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.
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!
- The page count of the core B/X Essentials books is greater than the page count of the original B/X books! What's up with that? The page count is indeed greater, but this is a highly misleading metric. The thing is, the 6" x 9" pages of the B/X Essentials books are much smaller than the US Letter pages of the original books. So page count isn't a useful comparison. What is useful is word count: B/X Essentials comes in at about 84,000 words; B/X comes in at about 113,000 words. So you can see that B/X Essentials is significantly less verbose than B/X.
About the books:
- Where can I get B/X Essentials? Beautifully illustrated and laid out print / PDF editions of the books are available here. The Open Game Content text of the project 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.
- How many books are planned? Infinity! Well, the core B/X rules reference consists of five books: 1: Core Rules, 2: Classes and Equipment, 3: Cleric and Magic-User Spells, 4: Monsters, 5: Adventures and Treasures. Further books to take the B/X rules in different directions are in development.
- How about a compiled edition? Planning is under way for a single tome combining all the content of the five core books.
- How about a boxed set? A boxed set of the five core books is also being planned. The boxed 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.