To begin with, it's worth restating the aims of the B/X Essentials project:
- 100% accurate rules clone.
- Organised for quick reference.
- Clarified rules.
- 100% Open Game Content.
Next up, let's look at an example monster from the B/X Essentials monsters book alongside a monster from the original books.
|Doppleganger in B/X|
|Doppelgänger in B/X Essentials|
Note the differences in the B/X Essentials version:
- The average hit points for the HD are listed.
- The THAC0 is listed.
- The full set of save values are listed, not merely the class and level that the monster saves as.
- The pre-calculated XP value is listed.
Including extra information in the monster stat blocks was done for exactly this reason: to make the monster entries easier to use as a reference during play. Let's look at each of the extra elements:
Average hp: Provided for convenience, either for quick usage instead of rolling for a monster's hit points, or to quickly see whether a rolled hp total is above or below average. The average values are calculated directly from the monster's HD.
THAC0: Provided as an option for referees who prefer to not use the monster attack table from B/X Essentials: Core Rules, thus reducing the need to look up info about a monster across multiple pages. The listed THAC0 values are lifted directly from the monster attack table.
Full saves: Provided in addition to the traditional “save as” value, as an option for referees who prefer to not look up monsters’ saves in the class saving throw tables, thus reducing the need to look up info about a monster across multiple pages. The listed save values are lifted directly from the appropriate class’ saving throw table.
Pre-calculated XP: Provided for convenience to save referees time having to manually calculate XP values by referring to the tables in the core rules,thus reducing the need to look up info about a monster across multiple pages. The listed XP values are calculated directly from the standard monster XP tables.
See the common thread? None of these extras are new information. They simply collate existing information into each monster entry, to reduce the need to flip between different pages looking it up.
I agree that the use of the term THAC0 is open to discussion. I'm aware that it's a term that originated in AD&D, not in B/X, and I thought long and hard about whether to use it or not. In the end, my feeling was that it's a term that most old-school players are already familiar with, so would be less confusing than using a new term. Of course, the meaning of the term is described in the introduction to the book, as well (where it's specifically noted as optional), for the elucidation of anyone who's not familiar with it.
I appreciate that adding extra information to monster stat blocks is a change in presentation, but my feeling is that it's an extremely positive change that makes a real difference to using monster listings in the heat of (imaginary) combat. (Ditto for the changes in the way monster descriptions and special abilities are presented in B/X Essentials: Monsters.)
The really fundamental aim of the B/X Essentials project has always been to improve the presentation of the classic B/X rules. I'm not interested in changing the rules themselves, but I think my fresh presentation of them really adds something to the game.
Hopefully that helps to explain the background to this somewhat spiky, old-school ultra-nerd topic!
May those who like table lookups refer to tables, and may those who like subtraction use THAC0! (And may both types unite against the wicked forces of ascending AC! Haha.)