|This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (June 2014)|
Encyclopedia Magica is a four-volume set that aims to cover every magic item in existence in the AD&D world. The series lists all of the AD&D magical items from two decades of TSR products—every boxed set, accessory, and magazine article. The books total more than 1500 pages across the four volumes, and are bound in a plastic jacket. Entries for the series were culled from the Dungeon Master's Guide, the Basic and Expert Sets, modules and campaign settings, and Dragon and other magazines.
The fourth volume contains an index to the entire set, and a complete magic item random determination table. Volume Four covers items alphabetically from Spell Books to the Zwieback of Zymurgy, and includes numerous entries on swords, staves, and wands.
Encyclopedia Magica was a result of compilation and development by slade, and was published by TSR. Encyclopedia Magica Volume One was released in 1994, while Encyclopedia Magica Volume Two was printed in February 1995, Encyclopedia Magica Volume Three was printed in May 1995, and Encyclopedia Magica Volume Four was printed in November 1995. Development and editing was by Doug Stewart. Interior black and white art for the series was by Arnie Swekel, while the four volumes featured interior color art variously by Gerald Brom, Clyde Caldwell, Jeff Easley, Fred Fields, Tim Hildebrandt, Paul Jaquays, John and Laura Lakey, Roger Loveless, Keith Parkinson, Roger Raupp, and Robh Ruppel.
In Dragon magazine #218 (June 1995), Rick Swan stated that these reference books possess "a diligence on the part of the researchers that borders on the superhuman". He said the series "A must for Dungeon Masters who want to spruce up their campaigns, and for every TSR contributor who longs to see his masterpiece immortalized in an upscale format."
Cliff Ramshaw reviewed Encyclopedia Magica Volume Four for Arcane magazine, rating it a 4 out of 10 overall. He stated, "Let's face it, if you've already got the previous volumes you're pretty much committed to buying Encyclopedia Magica Volume Four." While he figured that the goal of completeness was "all very well", he argued that "the Encyclopedia takes things a bit far. Under the entry for Swords there's a set of tables for determining the properties of Special Swords. Under the entry for Weapons there's a near identical set of tables for determining the properties of Intelligent Weapons. There are three different versions of Excalibur. Many items are tied so intimately to a specific dungeon that they'd be useless outside it; not a few are just plain silly. And once you've read about a ring of protection, do you really need official approval before introducing a cloak of protection to your campaign?" Ramshaw ended the review by concluding that despite the cost of all four volumes, "one volume isn't much use without its pals - so only the most dedicated of collectors are likely to be tempted."
- Pyramid #15