Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A little quiz: Swords & Wizardry + Spellcraft & Swordplay

Yeah, I know, I said yesterday “no rules changes” in my Swords & Wizardry games and I intent to keep it that way…

but that doesn’t stop me from tinkering with the rules. I love to make house rules and little experiments with RPG systems almost as I love reading them.

Ok, the idea here is to give spellcasters a little more room to maneuver. While I enjoy Philotomy’s house rule about lesser "special effects", I think my novice players will find it a little confusing at first – and that will probably derail the game. I was thinking actually about Spellcraft & Swordplay’s casting system.

Spellcraft & Swordplay is not exactly a retro-clone, but one of its purposes is to present an accessible system based on the old Chainmail rules. The main difference is that d20s get ditch off, replaced by 2d6s.

One of the innovations of S&S is its magic system. Spellcasting here is not an automatic action and requires a check do determine if the spell is casted immediately, delayed one round or simply fails – and it is then forgotten. The higher the spell level, the more complex it is – and higher it is the check’s difficulty. I really like the fact that a caster only forgets a spell after failing a roll. This radically changes spellcaster dynamics, but I believe that’s an element some players might enjoy.

Well, this blog is mostly about Pathfinder, but if there are other Old School players out there: what do you think? Have you attempted something like that?


  1. I like the idea. I've played S&S once, and I'm currently running a short S&W White Box campaign. One problem my magic users are running into is, at least in white box, there are very few combat oriented first (or even second) level spells. Then again, continuous ability to cast Sleep could be a real encounter killer.

  2. In Swords & Wizardry Basic there are also few low-level combat oriented spells (actually I believe there're only magic missiles and sleep, I don't have the book with me right now). Sleep is already a real killer the way it works. I know that it is a classic part of OD&D, but I always wanted to add the following house rule: sleep targets have can try a saving thrown, if successful they become groggy for 1 round (no penalties, just can't act), if they fail then follow the spell's normal rules.

    And thanks for the comment! ;-)