Designating the 1st Printing of the Dungeon Masters Guide
The following is an argument put forward to refute the long held belief that the version of the DMG
with 16 pages of the Monster Manual (MM
) bound-in is the 1st printing of the Dungeon Masters Guide (DMG
). The version of the DMG
with 16 pages of the MM
bound-in (hereafter referred to as 2nd Print, Alpha) has several characteristics that post date it to the DMG
I have designated as the 1st print. Additionally, the logistics and relative dating of the troubled 2nd Print, Alpha make it very unlikely to have been released by the historically know 1st print release. Thus, there must be a print prior to the 2nd Print, Alpha. I suggest that it is the DMG
I have designated as the 1st print.
The first landmark that helps date the DMG
's in question, is the red and yellow striped fabric lining the spine. This lining last appears in the 4th print of the PH (May, 1979) and the DMG
I designate as the 1st Print. All other versions of the DMG
, and all subsequent versions of the other hardcovers, lack the fabric lining. The first AD&D hardcover to appear without the fabric lining is the 4th Print MM
(August 1979)(1). Again, this post dates the 2nd Print, Alpha version of the DMG
to the DMG
I designate as the 1st Print.
I designate as the 1st Print is the only version of the DMG
to have a 2" wide "Advanced" in the yellow banner on the cover. All other versions of the DMG
have a 1 3/4" "Advanced". The height of the stacked, 2" "Advanced" over "D&D" is 5/8". In all other versions of the DMG
the stacked height is 9/16". What this really means is that the font size was reduced by 1 or 2 points.
Also, the wizard colophon and TSR address on the DMG
I designate as the 1st Print are ca. 3/16" from the bottom edge of the cover. All other copies have the logo and address raised to ca. 1/2" from the bottom edge.
According to TSR artist and art director, Dave Sutherland III, the cover was made by creating a reflective plate with a reverse image of the DMG
artwork and then "punching out" by hand the areas where text and images were to be placed. The text and images were then hand placed back into the "holes" and a new 4-color process film plate could be produced. Dave said this process was expensive for the amount of set up time, machines, processing, and labor, costing about $5,000 for the process. (Dave was very close to the whole printing process. He even remembered the type press they used to print the DMG
, a Holdenburg, German press. Dave said, "Man that was a fast machine! Scary too! Very dangerous.")
It seems no small feat to change the font size of the banner text and reposition the colophon and TSR address. It is both time consuming and costly. For this reason, it is highly unlikely that the change was made for any print run other than one following the initial print run.
Yet another characteristic, the stitching of the DMG
I designate as the 1st Print is 5/8", a standard stitch spacing for the PH and MM
up until August of 1979(2). The 2nd Print, Alpha DMG
's and all(3) later versions of the DMG
, PH, and MM
use 1" stitch spacing or switch to adhesive binding. Again, post dating the 2nd Print, Alpha version of the DMG
to the DMG
I designate as the 1st Print.
The last two bits of evidence are from Dave Sutherland III, who claimed his proof-copy was from the first print run, and Steve Marsh who got first print contributor copies of all three AD&D hardcovers. Both have MM
's and PH's that are 1st prints, so it seems very likely that they would have a 1st print of the DMG
as well. The DMG
's they have match the DMG
I designate as the 1st Print. Steve further mentions that his was mailed to him directly from Gary with an inscription dated "August 1979"(4).
As for identifying the actual date of the 1st printing there are several sources. From my research of Dragon magazine(5) and TSR catalogs(6), it is known that the DMG
was first printed just in time for GenCon XII (August 16-19, 1979). Thus, late July to very early August is a logical choice for the print date. However, given the context of statements made in the August issue of Dragon magazine(4) the 1st printing of the DMG
would certainly have to be July. That brings us to the issue of when the 2nd Print, Alpha was actually published.
A recent discovery indicates the pages of the MM
bound-into the 2nd Print, Alpha are from the 4th Print (August 1979) of the MM
. The identification was accomplished by comparing the errata for the vampire entry. In the seventh paragraph describing how a vampire may be slain, the third sentence reads, "The vampire loses onethird of its hit points per round of immersion." The word, "turn" was corrected to "round" in the 4th Print of the MM
. Which means the 2nd Print, Alpha post dates the 4th Print (August 1979) of the MM
. This makes it highly unlikely that the 2nd Print Alpha would be ready for the know historical first release of the DMG
, on or before GenCon XII (August 19-20, 1979). Given that the Dragon magazine articles indicate completion of printing in July, it makes it impossible.
In light of these facts, the 2nd Print, Alpha DMG
is indeed a 2nd Print. The DMG
I designate as the 1st Print must be the TRUE 1st print.
This, of course, refutes Harold Johnson in Collectable Toys and Values (Meyer 1994) and "The Story of TSR" in the Silver Anniversary Collector's Set (Mohan 1999). In both articles they refer to the MM
as being the first print run. So how is it that they could both be wrong?
Alas, I can only suggest a blurred memory of something they tried to recollect after 15-20 years had passed. Both individuals had just begun their employment with TSR between July and August of 1979. Neither had a job that directly involved them with the printers. Certainly a print run that went off without a hitch would not be as memorable as one that suffered problems.
Paul J. Stormberg, 2005
1 There is one exception to this standard: The TRUE 1st Print PH (August, 1978) does not have the red and yellow striped fabric lining. Additionally, the 1st Print (August, 1978) PH and the 2nd Print (September, 1978) PH have a brown and yellow striped fabric lining.
2 There are two exceptions to this standard: The 2nd Print MM
(May, 1977) uses 3/16" stitch spacing and the TRUE 1st Print PH (August, 1978) uses an alternating 1 1/4" and 3/8" stitch spacing.
3 There is one exception to this standard: The 6th Print PH (June, 1980) uses 13/16" stitch spacing.
4 The inscription reads: "For Steve Marsh, a contributor to AD&D, from his friend, Gary Gygax -- August 1979" (Gary Gygax, Steve Marsh's Personal Copy of DMG
, Aug. 1979)
5 The following are references to various Dragon magazine articles. It is assumed that articles for the August issue were ready to go to press in late July:
"Work on the third volume of the ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® series, the DUNGEON MASTERS GUIDE, is now in progress. As much as we deal with and in fantasy, the real-world limitations of time and space place limitations on the speed of our endeavors. Thus, it now appears that the DUNGEON MASTERS GUIDE will be released at GenCon XII [August 16-19,1979, at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, Wisconsin]. The extra time is necessary if you, the gamers, wish a product that is comparable in quality to the PLAYERS HANDBOOK." (Gary Gygax, Dragon 22, Feb. 1979)
"As of this writing the manuscript for DUNGEON MASTERS GUIDE has at long last been completed, save for a few pages of probable rewrites and transitional material which editing will uncover. This has been a long and lousy struggle for me, as there have been so many other things to do, and great numbers of interruptions in the work flow. It is fun to be … Now let’s see what comes from my upcoming trip to CANGAMES in May [May 18-21, 1979]." (Gary Gygax, Dragon 25, May 1979)
"Q. With the completion of, printing of, and now, the final release of, the Dungeon Masters Guide…" (Dragon 28, August 1979)
"Our work on the DUNGEON MASTERS GUIDE has been an undertaking of considerable magnitude, since it is the largest project ever published by TSR. Fortunately, our prior experience with other projects and the two preceding hardbound volumes (MONSTER MANUAL and PLAYERS HANDBOOK) stood us in good stead. Our energies over quite a number of months have been dedicated to bringing you, the AD&D enthusiasts of the world, a book you have been waiting for — and in time for GenCon XII [August 16-19,1979]." (Mike Carr, Dragon 28, Aug. 1979)
"[Report from GenCon XII, August 16-19,1979]…tucked in the corners hanging on every word of their new Dungeon Masters Guide." (Kim Mohan, Dragon 30, Oct. 1979)
6 "…available about August." (TSR Games Catalog, March 1979)