The Best In Old School Roleplaying

The Best In Old School Roleplaying
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Monday, March 20, 2017

UPDATED DATE! - Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2017 Announcement

Several regular contributors to Swords & Wizardry have brought to my attention that the third weekend of April will be Easter weekend. Some would not be able to contribute do to holiday travel and prepping for the holiday. In recognition of this, I am moving S&W Appreciation Day one week out to Saturday April 22nd. Thanks to everyone who brought this to my attention. I want to see the largest part of the community taking part in this.

Gary Con is nearly upon us! That means it's getting closer to April, and April means Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day in this neck of the woods! This year I took a poll on the Swords & Wizardry G+ Community and wound up with over 85% of membership desiring the day to be on the third Saturday in April rather than solidly sticking to April 17th. That means that S&W Appreciation Day will be Saturday April 22nd this year. I hope to have more posts out regarding special events, such as the annual livecast and more after Gary Con. Keep checking back here for news.
If you want to take part in the festivities this year, here is what to do:
- Write a post, article, free pdf etc. related to any version of S&W  OR, get a sale going with product you already have.
-Email me with a link to you blog, website etc. By 12:00PM Eastern Standard Time on Saturday, April 22nd. Email both your link and title/sale. 
-Make the subject of your email: "Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Post (or sale) and the blog/site title. Send email to: luxfaust_at_gmail_dot_com
-Make sure to have the actual post/sale by 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on April 22nd.
-I will have all links and titles posted here on the blog around 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on April 22nd. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thoughts on a Stamina Score for Swords & Wizardry and Other D&D Variants

In my little semi-simulationist world (which has recently had to take a back seat to my real world,) I've been thinking about stamina and endurance.  I like the idea of simulationist rules that are easy to track and also MATTER in the game. Simulation strictly to the point of book keeping that does not matter in actual play is pointless. If said rules have a true impact on the game and affect the way the that players play and/or how the game feels, THAT is when the rule is worth while.

So, with that said, my idea is to create a Stamina attribute. This attribute will differ from the 6 that are pre-existing in Swords & Wizardry. Rather than rolling for this score, it will be based on pre-existing scores. It is a simple process. A character's Stamina will be the average of their Strength and Constitution rounded up. So, a fighter with 16 STR and 13 CON would have a 15 STM. Determining STM for monsters is simple and can be done on the fly. A monster's STM is determined by it's size and HD. A creature's STM is equal to it's HD +7(small) +10 (medium) +13 (large.) The  size factor is up to the referee's discretion, but as a general rule creatures less than 3/4 the size of an average human would be considered small and creatures more than 1-1/4 the size of a human could be considered large. If a creature is particularly stocky the referee may want to give a small bonus to the score (ex. Dwarves, pack animals.)

What is the STM score used for? What makes it meaningful to the game? The STM determines the length of time (in rounds or turns) of strenuous activity that a creature can endure before becoming fatigued and needs a brief rest. This means that the fighter in our above example can fight, run at full speed etc. for 15 rounds (minutes) without being winded. When dealing with activities that are less strenuous, those measured in turns, the amount of time is double the STM score. A rogue with a STM of 10 would be able to carefully crawl along the dungeon, meticulously checking for traps and secret doors for 20 turns (3 hours and 20 minutes) before needing to stop for a quick break, a drink etc.

When a character become fatigued and needs rest they can continue to push on if they wish. A character who attempts to push on must make a STM check. This is done by attempting to roll below the stamina score on a d20 each round/turn they push on. If succeeds, they suffer no ill effects and must roll again every round/turn they persist. If the character fails this roll at any time the begin to suffer a cumulative -1 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws and ability checks each round that they persist without resting.

Rest will always recover STM. For every 10 minutes a character rests they regain STM equal to their hit die type. This meaning a fighter in S&W Complete will recover 1d8 STM per 10 minutes of rest, while a Magic-user will recover on 1d4. Regardless of hit die type sitting at rest for 3 turns (30 minutes) will recover all STM that has been lost.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

AD&D and Appendix N RPG Titles On One Book Shelf

Well, time for a little advertisement and glimpse at things that I'm excited about over on Drivethru RPG. Full disclosure, if you follow the links here and make purchases from them, you will be contributing to the well being of this blog and it's blogger. Without further ado, here are some things that I'm happy, or at least excited, to see coming out in the "on demand" RPG market:

Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of

First of is the new "Conan" RPG from Modiphus Entertainment. Now, this was Kickstarted last year at this time, but I didn't back it, as I knew nothing about the 2d20 system. Now, however, you can buy the PDF, or check out the Conan Free Quickstart Rules. That is what I intend to do first. I've already downloaded them, but need some time to look them over (does anyone have any time they can loan me, I seem to be coming up short lately.) Now, even if I end up disliking the system, or don't think it captures the pulp adventure of Howard's stories, I might just pick up the core book anyway. Why? Because this sounds intriguing:
  • An extensive gazetteer covering the whole of Conan’s world: featuring fair Aquilonia, gloomy Cimmeria, magic-haunted Stygia, all the way to the far-off steaming jungles of Khitai.
This is cool. I can use this for games set in the Hyborian Age regardless of whether or not I like the ruleset. I've been looking for a nice sourcbook to run Jason Vey's OD&D "Age of Conan" supplement for a while now anyway.

  • Extensive guidelines for running scenarios and campaigns in the Hyborian Age, allowing gamemasters to create suitably Howardian adventures.
Er... basically repeat the above.

  • Developed in close consultation with award-winning Conan scholars, this is the most authentic depiction of Conan and his world ever published for games. 
This level of appreciation for the source material will typically have me sold on nearly anything.
Look at that list of artists. Just take a look at some of the names in there. The books in this line are going to look amazing.

Adventures in Middle-earth Loremaster's Guide

I like what I've seen in the "Adventures In Middle-Earth Player's Guide." Even if I don't ever use it to run Middle-Earth, it has some nice stuff. Plus this game feels more like Tolkien's Middle-Earth than anything other than "The One Ring" that has ever been published in RPG format. There's probably a good reason for that. Again, this is a work that has paid close attention to it's source material.

Lastly we come to some things that have been out for a while, but are now available in print again. I have been moaning about the fact that WOTC was not putting out their back catalog in POD format since they started selling it as PDF. Well, for over a month they have been making a (happy) liar out of me. Now, they are finally getting to the rule sets themselves. New players, and old, have a new option for table copies of the AD&D books. I will only be happier once we see the RC and the OD&D Library.
AD&D Player's Handbook

AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide

AD&D Monster Manual

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Thoughts On Alignment In Swords & Wizardry and OD&D: Part 1

This week during the commute to work I was listening to the Glowburn Podcast #3 in which +Forrest Aguirre and +Bill Hamilton discuss alignment as it stands in D&D and Gamma World's Cryptic Alliances.  This got me to thinking about the origins of alignment, it's meaning and how it is looked at in various incarnations of "the game."

Classic Alignments

The Arrow of Law
The origins of alignment can be found within Appendix N. The two primary sources being Poul Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions" and Michael Moorcock's "Eternal Champion" series. In fact, Moorcock's view of these seems to have been influenced directly by Anderson's works. Moorcock wrote that Law and Chaos are as opposed forces in the multiverse. Each of these has deities aligned to it in the Appendix N tales. Consequently, Clerics in D&D and S&W may not be Neutral.
In the Original game (and thus S&W) only these alignments existed. Law, Chaos and Neutrality (the balance.) One was either aligned with the creative, unifying powers of Law, the destructive and ever changing power of Chaos or else unaligned. Alignment did not dictate behavior in the same way that it later would. It was simple alignment was more alignment by definition. I have a few issues with the term alignment as it is used in later editions of the game.
The Scales of Balance

Later in the life of OD&D, prior to AD&D there was a change in the way that alignment was viewed. This was instigated by Steve Marsh. The same Steve Marsh that would later be partially responsible for the Expert edition of D&D. Steve Marsh discusses his views on alignment in a guest post on +Richard LeBlanc's Save Vs. Dragon blog.

In the post Marsh states, "Eventually, Gary agreed with me and migrated the game world to a 2-axis system where the law/chaos axis crossed with good/evil axis. It allowed for things to be feral without them being necessarily evil (old school “chaos”). It also allowed for characters to distinguish between the amoral (where being without morals = neutral) and the immoral (where those who are doing wrong = evil)."
The Arrows of Chaos

This change was first brought forth in an article by Gary Gygax in The Strategic Review. It would be made more "official" when it became adopted as the 5 point alignment system in the Holmes edition of D&D. In this time the waters of alignment begin to muddy a bit, and became muddier still as editions of the game progressed. With the advent of the 9 point system in AD&D we start to see alignment change into a system of morals and behavior more than an actual system of alignment. So, what is alignment then, and what should we strive to make it?

The Strategic Review Alignment Chart
Defining Alignment

 The Oxford Living Dictionaries define alignment thus:


  • 1 [mass noun] Arrangement in a straight line or in correct relative positions:
    ‘the tiles had slipped out of alignment’
  • 1.1 [count noun] The route or course of a railway or road:
    ‘four railways, all on different alignments’
    ‘present-day road alignments’

  • 1.2  Archaeology [count noun] A linear arrangement of stones:
    ‘there were originally at least four massive stone alignments running from west to east’
  • 2   A position of agreement or alliance:
    ‘the uncertain nature of political alignments’
Clearly the intent of alignment in Swords & Wizardry and OD&D is the second definition: "A position of agreement or alliance." It is also clear that if this is the definition of alignment in early gaming that the term and usage fell away with the addition of a second axis. I have come to dislike the 2 axis system, as it serves more to push a restrictive set of morals (or lack there of) onto the characters rather than serving as true alignment. Likewise, I enjoy the freedom of the linear 3 point alignment system. However, I believe that there is more that can be done with alignment than just this, things which can aid in roleplaying and add depth to both character and campaign! I was inspired by Gamma World's Crytic Alliances when reminded of these in the aforementioned podcast. If you are unfamiliar with this system of "alignment, see the link above. Clearly we can apply more than just a broad cosmic alignment to a character or creature in a game, in the same way that Gamma World did.
Broadening Alignment
 I do not propose that we remove the original 3 point alignment system. Swords & Wizardry and OD&D are based around this system, after all. Additionally the system originates within Appendix N literature, and I like to move the game closer to the original inspiration, not away from it. Therefore, this remains as the core alignment system. Let's call this "cosmic alignment." Next, let's look to religion, as many games tend to have a polytheistic worldview, this is not an issue. Third, we can look at the culture of the character. This is also easy. Is your human fighter from a pseudo medieval culture and from a noble family or perhaps a Nordic inspired culture and she was previously a shield maiden. These two pieces of background information already add a plethora of depth to the character. Or is your elf a high elf? Wood elf? This could make for very different roleplaying and decision making on the part of the player. Lastly, we can add an Organizational alignment, this being the most like Gamma World's Cryptic Alliances. Is the character a member of a thieves guild? Perhaps that character above from the noble family is part of a knightly order? Are they part of a town militia? Remember as well that a character could potentially have many Organizational Alignments. Certainly all of these things could just be background, but when given as alignments, rulings could be made more easily by the referee, especially if the referee is looking closely at the decisions being made by a player for their character.

So, we now have four alignment types to assign to a character:

-Alignment (Cosmic Alignment)
-Religion (Religious Alignment)
-Culture (Cultural Alignment)
-Organization (Organizational Alignment)

All of these things can add to the character and to the game in a broader sense. We'll look at an example in the next post.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

State of the Blog Address

Happy New Year, everyone! It's been a good long while since I've posted here. My work has gone into overdrive. We are the busiest that we have been in 32 years of business. Coupled with the holidays I have had absolute zero game related activity. That is to say, other than being the watchman for the Swords & Wizardry G+ Community. I swear at least 100 spammers attempt to join daily. Actually not far off. We had 72 just the other day.

Anyhow, no gaming related activity in the past month is taking it's toll as much as the day job's current work load. On the upside, it looks like I'll actually be getting back to the Friday night S&W campaign this week. Very glad of that. I've had a few ideas for tweaking the sorcerer book before I shoot it out to edit and I would like to see those in play first

So. I have a few goals on the gaming front this year. First, I want to get back to getting 1- 3 posts up here every week. 2nd is to finally get to Gary Con. 3rd is to get 2 - 4 Swords & Wizardry products complete and up for sale. One of which is currently near completion.
So there you have it. Look for a few posts to be up in the next week. I'm hoping this will be a good year.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Announcement: New Ownership of The Swords & Wizardry Discussion G+ Community!

Some time ago +Christopher Helton announced that changes were coming for the Swords & Wizardry Discussion G+ Group. The time for that change has come. I've been silent for my part, but now it's time for an announcement. Christopher is done managing the group. I will be taking over as owner. I hope to bring new life to the community. I have quite a few changes that I will be making, so please bear with me over the next several weeks. I hope to implement most of my changes over Thanksgiving weekend. 

Among the changes you will see an updated topics list. Which should look something like this:
  • General Discussion
  • Swords & Wizardry Creative Guild
  • Rules Questions
  • Complete
  • Core
  • White Box
  • Light
  • Variant Rules/Hacks
  • Blog Posts
  • Commercial Advertisements
  • House Rules & Home Brews
  • Seeking Games

What's that second topic? Your eyes don't deceive you. When I first decided to take over the community, this past summer, I talked with +Matt Finch and we are going to bring back the Swords & Wizardry Creative Guild with the new and improved G+ Community as it's chosen forum! By doing this I hope to spark the same sort of third party creativity that we constantly see out of the DCC Community! I hope that we can promote both "official" product from Frog God Games, and a plethora of Third Party Swords & Wizardry product! 

With the new management, may come a new "staff." As Chris leaves he is going to remove all moderators except for Matt. Chris will stay on to help for a few weeks or so, but I will be carefully selecting my own moderators as time goes by. Nor will I allow my moderators to break any of the group rules or use the community as a platform to promote their own work to the exclusion of others. The groups rules will apply equally to all. Those rules will be posted in the near future. For the most part the rules amount to "don't be an asshole" and keep the topics on Swords & Wizardry. I look forward to making this a real Community.

--The Mgmt.
AKA R.J. Thompson

Frog God Games In the Humble Bundle For A Good Cause!

Frog God Games is in the Humble Bundle!! Kobold Press & Green Ronin too!!
Frog God Games, is the publisher that personifies quiet reflection. We exemplify temperance. We lionize others who lead a humble life. Frog God profoundly values humility in other people.  Well, quite frankly, all you other people need to level up your humble game. Humility, you need to buy it by the bundle… well, lucky you…

Introducing the Frog God Games Humble Bundle promotion! Featuring Kobold Press and Green Ronin Publishing

Three of the least self-aggrandizing role-playing game publishers are Frog God Games, Kobold Press and Green Ronin Publishing. They all are working together with Humble Bundle by raising funds to help Veteran’s through The Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society(NMCRS). All joking aside the NMCRS are real heroes helping other heroes and it is an honor to help them in anyway we can.

So it is simple. Many Veteran’s have needs. Frog God, Kobold, and Green Ronin have games. Humble Bumble has a proven method. The last piece of this puzzle is you....

Because you have the money. We are of Gaming PDFs in bundles that start at only $1. Thus to make it all happen we are humbly offering over $400 the following options PDF bundles, starting at Just one dollar. 

The Games

This campaign is of course, a “pay what you want” deal like similar past campaigns. The base pledge level for rewards will be $1, the mid-level will be $8, and the ultimate level will be $15.
Rewards associated with each level will include:
$1— Bill Webb’s Book of Dirty Tricks, The Black Monastery, Quests of Doom, Cults of the Sundered Kingdoms, Unusual Suspects, Streets of Zobeck,  Zobeck Gazetteer, and The Advanced Bestiary, a retail value of $128.43
$8—Everything from the $1 pledge plus Rappan Athuk, Dead Man’s Chest, Against Tsathogga, Cyclopean Deeps I-II, Advanced Races Compendium, Halls of the Mountain King adventure, Your Whispering Homunculus, a retail value of $257.37

$15—All the electronic books listed above plus the Mother of All Treasure Tables, Splinters of Faith 1-10, Deep Magic, Halls of the Mountain King, Wrath of the River King, Freeport, City of Adventure. Total retail value of $417.

The Players
  • The Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society is a charity dedicated to helping US Servicemen and their families with a variety of needs. They provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational, and other need-based assistance to active-duty and retired Sailors and Marines, their eligible family members, and survivors. 
  • Frog God Games is an award winning roleplaying game company that has been in business since 2010, and evolved out of the former Necromancer Games that operated from 1999-2009. One of the largest roleplaying game companies in the industry, Frog God has produced numerous well know titles including Tome of Horrors, Rappan Athuk, The Lost City of Barakus, Razor Coast, and the Northlands Saga. 
They are well known for their difficult adventures, old style, gritty play, and their own campaign world, The Lost Lands. Its best known writers include Bill Webb, Greg Vaughan, Matt Finch, Steve Winter, Ed Greenwood, Jim Ward and others.
  • Kobold Press is the award-winning company behind the Midgard Campaign Setting and Southlands Campaign Settings for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as the source of design guides like the Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding and the Kobold Guide to Board Game Design. Its crowdsourced design philosophy has produced some powerful adventures and supplements, and its dark magic and occult knowledge have kept it a step ahead of a horde of competitors. Snake people may be involved. We can't really say. Its stable of regulars includes Pathfinder and RPG luminaries such as Wolfgang Baur, Jeff Grubb, David "Zeb" Cook, Ed Greenwood, Jason Bulmahn, Brandon Hodge, Adam Daigle, and others.
  • Green Ronin Publishing is a Seattle based company dedicated to the art of great games. Since the year 2000 Green Ronin has established a reputation for quality and innovation that is second to none, publishing such roleplaying game hits as Fantasy AGE, Dragon Age, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, and Mutants & Masterminds, and winning over 40 awards for excellence. For an unprecedented three years running Green Ronin won the prestigious GenCon & EnWorld Award for Best Publisher.
The Winner

The Navy & Marine Corps Relief Society is a charity dedicated to helping US Servicemen with a variety of needs. Their Mission is to provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational, and other need-based assistance to active-duty and retired Sailors and Marines, their eligible family members, and survivors. As a non-profit, volunteer service organization, we use both financial and non-financial resources to identify solutions to meet emerging needs. We help clients improve personal financial skills and encourage individual financial responsibility.

Not too late to support Frog God's Extra-Life Event
It is not too late to sponsor our extra life team as they fight the 24 hour fight to help Children and Hospitals. You like those right?

Link to Additional Resources
A Modest Sale!
Not a Pathfinder player? Still like discounts? Then come to the Frog God Games website and enjoy 25% of everything* we sell in celebration of our modesty and humility! Pick your stuff and use the coupon code Modest2016 at checkout!