Monday, August 1, 2022

Swords & Wizardry Boxed Set

I go to Amazon and discover this gem of a book is out of print! What happened? Given the current drama around Labyrinth Lord shutting down its social media and websites (but keeping things for sale, please keep the support up for an OG OGL game) I could not stand to see another stalwart in the B/X community having troubles.

But, no, this is something much, much better...

We are getting a brand-new Swords & Wizardry Boxed Set!

This is a very cool, multi-book boxed set for a nice price, and it does not change much about the rules we love, but it completely revises the art and presentation. We get split books for players, referees, and monsters. There do not seem to be any rule changes here, and that is a good thing.

Oh, this is nice to see. With Old School Essentials out there and plenty of other B/X choices, it is very cool to see Swords & Wizardry step up and say, "We are a player too." And there are tons of modules and adventures in print on the Frog Gods Games website.

Swords & Wizardry is one of my favorite AD&D-like games since it keeps the demons and devils of the original game, and it keeps the magic resistance mechanic to balance caster power. There are no bards either, which I originally thought was a huge problem, but coming back after seeing bards become a tired cliché in modern games I am not so unhappy about this anymore. I love bards, but too much is too much, and I feel they have become this do-everything meta-class.

That said, Swords & Wizardry has a strict "do not roll for RP" rule. If a player wanted to be a "bard on the side" of a normal class (thief, magic user, druid, etc) I would not stop them - just give their character a lute, and if they RP a great performance, let it influence the situation as the referee sees fit. Have the player sing a song, and make the sounds of their song themselves - at the table - live in front of everyone. 

Actually, when I think about it, this bard-on-the-side just may be my favorite implementation of a bard class yet. Not only does the character have a bread-and-butter class to fall back on (of their choice), but the player also needs to write songs, sing them for everyone, rhyme, make songs up on the spot, prepare things ahead of time, and hold a tune. A player will need real musical talent to earn the RP benefits, and no dice or rules are needed.

Wow. This is amazing news, and I have this on order. And they keep the genius "one saving throw number" rule, which is purely amazing.

I still like C&C's simplified presentation, but if I wanted to enjoy an AD&D-lite game with all the best features, S&W is a great choice and one I will be looking at as time goes on. They do a lot of the 1e-style rules right here, and it feels like the real thing - while simplifying the numbers and putting some needed limits on die modifiers to keep the numbers and dice under control. The B/X market is very cool, and there is a game for everybody here. Do you like one edition more than another? Do you like horror? Do you want simple or complex? Do you want a particular theme or flavor to the game?

You can't really go wrong with anything you choose.

And all of this works with my other B/X books, so a win-win.

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