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B/X Companion
by Stephen [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/06/2024 18:00:59

An excellent expansion for Moldvay Cook BX. Definitely worth the price especially if you want to do a homebrew setting that is not Mystara.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Companion
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The Complete B/X Adventurer
by Luke B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2023 16:49:01

The author really packs a lot into these 64 pages. Not only are there all kinds of new classes, but there are rules for how to make the core classes a bit more unique (so that a fighter isn't every fighter). A great value with some fun ideas. Highly recommended for anyone looking to add a little bit of spice to their "Basic" D&D game!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Complete B/X Adventurer
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Comes Chaos
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/02/2022 13:20:05

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/02/review-comes-chaos.html

I am a complete sucker for anything B/X. While I have many games I love, it is B/X era D&D that really gets my nostalgia going. So anything made for it gets my attention. While the products, both official and fan-made, can vary in quality, I am rarely disappointed.

One publisher that has delivered well on the nostalgia factor is Jonathan Becker of Running Beagle Games. Becker, known for his B/X Blackrazor blog, "gets" B/X D&D. He has demonstrated time and again that he gets how B/X is different that AD&D and indeed other Basic-era clones. His B/X Companion remains one of my top 10 favorite books of the published OSR books. So when he came out with a new book I jumped on it!

And...promptly forgot about it! Ok, in my defense October is like my high holy month and I had a lot going on. So now it is February and I figure I should come back to this one.

Comes Chaos by Jonathan Becker. 64 pages, black & white art by Kelvin Green.

Comes Chaos is a combination rules addition/setting for use with B/X era D&D. It can be used with other versions of Basic D&D and the various clones, but there is a focus here. That is appropriate for a few reasons I will touch on in a bit.

Like the Basic and Expert books of old, and his own Companion book, this is a 64 page book. Printed with it's black and red cover it would look rather nice sitting next to the other books. At this point Becker has enough material (Companion, Complete B/X Adventurer, and this one) for a reasonable boxed set. Maybe one with a "3" in the corner.

PART 1: INTRODUCTION

Comes Chaos deals, naturally, with the forces of Chaos (capital C) and how to use them in your game. There is an implied setting that can be used as-is or elements can be used in any game.

The book is formated like that of the Basic and Expert (and Companion) books, so following the flow of information is straightforward. The difference here is that these are alternate and additional rules.

This section also introduces the "Four Great Powers" the Demon Lords ArjaDem, MorSolahn, SeiAhsk, and TeeGal.

PART 2: RUINED PLAYER CHARACTERS

Here we get alterations to the seven player characters classes. Clerics of gods of Law, for example, cannot use reversed versions of their spells. But their "Turning Undead" chart is not extended to include the demons of this game. There is a new Magic-User "sub-class" (that word is not used) in the Chaos Sorcerer. This class works a bit like the Sorcerer or Warlock of other D&D games. It uses Intelligence as a Prime, but I am going to change it to Charisma.

The next part of this section deals with Corrupted characters and Chaos Champions. Corrupted characters are ones that started out "good" and then fell into chaos. Chaos Champions start out chaotic. These characters also gain the favor of one of the four powers.

The four powers and their gifts are covered last. The four masters are unique to this book but remind a bit of the sort of creatures one might find in the writings of Moorcock. Not quite demons, not quite Lovecraftian horrors, but a little bit of both. There is also a desire, and this might just be me, to link them up with the old AD&D Elemental Princes. Maybe because there are four.

PART 3: TAINTED MAGIC

Magic gets some changes in Comes Chaos. Both Clerics and Magic-users now have some restrictions on what spells they can normally cast. We also get some new Dark Sorcery spells used by Chaos Sorcerers, Demons, and Chaos Champions. Additionally, some spells are "patron" spells for three of the four Chaos Masters. The other Master, ArjaDem, forbids their followers from using magic.

The spells are in B/X format and there are eight per level for levels 1 to 6. Some are repeats of other B/X spells. There are enough new spells to keep players on their toes when dealing with a minion of chaos.

PART 4: EXPLORING THE WASTES

The Wastelands are areas that are corrupted by Chaos. Spending time in these lands also leads to corruption and mutations in the living creatures here. This section also has other hazards such as how long food and water will last, how much movement and time is changed, and what sorts of strange occurrences and creatures that can be encountered. The section has a whole Colour out of Space feel to it.

PART 5: BLOOD AND SOULS

This section deals with encounters and combat. Alterations are given for Champions of Chaos and demons as well as others dealing with these threats.

PART 6: BEASTS AND DEMONS

This is our monster section and it has 37 new monsters. As expected 19 of them are demons and 4 are undead. There are also corrupted versions of other monster types (elves, dwarves, etc) that can be used as guidelines for other corrupted monsters not listed.

The demons depicted here are not the Demons of the AD&D monster manual. Nor are they the demons of Earth myth and legends. These are new creatures unique to this book. There are some interesting ones here and again the feeling is not quite demons and not quite Lovecraftian horrors, but a combination of the two.

PART 7: UNHOLY TREASURES

This section covers the treasures you can find with these creatures or in the wastelands.

PART 8: DEMON MASTER INFORMATION

The person running these games is called the "Demon Masters" which is just a way really to use "DM." This section covers how to deal with corruption, magical research and chaos magic, and how to design a wasteland.

There is another class presented here, the Witch Hunter, from the Complete B/X Adventurer. Despite the success and dare I say universal approval of his own Companion Rules, this class only goes to level 14. Though it is mentioned that levels 15-36 can be found in the Adventurer book.

In fact the next section covers using this book with the Complete B/X Adventurer and the B/X Companion.

PART 9: SLAVE-LORDS OF CHAOS

This section covers how to run an "evil" game including unique experience point rewards.

Comes Chaos is a great extension to any B/X style game. Especially ones where "Chaos" is more of a factor than say "Evil."

Chaos in Comes Chaos follows the implicit guidelines originally set up in Moldvay Basic. Chaos is not just a philosophy or moral outlook, it is a force and "thing" that must be dealt with. I feel this book does a good job in trying to expand on this notion and make it something to use in your games.

The ideas presented here are not all unique; Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Dungeon Crawl Classics cover similar ground in terms of Chaos as a Force to Fight and Realms of Crawling Chaos for the Lovecraftian Chaos is a Force. Comes Chaos though combines these ideas into something that is uniquely B/X. Yes both LotFP and Realms of Crawling Chaos have strong B/X roots, but this is explicitly B/X.

Given this, Comes Chaos should work well with Old School Essentials as well. Though one gets the feeling that OSE is more like "The Hobbit" than it is "Colour Out of Space." Though I am not sure it would feel the same for Advanced versions of the Old-School games since there is a focus on Good vs. Evil there as well.

The art by Kelvin Green is great and having one artist to do all the work gives the book a united vision.

It is available at DriveThruRPG where it is currently just under $14. The rule of thumb I have adopted over the years is 10¢ per page, which would place this at $6.40. The price is twice that, but I still feel it is worthwhile. Again this is a rule of thumb, not a hard and fast rule.

There is no print-on-demand option on DriveThru for this. Though none of Running Beagle's books have this. You can though get print copies of this and all their other books from their website. Print copies of Comes Chaos are $27.99 and handled via PayPal.

Comes Chaos also is not released through the Open Gaming License. Not an issue to be honest, but I look at it as a way the creator/publisher "gives back" to the community. Generally speaking, OGL products sell better than their non-OGL contemporaries/counterparts.

Comes Chaos is a fun supplement. I used similar ideas when running my B/X games in the past I will adopt some of these ideas to use in my current OSE game. I am not likely to use the four demonic princes, my game has a solid cosmology, but I might adopt them for a 5e game I am running that could use Chaotic Evil figures like these.

Who should get this? DMs that want to add a little chaos effects to their games but do not want to go the full Dungeon Crawl Classics route. DMs that play/run B/X and/or OSE in particular.

This is also for DMs that enjoy the classical roots of the game but whose interests lean more towards Moorcock rather than Lovecraft.

For me, the price and the lack of the OGL keep it from being a perfect addition to my games.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Comes Chaos
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The Complete B/X Adventurer
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/31/2014 18:49:43

The Complete B/X Adventurer is the second book from Jonathan Becker.

It certainly lives up to it's hype and to it's predecessor the B/X Companion (BXC). Though there is no emotional investment on this one for me. I waited for the B/X Companion for almost 30 years. I waited for this one for only about a year or less.

I am going to make comparisons of it to B/X Companion AND to the old Bard Games "Compleat Adventurer" series (Adventurer, Spellcaster, Alchemist). I think both comparisons are fair. The first is obvious, but the second I want to explain. It is obvious in the construction that this book owes a lot to those previous books. The author, Jonathan Becker, acknowledges this in his Introduction. There is also a feel to this book that reminds me of the later Bard Games books, The Arcanum and the Atlantis series.

In all these cases the books provide additional classes, spells and magic with additional rules that can be added with little effort to your game. We saw something similar from the official D&D books in the Unearthed Arcana books.

But getting on with the review proper.

The physical book is now perfect bound, not stapled, and it comes in at 62 pages. The cover doesn't try to invoke any other old-school product I am aware of, but I could be wrong. This is a good thing really since it should have it's own identity. BXC very much wanted to invoke the images of the old Basic and Expert sets. Table of Contents is on a page, not the inside cover.

Now on to the meat. We get a nice introduction from Jonathan Becker about how the book should be used. It does indicate compatibility with Labyrinth Lord, LoftFP and Swords & Wizardry. Though I don't see the compatibility licenses those products require. I hope that is not an issue, but something that the author should look into. Also this is not an OGL product, so no license and no OGC. May not matter to you. In terms of buying. I supposed if someone wanted to use some of this material in say an adventure that was broadly compatible Becker would give his permission (and he has said as much if I recall correctly). For me I like to operate in the safe harbor of the OGL. But this doesn't detract my opinion from the book at all.

First up we have charts on random head gear. While this section is very good, it feels completely random. Not in terms of the tables, but why does the book lead off with this? I would have made this an appendix or part of a later chapter. Oddly enough the class table does not include any of the new classes in this book. Move this to the back in future printings I say. This follows with class exceptional traits. Also very cool. This one would belong here, but I would have put it after all the new classes. Again, this does not have all the new classes listed. Sure use the sub-class idea with Witches as a type of Magic-User. Follwing this firearms. Again move to equipment. I might not ever use this, but my son wants too (he read the book before I did).

Next up are all the classes. These are the gems of the book in my eye. The classes get about a page each. So this will be nice to print out the PDF pages and re-org as needed. The classes are Acrobat, Archer, Barbarian, Bard, Beastmaster, Bounty Hunter, Centaur, Duelist, Gnome, Mountebank, Mystic, Ogre-Kin, Scout, Summoner, Tattoo Mage, Witch, and Witch Hunter.

The classes are about what you would expect if you have been in this game for a number of years, but they have their twists. The gnome, centaur and ogre-kin are obviously race-classes in the Basic/Expert style. The Summoner is really cool. You summon creatures to do your magic for you. So part demonologist, part Pokemon trainer! (ok ok) only really awesome about it. It is one of the neatest takes I have seen on this ill-used fantasy archetype. I will discuss the witch and the witch-hunter in detail in a bit.

This is followed by all the new spells that these classes need. It's a good amount, taking up the remaining 20 pages of the book. The spells are of a good sort and there are a lot of them here.

The art is good and similar in style to BXC, sharing a couple of the same artists. Each class gets an art piece (another similarity to the Bard Compleat books) but the spells doesn't get much if any. That is too bad since the art is generally very good.

My Thoughts Again I think I would have put some the beginning material in the back to focus on the classes more. But I really enjoy all these classes and I think that for my kids old-school AD&D game I would let them choose from this as a possible source. I can see my youngest wanting to play an Acrobat and my oldest a Bounty Hunter. I would some tips I have written in the past about converting "Basic" classes to "Advanced" ones, but honestly there is not much here I would change.

Another thought is that most of these classes are stated out to 14th level. This makes them perfect, obviously, for pure Basic/Expert style D&D. But there is something else they would work well with, ACKS. In fact I have mentioned before how well BXC would work in extending ACKS. Well now you can use the TCBXA as an add on to ACKS. These two games have different purposes in life, but they fit together rather nicely, and this gives you some new classes to play around with till ACKS Player's Companion is out.

NOW all we need is Jonathan to give us a B/X Companion boxed set. It can include the B/X Companion, the CBXA, and a brand new module. I think that would be great!

The Witch

Ok, I have to play special attention to the witch. Not just because it is a witch class, but because it is different than the other spell using classes. For starters the witch can cast in groups to cast higher level spells. That is a nice feature really and something very much in tune with the archetypal witch. The witch is the class in the book that is stated up all the way to 36th level AND built to gain powers to that point, also something I rather like. Why? Because a 36th level witch is the only class that can cast 10th level spells. Yup. This one goes to 10!

Crafting spells. The witch does not memorize a spell, but she does have a limit on how many she knows. The witch needs both a high intelligence (to know the spell) and a high wisdom (to learn and scribe it down in the first place). So a first level witch with a high Intelligence knows 1+Int mod 1st level spells. She can also scribe spells of 1st level + how ever many extra levels equal to her Wisdom mod. I like it. It is a nice quick way to know what can be done. In fact I would like to use that for clerics since gods should know ahead of time what spells their flock need and then they just give them to the cleric at that time.

For the witch though I would reverse it. Intelligence to write or scribe the spell and Widsom to know how many they can cast. Witches are often called the "Craft of the Wise" after all. But all in all I like it. 10th level witch spells are nothing at all to sneeze at. This is a powerful witch class.

The 10th level spells are a nice solution to the "Coven spells"/"Powerful magic" vs independent witches. I can't see too many witch covens in groups. Maybe two or three at a time. With what JB has done here is given us a way to have powerful magics in groups at lower levels and keep those same magics out of the hands of solitary witches till much later. This then does not make them a more attractive solution over Wizards/Magic Users.

Witchhunters If you are going to have witches then you should have witchhunters. The ones here are fairly straight forward but they have some nice features. I like that they get magic, but not as spells but powers. Sure you could do a multi-classed Cleric-Ranger, but this is B/X not 3.x. I'd like to give this witchhunter a spin sometime.

Bottom Line If you enjoyed BXC or even Basic/Expert or other Old School play then this is a great buy. If you enjoy old school play but are sticking with your clone of choice then I still say get this. Look at the class list above and decide if any of those sound interesting to you.

I like it and I recommend it. I would have organized things a little differently, but that is about it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Complete B/X Adventurer
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B/X Companion
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/03/2012 13:28:14

The Game We Never Got.

One of the things I like most about the OSR are the products that don't give me things I already have, but things I have always wanted or never knew I needed. B/X Companion is one of those products.

The product I think I have been waiting for for close to 30 years. Sure I have had books that have covered the same ground, and books that made this book obsolete, but somewhere, deep in my psyche there is still that 12 year old version of me wishing he could take his cleric to 15th level.

The B/X Companion does not disappoint. Let me just say that if this isn't exactly how it was going to be, then I'd be hard pressed to know what it would have been. I am reading through it all now and I am purposefully NOT comparing it to the BECMI version of the Companion rules.

The cover of course is very much part of the original scheme. The three principle characters, the fighter and the two wizards (or maybe she is a cleric, that could be a "light" spell, though she has a torch too) stand in front of their followers. They braved the dungeon, the wilderness and now they are ready for the next adventure. So are we.

For those of us that grew up with the Moldvay/Cook Basic and Expert sets, the Companion book feels very familiar. The layout is similar, the flow is similar and even the art has a familiar feel. If you own the Basic or Expert books then finding something in the Companion book is trivial. I turned right to the character rules and took a glance at all the tables. Yes sir they run from 15 to 36, just like promised. Clerics still top out at 7th level spells, but eventually they get 9 of them. Wizards still go to 9th level, and get 9 of those too. Fighters get more attacks per round (as they should) and thieves get more abilities.

There are plenty of new spells here. Many look like they take their inspiration from the products that came after, the Player's Handbook or the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, but nothing is an outright copy. It does have the feel like Becker sat around one day and thought, what are some good spells and what level should they be.

There new monsters and advanced versions of some others. The Greater Vampire nearly made me laugh out loud as I had done the exact same thing after reading and playing the Expert book for so long. My Greater Vampire was a photocopy of Ptah from Deities and Demigods with some fangs drawn in. I never claimed to be an artist. Te monsters all seem to be appropriate for the levels, though a few more in the 30 HD range might have been nice, but not really needed.

The BIG additions here though are the ones that were most "advertised" back in the day. “Running a High Level Game” is great advice for ANY edition of the game. It gives this book the same place as say, the Epic Level Handbook for D&D 3.0 or even the Epic Tier for D&D 4.

Chances are very, very good I'll be using the B/X Companion in my next D&D 4 game in fact.

Related are running a domain and running large armies. Battlesystem would later give us these rules for AD&D, but here they are much simpler to use. Again, this is something to consider to port over to other versions of the game.

I loved the new magic items and can never get enough of those. I also liked the part on the planes and how it is totally left up to design of the DM. I wonder how many people out there will re-invent the Gygaxian Great Wheel for their B/X/C games?

Companion to Basic/Expert Rules Obviously this is where it works the best. But there is something here that I don't think others have tapped into just yet. Companion makes the Moldvay/Cook rules a complete game. With these three books you now have a complete D&D game. The only thing really missing is a "C1" module or maybe a BXC one.

Companion to Labyrinth Lord/Basic Fantasy The new Becker Companion has a lot it owes to Labyrinth Lord (LL) and Basic Fantasy (BFRPG). While maybe not directly, these two games showed that there is a market out there for "Basic" styles of play. Both LL and BFRPG take the modern 1-20 level limit for human classes. Companion is 15 to 36. So some adjustments need to be made. There are a few differences in the how each of these books calculate XP per level, and how they do spells. But nothing so complicated that a a good DM couldn't figure out.

Personally if I were playing a LL/BFRPG game, I'd go to 15th level and then switch over to B/X Companion for the next levels to 36. OR even go to 20 and use B/X Companion as a guide to levels 30 or even 36.

Frankly the homebrewiness of it all has me very excited for anyone that has decided to throw their lot in with "Basic" D&D.

The B/X Companion vs. the BECMI Companion Ok, I know I said above I wasn't going to do this, but I felt it was worth a look. Now I am no expert on the Mentzer era of the rules. I had moved to AD&D by the time they were out and I never owned them. I picked up the Rules Cyclopedia a while back and got all the BECMI boxes on PDF back when Wizards sold them on DriveThru.

Both Companions cover similar ground. The spell progressions and XP look about the same (given that they use simple math, no surprise). The BECMI Companion only goes to 25th level, not 36 like the B/X Companion. The BECMI Companion generally speaking has more detail than the B/X one, but that is not really a nitpick since the abstraction of the rules in B/X is greater to allow more with less; just like the B/X books it was modeled after.

Final Tally I like this book. A lot. It makes me want to pull out my ratty Basic and Expert books and play Moldvay/Cook era Basic D&D again. In the mean time, I think I'll just have to satisfy myself with converting some D&D 3.0 or 4e characters over to Companion, just for the fun of it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Companion
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