Friday, May 13, 2011

Swords & Wizardry is no replacement for the Original Edition

I started this blog when I discovered Swords & Wizardry. S&W introduced me to this exciting movement known as the OSR. I loved how well written S&W was and how well it emulated the original edition of the original, and best, fantasy role playing game. Since then I have played many hours of S&W, exploring it's strengths and weaknesses.
I soon came to the conclusion that S&W was a different game from the Original Edition. A beautiful, and succinct emulation, but different nonetheless.
As I have immersed myself in classic D&D blogs and forums like Knights & Knaves, Grognardia, and others, I came to realize the whole OSR thing was much larger, more creative, and more interesting than I had imagined. I was drawn to the original edition - the "white box" set; the original 3 booklets. I have 2 copies of this set. One in good condition, the other previously owned by Lawrence Schick, that has some markups and design notes written in ink in it. This is the version I have taken to playing lately. And I can wholeheartedly say it is better than Holmes, Basic, AD&D, 2nd, 3rd, 3.5, or 4th edition. There is just some magic that the original edition captured that none of the later editions have. Perhaps it is in the ambiguity and the largely undefined nature that allows the DM to ad lib according to the needs of his own group, But, whatever it is, there is a mystique and a magic to those first 3 books that is unmatched by any later edition, or later RPG I have seen. Which is why I have returned to playing the Original Edition lately.

9 comments:

  1. Do you think it's the knowledge that you're playing the original that lends something to the experience, or do you think there's something objectively better about the rules themselves or their presentation? Do you think your experience would be the same or different as a player?

    Not leading question - I'm just interested in hearing you go into a bit more detail on WHY you feel this way about it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree that the Core Rules S&W variant has a different emotional feel. But the 2nd printing Whitebox (the one published by Brave Halfling before the Great Whitebox Implosion of 2010) feels just like OD&D to me. Even with it's unified saving throw, which was done for legal purposes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In my view the original edition is fundamentally different than all subsequent editions. It is equal parts rules, oral tradition, and obligate user creativity. Newer editions are primarily rules with the latter elements being largely optional.

    The three little books are indeed strange and splendid seeds.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I still love S&W, it just has a different feel. OD&D has kruft and character. When you take it as a whole, throw in Outdoor Survival, Chainmail, and the supplements you have a very unique concoction with tremendous personality. It can't just be nostalgia because my first experience with D&D was the Moldvay set and First Edition. I didn't take to playing OD&D until much later (I didn't have my own original copy until 1997).
    Much of the "oral tradition" part is something I've only gathered recently from reading blogs and posts from old-timers. Which I think is a very important part of it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. In my view the original edition is fundamentally different than all subsequent editions. It is equal parts rules, oral tradition, and obligate user creativity. Newer editions are primarily rules with the latter elements being largely optional.

    Very well said and I couldn't agree more.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love the original game. In practice, I find it difficult and unsatisfying to play.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Any idea where I can get affordable copies?

    ReplyDelete
  8. At Noble Knight you can get one for just $1999.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The magic was written in the forwards - just doesn't happen anymore with bean-counting initiatives. Players were enabled with original versions. Current versions constrict players.

    ReplyDelete