Knight Owl Review: Swords & Wizardry Light
I turned away from D&D in my 20’s, partially because I was busy with other things: relationships, work, school, etc. and partially because the never-ending expansion of the game system kept making it harder and harder to keep up with and enjoy. Once I eventually returned to the game, it was with a purist’s passion, fueled by the desire to find ways to distill the game to its most basic and accessible form and cut through the excessive bloat that had turned me away. Thankfully, the OSR revolution has largely embraced this concept and we now have a growing selection of fine systems that accomplish this feat with varying degrees of success.
When I stumbled across this little gem by Eric Tenkar with James Spahn and Zach Glazar, I was super excited. Though more a fan of the Red Box retro-clones than their White Box cousins, I have always enjoyed the simplicity and approachability of the White Box system–hit dice, saves, and weapon damage rules in particular–on which this system doubles down to great success! Somehow Tenkar and Spahn managed to extract the essential information for playing a game of D&D down to 4 pages–and that includes magic and monsters! The rules make sense and are definitely adequate for at least four game sessions, which is honestly more than I will usually get with a group these days.
Efficiency has its price, of course, and the spell lists are notably short, particularly limiting the Magic User class to a combat-oriented type. But it’s definitely adequate for first level and adding the B/X Essentials Cleric and Magic User Spells book to the mix makes for a fully scalable game.
I will definitely use this in the future to intro my non-RPG friends into the game. It is easily the best four page RPG I have found since S.John Ross’s RISUS changed my life forever and I am even considering trying my hand at developing my own Red Box adaptation–though it would be hard to get it as perfectly as this. You can find out more here: http://www.tenkarstavern.com/2017/03/wherein-i-answer-various-swords.html and you can get your own free copy of Swords & Wizardry Light here: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/219477/Swords–Wizardry-Light&affiliate_id=1446