Saturday 24 June 2017

Basic / Expert Core Rules: Initial Finished Release!

I've reached a major milestone with the Basic / Expert Core Rules project, which I announced the other day: with a blustery Saturday morning and v0.7.0 of the document, I've reached the point where I consider the core rules document tentatively complete! (Of course, that's not to say that it really is complete. It's entirely possible that I've missed really obvious things out.)

The Documents
Yes, it's become three documents now.
  1. Basic / Expert Purist Core Rules:
  2. Basic / Expert Augmented Core Rules:
  3. Standard Combat Charts:
1 is the real core. 2 is the core plus a few extra, optional rules to clarify certain situations. 3 is the standard attack and saving throw charts. (I separated those out as all those tables were making editing the other docs sluggish!)

Project Goals
  1. A rules document that focuses on quick and easy reference for experienced players. Existing clones vary in the readability of their presentation, especially regarding ease of quick rules reference during play.
  2. A 100% accurate clone of the Basic / Expert rules. Existing clones modify certain elements of the rules, so a really pure clone is missing.
  3. A 100% Open Game Content version of the combined Basic / Expert rules, presented in a plain text format. This can serve as a foundation for house rules documents and tweaked rule sets.
  4. A document containing purely the rules of the game, not including character races/classes, equipment lists, spells, monsters, etc. These commonly vary between campaigns, so are better presented in a separate booklet.

Checking Everything
So now the basic document is complete, I want to make sure that it achieves the goals set out above. Goal 3 is already done (see the OGL at the end of the document), but the other goals will require some checking. This is where input from other people -- especially B/X aficionados -- would be really appreciated. Given the scope of the project (see the goals above) is anything missing, when compared to B/X? Is anything wrong?

And Then What?
Once I'm happy that the documents have met the goals I've set, I'll publish them properly, in the following forms:
  1. A laid-out PDF, focusing on usability. No fancy graphics or artwork.
  2. A raw text document for others to use and edit to their hearts' content.

...and then, if I feel like going further with this, I do rather fancy doing up nice, illustrated editions. I might also get to work on a standard equipment document to go with it.


  1. Replies
    1. Super fun! Even though this project has been all about old-school purism, for the most part, it still feels a little bit like "my game".

  2. I love B/X so I did something very similar combining the text from the two original books with copy and paste from the pdfs then moving into publisher. Getting Monsters in order and formated took forever but know i have a 120 page hard bound BX complete.

    1. Nice! I think I have a text version (pre layout) of your combo. Must be amazing to have the combined book!!

    2. Send me an email at sevenbastard at hotmail dot com if you are interested.

  3. Can I request, a final version in pdf and/or Google Doc optimized for navigation on a phone? It'd be glad to help with this.

    1. Sure! What are the requirements for a PDF to look good on a phone? Single column, I guess? Anything else?

    2. For a PDF, that's probably it, aside from making sure the font size is good. For the Google Doc, the Drive app displays one column at a time automatically even if the base doc has two, but tables will extend out of the view. I'm not sure of the best way to resolve that - it's possible that making sure the table widths are narrow enough for mobile would work, but they might best be turned into images instead.

    3. But the base document probably shouldn't use images, so...

    4. Cool, gotcha. I don't plan to have a Google Doc of the finalised thing, so that's not a problem.

  4. I've always assumed that declaring all combat actions before the initiative roll was a becmi innovation. At least, it is present in Mentzer's combat sequence but not in Moldvay's. Moldvay does states that defensive movement must be declared before rolling, but that comes across as an exception. Cook adds the further exception that spells must be declared before rolling for initiative (and hence can be interrupted), but as far as I can tell doesn't otherwise alter the sequence. Then again I may have been playing it wrong all these years:

    By the way, I really like this project. At the heart of b/x is a concise and straightforward set of rules and I feel that the current set of clones don't do it justice. (Lotfp is the clearest of the lot, but as you say it deviates in many ways).

    1. Wow thanks for pointing that out -- you're entirely correct! It'd totally passed me by, among all the discussions I'd been having with people online about B/X initiative. v0.9.2 coming shortly, with this fix.

      If you notice any other discrepancies, please let me know. This kind of feedback is essential at this stage, so we end up with as accurate a rule set as possible. Thanks again!

  5. Here are a handful of further comments on v0.11.0. These all belong in pedants' corner and sorry if they sound like nitpicking.

    Missing bits:
    - Death occurs at 0hp.
    - b/x has rules for oil and holy water in combat. These differ from those in the augmented rules.
    - A hit to a charging creature by a braced spear or polearm does double damage.

    Potential errors:
    - I couldn't find the combat bonuses mentioned under mounted combat in either the basic or expert rules.
    - For clarities sake: a natural 20 is a hit only if the weapon could possibly cause damage.
    - Without wanting to reopen an old controversy, b/x doesn't explicitly allow spells to be copied from scrolls or spell books. The only mechanisms stated are being taught when a character gains a level (X11) and through spell research (X51). (And the spell research rules arguably break the limits on spells known).

    1. Thanks for the further points of feedback! I'll check them out later when I'm home from work.

      Re: oil, holy water, and bracing weapons vs a charging monster, those things are all equipment-specific and are thus mentioned in the equipment document, not the core rules.

      Ah, I guess maybe you're not following my posts on this subject on G+ (where I'm posting about the project much more frequently). The link to the work-in-progress equipment document is:

    2. Sorry for the redundant comments - G+ is far too high-tech for me! I'll get with the programme one of these days... Thanks for the link.

    3. Thanks so much for your feedback! I've updated the documents with the things you spotted. At this stage in the project, it's all about pedantry :)

      When I've got a properly laid-out PDF finished, I was thinking about asking for some proofreaders to check it over. Would you be interested in that?

    4. I certainly would. Thanks. I can send you my email address.


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