D&D Expert Set  & Cyclopedia              HomeUp
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Released as the obvious sequel to the D&D Basic Set, which left characters hanging at level 3.  For characters levels 4 - 14 (D&D Rules Cyclopedia covers levels 1 to 36).

D&D Expert Set (light blue box) edited by Dave Cook
D&D Expert Rules Set 2 (blue box) edited by Frank Mentzer
D&D Rules Cyclopedia by Aaron Allston

TSR wanted to make it even more clear that AD&D was not the sequel to the Basic Rules, but was a separate game entirely (and every official reference to a link was removed, such as the paragraph on page 6 of First-print B1 In Search of the Unknown).  We’ve heard this was due to legal reasons.

The Expert Set is supported specifically by the DA, O, and X-series of modules, as well as MSOLO2.

D&D Rules Cyclopedia is the replacement for the D&D Basic, Expert, Companion, and Master Rules.  It covers levels 1-36, and is further expanded upon by the Wrath of the Immortals set (thanks to Richard van Tol for this info).  An unofficial errata sheet has been compiled by Jason MacInnes, and is available in our Library section.

Exp Descrp


Printing Information  Foreign Logos

As with the D&D Basic Sets, the Expert Set rulebooks were available separately (shrinkwrapped) and have the same artwork as their respective box sets.  All the rulebook covers are in color.

  • First (1981)

    • Compatible with the Second Revision of the D&D Basic Set (Eighth print), and released at the same time

    • Light blue box, depicting a wizard’s scrying of a battle (the scene in the crystal ball is of the cover to the D&D Basic Set); box artwork by Erol Otus

    • Box bottom has the Product Number in the lower right.  Border around the "STOP! READ THIS BEFORE PURCHASE" text is black.  Lower right corner shows the latest copyright as 1980

    • 64-page rulebook, 3-hole-punched, with a black number "2" in the upper left (no white circle around it).  States a copyright of 1980 in several places, but the actual copyright is January 1981

    • X1 Isle of Dread (First print, no shrinkwrap)

    • Six uncolored dice and a dice crayon

    • Thanks to Peter Di Piazza, Michael Dougherty, Christian Fiset, Rene Hurka, and Bruce Robertson for help with this info, and to Bruce Robertson for the rulebook scan

  • Second

    • Identical to the First print, but box bottom does not have the Product Number in the lower right

    • Thanks to Rene Hurka and Bruce Robertson for help with this info

  • Third

    • Light blue box, depicting a wizard’s scrying of a battle; box artwork by Erol Otus

    • Box bottom does not have the Product Number in the lower right.  Border around the "STOP! READ THIS BEFORE PURCHASE" text is red.  Lower right corner shows the latest copyright as 1981

    • 64-page rulebook, 3-hole-punched, with a black number "2" surrounded by a white circle in the upper left.  Copyright info has been corrected to 1981, and Steve Marsh has been added as co-editor.  Table of contents, index, and glossary are in black ink.  (Note: a printing of this rulebook has been spotted with no white circle around the black number, yet the copyright has been corrected and Steve Marsh added.  This print was found separate from a boxed set, so it's possible it was only released separately like this.  Thanks to Michael Deaton for this info).

    • X1 Isle of Dread (Second print, no shrinkwrap)

    • Six uncolored dice and a dice crayon

    • Thanks to Peter Di Piazza, Rene Hurka, Bruce Robertson, and Bill Sweetapple for help with this info, and to Bruce Robertson for the rulebook scan

  • Fourth

    • Light blue box, depicting a wizard’s scrying of a battle; box artwork by Erol Otus

    • Box bottom has the Product Number in the lower right

    • 64-page rulebook, 3-hole-punched, with a black number "2" surrounded by a white circle in the upper left.  Table of contents, index, and glossary are in blue ink

    • X1 Isle of Dread (Third print, no shrinkwrap)

    • Six uncolored dice and a dice crayon

    • Thanks to Bill Sweetapple and Alex Wu for this info

  • Fifth (1983)

    • Compatible with the Third Revision of the D&D Basic Rules Set 1 (Twelfth print) and Set 3: Companion Rules, released at the same time (as well as the Master and Immortal Rules Sets, released slightly later)

    • Entitled Expert Rules Set 2.  Solid blue box, showing a flying dragon battling a mounted warrior; box artwork by Larry Elmore

    • 64-page rulebook, July 1983

    • X1 Isle of Dread (Fourth print, no shrinkwrap)

    • Six uncolored dice and a dice crayon

    • Thanks to Aaron Leeder and Eric Pass for help with the info, to Norbert Jakobs for the scan of the set, and to Eric Pass for the scan of the rulebook

  • Sixth

    • Retitled Set 2: Expert Rules to bring it in-line with the other boxed sets.  Solid blue box, showing a flying dragon battling a mounted warrior; box artwork by Larry Elmore

    • Box bottom has the TSR UK address in the lower left, and it's "The Mill, Rathmore Road"

    • 64-page rulebook, July 1983.  A few changes, notably the saving-throw matrices and Thief Skills progression table brought in-line with the Companion and later sets

    • X1 Isle of Dread (Fourth print, no shrinkwrap)

    • Six uncolored dice and a dice crayon

    • Thanks to Michael Deaton, Mike Stoddard, and Jim Torbet for help with this info, and to Richard van Tol for the scan of the set

  • Seventh

    • Identical to Sixth Print, except on box bottom, the TSR UK address has moved to the lower right (still at "The Mill, Rathmore Road")

    • Thanks to Jeff Imrie for this info

  • Eighth

    • Identical to Seventh Print, except on box bottom, the TSR UK address in the lower right has changed to "120 Church End, Cherry Minton"

    • Thanks to Michael Deaton and Jeff Imrie for this info

A subsequent revision of the Expert Rules was incorporated into the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. (Thanks to Adrian Newman for the scan of the Cyclopedia).
 
D&D Rules Cyclopedia Foreign

The D&D Rules Cyclopedia has no distinguishable prints.  A pre-production scan is accessible through this link; it was never actually printed, having been created solely for a TSR catalog photo shoot around 1990 (thanks to Richard van Tol for the scan).


Auction Commentary

For whatever reason, the Fifth print of the Expert Set (Set 2: Expert Rules) is very rare, compared to the Fourth print (Expert Rules Set 2).  Since the contents are identical, however, obtaining a Fifth print is understandably a low priority for collectors.


Current eBay Auctions



Expert Set
(1st-3rd prt)


Expert Rulebook (1st/2nd prt)



Expert Rulebook
(3rd/4th prt)



Expert Rules Set 2
(5th print)



Set 2: Expert Rules
(6th-8th prt)



Expert Rulebook
(5th-8th prt)



D&D Rules Cyclopedia