May 8, 2009

Swords and Wizardry

I recently got Swords and Wizardry out of curiosity and all I can say is wow. This is a remarkable work. It is a retro-clone of the original Dungeons and Dragons that has been lovingly crafted from the source material utilizing the OGL.

What is remarkable is the discipline that designer Michael Finch has displayed. As a game designer myself, I admire the way he refrained from complicating the classic D&D game. It is as true to the source material as possible, while staying within the bounds of the OGL. At the same time it is better laid out, better organized, and written in a more clear, concise tone than the original. And if it isn't close enough to the original for you they've even made a white box edition that really is true to the source, warts and all!

I view the creative process as a journey. Your first stab at a design is usually close to the mark, but not quite a bullseye. You have to then explore the design space, often straying from your original design, but if you are a smart designer you often end up back where you started - taking advantage of all you learned on the creative journey you come full circle and can now hit the bullseye. This is precisely what Mythmere Games has done with Swords and Wizardry. By taking advantage of 35 years of playtesting - and not fixing what ain't broken, it is a fitting tribute to the legendary creators Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax.

If you look around, you'll see that retro-clone gaming is growing like crazy. New blogs spring up each day. Old grognards are getting back into gaming and posting their own home-brewed rules compatible with the original edition. There is a movement afoot. You can speculate why now, there are many reasons.

So why start another retro-clone blog? Because I want to join in on the fun and house-rule the heck out of this game. Who knows? I might come up with a publishible home-brew myself.

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