Dragon magazine #82 features an article from Bruce Heard referencing magical research. One early chapter contains the following line:

To begin finding the answer to that question, we must first roll up our sleeves and open the Ultimate Book of The Master to page 115, whereupon begins the section on spell research

I have done a Google search, but cannot find any references to the "Ultimate Book of The Master". Does anyone have any information on what this book may be? Is it just a reference to a fictional in-game tome?

The specific edition referenced is AD&D (my understanding is that can mean 1st or 2nd edition and I am not sure which it refers to). The magazine was published in February 1984 if that helps.

  • \$\begingroup\$ First Edition AD&D if it was Dragon #82. That I know for a fact. (I was a subscriber then) (2e didn't arrive until 1989ish) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2021 at 19:14

1 Answer 1


It's the Dungeon Master's Guide

In this case the "Ultimate Book of the Master" is just a playful reference to the DMG - since that is, after all, the book meant for the "master" of the game. A lot of the published material of that era seems to refer to the DM's position and authority with a (possibly tongue-in-cheek) reverence which feels quite out-of-place to my modern reading, but oh well.

Page 115 of the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide is indeed where you can find the rules for independent spell research, and that was the current edition of the game at the time Dragon #82 was published - 2e didn't come out until 1989.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "submissive reverence" is a load of rubbish. Sorry, I played back then, and I don't think I ever saw any of that. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2021 at 19:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast eh, I'm going by the tone that seems to be prevalent in the manuals and the excerpts of Dragon that I have read. I'm not super-inclined to go and chase down lots of examples, but it definitely makes a big deal of the DM's authority over the game in a way which would feel really out-of-place now, though I admit it's possible that it is mostly tongue-in-cheek and just going over my head. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Jan 19, 2021 at 20:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ I won't comment further beyond: bad DM's lost players back then just as they do now. Power tripping is rarely popular. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2021 at 20:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @fectin It's rule zero by another name. In terms of practical application, in order to play rather than argue, somone has to have the final word. At that time, this convention (remember, the original name for that role was Judge or Referee) simplified it since the world builder was the only one with the depth of understanding of the game world (at that time, all game worlds were homebrew by default) to arrive at a ruling or a decision. As both Gygax and Arneson found as RPG's first referees / DM's, players in the geek community were often argumentative and fractious. (See Kask Also) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2021 at 20:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just as an FYI from waay back, the original developers' games were often very much the DM (usually Gygax) vs the player (often 1-on-1). The dungeon crawls were very much designed to be death traps. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 20, 2021 at 2:52

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