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B/X Essentials: Core Rules
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B/X Essentials: Core Rules

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The B/X Essentials line is a restatement of the classic Basic/Expert fantasy adventure gaming rule set, given a fresh, new presentation focused on usability:

  • Basic and Expert rules seamlessly combined.
  • Streamlined presentation optimised for ease of reference during play.
  • Meticulously researched; a guaranteed 100% accurate rendition of the classic rules of yesteryear.
  • Carefully clarified, ironing out ambiguities in the original rules.

This first book lays out the core rules of the game, including: encounters, combat, dungeon and wilderness exploration, seafaring, spell casting, and magical research.

Click here for further books in the series.

About the print editions: There are two different print editions, both 6" x 9":

1. The premium edition. This is staple bound, so it lays flat at the table, and is produced with the premium printing process, which gives crisper text and images.

2. The standard, perfect bound edition.

A plain text edition of this book is available here. This is provided as an aid to others who wish to create their own house rules documents or retro-clones (please read the Open Game License, at the end of the document, carefully!).

 Customers who bought this title also purchased
Reviews (6)
Discussions (8)
Customer avatar
Eugene S May 23, 2018 3:49 am UTC
Bought all three pdfs and love them even though I think they would be better in one book. The art is amazing. I wanted to buy prints but could not justify paying almost the full cost of a book in postage. For two books the postage is little over 15 dollars.
Customer avatar
Gavin N May 23, 2018 4:55 am UTC
Hi Eugene, glad you're enjoying the books! There will be a compiled edition once all of the booklets are complete. In the meantime, if you do want a hardcopy, you could consider getting the PDFs printed locally. The books are also available at Lulu. The price is higher (due to Lulu's much higher printing costs), but you can often get free shipping codes, so that might be workable for you.
Customer avatar
Tim S April 17, 2018 10:26 pm UTC
Gavin: You might want to tweak the listing titles for your rulebooks on RPGNow. I cannot get to this page using "b/x essentials" for my search terms (with or without the quotes). Things work if I use '"b/x" essentials', -- in other words, quoting the B/X portion seems to do the trick. I found out about your books on an OSR website and was confused at first because searching for it here turned up nothing.

At any rate, I'm waiting for copies of each of your first three B/X-related books to get printed and shipped. Expectantly waiting for you to finish the 4th so I can snag that as well! :)

Customer avatar
Gavin N April 18, 2018 5:50 am UTC
Hi Tim, urgh, thanks for letting me know. Not sure what to do about it, but I'll have a think. It's really not ideal!

Glad you're enjoying the books, though. The writing on the monsters book is all but finished now, so I'll be starting the proofreading / layout / illustration process very soon!
Customer avatar
Tim S April 20, 2018 2:55 am UTC
Just saw the update on your website that the monster book is done! Woot! :)

If you want any more eyes on it, feel free to ping me!
Customer avatar
Ilias L March 26, 2018 9:46 pm UTC
Great ruleset, I love it. This could quickly become my favorite version of d&d ever. I find the decision to separate the rules amazing and it is making my gaming easier and faster than ever. But I have a suggestion, Gavin: For the life of me I could not find anywhere in the Core Rules book the Armour Class of an unarmored character. I guess it should be noted at least on the Armour chart on page 24 of the Classes and Equipment book. I found a side-note on the Common Mercenary Types table on the same book, page 34, where it notes that "AC: 9 = no armour", but still I can't help but think that this is not the most appropriate or helpful place for such info. Of course I knew, as any player of basic d&d would know by heart, that it is AC 9. But I happened to be playing with (relatively) young players who were a little confused by the apparent omission. It baffled me a bit that it took so much effort to find this info and I wanted to let you know about it. I would appreciate your opinion on this....See more
Customer avatar
Gavin N March 27, 2018 3:15 am UTC
Hi Ilias, ha, that's an excellent point! It should be mentioned in the Character Creation section. I'll add this to the PDF. Thanks for noting the omission!
Customer avatar
Jon H March 20, 2018 6:58 pm UTC
It says above that these rules are 100% like that one old set of two staple - bound books that we all love. How true is that? I want in if they are, what I am not looking for is another house-ruled clone.
Customer avatar
Gavin N March 20, 2018 9:59 pm UTC
The 100% accuracy statement is no joke or misdirection. Aside from clarifying the occasional glaring ambiguity in the original rules (e.g. the ambiguities around the capabilities of different ships in X), nothing is added, altered, or removed. Of course, the thing that's different is the presentation: these booklets divide the rules up by type of content (core rules, classes, magic, etc) rather than by level of play (basic, expert).
Customer avatar
Jon H March 21, 2018 5:33 pm UTC
Thank you for the speedy response. I want to be able to play b/x without using my classic books so this product is just what I was hoping it is. While I love many of the b/x clones, when I want to play 'true' b/x I want to play that only. I bought copies of your b/x warrior and rogue and love them. I have ordered a copy of the b/x essentials core book and will soon get the other two. I am very excited about this set! Especially with the staple-bound premium print option! Thank you sir for the clarification and your efforts to keep this classic rules set alive and well!
Customer avatar
Gavin N March 21, 2018 8:02 pm UTC
I totally know what you mean about not wanting to use the classic books at the table. I'd be terrified every time a player needed to look something up, haha. Hope you enjoy the books!
Customer avatar
Jon H March 22, 2018 1:13 am UTC
I have had to use my originals at the table because b/x is an itch that even the best retro clone just can't scratch for me. I love the game but passing my books to the players gives me much anxiety indeed. Now, it seems I can put my classic books safely away!
Customer avatar
Wind L March 18, 2018 12:15 am UTC
Finally! After years of searching for the perfect OSR retro-clone, I have finally found it! Gavin Norman's awesome little set of books condenses all of the rules from the original basic and advanced boxed set into pure, usable, bliss without adding the usual house-rules and personalized gaming ideology that mar so many other OSR products.
The writing is crisp, clean, and efficient, the formatting and layout are elegant and beautiful, and the artwork is top-notch, featuring work from some of the best OSR artists out there--including insanely awesome cover art.
But the best thing about Gavin Noman's little masterpiece is just how stripped-down and usable it is. Each book is about 40 pages and only presents the information that you need to play the game. I can't overstate how awesome this is--finally an OSR book that actually does what the basic sets were supposed to (LotFP came close, but B/X is still much easier to use at the table)! Wow! Way to go! And the use of three books to chunk out the elements...See more
Customer avatar
Kelly D September 13, 2017 7:23 pm UTC
I am unhappy with the decision to separate character classes from the rest of the tome. This forces me to still have two books at the table. I am still waiting for ONE BOOK that encompasses B and X together, in an organized manner.
Customer avatar
Gavin N September 13, 2017 7:41 pm UTC
The decision to split the rules into separate booklets is born out of my own desire for such a thing -- I dislike the typical RPG mega-tome and have always wanted a game formed of a set of smaller booklets. Of course everyone has different tastes in this matter.

I do plan to do a combined edition, once everything is written. (There will likely be four booklets in the initial series: core rules, classes and equipment, spells, monsters and treasures.)
Customer avatar
Kelly D September 14, 2017 5:22 pm UTC
Count me as sold on that mega-tome! :)
Customer avatar
Gavin N September 14, 2017 5:35 pm UTC
Cool! Should be some time next year, I guess.
Customer avatar
Shawn B September 15, 2017 4:18 am UTC
Ditto on the mega-tome, also. :)
Customer avatar
Wind L March 18, 2018 12:16 am UTC
Thank you for doing this. It is perfect.
Customer avatar
Michael H September 08, 2017 7:18 am UTC
Brilliant stuff. More please!
Customer avatar
Gavin N September 08, 2017 7:22 am UTC
Thanks Michael! Glad you enjoyed it. The next book in the series -- Classes and Equipment -- is being proofread at the moment. Should be out in the latter months of this year. I've also started work on the third book -- Spells.
Customer avatar
Tony M September 04, 2017 7:16 am UTC
Looking forward to seeing it in print.
Customer avatar
Daniel W September 09, 2017 4:32 pm UTC
Same here.
Customer avatar
Gavin N September 09, 2017 4:43 pm UTC
I'm just awaiting the arrival of the print proofs. All going well, it should be available in the next 5-10 days.
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File Last Updated:
June 30, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on September 03, 2017.