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.


  1. Having a brief intro for the combined version, basically a "here's how you get started" and some kind of one-page dungeon would be great.

    1. Yeah, the original idea of the series was as a rules reference for experienced players, but an intro for new players would definitely be a nice addition. A terse but detailed packed adventure (or three) is a good idea.

  2. Getting ready to run a few intro games at a local con. As a reference these books are superbly organized. Can’t wait for books 4 and 5!

    1. Excellent! Great to hear that the format works for you. Book 4 should be coming out in the summer.