B/X Essentials: The Quest For A Name


Six weeks back, I discussed my thoughts around finding a more widely appealing name for the revised edition of B/X Essentials.

I've been wracking my brain, on and off, since then, but still haven't come up with anything that I'm 100% set on. So I thought I'd throw it out to wider input once more to get some fresh ideas.

Criteria
Here are the more refined criteria of what I'm looking for in a name:
  1. Evocative. The name should evoke something about what happens or features in the game (e.g. adventure, exploration, wonder, magic, the underworld, etc.).
  2. Non-descriptive. The name should not attempt to describe what the game is (i.e. that it's an old-school RPG or whatever). The intention is that a subtitle will carry that meaning.
  3. Accessible. Anyone who understands English should be able to get the vibe of the name. It shouldn't require knowledge of RPGs or the old-school scene. (Of course, I'm not expecting complete novices to get that it's an RPG, from the name alone, but it should at least sound cool or intriguing.)
  4. Genre-spanning. The name must encompass more than just classic fantasy. There are plans for a whole range of genre supplements, ranging from mythic Japanese fantasy, through post-apocalyptic, to sword and planet.
  5. Unique. The name should not be similar to the name of an existing RPG, boardgame, or computer game. Ideally it should be easy to google and should not come up with loads of hits for other games.
  6. Short. Ideally. Something like "Lamentations of the Flame Princess" (for example) is probably a bit excessive for my purposes, especially considering that there's going to be a subtitle, a book title, and probably a B/X compatibility logo on the cover as well.
Putting all those things together, it's a difficult task!

(You see how "B/X Essentials" breaks at least 3 of the above criteria.)

Some Front-Runners
I've got a big list of ideas, but a few keep bubbling up to the top:
  • Hex & Ruin. Sounds kind of apocalyptic / Moorcockian. Just about genre neutral enough to pass.
  • Xthonic. I love the underworld vibe, and the unusual spelling makes it unique and searchable. A danger is that no one will know how to pronounce it!
  • On the Borderlands. A little on the long side, but I think it has a nice ring to it and sounds perfectly multi-genre. (The reference to B2 is a bonus ;) Perhaps not quite as searchable as the other two suggestions.
More Ideas...
A dump of a few other names in my list: Chaoslands, Xenolith, Xpanse, Weirdlands, Xerberus, The Creeping Hand of Chaos (a bit long), Blasted Worlds, Purple Worm, Into the Deeps.

Brainstorm!
Fire away if you have any ideas!

B/X Essentials: Core Rules 2nd Edition

Cover of the original B/X Essentials: Core Rules. Illustration by Andrew Walter.

I've reached a major milestone in my work building up to the revised editions of B/X Essentials for the Kickstarter next year! I've finalised the text for the revised Core Rules.

"What exactly will be different in this new edition of the book?" I hear you say. Now that it's all finalised, allow me to provide some more details.

Introductory Content
The first big change is that I've added a few pages of introductory content aimed at players who are new to B/X and to old-school gaming. I've not gone so far as to include a full "What is an RPG?" section, but I discuss the following:

  • What is B/X Essentials? Why is it structured as it is?
  • Basic terminology.
  • Rules modules and required books.
  • Compatibility with other games. (I think this is a bit of a hidden secret within the OSR: that most old-school games are trivially compatible with one another. I don't think this is at all obvious to new players.)
  • The basic concepts that are assumed by the rules. (For example: magic, gods, monsters, lost treasures, dungeons and the wilderness, civilisation and the borderlands.)
  • The game stats that make up a PC. (Previously, there was no explanation of what hit points or Armour Class are.)

Reorganised Adventuring Rules
My recent posts have described how I'm approaching reorganising the rules, using the concept of "control panels" for different modes of the game.

More Stuff is Considered Core
As I progressively wrote the original B/X Essentials books, things popped up that I noted, in retrospect, should have been included in the Core Rules. A really obvious one from the second book (Classes and Equipment) was the rules for alignment. Alignment is a core concept of the game -- not something that only affects player characters -- so it should go in the Core Rules book. There are many other examples.

As a result, the revised Core Rules is a much bigger book -- nearly twice as long, by word count -- but it really does contain everything that is core to the game. The other, revised rules modules will, conversely, be smaller -- now focusing purely on providing the modular content of the game. A good example here is that the rules for adventure generation (that originally appeared in Adventures and Treasures) are now in Core Rules; the revised Treasures book will consist purely of the magic items.

As you can see, this shifting of rules content into the Core Rules book sets things up better for the additional / alternative rules modules that are planned / in the works. For example, those rules for alignment won't need to be repeated in every book of alternative classes and equipment.

Re-Editing
Finally, in going through the text once more, I've taken the chance to improve wordings, clarity, and accuracy. Naturally, all known errata has been fixed, as well.

Table of Contents
You're probably wondering what this all looks like! Here's the table of contents of the shiny, new, revised Core Rules:

  • Introduction
    • About B/X Essentials
    • Adventure Gaming
  • Player Characters
    • Game Statistics
    • Creating a Character
    • Ability Scores
    • Alignment
    • Languages
    • Experience and Gaining Levels
    • Wealth
  • Adventuring
    • Adventuring Basics
    • Party Organisation
    • Hired Help
    • Hazards and Challenges
    • Dungeon Adventuring
    • Wilderness Adventuring
    • Waterborne Adventuring
    • Encounters
    • Evasion and Pursuit
    • Combat
    • Other Combat Issues
    • Vehicles and Vessels
  • Magic
    • Types of Magic
    • Spells
    • Magical Research
  • Monsters and NPCs
    • Monsters
    • Normal Humans
    • NPC Adventurers
    • NPC Strongholds
    • Combat Tables
  • Adventures
    • Adventure Scenarios
    • Designing a Dungeon
    • Designing a Wilderness
    • Designing a Base Town
    • Awarding Experience
  • Treasure
    • Placing Treasure
    • Treasure Types
    • Gems and Jewellery
    • Magic Items (Note: Naturally, this section only covers the generalities of magic items.)
  • Author's Notes
  • Open Game License


B/X Essentials: Evasion and Pursuit "Control Panel"

I mentioned recently that I've been working on tweaking the structure of B/X Essentials: Core Rules for the deluxe books that we're going to crowd-fund next year. One thing I'm focusing on is restructuring the rules of the game into a series of "control panels" (© Ben Milton): two-page spreads containing all the rules required for a certain topic or mode of play.

In the previous post, I showed work-in-progress layouts for the three main adventuring "modes" of B/X: dungeoneering, wilderness adventuring, and seafaring. Today, I'd like to show a similar work-in-progress layout for the evasion and pursuit "control panel".

The Original Chase Rules
First of all, I think it's helpful to show the chase rules from the current B/X Essentials: Core Rules. These rules are also laid out as a control panel, though more or less by chance -- the rules just happened to fit exactly on two pages.


The New Evasion and Pursuit Rules
Now, let's look at the new control panel from the work-in-progress deluxe book. (The layout is still a little rough; I'm just presenting it here to show how the structure has changed -- see below.)


Things to note, comparing the original and the new spread:

  1. The new spread is structured quite differently. The original was written in a more "wall of text" fashion, which I'm now trying to avoid. The text on the new spread is broken down into bullet points, making it far easier and quicker to parse out the required information. This structure is designed specifically to aid use at the table.
  2. The new spread presents a more accurate rendition of these rules as found in the original Basic/Expert sets. In the original spread, the rules for evasion (i.e. avoiding an encounter before it occurs) and pursuit (i.e. being chased) were kind of melded together. The clearly drawn distinction between these two separate procedures helps clarify the way these rules are used in play.
  3. A little piece of errata has been fixed in the new spread: the explanation of ships closing in during a pursuit was wrong. (Of course, all known errata will be fixed in the new editions of the books. So if you spot any, be sure to let me know!)
  4. Some bits and pieces of information that were present on the original spread are not present on the new one: for example, the statement about group movement rate, and the rules about when evasion can occur. These bits have been moved to higher level locations: the rules on general movement and the rules for encounters, respectively, for those two examples.
Feedback welcome!

Dolmenwood: Travel Times by Road

Illustration by Alan Lee. (Forgive the hobbitses.)

As part of my work on the Dolmenwood Campaign Book, I've been considering road travel between the various settlements on the map. Of course, there are standard rules for overland travel, but for common routes like these it seems like it'd be useful to provide pre-calculated journey times. So I've just spent a while figuring them all out.

Travel by Road in Dolmenwood
The basics are:

  • A party on foot can travel along a road through two hexes in 8 hours.
  • A mounted party can travel along a major road through three hexes in 8 hours and along a minor road through two hexes in 8 hours.
  • Major roads on the campaign map: King's Highway, Horseye Road, Swinney Road, Fort Road.
  • All other roads on the map are minor roads.

(See Wormskin issue 5 for more details on the travel procedure.)

Travel Times
Notes:

  1. Times by road only. Ferry travel times have not yet been calculated.
  2. I've added some wayside inns to the map, where appropriate.


Castle Brackenwold 1508

  • The Roost (Inn) 1308: 8 hours on foot, 5 hours mounted
  • The Refuge of St Keye 1307: 8 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted
  • The Quivering Doily (Inn) 1807: 10 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted


The Roost (Inn) 1308

  • Castle Brackenwold 1508: 8 hours on foot, 5 hours mounted
  • Woodcutters’ Encampment 1109: 8 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted


Woodcutters’ Encampment 1109

  • Shantywood Isle 1110: By ferry (times to be determined)
  • Dreg 1110: By ferry (times to be determined)
  • The Roost (Inn) 1308: 6 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted
  • Mallowheart’s Repose (Inn) 1108: 6 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted 


Shantywood Isle 1110

  • Woodcutters’ Encampment 1109: By ferry (times to be determined)
  • Dreg 1110: By ferry (times to be determined)


Dreg 1110

  • Shantywood Isle 1110: By ferry (times to be determined)
  • Woodcutters’ Encampment 1109: By ferry (times to be determined)
  • House of the Harridwn 1010: 4 hours on foot, 4 hours mounted
  • The Jaunty Horn (Inn) 0910: 8 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted


The Jaunty Horn (Inn) 0910

  • House of the Harridwn 1010: 8 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted
  • Dreg 1110: 8 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted
  • Lankshorn 0710: 6 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted


House of the Harridwn (Inn) 1010

  • Dreg 1110: 4 hours on foot, 4 hours mounted
  • The Jaunty Horn (Inn) 0910: 8 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted


Lankshorn 0710

  • The Jaunty Horn (Inn) 0910: 6 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted


Mallowheart’s Repose (Inn) 1108

  • Woodcutters’ Encampment 1109: 6 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted
  • Prigwort 1106: 8 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted


The Refuge of St Keye 1307

  • Castle Brackenwold 1508: 8 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted
  • Prigwort 1106: 8 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted
  • Orbswallow 1405: 10 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted


Prigwort 1106

  • The Refuge of St Keye 1307: 8 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted
  • Orbswallow 1405: 12 hours on foot, 11 hours mounted
  • The Breath of the Kelpie 1204: 8 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted
  • Mallowheart’s Repose (Inn)  1108: 8 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted
  • The Crimson Bath (Inn) 0805: 12 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted


The Crimson Bath (Inn) 0805

  • Prigwort 1106: 12 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted
  • Fort Vulgar 0604: 8 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted


Fort Vulgar 0604

  • The Crimson Bath (Inn) 0805: 8 hours on foot, 6 hours mounted


The Breath of the Kelpie 1204

  • Prigwort 1106: 8 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted
  • Odd 1403: 8 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted


Odd 1403

  • The Breath of the Kelpie 1204: 8 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted
  • Meagre’s Reach 1703: 12 hours on foot, 12 hours mounted
  • Blackeswell 1604: 12 hours on foot, 12 hours mounted


Meagre’s Reach 1703

  • Odd 1403: 12 hours on foot, 12 hours mounted
  • Blackeswell 1604: 12 hours on foot, 12 hours mounted


Blackeswell 1604

  • Odd 1403: 12 hours on foot, 12 hours mounted
  • Meagre’s Reach 1703: 12 hours on foot, 12 hours mounted
  • Orbswallow 1405: 9 hours on foot, 9 hours mounted


Orbswallow 1405

  • The Refuge of St Keye 1307: 10 hours on foot, 8 hours mounted
  • Prigwort 1106: 12 hours on foot, 11 hours mounted
  • Blackeswell 1604: 9 hours on foot, 9 hours mounted


The Quivering Doily (Inn) 1807

  • Castle Brackenwold 1508: 8 hours on foot, 5 hours mounted