Dungeon Masters Guide                        Home Up
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The final manual of the first three core books. Describes the actual AD&D game system (in unbelievable detail).

Dungeon Masters Guide by Gary Gygax

After more than two years since tantalizing players with the AD&D Monster Manual, Gygax finished work on his most impressive project, the Dungeon Masters Guide.  Oft-criticized for its complicated rules and wordiness, the DM's Guide nevertheless has held up remarkably well over time, and is an impressive milestone in role-playing-game history.


Printing Information  Foreign Logos

The Dungeon Masters Guide lacks printing information on the copyright page, at least up until 1985. Much of what we have learned has been through extensive detective work; special thanks to Paul Stormberg for divining much of the information below.  Thanks also Jim Fetzner, Paul Hennz, Rudy Hess, Bruce Robertson, and Jean-Philippe Suter for their contributions.

Because it is very difficult to determine what printing you have, you may find this flowchart easier to follow.

  • First (Aug 1979)
    • Wizard logo
    • Cover art is of three adventurers fighting a large efreet
    • Flyleaves and endpapers are a yellow-orange color
    • "ADVANCED D&D" in the angled yellow banner is too large, and the "D" of "ADVANCED" partially runs off the cover
    • Wizard logo and TSR address appear on spine
    • No ISBN on spine, back cover, or title page
    • Textblock is stitched 5/8" apart
    • Spine inlay is yellow and red striped fabric
    • 232 numbered pages
    • This designation refutes Harold Johnson in Collectable Toys and Values (Meyer 1994) and "The Story of TSR" in the Silver Anniversary Collector's Set (1999). Both of these sources indicate that the Second Print Alpha, below, is the first print run.  The full argument suggesting this print to be the First print may be found here.
    • Estimated print run is 40,000
    • This print was first available at GenCon XII (August 16-19, 1979)
    • Thanks to Hugh Marbach for the scan
       
  • Second Alpha (Aug 1979)
    • Wizard logo
    • Cover art is of three adventurers fighting a large efreet
    • Endpapers and flyleaves are a yellow-orange color
    • "ADVANCED D&D" in the angled yellow banner has been downsized, and no longer has the "D" of "ADVANCED" running off the edge of the cover
    • Wizard logo and TSR address appear on spine
    • No ISBN on spine, back cover, or title page
    • Textblock is now stitched 1" apart, on this an all subsequent prints (up to and including the Eighth print)
    • Spine inlay is no longer yellow and red striped fabric, on this and all subsequent prints
    • 232 numbered pages
    • According to Harold Johnson in Collectable Toys and Values and "The Story of TSR" in the Silver Anniversary Collector's Set, this print had sixteen pages of the Monster Manual (Fourth Print) mistakenly bound within.  Johnson relates in his interview that copies of this print went out to retailers via outer shipping.  Once the error was detected, the books were recalled, the covers were removed, the correct pages were inserted, and the books were rebound with the old covers (see Second Print Beta below).  However, at least a few copies were purchased by customers before the recall and remain in circulation.  The pages for the DMG were apparently printed 16 to a sheet (8 on the front and 8 on the back), known as a signature, then cut to be bound in the book.  In this case, the printer printed one side of the sheet with the DMG pages and the other with the Monster Manual pages.  When they were cut and bound, alternating pairs of facing pages were thus either DMG or MM pages.  The MM pages were also placed in their technically correct position in the book -- the page numbers were the correct MM page numbers, replacing the page of the same number in the DMG.  The specific pages that contained Monster Manual data were: 98/99 (facing pages), 102/103 (facing pages), 106/107 (facing pages), and 110/111 (facing pages), for a total of 8 MM pages.  As a result (of this, as well as the issue with the Third Print Alpha below), there was a severe supply shortage of the Dungeon Masters Guide in those early months
    • A very rare DMG print.  Only a few of these copies with Monster Manual pages managed to escape the recall
       
  • Second Beta (Aug-Sept 1979)
    • Recalled and rebound printing. As above, but MM pages were replaced by newly printed DMG pages and the books were rebound with the same covers.  This print is recognizable by examining the endpapers -- the old endpapers are pasted over with the new endpapers.  Also the textblock may have been stapled (three big staples) or re-stitched too far into the textblock during rebinding, leaving the gutter between pages too small or non-existent.  Some text disappears into the gutter as a result.  Also the new 16-page signatures were cut oddly and some page numbers are very close to the bottom edge of the page, with the text on those pages at a slight angle (quick check: page 99)
    • This print is otherwise identical to the Second Print Alpha, above
       
  • Third Alpha (Sept-Nov 1979)
    • The third print run (again, 40,000 copies), printed just two weeks after the Second Print, had the cover of every other book deeply scored across the front cover by a loose wire on the boxing machine.  This run was recalled, the good books sorted out and shipped, and the scarred covers replaced (confirmation needed)
    • Third Print Alpha is the unscarred book that was shipped out.  There should be about 20,000 of these in circulation
    • Wizard logo
    • Cover art is of three adventurers fighting a large efreet
    • Endpapers and flyleaves are a yellow-orange color
    • "ADVANCED D&D" in the angled yellow banner has been downsized, and no longer has the "D" of "ADVANCED" running off the edge of the cover
    • Wizard logo and TSR address appear on spine
    • No ISBN on spine, back cover, or title page
    • 232 numbered pages
    • You can distinguish this print from the Second Prints, above, by looking for two factors: no Monster Manual pages within, and no pasted-over endpapers
       
  • Third Beta (Sept-Nov 1979)
    • Third Print Beta is the scarred book that escaped the recall (confirmation needed; no specimens of this print have yet been spotted)
    • Other than the scar mark on the front cover, this print is otherwise identical to the Third Print Alpha, above
       
  • Third Gamma (Sept-Nov 1979)
    • Third Print Gamma is the scarred book that was recalled and the cover was replaced. This print is recognizable by examining the endpapers.  The old endpapers are pasted over with the new endpapers.  The holes from the previous binding are visible
    • The only discernable difference between this print and the Second Beta, above, is page 99: the text here is not at an angle
    • This print is otherwise identical to the Third Print Alpha, above
       
  • Fourth (Sept-Dec 1979)
    • Endpapers and flyleaves are white
    • This print is otherwise identical to the Third Print Alpha, above
       
  • Fifth (Sept-Dec 1979)
    • Wizard logo
    • Cover art is of three adventurers fighting a large efreet
    • Endpapers and flyleaves are a yellow-orange color
    • "ADVANCED D&D" in the angled yellow banner has been downsized, and no longer has the "D" of "ADVANCED" running off the edge of the cover
    • Wizard logo and "TSR Games" appears on the spine instead of TSR address.  Wizard logo on spine is smaller
    • ISBN now appears on spine and lower left corner of back cover
    • 232 numbered pages
       
  • Sixth Alpha (Dec 1979) (Revised Edition)
    • Wizard logo
    • Cover art is of three adventurers fighting a large efreet
    • Endpapers and flyleaves are a yellow-orange color
    • "ADVANCED D&D" in the angled yellow banner has been downsized, and no longer has the "D" of "ADVANCED" running off the edge of the cover
    • Wizard logo and "TSR Games" appears on the spine instead of TSR address.  Wizard logo on spine is smaller
    • ISBN now appears on spine, lower left corner of back cover, and bottom of title page
    • Title page now says "Revised Edition December, 1979".   Dragon Magazine #35 has an Errata article describing the revisions; click the link to read it.
    • Adds text, errata, Appendices O and P, product catalog, reference sheets, and survey form. Reference sheets are perforated
    • Removes Todd Oleck artwork (pg. 40 of 5th and earlier prints) and Dave Sutherland artwork (pg. 119 of 5th and earlier prints), presumably to accommodate the new layout. Some artwork is also resized and moved
    • 238 numbered pages
       
  • Sixth Beta (1980)
    • Endpapers and flyleaves are white
    • Has a survey form, and reference sheets are perforated
    • This print is otherwise identical to the Sixth Alpha print, above
       
  • Sixth Gamma (1980)
    • Endpapers and flyleaves are white
    • No survey form, and reference sheets are NOT perforated
    • This print is otherwise identical to the Sixth Alpha print, above
       
  • Seventh (1981)
    • TSR Face logo
    • Cover art is of three adventurers fighting a large efreet
    • Endpapers and flyleaves are white
    • Angled yellow banner with "ADVANCED D&D" and adding "Adventure Games" below that
    • TSR Face logo on spine.  "TSR Games" has been removed
    • "ADVANCED D&D" is now followed by "Adventure Games" on spine
    • ISBN now appears on spine, lower left corner of back cover, and bottom of title page
    • "ESSENTIAL REFERENCE INFORMATION FOR GAMEMASTERING ADVANCED D&D" on the front cover is changed to: "ESSENTIAL REFERENCE INFORMATION FOR GAMEMASTERING ADVANCED D&D GAMES"
    • No survey card, and reference sheets are NOT perforated
    • Textblock is no longer stitched, but glued (adhesive binding)
    • 238 numbered pages
    • Thanks to Michael Deaton for the scan
       
  • Eighth (1983)
    • Cover art is updated, in line with the other AD&D manuals; depicts a DM opening a pair of large doors
    • Orange spine
    • Copyright page still states "Revised Edition, Dec 1979", and still describes the rear cover artwork as depicting the City of Brass
    • We've had to "squish" the previous printings into several Alpha/Beta/Gamma prints so as not to collide with the actual print numbers that began to appear on the copyright page around 1985.  Yes, it's a mess.  Blame TSR -- there were far more than ten actual prints of the DMG by 1987!

Printing info most likely began to be added to the copyright page around 1985; discoveries of print info lower than 9th will throw our sequence above into chaos.  :)  The 9th printing was in August 1987, 10th printing was in 1987, the 11th printing was in April 1988, the 12th printing was in November 1988, the 13th printing was in July 1989, and the 14th printing was in July 1990.  The description on the copyright page of the rear-cover artwork was never corrected.  (Thanks to Michael Deaton and Gordon Richards for help with this info).


Auction Commentary

First prints are reasonably scarce, but by no means "rare".-- a Second Alpha print, with the Monster Manual pages inside, is much rarer.

 


DMs Guide (1st print)


DMs Guide (2nd-6th print)


DMs Guide (3rd print Beta)


DMs Guide (7th print)


 DMs Guide (8th+ prints)