Advanced Search

AC2 Combat Shield and Mini-Adventure (Basic)Click to magnify
Quick Preview
Full‑size Preview

AC2 Combat Shield and Mini-Adventure (Basic)


You're guiding your party through a dense swamp. Suddenly, the jaws of three large crocodiles snap menacingly. The fighter draws his sword, and the magic-user prepares to cast a spell. The crocodiles creep slowly closer.

Time out. Have to find the tables in the rules.

Resolving combat is just a dice roll away if you have the D&D Combat Shield. All the tables you need are included on this handy 3-panel screen: monster hit rolls, saving throws, armor class, variable weapon damage, and several others. Experience tables for each character class are also given. The Combat Shield also comes with an Expert Game mini-adventure: "The Treasure of the Hideous One." The adventure features a ready-to-use treasure "map" that you may introduce into your campaign when your players find clues to a lost treasure. Several interesting "encounters" are thrown in, too, so you'll have plenty of chances to use the Combat Shield.

Three crocodiles? No problem!

Product History

AC2: "Combat Shield and Mini-Adventure" (1984), by David "Zeb" Cook, is the second Game Accessory for the Basic D&D Game. It was published in January 1984.

About the Title. This accessory is called a "Combat Shield" rather than the more common "Gamemaster's Screen" (or "Dungeon Master's Screen). It would be the only time that TSR used this name. In fact, implying that combat is the focus of a GM's screen is quite rare, though ICE published a "Middle-earth Role Playing Combat Screen" (1984, 1989, 1993) and a "Space Master Combat Screen" (1988) for some of their own games.

Origins (I): Increasing AC. The "Combat Shield and Mini-Adventure" (1984) is the second gaming accessory for the Frank Mentzer version of the Basic D&D line. Its predecessor was AC1: "The Shady Dragon Inn" (1983), a book of NPCs; the "Combat Shield" was a much more typical gaming accessory for the period.

The "Combat Shield" is also notable for it label of "Basic and Expert Game Accessory" making it the first explicit crossover product for the Basic D&D line. As it happens "The Shady Dragon Inn" supported both of the extant Basic D&D sets too, but it was more subtle in doing so, saying it was "for D&D Fantasy Game".

Origins (II): A History of GM Screens. The first GM's screen in the roleplaying industry was the "Judges Shield" (1977) produced by Judges Guild for OD&D. TSR got into the the act just a few years later with an AD&D "Dungeon Master's Screen" (1979).

Shortly afterward, TSR came up with the idea of packaging a short adventure with their screens and then produced such packages for most of their games, including the "Boot Hill Referee's Screen and Mini-Module" (1981), the "Gamma World Referee's Screen and Mini-Module" (1981), the "Top Secret Administrator's Screen and Mini-Module" (1982), GWAC1: "Gamma World Referee's Screen and Mini-Module" (1983), and the "Star Frontiers Referee's Screen and Mini-Module" (1983). The "Combat Shield" was TSR's first attempt to apply this new methodology to one of their D&D games.

About the Screen. The "Combat Screen" is an interesting example of the design an early GM screen. Though the GM's side has some of the things you'd expect like monster hit rolls, monster reactions, and experience charts for killing things, it also rather surprisingly has most of the player tables, like saving throws, turn undead tables, character hit rolls, and even thief abilities. It's a sign of how much the GM was seen as the arbiter of the game rules in the early days of the hobby.

Meanwhile, the player side of the screen is a bit of a mess. The players get to look at the cover copy and the back cover copy(!), plus a panel of character experience charts. Publishers would resolve this problem in later GM screen releases by putting a flimsy dust jacket over the actual screen, so that the GM could discard the sales copy before he started using the screen.

Adventure Tropes. The mini-adventure, "The Treasure of the Hideous Ones", begins with a tiny six-location hex crawl. Cook then switches things up with a more freeform sort of wilderness exploration, set on a square-gridded(!) map of an island. Since the adventure is for characters levels 4-7, this fits in perfectly with the adventure tropes of the D&D Expert Rules (1981, 1983).

Exploring the Known World. Despite being such a small adventure, "The Treasure of the Hideous Ones" is clearly set in the Known World. It starts in "the small village of Luln", which appeared back on the original map of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos found in the first Expert Rules (1981). The exploratory hex map "does not exactly match any map in the Expert rules", but there's certainly room for it northwest of Luln.

Monsters of Note. "The Treasure of the Hideous Ones" introduces the cay-men, one-foot-tall lizardmen-like humanoids. They'd become one of the unique humanoids of the Known World, appearing in X9: "The Savage Coast" (1985) and later supplements set in that area.

NPCs of Note. Underlying the connections to Karameikos, some of the backstory talks about Duke Stefan the Hermit, who apparently ruled this area a hundred years before. He obviously was intended to be an ancestor of "Duke Stefan Karameikos the Third", who was introduced in the Expert Rules, but his position as a duke is more troublesome, as Traladara only became the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, under Duke Stefan III, as revealed in "GAZ1: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos" (1987). (There are certainly possible retcons and explanations, but in the main this shows how undefined the Known World was before the Gazetteers appeared.)

About the Creators. Cook was the author of the original D&D Expert Rules and one of the co-creators of the Known World, so writing a short Known Worlds wilderness adventure was very much a return home for him.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (1)
Discussions (5)
Customer avatar
Corey C May 16, 2020 10:59 pm UTC
Yes! What Victor H said!
Customer avatar
Victor H April 26, 2020 11:34 pm UTC
Would love to see a quality cardstock physical print of AC2! Please?
Customer avatar
Joshua C April 15, 2020 8:50 pm UTC
Great resource; terrible scan. Hoping they update it someday with more acceptable scan quality.
Customer avatar
James P February 07, 2018 12:54 am UTC
There was a problem opening the file after download.
Customer avatar
William M February 09, 2017 2:19 am UTC
Hi, I've just bought this, but I'm a little disappointed by the jpeg-distortions/noise around the numbers on the colour scans of the screen itself, poor enough to be visible even when printed. Any chance of a rescan? Also it might be good if the b/w pages have a slight increase in contrast or gamma to clean up the bleed through of the ink of the on the reverse side of the page. I'm a big fan of being able to buy facsimiles of the original products, but the quality here is nearing something less than official (Scribd homescans, file-sharing etc). Even a small amount of gaussian blur would get around image file-sizes, without having to use distortion, if that's the issue here? Sorry to be a pain, but even if it's only $2, I think there's still a level of quality control required.
Customer avatar
Jeff E February 10, 2017 5:13 pm UTC
I've had this as a physical item for 20+ years, but was considering picking this pdf up, as an alternative to scanning it in my self. (For personal use only, of course.) But, it sounds like that's out. Thanks for the heads up.
Browse Categories
$ to $
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!

Product Information
Gold seller
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9099
File Size:
2.32 MB
Scanned image Click for more information
Scanned image
These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

For PDF download editions, each page has been run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to attempt to decipher the printed text. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background.

For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book. Unfortunately, the resulting quality of these books is not as high. It's the problem of making a copy of a copy. The text is fine for reading, but illustration work starts to run dark, pixellating and/or losing shades of grey. Moiré patterns may develop in photos. We mark clearly which print titles come from scanned image books so that you can make an informed purchase decision about the quality of what you will receive.
Original electronic format
These ebooks were created from the original electronic layout files, and therefore are fully text searchable. Also, their file size tends to be smaller than scanned image books. Most newer books are in the original electronic format. Both download and print editions of such books should be high quality.
File Information
Watermarked PDF Click for more information
Watermarked PDF

These PDF files are digitally watermarked to signify that you are the owner. A small message is added to the bottom of each page of the PDF containing your name and the order number of your purchase.

Warning: If any files bearing your information are found being distributed illegally, then your account will be suspended and legal action may be taken against you.

Here is a sample of a page from a watermarked title:

File Last Updated:
January 30, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on January 31, 2017.