Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The Frog, The Finch, and The Boy
Fast forward half a year later, and I'm at the 2011 North Texas Role playing convention with the Boy. It was my first role playing convention - the culmination of the 30 year old dream that blossomed when I peeked in the back of Holmes and saw the ad for GENCON.
I saw Swords & Wizardry Complete in the dealer's room and bought a copy, then crammed it into my bag with my other loot. I was glad I did, because the game I had signed up for Saturday night had fallen through, and the only game available was this Mythrus Tower thing being run by Matt Finch. Whatdayaknow?
It was a packed, raucous room. There were no pregens. Matt expected us to sit down and roll up characters. Odd concept, eh? So I started looking through S&W Complete, trying to figure out what was going on in the book - having never seen the inside before.
By this point, the Boy was tired of waiting for me to figure out what page clerics were on, and began to grumble. Three days into a con can frazzle even the most hyped up ten year olds. :)
Suddenly, Bill Webb, head of Frog God Games, pulled out a copy of S&W Complete, signed it, had Matt sign it, and then handed it to my son. I opened my mouth, but Bill spoke first.
"What?" he grinned. "He needs a book of his own."
The Boy beamed and his grumpiness melted away.
It got loud - really loud, so Matt stood up on a chair and yelled through part of the game, having one player marking important things down on a giant whiteboard. Rather than being distracting - it worked remarkably well.
After the game I got to talk to Matt a bit, and told him that I played Labyrinth Lord. He smiled and said he didn't care what people played, as long as they played something.
Later, I got to sit down and read Swords & Wizardry Complete, and realized what it was. It's not a clone of AD&D. It's not a clone of Basic. It's all those little manila pamphlets that I could never make heads or tails of - rewritten in a format that is understandable. There are notes about the ever evolving game, and some alternate mechanics included - like ascending and descending AC - to make different audiences feel at home.
In some ways, Swords & Wizardry Complete, is like an archaeological dig into the D&D that existed before I got involved. In some ways, it's an alternate version of AD&D - a leaner, meaner, clearer version than Gary envisioned. I was very impressed.
That Christmas, I picked up a copies of the Swords & Wizardry Whitebox rules for the whole gang. I had downloaded the pdf and was impressed, yet again, with it's clarity and simplicity in purpose. I gave them all copies, not so I could DM them in a game - but so they could DM their own games with other people and spread the Old School message. And they have been doing just that. :)
PS - As this is Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day, there is a 25% off sale going on today at Frog God Games with a coupon code of SWApprDay and D20PFSRD with a coupon of SWAD252013. Pretty nifty!