3 Things I Love About Old School Essentials
I bought Necrotic Gnome’s books off of drivethrurpg when they were still called B/X Essentials and, though it’s true that there are dozens of other OSR retro-clones out there, I fell in love with this particular system for three reasons:
- They are modular. This seems like a small thing, but it is actually the defining feature of the OSE system and what makes it stand so far above the field. I love the fact that I have specific books for spells, treasure, classes, monsters, etc. I love that I can hand the book of magic to the Priest and that I can hold the Monsters and Treasure book over on my own side. I also love that Gavin has conceived of his system as something that’s essentially genre-neutral. The modular nature of the books means that you can use the same Core Rules book with any number of genre books–classic fantasy, apocalyptic fiction, wild west, etc.
- They are super well-organized. One of Gavin’s main concerns with the OSE books was to come up with a layout that allowed him to put specific game concepts on either a single page or spread. Classes are all on their own spread, combat rules is in its own spread, weapons tables are on their own spread, etc. The ease of use and ability to find what you are looking for is amazing. In addition, he realized that he had to be really concise to achieve this goal, so he was meticulous and intentional about trimming all of the fat and presenting stripped-down rules that are easy to use.
- They are not house rules. This is big to me because I like to add my own house rules to the game that I play. Almost every other b/x clone out there has some of the designer’s own ideas in it, which is fine, but it means that I just have to do more work to make it my own. In contrast, Gavin even sweated about including ascending AC as an optional rule in his books (he left it out of the version I have). He was much more invested in the design and ease of use than in putting his own twist on the game. In fact, the simplicity of his rules and his clean, stripped-down, presentation makes it so much easier to customize than even the original system.
Seriously–check OSE out if you haven’t already. This is easily the best b/x system out there and I am super excited to design my own content to fit into the OSE framework.