B/X Essentials: Devil Swine!

An interesting thing about the monsters in B/X is that, while most of them appear in other editions, there are some that are (as far as I know) unique to B/X. (Or the 1983 Basic / Expert sets by Frank Mentzer. Though there are even some B/X monsters that didn't make the transition to that revision.)

Of these Basic / Expert monsters that aren't found in other editions, my personal favourite is the devil swine. Evil, man-eating, lycanthropic swine.

So when it came to deciding what to have illustrated on the title page of B/X Essentials: Monsters, the devil swine came immediately to mind, as an iconic B/X monster. I've always pictured devil swine as intelligent, debauched, wannabe nobles. Here's what Luka Rejec came up with, from my description:

Copyright Luka Rejec, 2018

And here's the accompanying monster description from B/X Essentials: Monsters:

Corpulent humans who can change into huge swine. Love to eat human flesh. Lurk in isolated human settlements close to forests or marshes.

AC 3 (9 in human form), HD 9* (40hp),  Att 1 × gore (2d6) or 1 × weapon (1d6 or by weapon) or 1 × magic (charm), THAC0 12, MV 180’ (60’) / 120’ (40’) in human form, SV D8 W9 P10 B10 S12 (F9), ML 10, AL Chaotic, XP 1,600, NA 1d3 (1d4), TT C
  • Shapechange: Only at night.
  • Ambush: Prefer to attack by surprise.
  • Charm person: 3 times a day. Save versus spells at -2 or be charmed: move towards the devil swine (resisting those who try to prevent it); obey the devil swine’s commands (if understood); defend the devil swine; unable to cast spells or use magic items; unable to harm the devil swine. Killing the swine breaks the charm.
  • Charmed victims: 1d4-1 accompany a devil swine.

B/X Essentials: Plans for the Series

As an addendum of sorts to the general B/X Essentials FAQ, I wanted to discuss the future plans for this project. Anyone who's been following along with the development will notice that work on the core "clone" or rules reference for B/X is nearing completion. But that is far from the end of what I have planned for B/X Essentials; in fact it's really just the foundation.

The whole series is formed around the idea of modularity, with the Core Rules as the only really essential book. Based on Core Rules, a referee can run games in any number of genres or settings, simply by adding suitable classes, monsters, spells, treasures, and so on. So far, I've been working on providing the classic fantasy answers to all of these elements (the Classes and Equipment, Cleric and Magic-User Spells, Monsters, and Adventures and Treasures books).

But innumerable alternative books could be used in place of the standards, enabling the easy creation of a rules set for a specific campaign by simply mixing & matching available rules modules. So, for example, you could grab Core Rules + Sword & Planet Classes & Equipment + Lost World Monsters + Planar Adventures & Treasures to make an awesome, dimension-hopping, pulp campaign with laser swords and dinosaurs. (These are largely hypothetical books right now, but you get the idea.)

So that's the concept, and that's where I plan to head with this, once the basic "clone" aspect of the rules are complete. Here are some of the projects that are either in the works or that I have rough notes for. Some of these are being developed by other writers, to be published as rules modules in the B/X Essentials line.

Classic Series (mostly finished now)

  • Classes and Equipment
  • Cleric and Magic-User Spells
  • Monsters
  • Adventures and Treasures
Advanced Series
  • Advanced Characters
  • Druid and Illusionist Spells
  • Advanced Cleric and Magic-User Spells
  • Advanced Monsters
  • Advanced Adventures and Treasures
Genre Modules
  • Lost World Monsters
  • Mythic Japan Classes and Equipment
  • Mythic Japan Spells
  • Mythic Japan Monsters
  • Post-Apocalyptic Classes and Equipment
Rules Modules
  • Character Options
  • Downtime
  • Biological Magic
  • Elemental Magic
  • Necromantic Magic
Victorian adventures? Planar monsters? Wild West? Pirates? Science-fantasy? The possibilities are endless!

B/X Essentials: Adventures and Treasures -- Draft Text v0.1.0!

Illustration by Michael Clarke
What with B/X Essentials: Monsters being close to wrapping up, my thoughts are beginning to turn vaguely to the fifth book: Adventures and Treasures. This, by the way, will be the final book in the initial "classic" series, completing the core B/X rules reference.

The document is currently just a very basic outline, with only the wilderness encounter charts and NPC party generators being at all fleshed out.

You can view (and comment on!) progress here online.

B/X Essentials: Monsters -- Art & Layout Preview 2

I just got some pieces in from Matt Ray, and wanted to share another spread. I love that gelatinous cube!