29 July 2016

Why A Supplement & Not A New Game?


The question of why write a supplement and not a new game has indirectly arisen surrounding my latest work "Journeys In The Land Of Khordesh." I wrote it to translate my OD&D campaign, which I began in 1975, into Swords & Wizardry: CoreTM (S&W:C) written by Matthew J. Finch and published by Mythmere Games. I'd like to take an opportunity to address this and another question at this time. [Neither I (Cameron S. DuBeers) nor Wobbly Goblin Press are associated with either Matthew J. Finch or Mythmere Games in any way. --ed.]

Why a supplement? 

Several reasons, actually. Chief among which is the belief there is no real need to rewrite Matt's work just to make a few minor changes to the rules. I'm not exactly of the mind there are too many 1974 retroclones on the market, but I can certainly understand the point of view of persons feeling that way.

Another reason is, given the nature of the works inspiring S&W:C? A supplement adding to and even changing aspects of the game is quite within the spirit of the pioneers of the hobby. Booklets detailing aspects of both co-authors' long-running campaigns were in print very shortly after the original boxed set was released.

Last of all, there is already a well established community of folks playing S&W:C. I flatter myself to think at least some of my house rules may be of use to my fellow gamers. It's nice to see how someone else solved the same problems you have. Some gamers favor complex expansions of the rules, but I and many others just want to nudge the rules a bit to get what we want out of them. My "swap your prime requisite score for any other rolled ability score" adjustment came from a local referee in whose B/X game I played, Alex Johnson. The gaze attack rules were written by Jason Cone and published on his website. Both are simple and straightforward solutions to issues I've had with my campaign. Many of the rules I either made up, based upon similar gaming systems rules, or absorbed through years of play and have long forgotten the source. As such? They are freely offered to other referees in the hope these rulings will help their campaign as they helped mine.

Why Swords & Wizardry: Core and not Delving Deeper?

One of my adult children was interested in participating in my campaign. He had heard bits and bobs of it in his childhood but for reasons unimportant to the discussion neither he nor I were ever able to play a game. So, now he's an adult and is interested in participating in the old man's campaign. In his current city of residence he played for a brief time in a S&W campaign and was already partially familiar with those rules. So, I used S&W:C for that reason.

Why not Delving Deeper (DD) is another question I get asked, often with didn't you write that game? tacked onto the end. Well, yes and no to the latter part. I wrote the initial version submitted to Brave Halfling Publishing (BHP) after BHP broke away from publishing Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox. The DD rules have passed into the hands of another, Simon Bull, who has done a wonderful job of tuning them up and presenting them as a polished work ready for publication. I am a big fan. So, while it is technically correct I wrote DD? That really only applies to first and second editions of the game. In its current iteration so much of the work is Simon's I really don't consider it "my" work any longer. I think DD is a fine game and I highly encourage everyone to check it out.

As to the why I didn't use DD if I like it so much? That's simple, my son was already familiar with S&W from his brief local experience and I thought it would be easier to get him up to speed with the same rules. Play-by-post can be challenging for a new boot, and he would be in the game with experienced players, so I wanted to ease him into the game as best I could.

Additionally, Matt's Core edition of S&W was much more in line with way I ran a campaign. This is so subjective I'm going to avoid going into more detail because gaming style discussion invariably provokes a fruitless debate. I'm simply not interested in justifying my gaming style to someone who likes a different way of playing. There is plenty of table space for all of us, no need to fight over which is better.

Other random FAQ style bits.

Kordesh? My old campaign was actually referred to as Warhaven and there is still a formidable walled city/fortress by that name in the campaign. Warhaven sounded good to my college-aged self but sounds a bit too fanciful to my older self. So, I changed the name for publication.

Why 2 Elvish Races? That was influenced by Tolkien's elves and for no other reason. I made them short because that's how I always pictured elves.

What about gnomes? The original boxed rules mentioned them as player-character races but basically put in a short aside about them being "shorter dwarves." Taking my lead from the co-author's constant exhortation to make the rules mine, I decided to expand them a bit and differentiate them for their cousins.

Why no evil characters? What kind of evil are you talking about? Morally ambiguous is okay, I allow thieves in my campaign after all. Murder, rape, arson, slaughter of innocents ... basically the whole "murder hobo" mindset is out. I run a basically heroic campaign and don't find refereeing the whole chaotic evil overlord type of character to be fun. And face it: running a campaign is too much work to do if it isn't "fun."

I hope this adequately addresses any questions you may have.