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Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules
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Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Genre 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!

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.

Advanced Fantasy: Genre Rules

This book contains the rules for playing games in the Advanced Fantasy genre, bringing in material inspired by the beloved 1970s Advanced rules:

  • 9 human classes: acrobat, assassin, barbarian, bard, druid, illusionist, knight, paladin, ranger.
  • 6 demihuman race-classes: drow, duergar, gnome, half-elf, half-orc, svirfneblin.
  • All new classes are carefully designed to match the power levels of the classic Basic/Expert game.
  • Rules for poisons. (Essential for assassin characters!)
  • Advanced options: Optional rules to add extra depth to character creation, combat, and spell casting.
Note that this book is not a complete game! It is a rules module that adds extra player options on top of Old-School Essentials Rules Tome. Spell lists for bard, druid, gnome, illusionist, and ranger characters are found in Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy: Druid and Illusionist Spells.


The content in this book is 100% compatible with the classic Basic/Expert rules (B/X) and can thus be used with any B/X-based game.

Deluxe Print Edition

A deluxe, sewn-binding hardcover edition of this book is available from the Necrotic Gnome publisher website, along with all of the other books in the Old-School Essentials line.

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

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.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (5)
Discussions (3)
Customer avatar
Charles B August 07, 2020 11:56 am UTC
Hey Gavin,

LOVE OSE!!! It's my go to system. I'm currently running a game and have a level 7 Assassin player at the table who isn't so happy with the 4+1HD restriction on his Assassinate ability. After thinking about it myself I have to admit it does seem quite limiting. There were a few instances for example where my player was in an advantageous position where he wanted to Assassinate but I told him he could not because the targets HD was too high. He's now wishing he rolled a Is this intended? I assume so but it seems like a huge nerf. Assassins were always hard to balance and deal with anyways so I understand. Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks again for bringing to life this wonderful product.
Customer avatar
Gavin N August 07, 2020 1:03 pm UTC
Great to hear you're enjoying OSE!

About assassins: The primary limitation on whom they can assassinate is that they can only use the ability on "persons". That term is defined (Rules Tome p139) as "This includes all humans and demihumans, as well as humanoid monsters of up to 4+1 HD." Note the "all" with reference to humans and demihumans. That means that demi/humans *of any level* may be assassinated. The 4+1 HD limit only applies to humanoid monsters. (Non-humanoids cannot be assassinated.)

This limitation is implicit in AD&D, by the way. All references to assassination refer to a "character" or "victim" of a certain level being assassinated (as opposed to a "monster" of a certain HD being assassinated).

Hope that clears things up a bit!
Customer avatar
Charles B August 07, 2020 1:32 pm UTC
Wow that changes everything. I thought the limitation was a blanket restriction regardless of the target type. Those instances I was referring to during a recent session were all high level Magic Users. Since their HD was way over 4 I assumed my player could not Assassinate. That is great news which my Assassin player will be thrilled about. Too bad we can't go back and redo those combat Cheers!
Customer avatar
Gavin N August 07, 2020 1:36 pm UTC
Glad that helps! (I'm going to add a small clarification on this matter the next time the book is printed, as you're not the first person to have wondered about it.)
Customer avatar
Charles B August 07, 2020 4:37 pm UTC
That helps tremendously. Now does the Assassin also get backstab similar to AD&D? I've been allowing my player to choose whether they're using a normal attack, backstab, or assassinate. But after taking another quick look in the Advanced Fantasy book I don't see backstab listed.
Customer avatar
Gavin N August 07, 2020 4:40 pm UTC
Nope, by the book no backstab. (It'd be mentioned in the class description if they had that ability.) It'd be a reasonable house rule, though.
Customer avatar
Charles B August 07, 2020 4:55 pm UTC
Wow I completely missed For a second I thought about keeping it as a house rule but now that I think about it more I kind of like the idea of the Assassin not having it. It keeps the Thief and Assassin more distinct from each other which I guess was your goal with all the Advanced classes. Now I assume your intention is that Assassinate requires a melee weapon?
Customer avatar
Charles B August 09, 2020 1:41 am UTC
Hey Gavin, I gotta an update for ya: After getting clarification from you on the Assassin, I let my player know about that and he was very happy to hear it. We had a session yesterday playing X2 Castle Amber. During one section most of party was charmed by a level 14 Magic User. The Assassin, who is level 6, made his saving throw to avoid being charmed. He was then able to make a hide in shadows roll to fade out of sight. From there my Assassin player decided he wanted to try and sneak up on the Magic User. He succeeded on his Move Silently roll. He then says to me " I want to try and Assassinate her. " I laugh and said roll it! He rolls his hit roll and succeeds. I go to roll the Magic Users save vs death which is an 8 but with a -2 penalty. Drum roll....she It was glorious. I figured you would enjoy hearing this. My player was absolutely ecstatic to say the least at finally feeling useful. :)
Customer avatar
Gavin N August 10, 2020 5:44 am UTC
Great to hear that the clarification helped and that the player feels awesome!

About assassination requiring a melee weapon: it's deliberately left open to referee ruling, the same as the thief's back-stab ability. I personally would require a melee weapon for both these kinds of attacks, but I know not everyone does.
Customer avatar
Charles B August 10, 2020 2:05 pm UTC
Thanks again Gavin. I did have a few last questions for you. How do you calculate backstab damage? I know as the DM I can do whatever I want. Is the weapon damage typically rolled twice and then add strength and magic bonuses? Or do you just double all of it? And lastly do you personally house rule in your games increased backstab damage? Or would you say increasing the backstab multiplier alters the balance of the game? You seem to really understand the balance of BX so I would love your feedback. Thanks again. I won't bother you again with questions I
Customer avatar
Gavin N August 10, 2020 2:27 pm UTC
Haha, this is turning into a rules Q&A! I'd recommend posing questions like this in one of our communities, as there'll be loads of people there with thoughts.

OSE group on Facebook:
Necrotic Gnome Discord server:
Necrotic Gnome MeWe group:
Customer avatar
April 07, 2020 9:52 pm UTC
So far Advanced Labyrinth Lord has been my go-to to get 1e classes and races in an OSR framework. How does OSE compare?

Researching before I invest :)
Customer avatar
Gavin N April 09, 2020 6:55 am UTC
General differences between OSE and LL:
- The writing and layout of OSE is focused on usability at the table, making heavy use of bullet points, bolding, subheadings, and so on for ease of quick reference. LL is written in a more traditional style.
- OSE attempts to be as faithful to B/X as possible, while fixing a few areas of obvious contradiction in the rules. LL makes changes to the rules in a few areas (e.g. clerics get a spell at 1st level).
- The physical OSE books are produced as a high quality offset print run with fancy things like ribbon markers and printed endpapers (and a boxed set!), as opposed to the print-on-demand quality of LL.

Differences between OSE Advanced Fantasy and Advanced LL:
- OSE has more classes and races, including acrobats, barbarians, bards, drow, duergar, knights, and svirfneblin.
- OSE includes rules for the new demihumans both as race-classes (in the B/X style) and as separate races (in the AD&D style).
- The OSE Advanced...See more
Customer avatar
Antonio E January 17, 2020 12:09 pm UTC
Do the "advanced" race definitions of elves, halflings and dwarves import their AD&D specials? For example, do elves and halflings have a higher chance to surprise opponents?
Customer avatar
Gavin N January 17, 2020 12:18 pm UTC
Nope, the standard demihumans (i.e. elf, dwarf, halfling) have racial abilities based on the abilities of the standard B/X race-classes.
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File Last Updated:
August 26, 2019
This title was added to our catalog on August 23, 2019.