Saturday, October 25, 2008

Swords & Wizardry, NaNoWriMo, and that Dang List

Who, exactly, was responsible for the decision to release Swords & Wizardry two weeks before National Novel Writing Month? I was getting ready to run an online game with some pals back home when I remembered that, in a week's time, my life will be consumed by that thing the innocent call a novel.

So now S&W is on the list of games I want to run, from which no man ever returns.

Okay, so Feng Shui returned. Also 4th Edition D&D. But neither of those were on the list for that long. Iron Heroes has been on my shelf for ages, and once came within a few hours of seeing play, only to have me decide I was insufficiently prepared and ditch it in favor of the madness that became Gnome Town. Traveller and Encounter Critical seem headed towards the same fate.

Someday I'll run all of those games.

But Swords & Wizardry is a little more than just "a game I want to run." It's a cleaned up, modern version of OD&D.

OD&D has been on my mind for a while. It'd be worth playing just for it's historical value, the game that started it all. But I've also been reading Sham's Grog & Blog and Grognardia, and drinking the rules-not-rulings, do-it-yourself, old school kool-aid. It reminds me of the way I used to play games, hacking stuff together at lunch that seemed like it would work, not worrying too much about game balance or GMing technique.

But OD&D, the three little brown booklets, is intimidating. I've put off picking up the PDF for a while, because I've had other stuff going on but also because I was worried about how much work it would take to piece together how to play. I know there's a lot missing out of the S&W PDF, a lot of the weird essential charm that makes OD&D what it is, but it's neat and it's clean and it's exciting. It's got me thinking some things that I don't always think -- not "how can I use these neat things in my game?" but "what neat things can I make for my game?"

That alone makes Swords & Wizardry too cool to just languish on the list. With any luck, I'll pick it up again after NaNoWriMo, in that post-novel rush of crazy ideas.

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