Tuesday, July 13, 2010

B/X Companion on the Horizon

That on the right is Brian DeClercq's cover to JB's soon-to-be-released B/X Companion. I have to admit I'm pretty excited by this. I've been following the blog posts about the supplement's development for a long time and I've been mightily impressed with JB's understanding of the Moldvay/Cook/Marsh rules and his desire to hold true to their design principles. So, I have every expectation that I'll be impressed by what he done in the B/X Companion.

Plus, that cover is really well done -- attractive and evocative in its own right but also paying homage to Erol Otus's classic illustrations. I can't wait.

16 comments:

  1. It looks awesome. I can't wait.

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  2. THAT is an excellent cover. I'm intrigued.

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  3. WOW I like that cover. That really looks done right.

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  4. I am very much looking forward to this. In fact, I can't wait for it.

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  5. I agree about the cover. Who is the artist?

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  6. Lance, the artist is Brian DeClercq.

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  7. I like. It is very classical. I first I thought it was Mazes and Minotaurs.

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  8. So... this is for D&D? Or Labyrinth Lord? Or what? I'm cornfused.

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  9. Tom,

    I believe -- though I'm not certain -- that it's written so as to be compatible (in a non-copyright-infringing way) with the old B/X D&D game, possibly through the use of terms made open content through the OGL. However, I could be wrong.

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  10. What exactly is this product supposed to be? Sort of expanding Moldvay and Cook / Marsh to 36th? I'm not sure why you'd bother when there's already BECMI/RC that basically does it but corrects the math in the first 14 levels so e.g. thieves haven't already topped out to begin with.

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  11. Wayne,

    The Companion volume to Moldvay/Cook/Marsh is one of the Lost Treasures of D&D, so a lot of us who were looking forward to it back then are kind of hung up on it even now. Likewise, BECMI/RC have their virtues, but they're different enough that those of us who preferred the 1981 version of the game aren't all that interested in them as a possible replacement/alternative.

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  12. @ James: Thanks for the kind words, man. I appreciate the promotion.

    @ Wayne & Tom:

    Sorry for the confusion...the project had been going on for a year or so, and I sometimes forget that information is spread out all over my blog.

    The B/X Companion is intended to be the mythical 3rd volume designed to complete the work begun with Tom Moldvay's Basic set and continued in the Cook/Marsh Expert set, both published in 1981. Both promised a "Companion" volume that would conclude the series...instead TSR (and Frank Mentzer) re-wrote and re-published a five volume series (BECMI) that, while certainly interesting, failed to deliver on the promise of those earlier works.

    What do I mean by that? A couple different things:

    - in many ways, B/X (the 1981 rules) are a codified version of OD&D...the Little Brown Books of 1974. Most everything present in the LBBs are present in B/X. Some of these exceptions are added back.

    - rather than "add to" the rules as written, Mentzer re-wrote the rules. The thief abilities Wayne cites as "corrected," for example. Originally, they were supposed to top at level 14 and NEW ABILITIES were to be presented for higher level thieves. Instead, Mentzer "changed the math" so that they simply stretched to 36. I want my amp to go to 11...I don't want to simply make 10 "a little louder."

    - in many ways, the "tone" of the BECMI books is toned WAY down from the mature form of the B/X books. B/X was designed "for Adults" (as it says on the cover)...the bibliography includes books by Kurt Wagner, Robert Howard, Moorcock, Leiber, Aspirin, etc. as inspiration. In every example of play, a Player Character dies and players exhibit much more cutthroat tendencies. This style is absent from the Mentzer version which is book-ended rather than open-ended and appears geared to a younger audience.

    The B/X Companion is not a "stepping stone" to AD&D or a "missing link" between the two editions (as is the Advanced Edition Companion published by Goblinoid Games). It IS mostly compatible with Labyrinth Lord, as LL is mostly patterned after B/X itself. It does not use Intellectual Property of TSR/WotC/Hasbro...you won't find mind flayers or beholders, for example. You will find a lot of other creatures from myth and legend (which is where most of the original D&D monsters came from) as well as spells and magic items inspired by literature and film. You'll also find additional rules for high level play, including domain management and ideas for running high level campaigns. Also, some cool artwork from several talented (and generous) artists.

    All in a paperback, 64-page rule book...the same size as the original Basic and Expert sets.
    : )

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  13. Thanks for the explanation about the product- I was hesitant as I already have a print copy of the Companion Expansion from Battaria (sp?) games.

    However, I'll be picking this up- I never bonded with the Mentzer re-writes, and the CE while a decent work, just did not scratch my Moldvay/Cook/Marsh itch ;o)

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  14. Amazing! I WILL get a copy of this!

    Just amazing.

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  15. Sounds awesome. My only concern would be that the cover infringes on the "trade dress" (usually covered by copyright IIRC) of the original B/X game. Has this already been addressed?

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  16. how can i get that fantastic item:the B/X Companion?

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