Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Customizing Swords and Wizardry White Box

My favorite part about swords and wizardry is that it is so stripped back to the basics of DnD it allows you to mutate and change without worrying too much about interactions between pieces of the game.  Right now I'm DM'ing BX DnD for the tabletop (about 2 games per year) and running a full time PBEM Greyhawk Open Quest game with about 60 posts per month.  This game is now over 3 years old (it started with Castles and Crusades rules and now has mutated into Open Quest).

My buddies really want me to run another Forgotten Realms game.  I DM'd that game for about 10+ years using 2nd ed. AD&D rules and had a blast.  However, each time I pull out the game I get a little down about running due to the setting bloat.  There is so much information that my players know, it might be hard for me to say "I'm only using the 1st edition core rules box set as Canon".  Once you have to specify what is canon and what isn't your game really has too much bloat.  So anyway, I may go with that as a setting or try a home-brew world focusing on the things that I'm excited about in fantasy right now.

Anyway, while playing BX there were a few things that really made me think about changing systems before running the next game.  My players really prefer the ability to customize their characters.  I also thought that the 18=+3 stat bonus still puts a huge emphasis on having high ability scores.

So, for my next game I even thought about playing something other than DnD, maybe even sticking with Open Quest.  However, I really like to have something to tinker with at all times so in the back of my mind I've been thinking about house ruling the $H!# out of S&W white box.  I keep pulling out the paperback copy I have and reading it so often that the binding is already starting to tear (also partly because Lulu books aren't the best).

Here are the main things I'm thinking about:

1.  A skill system.  I know this flies in the face of Matt's Old School Primer, however, as I said above, my players really like to have crunchy bits to fiddle with.

2.  Maybe something like "Aspects" or "Risus Cliches" or perhaps a short 50 word description which can be used to justify the use of bennies or fate type points to give small bonuses to different tasks...  I want to tie character description mechanically to the game somehow...

3. I want to use all the dice.  White box really focuses on the d20 and d6 and mostly forgets about the other dice.  My other systems I tack onto the game are going to use all these dice somehow...

4. Maybe a critical hit or major wound table?

Those are the main things.  I've got little bits and pieces of these and I've also come up with lots of smaller little ideas (wizard cantrips, new spells, monster enhancements, etc...).  I think my next bunch of posts are going to start looking into these ideas and fleshing them out.



  1. Just because your players "know" something about the Forgotten Realms doesn't mean it's true in your campaign. So use the 1st box set core rules and if your players are relying on knowledge from something that came later, tough! Obviously, that was a rumor or deliberate misinformation.

  2. Heck yeah! That's what I'm thinking! I love the old grey FR box...