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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
 
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Average Rating:4.9 / 5
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Nicolas L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/03/2020 11:30:36

All things considered, the quality of the scan is great, the clarity of the images, are more than I could have hoped for. I’m very pleased with the final product, only wish that this and other classic mods/classic booklets were available in soft/hard cover print, and not just as a PDF.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2019 23:03:48

Updated review posted here, with pictures. http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/11/review-d-expert-set.html

December of 1979 was the time I was first introduced to Dungeon & Dragons via the Holmes Basic edition and the AD&D Monster Manual. It was 1980 though that I got my hands on the Moldvay Basic Set and my love affair with B/X D&D. But that is only the first half of the story. The second half, the X of B/X, was the Cook/Marsh Expert Set.

D&D Expert Set

I am not exactly sure when I got the D&D Expert set. I do know it was sometime after I had the Basic Set. I know this because I have very distinct memories of going through the Expert book and just marveling at everything inside. Just everything from the classes to all the new monsters. The Moldvay Basic Set was the high mark for me at the time for what an RPG should be. The Expert set lived up to that set and then blew me away. That is getting ahead of my narrative.

For this review, I am going to look at the original boxed set, the mini boxed set from Twenty First Century Games S.r.i., and the newer PDF from DriveThruRPG.

On the heels of the Basic Set edited by Tom Moldvay, we have the first Expert Set edited by David "Zeb" Cook with Steve Marsh. So we often call this the Cook/Marsh Expert set to distinguish it from the Frank Mentzer Expert Set. This Moldvay/Cook/Marsh set of rules is often called B/X to separate it from the Mentzer BECMI versions.

The Expert Set came in a boxed set featuring cover art by Erol Otus. The art includes the art from the Basic Set; a wizard scries the female wizard and male warrior fighting the dragon. It remains one of my favorite pieces of gaming art ever. In fact, it is the current background for my phone. Included in the boxed set was one of the greatest sandbox adventures ever, X1 Ilse of Dread and a set of 6 polyhedral dice; d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20 and a crayon. Note the PDF does not include dice (obviously).

The Expert book features the same cover art on a predominantly blue cover. The book is 64 pages of black & white art. The cover is full cover and the interior covers are blue ink and feature the table of contents (front) and index (back). The art features some of the Big Names of 1980s D&D art. Jeff Dee, Wade Hampton, David S. LaForce, Erol Otus, James Roslof, and Bill Willingham. Some so iconic that they STILL define certain elements of the game for me. Jeff Dee's halflings, David LaForce's giants, and Bill Willingham's vampire are to this very day the first thing I think of when any of these creatures are mentioned.

While we were promised "new classes" both in the Holmes Basic book and later by Gygax himself in the pages of Dragon magazine, we stick with same seven classes; four human (Cleric, Fighter, Magic-user, Thief) and three demi-human (Dwarf, Elf, Halfling). While I had not really thought about the new classes when I got my Expert set, I was a little disappointed that halflings and dwarves didn't get more than they did. BUT if that was the case I soon got over it since there was SO much more for the Cleric and Magic-users.

Part 1: Introduction. This book begins with some tables from the Basic game. Also we get some guidelines on how this book should be used and what to do if you have an earlier (Holmes edition) of D&D Basic. Here we also note that the page numbers are X# compared to the B# number. The idea here was for you to be able to cut up your Basic and Expert books and put them together in a three-ring binder. Eventually, I did do this, but not with my actual books, but rather with the printouts from the DriveThru PDFs.

Part 2: Player Character Information. This deals with all the classes. I thought, at the time, that the organization of this section was a vast improvement over the same section in the Basic Book. Where Basic D&D went from 1st to 3rd level, this book continues on to 14th level for human classes and various levels for the demi-human classes. Additionally, thief abilities extend to 14th level as does Clerical turning Undead and new, more powerful spells; 5th level for clerics and 6th level for Magic-users. That was unheard of levels of magic for me.

Part 3: Spells. This section got about 90% of my attention back then. New detail is given on Reversed spells for both Clerical and Magic-user/Elf spells. Eight pages of new spells including the amazing Disintegrate spell, which was one of the spells outlawed in many of my local game groups back then.

Part 4: The Adventure. Not only does this section open up the world of adventuring to the entire wilderness and beyond the dungeon, it gives us some of my favorite Erol Otus art ever. The Alchemist on page X21 defined what an alchemist needed to look like for me.

Part 5: The Encounter covers combat and includes morale, saving throws, and variable weapon damage. This also has all the necessary combat tables.

Part 6: Monsters. Ah. Now here are the pages of my memories! I have mentioned before how much I love the Monster Manual for AD&D and how it was my monster tome for my time playing Holmes Basic. But this. This one was part of my new favorite rules and that made all the difference to me. The mundane rubbed elbows (or knees, or whatever) with the magical and the malevolent. To this day there are still monsters here that I have not seen the likes of elsewhere. Well yes, I have, but you have to dig for some of them. But let's be honest, when was the last time you pulled a Devil Swine out on your players? Some versions of monsters here I still prefer over their AD&D Monster Manual counterparts. Giants and Vampires as I have mentioned.

Part 7: Treasure follows. While D&D lacked the infamous vorpal sword (for now), it made up for it by having better rules in my mind for Intelligent swords.

Part 8: Dungeon Master Information, is what it says on the tin. We get rules for making ability "saving throws" and spell magic item creation rules. What I had the most fun with were the castle and stronghold cost rules. This chapter is chock full of goodness. Handling players, NPCs, even the first bit of what was known as the "Known World" which later became Mystara. To this day seeing the "haunted keep" fills me with ideas.

Part 9: Special Adventures this section covers waterborne adventures.

This book is so full of great stuff and even though we were promised a "Companion" edition that would go to 36th level (unheard of!) there were still plenty of adventures to be had.

Let's be honest, 14 levels is a lot of levels even by today's standards.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2018 19:08:30

This system will take your basic D&D characters all the way to level 14. There is another version which will take your characters all the way to 36th level (see BECMI D&D or Rules Cyclopedia), however I have to say this version has its charms. Why, you ask? Because level 14 is high enough! It will take roughly 1.5-2 years of regular gaming for a party to hit max level, and let's be real, how many campaigns last much longer than that? Considering how even more modern D&D (like 5th edition) only goes up to 20th level, it's not that big of a deal. If you're looking for an OSR itch to scratch, definitely consider B/X!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Tim S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/15/2018 23:04:15

Searchable which is a major plus. Wish it was available as a POD (saddle stitched of course!) Then, I could put my original safely back in its box.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Steve L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/16/2017 15:26:59

new what i was getting and its all that and a bag of gold,ha



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Andrew K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/15/2016 13:05:58

This is a good scan of the product. The text is clear, and I cannot see any evidence of anti-aliasing or blurring of the letters when zoomed in. These two PDFs work fine on my old, underpowered tablet, zoomed in on my phone, and on my Kindle (not all PDFs sold here load quickly and work properly on these three devices). The bookmarks are well done.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Greg V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/07/2015 15:57:13

Like my review of the Basic Rulebook, the only deficiency is a medium quality scan. But for $5, itʻs a value. The rules and everything you need to elevate past the Basic rules is there. I would definitely purchase a hardcover release of the Basic and Expert rules!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Christina F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/16/2014 04:52:02

This is an excellent product, and a great follow on from the basic version. I first picked up the Easy to Master (Black Box) edition of D&D in 1991, and followed that up with the Rules Cyclopedia, but I really like seeing how the rules of the system have evolved over time.

Obviously, this product gets only 4/5, since it is not perfect by any means, especially when compared to today's standard. However, it does give an immense insight in to just how far D&D has come over the past 40 years.

Hopefully, the other rulebooks will also be added here in the future. I am curious to see exactly what the Companion and Master sets added, even though I believe these were released under the BECMI revisions, but I much prefer the single book format of B/X ed. for some reason...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Dominic L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/02/2014 13:39:03

Having (regretfully) dispensed with my original hard copy- I am thrilled to buy a PDF and print it out. Excellent, flawless scan with great contrast. This is such a brilliant website. To be able to get old D&D modules and rulebooks- and Judges Guild stuff I could never afford when I was a kid is brilliant. The PDFs are very reasonable priced (although I find printing the out is proving to be extremely costly in ink costs!)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jason W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/24/2013 15:49:32

Awesome! It's even the version before the blue boxed set I had as a kid. Well worth it!!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/22/2013 17:54:34

I started role playing with the basic D&D boxed set (the red book with "the keep on the borderlands" adventure) back in 1983, spurred on by a description in the first chapter of the book E.T. Since then I have purchased innumerable other RPG's, most of which have ended up being hocked at the local game store or passed on to others. My original basic and expert books, however, I still have on the shelf, and while I think the mechanics aren't the finest tools about, they are adequate, to get the job done. Fourth ed, particularly, is way to balanced for my liking and is just the sort of thing to make me want to get out my red and blue books and plan a new campaign.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Allan M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/14/2013 11:31:45

I had forgotten how elegant the Moldvay BX system was. Even after all these years, this is probably the best start to D&D available. Everything is easy to find, the rules are simple and concise. Some of the retroclones approach this level of elegance, but Moldvay 'git thar fustest with the mostest!" This may be the best version of D&D ever. The PDF is beautiful. Art by Jeff Dee and Erol Otus looks great in this scan and the text is completely searchable. Outstanding! I am looking forward to running B2 with these rules! Sorry about the copied review, but combined with the Moldvay basic rules, the Expert set makes a complete game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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