Friday, February 15, 2013

Switching Gears to Swords & Wizardry (Only Momentarily)

I’m going to shift gears a little bit back into fantasy mode. I’m a big fan of Swords & Wizardry. On the surface, it appears to be a retro-clone of “0E”, the original edition of D&D that was born out of Chainmail. However, Matt Finch made some changes to the system like having only one saving throw score to cover all save rolls, added support for Ascending AC, and split classes into races and classes. All of this wrapped around a very rules light version of the D&D rules. This made S&W very attractive to me. While Labyrinth Lord rekindled my love of older editions of D&D, I still wasn’t enamored with the mechanics of the games. S&W kept the spirit and feel of older editions while embracing some of the aspects that players like myself enjoyed from later editions.

I’ve expanded the rules further by adding in classes offered via Matt and the rest of the folks at Mythmere Games, and modifying classes from other OSR games like OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, and 1st and 2nd Editions of AD&D. I’ve also bought a lot of material from other publishers using S&W as the base for their games (like Rogue Ranger Games’ “World of Onn”, which can be found at Lulu, and John M. Stater’s Pars Fortuna and NOD magazines, which are also found at Lulu). This has turned the 146 pages of S&W into a 216 page (and growing) “Frankenstein’s Monster” of an rpg.

Here’s my current class list for my S&W games: Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Blackguard (I always hated the term “Anti-Paladin”), Cleric, Druid, Fighter (will likely rename to “Warrior” at some point), Jester, Magic-User (will likely rename to “Mage” or “Wizard” at some point), Mentalist, Monk, Necromancer, Ninja, Paladin, Ranger, Samurai, Spellsword, and Thief. The sources are from across the board, and I’ve tweaked thing here and there to try and make each class as attractive to play as any other. That doesn’t mean they are balanced, but I do try to keep one class from greatly overshadowing all the others.

For Races, I left the S&W reservation. I like the simple +/- stat modifiers as presented in 3rd edition D&D. Plus, I don’t restrict what classes are available to each race, with the occasional exception off some races being barred from spellcasting classes for campaign reasons. Here’s my current race list: Aasimar, Amazon, Artathi, Cyclopskin, Drow, Dwarf, Elf, Feytouched, Giantkin, Gnome, Goblin, Half-Elf, Half-Orge, Half-Orc, Halfling, Human, Minotaur, Pygmy, Rodian (ratfolk, not the species from Star Wars), Tiefling, Warforged, and Wyrmblooded. I added new attribute rolling rules for humans and gave them a +1 bonus to saving throws to make them more attractive.

I’ve converted spells from AD&D, the Rules Cyclopedia, and other S&W and OSR sources. Expanded the weapon and armor lists, but left most everything else about the system alone…except for Treasure.

Even though the books were rife with errors and generally left like they were rushed out the door, I’ve always loved the treasure generation tables in the Diablo II adaptation for AD&D 2nd Edition and for 3rd Edition. I left the base treasure rules alone, but I added a modified version of those massive treasure random magic item tables to my hack of S&W as well. While I’m not going to post the whole shebang, mostly because I’d have to spend way too much time modifying the formatting, I will post the first part of the rules to show how my variant rules generate treasure.

Generating a Random Treasure Hoard
Begin by multiplying the total XP value of the monsters by 1d3+1 if encountered in a lair. For creatures just wondering about, there is only a chance of the creature carrying anything. (Different types of creatures have different chances of having any gold at all, as detailed on the “Treasure Guidelines Table” below.) Even then you take only a percentage of the creature’s XP total to figure the gold (no multiplier). This is the total gp value of the hoard for purposes of determining what is in it. Then check the table below, in which there is a chance to “trade out” some of that gold for more interesting (and possibly more valuable) types of treasure such as gems and magic items. Do not start subtracting gold until you have checked for all types of trades (100gp, 1,000gp, 5,000gp, and 10,000gp). After doing the trade outs, when you know the remaining gold piece value of the coins, divide that value into whatever denominations (platinum, gold, silver, copper, or other) you wish.

Treasure Guidelines Table
Not all creatures carry treasure on them wherever they go. Animals like bears, deer, and wolverines would rarely carry any treasure, even in their lairs; however, humanoids are constantly carrying valuables on their person. Even dragons found in the wild will have gold coins and other such items from their hoards lodged into their scales. The table below gives GM’s the percentage chance when a wandering creature would be carrying an item.

Wandering creatures have a base chance of 16-20 on a 1d20 roll. This roll is modified further based on a series of characteristics. (A listing of +2 on the list means that the 16-20 becomes 14-20, while a -2 would contract the range to 18-20. A roll of 1 always fails to award treasure, while a roll of 20 always rewards treasure.) Also, there is a series of guidelines of how much of the creature’s XP to use to generate the base gold total.

Note that creatures that use weapons can have those weapons looted. However, some creatures, like Orcs for instance, don’t take very good care of their gear making it worth not very much. These details are up to the judgment of the GM.

Also note that these are just guidelines, the GM is and should be the final arbiter on what treasure rewards are given at all times.

Treasure Chance Modifiers
Creature Characteristic Modifier

Wears clothing or uses tools or weapons +2
Dragon +10
Creature is stationary +3
Humanoid in shape +1
Non-intelligent -2
Humanoid that does not wear clothes or uses tools or weapons -1
The Creature is a Leader or “Boss” creature or there was such a creature in the defeated group. +2
Described as “Rich” +2
Described as “Poor” -2

Creature Type Amount of XP to use to generate Gold total
Animal/Insect Only use 25% (rounded down) of the creature’s XP to determine the gold total.
Dragon Use 100% of the creature’s XP to determine the gold total.
Fey Only use 50% (rounded down) of the creature’s XP to figure the gold total.
Construct/Golem Only use 25% (rounded down) of the creature’s XP to figure the gold total.
Humanoid Only use 50% (rounded down) of the creature’s XP to figure the gold total.
Planar Only use 75% (rounded down) of the creature’s XP to figure the gold total.
Undead Only use 50% (rounded down) of the creature’s XP to figure the gold total
Plant Only use 25% (rounded down) of the creature’s XP to determine the gold total.
Weird or Aberrant Creature Only use 50% (rounded down) of the creature’s XP to figure the gold total.
Leader/”Boss” Creature Figure the gold total as above, but then multiply the total by 1d2+1

Treasure Trade-Outs
Each trade out allows a roll on the Base Treasure Tables. First roll on the Gems or Items Table. Then, depending on the level of trade-out, you may get a bonus to your roll on the base treasure table. No bonus for a 100 gp trade-out; a +2 bonus for a 1,000 gp trade-out; a +4 bonus for a 5,000 gp trade-out; and a +6 bonus for a 10,000 gp trade-out. Then, add a +1 bonus to the roll for every 4 CL of the creature defeated (round down). Finally, if this roll is from a trade-out granted by a Leder/”Boss” creature (or such a creature was in the defeated group), then add an additional +2 to the roll.

For example: the party has defeated an 11 CL Glabrezu Lieutenant they have been tracking for some time. They defeated the demon in its lair, so the GM takes 1,700 XP and multiplies it by 3 (he rolled a 2 on the 1d3+1 multiplier roll) getting: 5100 gp. The party can decide to split up the gold between themselves, and then do their own trade-outs, or they can go for broke and do two trade-outs: one 5,000 gp and one 100 gp. The first roll is for the 5,000 gp trade-out. The GM rolls a 16 on the Gems or Items table (this roll is made unmodified). Then on the Magic Items base table, the GM rolls a 9 on 1d20, adds +4 for the 5,000 gp trade-out, adds +2 for the 11 CL of the Glabrezu, and finally +2 for the creature being a “boss” monster in the campaign getting a grand total of 17, good enough to roll on the Medium Magic Item table. The GM then determines the item by rolling on the further tables. He still has the 100 gp trade-out left to roll, or the party can pocket that gold.

Here’s an example for a wandering monster: The party has defeated a Chimera that ambushed them. The GM rolls 1d20, getting an 18, which even with the -2 penalty for the creature not being an intelligent creature (GM’s call), that still grants the party some treasure. The GM deems the Chimera to be a “Weird or Aberrant” creature, so the party only gets half of the XP value in gold, which comes out to be 850 gp. They choose to make a single 100 gp trade-out roll and split the other 750 gp. The GM rolls 1d20 on the Gems or Items Table and gets a 4. He then rolls on the Gems base treasure table and gets an 18. He then adds +2 for the chimera’s 11 CL giving a grand total of 20 and the party a roll on the Medium Gems Table. With pay-outs on that table possibly far beyond the 100 gp they traded-out, the party made out pretty well.

Base Treasure Tables: Gems or Items
1d20 Roll Roll on...

1-15 The Gems Table
16-20 The Magic Items Table

1d20 Roll Result

1-15 Roll on the Minor Gems and Jewelry Table
16-23 Roll on the Medium Gems and Jewelry Table
24+ Roll on the Major Gems and Jewelry Table

Magic Items
1d20 Roll Result

1-15 Roll on the Minor Magic Items Table
16-23 Roll on the Medium Magic Items Table
24+ Roll on the Major Magic Items Table

So that’s a run-down of how my hacked up version of the S&W rules works. The one thing I haven’t done much with the S&W rules is converting monsters to S&W format rules. With the Monster Compendium (and the new Monstrosities book) and the S&W version of the Tome of Horrors, I’ve got a ridiculous number of monsters to use in my games…though since I am quite the “monster junkie” I’m sure I’ll convert some in due time!

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