Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A review of Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

I received a copy of *Swords & Wizardry Continual Light from a friend of mine just lately.

(*From now on SWCL for the purposes of I'll spell Continual wrong for the rest of this post, also the guys who wrote this use SWCL as a way of abbreviating the game).

Publisher blurb:
You remember, don't you? The sounds of battle heard through the clatter of dice? The shuffling of character sheets? The war stories shared with fellow campaigners?
There is a longing in the soul of every adventurer and though it sometimes fades to a whisper, you still hear it. Swords & Wizardry Continual Light marks your return to fantasy roleplaying - or if you're curious what fantasy gaming is all about, this is the perfect introduction.
This book, a twenty-sided die, and a few six-sided dice are all you need to return to the table, recall those halcyon days of heroism, and forge brand new legends! Welcome back!


For those not familiar with Swords & Wizardry, the game is based on the original 3 brown books, or OD&D, there are a variety of versions of Swords & Wizardry (Complete, Core, Light) and a number of variations of Whitebox, included thematic games like Dark Places & Demogorgons, WW2 Operation Whitebox, White Star, The Hero's Journey (Note I haven't seen a post apoc whitebox game yet? And I've been thinking about it!).  All of these games are retro clones of "the world's most famous roleplaying game" and a lot of them only need 2 dice, 1d20 and 1d6.  Personally I`m a big fan of S&W, it`s a great pickup game, and its infinitely hackable!

About a year or so ago Erik Tenkar (yes that Erik, the one that runs the famous Tenkars Tavern) got a few people together to release Swords & Wizardry Light, which was a 2 page rule set.  When I first saw it I was like `Yes this is going to be so damn handy at the gaming table`.  My only issue with that game was that the downloadable version was crazy high quality (talking DPI here), It looked fucking amazing don`t get me wrong.  It just took forever to download and to print.  I believe it has been revised.  (I`ll check).  The other nifty thing that was released was character cards, with a character class basics, that you could just fill your stats in.  these were also handy.  I`m sort of imagining a nice present for someone in a cardboard box with all these niceties, and of course SWCL and a few sets of dice.  (Hint hint).  It would make the perfect gift for a gamer.

Anyways on to the review.  First off Erik and James Spahn wrote it.  The art in the book is fantastic BW.  The layout works, it`s not overly `layoutey`for the sake of being that way. You can find things easy enough, and that`s good enough for me!

SWCL is easily convertible to regular SW, or any other OSR game, adventure.  It contains ascending AC and descending.  So that old module that your uncle has lying around in his basement, that`s purple in colour with a keep on it, you can play that.  I`m sure your uncle won`t mind, his copy is pretty beat up and he should probably order a reprint anyways.

The game has your standard four classes, and four races.  There are class restrictions in play.  I really like the neat little tidbit that is thrown in to get players to use humans.  (You`ll have to grab a copy).  The book contains rules for optional classes (written in honestly one sentence, but it works!) and they are great!  A lot of thinking went into getting this book trimmed down to pure essence of what you need to get rockin and  rolling.  Oh another cool thing when rolling up the standard 6 abilities, if you have a charisma bonus you also get a torchbearer (Henchmen, Goon, possible PC if your character dies).

Each class comes with some standard equipment and then there`s some optional stuff you can get as well.  The nice thing about this, is that you can get up and running super quick.

The leveling system is smart, it`s not based on experience it`s based on adventures completed!  Something that I am totally going to steal (err borrow).  The classes goto level 7, and after that you can receive perks.  Which is a pretty nifty way of doing this.  These perks (feats) are not game changing things, they are extra spells, higher attack damage, higher hit points etc.

There are four levels of spells for Magic Users, and three levels for clerics.  I should note, that Clerics do not start off with a spell at first level.

The one thing I should note, is that this book is written from the point of view of someone who has played an RPG before.  Meaning that it does not contain the usual `what`s a role playing game``, it doesn`t have a ton of advice about running a game in it.  Which is entirely fine.  However if this is a kids first game, given to him or her by some one who isn`t teaching them about gaming, then it might be a difficult thing to grasp.  That being said my first real RPG was 2nd edition and it didn`t cover a ton of this stuff either.  Obviously we live in the age of the interwebz and people can look up how to play games.  K here`s the thing about Swords & Wizardry, and SWCL, it`s not a beginners game.  It obviously can be, but so can a whole lot of other RPGs (pretty much every brand has it`s starter set).  I would consider SW Light a beginners game, at the very least a rules light getcha going game.

My only grump on this game is there isn`t the spell ``Continual Light``.  There are a few other little things, that are not worth mentioning here.

The book is twelve pages, and fits perfectly in my backpack.  It`s a standard 8x11 book, the cover is a sexy glossy with a illustration by James Shields.  The book contains a few extra white pages, that you can use for notes, and house rules.  (or to write your own crit tables!)  Of course you can add in some monsters you made up as well!

I intend to run SW Whitebox next game, and now that I have a copy of SWCL (and a extra copy of WB) these will be the players reference copies which will be super duper handy! In fact I may end up using SWCL for the first few levels.  I am definitely going to use the leveling system.  And just to be a gritty old grognard, I`ll use the crit tables from DCC.

The other wonderful thing about this game is, that its a great game to write for.  Of course if your not into writing, there`s a ton of great resources and adventures for it already!

RESOURCES AND ADVENTURES

Check out http://gothridgemanor.blogspot.com/ Tim`s Patreon is filled with awesome adventures for SWCL. Aswell check out `the manor`

Beneath the fallen tower - An adventure by Denis McCarthy (who also contributed artwork to SWCL)

Wizardry Unearthed - Extra character classes, monsters, optional rules.

The Witch character class for SWCL

Skyships of Smazah 

The Chasm Of Crasmere 

The Forests Shadow 

Beyond the demon webs 

The Orb of the Undying discord

The Horn of Kardos 

Coincidentally after I wrote this, I started surfing youtube, and this review came up!