The B/X Essentials project is a reorganised, clarified expression of the classic Basic/Expert rules, with the focus on ease of reference at the table. The goals and guiding principles of the project are as follows:
- 100% accurate rules clone. B/X Essentials, unlike other clones or games inspired by B/X, goes to great efforts to be 100% accurate to the original. Nothing is altered. Nothing is added. Nothing is removed.
- Organised for quick reference. The text of B/X Essentials is consciously kept concise and is broken into logical chunks, each with a header and contained on a single page, making quick reference possible (no page flipping!). I believe this is the clearest expression of the Basic/Expert rules available to date.
- Clarified rules. The original rules are delightfully straightforward, but there certainly exist areas of confusion and ambiguity. (Check out the rules for encumbrance, wilderness chases, or sea vessels, for example.) B/X Essentials presents greatly clarified descriptions of these rules.
- 100% Open Game Content. In addition to fancy, fully illustrated print / PDF editions, the B/X Essentials rules are released in a simple text format licensed as 100% Open Game Content (under the OGL). The fresh expression of the B/X rules can thus be freely used by other people for the creation of their own house rules documents and B/X-inspired games.
- How does B/X Essentials compare to the original B/X books? The main (and major!) difference is that the rules for Basic and Expert play are combined, rather than being split across two books. Also, as mentioned above, B/X Essentials is written as a quick reference, presenting a clarified and better organised presentation of the rules. Areas of ambiguity or contradiction in the original rules are cleared up.
- How does B/X Essentials compare to Labyrinth Lord? LL also presents a restatement of the classic B/X rules, however its text is, in many places, far too verbose and meandering to be really useful as a quick reference. Also, as noted above, B/X Essentials is a 100% accurate clone whereas Labyrinth Lord introduces several changes to the rules. In B/X Essentials, clerics do not get a spell at 1st level!
- Where can I get it? A beautifully illustrated print / PDF edition of the first book in the series (B/X Essentials: Core Rules) is available here. The Open Game Content text of the project (including current work-in-progress on unpublished books) is shared online here.
- What print formats are available? The primary format is US Trade (6"x9") paperback (perfect- or staple-bound) with a fully-linked PDF. So, yes, this is a small form-factor presentation of the B/X rules!
- How about a compiled edition? When the four core books (Core Rules, Classes and Equipment, Cleric and Magic-User Spells, Monsters and Treasures) are finished, I'll work on combining them all into a single tome, which will be available in perfect bound and hardback formats.
- How about a box set? This is also something that I'll be looking into, once the four core books are finished.