Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What's IN the B/X Companion, Huh?

And here I’d been planning to write about Revised Recon today. Ah, well.

Yesterday I attempted to answer what the B/X Companion is all about. Even regular visitors to the B/X Blackrazor blog site may have missed this ‘cause as far as I’m aware I never really sat down and wrote out a mission statement or anything (although I did post the first draft of the “Foreword”).

Now that people are aware of the project, I’ve had several folks ask me about the book’s specific contents. I typed up specific answers to all of yesterday’s comments this morning…and then my internet crashed taking a couple pages with it. Rather than “re-comment” I decided that the universe probably just wants me to post a complete run-down of what folks will find, should they decide to purchase the B/X Companion.

As homage to “what could have been” the Companion is laid out in much the same fashion as the original Basic and Expert rule sets (you can see some photos here). Those who are familiar with the Moldvay/Cook/Marsh rules should find the B/X Companion readily recognizable. It is designed to work with the B/X rules and pick up where they left off (specifically, level 15). Because Labyrinth Lord is based on B/X, it is readily adaptable to LL. However, LL also adds “bonus material” not present in B/X, specifically:

- Levels to 20
- Variant Save/To Hit Charts
- Additional Spells for high level spell-casters

Because of this additional material, there WILL be some “over-lap.” As I state in the Foreword, I expect players at the table to decide which rules they want to use…my purpose is to provide a Volume 3 to B/X players and LL players should certainly find it useful. If you ONLY have Labyrinth Lord but want to use the Companion “as intended,” I suppose you could:

a) ignore all information/tables in LL for players after Level 14
b) defer to the B/X Companion for all tables and charts (specifically Spell Lists, Combat Matrixes, and Treasure Tables).

Here’s what else you’ll find in the B/X Companion:

- Around 70+ monsters not found in B/X or LL. Some (like the phoenix or sphinx) can be found in BECMI/RC rules but all have been adjusted for B/X play. Many are similar or “knocked off” from AD&D monsters, some are fairly new (though perhaps found in myth and legend)…all are designed for high level play.

- Around 100+ new magic items. Some (like the vorpal sword) are taken from AD&D, while many (like all miscellaneous magic items and rings) are entirely new. There is a new CATEGORY of magic items (in addition to the standard B/X and LL categories) that accounts for 23 or these items (well, technically 30 ‘cause of the different types but whatever).

- Spell tables up to Level 7 (8 spells each) for clerics and up to Level 9 (12 spells each) for magic-users. Some of these will be readily recognizable (Word of Recall, Resurrection, Power Word Kill), some have been slightly modified in name or use (Wall of RIGHTEOUSNESS, Meteor STRIKE), others are completely new (Bring the Dawn, Life After Death, Break Enchantment) and others function fairly differently from their appearance in other editions (Contingency, Endless Dance, Mage Blade). For B/X players, you’ll find a total of 58 new spells PLUS “detect invisible.”

- Additional abilities for high level characters generally starting around 15th level. Rules and suggestions for how to include demi-humans in high level play, including additional combat abilities (similar to Mentzer’s “Attack Ranks”) but tied to demi-human XP rather than human friendship. Additional (optional) rules are provided for allowing dwarves to craft magic items.

- Rules for dominions and rulership, income and confidence level based on Reaction tables (wow…Charisma matters to leadership?); mass combat and siege rules adapted from Swords & Spells; rules on aging, retirement, and inheritance; half a dozen new specialist hirelings including the assassin, court magus, and the often forgotten smith.

- Spot rules for hazardous environments (underwater, desert, arctic, etc), ideas for designing other dimensions and inventing cosmologies, optional rules for including astral projection as an ability (not a spell) of high level magic-users, an optional Player Character class…plus more “DM as a Fine Art” tips and ways to adapt normal scenario creation to high level play.

Um…and that’s about it? I’m sure I’m forgetting some stuff (oh yeah: optional rules for grappling, jousting, two-weapon fighting, variable weapon damage by class, and options for characters that want to wear “restricted” armor). It’s only 64 pages (just like the original books) but it’s chock-full of useful information, and it shouldn’t take up too much room on your book shelf if you want to include it in your collection.
; )

Last word: I do NOT plan on hole punching the thing (maybe the Deluxe Boxed Set will come with a three-hole punched version)…if you want to punch the book, you’re welcome to do so yourself or stop into your local Kinko’s and have them drill it for you. I know that storing MY original B/X books in a three-ring binder has allowed me to maintain them in relatively good condition since I first got ‘em…BACK IN 1981-2!!! That’s a long-ass time.
: )

***EDITED to add the link to the earlier posted photos...sorry!!***


  1. Any chance of posting some preview pages?

  2. Check out the photos link (just added...sorry, forgot to include in my original post). This is the 2nd to last draft of the book, but you can read some pages if you "zoom in." Other pages have been posted to the blog. I may post some other .pdfs for viewing later, depending on my schedule.

  3. How long between the base version and the deluxe boxed set? I'll likely hold out for the latter.

  4. What's the timeframe look like for this to come out? Price point?

    I too have my B/X books in a binder...! :)

    Oh, and since I come across as terse in writing, I'm stoked for this. I had Moldvey in teh day and was disappointed with BECMI essentially rewriting the whole thing.

  5. I don't play B/X but I do want this book - new monsters and magic items are a big part of what sells me on a book. I was really worried it was just another restatement of some previously existing stuff but this sounds like quality material to me.

  6. Yep. I'll have to throw down some cash for this.

  7. What I would LOVE is a little reformatting. Could you PLEASE add a good half in gutter to the book so that I can 3 hold punch it and also so I can read the insides of each page easier.

    Rachael S.

  8. I meant to say half inch gutter. sorry