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Swords and Wizardry Complete Rule Book
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Swords and Wizardry Complete Rule Book
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Keith B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/11/2018 13:42:34

GREAT RULES! I LOVED THEM SO I BOUGHT THE HARD COPY BOOK.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swords and Wizardry Complete Rule Book
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Anthony R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/13/2016 05:07:09

Love it so much I funded the 3rd edition on Kickstarter. Soon I will have a hardcopy in my hands :D



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swords and Wizardry Complete Rule Book
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Matt D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2016 12:23:42

Grest resource. As an older player looking tomreturn to playing, this was a perfect nostalgic re entry point.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swords and Wizardry Complete Rule Book
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/28/2016 10:55:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive rule-book clocks in at 144 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page list of tables (important!), 6 pages of supporter-thanks, 1 page legal appendix, 1 page note-space, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 130 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Ähem. I feel old. ;) This is my birthday-review, my present from myself to myself, so please bear with me regarding the obvious deviation from my usual standard regarding reviewing. Kidding aside regarding age and the like...when I started playing, believe it or not, you young 'uns, the game didn't have that much to do with math. Sure, we needed it. But in contrast to taking hours upon hours to properly calculate the statblock of high-level foe xyz, those were simpler times. Heck, for the first 6+ years of my playing career, I didn't use any kind of battlemap...go wrap your head around this!

Why am I telling you this? Well, because this book basically represents the game I grew into gaming with; this is the old-school simple and distilled version of gaming. No looking up feats, no looking up complex interactions, no optimization. Different level-up caps for different classes. Fixed saving throws determined by level...next to no means to power-game and a lot of house-rules that continuously grew.

Okay, so what does this provide? Well, we already have the 6 classic attributes. Strength determines chances to kick open doors and modify carrying capacity, with melee to hit and damage modifiers ranging from -2 to +2 and -1 to +3, respectively. Fighters can use Strength for ranged weapons...if you follow the original rules. Constitution determines your chance to survive being raised from the dead...and nets you anything from -1 to +1 hit points per HD. High Charisma and Wisdom net you bonus XP (wrap your head around that!) and Dex, obviously, is important for all the thief tricks. Thief? Yup, once upon a time, it was thief, not rogue, ladies and gentlemen.

The classes provided herein cover the assassin, cleric, druid, fighter, magic-user, monk, paladin, ranger and thief...and yes, astute reader: Some of these are simply better than others. Why? Because back in the day, you needed damn good stats to qualify for some of them - which is still represented in optional rules. (Yep, that's where the "paladins are rare and all good-looking"-trope came from; Cha 17+ minimum. 18, btw., is the maximum you'll get with your 3d6...

Similarly, dual-classing and multiclassing are two different experiences, with dual-class characters requiring much more XP...but I digress. Non-human races often have an advancement cap for classes, but once again, alternate rules for this less beloved feature are presented. Oh, know what's also tricky: All classes cap HP at one point; depending on your class, you'll thereafter only get a single hit point per level.

While this may sound annoying, it's not - it keep the dreaded high-number mathematical breakdown all contemporary systems suffer from at bay. Oh, and alignment? Law, Neutrality, Chaos. That's it.

Okay, so item-purchases and equipment work pretty much as expected...but what about AC? There are two ways and two camps on how to handle the concept: Ascending and Descending AC. When you use descending armor as a rule, each character gets an unarmed AC of 9, with the lower results being better - a plate would net you -6 AC, for example. Ascending is pretty much the opposite and works like just about all contemporary systems in the d20-arena: 10 + value. Such stats are provided in brackets. So, whether you prefer one of the other, this book has you covered. Movement rate is similarly simple on ground and overland movement.

Swords and Wizardry, however, is NOT a simple reproduction - it streamlines and takes away some of the needlessly clunky components: Saves and XP, for example, both of which, frankly, have been sources of endless consternations among my players. ("Why is that a save versus spells and not deathrays?") So no, this is not simply an exercise in nostalgia. The round and its breakdown, swift and quick, is also presented in a concise manner - with multiple alternatives for specific tables. That being said, I really think a flat Attack-bonus would have been the simpler choice regarding attack rolls. Why? Because you have to consult massive tables dependant on the class to determine whether you hit or not. Sure, it's not rocket science...but it's a component I do not use in my OSR-games...boo and hiss, I use an atk-bonus. ;)

Still, do not take this is criticism on a formal level - it is just me stating a preference. Before I go on a further tangent or you stop reading - when using ascending AC, an imho easier to grasp table and one that does work well, and does the job admirably. Similarly, my games do have neutral clerics - an eventuality btw. also covered in alternate rules/referee-suggestions. Sample stronholds and information on hirelings complement this section...and then, there are SPELLS. A metric ton of SPELLS. They have a name. A range. A level. A duration. That's it. Simple and to the point.

This is where the referee section begins and it is this section alone that may be worth the download. Why? Because, beyond general and sound advice for GMs, the section actually sports multiple, nice dungeon-maps as well as tables upon tables you can use to generate creatures. Similarly, wilderness encounters and movement rates are covered...oh. And yes. Mass combat and siege combat. And unlike pathfinder's impotent, sucky siege engines (I house-ruled those so that PCs actually fear them), they friggin' kill you. Trebuchet hits you? You're DEAD. No, seriously. Game over, man. Game over. Call me a bastard GM...but I like that. Even Aerial Combat gets its section and is handled simply via maximum course alterations and minimum space between alterations - that's it. And while this may sound simple, it actually is a pretty ingenious system to make compelling dogfights.

And yes, before you ask, naval combat is here as well. These are the complete rules, so this book also sports an array of monster stats and advice on creating them - and if there is one thing that is a weakness of this book...well, alas, it's this section. You see, sans the massive math-laden statblocks, old-school games did tend to prosper in the fluff departments; where monsters had ecologies, societies, tactics etc. all spelled out in lavish detail, often inspiring the referee. You won't find that here. You only get the hard, cold and brief statblocks. That's it. The magic item-section on handing out treasure and the appropriate tables (yes, including cursed items) follow a similarly minimalistic approach - one suitable for the core book, yes...but also perhaps the one aspect where the book does not excel as much as in the previous sections.

The pdf, obviously, does feature a char-sheet, btw....and an impressive, very detailed index that makes using this book very easy.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' two-column b/w-standard with a ton of new b/w-artworks that breathe the tradition of the classic - including ample wizards in pointy hats. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and yes, ladies and gentlemen...the Erol Otus cover alone may be worth downloading this. Unfortunately, I don't have the print version of this book...but I do own a ton of Frog God Games-material and they ALWAYS are great books.

Dennis Sustare, Marv Breig, Jason Cone, Allan T. Grohe Jr., Jerry Mapes, Bill Webb and Matthew Finch have created perhaps the best OSR-version for classic, fantasy roleplaying...and beyond simply being a highly customizable, easy to learn system, it affords for a great change of pace when you find yourself tired out by too many statblocks to crunch. This very much is not only a blast from the past, it is a great system to teach roleplaying...because it's simple. It's simple and elegant in its design without being restrictive. The "referee has the last call" rule trumps all and there frankly isn't much wiggle-room to power-game. This is delightfully easy to grasp and master and in presentation and quality a superb offering.

Oh, and it's FREE. As in: Doesn't cost a single damn dime. As in FREE. It takes the disparate classic rules and streamlines them without eliminating their wealth of options. Swords & Wizardry is, for traditional fantasy, my go-to OSR-rules-system and I wholeheartedly encourage you to check this out...who knows, perhaps you'll have an eureka effect as well; either because you haven't played a system this rules-light...or perhaps because you forgot how much FUN it actually can be. It's a different type of fun, when compared to the new systems, sure. But it is one I never want to miss, a type of game I'll always gladly return to. Get this. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swords and Wizardry Complete Rule Book
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Michael J. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/23/2015 13:36:00

Well it does clean up the rules a lot. And does encourage house rules and twiddling with the rules more than the official sets. still too close to d&d for me, though for those looking for a simpler rules set that doesn't give rules upon rules for everything, and plays in half the time, I recommend it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Swords and Wizardry Complete Rule Book
Publisher: Frog God Games
by jon m. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/21/2015 22:29:55

As one of the original D&D players in Australia I have always had a soft spot for the original. Swords & Wizardry is a comprehensive set of the early period FRP rules in a highly readable, well produced format. It even comes up really well on my iPad mini. For those who wish to return to simpler game mechanics or others who wish to experience the a more simple RPG without the need for a load of supplements and prepackaged adventures, this is certainly a great product.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Swords and Wizardry Complete Rule Book
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Nicholas J. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/29/2014 09:56:50

I grew up on the Mentzer Basic sets and AD&D 1st ed. in the mid to late 80s, so I never really played original D&D or even saw the little white books until I was well into my thirties and picked up a set as a sort of curiosity piece. Needless to say, original D&D would be nearly impenetrable for somebody if they weren't already familiar with RPGs in general or later versions of Dungeons & Dragons in particular. Here Matt Finch has considerably cleaned up and clarified what was once very obtuse, providing ample sidebars and optional rules to help people understand just how open and fluid the original game really was. The game he has (re)created sort of feels like a version of AD&D 1st edition without all of the clunky rules that we always ignored anyway (like segments, weapons speed, variable weapon vs. armor to-hit modifiers, etc.).

If you've never played an "old school" style game and don't really "get it," then download and read Matt Finch's excellent (and free!) "A Quick Primer for Old-School Gaming" before playing and you might just get the zeitgeist that drove those older games and you'll be able to give S&W a fair shake; playing it on its own terms and not trying to force it play in a modern way and being left disappointed.

One caveat. This game is probably not for everyone. If you prefer a modern, power-fantasy driven, heavily codified RPG, with a rule for everything and rare character death, then go play something like Pathfinder or a later version of D&D. However, if you have a good referee that is comfortable making rulings instead of relying on hard-and-fast rules, a group of players that are comfortable narrating character actions instead of relying on skill checks and if you prefer low character-power games then there's a lot to like here. In any case the rules are free so you're not going to put yourself out picking it up and giving a read-through.

To sum up, of all of the 0e retroclones out there, this is the best I've encountered. The prose and organization are clear, logical and concise and it's well supported with a vibrant community of people writing compatible products for it to go along with Frog God Game's excellent product support. Ultimately if you like it and decide to spring for a hardcover, the production values and binding are second to none; reminiscent of those library bound AD&D 1e hardcovers that last for decades.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swords and Wizardry Complete Rule Book
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Carl C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/25/2014 06:57:10

Swords and Wizardry sets out to be a return of the first role-playing game, the three little books in a paper box along with the first expansions, all brought into the 21st century as a 133 page PDF. Ambitious indeed! Did it succeed? This is free, so it is guaranteed value for money. However, there is also the issue of time. When you decide to use a system, or even to learn it, you devote a big chunk of your free time to it. Should you do that for Swords and Wizardry?

First a few words on where I stand. I began playing with the Mentzer edition back in 1979, so the original books were before my time, but I have looked through them and did not share the enthusiasm for "back to basics" those books represented, so my view of this is a bit slanted. Just to explain where I stand when reviewing Swords & Wizardry.

The PDF is absolutely beautiful and evocative of the style of the first edition Player's Handbook. It is well indexed and has lovely illustrations that fit the theme very well. I was very impressed by the Eorl Otus cover. After a brief introduction, it shows you a character sheet, and from there jumps right into the meat of making a character - no dawdling into long explanations of what a role-playing game is here! It has 9 classes, 5 races, alignment (law-neutral-chaos), and multiclassing - all done on 15 pages! Compactness was indeed an feature of the early editions.

Already, I get the wibes of just how hard the game was back then. The thief, at first level, has a 10% chance to pick locks, with the helpful description "Thieves can pick locks; some locks might be unusually difficult, in which case the Referee might reduce the percentage chance as appropriate". So, not only is my chance to succeed 10%, the rule also specifically mentions that GMs can make it more difficult, and retries are not mentioned. Sigh, one thing I did not want to be reminded of. Also, some classes have minimum ability scores to enter, depending on attributes, which are of course rolled randomly on 3d6. If you manage to get a score of 15 in the right attribute for your class, there is a 10% bonus on experience points. Admittedly, attribute scores do not do much besides this, but why those who have rolled higher on some initial rolls should be rewarded with speedier advancement eludes me. This theme continues; high scores are generously rewarded if you are in the right class, otherwise not. And yes, different classes have different experience requirements for advancement, which is used as an excuse to hold back multiclassing...

Ordinarily, I'd stop reading here, this is just too many things strongly contrary to my role-playing preferences, but since I've been asked to review this, I will continue.

The next chapter deals with combat and adventuring. It makes a point of saying that the original rules were obtuse, and that those give include many design choices, and can be freely changed. It then goes on to explain a fairly straightforward combat system; group surprise, group initiative, spells declared in advance, no spellcasting in melee. It also presents a number of variations of this theme. This is all fairly easy and intuitive and actually a good system once you decide which options to use.

Next comes a section on hirelings and castle-building, showing the game's war-game roots. Simple and workable, and there are actually siege rules in the back of the book.

Next up is spells, which begins by saying that spells over 6th level are not really needed - this is typical of the mood of the rules, telling GMs that just because the highest tiers of power are described in the rules, they need not be used. To me it comes across as a bit snide, but for campaign play it is actually a good idea to have slow advancement. I just feel that this belongs in a missing campaign section. The spells are simple but workable and quite similar to what we have in later editions. A few spells, like wish and limited wish, have very few guidelines but otherwise the spells are good.

After this is the referee's section, and if you were waiting to get to know what the game was all about, you are not told but shown what a dungeon is. The encouraged playstyle is a sandbox, while at the same time showing how to design a dungeon. It goes on to explain other types of adventures, including mass combat and siege. The monster pages contain an amazing 7-8 monsters a page while remaining playable. There is even a page on creating your own monsters, and monsters are tiered by level. The treasure section has an introduction that says "...too much fairness feels artificial to the players...". Again capturing the sandbox feel. What cannot be found here is advice to the GM on how to run a plot, drop clues, foreshadow, set a mood, or how to interpret rules and spells like the aforementioned wish - developments in role-playing techniques those first little books lacked.

Overall I must say I am impressed by the work, much more than I thought I would be when I began reading it. Yes, there are things I don't like, but these are personal preferences. When you make a retro-clone like this, you always have to decide what aspects of the original game are important to you. Swords & Wizardry made these decisions differently than I would, they have their own vision of what the game was and should be. At the same time, they put a lot of emphasis on presenting different options, which I feel makes the game bewildering. Maybe you will love these things even if I did not. The game is simplistic but definitely playable. The writing is fluid, it is a beautiful book, and the price can't be beat. Well worth a read, and might well influence how you play role-playing games, whether or not you choose to play Swords & Wizardry as written. "The rules are just guidelines. There is not a rule for everything. When in doubt, make a ruling." is the introduction to the referee's section, and captures the spirit of the game very well.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Swords and Wizardry Complete Rule Book
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Jonathan B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/22/2013 13:32:15

This is a nice step up from the last S&W book I looked at. Frog god games got it right on this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swords and Wizardry Complete Rule Book
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Arnold L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/24/2013 14:04:25

A very good, clean and simple implementation of rules we love. It would be the perfect gift for someone you want to initiate.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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