Forums News and Information Industry News S&W, A Low Complexity System

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  • #560513
    RPGMP3 Newsbot
    • Posts : 1658
    • Owlbear

    Conversion thoughts from the Shadow Frog!

    Swords & Wizardry is designed to be a low-complexity system for the player. The Referee has the option to increase the complexity beyond the standard for their home game but there is no official core expansion and it is most unlikely there ever will be. There is only a single core book: S&W Complete Rulebook. Hence, the word “complete”. The monster books are supplements for the Referee only. Adventures that include new spells are at the Referee’s discretion. There are no supplements for player use only other than some adventure player’s guides. 

    This is the primary reason there will not be a Book of Lost Spells for S&W. It is true there are various spell lists referencing classes not present; however, there is multiple of spells introduced in 1e that could have been included. S&W is not the system for this type of expansion. As an open system, it allows the Referee with the players to decide the complexity of their game without the burden of too many choices that could be potentially game-breaking.

    There are a multitude of other systems that support a greater portion of the 40-year history of D&D; S&W is a 0e retroclone that officially supports the first 3 years.  Ideally, for those who want something more, S&W adventures form a skeletal foundation upon which to build.  For example, if I wish a modern version of 1e with medium complexity, it would be easy to use Castles & Crusades with a S&W version of Rappan Athuk. The strength of S&W is in its flexibility and synergy with other systems.

    This is also a good time to bring up why adventures like The Slumbering Tsar Saga have not been converted into S&W. S&W is too limiting without creating a gigantic appendix of monsters, spells, and magic items that are standard in 3e/Pf. Converting original content is one thing but the conversion of large chucks of another system is a violation of my “remove or replace” philosophy. Such conversions should be left to the user. Eventually, 5e will be a better fit for conversion of this behemoth

    As is, S&W is perfect for a level range of 3rd-12th level for dungeon and wilderness adventures with slow advancement. It becomes frayed on the end points of 1st-20th level progression.  The greater the system integration and level, the more difficult the conversion.  The S&W system can be written to effectively; the ideal example would be Matt Finch’s Cyclopean Deeps. His monsters, magic items, and spells (I should say spell here, in Volume 1, he has exactly 1 new spell) not present in standard S&W are used to advance and enhance the story of the adventure. They are never placed randomly and without purpose. (i.e only appearance is in a random wandering monster table). They are not included just because they are some cool elements from another system but because they were specifically chosen as appropriate. Sadly, Matt is one of the few (last?) left that writes specifically to S&W. 

    In particular, I am looking forward to conversion of Quests of Doom from 5e. As a medium-complexity system along with not having the more exotic additions from Pathfinder (i.e Advanced, Ultimate, etc) I expect it to far easier at least for now.

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    #646947
    Pencil-Monkey
    • Posts : 5728
    • Mind Flayer

    For example, if I wish a modern version of 1e with medium complexity, it would be easy to use Castles & Crusades with a S&W version of Rappan Athuk.

    […]

    As is, S&W is perfect for a level range of 3rd-12th level for dungeon and wilderness adventures with slow advancement. It becomes frayed on the end points of 1st-20th level progression.

    What do you think, @[member=Daniel]? Getting any ideas? 😉

    Sadly, Matt is one of the few (last?) left that writes specifically to S&W.

    Ooh, that sounds like a challenge! 🙂

    #646948
    Daniel
    • Posts : 2850
    • Succubus

    That does sound like a challenge, funnily enough.

     

    As for your question, I’d definitely agree with that statement.  Funnily enough that holds true for almost all editions of D&D (full disclosure: I have limited experience of 4th-5th).  I do think it is the issue with any kind of leveled content, the early-mid to mid-game is where a lot of the content is going to get produced and therefore it becomes easier to handle those levels – there is more data to draw from.  D&D also has an issue where high levels result in increased complexity, especially when it comes to magic-users whose mid-late game powers are insane.  This comes as a result of the spell lists being a splattering of stuff that sounded good at the time vaguely arranged into a tiered (and later sub-tiered) system.

     

    D&D (and by extension S&W; which I love btw) are fantastic in the level ranges dictated above; anything above and you are just wrestling with increasing levels of player-DM frustration.

     

    That doesn’t mean it cannot be done: any square peg can be forced into a round hole with a big enough hammer, doesn’t mean it is ideal though.

    #646949
    Pencil-Monkey
    • Posts : 5728
    • Mind Flayer

    That doesn’t mean it cannot be done: any square peg can be forced into a round hole with a big enough hammer, doesn’t mean it is ideal though.

    Or in this case, fitting a square orc into a round 10 square feet chamber. 😉

    Of course, since it’s the high level campaigning that causes problems, it might be more appropriate to speak of hammering a square Orcus into a round 10′ chamber. (Even though I’ve always thought that Orcus seemed much too hip to be square.) 😉

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