Old-School Essentials

After a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, the creator of Old-School Essentials, Gavin Norman from Necrotic Gnome, has found himself adding five hardcover adventures through the stretch goals – and I have found myself with the pleasure of working on the layout for all of them.

Halls of the Blood King by Diogo Nogueira. Art by Justine Jones

Filled with incredible art by various illustrators, the OSE books bring back the best parts of old-school gaming. The main challenge of the design was to embrace the classic dungeon delving, but let it breathe in fresh air. For a classic experience, I went with pure white background and simple fonts. The modern part comes from the color palettes and information design.

Each spread contains all the information the Game Master might need while running the game – organized, easy to reference, with miniature maps and marked directions.

Halls of the Blood King by Diogo Nogueira. Art by Justine Jones

The maps inside the book supplement the described rooms, and make it easy to orient yourself in the general layout of the dungeon. They are annotated with area numbers, locked doors, and encounters, to make running the game even easier. The full maps and important tables are printed on the endpapers for quick reference.

The Incandescent Grottoes by Gavin Norman. Art by Nate Treme. Cartography by Glynn Seal.

One of the goals was to make every spread exciting and convenient to use. For me, it meant the smart handling of monster descriptions and stat blocks: they had to stand out just enough to be incredibly easy to find and reference in the middle of a fight, but concise and practical. Thankfully, OSE’s notation made it all possible.

The Isle of the Plangent Mage by Donn Stroud. Art by David Hoskins.

As always, working with Exalted Funeral was a blast! From the writers and illustrators to the editing team (yay, Fiona Maeve Geist and Jarrett Crader from The Moonrat Conspiracy!). I very much look forward to doing more books with them!

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