Latest Projects for B/X D&D and/or Old School Essentials: Classes and Subclasses Genre Books

Back at the beginning of 2020, I started creating some new classes for B/X style D&D, as I became more interested in Old School Essentials (aka OSE, a modern restatement of Moldvay/Cook B/X D&D). I started out making some classes based on a discarded proposal for an Expert class guide book for 3rd Edition D&D, specifically the Alchemist, Demolitionist, and Inventor. There was also a Blacksmith, but ultimately I decided that wasn't really a strong enough concept for an adventuring character. 

Shortly after making those three classes, I ended up creating a table of "D12 Subclasses" for Experts and Specialists in a B/X style game, in which the player would pick one of the standard character classes, but then modify it slightly to create things like a Saboteur, Sage, or Sapper (or nine other subclasses that don't start with "Sa-"). 

That one subclass table got me started on a variety of subclasses for characters and adventures in the Wilderness, City, Sea-based/Naval, Horror, Fairy Tale, and Sword & Planet genres. 

And, in the middle of all this, I also took a stab at creating a B/X style Sorcerer class (an innate, spontaneous arcane caster). 

I got a lot of great comments on these posts in particular, and a few folks have asked if I would consider publishing them in PDF form. I've been working on that, and have a couple sample layout pages below to show how it's going. 

My plan is to put together three PDF "booklets" that would include the content above, as well as new, additional content that isn't on my blog, and updated versions of everything based on comments I got either on social media or here on the blog. The three books I'm working on are: 

  • B/X Experts and Specialists
    • This needs a better name of course, but it's going to have quite a bit of content and I'm about 90% done writing it
    • Everything is intended to be presented as a series of two-page spreads, just like OSE, to make it easy to use at the table and find the information you need 
    • The D12 Table of Expert/Specialist Subclasses, plus three new demi-human subclasses (since demi-humans weren't included on my original list)
    • A new version of the Alchemist, Demolitionist, and Inventor, including new experience point tables, and updated or revised class abilities for each of the three classes
    • New alchemical items and potions
    • New demolitions, including flash and smoke bombs, and even more alchemical items that are related directly to black powder 
    • New inventions for the Inventor class, including a variety of adventuring items, sensory enhancements, and weapon and armor modifications
    • Next up are a bunch of sections for referees to use expert and specialist PCs and NPCs in their games:
    • A section on including patrons in the game who are looking to hire experts for specific jobs, which will mainly be some random tables and descriptions 
    • A section on using guilds, including different types of guilds, goals, rivals, etc. 
    • A section on combining different expert types using the subclass tables and/or the new classes to create different styles of campaigns
    • Optional random tables for what happens if characters fail their Alchemy, Demolitions, or Inventor proficiency checks  
    • A list of inspirational media you can refer to to get more ideas for using experts and specialists in your games  

There's a lot of new stuff in this short book, and I'm making sure that it has material for both players and referees, as well as sticking true to the more rules-light format of B/X and leaving a lot of decisions and rulings in the hands of the referee, and working with a clean, attractive layout style. 

Here are two sample pages that my friend Bill Green (a graphic designer by trade) is working on: 

Experts-Specialist Genre Book Page 2: Sample
© 2020 Martin R. Thomas

Experts-Specialist Genre Book Page 3: Sample
© 2020 Martin R. Thomas

We're still playing around with the layout and the art hasn't been put in yet. Also, I do have a printer-friendly version as well that removes the background image. 

After I finish this book, I'll need to figure out how to get set-up on DriveThru RPG to offer it for sale (and I'm very open to advice from people who have done so!), and then I'll work on the next two books: 

  • A book of "Genre Rules" that would include each of the different D12 Subclasses tables that I mentioned above, and then a series of random tables, encounters, adventuring rules, and inspirational media for each different genre. Right now I'm envisioning a two-page spread for the subclasses table and notes, additions, or changes, and then at least one additional two-page spread per genre for all the other stuff. 
  • A book for the B/X Sorcerer I mentioned above, along with some additional ideas for the "D12 Sorcerer Bloodlines" table I created, maybe some new spells, etc. The idea is that this would be somewhat similar to the The Warlock (Designed for Future with Old School Essentials) book that Timothy Brannan wrote, although I suspect mine won't be as long. 
So, that's what I'm working on right now, in addition to continuing to edit the Longsword base RPG system for Andrew Collas Presents (basically, a restating of 2nd Edition AD&D with some 3rd Edition elements added for simplicity, and with better layout and organization), and finishing up judging this year's One Page Dungeon Contest, which is one of my favorite things to do every year. This year I added a column onto my judging spreadsheet to note which adventures I could use for the game I'm planning to run for my daughter and her friends, and that column is filling up! 

I've also two ideas for about two more "D12 Subclasses" tables rolling around in my head. 

None of that includes working on my own World of Samoth game I've been running since May 2001, getting ready to test a new campaign and set of rules modifications for a post-apocalyptic game with a group of friends, and being a player in a Savage Worlds Deadlands campaign that has replaced the Cthulhu-based game I was playing in until we came to the conclusion of our adventure last year. 

On top of all that, my friend has asked me to run a one-shot for his new workmates, none of whom have played an RPG before, as a team-building exercise and to see if they like it. 

My RPG cup is definitely running over, but in a good way. 

I look forward to hearing your comments on the B/X and/or Old School Essentials books I'm working on, what you think of the ideas and the layout, and anything else you want to chat about! 

Hanging: Home Office (laptop)
Drinking: Cold-brew coffee on ice with a dash of orange bitters (Regan's No. 6)
Listening: "Typical" by Nightmares on Wax and Jordan Rakei, from the album "Shape the Future"



  1. Name Suggestion: Basics, Experts, Specialists, Tableau (BEST)

  2. This is looking awesome, Martin! Can't wait to see the finished product!

    It's been at least a decade since I sold my IP to Precis and stopped selling on DriveThru RPG (aka OneBookshelf) but if it's anything like it used to be, it's a breeze. Extremely intuitive to sign up and post your creations. Best of luck!


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