Sunday, November 6, 2016

Swords & Wizardry Light - Designer Notes - Swords & Wizardry Light Emulates Swords & Wizardry, Not OD&D

When I started working on Swords & Wizardry Light, the idea was to tear down Swords & Wizardry White Box to its bare bones and rebuild it minimally, with one of the the ideas being that it would be a stepping stone to Swords & Wizardry Complete. The other idea was for it to be a lighter yet viable alternative to the current Swords & Wizardry options, both for campaign play and convention play.

SWL does NOT emulate OD&D, with or without its supplements. It emulates Swords & Wizardry. That is its purpose. As such, it doesn't hew exactly to White Box, Core or Complete but works with all of them. You should be able to use spells, magic items and creatures from any of these flavors of Swords & Wizardry with little if any adjustments. Character classes have been greatly simplified with Light, so if there is a hiccup in compatibility, its on the preparation side and not so much in the game session itself.

In the next week or so we'll be putting up a conversion guide for those that want to start with SWL and move on to Swords & Wizardry Complete. While the rules are compatible, characters created using the Light rules are less powerful than those made directly with the Complete rules. We are also putting together some support material to make running current Swords & Wizardry Complete adventures using Light a seamless process.

In addition, +James Spahn and I are working on a player's one-sheet and a GM's one-sheet to add a few classes from Complete (and beyond), leveling to level 5, new spells and for the DM more creatures, magic item guidelines and a bit more. Our goal is for a gaming group to have a complete campaign in the Lost City of Barakus setting using the Light rules. I think we can hit that mark ;)

We treat classes beyond the core four as variants of the core. I'll offer the Bard as an example:
Bards function exactly as thieves, except they may cast Charm Person and Detect Magic once per day. Once per combat they may sing an inspiring song, granting all allies +1 to all attack rolls for 5 rounds. Bards need one additional adventure for each level attained.
As I've said before, Swords & Wizardry Light has legs. Surprising legs.

Oh, and just over 540 downloads for SWL as I type this...


  1. It's very solid, Erik. You did good.

    1. Thank you.

      There is some errata. It's being addressed in the Forums and will be reflected in the updated PDF.

  2. As news of this treatment broke, I was gathering info to introduce my Wife to OSR, in the form of one flavor or another. This helped make the decision very easy, now I will be using S&W Light and one of the single player Adventures in Filbar. They are the "FS" series and the first one should work just great with S&WL. Great BIG Thank yous to all invovled, this should be a Grand ol' Time!

  3. I don't get the sentence about SWL not emulating OD&D. I think what you actually should have stated is that SWL will never include elements of OD&D that are not in S&W Complete.

    S&W Complete is about 95% OD&D plus a bit of AD&D, a pinch of 3e, and various houserules from multiple borrowed sources. I think maybe the only unique element is the single saving throw. Essentially, it is a publishing model for Frog God Games which basically means their S&W adventures are easily usable by any 20th century version of D&D along with their corresponding retroclones. Whatever it is actually called for legal reasons, it is still all D&D.

    Since SWL emulates S&W then the above is true for it as well. This is good and wonderful because it's primary purpose is accessibility to new players without the confusion of excessive options. Also, It makes a great convention system for the veteran player.

    The other thing that is great about SWL is that it is an open system. James Spahn has created some excellent options for White Box, and he will a huge contribution to this system. In the past, in particular with FGG published products, Matt Finch has been rather closed especially on the player side of the system; hence the name "S&W Complete". For example, there was never going to a bard class for S&W until now.

    1. Not quite true. There were two Bard classes in the last issue of Knockspell. I know, I wrote one of them ;)

      But yes, SWL is an open system. Having James aboard is simply awesome (and scary - as we both approached adding classes to the system in exactly the same way, independently of each other)

      Although I have copyright to SWL at Matt's insistence (in association with FGG) I truly do see SWL as belonging to the community.

      As for whether or not SWL emulates ODD or not, that really isn't the point. The point is a simple yet robust system that is easy to pick up, hopefully hard to put down and is compatible with current and future Swords & Wizardry releases. It MAY include elements that aren't in SWC in the future but I can't even think what that might entail.

      Plays great. Less filling ;)

    2. I really meant to say that there was never going to be a bard class in association with Frog God Games until now. I think Matt walled off Knockspell as unofficial and third-party.

      I agree a robust simple open system that belongs to the community is a great thing. You are correct that the origin isn't really the point. As you say, that isn't really important to the purpose.

      You are major PR driver for S&W so even if the bard is not an "official" (whatever that really means) class, if you push it it is going to seem like is. This will keep SWL dynamic and living.

  4. Looks like your link is slightly broken... Takes me to what looks like the bit.ly admin site.


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