Tag Archives: Swords & Wizardry

OSR Retrospective: Swords & Wizardry

Swords & Wizardry
I have to confess this is favorite and go to old school system. It hits all the right check boxes for ease of play, ease of house ruling, and ease of conversion. So you may take this as a little biased. Well, I do have to have a favorite and this is it.
I guess I should start with the “flavors” of Swords & Wizardry. Yes, it does come in flavors. Overall, Swords & Wizardry is based on the original little brown books and their supplements. Swords & Wizardry Complete is version that is actively being supported by Frog God Games. Like the title says, it’s the most “complete”. You get all the common classes: Assassin, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Magic-Uesr, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Thief. And the most common races: Humans, Dwarfs, Elves, Half-Elves, and Halflings. Then there’s Swords & Wizardry Core. It has the four basic classes and four basic races (no Half-Elves). Overall the game mechanics of Complete and Core are the same and most of the differences are minor. Then there’s White Box. It’s based specifically on the first three little brown books. So only three classes (No Thieves) and the four basic races. The other difference is that primarily uses only d20’s and d6’s.

All of the old-school games are largely compatible as I’ve said. Swords & Wizardry give the option of using Ascending or Descending AC. So that they way you want. One thing that it did add is the Single Saving Throw. Instead of 3, 5, or even 6 Saving Throws. Characters and monsters have a single Saving Throw. For characters, the base is determined by class/level and then there additional modifiers based on race and class. There is the option to use the good old five Saving Throws but I happen to like the Single Save.
Let me tell you why. First when characters are leveling up, the players only have to change one number. As a GM, there are some weird situations that it’s an quick and easy solution to just have the player make Saving Throw and not really worry about which one. Also as a GM, it really helps speed up combat. It makes the monster stat blocks so much quicker when I just have a number there and not something like “Saves as a 3rd Level Fighter”. Crap, let me look that chart up. As a matter of face, I’ve used Swords & Wizardry monster stat blocks while running other games. Yes, even 5th Edition.
Because of the clear and simple rules plus that Single Save, it makes house ruling and home brewing really a breeze. I put up a bunch of the stuff over on the Downloads page plus there posts all over this blog and many, many more with great and inspirational material. So there’s plenty of fan material out there as well as a lot of Third Party Publishers.
There’s lots of Third Party Publishers out there (myself included) and I know there’s probably some that I’m going to miss. I apologize for that. And with all this material being created, you don’t have to stick to just fantasy. The rules have been converted into all the major genres.
Barrel Rider Games has lots of stuff for Swords & Wizardry (and other games). White Star and their White Box line are awesome.
Check out Sine Nominee for
Want some WWII action? Well there’s Operation White Box. Spies? Got you covered with White Lies. You want a more Swords and Sorcery type game? Then there’s Crypts & Things. There’s more out there and I”m just scratching the surface here.
There a couple that deserve some special attention. Swords & Wizardry Light/Continual Light and Whit Box: Fantasit Medieval Adventure Game. Swords & Wizardry Light is the brain child of Erik Tenkar. It’s a fast play introductory game. It’s prefect to to teach beginners or for a quick pick up game. Swords & Wizardry Light is based on the White Box rules and covers Levels 1 to 3 and does it in just four pages for a complete game. Continual Light takes the game to higher levels and has also some 3rd Party Publishers offering material. Swords & Wizardry Light is free while Continual Light is dirt cheap.
White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game Game by Seattle Hill Games is also dirt cheap for hard copies and free as a PDF. It’s almost identical to Swords & Wizardry White Box but it adds the Thief and a few other minor mechanics and works perfectly with other White Box materials.
And if you’re still with me, the PDF for Swords & Wizardry (and some of the others) is FREE! Legally that is. And you can’t beat that price. You can grab up all sorts of stuff on Drivethrurpg, Lulu, Frog God Games, and lots of other places around the net.

The Blighted Coast

Just because the current situation has put my game on hold, it doesn’t mean my imagination has been sitting idle. So when Frog God Games had a huge sale, I just had to take advantage of it and grabbed up a copy of Razor Coast. I’ve been running The Blight and I’ve always had an interest in Razor Coast and I thought why mix them together a bit and The Blighted Coast does sound kind of cool.

I’ve already written a lot about The Blight and it’s Gothic horror and weird fantasy influences. I didn’t touch on the nautical themes in the book. Parts of the Levee campaign adventures take place on the Unsea and the Between. There’s a large dock/merchant district in Castorhage. So yeah there’s some nautical stuff there. Now, Razor Coast is Pirates/Polynesian/Caribbean influenced setting. So it sounds like they may not have that much in common.
From a rules standpoint, Razor Coast has much more robust rules for swashbuckling (especially gear), black powder weapons, and ships than The Blight. While ships play only small role (depending on how you are playing it). Black powder is mentioned as option and I think it fits well. Moving the Blight setting technology more along the Age of Sail rather than Medieval. Which is a cool thing. I like switching between various campaign settings with various levels of technology and still being able to use the same rules. It’s easier on me as the GM and the players. The Blight setting book also has some bits about Castorhage’s attempts to become a world power (and even a power in the Between). Once again, this prime for adding in pirates.
Finally, if you’ve been hanging around the blog or the podcast, I’ve mentioned that I’ve had an itch to run a Pirates Vs Cthulhu type campaign. I’ve thought about using the original Chaosium system or hacking Delta Green but then maybe this might work too. And it would be fun.
And of course. Everything is better with pirates.

Episode 8: It’s fun to play & What am I going to run?

It’s been a busy weekend and it’s going to be a busy week but here’s this week’s episode.
I actually get to play Dungeon Crawl Classics and had two characters survive the funnel. Lord Bob and Mysterio. This week the Blight game is coming but I’m already thinking about the next campaign. It may sound silly but Cthulhu Vs either Pirates or Cowboys. I know strange and I’ve talked about it before. Oddly enough, I’m thinking about hacking Mini 6 for this or maybe Savage Worlds. Or heck maybe even stick with good old D% system with some hacks. Thanks to Steve C for the call in!
Go ahead and give this episode listen. Just stream it here or subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.

So what do you think? Savage Worlds, Mini 6, or don’t mess with it and make it Standard Call of Cthulhu.

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Skills Revisited

The Swords & Wizardry game is going well and as you may remember I did a whole home brewed skill system. But when the dice met the table, I wasn’t that happy with it. The characters just felt too incompetent at low level. The math seemed to work but like I said I wasn’t totally happy with it. So I brainstormed a little more and came up with a little tweak to it. And you know I love tweaking rules.
The system remains basically unchanged. See the Attack Save Cheat Sheet. The only differences are how the skills bonuses are figured and reduce the Skill “Save” by two.
NOTE: What I’ve been doing for monsters and NPC’s is that if it was “good” at something then there’s advantage on the roll, if they were “bad” at then disadvantage. You know like 5E. Remember, one of the axioms of old-school gaming. Monsters and NPC’s don’t have to follow the same rules as player characters. So for the player characters:

Appeal (CON & CHA): Seduction, Dancing, Performance.
Athletics (STR & DEX): Climbing, Jumping, Acrobatics, Swimming, Grappling.
Banter (INT & CHA): Fast talking, Haggling, Diplomacy.
Healing (WIS & DEX): Treating Wounds, Diagnosis.
Instinct (WIS & CHA): Detecting Secret Doors, Avoiding Surprise, Searching, Detecting Lies.
Tinker (INT & DEX): Building Things, Locks & Traps, Anything Mechanical
Skullduggery (DEX & CHA): Picking pockets, Disguise, Deception, Sleight of Hand
Stealth (DEX): Moving Quietly, Hiding, Blending Into The Crowd.
Survival (CON & WIS): Tracking. Foraging
Wits (INT & WIS): General knowledge, Education, Lore

A character gains +1 to the starting score if either of the linked Attributes below are above 13. The starting score is further modified by Race and class as below (This part has remained basically unchanged):

Class Bonuses:
Assassin: +2 to three of the following Appeal, Athletics, Banter, Instinct, Skullduggery, Stealth, Tinker. +2 to any skill check involving poison.*
Cleric: +1 Wits or Healing
Druid: +1 to any skill check involving Nature if WIS above 13.*
Fighter: +1 to two of the following: Athletics, Survival, or Instinct.
Magic-User: +2 to any skill roll related to magic and arcane lore.*
Monk: +1 to Athletics, Instinct, and Stealth.
Paladin: +2 Bonus to any skill check pertaining to Demons and Undead.*
Ranger: +2 Instinct or Survival, gain +1 in the other. Also, +1 to Athletics and Stealth.
Thief: +3 to three of the following: Athletics, Banter, Instinct, Skullduggery, Stealth, or Tinker. +1 to the others.

Racial Bonuses (Yes, I’m using more races in home game but this gets you started):
All player characters gain +1 to skills of choice.
Humans: +1 to three skills of choice.
Elf: +1 Wits or Instinct.
Dwarf: +2 to any skill roll involving Stonework.*
Half-Elf: +1 Allure or Banter.
Half-Orc: +1 Athletics or Survival.

*These are not bonuses to a specific skill, only a bonus to a skill under the right conditions.

Skill Checks:
Roll a d20 add the skill modifier.

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Swords & Wizardry with Finesse

If you’ve kept up with the blog the you know that I’m running the Blight with Swords & Wizardry. Now most of my players only have experience playing Fifth Edition so when they saw there’s no equivalent to finesse weapons,, they questioned it. Of course, this got me thinking. Well, why not? I’ve imagined the quick swashbuckler vs the heavily armored in my own character concepts. This lead me to do a little thinking and come up with house rules for it.
First let’s talk about the bonus. Basically, use the Strength chart but use the character’s Dexterity score to figure out the modifier. Here’s a quick break down if your book isn’t handy.

3-4: -2 To Hit, -1 Damage
5-6: -1 To Hit, +0 Damage
7-12: +0 To Hit and Damage
13-15: +1 To Hit, +0 Damage
16: +1 To Hit and Damage
17: +2 To Hit and Damage
18: +2 To Hit, +3 Damage

But there’s a couple limitations. Just like Strength the bonuses are capped at +1 for non-fighters. Second, a character can only rely on finesse if they are wearing leather or lighter armor. I just can imagine a character in plate armor fighting like that.
What weapons can be used with finesse?
For right now, I’m limiting it to dagger (1d4) and rapier (1d6+1). I know rapier isn’t in the book. So I just added it. I decided to put it between a short and long sword as far as damage goes.
Like so many of rants, this is the bleeding alpha version. I’ll let you know better once the dice hit the table. Remember. Roll dice, kill monsters, take their stuff, and have fun.

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