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Swords & Wizardry: The RPG

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Seems like a separate thread about Swords and Wizardry might be a good thing, being as some of us are going to be getting that bad boy at some point.

 

I've played it. I rather like it. It's essentially open source Original Dungeons and Dragons. Here's hoping I can get the link to my Tumblr to work....

tumblr_m9ad0fHXBE1rao9jio1_1280.png

I don't COMPLETELY agree with the diagram; S&W is a considerable cleanup and tightening of the original, horribly written Three Book Boxed Set. It really has more in common with the Red Book and Blue Book Basic D&D editions. But it's a fine piece of work that very much captures the old style. I'd recommend it for anyone interested in the Old School Renaissance.

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I'm surprised that Pathfinder doesn't show up on this.

 

EDIT: Actually not surprised now that I see that it looks like 2008 was the latest game on it.

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I've been playing-by-post for a while with it. Works great for casual role play, no complicated rules lawyering.

 

OTOH some people can't handle not having a rule for every single aspect of play. This is not the rules set for those people.

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What Inarah says, plus this.

 

What makes this a good game (or a bad game, YMMV) is the DM and to a lesser extent the players themselves. Making rulings on the fly is encouraged. During a typical game session, the rulebook is hardly ever seen and the essential character stats can fit on an index card. A DM might ask a player to roll a die and not even tell him why he's rolling, or tell him if he needs a high number or a low number. A player might be asked to make a map of the dungeon as the party explores..and the fights they encounter aren't always going to be fair fights. It's okay to run away and live to fight another day. And if a character dies, it takes five minutes to create a new one.

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Swords and Wizardry is the three little brown books of the original 0D&D, plus most of the following supplements (Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry, etc.). You could say it represents a "proto-AD&D 1E", as most of the races, classes, etc., that people associate with AD&D are present, but without a lot of the miscellaneous general gameplay rules that Gygax didn't write until 1977-1979 for 1E.

 

Of course, a lot of people didn't use most of those rules (sometimes without ever knowing they weren't using them), so in practice it can closely replicate 1E the way people remember playing it.

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What makes this a good game (or a bad game, YMMV) is the DM and to a lesser extent the players themselves. Making rulings on the fly is encouraged. During a typical game session, the rulebook is hardly ever seen and the essential character stats can fit on an index card. A DM might ask a player to roll a die and not even tell him why he's rolling, or tell him if he needs a high number or a low number. A player might be asked to make a map of the dungeon as the party explores..and the fights they encounter aren't always going to be fair fights. It's okay to run away and live to fight another day. And if a character dies, it takes five minutes to create a new one.

 

This is very interesting tidbit, I've never actually done an RPG with this rule set (Swords & Wizardry). Although the gameplay sounds completely AWESOME (ie very simple and thus flexible rules system) I've noticed that a ton of players in my group love to customize their characters. 4th Edition DnD in particular was excellent for this, but it seems this system would be poorly suited for a player group that loves to build characters and do customization.

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What makes this a good game (or a bad game, YMMV) is the DM and to a lesser extent the players themselves. Making rulings on the fly is encouraged. During a typical game session, the rulebook is hardly ever seen and the essential character stats can fit on an index card. A DM might ask a player to roll a die and not even tell him why he's rolling, or tell him if he needs a high number or a low number. A player might be asked to make a map of the dungeon as the party explores..and the fights they encounter aren't always going to be fair fights. It's okay to run away and live to fight another day. And if a character dies, it takes five minutes to create a new one.

 

This is very interesting tidbit, I've never actually done an RPG with this rule set (Swords & Wizardry). Although the gameplay sounds completely AWESOME (ie very simple and thus flexible rules system) I've noticed that a ton of players in my group love to customize their characters. 4th Edition DnD in particular was excellent for this, but it seems this system would be poorly suited for a player group that loves to build characters and do customization.

 

More precisely, it isn't the best rule set for people who want pre-designed customization options. But for people who want to customize their characters, the rule set is incredibly open to it...it is the difference between ordering off a menu, and writing down your own family recipe on a 3x5 card and then cooking it in your kitchen.

 

I prefer the home cooking, myself.

 

Edit - or maybe for this board, it's the difference between choosing between a few pre-painted options for an Orc mini, or having a mini with the primer on it and a bunch of bottles of paint in front of you.

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This is very interesting tidbit, I've never actually done an RPG with this rule set (Swords & Wizardry). Although the gameplay sounds completely AWESOME (ie very simple and thus flexible rules system) I've noticed that a ton of players in my group love to customize their characters. 4th Edition DnD in particular was excellent for this, but it seems this system would be poorly suited for a player group that loves to build characters and do customization.

 

A good DM will provide opportunities for customization. That was a BIG chunk of the way the old game was played. You want to make a suit of leather armor out of the hide of that dragon you just iced? Gee, there don't seem to be any rules for that. Wanna go looking for a masochistic leathersmith?

 

And don't even get me started on "magic pools."

 

Old School Gamers didn't have rules for customization. They had to do it THEMSELVES, and work it out with the DM. One of the more fun things about it, actually.

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I'm surprised that Pathfinder doesn't show up on this.

 

EDIT: Actually not surprised now that I see that it looks like 2008 was the latest game on it.

 

I didn't make this chart; I stole it from the distinguished Old School Gaming Blog, Grognardia (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/) But if it was on there, it'd have a thick black line running off of 3.5.

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Yes, for players who like to micro-customize their characters, it's like stepping off a curb accidentally. I won't claim for a second that it's a one-size-fits-all game. However, the very open-ended game style is actually so old that it feels revolutionary for many gamers who started playing D&D with 3e. I will say one thing in definite, absolute terms, though -- it is a really great way to introduce kids to an RPG. It doesn't talk down to them, but it's easier to get started playing fast than with a more complex character build and/or more granular rules.

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Yes, for players who like to micro-customize their characters, it's like stepping off a curb accidentally. I won't claim for a second that it's a one-size-fits-all game. However, the very open-ended game style is actually so old that it feels revolutionary for many gamers who started playing D&D with 3e. I will say one thing in definite, absolute terms, though -- it is a really great way to introduce kids to an RPG. It doesn't talk down to them, but it's easier to get started playing fast than with a more complex character build and/or more granular rules.

 

What he said.

Actually, ALL early RPGs were like that. Wasn't until Traveller came out that you started encountering games where character creation was an odyssey in and of itself...

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One thing I have always liked is that you can customize characters mid-game with things like (and this happened at NorthTexas RPGCon), "You made 8 saving throws against poison in a row. You are so inoculated that as the DM I declare you have a +1 save against poison forever after." It's not like you can't do that in a modern game, but there is less (zero) complex balancing in the older games like Swords & Wizardry.

 

I think it's a good fit with the deadly feel of the Reaper minis, too. :)

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Swords and Wizardry's considerable newer than Swords and Sorcery. It's sort of an open source Old School Renaissance thing.

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