Old-School Essentials PDFs on General Sale!

It's a crazy feeling making this announcement, as it's the culmination of 6 months of intensive work (and a couple of years of work before that), but:

Old-School Essentials is now on general sale!
All-in-one Rules Tome $19.99
Set of 5 modular books $19.99

(With one caveat: PDF only for now. The deluxe hardcover editions will be available in November.)

What is Old-School Essentials?

For anyone reading this who doesn't already know what this is all about, the three "pillars" of Old-School Essentials are:

  • B/X compatibility. Old-School Essentials is an old-school adventure game in the tradition of the Basic/Expert rules from 1981 (B/X). The game is 100% compatible with all material that's been published for B/X since the 80s.
  • Usability. The writing and layout focus on ease of use in play. Everything is structured around "control panel" spreads, where all information pertaining to a certain gameplay topic is presented on two facing pages of the book. See example spreads below.
  • Modularity. Old-School Essentials is a modular game, with different types of content presented in separate books. So there's a book of core rules, a book of classes and equipment, a book of spells, a book of monsters, and a book of treasures. There's also an all-in-one tome that compiles everything together, for those who prefer their RPG books chunky. The modular nature of the game makes it easy to add new content in the form of rules modules that can be mixed and matched.

The rules for character creation

The elf class

The rules for dungeon adventuring


  1. I'm sorry for posting this here. I pre-ordered the OSE Black Box, and get the kickstarter notifications, but I'm unable to post comments on the kickstarter page.

    Am I to understand that the Core Rules will be printed with the original green cover showing the gnome and dwarf fighting the dragon? If so (and this might be an unpopular opinion) that is AWESOME!

    I've never really liked the Mullen cover as the cover of the Core Rules. It's great art, but it's too dark and brooding to capture the game very well. It would be a great cover for a particular sub-book, like dungeon exploring or warlock spells if you ever did those.

    With all the other covers, I look at them and immediately I'm thinking of what the books are about. I see it and think "Yup, that's Classic Fantasy Monsters," or "Yup, that's Classic Fantasy Magic." When I see a picture of a gnome and a dwarf in an underground crystalline cavern fighting a dragon breathing prismatic spray, I immediately think "Yup, that's the Core of what this game is."

    TL;DR If the old gnome-and-dragon cover is the production cover on the Core Rules, I will be very happy.

    (and sorry if this posted twice)

    1. Nope, the Core Rules cover is the Peter Mullen idol face. The new/old cover (Andrew Walter's dragon battle) is for the Rules Tome and the Black Box. (The Black Box will contain the Core Rules book, of course.)

      The reason for not using the dragon cover on Core Rules is that Core Rules is supposed to be the genre neutral foundation of the game. It is not part of the Classic Fantasy line, and the Peter Mullen cover was carefully designed to be genre neutral, rather than shouting "Classic Fantasy!".

    2. Ah, I see. Apologies for the misunderstanding. The Mullen cover is a cool piece of art. I have no real complaints about it. Didn't mean to add to the hurricane of confusion.

  2. Hi Gavin,

    I'm not sure where this will fit, maybe in your book for BECMI rules, but I have a houserule inspired by DungeonWorld.
    Instead of damage by weapon, your class determines your damage die, as follows:

    d4 > wizard, illusionist, druid, gnome, svirneblin, normal human
    d6 > cleric, thief, halfling, assassin, acrobat
    d8 > fighter, ranger, dwarf, elf, drow, duergar
    d10 > half-orc, barbarian, knight, paladin

    Under this rule, all classes can use any weapon they choose. So a wizard can use a long sword, but they roll a d4 for its damage, rather than a fighter who rolls a d8 when wielding the same long sword.

    1. Yep, could be a nice rule to include in some kind of future "Optional Rules" book. It's a house rule that I've never used myself, but I've seen it mentioned many time.

      A book of material based on BECMI wouldn't be the right place for this, though, as that rule doesn't appear in BECMI. (I have no plans for a book of BECMI-based material, by the way.)

    2. An optional rules book would be awesome!
      Fair enough about BECMI, I'm not looking for anything beyond the encounter balancing rules from that system and the rule-sets are already very similar.

      Thanks again for the monsters by hit dice tables in the endpapers, I really appreciate that!