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Recently I started googling out old AD&D books, but I stumbled upon very strange mix-up in terms of edition naming convention. For example, the Wayne's Books listing of a later series of Greyhawk modules has most of the Greyhawk book covers, but strangely enough, many times newer books are named "AD&D" while older ones have "AD&D 2nd Edition" in the title. The same happens for Forgotten Realms listings, and other setting books too.

I've read somewhere that AD&D 1e and 2e had some small overlap in terms of releases, but it doesn't explain the scale of the issue and the examples below.

How am I supposed to know which AD&D books are actually for 2nd Edition, and which are for 1st Edition?

Even assuming the small overlap mentioned above and some reprints which I identified, I'm still finding books released 5+ years into the lifespan of 2nd Edition that still have the old 1st Edition logo.

Was the release schedule that insanely messy back in the days? Or did they drop the "2nd Edition" part of the logo for some reason? Or did something else happen there?

Examples of the problem:

  • Greyhawk Player's Guide (1998): Not a reprint (at least not of anything I can find); nearly 10 years into the 2nd Edition lifespan but with a 1st Edition logo. Also released long after other Greyhawk 2nd Edition content which makes it even more odd.
  • The Scarlet Brotherhood (1999): Also not a reprint; also has 1st Edition logo. Even Wikipedia says it's for 2nd Edition, though.
  • TSR Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition (1999): On the first page, there is information that its content is updated for 2nd Edition, yet the cover still has the 1st Edition logo.

There are, of course, many more examples; the ones I found so far are mostly of setting-specific books (Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Dark Sun, etc.).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Players Guide 1998, a reprint? There was no Players Guide before. Adventure Begins also 1998, a reprint too? Also there's no mention of earlier version of such book. I'm restricting my examples due to space but point is - no reprints, 1st Edition Logo, far too late into the 2nd Edition lifespan to make any sense. Same happens for several Forgotten Realms book. \$\endgroup\$ – Nec Xelos Nov 6 at 3:24
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You can tell by the logos

Those logos that are tripping you up aren’t 1st edition logos. They’re the new 2e logo introduced in 1995. By becoming familiar with both 2e logos, you can easily identify 2e book covers.

There were two branding eras for 2nd edition. The first used a logo that said “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition”, but otherwise matched the style of the late 1e word logo.

The second, later branding era dropped the “2nd edition” from the logo but it had its own style that followed the new—and widely disliked—AD&D 2e trade dress introduced along with the new core book reprints.

Why the change? Because they wanted a refresh. As the PHB foreword noted:

So what has changed? Obviously, the books look different. We were awfully proud of them when they released in 1989, but the world doesn't stand still for anyone. We decided that after six years, it was time for a new look.

But why did they drop “2nd Edition” from the logo? I could only speculate, and I shouldn’t. However, I can say that at the time it caused no confusion for active AD&D players of either edition (and it wouldn’t surprise me if TSR, when they chose it, never considered the value to history of choosing a clearer logo instead).

A quick logo guide

This is the first 2e logo, as it appears on the cover of the original 2e PHB:

Original AD&D 2e logo

This original logo sometimes appears in monochrome inside a thick line, but the text design is always the same.

This is the later 2e logo, as it appears on the cover of the new-style reprinted 2e PHB:

enter image description here

If you see either of these logos, the book is AD&D 2nd edition. Both appear in various colours, in order to look nice with the cover design of different books, but the overall designs always match these.


For comparison, this is the last 1e logo used:

late-era AD&D 1e logo

If you see this logo, it’s 1st edition.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does the second AD&D 2nd Edition Logo (the red one) have something to do with so called 2.5 or "revised" edition or is that different story entirely? \$\endgroup\$ – Nec Xelos Nov 6 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NecXelos Related, yes, but not right away. That was the beginning of the era that later added the Player’s/DM’s Option supplements, and those additions are what some people later started calling 2.5e. (There were no real core changes and the Option books were standalone—not required for any later books or even each other—so I don’t personally think it qualified as even a new .5-edition. But some do.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 6 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks a lot, that cleared everything and helped me immensely. Once again You have gone the extra mile with detailed answer, image examples and all the bells and whistles. You're awesome, Your answers should become the new standard around here! \$\endgroup\$ – Nec Xelos Nov 6 at 21:20

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