I’m frequently asked about why there is no “Companion” rulebook collecting races, classes, items, spells, and other rules that are presently supplements. Sometimes the questioner asks for an “Advanced” game combining the current Core Rules with those same supplementary rulesets. I’ve answered this question many times, but yet it still crops up regularly, so I’m writing this blog post as a permanent answer to the question.
In the 2E era of the “world’s most popular role-playing game,” one of the things that began to appear in great numbers were so-called splatbooks: rulebooks containing supplementary classes, races, items, spells, and so on, put out by the same publisher who created the original rules. The 3E and later eras of that game continued this tradition. Players would buy these splatbooks because they appealed to them, naturally, and then they would show up at a game session and tell the GM “I want to play THIS.” If the race or class didn’t fit well with the GM’s world, he or she was naturally permitted by the application of Rule Zero to say “No, sorry, I’m not allowing that in my world.” But just because the GM could do so did not mean that he or she would… the player might say, “But, but, this is official!” and the GM would feel pressured into allowing it. 3E and later books had, if anything, even more power over the GM, since that game sharply curtailed Rule Zero.
One of the things I feel strongly about is that this should not happen. Players should be allowed to have a good time, of course, but the GM should never be forced to allow something he or she doesn’t want. It is for this reason that the supplements on the Downloads page will never, ever be compiled into any sort of official book, whether a Companion supplement or an Advanced rulebook.
This doesn’t mean such a book is impossible. In fact, I have plans to publish my personal compilation, the Glain Supplement, in print at some point in the future. But it will not be an official Basic Fantasy Project publication… it won’t carry the crenelated border that marks all our works, nor will it appear on the Downloads page, ever. It’s my personal house rules, and house rules compilations are not permitted on the Downloads page nor as official print publications, for the same reason I just gave above.
One of the curious, and very pleasant, side effects of doing things this way is the shorthand it allows the GM when starting a new game. The GM can simply say, “I’m running a Basic Fantasy game with the Half Humans, Gnomes, and Thief Options” and everyone knows exactly what options are available in that game. It’s easier to do it that way than to say “I’m running a Basic Fantasy game with just some of the Companion Supplement items. Here’s a list.” This might seem just as easy, but done this way the players may end up having to figure out what pages to print from that Companion book, or might buy the book only to use a small part of it. When our standard supplements are used, the player need only print out the supplements relevant to his or her character.