, from a historical point of view, some of Jaquays' discussions about gaming culture, circa 1990, are just as intriguing.

One of the earliest comments of note is the simple maxim to "Be kind to the players." The point is later expanded: "'Killer' DMs who take the side of the monsters against the PCs are as bad as those who purposefully make the monsters ineffective by taking the side of the players against the monsters." This was a big change from the gaming of the 70s, when many GMs were actively opposing the players in an adversarial manner.

There's also a bit of discussion of "Monty Haul" play - possibly a first for TSR's "official" publications. Of course the term had received widespread attention in James Ward's "The Adventures of Monty Haul" column, which began way back in The Dragon #14 (May 1978). Right next to the Campaign Sourcebook's discussion of Monty Haul play is a section on "novel style play," talking about the limitations of a railroaded, plot-heavy game of the sort that became more popular with the publication of the Dragonlance adventure series (1984-1986). Going from Monty Haul to plot-heavy RPGs really spans the first two decades of RPG adventure design.

Finally there are interesting discussions of player personalities and campaign types.

The look at player personalities doesn't have the complexity of later works, such as Ron Edwards' "System Does Matter" (1999) or Robin Laws' Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering (2001). However, the comments about "experts" and "know-it-alls" suggest that some types of problem players are as old as the hobby.

The analysis of campaigns identifies three campaign styles that are still recognized today, though under different names. Jaquays' linear campaigns are today often called "railroads," while open campaigns are usually called "sandboxes." Jaquays' ideas about a matrix campaign sound the most like Pinnacle's "plot point campaign."

About Dungeoneering. Connors' chapters discussing dungeon settings (which end the book) read a lot like a polished and simplified Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (1986). There are even some blank isometric maps, just like in the DSG - though without the instructions on creating depth that the DSG contained.

About the Creators. Paul (now Jennell) Jaquays had been doing freelancing writing and editing for TSR in the years leading up to her work on the Campaign Sourcebook. Unfortunately, the work on it burned her out as a writer for some time thereafter.

As already noted, this was William Connors' first work as a full-time TSR staff member. Around the same time he was also contibuting to various Monstrous Compendiums as well as Jaquays' Citybook IV: On the Road (1990), published by Flying Buffalo.

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

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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POD please!
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Please add POD.
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POD on this and all other AD&D 2e material thanks
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on March 12, 2013.