Friday, April 17, 2015

Swords For Wizardry (S&W Appreciation Day)

Art by RenMoraes
About a week ago, I was struck by the way that the title of Swords & Wizardry echoes the naming conventions of Fritz Leiber's classic sword-and-sorcery tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Indeed, the title of the fourth collection is Swords Against Wizardry, and both feature prominently in the adventures of Lankhmar's most famous adventurers, possibly second only to Conan himself in fame across the entire genre.

Naturally, such icons will have been adopted to RPGs before, and are indeed about to experience something of a renaissance, with versions on the horizon for both Dungeon Crawl Classics and Savage Worlds.

But today is not the day to appreciate those systems - today is Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day!

Happily, like most retroclone systems, Swords & Wizardry is pretty much built for running the sort of picaresque sword-and-sorcery adventures Fafhrd and the Mouser get up to. Really, the only thing that comes to mind that might need adjusting is the multiclassing system.

Fafhrd and the Mouser, you see, quite obviously go back and forth between being thieves and fighters, and of course Mouser started as a wizard's apprentice (Fafhrd, in one story, also took a level as a Cleric, but nothing much came of that). Timothy Brannan at The Other Side just posted some thoughts on multiclassing Swords and Wizardry characters, but I wonder how much would break if you simply removed the minimum ability score requirement and disability to advance in both - or all - classes from the as-written dual-classing rules. I'm sure it could result in slightly overpowered characters, but such things are not out of the ordinary in Lankhmar.

Anyway, slightly overpowered characters need slightly overpowered enemies, and recently I was inspired to recreate the titular creature from the Leiber story "The Cloud of Hate":

Summoned by dark cults lead by evil magicians, Hate-Clouds take the form of a silvery fogbank with a reddish tinge. Attacks made directly targeting the red tinge gain a +4 to-hit bonus. For each Hit Dice, it can ensnare one creature (as the Charm Person spell), which it directs to attack any and all passersby. The Cloud can also manipulate weapons directly. When defeated, a red and silver trail leads back to the summoners.

Hate-Cloud HD: 1- 6 AC: 1(18) Atk: Per Weapon, 1 for each HD not currently ensnaring somebody, Save: 9 Move: 9 AL: E CL/XP: 3-9/60-1100  Special: Accompanied by up to number of HD of ensnared victims (treat as Berserkers).

I hope you enjoyed this little Lankhmar-themed addition to Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2015 - a big shout-out to RJ at Gamers and Grognards for hosting this year!

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