Welcome to the Swords and Wizardry Appreciation Day at iDungeon Crawl. In case you wandered here without knowing what’s going on, today across the OSR community we’re showing our appreciation for Swords and Wizardry, a retro clone published by Mythmere Games. If you don’t have it yet, you can download a free copy of the core rules from the previous link. You can also find more information about what S&W is, but the short version is S&W is a cleaned up clone of an early version of D&D. S&W and other retro clones can exist legally due to the existence of the OGL and some various functions of copyright law. More reading on the OSR in general, and retro-clones in particular can be found elsewhere on the web, but are outside the scope of today’s events. For more Swords and Wizardry appreciation today check the list of participating blogs over at Tenkar’s Tavern.
Swords and Wizardry was the very first game that brought the OSR and it’s related community to my attention. Some years ago (2009 if the timestamp on the file is any indication), I was browsing the web searching for information about the older editions of D&D. I’m not entirely sure why or what path led me there, though it might have had something to do with the death of D&D creators Gary Gygax (2008) and Dave Arneson (2009). Regardless I soon stumbled upon the Swords and Wizardry core rules, which had just had their 3rd printing. Here was a chance for me to play original D&D and give it a try without dropping a bundle of hard earned cash on some books from a collector. Ultimately, the core rules make some (very handy) changes to the original rules that made it “less pure” than I was aiming for at the time, and that “impurity” sent me on a hunt through out the rest of the OSR in search of more “pure” versions. This caused me to discover such great games as Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Dark Dungeons and many of the blogs and links listed in the side bar. I still had though a soft spot for S&W and eventually returned to it (in its 4th printing, with my custom bookmarks) as my go to game for my first attempt at DMing a game.
Unfortunately, there was one thing that appeared in that 3rd printing of the rules that were subsequently eliminated from the 4th printing, which were the race-as-class versions of the Dwarf and Elf classes. While I’m generally ambivalent about race-as-class, I very much enjoyed the 3rd printing S&W interpretation of the Elf, which was a dual classed fighter / magic user that could switch classes each day as the need arose. A similar version of the class is preserved in the Whitebox version of the S&W rules, but I still liked the original. So to kick off today’s festivities, here’s the advancement chart for the elf variant as it appeared in the 3rd printing: