Swords and Wizardry Review

This last weekend I was able to get in a session of roleplaying using the Swords and Wizardry ruleset. I had never played this system before (it is basically a rehash of the original D&D rules) but we broke it in with style - we played through The Tomb of Horrors.

For this session our DM (Capnwoodrow from the forums) had pre-genned characters for us. We ended up with six players - we had a Dwarf, an Elf, a Fighting Man, two Clerics (Jester and myself), and a Wizard. We ranged from levels nine to fourteen (Capn used the reccomended character list from the back of the module.) We all started with pretty standard equipment - plate for those who could wear it, a Ring of Protection +1, a magic weapon for the Fighting Man, and spellbooks for the Elf and Wizard.

Our character sheets were very simple. We each had a small 2x3 printout that had our name, stats, AC, attack bonus, damage, and our saving through. That was it. At first I was a bit disappointed. Where was the rest of it? You can't have a proper character without at least two pages of information ... or so I thought.

At first glance I thought there was a bunch of stuff missing - but this is just the way the game is. There are no skills, no alignment, you only have one save (it is vs. everything - it doesn't break out spells, poison, wands, traps, etc.), no flat-footed AC, not touch AC, no feats, and no powers. The only class that had a power was the clerics turn-undead ability - and that is handled by a single die roll on a chart - you check your level and your roll to see what happens (this is the simplest turning rules I have ever came across.)

Also missing were all the bloat of D&D 3.5 - no attacks of opportunity, no bull rush, no grapple, no rules for disarming, and on and on. This doesn't mean you coudln't do these things - it just means there were no hard rules for it.

The spells for the Cleric and Wizard were very straight forward. There was no components listed, no casting time, no heavy rules - just a spell name and what it did. Any further intricacies were up to the dungeon master.

Combat was also fast and easy. You just rolled your to hit and then rolled your damage. Easy as that.

All in all this system worked very good for the adventure we played. The Tomb of Horrors is less about skills and combat and more about puzzling and figuring out what you should do. We ran into false entrances, poison pit traps, gender changing portals, people lost limbs, we had to resurrect a few people, and we only made it half-way through the dungeon and only had three combat encounters.

This module was an absolute blast. We had a ton of fun and can't wait to finish it up.