Quintessential BX

Quintessential BX is a trimming and tweaking of Gavin Norman's B/X Essentials, itself a revision of Tom Moldvay and David Cook's Basic/Expert edition of the Original Fantasy Adventure Game. It includes a few refinements, additions, and options from myself, Gavin, and Lamentations of the Flame Princess, such as ascending AC, a reasonable Encumbrance system, and various new options in combat. QBX is intended to serve as a solid base upon which to layer other, modular rules; it does not include classes, monster stats, or spells. These can be referenced from original or new sources, or created yourself. Season to taste.

Suitable for printing as a zine-style booklet

The primary differences from BX are ascending AC, consolidation of some fiddly bits like ability score adjustments into standardized modifiers, and trimming of some things I see as extraneous like prime requisite XP adjustments, extensive rules for water and air travel, and encumbrance by tracking the weight of every item (two new Encumbrance options are added).

Special thanks to Gavin for both taking on the endeavor of creating B/X Essentials, and for conferring with me on attribution. It should also be noted that Gavin is further refining, compiling, and re-branding B/X Essentials to Old School Essentials, and the new editions will include Ascending AC.

As a side note, this (along with the original version of Principia Apocrypha) also serves as an example of how one can wring decent-looking, printable zine-booklets out of Google Docs. I might eventually write up a guide and templates for what I've learned.

I encourage you to comment below, rather than elsewhere.

Long live the Blogosphere!


  1. Quite interesting. I really like the old fashioned print style of the fonts. It was a bit disconcerting at first to see no reference to race or class, but it ends up being quite useful as is for an open concept style of game wherein there is just the one, nondescript "race" (defaulting to Human, but need not be so) and no classes, just people. Of course it also readily allows for layering on additional material to bring it more in line with other retroclones. All in all, an exemplary foundation upon which to build a rules set.

    Lastly, I would be interested in an article detailing your process of using G-Docs for publishing.

  2. Definitely want that guide and template.

  3. Agreeing with the above. I love seeing others' houseruled system hacks, so thanks for sharing this. And I too would love to see your tips and templates for using G Docs for light home publishing.

  4. Likewise interested in the G-docs “how to”. Rather like QBX on first skim through. Looks interesting.

  5. Thanks for this. It seems to cover all the things I house-rule into b/x so looks like it will be a good handout/reference.

  6. Thanks for the encouragement ya'll. I'll definitely push that guide up on my post backlog.

  7. I'd love to see that article too. Trying to figure out how to efficiently devote my time to documenting house rules for dungeon crawls, sci-fi, and horror...interested to see the power of Google docs.

  8. I enjoyed what you did here David. I mentioned it on my podcast this week; hopefully pointed a few more folks your way to check it out.

    1. Awesome, thanks for the mention! I'll take a listen soon.

  9. Very nice work. Is there an RTF or other open-format raw text available for making a house-rule document?

    Also, noticed a contradiction: Page 17 states that retainers "suffer a penalty of -50% to XP," while page 11 states retainers "receive a "50% share." Mathematically these aren't the same thing. The page 17 approach implies retainers receive as much XP as regular characters, then trash half of it (which would make bringing retainers along a bad move for a party, since the total award earned is lessened by this method). The page 11 wording, on the other hand, is in line with the original B/X half-share approach where retainers just receive a lesser portion of the total and no XP is lost.