About Old-School Essentials

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, the most popular edition of the game among connoisseurs of the old-school.

Rules Modules

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. Currently available rules modules are:

  • Core Rules: Rules for character creation and advancement, adventuring in dungeons, the wilderness, and at sea, magic and combat.
  • 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 of 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: Fifteen classes inspired by the classic Advanced first edition (acrobat, assassin, barbarian, bard, drow, druid, duergar, gnome, half-elf, half-orc, illusionist, knight, paladin, ranger, svirfneblin). Optional rules for separating race and class, poisons, additional combat options, weapon proficiency, and more.
  • 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, and illusionist characters.

Boxed Set or Tome?

A compilation of the core rules plus the four Classic Fantasy rules modules is available in two formats, both of which form a complete game for Classic Fantasy adventures:

The content of these two formats is the same; they just cater to different tastes. 

Old-School Essentials Online Tools

Classic Fantasy Rules Reference (SRD)

Online Generators

Hype around Old-School Essentials

"This is a straight-out 5/5 for anybody who is even remotely interested in checking out an OSR ruleset, and in particular, the most faithful OSR ruleset of them all. Irrespective of whether you buy the Old-School Essentials [Black Box] or the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy Rules Tome, you buy a practically perfect product. The love, affection, and attention to detail that has gone into them is nothing short of extraordinary, as is the meticulous research following a rigorously scientific approach."

Antonios S, RPG.net

"Old School Essential's genius lay in its layout and formatting. It is designed to keep play at the table fast and easy. Rules are clearly expressed and easy to understand. [...] Spells, monsters, magic items, gear - it's all presented with the active purpose of keeping game play going so you don't have to stop because a rule is confusing or because you need to flip through pages to find a clarification. In its presentation, in its layout and formatting, Old School Essentials is sheer genius[...]."

James M. Spahn, Halfling's Luck

Third Party Products for Old-School Essentials

Interested in publishing adventures or supplements for Old-School Essentials? There is a free-to-use license that allows you to put a "Designed for use with Old-School Essentials" logo on your product. Check out the license here. Also of interest is this blog post that describes in simple terms how the third party license and the Open Game License work.

Check out the list of products published under the Old-School Essentials third party license here!


A few minor pieces of errata have been noted since the publication of the game. Known errata is fixed in subsequent print runs of each book. The list of all reported errata can be viewed here.