Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Swords & Wizardry Whitebox with the Kids

OK, well, of course the illustration here as nothing to do with the post, but I just like to share the illos I'm doing as I get to them. These dudes are of course one of 12 demon illos I'm working on right now. I've got a fair few monsters to draw in the coming months which should be fun.
D is for Demon (Manes)

So, Swords & Wizardry Whitebox, right, what about that then? Well, last week the fam and I went back to Tennessee for a visit with the folks. I actually brought along S&W W to get a "face-to-face" session in with a few friends with my old RPG group. In fact, we still game together on Sunday evenings, playing a bit of LL/AEC down in the depths of Stonehell. We use MapTools and Ventrillo for our game now and though it's not as cool as sittin' around the game table, it's still fun to game with dudes who are scattered all around the country.

I have no clue what the current version of WotC's D&D Essentials looks like, but man, 0E is the way to go for introducing new players to fantasy RPGS.

At some point during our visit, my 11-year old nephew picked up my S&W W book and began leafing through it. He's an avid video gamer and is very familiar with CRPGs so all of the sudden, he was full of questions. My two sons of course have done a bit of dungeon delving with Dad, so they were excited to play and soon we'd pulled in a couple of other cousins. Before long, we had a quick group of 3rd level heroes readying to explore the depths of Dyson's Delve, which, given the relatively small size of its levels, makes it perfect for speedy play.

I would wager that over the next two days of the visit, we probably spent six or eight hours at the game table. I have no clue what the current version of WotC's D&D Essentials looks like, but man, 0E is the way to go for introducing new players to fantasy RPGS. Like most folks who run 0E or S&W W, I tweaked the system somewhat, using the B/X version of the Elf, EGG's 15+ Ability bonus and EGG's Death at Minus Character Level, but it's a Helluva little game. I'll confess here, I came to D&D in the Moldvay era and soon "matriculated" to 1E AD&D and until last week, I had no experience with 0E. After all these years of RPGs, it's abundantly clear to me that one really needs to actually spend a few hours playing the game before you really grok the game. Sure the paucity of hit points, the D6 for all wepaons, etc. seem limiting, but man, it's still a great little game. Why the Hell WotC/Hasbro isn't still selling this old gem is beyond me. Seriously, Monopoly as a board game is far clumsier than 0E and yet it continues to sell, probably with a set of rules that pre-date the LBBs.

OK, off the soapbox. If you're like me and missed out on the LBB era and you want a nice travel edition of D&D, you should really give S&W Whitebox a try.


  1. Nice art! Yeah, the older editions are fun.

  2. I'm doing Dyson's Delve with my grandkids using S&W Whitebox. It's awesome (the system and the adventure...)

  3. Yeah, the small size of each level makes it pretty simple for finding the next set of steps down. I have a city setting, heavily-influenced by WFRPG and the writing of Steven Brust that I use for 0E. So, in Dyson's Delve, goblins and hobgoblins became various types of skaven. In each room, I threw in a couple of mooks just to make the battles larger, with hilarious results of course.

  4. That Vrock is excellent, and the Manes is also pretty nice. S&W is great for getting new-comers going without overwhelming them with tons of minutiae and trivia...and it lends itself to the gonzo-fun of the OD&D-days when just about everything was house-ruled, modified or revised by each individual DM...

  5. Did you have a framework in MapTools for Swords & Wizardry? Or did you just use it for mapping and have a generic token with no stats? I am looking for a framework for Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lords for MapTools and it seems all of the people playing these RPGs and using MapTool only use it for the map portion.