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Old-School Essentials Core Rules
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Old-School Essentials Core Rules


Old-School Essentials is an adventure role-playing game of exploration, danger, monsters, and magic. The game is intentionally rules-light, putting the focus of play on imagination, improvisation, and fun. The rules are optimised for ease of use at the table, with meticulous attention to wording and layout clarity. What's more, Old-School Essentials is 100% compatible with the classic Basic/Expert game from 1981, meaning that decades of adventure are at your fingertips!

Core Rules

Old-School Essentials is a modular game where the core rules of the game are extended by additional "rules modules" which add content for different genres of fantastic adventure. This book contains the core rules required to play Old-School Essentials:

  • Character creation and advancement.
  • Dungeon, wilderness, and maritime adventuring.
  • Combat and hazards.
  • Magic and spell casting.
Note that this book is not a complete game! To make a complete rule set, just add rules modules to tailor the game to your needs. A selection of official rules modules are listed below, but it is also easy to build your own homebrew content on top of the Old-School Essentials core rules!

    Rules Modules

    • Classic Fantasy: Genre Rules: Seven classic classes (cleric, dwarf, elf, fighter, halfling, magic-user, thief), complete lists of weapons and adventuring gear, extensive lists of vehicles, mounts, and vessels, mercenaries and specialists for hire, rules for stronghold construction.
    • Classic Fantasy: Cleric and Magic-User Spells: The complete set of 34 cleric spells (from 1st to 5th level) and 72 magic-user spells (from 1st to 6th level), for use by players or cleric, elf, and magic-user characters.
    • Classic Fantasy: Monsters: A selection of over 200 classic monsters to challenge adventurers of all levels.
    • Classic Fantasy: Treasures: A hoard of over 150 wondrous magic items.
    • Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules: Adds 9 new human classes (acrobat, assassin, barbarian, bard, druid, illusionist, knight, paladin, ranger) and 6 new demihuman classes (drow, duergar, gnome, half-elf, half-orc, svirfneblin) to the game, all carefully adapted to the power level of Old-School Essentials.
    • Advanced Fantasy: Druid and Illusionist Spells: The complete set of 34 druid spells (from 1st to 5th level) and 72 illusionist spells (from 1st to 6th level), for use by players of bard, druid, gnome, illusionist, and ranger characters.

    Deluxe Print Edition

    A deluxe, sewn-binding hardcover edition of this book is currently being produced and will be available for sale at the Necrotic Gnome publisher website from November, along with all of the other books in the Old-School Essentials line. A deluxe boxed set of the core rules plus all of the Classic Fantasy rules modules is also being produced! The boxed set will retail for €50 (roughy $56 USD).

    Note that there is no print-on-demand edition of this book!

    All-in-One Rules Tome

    For those who want a complete game in one book, the Classic Fantasy Rules Tome compiles the Old-School Essentials core rules with all of the Classic Fantasy content, forming a complete game in a single, 296-page tome. For those who like modular books, this content is also available in the form of a bundle of 5 PDFs, the Classic Fantasy Black Box.

    Free Basic Rules

    A 56-page, art-free sample of the basic rules of the game required by players is available here:

    • The full introduction and character creation rules.
    • The four core human classes: cleric, fighter, magic-user, thief.
    • Full lists of adventuring equipment, weapons, and armour.
    • The rules for dungeon adventures, encounters, and combat.
    • The full rules for spell casting and the complete set of 1st level spells.
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    Product Information
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    File Last Updated:
    August 28, 2019
    This title was added to our catalog on August 28, 2019.