Sunday, March 10, 2013

Why I Decided to Use Swords & Wizardry As the System to "Bring the Band Back Together"

I struggled for a bit on deciding which system to use to bring my "Old Group" back together for Tabletop Roleplaying for the first time in 16 years.

Back in the day, we started with AD&D 1e and shortly moved on to AD&D 2e for the bulk of out gaming (with a shit ton of other games mixed in, but AD&D in it's varieties accounted for at least half of our gaming).

You would think one of those two systems would have been the system of choice. Heck, I run OSRIC / AD&D 1e on Saturday Nights for my current regular group. Easy choice, right?

Not so easy. OSRIC is very much AD&D, which means it still has a bit of that "text book effect". Two out of four players have their AD&D 1e books but one never played AD&D. Asking him to read OSRIC in order to game isn't fair. All of them would have to reread the rules to some extent.

Some folks mentioned Labyrinth Lord with the Advanced Edition Companion, but expecting my players to read two books before moving to the game itself didn't seem likely. Besides, LL and the AEC feel like different games. I'm sure the two meld together fine, but it just seems awkward to me. I also find the font annoying to read, but i suspect i am in the minority in that.

Basic Fantasy RPG was a close choice, especially with the low buy in for the print version (less than $5   at Amazon).

Then I got this email from one of the members of the "old band":

Hello Erik,
All the talk about getting the old group back together got me to read the Swords & Wizardry rules today.  Thanks for the book. I know you gave it to me a while ago but until today I only scanned it. Today I read it. I really like the simplicity.  I am sure Bry would approve if he gave it a try. You even gave out S&W quick start which is cool. (we get together a few times a year, and I like to give out gaming stuff to the old group when I can)
Thanks again for the book and Best of luck running a game with the old crew and some new Texas.

Pure and simple. For the win.

I put the free PDF of the core rules in the hands of two players for the first time this morning and we were up and running in 45 minutes. That's with me allowing the use of the Ranger from the S&W Complete Book. I explained the class in 30 seconds. That player never played D&D before in their life (old school Champions and Star Frontiers in his gamer's history).

Those 45 minutes included character gen, buying equipment, weapons and armor, and the search for a form fillable PDF character sheet (finally found here). It was also their first time using the Roll20 interface.

Like ducks to water, in no small thanks to Swords & Wizardry.

Some times, when you reach that advanced age of 45, you like to keep things simple yet complete ;)


  1. Great post! I had a somewhat similar experience with S&S Whitebox.

    I ran a S&W game last year for one of my longtime groups, who were a little skeptical at first ( I tried to get them to play OD&D a few years ago and they all thought I was nuts). They all had a blast, and what was supposed to be a quick one-shot turned into a three session jaunt. Even my wife, who has never played an RPG in her life and speaks English as a second language had fun and would probably play it again. That said I haven't gotten back to it yet, but we'll get there again soon.

  2. I'd choose S&W if I were into your position...Other than that,I find that LL + AEC mesh with each other quite seamlessly...But I guess that's a matter of differing point of views :)

  3. *I meant I'd choose S&W too, just like you did!

  4. Good choice, I found that S&W is the most hackable of them all, and see how easy it is to get crunchy and just "add" a Ranger? Nothing breaks. iN fact you can start creeping in your favorite rules from other systems without a hitch, like a skill system, DCC RPG magic, crit tables, etc.


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