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Gavin Norman
Necrotic Gnome Productions
Necrotic Gnome Productions


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A question for the B/X Essentials hive mind.

In X, the following things are stated:
* Some ships can carry "marines", in addition to the sailors and/or oarsmen. (Chart on X63. Some ship descriptions on X10.)
* "Marines" are "troops". (X63, under "Troop Transport".)
* "Troops" are "mercenaries". (X22.)
* A troop transport can carry twice as many troops as a normal sailing ship of the same size. (X63, under "Troop Transport".)
* A troop transport can carry "twice as many men and horses" as a sailing ship. (X10.)
* Carrying horses on a ship is not mentioned anywhere else.

So you see there are some ambiguities.

In Classes and Equipment, I've resolved things as follows:
* Some ships have extra capacity for mercenaries (of any kind).
* I've not specifically mentioned whether this includes the mounts of mounted troops.


I now wonder whether this is the best decision. I think the choice to use the word "mercenaries" rather than "marines" is sound (X seems to use the words interchangeably), but I wonder whether it's worth explicitly mentioning mounts. It's a bit of a can of worms, though. For example, a small galley can carry 20 mercenaries. So this could mean 20 mounted archers, say, so 20 people and 20 horses. But then one could argue that horses are big so it must be possible to fit extra people aboard in place of the horses.

I don't really want to get into trying to explain all this in detail (how many people are equivalent to a horse?). I do wonder if there's a simple way of making it a bit less ambiguous, though.

Any thoughts?

(Thanks to +Keith Hann for raising this topic.)

Progress on B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment:

* Over half the illustrations are now in place. The remaining pieces are due in the next few days.
* I've just finished my final read-through and tweaks to the text and layout.

I'm expecting the PDF edition to be ready next weekend and the print editions probably a couple of weeks after that. Excitement is mounting!

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Update to B/X Essentials: Monsters!

* Added Basic B and C monsters.

Thoughts of the day:
1. Wow the cave cricket is a super weird monster! So much complexity for Basic. I wonder where it came from.
2. I remembered that some monsters are specifically WotC IP. The carrion crawler, for example. For now, I'm following the clone standard technique of giving them slightly alternate names.

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Another layout preview from B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment (coming really soon now!). Featuring a gorgeous +Matthew Ray piece.

Is it just me or is Great Cat, Panther (B32) describing a cheetah?

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Today, I started work on the Monsters book.

Following the discussion yesterday, I've decided to attempt to fit all the monsters into one booklet, rather than splitting them across two. This means that my focus is on extremely terse writing, while still trying to convey all of the information in the original B/X monster descriptions. I'll see how this goes, but so far it seems to be working out well.

The initial release contains 5 Basic monsters: acolyte, white ape, bandit, bat (2 sub-types), bear (4 sub-types). The word count for these monsters comes in at 674. The text for the same monsters in Basic D&D is 1,051 words. So I've got about a 40% reduction, so far. My plan is to continue writing at this level of terseness and then see where I stand when it comes to layout (a word count is only a rough indicator of eventual page count, after all). I may have to further reduce the text at that stage.

Here's the link the work-in-progress document:

As always, feedback is welcomed!

Oof. Possible hitch with the plan for the 4th B/X Essentials book.

To get a rough idea of how much text I'll be looking at, I did a word count on the Labyrinth Lord monsters section. It comes to 26,500 words. That's without any introductory material or encounter charts. Cutting and pasting the text from B/X into a document gives similar results: 27,500 words.

Now, compare this to the text for the previous B/X Essentials books: the text for Cleric and Magic-User Spells came in at 11,300 words, Classes and Equipment came in at 15,500, and Core Rules was 14,000. So it's looking like the monsters -- and this is just the monsters, no treasures! -- will be a much larger book than the others in the series.

This is totally unexpected to me.

Why is this a problem? Well, primarily it screws with the format. It's only possible to print staple-bound booklets of 48 pages or less. Classes and Equipment comes in at 44 pages, laid out, so is already close to this limit. So I think whichever way you look at it, it's not going to be possible to produce a 6"x9" staple-bound book of all the B/X monsters. This makes me sad.

The way things look right now, I'm going to have to split the monsters into two booklets and have the treasures in a separate book -- making a total of 6 books in the core series (rather than the 4 I was initially imagining). Thinking about this, though, it does make sense. B/X contains about 50% player info and 50% DM info, so it seems logical that I'd end up with 3 player booklets and 3 DM booklets. (I checked the B/X text for magic items as well, by the way: that comes in at about 13,200. A decent size for a booklet.)

The question then is: how to split the monsters? A few ideas come to mind:
1. Basic vs Expert monsters.
2. Division by Hit Dice.
3. Division by dungeon vs wilderness.
4. Alphabetical split.

1 would be a bit of a downer, as combining the Basic and Expert material is one of the explicit aims of this project.

2 is pretty arbitrary from a usage perspective, but should be easy to do cleanly.

3 would be a reasonable division, but I think there's probably too much overlap to make it work. A large number of monsters can be encountered either in dungeons or in the wilderness.

4 would be super easy, but kind of arbitrary.

Any thoughts on this subject would be appreciated!

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Update to B/X Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells!

* Clarified description of sleep to specifically exclude undead.
* Added 6th level magic-user spells.

With this update, I'm super close to having the draft text of the book finished. I want to add a little bit of introductory material, for example a discussion on spell ranges and durations. But it's really nearly finished.
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