Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Happy Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day everyone!  I know you've all got a lot of blogs to get through today, so I'll try not to keep you here too long.  Anyway, I'm sure there are plenty of blogs with much better content than this sad thing - I just wanted to share a little something and be a part of the fun.

I thought I'd take a two-pronged approach and talk just a bit about what I'm doing with S&W. 

The Kingdoms in Trevail Fantasy Campaign
First, know that WhiteBox is my edition of choice.  While I like tweaks that Matt added in the "final" version he released into the wild, I ultimately decided to stick with the BHP version.  I've got the booklet PDFs, so I can easily print off table copies of only the booklets my players will need to reference, while keeping all the DM info out of their grubby hands. I've also got the hardcover single-volume for my own reference. In the tradition of OD&D, I've got a separate supplement booklet that covers my changes of the core game: new classes and races, house rules and such.

Chrome - A Cyberpunk Supplement
I've talked about my love of the cyberpunk genre in the past and won't rehash that here.  Suffice it to say, while it's Shadowrun I enjoyed the most, and one I envision doing a retro-inspired game as a long-term project, my shorter-term goal is to hash out a supplement for OD&D, Delving Deeper, S&W or whatever your rules-light system of choice may be.  I chose WhiteBox because of it's elegance and the fact that a couple of it's unique features will lend themselves to my vision.  Double-statted AC and Single Saving Throw- I'm looking at you! The S&W supplement will let me work out the basics of a near future rules set - firearms, vehicles and drones, computer hacking and so on.

Paying the Piper: Some Examples

The "Success Escalation" Skill Check
Within the rules of OD&D is a rudimentary skill system which carried on through the Holmes rules and into the B/X and BECMI box sets. Under those rule sets we see a base 1 in 6 chance for a PC to accomplish a desired task.  In addition, there will be special cases where a particular class or race expands those chances to 2 or even 3 in 6.

With that as a base, I use the following system:  First, I've established that any PC can attempt a given task at a base 1 in 6 chance of success.  If the task is judged to fall within the realm of the PC's class, the base chance of success is increased.  At 1st level the base chance of success is 2 in 6.  This increases to 3 in 6 at 5th level and 4 in 6 at 10th level.

All skill checks are made by rolling 3d6, with "successes" at the chances noted above, resulting in 1, 2 or 3 successes for a given skill check.  In cases where the skill check results in a binary yes/no result, a single success is all that is required for the PC to have accomplished his goal.  However, there will often be cases where the degree of success is important.  Negotiation for the purchase or sale of merchandise, gathering of information, or perhaps the determination of how long it takes to pick a lock or disarm a trap, for example. One success yields a positive result, but under sub-optimal conditions.  Two successes is an average success, merely adequate. Finally, three successes indicates a n exceptional result.

So to illustrate, using the purchase of a rare item as our example:
1 Success - PC barters poorly, item available for purchase, but at 150% of the rulebook price.
2 Successes - Average results, item can be had at the standard price.
3 Successes - PC is a smooth talker, dickers the price down to just 50% of the standard price.

A "Kingdoms In Trevail" Fantasy Race
The Orc
The brutish Orc is the most primal of the demi-human races, most typically found in the borderlands and on the fringes of society.  Their tough and war-like nature means that Orcs are often employed as mercenary shock troops or scouts for wilderness exploration.  Orcish culture tends to be militaristic, as if they themselves realize that the enforcement of strict order is all that keeps them from reverting to wild beasts.

Orcs usually range from 6’ to 6 1/2’ in height and weight 200+ pounds. You must have a minimum Strength of 12 to play an Orc character.

Orcish Race Abilities
Character Advancement:  Most Orcs advance as Fighters, and may progress as far as 6th level. More rare is the Orc Shaman, who may advance to 4th level as a Magic-User.

Weapon and Armor Restrictions:  Seemingly born with a weapon in their hand, Orcish fighters excel in the arts of war and consequently have no weapon or armor restrictions. Orcish shaman have no weapon restrictions, however they are limited to leather armor only.

Saving Throw:  Due to their inherent toughness, Orcs make all Saving Throws as if they were two levels higher.

Languages: or campaigns which give each race their own dialect, Orcs should be able to speak the languages of goblins, hobgoblins and gnolls.

Wild Instincts:  Orcs have an uncanny ability for threat detection. They will only be surprised on a roll of 1 in 6 and this danger sense applies whether the source is natural, magical or supernatural.

Intimidation:  Orcs may use their ferocious reputation and brutish appearance to bully and intimidate others into obedience.  They receive a bonus to reaction rolls as if their Charisma were two points higher.

Stealth: When in the wilderness, Orcs are skilled at using the terrain to move without being noticed by his prey or his enemies.

While I do have some of the details of Chrome worked out, I think I'll keep those under my hat a bit longer and save them for another day.  There are a heck of a lot more blogs for you to go check out today and I won't keep you here any longer.

Happy Gaming - Swords & Wizardry style!


  1. Rad. I love Cyberpunk too. The genre in fiction, that we live in now, and the speculative fiction from the 80's. I also prefer the aesthetics, and it's stylizing of the FUTURE. Especially compared to Victorian-Future (aka Steampunk, ugh...) which is just stylizing of the past that never was. Can't wait to see what you do with "net-running" and cyber-hacking with OSR rules...

    1. Hey, thanks. I'm most inspired by the imagined future of the 80's rather than the modern takes on it. Inspirations are Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun 1e/2e much more than the newest editions of those games. Lots of William Gibson too, naturally!

  2. Cool! A Cyberpunk would rock.

    My Swords & Wizardry posts, The S&W Witch and The Ördög