In 1989, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition was published after two years of painstaking work by a small team of designers. The first three book came out to much fanfare. That is to say two books and a folder! the Monster Manual was replaced by the Monstrous Compendium, a loose-leaf binder in which every monster is given a full page of information, the justification being that packs of new monsters (often setting specific) could be purchased and added to the binder without the expense or inconvenience of a separate book. However, this idea was eventually dropped and the Compendium was replaced by the hardcover Monstrous Manual in 1993.

The combat system was changed. The minimum number required to hit a target uses a mathematical formula in which the defender's Armor Class (AC) is subtracted from the attacker's THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class "0") instead of 1st edition's attack matrix tables. Distances are based on in-game units (feet) rather than miniatures-board ones (inches). Demi-human races are given higher level maximums to increase their long-term playability, though they are still restricted in terms of character class flexibility. Critical hits are offered as optional rules.

The release of AD&D 2nd Edition corresponded with important policy changes at TSR. An effort was made to remove aspects of the game which had attracted negative publicity, most notably the removal of all mention of demons and devils (although equivalent monsters were later added, now renamed tanar'ri and baatezu respectively). Moving away from the moral ambiguity of the 1st edition AD&D, the TSR staff eliminated character classes and races like the assassin and the half-orc, and stressed heroic roleplaying and player teamwork. The target age of the game was also lowered, with most 2nd edition products being aimed primarily at teenagers. The 2nd edition art and marketing were also modified to appeal more to female players.

In 1995, the core rulebooks were slightly revised and a series of Player's Option manuals were released as "optional core rulebooks". Although still referred to by TSR (and later Wizards of the Coast) as the 2nd edition, this revision is seen by some fans as a distinct edition of the game and is sometimes referred to as AD&D 2.5.


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