B/X Essentials: Advanced Characters

Druid and mindflayer, by Erol Otus

As I've mentioned before, an Advanced Characters book for the B/X Essentials line is in the works. The draft text is finished now, and proofreaders are doing their magic.

I thought it would be worth giving a bit more info as to what exactly is in this book, as it's perhaps a bit different to what people might be expecting. Here's the table of contents:

  1. Foreword.
  2. Character Creation.
  3. Advanced Character Classes:
    • Acrobat
    • Assassin
    • Barbarian
    • Bard
    • Druid
    • Illusionist
    • Knight
    • Paladin
    • Ranger
  4. Advanced Demihuman Classes:
    • Drow
    • Duergar
    • Gnome
    • Half-Elf
    • Half-Orc
    • Svirfneblin
  5. Character Races (Optional Rule):
    • Drow
    • Duergar
    • Dwarf
    • Elf
    • Gnome
    • Half-Elf
    • Halfling
    • Half-Orc
    • Human
    • Svirfneblin
  6. Sub-Races (Optional Rule):
    • Dwarf
    • Elf
    • Gnome
    • Halfling
  7. Advanced Equipment:
    • Armour
    • Poison
    • Weapons
Some interesting points to note:
  • The assumption of the book is that the new classes in the Advanced Character Classes section (e.g. druids, knights, rangers, etc) are humans.
  • The classes in the Advanced Demihuman Classes seciton are race-classes in the classic B/X style. I'm really pleased with the way these have turned out, and think they'll add a lot of fun to games which use them.
  • There are optional rules for choosing race and class separately, for groups who prefer this, but this approach is explicitly an optional rule. It is not the assumed default of the new material, and was not the primary design goal.
  • I've not included a monk class. I have that earmarked for a future mythic Asian themed book.
  • A lot of previous supplements along similar lines (adding AD&D material to B/X) have been published by others, so I wanted to put my own spin on this. Here's what makes this different to, say, the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion:
    • The new classes are much closer to B/X than they are to AD&D. I think previous adaptations have erred more on the side of cloning AD&D material, whereas my renditions are heavily adapted to B/X.
    • The power levels of B/X have been carefully maintained. The maximum level is 14. The new classes are carefully balanced against the standard B/X classes. No d12 Hit Dice for the barbarian. No always-on protection from evil for the paladin.
    • The result is a set of new options for B/X games, rather than a way to play AD&D with the B/X core rules. These are two different things.
    • I've included adaptations of both the core AD&D races/classes and those from Unearthed Arcana. The UA material is more rarely addressed in AD&D / B/X supplements, so I thought it worthy of including. The human classes (acrobat, barbarian, knight) are heavily adapted from the overpowered messes in UA. The demihumans (drow, duergar, svirfneblin) are presented as race-classes (possibly the first time race-classes for these have ever been published?).
More news as things develop! I'm in no hurry to publish this book, though. I want to give the new material a proper play test before going ahead.

14 comments:

  1. Good comparison. I am a fan of LL AEC and the difference in this case is that you are integrating AD&D material to BX whereas in AEC the goal was to reproduce the way folks played back then, inserting AD&D material into BX/BECMI as something of a mashup of the two.

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  2. Sweet! Having enjoyed your previous B/X books, I look forward to seeing the advanced book - I'm currently working on a review of the first four books :)

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  3. something something take my money

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  4. I have all the PDFs so now I'm going for the print option to keep you encouraged! I can't wait for this addition.

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  5. I really look forward to seeing this book. Like you mentioned, many of the adaptations of the classes (druid, ranger, etc.) were not balanced for the original B/X and would overpower things quickly. I think I heard in the Spikepit podcast (shoutout to Colin!) that there were some additional rules(?) for dealing with making new races for B/X? I may have misheard this as I was driving and podcast listening (not always the best combo for gathering information).

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    1. Yeah, I guess you misheard ;) There are 6 new race-classes in the book, but no rules about making races.

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  6. I'm really looking forward to this book, any updates on when we might see it?

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    1. Thanks for asking! I'm really excited about this book (and the accompanying Druid and Illusionist Spells book) too!

      Current status: play testing is still under way. The classes that have been tested have all received a lot of useful feedback, and have now been tweaked into much more refined renditions than the initial versions. (Play testing really does pay!) There are still some classes that haven't been tested at all yet, so more work to do (there's just a lot of material in this book!). I'll be running some online games myself, starting this week, to test the remaining material.

      ETA? 4-6 months, I guess, when all's said and done. (Work on layout and illustration hasn't even begun yet.)

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    2. Thanks so much for the reply! I'm really looking forward to it as B/X Essentials has become my go to game!

      I also recently picked up the new Dolmenwood class book, its really amazing. Keep up the great work!

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    3. Thanks, great to hear you're digging BXE and Dolmenwood!

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  7. I'm really looking forward to the kickstarter and the all-in-one book; just one question - are the sub-races going to be traditional race-classes?

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    1. Yep, they're presented as race-classes in the B/X style. (The Advanced Characters book also includes an optional rule for separating race and class.)

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    2. Awesome! Thanks for the reply!

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