Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Old School Essentials Genre Books Preview – Part 5

            It has been a good ride, but all things must end. This is the final installment of the Old School Essentials Advance Fantasy Genre Books preview. The word from on high is that the BackerKit is closing on Friday July 26th. After that, the PDFs for the backers of the Advance Genre Books will begin distribution. I know that a lot of you are excited to see the books, and you should be excited. I think these books add a lot to the B/X world, offer options that many want yet, do not taint the original material. If you have not finalized your BackerKit, now is the time. If you want to pre-order the books, now is the time. Upon release of this article, there will be just over a week left before the orders lock down. So, for a third time, now is the time! We are going to try to do a double article this time showing one final thing from each book. 

Taste the flavor!

            Let us start with a spell from the Illusionist list. This is a 4th level spell that is especially nasty and can wreak havoc on any enemy. The Shadow Monsters spell creates “phantom” monsters to assist the Illusionist and, if the target believes in them, act in an almost identical manner to the actual monsters. The Illusionist is limited to summoning monsters up to his HD, so at a minimum it is going to be 7 HD. That could be seven 1 HD monsters, one 7 HD monster, or any combination in between. The monsters must all be the same type, so you cannot summon an orc and several goblins, it must be all orcs or all goblins. Instead of rolling d8 for HD, HD is now a d2 due to the nature of their phantom existence. The monsters also retain all their native abilities, like breath weapons or the ability to fly. More importantly, they also keep their damage/attacks. The only defense verses this spell is to make the initial save vs spell, and the creatures become inky blobs and are not nearly as effective, or fight the creatures straight up.

4th level is a good level.

                I am glad this spell made it into the book, because it has been with the Illusionist since the initial release in Strategic Review #4. Apparently, the idea for these type spells goes back even further to Chainmail when they made Phantom Units for armies. It has a lot of versatility in that there is a whole OSE book called Monsters to pick from, and as you go up in level, your choices only increase. This is what the Illusionist should be doing causing a huge amount of chaos on the battlefield and confusing the enemy.
                I did mention that this would be a double article, right? Whom could we get to cast such a lovely spell like Shadow Monsters? What kind of class, beyond the Illusionist, deserves a devious spell like this? I saved the most requested, and from what I hear, best class for last. It shares a name with the company that produces the OSE line; of course, I am talking about the Gnome!

David is ready to brawl.

                Gnomes are a fun combination of many existing classes in B/X, but the summation of the parts makes something new. We will start with the little green box in the top corner. The Gnome needs a minimum of 9 CON, but has two different Prime Requisites in INT and DEX. Being little fellas, they only get d4 hit point, but they can wear leather armor (I assume an armored pointy cap), use a shield, and use any weapon they can manage. In addition, Gnomes are quite the polyglot and have a large swath of languages at their disposal, including burrowing animals! With all this, we begin to get a picture of what the Gnome is shaping up to become.

They're quite cool.

The Gnome shares several characteristics with the Halfling, Dwarf, and Illusionist. They share with the Halfling the Defense Bonus versus creatures that are bigger than human-size and their ability to Hide. With the Dwarf they have the ability to Detect Construction Tricks, which is a nice little perk. The Gnome also benefits from the enhanced saving throws that the Dwarf and Halfling share. As with all Demi-Humans, the Gnome has Infravison, and improved hearing. Finally, the Gnome can use Arcane Magic, Illusion magic to be specific. They have a little bit of everything, but not a whole lot of anything. They have a solid balancing factor in the low HP, the higher XP cost, and the cap at level 8. From the chatter on the different forums I am on, this class is gearing up to be played quite a bit, because there are plenty of Gnome lovers out there!

"Rawr, I'm a Monster!"

                 What do you think of the new Race as Class? Are you excited to see more from the two expansion books? Make sure to comment below and share with other interested parties. Did you miss Part 1Part 2Part 3, or Part 4? Remember the window to get these products at release is shrinking, and will end on July 26th. If you are a backer go to the BackerKit here. If you are not a backer and want to pre-order go here.
          If you are looking for the creators of this great product please check out their website.
Final note: It has been my pleasure doing these previews and the response has been amazing. I will continue to cover and create new OSE material in the future. Make sure to subscribe to my blog, and search through the older content. I am extremely excited to get my hands on the physical product and the preliminary PDFs look amazing. Thanks to Gavin for this opportunity for me to connect with the OSE community.

End on a thing of beauty.
EDIT: This article proved to be very popular. I went ahead and created a Facebook group for the blog, if you are interested the link is here


  1. Very interesting. The d4 hit points and lousy Thac0 really makes this character a tough one to play though. Spells are nice since going it in the front lines is not a real solid option! Looks very interesting.

  2. They are a slightly tougher version of an Illusionist, with higher XP and a level cap.