Thursday, March 21, 2013

Second Chance: Swords & Wizardry (Frog God Games)

A while a back I posted that I was giving some products another chance.  One of those products was Swords & Wizardry.

I picked up the Frog God "Complete Rulebook" and spent a lot of time with it.  I think my biggest issue with S&W is that was sold to me as "0 Edition" or "OD&D" and it isn't. I played OD&D and S&W is nothing like it. Well, not "nothing" but it's made some serious changes.  Those changes I think kept me from enjoying the game for what it is.  So after staying away from the game for a number of months I came back and looked at in a different light.  I dropped the idea that is an OD&D clone but instead a Retro Clone stripped down to it's most basic form.  Now that is game I can get behind.  If you ever played any version of D&D or any clone you can play this.  S&W is really the basic essence of what D&D is. The most basic stuff you need to play.  In this new light I saw the changes for what they were, really nice and intuitive changes.
The classics are really basic, but they work. In this Frog God edition you have a more classes, Assassins, Paladins, Rangers, Druids and Monks join Thieves, Clerics, Magic-Users and Fighters.  Races are Human, Elves, Half-elves, Halflings and Dwarves. So again all easily recognizable.
There are a set of good multi-classing rules (which is always nice in an OSR game).
Spells go up to 9 for Magic-Users, 7 for most others.
There are plenty of monsters, tons really.  The monster blocks are simple like everything else.

Really S&W does take a lot of what made OD&D/Dasic D&D so fun, the advances in AD&D and the features that made 3.x so popular.  Yes. It has Ascending AC (which is still the best, sorry old school guys) and I like single saving throw bonus.
This Frog God version shares a lot of the art that appeared in The Tome of Horrors Complete and the layout.  This is not a big deal as far as I am concerned.

At a 134 pages it is a complete game. You don't really need anything else here, though you can use it with nearly other OSR product or any of the scores of products created for S&W.

I am glad I gave this another chance.

If you have this then The Tome of Horrors Complete is a great supplement to have.

If you are new to S&W then there are some other supplements to help you out.

MCMLXXV (aka 1975) is a new introductory module and old-school primer.
At just under 24 pages (minus cover and ogl) this is designed to be something akin to Keep on the Borderlands for S&W, only not as big.  The adventure is small, but in old school terms it is good sized really.  There is less in terms of pages of descriptions than modern day modules. It leaves far more to the imagination of the players and GM.  If there was a Frog God Games S&W box set then this would be included.
Great little adventure that really helps set the tone of the S&W game.

Swords and Wizardry Monstrosities is a new monster book.  New in that is newly published, but some of the monsters we have before either in the SRD or other books.  That though does not detract from it's value as this is a 560+ page book since in addition to that there are some new monsters.  The cover is very evocative of the old-school (pre 1980) covers.
There is much in common between this book and The Tome of Horrors. Each monster is given a page of stats, description and a plot hook.  While ToH used some recycled art, this all seems to be new art.  Even Orcus (which we now have 3 listings for) is new.  Actually the art is pretty darn good and I don't mind the occasional repeat of a monster to see some new art.
Honestly there is so much great stuff in this book that even with the occasional repeat monster this is still a top notch collection. If you play S&W then this is a great monster book to have.  I am even going as far as to say it is a must have for any serious S&W GM.




OD&D
If you really want a game that is close to what OD&D really was like you do have some choices.

First up there is the OD&D set from WotC coming out this fall.
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2013/02/original-d-premium-edition.html

There is also Spellcraft & Swordplay, a personal favorite of mine.
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2012/04/s-is-for-spellcraft-swordplay.html

While S&W has some neat ideas, S&S comes closer to OD&D for me.

In any case you can use all of these game to party like it's 1975!

5 comments:

edowarsblog said...

Have you looked at Swords & Wizardry Whitebox? It's not exactly 0E, but it comes closer than any other clone I've read so far.

David Macauley said...

What? No mention of Delving Deeper as one of the choices of "a game that is close to what OD&D really was like"?

Oversight or personal prejudice Tim?

Timothy Brannan said...

No. Just haven't gotten around to reading Delving Deeper yet. It is in the queue though!

John Reyst said...

Don't forget also with Swords & Wizardry the Frog Gods are actually helping put all of their stuff online in the quasi-official S&W SRD at http://www.d20swsrd.com. These guys *really* support and love old school as well as embrace the OGL. Full disclaimer: I'm the main (but not only) person behind the SRD :D

Henry Jordan said...

The S&W WB book itself is attractively laid out, and nicely illustrated. In particular, I find the cover art by Peter Mullen to be very evocative, and confess that it performed a important function in convincing me to choose it up.
The Equation game

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