Friday, November 8, 2013

Why "Swords & Wizardry?"

I posted this originally back in April, right before the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day, but in light of the release of S&W Complete for free in PDF, I think it bears repeating (and updating ;)

Believe me when I say I have them all in dead tree format. I have OSRIC in full size, trade paperback and the Player's Guide.  I have LL and the AEC (and somewhere OEC, but I can't find it at the moment). Obviously I have Basic Fantasy RPG. Actually, I have the whole available line in print. Way too much Castles & Crusades. We all know my love for the DCC RPG. I even have Dark Dungeons in print, the Delving Deeper boxed set, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (thank you Kickstarter) (edit) BOTH editions of LotFP's Weird Fantasy and will soon have some dead tree copies of the Greyhawk Grognards Adventures Dark & Deep shipping shortly in my grubby hands awaiting a review..

I am so deep in the OSR when I come up for breath it's for the OSR's cousin, Tunnels & Trolls (and still waiting on dT&T to ship).

So, out of all that, why Swords & Wizardry? Why, when I have been running a AD&D 1e / OSRIC campaign in Rappan Athuk am I using Swords & Wizardry and it's variant, Crypts & Things, for the second campaign? (Actually, now running a S&W Complete campaign, soon to be with multiple groups)

Because the shit works.

It's easy for lapsed gamers to pick up and feel like they haven't lost a step. I can house rule it and it doesn't break. It plays so close to the AD&D of my youth and college years (S&W Complete especially) that it continually surprises me. Just much less rules hopping than I remember. (my God but I can run it nearly without the book)

I grab and pick and steal from just about all OSR and Original resources. They seem to fit into S&W with little fuss. It may be the same with LL and the rest, but for me the ease of use fit's my expectations with S&W.

Even the single saving throw. That took me longer to adjust to, but even that seems like a natural to me now. Don't ask me why, it just does. Maybe it's the simplicity of it. At 45 46, simplicity and flexibility while remaining true to the feel of the original is an OSR hat trick for me ;)


  1. Succint and to the point!

    I run C&C and my players and I like it alot and yet I look at my S&W hardback and my Crypts and Things Hardback and this is the game *I want to play* as well as run, (S&W for dungeoning and C&T for hex crawling)

    I'll get there once the current group have built their characters 'empires' to a happy level :)

  2. It's a great book. S&W captures the spirit of the game and is easy to navigate when required. I still love using the original Holmes and B/X books though. I'm happy to keep the saving throws as opposed to a single saving throw.

  3. "At 45 46, simplicity and flexibility while remaining true to the feel of the original" I think that says it all.

  4. The single saving throw is a stroke of brilliance; it's the one S&W tidbit that I would refuse to do without no matter which other system i might actually be running.

  5. Well put, Tenkar. Sums it up well, probably for a lot of us.

  6. I think what I love about the single savings throw is that it allows for bonuses that seem thematically right. Lets say you have a monster or PC race with some sort of weird relationship with Iron (like a some stories about fey) You can say "-3 on saves vs iron". Granted you can certainly do this with multiple savings throws, but since there is no Save Vs. Iron it feels a bit off to me. Just personal preference.

  7. I play BX D&D, and my players are happy with that, but I am gleefully stealing the sub-classes from S&W Complete (with the exception of the monk, which is rediculously overpowered). I like not only the base rules for those classes, but also the presentation of them in the text, e.g., Rangers being the inheritors of an eldrich tradtion instead of just being hunters.

    I'm working my way through the book now and figuring out what else I can steal. I let fighters get multiple attacks against weaker foes and they're the only class that get a strength modifier to their damage. I'm thinking about using the single saving throw mechanic, but letting it be modified by abilities using the standard BX range (-3 to +3). I'm using the S&W equipment and weapons list, with a few modifiers of my own. Things like that.


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