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Thursday, January 16, 2020

4 Great Out-of-Print Books to Expand Your OSE/BX Collection



                I have a few go to books that I always keep on hand because they are that useful to me. I have used these books either actively at the table, or in doing research for an individual session/ campaign. Most of these are treasure troves full of great material that can be imported into your Old-School Essentials/BX game or really any OSR compatible system. Most of these books I own physically, but there are a few that I have not got my hands on yet and rely on PDFs. I promise that if you get these books you will not be disappointed with the quality of the material within them and many can be acquired off-market pretty cheap.

I am including links below to places you can purchase the books.

1 – Rules Cyclopedia



                This is a bit of a cheat straight out-of-the-gate because it is not in print, but it is print on-demand. For those that do not know the Rules Cyclopedia is a collection of four of the five Mentzer Basic D&D sets. Mentzer’s D&D is extremely compatible with OSE/BX products because the core materials of the game are almost identical. What it does add is a whole host of options that you can have in your game. Want rules on Weapon Specialization? It is in there. Want rules on Mass Battles? It is in there? Want expanded ideas for running domains? It is in there. Expanded items list? It is in there. Oftentimes players might want to do something that is not in the rule book and I don’t want to make a flippant rules call on the spot and I will consult the Rules Cyclopedia for at least an idea on how to proceed.



                I will mention that the organization of the RC leaves a little to be desired, but not to worry. Dark Dungeons has done for the Rules Cyclopedia what Old-School Essentials did for BX D&D. Dark Dungeons is a cleaned up version of the Rules Cyclopedia. Remember how I said the Rules Cyclopedia was four of the five box sets, well Dark Dungeons added the 5th box set Immortals into the rules. It also has a cleaned up skills system and rules for Spelljammer ships if you are into that setting. I have copies of both and use both on a regular basis.

Rules Cyclopedia can be found here.

Dark Dungeons can be found here. This is the link to the hardback, the PDF is free.

I found this after publishing, it is an article by the author of Dark Dungeons as to the changes from the RC.


https://rpggeek.com/thread/926652/differences-between-rules-cyclopedia-and-dark-dung



2 – Arms & Equipment



                I recently got my hands back on a physical copy of this book after several years using the PDF. The name of this book says it all it is a books that gives you big lists of stuff with great descriptions of all that stuff. Need to know the difference between a partisan and a voulge? This is the book for that. It is jam-packed with descriptions and pictures of all the different things you might run across in a typical fantasy adventure. It has a lovely list of expanded weapons that take no real conversion on your part to add into your game. It even has a great section on clothing for the general medieval era which is actually quite interesting to read.

This can be found here.

3 – Encyclopedia Magica Vol. 1-4



                I am counting these four books as one entry because they are meant to be used together. I do not have the physical copies of these, because they fetch a pretty penny on any website that you can actually find them. They contain every magical item that was created for AD&D, including everything in the Dragon Magazines. This is an amazing resource and well worth the PDF expense. When I am looking for an interesting item or artifact, I go into the books and just take a look around. I am bound to find something that is interesting and useful. Oftentimes the items come with great descriptions and histories which can really fuel the imagination. I find myself stealing one item’s history, using the stats from another item, and might add a personality from a third item.  If you can find the original sets of these books you will have a tough time choosing to either keep them, or sell them for a small fortune.

You can find them here.

4 – Player’s Options: Combat & Tactics



                This might be a controversial book on this list because many people do not like this book. I am a big fan because it gives you lots of interesting options for the martial side of play. Some people refer to this period as AD&D 2.5. You can see some of the groundwork for 3rd Edition beginning to take form. To be completely honest I do not love EVERYTHING in this book, but I do think some of the material is great for optional rules. I like some of the actions you can take in combat. I like the weird initiative system that is somewhat a hybrid of speed factor and side initiative. They even have interesting rules for conducting a Three Musketeers style duel with movement charts and different types of strikes. When I started to recollect my collection from back in the day, this was one of the first books I purchased, I have a strange love for it and I think it has a lot of fun materials.

This can be found here.



                I might do a follow-up to this someday with some more books that I love, but I can truly say that these books are ones that I actively use in my D&D life. I have been given great ideas from these books and many of the enhancements my players enjoyed. Most of the books can be picked up rather cheap, and if you go bargain hunting can be found at used book stores.


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22 comments:

  1. I have physical copies of the RC, DD, and Encylopedia Magica books. I have the PDF of the Arms & Equipment Guide. I don't have the last book but decided to buy a copy in "Very Good" condition on Amazon for $6 after reading this!

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  2. Nice! Yes, Combat & Tactics is still very cheap on the 2nd hand market. I am totally jealous of the Encyclopedia Magica books. I know I would use them even more if I had physical copies.

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    1. I paid a bit for them! If I ever get the itch to let them go, I'll give you a shout.

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  3. Intrigued by Dark Dungeons ...

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  4. It is a great product, and you can try it for free via PDF.

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  5. Might I add the three-volume Van Richten's Monster Hunter's Compendiums for Ravenloft? It collects all the Van Richten's Guides and add another on demons. If you like running undead (and who doesn't?) they are a must.

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    1. I am not familiar with that one, but I am running Barrowmaze now and it is primarily Undead. I am going to have to find that!

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  6. I have been trying it as you can get the PDF for free. I like the dominion rules and battle rating changes better then BECMI but the changes are small so easy to integrate. There is a good forum in The Pizza http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewforum.php?f=59 and the writer of it posts so good place for questions.

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    1. That was a reply to FenOrc above about Dark Dungeons.

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  7. Rules Cyclopedia is in print. You can Get a POD version at DTRPG.

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    1. You must not have read the actual article, because I mention that in the first line. I also link the POD.

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  8. i dont want to offend nobody, but i dont understand why people waste money in old products like the cyclopedia when there was available supperior products like Dark Dungeons by a small price.

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    1. Because many people want the originals and not a clone? Organization isn't everything. I mean, I love OSE and it's what I use for prep and play, but it doesn't read the same as actual BX does.

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    2. I love the art especially. The RC has great art.

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    3. I don't understand why someone would waste money on a nobody's re-write of a classic, when you can get the original instead, which is obviously superior to a re-write. There, see what I did? Your outlook is just as incomprehensible to me.

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    4. Often the re-writed material is organized in a more modern fashion. OSE is a great example. BX is great, but kind of a mess.

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  9. I'd call the RC and DD a single option, tbh. Original and clone. For me, I'd add the BECMI era Creature Catalog (either AC9 or DMR2). For the 2E Players Option books, there's some good nuggets to try in Spells & Magic too.

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  10. I might have to pick up the Arms & Equipment

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    Replies
    1. It is quite nice and usually priced reasonably.

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