Saturday, 16 September 2017

B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment -- Draft Text

One Sunday in August, I announced the second book in the B/X Essentials line: Classes and Equipment. Since then, a huge amount of progress has been made on the book. The draft text has been finished, various people have been helping out proofreading it, and I'm now most of the way through getting the text into its final form.

The text is freely available here online. (100% Open Game Content for all the tinkerers out there!)

One of the major aims of this projects has been reorganisation and clarification. I was very pleased with my achievements in these areas in the first book -- Core Rules -- but I must say that I'm even happier with how Classes and Equipment is shaping up. Some examples:

Look at the dwarf class. Seems simple enough, right? But then look at where the information is collated from. The main class description is on B9. The XP and HD advancement table for levels 1-3 is on B8. Of course, the chart for advancement beyond 3rd level is on X5. Then the description of the class features for levels 3-14 is on X7. Then you have the table for saving throws on X24 and the attack table on X26. And then the dwarf's ability at finding traps is hidden away on B22. And the rule about dwarves and other demi-humans having an improved chance when listening at doors on B21.

That's a lot of really scattered information, right? My layout aim for the character classes in this book will be to present everything relating to each class together in one place, on a single page or spread.

Look at the weapons table. A simple thing, but it collates all the information from B20, B27, X9, and X25.

Look at the section on water vessels. This is my pride and joy with this project. The information is gathered from X9-10 and X63-64, so it's not too spread out in the original. But it's so densely presented in the original Expert book that it's very difficult to quickly extract information about different vessels or situations. What's more, there are a lot of contradictions and ambiguities. All of this has been cleared up. (Which was a lot of work!) For example, how much does a troop transport cost? (X9 and X63 give conflicting values.) What happens to a sailing boat in high winds? (There's an obscure mention that it's treated the same as a galley and then a dense description of running ahead of a gale on X63 and a small rule about shipping water on X64.) How many catapults can be fitted on a large sailing ship? (X10 and X63 contradict each other.)

As is doubtless clear, I love B/X, but honestly, the information about sea vessels in the Expert book is really awfully presented and appears to have not been proofread.

So, just a few examples, but I hope that makes clear how the presentation of the original rules can be improved upon! (I know some people doubt this.)


  1. Gavin Norman, you do yeoman's work for the B/X clan - sincere thanks from this DM who uses all of your work at my myriad tables.

    1. Thanks Andy! It means a lot to me to hear that my writings are of use to others :)

  2. Sean Robert Meaney19 September 2017 at 16:09

    X10 large sailing ships can mount two light catapults.

    X63 ship modifications; catapult: long ships, any type of galley, and either type of sailed warship can add one light catapult... Ordinary sailing ships, troop transports, and the smaller vessels not mentioned above cannot mount a catapult. A catapult and twenty rounds of shot weight 10,000cn.

    **warships are modified large or small sailing ships costing an additional 1/3 of original.

    I see what you mean. Thats a tad messy.

  3. Great work consolidating the Basic and Expert rules into a single core rulebook. Keep up the great work! _\\\

    One thing that always gets over-looked with the "Basic" rules (blue-box, BX, BECMI, RC, black-box, etc.) is an error with the Dwarf/Hafling saving throw array that stems from the Expert rulebook. In OD&D, Dwarves where noted as having "a high level of magic resistance, and they thus add four [fighting-man] levels when rolling saving throws (a 6th level dwarf equals a 10th level human [fighter])", which basically pushes them up to the next saving throw tier. In B26, they got it right, but in X24, they were bumped-up an extra tier, thus count as being 8-levels higher than an equivalent human Fighter, and this small error was never pick-up and reverberated across later editions of the "Basic" rules.

    1. Thanks!

      That's a really interesting historical observation. In B/X Essentials, I've favoured the Expert rules, in case of inconsistencies like this. So it turns out I've also perpetuated this mistake. I do wonder if it was a deliberate design choice, though.