With little fanfare, Wizards of the Coast announced they will reprint the core 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks on May 21, 2013. This follows last year's reprint of the original AD&D rulebooks, with 1st edition Unearthed Arcana slated for publication in February 2013. The previous books had a premium treatment, featuring classy, textured covers (no ugly UPC codes), high-quality book bindings, gilded edge pages, and cloth bookmarks. These new reprints are expected to have the same attention to detail and quality.
Judging by the cover art, Wizards is reprinting the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide from the "revised" 2nd edition publications (also known as "AD&D 2.5") originally printed in 1995. These rules expand the game with many more options than those found in the original 2nd edition books from 1989.
The original Monstrous Manual was published in 1993, heralding the coming "2.5 edition" change for the game with a new red logo. It replaced the earlier Monstrous Compendium, a series of binders holding loose-leaf pages of monster descriptions. A gamer could organize these binders as they see fit; monster pages were easily added or removed. However, the binders were also heavy and unwieldy. The Monstrous Manual returned to the simple hardcover book design of 1st edition's Monster Manual.
Wizards states that:
For many gamers, the 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons core rulebooks were their introduction to the roleplaying game hobby.
2nd edition AD&D also represented a big change for publisher TSR. Company founder and D&D co-creator Gary Gygax bitterly separated from the company under disagreements with the other owners in 1985. Back in 1983, Gygax had already started designing his own 2nd edition rules for AD&D. When he left, all this work was canceled. TSR's owners wanted no input from him whatsoever. TSR's top designers went to work on a completely new edition in 1987, completing their efforts in 1989.
AD&D 2nd edition is remembered for a number of improvements over the older rules system. With the THAC0 rule, players could determine the chance to hit an opponent without cross-referencing numbers on a chart. Wizard spells were organized into "schools" and priest spells into "spheres," allowing for easy creation of specialist spellcasters such as enchanters and priests of specific deities. The bard character was completely redesigned and far more playable for the effort.