Thursday, March 21, 2013

Swords & Wizardry as Non Retro-clone

Tim Brannan posted some comments about Swords & Wizardry today (here is his post), and I think they're worth mentioning. He engages in the thought experiment of seeing Swords & Wizardry as a non-clone, and comes up with some very positive conclusions.

It's often said that S&W isn't a "true clone," but rather a "neo-clone," as Dan Proctor of Goblinoid Games terms it -- I think that this is a meme that got started with the early versions of S&W (which were not as close to the source material as the current printing). Conventional wisdom seldom revises itself, and I'm fine with that; it's just the way things are. Nevertheless, Swords & Wizardry as it currently stands is -- in my opinion, which may be biased -- as close a clone to OD&D as you can get, given the protean nature of the beast.

But here, Tim turns that conventional wisdom on its head. If S&W were a non-clone, is it good? Tim's answer is, "yes." So, even though I disagree with the initial premise, I have to conclude that Tim is a genius of the first water, and probably sings well, to boot.


  1. Thanks for the comments!

    I am glad I gave S&W another go. It has been my big off-and-on reading project since late Nov.

    The thing is I think we can totally disagree because this is D&D distilled to it's core. Because of that it is naturally going to fit into whatever hole we choose to cram it into.

    For me it was less about what the game was or was not, but more about me shedding pre-conceptions of what it should be.

    And trust me. I am a terrible, terrible singer. People pay me money not to sing. ;)

  2. As one who has grown sick to death of the "it has to exactly the way it was in the game I grew up with," I have come to appreciate S&W (Complete, Core or WhiteBox), as a great, solid RPG all in its own right.

    S&W doesn't have to "clone" anything for me. It just plain works, and works well.

    Matt has done an excellent job with Swords & Wizardry. It is streamlined and very well written using the fewest words possible. I continue to admire it and use it. :)

  3. I've always thought the "not an exact clone" argument was always a bit beside the point and a bit of a red herring. My understanding is that most people hacked and houseruled the original rules to the point where (without overstating the case) almost everyone was playing a slightly different game. In that context, what would an "exact clone" look like and why would that have any value?

    Obviously just my opinion. I came at S&W with a much simpler perspective and without any need to categorize, label or put a taxonomy on the game (not that doing that is a bad thing - just not my thing). The only thing I really cared about was "is this fun?" Happy to report that the answer to that question is a resounding "yes."

  4. The general purpose of clone rules is to be able to publish modules and settings using them and not be eaten by the big bad wolf. I greatly appreciate what Matt has been able to do using the S&W rules, but for me, the more that S&W drifts from being a clone, the less useful it becomes.