Fun with numbers: Will B/X Essentials have a higher page count than B/X?


There's a thread about the first B/X Essentials book at Dragonsfoot. A couple of people in the thread (or maybe it was just one, I forget) were grumbling about the page count of my books being higher than the original B/X books.

Can this be?

The dumb answer to the question is: yes, the total page count will be higher.

But it's a deceptive question and the wrong one to be asking. Simply comparing page count isn't a useful metric, as the books are different sizes -- B/X Essentials is printed at 6" x 9", whereas B/X has much larger US Letter pages (8.5" x 11"). It's clearly possible to fit much more on a Letter sized page than it is on a 6" x 9" page.

I was mulling this over earlier and decided to do some calculations, in order to get some real data, rather than just guesswork. So:

  • B/X comes to 128 pages at 8.5" x 11". That makes for a total page surface area of 11,968 square inches.
  • A single 6" x 9" page is 54 square inches.
  • That means 221.6 pages of that size would have the same surface area as the 128 Letter pages of B/X.
  • The books that I've laid out so far have the following page counts: 34 (Core Rules), 44 (Classes and Equipment), 34 (Cleric and Magic-User Spells), for a current total of 112 pages.
  • That leaves me 109 pages for the last two books (4: Monsters; 5: Adventures and Treasures).
  • As the print format I'm going for (staple-bound) has a maximum of 48 pages, the complete B/X Essentials line will, by definition, come in at most at 208 pages (112 + 48 + 48), for a total of 11,232 square inches of page surface area.
  • Thus, in the name of mathematics: take that, page count naysayers! :D

B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment: Illustrated PDF Out Now!


I am delighted to announce the publication of B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment!

This is the second book in the B/X Essentials series, and contains the rules for the standard seven character classes (cleric, dwarf, elf, fighter, halfling, magic-user, thief) and equipment from weapons, armour, and ten foot poles all the way up to mounts, sea vessels, and castles!

Links:

I shall be starting the print setup process forthwith! Print editions (and the print / PDF bundle) expected to go live in the next two weeks.

Note: unlike with the previous book in this series, people who buy the PDF now will not receive a discount coupon for the print / PDF bundle. This is due to limitations of the OBS coupons system. If you want the print / PDF bundle, please be patient. It should be out in a couple of weeks.

The guiding principles of this series are:
  • Basic and Expert rules seamlessly combined.
  • Streamlined presentation optimised for ease of reference during play.
  • Meticulously researched; a guaranteed 100% accurate rendition of the classic rules of yesteryear.
  • Carefully clarified, ironing out ambiguities in the original rules.
(See here for more details on B/X Essentials, including an FAQ.)

B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment: Finalised Text Edition Published!

Spell book illustration by Thomas Novosel.

The text edition of B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment is now out!

It's shared online here, in google drive.

Illustrated PDF and print editions coming very soon!

B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment: Fighter and Halfling Preview

I'm expecting the last pieces of artwork for B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment this weekend and have been going through the book this evening making a few final tweaks to the layout in preparation. The index of tables is done. Everything is hyperlinked and cross-referenced, ready for the final PDF export.

The wait for the publication of this book should now be pretty short and hopefully bearable.

In the meantime, here's another example spread from the book, featuring the fighter and halfling classes and a wonderful illustration by +Matthew Ray.


B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment -- Title Page and Illustration Preview

The esteemed Luka Rejec sent me the almost final version of his illustration for the title page of B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment and I was compelled to insert it into the document as soon as humanly possible. Here it is! (Ignore the non-final text beneath.)

I'm expecting the complete set of illustrations to make their way to me over the next week, so next weekend I'll be frantically pasting them all into their allotted spaces in the document, doing my own final read-through, and beginning the publication process. Excitement mounting!


Dolmenwood / B/X: Fairy Elf Race-Class


For a long time, since the dawn of Dolmenwood (long before the Wormskin epoch), I've wanted to write up a fairy-themed elf class for the setting. I've had notes lying around for it in rough form for ages and this afternoon felt inspired to have a look at them. It seems that the stars were in alignment, because an hour later I've hammered out the rough notes into an at least half-finished draft.

Here you go:

Elf (Race-Class)
Ability Scores: Minimum CHA 9, minimum DEX 9, minimum INT 9
Prime Requisite: CHA
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 10
Allowed Armour: Any, including shields
Allowed Weapons: Any
Languages: Alignment language, Woldish, Sylvan, High Elfish

Ageless denizens of Fairy who sometimes cross over into the mortal world for reasons that they seldom reveal. Player character elves are assumed to be rare individuals who spend most of their time in the mortal world -- they may be exiles from the undying land or adventurers fascinated by the exotic scents of time, decay, and mortality.

Physically, elves are similar to humans, though they tend to be lithe of frame and fair of face. Despite their surface similarity to mortals, it is always possible to identify an elf for they carry an air of “otherness” about them, seeming somehow more vibrantly present than mortals. Additionally, most elves have at least one physical characteristic that makes him or her obviously non-human: pointed ears, violet eyes, or iridescent skin are examples of common qualities.

Prime Requisite
An elf with a CHA of 13 or greater gains a +5% bonus to experience gained. If the elf’s CHA is 16 or greater, the bonus increases to 10%. Contrary to the standard rule, an elf may raise his or her CHA score by point swapping, during character creation.

Class Abilities
Combat: Elves are naturally talented fighters and may use any weapons and armour.

Immortality: Elves can be killed but do not die naturally. They are immune to the mundane illnesses of mortal-kind, but may be affected normally by diseases of magical origin (e.g. cause disease, lycanthropy, the touch of a mummy). Elves also cannot die of thirst or starvation, though a lack of sustenance drives them insane and sadistic.

Unearthly beauty: As mentioned above, all elves -- both kind and wicked -- are beautiful, by mortal standards. For CHA tests which are purely based on physical attractiveness, an elf is always treated as having a CHA score of at least 14.

Subtle sight: Elves have a 3-in-6 chance of noticing passages to the Otherwold.

Magic resistance: As beings of Fairy, where magic is in the very fabric of things, elves have an increased resistance to magic. They are immune to sleep spells, gain a +2 bonus to saving throws against charms and illusions, and are unaffected by the paralysing touch of ghouls.

Glamours: Elves are able to make use of a number of minor magical abilities known as glamours. The number of glamours known by an elf are determined by his or her level and are selected at random (see the list, later on). Glamours may be used any number of times per day. (Though mortals regard these abilities as “magic”, elves do not view them as such.)

Runes: An elf may be granted the use of magical runes by performing services for a fairy lord or lady. Each rune has a different effect and a limitation on its usage (once per day, once per week, once per experience level, once ever, etc). An elf may know a maximum number of runes equal to his or her level.

Read magic: Given an hour of peace and solitude, an elf may read magical scripts and runes, as if by the magic-user spell read magic.

Magic items: Elves have a natural affinity for the arcane and are able to use any magic items usable by magic-users. This includes casting spells from scrolls (with the use of their read magic ability).

Vulnerabilities and Drawbacks
Cold iron: As fairies, elves are vulnerable to iron weapons, suffering double damage on a successful hit.

Silver: Elves find mortal silver base and disgusting. An elf in physical contact with silver is sickened and suffers a -2 penalty to attack rolls and saving throws.

Resistance to divine aid: There are no gods in Fairy and the gods of mortals are loathe to aid its folk. Whenever an elf is the subject of a beneficial clerical spell, there is a 2-in-6 chance of the spell having no effect on the elf.

Reaching 9th Level
Upon reaching 9th level, an elf may establish a stronghold and domain, according to the standard rules.

Level Progression Chart







Saving Throws
Level
XP
Hit Dice
AC0
Glamours
Death
Wands
Paralysis
Breath
Spells
1
0
1d6
19
1
12
13
13
15
12
2
4,000
2d6
19
2
12
13
13
15
12
3
8,000
3d6
19
3
12
13
13
15
12
4
16,000
4d6
17
3
10
11
11
13
10
5
32,000
5d6
17
4
10
11
11
13
10
6
64,000
6d6
17
5
10
11
11
13
10
7
120,000
7d6
14
6
8
9
9
10
8
8
250,000
8d6
14
6
8
9
9
10
8
9
400,000
9d6
14
7
8
9
9
10
8
10
600,000
9d6 + 1*
12
8
6
7
8
8
6

* Hit point modifiers due to CON no longer apply.

Elf Glamours

  1. Vanishing. The elf disappears from another creature’s sight for one round. This glamour may only be used on any individual once per day.
  2. Changeling. The elf’s facial features are malleable according to his or her will. Subtle features (e.g. eye colour, hair colour) may be switched in a moment. More dramatic changes take a turn of concentration to effect.
  3. Seeming. The elf may make his or her garb appear as he or she wishes. The glamour is only visual, however, and is revealed by touch.
  4. Silver tongue. By using ancient modes of the high elfish tongue, the elf is able to communicate with any being, including dumb animals. This ability may only be used to communicate in one language per day (e.g. one mortal tongue or the speech of one species of animal).
  5. Disguise object. An object in the elf’s hand is made to appear as something else (of similar dimensions). The glamour lasts until the object is touched by another being.
  6. Moon child. The elf’s eyes perceive night as it were day. Even the blackest tomb is perceived as if by gentle moonlight.


Work in Progress...

  • I want to add more glamours.
  • I will detail the elf runes and how they're gained.
  • I will add more detail (including some options) to the stronghold ability at 9th level.
  • Of course, none of this has been play-tested.


B/X Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells -- Draft Text Complete!


I'm delighted to announce that the draft text for the third B/X Essentials book, Cleric and Magic-User Spells, is complete!

The text is online at the link below:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kt28OERvpXH6jbKlHzNYD6mCFthCMDowBEl28k8RuU8/edit?usp=sharing

Please have a look and feel free to point out any mistakes or inconsistencies with B/X that you may notice.

Reading through the B/X spell descriptions with this level of attention to detail has been a fascinating project for me. Firstly, I noticed that my latent concept of quite a few spells varied somewhat to their actual effects as written up in B/X. Secondly, I noticed a lot of differences between the spells as written in B/X and the versions in Labyrinth Lord. I've mentioned some of these differences along the way, but one that stood out in the writing of the last section (6th level MU spells):
  • The geas spell versus the clerical quest spell. In LL, these are identical. In B/X, they're actually pretty different.

Another little point of interest: I was amused to note that the control weather spell stipulates that water vessels may make a "saving throw against storms ... (see page X63)" when attacked by a tornado. Of course, X63 makes no mention of ships having special saving throw categories (though I do find that a pretty cool idea!). I agree with Dan Proctor that the best interpretation of this is that it refers to the 75% chance of a ship being broken up when trying to beach in a storm. (If anyone else has any better / alternative ideas, I'd be interested to hear them!)

Now, one final point for readers who have made it this far, through discussion of historical minutiae: I'm looking for proofreaders for the draft text. This is no ordinary "reading through looking for typos", though: what I need is people of a pedantic nature who are passionate about B/X and willing to read through what I've written and compare -- spell by spell -- with the spell write-ups in the original rules. B/X experts, rules lawyers, and wording pedants please apply! (Comment here or contact me on G+ or email.) In return for your assistance, you'll be credited in the book and will receive a free copy of the final, illustrated PDF.

As for myself, I'll soon be starting work on the fourth B/X Essentials book: Monsters and Treasures.

About B/X Essentials


The B/X Essentials project is a reorganised, clarified expression of the classic Basic/Expert rules, with the focus on ease of reference at the table. The goals and guiding principles of the project are as follows:
  • 100% accurate rules clone. B/X Essentials, unlike other clones or games inspired by B/X, goes to great efforts to be 100% accurate to the original. Nothing is altered. Nothing is added. Nothing is removed.
  • Organised for quick reference. The text of B/X Essentials is consciously kept concise and is broken into logical chunks, each with a header and contained on a single page, making quick reference possible (no page flipping!). I believe this is the clearest expression of the Basic/Expert rules available to date.
  • Clarified rules. The original rules are delightfully straightforward, but there certainly exist areas of confusion and ambiguity. (Check out the rules for encumbrance, wilderness chases, or sea vessels, for example.) B/X Essentials presents greatly clarified descriptions of these rules.
  • 100% Open Game Content. In addition to fancy, fully illustrated print / PDF editions, the B/X Essentials rules are released in a simple text format licensed as 100% Open Game Content (under the OGL). The fresh expression of the B/X rules can thus be freely used by other people for the creation of their own house rules documents and B/X-inspired games.

Frequently Asked Questions

B/X Essentials compared to other games:
  • How does B/X Essentials compare to the original B/X books? The main (and major!) difference is that the rules for Basic and Expert play are combined, rather than being split across two books. Also, as mentioned above, B/X Essentials is written as a quick reference, providing a clarified and better organised presentation of the rules. Areas of ambiguity or contradiction in the original rules are cleared up.
  • How does B/X Essentials compare to Labyrinth Lord? LL also presents a restatement of the classic B/X rules, however it is written in a fairly verbose style, making it not so useful as a quick reference. Also, as noted above, B/X Essentials is a 100% accurate clone whereas Labyrinth Lord introduces many changes to the rules (some major, some subtle). In B/X Essentials, clerics do not get a spell at 1st level!
About the books:
  • Where can I get B/X Essentials? Beautifully illustrated print / PDF editions of the first four books in the series (Core RulesClasses and Equipment, Cleric and Magic-User Spells, and Monsters) are available herehere, here, and here. The Open Game Content text of the project (including current work-in-progress on unpublished books) is shared online here.
  • What formats are available? The primary format is staple-bound US Trade (6"x9") paperback along with a fully-linked PDF. So, yes, this is a small form-factor presentation of the Basic/Expert rules! The cool thing about staple-binding is that the books lay flat at the table, enhancing ease of reference. Slightly cheaper, perfect-bound editions are also available.
Future directions:
  • How many books are planned? The plan for the initial set of books, encompassing the entirety of the pure Basic/Expert game, is five books: 1: Core Rules, 2: Classes and Equipment, 3: Cleric and Magic-User Spells, 4: Monsters, 5: Adventures and Treasures.
  • How about a compiled edition? When the five core books are finished, I'll work on combining them all into a single tome, which will be available in perfect bound and hardback formats.
  • How about a box set? This is also something that I'll be looking into, once the five core books are finished. The box set may contain additional elements such as an intro book and a starter adventure.
Compatibility and discussion:
  • Can I publish products compatible with B/X Essentials? Yes please! A compatibility license and logos are available here.
  • Is there a B/X Essentials discussion forum somewhere? Yes, there's a google+ community.

Dolmenwood Book of Monsters: Progress Update


A quick update on the Dolmenwood "Monster Manual" (planned for publication as a hardcover next year). Since the last update, I've added the following new monsters:
  • Sprite. Pesky, dragonfly-winged fairies.
  • Jack-O'-Lantern Fungus. Oracular fungoids with a penchant for miniaturising people.
  • Pook morel. Cheeky thief-shrooms with psychic powers.
  • Wronguncle. A sort of tragic, fungal soul-Doppelgänger.
  • Hill giant. Not your standard D&D hill giant. These are proper giants. Their name indicates their mass -- as big as a hillock -- rather than their favoured habitat.
  • Friar. Wandering monks skilled with herbs, brewing, and cooking.
The total number of monsters in the book now stands at 57.