Marvellous news! Finally, my copies of Swords & Wizardry have turned up! My first set got lost in the post, but Lulu were really good at sorting it out. I’ve been told this is one of the better Old School clones (what’s your favourite?) so I’m very much looking forward to diving in and seeing what all the fuss is about!
Now, all I need is an Old School group!
Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.
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10 thoughts on “Behold: Swords & Wizardry”
I’ve only played one Old School clone but I really liked it: Basic Fantasy. Haven’t played it in a while though as D&D 5th Edition is scratching that itch nicely.
If I could choose from the clones only, I’d take Labyrinth Lord.
Maybe because it’s the Clone closest to Mentzer B/E.
Maybe because we got a translation into German.
Maybe because it got some of the best OSR adventures available.
Being allowed to choose from all OSR-Games, I’d take Crypts & Things. As long as I don’t own the Remastered Edition, this means the original version.
Honourable Mention (in order): Blood & Treasure, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, DCC RPG, The Cthulhu Hack, The Hero’s Journey, Beyond the Wall and Stars Without Number.
Swords & Wizardry is IMHO a great game to tinker with – especially if you what to build your own set of OSR rules. Both Crypts & Things and The Hero’s Journey are based on S&W. (And both threw away quite a lot of waht might be considered “typical to D&D”. C&T in order to provide Sword & Sorcery Gaming – Howard, Leiber, Moorcock – and THJ in order to provide High Fantasy in the vein of Tolkien and Lewis.
Swords & Wizardry is pretty good. It simplifies some of the rules of OD&D while still keeping the math intact. It also comes in three versions, each with its own niche. The Whitebox Rules use only material from the original three OD&D booklets, and is a good simple game to introduce newbies to roleplaying. The Core Rules (seen in your picture) are like ’80s BD&D with class selection for demihumans. The Complete Rules, which use rules from all the supplements (except for psionics from Eldritch Wizardry and the gods from Gods, Demigods, and Heroes), is like a simpler version of AD&D 1e.
The other D&D retroclone I would like to try sometime is Dark Dungeons, which is a clone of the Rules Cyclopedia, except with rules for Immortals.
I love Swords & Wizardry! It was my go to OSR game for years and one I regularly peruse for ideas to tinker with. My group even voted to return to S&W after 18 mos of 5e. My other OSR love is Basic Fantasy RPG. Really good stuff!
Just for a heads up, the snakes on the first level of the Shadowed Keep are save or die…
I’ve got Basic Fantasy RPG, but never got around to digging into it. It looks like I’ve got some reading to do!
There are several really good clones.
I like Swords & Wizardry. My first choice.
Castles & Crusades does a good job of mixing 3.x and old school stuff. There’s compatibility with new-school stuff so I can use the best of 3rd party 3.x/pathfinder adventures, and still have an old-school experience. The rules don’t get in my way, but they’re there for me to use as necessary. This is my second favorite OSR system.
I also have Adventurer Conqueror King. It sets up mathematical consistency for the “endgame” of ruling a domain (or running a continent-spanning thieves’ guild, or a church, etc.). It’s a little bit of work to fit cities/nations into ACK’s resource system, but it’s easy to bolt on to a S&W game.
Sine Nomine puts out a 1-on-1 version of Labyrinth Lord called Scarlet Heroes that does a great job of letting one player and one GM have a go.
Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea gives a Conan-esque/swords & sorcery world to play in (no elves/dwarves, lost treasures, eldritch horrors, and such).
Beyond the Wall has a great system for creating character stats: roll on a chart to determine your background, which gives bonus dice when you roll your ability! Such as “Your father was a mason. +1 die strength.” Later, you might roll “You were always more studious than your peers. +1 die intelligence.” You roll all the dice, take the highest 3, and there’s your stat. I haven’t played it yet, but that sort of character creation system is neat.
Lamentations of the Flame Princess is more world-specific, and I take stuff from that game and apply it to my S&W game. It’s based on a fantastic-historic version of Europe, but the feel of the game is different from a “normal” fantasy game. Monsters, for instance, are never just “a goblin.” There’s one, and you don’t want to meet it. Monsters are monstrous, and each is a unique experience.
Finally, don’t forget about the “bolt-on” stuff that the OSR offers. Things like Dark Albion, or Sine Nomine’s Crimson Tide setting (the best sandbox generation stuff around!). Vornheim, Slumbering Ursine Dunes and Anomalous Subsurface Environment (where the “priests” of science intone the chants of technology and reset a gigantic timer that keeps ticking down towards 00:00 on a daily basis . . .).
The beauty of the OSR is that we get all these fun things to play with and we don’t have to have additional rules to describe exactly how everything works. We get to focus on the parts we want. For some, that means a rules-consistent world (similar to Pathfinder). For others, it means that crazy tentacled creature you encountered has the same stats as a bear, but you don’t know that because I described it as a huge tentacled mass (I think Zak S created that hack).
By “created” I meant “popularlized.”
Oh yeah, The AD&D Monster Manual works for S&W too, it was written before AC 10.
I have a copy of OSRIC from Lulu that I love. It’s great to revisit as a side quest or two when we aren’t playing LegendQuest, which is infinitely better for choice, customization and ease of play despite it’s huge potential for detail.
I try not to use my 1e books too much, they’re getting on…
My 2e and 3e and Pathfinder’s get looted for material, sparks and ideas for my LQ campaigns for sure!
Glad to see your S&W finally came! I hope you like the feel of it. I use the Complete Rules, but all three sets are pretty similar. If you stick with S&W, Frog God converted the Tome of Horrors Complete to S&W. More monsters than you would ever need!
We’re running a short campaign with the overland portion of Bill Webb’s ‘1975,’ with the mini-dungeon from Matt Finch’s ‘Hall of Bones.’ Then we’ll do Finch’s ”Grimmsgate.’ All three are available from Frog God Games.
Tomb of the Iron God was my alternate choice to Grimmsgate, but I liked the village and story in that one better.