Blog by: Ernie Laurence
Produced by: Frog God Games
Written by: Erik ‘Tenkar’ Stiene
Production & Design: Zach Glazar
Illustration by: Erol Otus, Chris McFann
Proofreading & Guidance: G. Scott Swift
Based on original work by Matt Finch
Frog God Games: Bill Webb (CEO), Greg Vaughan, Matt Finch, Skeeter Green, Charles Wright, & Zach Glazar
Swords and Wizardry Light is a three-pronged attack of greatness. It combines fast play and nostalgia for the grizzled rpg veterans. Using pen, paper, two types of dice, and two foldable cards, the game can be played with only a few minutes of setup. It is easy to understand the mechanics and has a simple approach to the rest of traditional gaming that will have newbies playing without the confusion or frustration of a long character creation session. At the same time, folks who have been playing since the 70’s will see familiar faces (at the wrong end of their sword/mace/dagger/magic missile) as they help the GM get the new players up to speed.
About the Author
Erik Stiene has been playing for 39 years. He retired from his job in 2016 and wanted to do some marketing of old school games. This idea started out by him making up some one sheet games and leaving them in libraries for people to play. He also started his blog, Tenkar’s Tavern. Over the next few years this grew into a more formal idea that became Swords and Wizardry Light.
Character creation is very simple. It uses the 3d6 to generate the six standard abilities found in many table top systems of Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, and Charisma in order. Charisma is not a dump stat here as a 15 Charisma will land you a Torchbearer, a kind follower of sorts who can learn from you and carry your stuff. Also great at conversation. Each ability comes with its own bonuses and all get a +1 to appropriate dice rolls for being over 15. After this, you chose your race, your class, and your equipment starting pack. This process should take no more than a few minutes as was demonstrated in the Game School interview.
There are four playable races: human, elf, dwarf, and halflings. Each comes with its own benefits and class restrictions except humans who can be any class.
Equipment and Treasure
Beginning equipment has been simplified for these level one characters. One of two choices for packs is given. Anything else you need, well, that has to be found along the way.
Experience points are not part of the game to keep things simple for new gamers. Instead, levels are achieved by surviving two major events or adventures. This also keeps the game fast paced even in the late levels. The fast version of the game only goes up to level three, but there are additional materials that allow you to progress further.
Game mechanics are simplified from the older game systems as well. Rounds are a bit longer allowing for more actions, talking, and the like to be done, though one attack is all that is allowed. Hit points are class-based and deducted by damage dealt until reaching zero which results in death. Initiative is a simple d6 with high roll going first. PCs rolls as a team. Weapons roll d20 and add bonuses to hit, then have a small table on the back side of the card to show damage. Strength of 15 or higher adds +1 to damage for fighters. Ranged weapons are also available as well as a few simple spells.
The monsters that come on the SWL cards are staple low level creatures available across a decent array of contexts. Giant Fire Beetles, Orc, Goblins, Kobolds, Lizards and so on. There are even some “mini-boss” type creatures available depending on how hard the GM wants to make that first quest or if they want to have a recurring nemises at the outset. Ogres, Worgs, and even an 8 HD Wyvern are there. The purpose of this system is not to introduce new and esoteric content. It’s meant to introduce new gamers to what the rest of us have been playing for decades. SWL does not disappoint. The bestiary, while small because of space, is filled with the tried and true. Any veteran will likely feel the nostalgia creeping up as they play alongside their protege’ experiencing these denizens for the very first time.
I love this idea. As a dad introducing my own kids to gaming, something along the lines of Swords and Wizardry Light would have been a great asset to keep things simple until they got the hang of it. As a teacher who runs the GEEK club at my school, this is also a fantastic tool that I actually hope to impliment this year now that I know of it. A true play testing with newbies. I’m really looking forward to it.
Anyone who is looking for a fast game, perhaps at a party (my bachelor party back in the day for example), or to introduce new players without overwhelming them, this is definitely a system I would recommend.
If you’d like to catch the interview by Game School, you can check it out here: http://gameschool.tsrpn.com/2018/09/20/204-swords-and-wizardry-light/
To find out more about the Swords and Wizardry Light game, get supplements and adventures, or to order your own FREE copy, go to:
Rating – PG+