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 and second books in the series (Core Rules and Classes and Equipment) are available here and 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 The Open Game Content text of the project (including current work-in-progress on unpublished books) is shared online here.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 five core books (Core Rules, Classes and Equipment, Cleric and Magic-User Spells, Monsters, and Adventures 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 five core books are finished.