Creating a Campaign
“For thirty-five years, I have been telling role-playing gamers to ignore rules that they do not like. The essence of RPGing is in the story, not the accomplishment of arbitrary goals and benchmarks. We all take part in creating the story; the GM writes an outline, tots up a list of “plot elements,” and then sets the players loose to fill in the details. This has never changed.
What you hold in your hand are guidelines; this is one set of “rules” that has an internal integrity that makes it work. Is it the only way to play? Certainly not; from the very beginning of role-playing GMs have been encouraged to extrapolate and interpret, to make the game their own. If a given rule does not seem “right” to you, then ignore it! Or, better still, change it! Make your game or campaign your own. All GMs need to worry about is keeping a “logical reality” active in their campaigns; the players rely on that logic to find their way through the perils and puzzles of the adventure.
The truest test of whether or not you are doing it right has always been two-fold: are you having fun, and do your players keep showing up every session? If you can answer yes to either, you’re on the right path. If you can answer in the affirmative to both, you have the “right” of it. From the very conception of RPGing, the whole idea was to have fun. We showed the world a new way to do it, but we never said there was only one way.
Have fun adventuring!”
“In 1974, Gary Gygax (1938-2008) and Dave Arneson (1947-2009) wrote the world’s first fantasy role-playing game, a simple and very flexible set of rules that launched an entirely new genre of gaming. Unfortunately, the original rules are no longer in print, even in electronic format. The books themselves are becoming more expensive by the day, since they are now collector items. Indeed, there is a very good chance that the original game could, effectively, disappear.
That’s why this game is published. When you play Swords & Wizardry, you are using those original rules. They are entirely redescribed, and some parts have had to be left out – we can publish rules and licensed material, but not all of the original game falls into those legal categories. For the same reason, a couple of rules have been altered from the original (and we try to point out when this has been done in a significant way). We would, by the way, like to thank Wizards of the Coast, Inc., the publishers of Dungeons & Dragons, for open-licensing a great deal of material from that game, which has made it much easier to legally complete this project.
Even though there are a couple of legal-protection digressions from the original version in these rules, most people think we’ve hit the target. The game has won an ENnie Award at GenCon, and has caught on like wildfire over the Internet. The credit, of course, goes to the original designers, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson; and also to Rob Kuntz, co-author of the game’s first supplement.
You may have seen that there are three versions of Swords & Wizardry, which is admittedly confusing, since each one is a separate and complete game. We’re hobbyists and gamers over here, not marketing specialists; it would have been smarter to have only one set of rules, but we couldn’t stop ourselves.
- The WhiteBox is a version including only the first three booklets of the Original game, and nothing from the supplements.
- The Core Rules are a middle ground between none and all of the supplements. A close description is that it uses the rules from Supplement One, but ignores the new character classes to stay with the archetypal categories of clerics, fighters, magic-users and (possibly) thieves. You can view the Core Rules either as a game in which those four character classes are simply broad categories, or you can see the rules as a framework for building your own more complex system without tripping over the original specialist classes like paladins and druids.
- The Complete Rules (which is what this site uses) is a version based on the first three booklets of the Original game plus all of the supplements that were published in the seventies before the game moved on to “Advanced.”
But all that really misses the point. The point is that this game contains within itself all the seeds and soul of mythic fantasy, the building blocks of vast complexity, the kindling of wonder. The Original Game is so powerful because it is encapsulated in a small formula, like a genie kept imprisoned in the small compass of an unremarkable lamp. Take this framework, and then imagine the hell out of it!