Old-School Essentials

People who have been following my work on the revised edition of B/X Essentials have probably come across my blog posts and discussions on social media (soul-)searching for a new name for the brand. (Many thanks to everyone who gave their input into that process!)

To summarize, the reason for wanting to change the name is the following:

  • The term "B/X" is only meaningful to a very small niche of dedicated old-school players who spend their days chatting about the minutiae of different vintages of D&D online.
  • I include myself in this niche, naturally, and have a great love of this scene and its inhabitants. However...
  • To anyone outside of that niche (including people who play old-school games but aren't involved in the online OSR scene!), the term "B/X" is meaningless and obscure. Only the cover art really conveys what the books are.

Finally, after many months of back and forth, considering a huge number of weird and wonderful names, the final decision that I've come to is simple:

Old-School Essentials

I feel this name has a really nice balance of continuity with the old name and wider appeal to people who are interested in old-school gaming but maybe haven't dipped their toes (and thus don't know what "B/X" means). And it has a nice ring to it, in its own right.

Now some picture (some with colours)!

The New Brand Logo

Firstly, here's the logo I've been playing with:


You can also see the use of a brand subtitle there, conveying a bit more info as to what this mysterious book in the hands of a hypothetical gamer is about.

I'm viewing this logo as semi-final. Final in the sense that I'm happy with it and haven't wanted to tweak it any further over the last few days. Semi- in the sense that it's not actually been printed on anything, so theoretically could still be tweaked.

Cover Mock-Ups

While working on the logo, I played around with how it will look on the covers of the books. Here it is in place on four of the five revised books:





Note that I've not included a mock-up of the revised Core Rules cover as Andrew Walter is working on a new piece of art for that! I'll reveal that when it's ready.

46 comments:

  1. Looks pretty cool, i'd have preferred it if it made mention of being an RPG rather than an "adventure game" but no biggie that's just personal preference. That said I'm probably gonna wait for the compiled tome rather than re-buy the revised versions of the individual books.

    Looking forward to future releases :)

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    1. Yeah, "adventure game" vs RPG... it's a tricky one. Personally, I much prefer the term "adventure game", but I may end up using roleplaying game instead, just because it's a much more widely understood term.

      The all-in-one tome will be published at the same time as the revised booklets, so you won't need to wait any longer than anyone else for all this revised goodness :)

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    2. I've come to prefer "adventure game" actually, as it implies a particular play style, IMO. Being a book, to me implies it's an RPG of some sort, and not a board game. You may just want to clarify that point for the box set when the time comes.

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    3. Fighting Fantasy is an adventure book. I'd think this was something similar if I just saw the title and cover.

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  2. I think they look great, Gavin. I like the logo design and fonts. One thing that jumps out at me is that the fantasy classes booklet is called "rules" now, which may be confusing next to the actual core rules. You might want to give that naming convention some thought. Classic Fantasy Classes & Equipment seems better for clarity. Are there actually fantasy genre specific rules in that book now?

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    1. Thanks!

      The Classic Fantasy book doesn't have much in the way of setting rules, but I'm paving the way for other genre books that certainly will have extra rules. (I've also come to dislike the name Classes & Equipment, as the book contains so much more than that.)

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    2. As for the name, what about
      "Classic Fantasy Adventuring Rules"?

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    3. I've been wavering between "Classic Fantasy Adventures" and "Classic Fantasy Rules". "Classic Fantasy Adventuring Rules" could work too, though it's a bit long-winded.

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    4. How about "Classic Fantasy Adventurers"?
      I'm not sure you need the word Classic on any of them,
      it feels a bit redundant with the brand name.
      What would the other books you have planned be titled like?
      ex. "Classic Asian Fantasy Rules"? "Classic Post-Apocalypse Rules"?

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    5. Using the word "Adventurers" doesn't work that great, because these "genre" books might contain more than just character creation and advancement rules. For example, the PA book also contains rules for wasteland survival and radiation.

      The "Classic" is to distinguish the traditional B/X vein of fantasy. There are plans for other types of fantasy content, e.g. Advanced, Gothic, Asian. (So the PA book won't use the word "Classic".)

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  3. Nice! I'm 100% on board with the name. I have some critiques of the logo as-is however, primarily the mix of widths for the interior "whitespace" elements, particularly the "S"s (and super particularly where the bottom of the E and the L meet the bottom of the S not matching up), and the H and the I almost but not quite matching in a similar way... It looks like it wants to be grid-based, evoking graph paper, but then breaks that rule everywhere.

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    1. Thanks David! I was hoping someone with a sharp design eye might have some comments on this. I'll have a look at this. The spacing is currently just the standard spacing for the font (however that's defined -- I don't really know).

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  4. Love it. Makes sense. Also ignore the adventure game haters, if it feels true to you that's all that matters.

    One question: why the hyphen (or dash)?

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    1. Also: I think the title without the black background would be cool.

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    2. I think I agree with this. I was thinking it was me missing the sword from the b/x part. I now think it is the background. ...but what would replace it?

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    3. Forgot to check the box to get emailed replies. So that is what this comment is for.

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  5. Not gonna lie, new logo seems kind of... clashing with cover illustrations? You've got a bizzare colourful picture, and it's topped with an angular black-and-white brick.

    Though the more I look at it, the more it grows on me.

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  6. I like what you do, so I’m getting the all-in-one book and the Dolmenwood plug and play setting, no matter what it’s called. If we were drinking coffee and you asked me about it i’d throw some ideas back and forth...

    In a nutshell, “Old-School” replaces “B/X”
    with “Essentials” and “Retro Adventure Game”.
    Which means the game will be referred to as “OSE”

    If you moved some of your wording around,
    you could have Old-School Retro,
    which means people would refer to your game as OSR
    and Essentials could be added to that.
    ....or, “OSR-E”

    But, it don’t matter...I’m good with whatever it is...

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    1. I've deliberately avoided a name that could be abbreviated as OSR. I think that'd be rather presumptuous, and would be really confusing to use an acronym that's already in common use.

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    3. Right, didn't think about that, just thought your game should be at the top of the OSR heap

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  7. I am impatiently waiting for the all-in-on rules, but I am slightly taken aback by this logo. Maybe it's because I have been readind the excellent book "Typeset in the Future", but it looks too sci-fi for a classic fantasy product IMO, especially with the black background masking the graph paper origin. it would be more suited to a sword&planet game, or a "Barriers Peaks"-type mashup.

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    2. Yeah, the choice of a font that doesn't scream "fantasy!" is deliberate. There are plans for lots of other books in the product line, including sci-fi stuff. So I wanted a font that conveys a sense of fun and adventure, and a bit of an 80s retro feeling.

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  8. Love the title Gavin, but not sold on the font. I'll still be buying several of them of course, irrespective of the font.

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    1. Yes, that makes good sense as it will be part of a much broader series and a mixture of genres. You've always got an excellent reason for things Gavin. :)

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  9. 1. The name sounds great, totally sold on it.

    2. Excited about a new Andrew Walter piece! The Core Rules cover hasn't drawn my partner's eye as much as the other four illustrations.

    3. Not sold on whatever typeface you're using for the book titles. I prefer the Souvenir used on the current printing. Not sure if that's misplaced nostalgia (BX is, uhh, 6 years older than me) or lack of serifs or what, but for the original BX-cloning line, I would expect a fantasy feel.

    4. I agree with David's assessment of this *particular* logo font, but you might be onto something if you find a similar, more consistent one. Maybe with gridlines? I don't know.

    5. Similarly I really don't like the black frame, I think the logo would look better against the coloured background and not intruding into the art piece.


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    1. 1. Cool!
      2. Yeah, a few people have said that.
      3. It's the same font as is used for RETRO ADVENTURE GAME. I'm not 100% on it either, but I'm also not sure about introducing a third font on the covers. (I've had enough of Souvenir, btw ;)
      4. I've fixed up the points that David raised (the H and the I, the S's). I don't think I want to go for something totally grid-based / square. That'd look too digital, I think.
      5. I've tried that and either had to make the image or the logo too small (to avoid the overlap). And without the black background, it's not prominent enough.

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    2. I think the fact that the book titles are title case while Essentials is capitalised is throwing me off. It may be the same fot but they feel very different.

      yeah, I played around with something grid-based (in a cross-stitch web app, for drawing diagonals over a square) and came to the same conclusion, at least for letter sizes < 10 squares. And if it's more than that, there's not much point being grid-based.

      I see your point regarding 5, though Graeme D's suggestions below are worth exploring.

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  10. For the logo -- have you considered making the black frame rounded, like the art border? The contrast looks a little strange right now.

    Or it might just be that the black against mostly pastel colours looks a bit stark. I suppose making the black background for the logo a different complementary colour for each book instead wouldn't work?

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    1. Yes, rounded, compl. color to the background, and give it a "raised" appearance. This would greatly improve the meshing of the logo with the rest of the book.

      It seems you are set on the Old School Essentials title and most of the comments have been positive. I would have preferred/recommended something that linked it back to D&D like B/X did, but that ship has sailed.

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  11. Old-School-Retro
    Adventure Gaming

    Designed for Basic & Expert level play



    Yah, too long....but it's OSRAG now....lol

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  12. OSE seems like good compromise but I'll echo other peoples concerns over the font and framing of the title on the current covers. It's probably just the dissonance of seeing something familiar changed.

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  13. OSE sounds great. Looking forward to seeing the next "edition" of this.

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  14. Have you considered:
    "The Norman Conquest RPG" as a title?
    Tongue firmly in cheek 😉

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    1. Haha no I haven't, but I'll certainly bear it in mind for the future!

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  15. Still impatiently waiting for the compiled version! ;)

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  16. So I know *the* big goal of this project is to maintain fidelity to the old-school content, but is there maybe value in adding content where it wouldn't affect players, but only GMs?

    Like, expand on the monsters, or treasures, but label the ones added by the community or by you with an asterisk, or something.

    It just feels weird to like, have so many variants of the same old thing, over and over, even with layout and text tweaks to make them more workable. Taxidermic Owlbear's huge list of retroclones boggles the mind to look at, and yet here is another rendition of what to me is the same thing. There's a market, and it isn't like that market affects me, but.

    I just keep thinking, what's the "harm" in adding content? What's the "harm" in modernization? Especially since I know for a fact that Necrotic Gnome produces a ton of creative content via the Dolmenwood and various other publications. Is adding that sort of thing to B/X, even just on the GM's side, going to hurt sales and reviews so much?

    I get how adding spells and player-facing options might jog the elbows of people looking for a clone, but...I dunno. It just feels like there's room to add stuff and to augment what exists, rather than re-cloning clones.

    I admit I sort of want a Necrotic Gnome Lamentations. A modernization of B/X showcasing what sort of mechanics you most like, rather than a Necrotic Gnome Retroclone.

    But I'm fairly niche and not very much representative of a market, I suppose.

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    1. Well, Old-School Essentials is the rule set that I've always dreamed of for use in my own games. I had two aims with this project:
      1. To produce as near perfect a clone of B/X as possible, (and here comes the important bit) with greatly improved layout, editing, and ease of use. (So the point of the project is specifically enhancements in those areas, not enhancements by adding new content.)
      2. To set things up in a totally modular way, making it easy to add on new content. With the foundation of this rule set laid, I have plans to publish loads more books in the series, which will add all sorts of new classes, spells, monsters, treasures, etc onto the classic B/X rules chassis.

      As to publishing my own B/X-based rule set with tweaks... It's not something I'm passionate about right at this moment (I'm a real B/X purist), but who knows, it might be something I become interested in in the future.

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  17. Hey do you have a rough idea of how the boxed set will be priced during the kickstarter?

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    1. I'm afraid I'm not quite ready to say anything publicly about that yet. I don't want to say anything before it's really decided.

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  18. Modularity is a really smart idea. I can see where you can drop in variable Class, Monster, Spell books, etc., while maintaining the core rules. I am enjoying the current product, and look forward to running some truly OS stuff, once I relocate and get a new group going. Already toying with the system by adapting an old DW scenario to fit as a first adventure. Kudos, and keep up the good work.

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