B/X Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells Layout Concept

While awaiting the illustrations for the second B/X Essentials book -- Classes and Equipment -- I've been continuing work on the third book -- Cleric and Magic-User Spells. As I mentioned in the previous post, the draft text is almost complete (just the sixth level magic-user spells remain to be written up). I've also been playing around with some ideas for how to lay the book out.

The "default" option, of course, would be to use the same, 2-column layout as the first two books in the series. However, I've had another idea in mind for laying out content where each section consists of a blocks of descriptive text accompanied by a heading and a set of "stats". Monsters and spells are the two most obvious types of content that work like this.

To test out my ideas, I've done some mock layouts, using the draft text of a section of the book.

Here's a spread for the 2nd level cleric spells, using the "default" layout style.

Some notes:

  • There's a lot of free space on this spread. I've lumped it all together at the bottom of the pages (where a large illustration could fit), but it looks unnecessarily spacey.
  • The narrow list of stats after each section heading (i.e. spell name) and before the description looks a bit visually distasteful to me.
  • You may notice the little icons I'm trying out in place of the words "Duration" and "Range. I'm not sure if these are final yet, but I think the use of icons is effective in creating a more spacious feeling around the spell stats.

Here's the same content laid out using my alternate concept. This is based on the layout that I used a few years back in The Complete Vivimancer.


  • The layout is more spacious. The extra spacing all around helps the content fill the spread more naturally. (And there's still some nice spaces available for illustrations.)
  • The section titles (i.e. the spell names) are always on the outside edge of the book. This is intended to act as an aid to quickly finding a spell -- when flipping through a book, one tends to just see the edges of the pages.
  • That visually annoying gap between the spell name and the description is no more. The spell stats and the descriptions are more clearly separated from one another.

This is all just experiment at the moment, so I'm very interested to hear people's thoughts on the matter.

1 comment:

  1. I love the second layout. It feels very natural and suited to the content.