In Retrospect: Swords & Wizardry

Back in 2013, for a brief time I got to drink from the cup of plenty and possibilities. I had put together a group willing to try an RPG besides Pathfinder or what was then called D&D Next. I even got to play for a short time rather than GM for once.

They weren’t quite ready for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, but I incorporated the rules for 0-level characters. As a result, the characters who made it to first level in Swords & Wizardry had a few more hit points than the norm, but they weren’t overly powerful.

It helped that the basic rules were available as a free pdf, so my players were able to download them. Eventually, even the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook pdf could be found for free or minimal cost.

I had grand plans with Swords & Wizardry.

See, Swords & Wizardry is a template compatible with pre-year-2000 versions of D&D. This means all that stuff could used again.

I had visions of PCs rolling up specialist mages (Necromancers, Abjurers, etc.) from AD&D Second Edition, or encountering old school psionics from AD&D First Edition. I could convert most of those classic modules with minimal effort. I wanted to take stuff from Ravenloft or Planescape and run epic campaigns.

And this doesn’t touch all the content bloggers and indie published churned out for free or low cost at the time. For instance, The Witch, by Timothy Brannan.

For $5.00 I downloaded this fantastic little 120-page book from DriveThruRPG. A witch automatically got a familiar at first level, and some of their spell and rituals were depended on which tradition they joined. There are rules for covens, a whole chapter dedicated to the tools and items witches use. In the monster section there’s even stats for a Winged Cat. How cool is that?

When I passed the DMing torch to a newbie who was going to run Grimmsgate (a fun basic adventure in its own right), I was conflicted to run a standard class from the Swords & Wizardry rulebook or witch from The Witch.

I chose to go back to my roots with my first time playing AD&D and rolled up a dwarf fighter. The group also didn’t have any fighter-types.

We played through Grimmsgate, but afterward the group began to drift apart because of work schedules, life, and other RPGs vying for our attention (like Dungeon Crawl Classics).

I’m sure someday I’ll get to revisit Swords & Wizardry either as a player or a DM who’ll use it to throw together an epic campaign using content from OD&D, AD&D, AD&D 2e, all that product support out there.

I’d like to play that dwarf fighter again, too. And I usually don’t play non-humans.

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