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.

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.

Fire away if you have any ideas!


  1. Of the options you mentioned, "On the Boderlands" appeals most to me.... exploration, hint of danger, Borderlands run the gamut of stone age, fantasy, scifi.. Also harkens back to "keep on the borderlands" :)

    1. Might get confused with The Midderlands, good and bad points.

    2. Instead of "On the Boderlands"... why not just "Boderlands"?

      Or "BoderLands" (BL)? Short as: "BL, BX compatible"

    3. That was my original wish. Turns out there's a really famous computer RPG called Borderlands.

    4. I like the word "milestone", or some variant of it. It meets a lot of your criteria.

      noun: milestone; plural noun: milestones
      1.a stone set up beside a road to mark the distance in miles to a particular place.
      2.an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.

    5. Interesting! I'd not considered anything like that. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. please do not do a "weird spelling" name...

    1. Haha, why not? They're amazing for searchability. You would not believe how hard it is to come up with a name that's not already been used. 90% of the time I think I've found something suitable, I google it and find an existing RPG with the name.

  3. TBH I think you're setting yourself a difficult task, I can't think of many games with titles that meet all of your criteria. It seems especially difficult given that you want the name to "evoke something about what happens or features in the game" whilst "not attempt[ing] to describe what the game is."

    With regards to the suggestions you've presented so far:

    o Hex & Ruin - Nice, I like it.
    o Xthonic - Bleuch, sounds like weirdness for weirdness sake, it may also give people the impression that the game is connected with the Cthulhu mythos so it's not really a neutral name. Also it's going to lead to pronunciation arguments.
    o On the Borderlands - Love it, nice and simple, has an old-school vibe without specifically stating what the game is.

    1. I really wanted to go for just "Borderlands", but (predictably) there's already a game with that name.

  4. Thanks for the feedback!

    Yes, it is extremely tricky.

    About the first two of my criteria: the point is that I want the name to convey some feeling about what happens in the game world itself, as opposed to what the rules are like. e.g. "adventure" vs "old-school", for example. You know what I mean?

  5. I like On the Borderlands quite a bit... I also like Hex & Ruin, but in my head that ties it pretty firmly to fantasy or sword & planet.

    I definitely understand the value of a searchable name, but I think 'weird spelling for weird spellings sake' is a bad idea... and it 'feels' Cthulhu-y.

    Into the Unknown maybe? A little on the long side.

    1. I agree about Hex & Ruin. It's not quite genre-neutral enough for me to have just gone with it.

      Into the Unknown is really cool. Unfortunately, it's already been used by several RPGs.

    2. Arrrgh! For me, that line of thought really sums up what I want from an RPG... borderland, unknown, fringe, horizons...

      Gotta stew on it further.

    3. Totally agreed. I'd go for "Borderlands" in a heartbeat, if it wasn't already used.

      Thank you! I need as much stew in the pot as I can get!

    4. Realms Unknown? Unknown Realms might be better...

  6. Ok, I see now that "Boderlands" is taken already...
    So I would go for a shorter "Hand of Chaos" (HoC rpg) or "Hex & Ruin".

    The first, "Hand of Chaos", is weird and generic enough to be evocative (like LotFP) but does not necessarily imply a specific setting, I guess... because there would be no hand of chaos in the books, which have no setting...

    The second, Hex & Ruin, makes for a nice HR or H&R RPG short version, but has a strong connotation in dungeon delving... Which is good for me, but might confuse those who want to pick a module with a different setting or different tone. Anyway, H&R feels as close to D&D as you can get with your list...

  7. My vote is for Into the Deeps as said deeps could be underground, in the seas, in Dreamland (the inner mind), in outer space, in alternate realities*, in a dystopic bureaucracy, in a technological hive, or even a normal city (for those who dislike urban areas). It covers almost everything that could be called a dungeon plus more. And providing such a list somewhere, possibly an appendix, would give potential GMs some springboards for their own settings and campaigns.

    * I am skipping the term plane as it has some serious baggage.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Derek! That's a really good analysis of how broad a term "deeps" is.

    2. I like Into the Deeps very much.
      Just note that John Bell's homebrew has a very similar name (Into the Depths).

  8. I like Hex & Ruin cause Hex makes me think of both a wilderness map and a hex like a curse/magic... but it is a little more fantasy sounding.

    1. Right, the slight fantasy edge of the word "hex" is the main thing that keeps me from saying "this is it!", re: Hex & Ruin.

  9. How about "Borderlands eXperience" or "Borderland eXplorers"

    1. Hmm, you might be onto something there...

    2. I was also about to suggest Borderland Explorers.

      Other X candidates:
      Xenograft? (the modularity?)
      Xenodelver (or whatever delver is in greek)
      Xenophiles (referring to the adventurers?)
      Xerox? ;-)

    3. Oh, and based on Derek's discussion of Deep above,
      Deep Delvers.

    4. The problem with Deep Delvers is Delving Deeper from Brave Halfling. They also have X-plorers so that is out as well.

      And now I wonder if Realms Unknown wouldn't be a better fit, so I will toss that one in as well.

    5. Came here to suggested Borderlands Explorers and found this. Consider this an upvote.

  10. You might try something like Barrow eXplorer, or Bloody eXtreme! you know, a play on the B&X (two super-difficult letters to work with).

  11. Basic HeXes. :)

    (I also love the sound of On the Borderland, but I think that the namespace *is* too cluttered with both KotB and the Borderlands games to usefully add another thing into that mix.)

  12. I like Xpanse, but there is the Expanse TV show, books, and forthcoming RPG from Green Ronin.

    What about just BXE?

  13. Beyond Xanadu

    (I'm partial to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

  14. On the 'Borderlands' theme (which I like):
    Marchlands, or

    which, to me, give a feeling that there is something out there to civilise, and work for SciFi too.

    Unknown Borderlands

    which manages recall both B1 and B2!

  15. Something else to consider is a subtitle, something that is evocative and yet can be left off by those who play it or otherwise know it well. Something that combines your two favorite title choices in some way.

    For example, Wierdlands: Into Realms Unknown or Hex & Ruin: Into the Deeps.

  16. Is B/X Essentials still a clone of B/X, or is it now its own thing. It seems like (based on your chase rules thing) that you're making it its own game, which is great.

    1. Whatever the game ends up being called, the first five books present a 100% pure clone of B/X. The chase rules in the recent post are identical to the rules in the original game.

  17. I like all three of the front-runners, but I think my favourite is Hex & Ruin.

  18. How about referencing how the RPG works/what it can do, i.e. its dream-like or storytelling nature? For example:

    The Beyond Experience (B/X)
    The Dreaming Door OR The Curious Way (Blakean/Carroll)
    What Lies Beyond
    Wall of Dreams / Veil of Dreams
    The Dreamer's Primer
    Morpheus Wakes OR Morpheus' Wake
    Eternal Tale
    Late Night Legends

    Or something similar to Necrotic Gnome and B/X?

    Brownie Exhumed
    Ex Boggart (yeah, okay, I'm just messing about now)

    1. Boggart Ex Machina.

      (or some preferable B word ;-) )

  19. Cthonic Crawls seems untaken.

    "cthonic" does have that problem mentioned above of everyone thinking it's a derivative of "cthulhu", but at least it can be pronounced.

    I also just thought of the Magic card "Autocthon Wurm", maybe if you want a single, unique word, some "[greek root]+cthon" name might work better than "Xthonic"

  20. How about "Beyond the Borderlands"?

  21. Borderlands of the Xantastic?
    Bungeons and Xragons?

  22. Here's a few ideas to swirl around.

    Embracing the word dashboard might be worthwhile since it does fit the design philosophy...
    Dungeon Dashboard
    Old School RPG Dashboard
    A Wizard's Dashboard

    Or maybe since it is a clone of a classic game of yore, you should embrace the classic aspect similar to Dungeon Crawl Classics:
    Dungeon Roots
    Fantasy Roots
    Adventure Roots
    The Secret Roots of Fantasy Gaming, etc., etc.

  23. Replies
    1. It's something I have considered. I think it carries a way too specific vibe, though... One that doesn't conjure anything really related to the game.

  24. Battle Slash eXplore. B/X. :)

  25. Necrotic Gnome Presents: Gavin’s Grimoire
    Gavin’s Grand Grimoire of Necrotic Magic and other Foul Hexes
    Necrotic Gnome Presents: Gavin’s Law: Death to Chaos
    3GBXE (Gavin’s Grand Grimoire of B/X Essentials)
    Dimensions and Doors
    Denizens & Dungeons
    Chaotic Hexes & Necrotic Ruins
    Chaotic Borderlands & Necrotic Hexes
    Necrotic Gnomes & Chaotic Tomes
    The Arch-Wizard Gavin’s Book of Chaotic Spells and Necrotic Hexes
    The Complete B/X Essentials Handbook

  26. Hmmm... Truncheons and Flagons? Or perhaps The Extreme Cartographers Guild?

  27. So You Want To Be A Corpse (Animated or Not)