The Alexandrian

Legends & Labyrinths - Dream Machine ProductionsTo pull something of a silver lining out of the 8-Bit Funding version of Legends & Labyrinths getting a final axe to the head (as painful as that remains for me): I am now free to share the Black Book Beta with all of you. (And I know there are many people who didn’t have a chance to fund the project who have been begging me for months or years to get a peek at it.)

The Black Book Beta was designed to give funders a usable first peek at the rule system and it’s exactly what the name says it is: A beta version of the rulebook. Most notably the volume is missing an index and the full versions of the Grimoire, the Treasury, and the Bestiary. Fortunately, the game is 100% compatible with 3rd Edition, so you can just use the spells, magic items, and monsters from the books you already own (or use the online SRD if all else fails); so the Black Book Beta remains a fully functional and fully playable game.

For those of you currently unfamiliar with Legends & Labyrinths, check out this post describing its many virtues. Because it’s 100% compatible with 3rd Edition, you can use any supplement or adventure module for 3rd Edition in Legends & Labyrinths without any conversion whatsoever (despite the fact that Legends & Labyrinths is a massively streamlined and simplified version of the system).

The flip-side of 100% compatibility also means that you can rip out some of the awesome sub-systems of L&L and use them directly in your 3rd Edition campaign. For example, you should check out the stunt system, the hazard creation system, and the monster creation system. (The last of these also makes it really, really easy to convert pre-3E material to L&L or 3E.) Oh! There’s also a streamlined, budget-based system for building encounters.

But without further ado, here we go:

Legends & Labyrinths - Black Book Beta

(click for PDF)

49 Responses to “Legends & Labyrinths – Black Book Beta”

  1. Neal says:


    I’ve only had a few minutes to browse through this Black Book Beta of yours, but its obvious it represents a huge amount of work. This is very impressive. Haven’t looked through all of it, even remotely, but it seems very well organized, with helpful sidebars to orient the newbie or experienced gamer to the necessary information by it’s page number. Lots of interesting things here to look over for hours and hours…

    You do very good work!

  2. Doodpants says:

    If the purpose of the crowdfunding project was to commission artwork to accompany an otherwise (nearly) finished ruleset, then why don’t you:
    1) create a finished version of the rulebook using what art you do already have, and release it electronically, and
    2) make it available as print-on-demand via Lulu for those who want a physical copy?

  3. Andrew says:

    Thank you for releasing this.

  4. R'rephistöch Örpherischt says:

    Justin, I second Andrew with thanks for letting us have a peek at the results of your Titanic Striving. I was just looking for 3.5 compatible stunt systems to increase the dramatic flair and cinematic aspect of combat.

    I’ll be watching your progress. Keep well.

  5. Wyvern says:

    You should consider setting up a donate button so that people who feel so inclined can pay whatever they feel the Black Book Beta is worth to them. It would be a way to recoup some of your losses.

  6. R'rephistöch Örpherischt says:

    Some really nice touches I’m seeing as I page through: The sample of play at the beginning is pretty enjoyable and eases players gently into the gist of the game; the horizontal distance table; slow, normal and fast level progressions; the whole combat chapter is very cool; encounter building system is interesting; the up-front placement of conditions (instead of hidden in the back of the DMG); the ‘taking action’ section is a nice clear summary of the different types of activity in the game; and the stunt system is something I’m keen to try out – I’ve been discussion this sort of cinematic aid with a friend who is a fan of rules-lite systems emphasizing stunts.

    Congratulations on your work so far, the layout job alone is a big thing.

    If I can offer some dubious guidance in terms of layout, my eye spots some padding/alignment issues with images, tables and text here or there…mostly difficult-to-control paragraphing issues and how it relates to surrounding meta-content. Sometimes the images running off the edge of a page looks awkward to me as well, given the level of containment elsewhere on the page. Anyway, I’m sure content rather than final finishing is what you are focused on at the moment.

    Three Cheers!

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  8. d47 says:

    Ironically, I stumbled on your site looking for info on the D&D 4e Keep on the Shadowfell module. First, I found a ton of interesting analysis and advice about adventure creation (and remixing), and now I get a whole set of custom rules. Thanks! I hope after taking a break you return to the project at some point.

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