Old-School Essentials Rules Tome

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  • Deluxe, sewn-binding, A5 (digest size) hardcover
  • 256 pages
  • Everything you need to run classic fantasy adventures

Killer Features of Old-School Essentials

Usability: Old-School Essentials is meticulously edited and laid out, with the aim of maximising ease of reference during play. No more searching for references scattered across multiple pages. No more scanning dense paragraphs of text to pick out details. Everything in Old-School Essentials is logically organised and collated, and presented in a quick-to-read format based on "control panels" — two-page spreads presenting a single topic in its entirety.

Modularity: The rules of Old-School Essentials are divided into "modules" — cleanly separated chunks of related content. For example, the core rules of the game are cleanly separated from the rules for the classic fantasy character classes. This makes it simple to swap out any of the modular components of the game's rules with alternatives — perfect for referees who love to customise and tweak.

Convenience: All books are produced in handy A5 (Digest) size for convenient use at the table. The small, modular books make it easy to find what you need. Want to look up a spell? Just grab the book of spells. No need to navigate a big tome to find the right section.

Quality: We're set to produce the Old-School Essentials books at a deluxe level of quality — hardcovers with sewn bindings. These will be beautiful and seriously durable books!

Compatibility: Old-School Essentials is a 100% accurate restatement of the original Basic/Expert rules (B/X), with nothing added, changed, or removed. All material written for the B/X rules over the last 38 years can be used with Old-School Essentials, without any conversion effort whatsoever!

Refinement: The original Basic/Expert rules form a wondrously solid rules set, but they are not without areas of confusion and contradiction. All known omissions, contradictions, and areas of confusion have been carefully ironed out in Old-School Essentials.

What's This About 1981?

The 1981 Basic/Expert Fantasy Adventure Game sets (also known as B/X) have experienced a vibrant renaissance over the last decade. Many players have returned to (or discovered for the first time!) the simple rules and imaginative open space of the Basic/Expert game, with the focus on ease of play, adventure, wonder, and mystery.

Renewed interest in this vintage game has led to the creation of a wide array of retro-clones: games that restate or are inspired by the rules of the Basic/Expert sets. In fact, the B/X rules (and games based on them) are the most popular rules in use in the old-school gaming scene.

Old-School Essentials is exactly such a retro-clone, and we're immensely proud to be a part of the renaissance of these beloved rules.

100% Rules Accuracy

The material in the Rules Tome forms a complete retelling of the classic Basic/Expert rules, including all of the classic fantasy classes, spells, monsters, and treasures.

Old-School Essentials has been developed with equal measures of love and precision. The ultimate aim of this project is to produce as accurate as possible a restatement of the revered B/X rules, while improving the structure and presentation, and fixing errors and contradictions in the original rules. (For those with a passion for rules archaeology, this document describes all the areas of the Basic/Expert rules which are clarified in Old-School Essentials. The document is also available at DriveThruRPG.)

The resulting books are the product of over two years of meticulous research, rules archaeology, and discussion.

A Single Optional Addition — Ascending Armour Class

Modern iterations of the world's most popular RPG use an Armour Class system where AC values start at 10 and go up. This is known as Ascending Armour Class. (The default Armour Class system in B/X has AC starting at 9 and going down, known as Descending Armour Class.)

For those more familiar or comfortable with Ascending Armour Class, this optional rule has been fully integrated into Old-School Essentials. All AC ratings are presented in a dual format, as follows: AC 7 [12].

This is the single rule we've added to the game that is not present in the original Basic/Expert rules, and it is strictly optional — Descending AC remains the default.

Additional information

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