Rules Cyclopedia Review

This review was published at RPG Now. (It’s no longer available, however, because they took down all the TSR PDFs for a while and when they came back up, the quality of the scans was much improved.)

One needs to distinguish between the book content, and the actual product (in this case a PDF containing the scanned book). The book has parts that are still interesting today (strongholds!) – the reason I was disappointed, however, was that the PDF had so little usability. It is difficult to read on a screen, and practically impossible to print.


(Return to RoleplayingReviews.)

Returning to roleplaying after a long hiatus and wanting a cheap all-in-one reminder of what it was like back then, I decided to give the Cyclopedia a try. As it turns out, the book is what it promises to be: It has everything you need for old-school D&D. [1] Unfortunately, the book was scanned including page backgrounds and all. That’s why you get a grey shade on every page, and a 79MB PDF that’s practically impossible to print, and the few pages that you do print for offline reading will be hard to read if you try to cram two pages on one sheet of paper.

LIKED: All the old-school D&D stuff you need in one book

DISLIKED: Bad scanning makes this a huge file that is difficult to print and hard to read

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Disappointed

RATING: ★ ★ [2 of 5 Stars!]


Sorry it was such a poor quality version :( I’d got mine from a different source and it was much better quality. Of course, having the Real Paper (TM) thing too also helps :)

Content-wise, the book is amazing. There’s no other RPG out there in terms of what it contains, and it still sees regular use with me. Unlike the D&D PHB, there’s stuff beyond spells that makes this book essential at all levels of play, and it really starts to shine from 9th level onward where OD&D made a conscious shift from dungeon crawl to rulership, land and politics. That’s something only Fields of Blood comes even close to touching, and IMHO I still prefer the Rules Cyclopedia’s rules for strongholds, dominions, mass combat and more. So, that’s what I use. Then there’s the high-level games at 36th level and beyond.........

Unlike the PHB (again), it’s a complete one book game and I’d rate it as the ultimate RPG ever. If only you had a decent version......

Hmmmm. Maybe I should send you my much prized Roles Cyclopedia hardback in the hopes it’ll change your mind :)

greywulf 2007-05-13 10:18 UTC

Hehe. A Cyclopedia hardcopy would certainly be a welcome addition to my growing collection. :)

AlexSchroeder 2007-05-13 23:09 UTC

James Maliszewski writes In Praise of the Rules Cyclopedia. The prices it goes for on eBay are ludicrous.

AlexSchroeder 2009-07-01 22:27 UTC

I just wanted to come back to this old review and mention that the copy available from D&D Classics is much better and costs $10.

I also bought a printed copy for $50 + $22 shipping from James Mishler back in 2009. :)

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-22 11:58 UTC

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