Friday, December 31, 2010

Mythmere Games: Swords & Wizardry

 The original D&D came out before I was born, in 1974. By the late '80s, when I had started playing, we were actually into the AD&D (first edition) days, and the game was much more complex, the first incarnation of bloat. Fast forward through Second Edition, which had more bloat, but was still a more fun game than first edition (I liked class kits), and TSR went the way of the dodo and was succeeded by Wizards of the Coast.

Love 'em or hate 'em, WotC did a wonderful thing; they created the Open Gaming License. They also created Third Edition, which I really loved, as it had just enough character options to be interesting, but simple enough to be a relaxing break for a guy who at the time played a lot of BattleTech. I guess I really liked math back then.
The Even More Retro Whitebox Edition
But another thing created due to the OGL was the legal freedom for something like Swords & Wizardry to exist. It is a faithful reproduction (in spirit) of the original Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax Dungeons & Dragons. This is the game I wish I'd had when I had started playing. Simpler even than 3e, Swords & Wizardry has something else no TSR product ever had: coherent writing. Creative geniuses and visionaries Gygax and Arneson might have been, but concise and organized writers they were not.

The game itself is a very simple compilation of the ideas of several of the first games and supplements into one seamless whole. I've read through it a few times, and while the sheer simplicity of the character creation process takes a little getting used to, the game mechanics themselves are a little like a homecoming for long time gamers. They even included options for gamers who prefer ascending Armor Class, like me, and a base attack bonus table for people who don't want to worry about the to-hit tables. That, honestly was the main thing I prefered about 3e. Rolling a to-hit should not involve tables. I never want to go back to THAC(0)!

Needless to say, I am enthused about Swords & Wizardry, it is a charming, simple, and imaginative retelling of a classic game we all loved. Instead of being derivitive, Mythmere has managed to eliminate a lot of the garbage that irked a lot of 'gamers' while keeping the game simple enough to play with more casual gamers. The interior artwork is delightfully retro as well, but gets the point across nicely.

The timing on this is simply perfect, since I was actually looking for something to play small party, adventure style battles with an ability to level my characters, and this will work splendidly. Also, it has the full RPG aspect built right in, if I desire. Then there is the advantage of built in system knowledge that so many of us have after years in or around the original system. All in all, Swords & Wizardry is made of win.

It makes me want to finish painting my Vampire Counts army so that my heroes can fight them.

Edit: Added Links...duh.

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