It seeks to emulate the original edition of D&D - the White Box. Depending on the flavor you choose, it also grabs inspiration from the various OD&D supplements.
Swords & Wizardry White Boxemulates what it says on the tin - the original edition of D&D without digging into the supplements. Biggest shock to most gamers? No thief class, just clerics, fighters and magic-users.
Swords & Wizardry Core was the first of the Swords & Wizardry "trilogy" to be releases. It includes the thief class and will be more familiar in feel for those that played Basic D&D.
Swords & Wizardry Complete was the last of the "core" rulebooks to be released. The PDF went free last November. This includes all of the classes AD&D players (or those that played with all of the OD&D supplements) would be familiar with, with the exception of the illusionist.
Probably one of the attractions of Swords & Wizardry is that both the Core and White Box rules are available in RTF format - which means one can design their own game using the S&W rules in an editable document or create a house ruled document to distribute to your gaming group.
Here's a short list of S&W derived games (and I know I'm missing more than a few so help a brother out and add them to the comments below):
The World of Onn, Crypts & Things, Renegade, Corruption, Woodland Warriors, Ruins & Ronin, Blood & Bullets, Ancient Mysteries & Lost Treasures, Sabres & Witchery and Pars Fortuna(these will get covered to a lesser extend further on in this series of posts)
Probably the biggest change in Swords & Wizardry from the originals it seeks to emulate is the single saving throw. I wasn't a fan of the change when I first found S&W, but after having run and played with the single save for well over a year, it's fine in practice. Another noticeable change is that Armor Class is expressed in both ascending and descending order, so you can use either depending on the preference of your group.
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The Minotaur for Old-School Essentials
*Requirements:* Minimum STR 9, Minimum CON 9
*Prime Requisite:* STR and CON
*Hit Dice:* 1d10
*Maximum Level:* 8
*Armor:* Leather, including shield...