Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy Rules Tome

[I actually finished reading this back on July 9, 2021, but forgot to finish this post, so it is appearing now.]

I finished reading the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy Rules Tome from cover to cover and I am very impressed.

As I say in my terse Goodreads review:

Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules TomeOld-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome by Gavin Norman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent restatement of the class Basic/Expert D&D (B/X D&D) rules from 1981. Exceptionally clear presentation in wording, typography, and layout. Excellent physical production quality. I liked the use of full page or 2 page spread color artwork, and the black and white art included on the other pages. Excellent range of artwork.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

To expand on this:

I've said elsewhere that I started playing with first edition AD&D. As far as I can remember, we often simplified things: I don't remember using segments, spell components, weapon speed factors, or armor class adjustments, and I'm not sure we used anything like the actual official combat sequence.1 I never picked up the Moldvay/Cook/Marsh Basic/Expert Sets, unfortunately, since I foolishly thought “Advanced” meant better than “Basic”.

I think Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy is an wonderful way for someone to learn the rules of classic D&D, and for running classic D&D campaigns. I wish it had been around when I started playing D&D. I'd recommend it today for anyone learning to play, or anyone who prefers the classic rules.


The rules on Initiative on p. 62–63 of the Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG) sound simple, but there are further elaborations elsewhere in the DMG (“Simultaneous Initiative” on p. 66, for instance) and other AD&D 1E rule books.

It takes a 20 page document, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons® Initiative and Combat Table, compiled by David M. Prata, (I1 or I2) to come anywhere near compiling and explaining the actual first edition AD&D initiative and combat sequence.

I'm not entirely convinced that there is a completely consistent interpretation of the rules, but people have spent a lot of time and effort trying to figure one out.

Oh, here's a brief but clear discussion of the AD&D Initiative Controversy, (mirror on describing both The A.D.D.I.C.T. Method and the OSRIC method.

Last edited: 2021-09-13 17:13:50 EDT

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