S&W Family Campaign

Ruins of Ramat HallwayIt has been many months since I have run a game for the kids. We last left off a little over a year ago with a Pathfinder campaign. The older boy has been asking to play and using the start of a new family campaign up as leverage for some other things, the family campaign has started once again!

The System

While a big Pathfinder fan, I have been dabbling in other systems and wanted to use something else this time around.. I run and play in a lot of Dungeon Crawl Classics games. My son has played this twice and the randomness of the magic system annoys him. The fantasy games are new enough and fresh enough to him that he doesn’t need the “shock” value of random spell results. He wants his magic to work predictably.

He mentioned an interest in the mysterious brown books I have on the shelf (OD&D) and playing with that set. Not really wanting those books on the game table or getting damaged, we opted to go forward with Swords & Wizardry Complete for the foundation of our campaign.

My son has slowly taken a liking to these older systems. Once the system was chosen, he immediately set about creating his characters and lining up his henchmen. He also took input from his younger sister on what kind of character she wanted to play and built her an elven ranger (we let the race/class requirement bend a bit).

S&W BattlematIt took a little convincing to assure my son 3d6, assigned as he saw fit, was going to be okay. I let him know his character did not need to be a superhero in these systems. While I did not supervise his actual dice rolling, the resulting scores looked reasonable with a minimal amount of indicators of fudging.

I did let him use his own house rule for hit points as I thought it was a good one. If the hit die was a d4, then I let him do a 2d2 to generate, a d6 was a 2d3, a d8 was a 2d4, etc. That seemed a reasonable compromise to me.

The Campaign

I started the campaign in a small, as of yet, unnamed village. The spring wars were being fought on the border of the region leaving the village with a much smaller number of defenders. A young girl had recently had her dog taken by a pair of skeletal hands from a hole at the top of a nearby hill. Our heroes were needed to find this dog or determine what happened.

This came from the Brave Halfling Module The Ruins of Ramat. My version was actually written for DCC RPG, but it was easy to convert on the fly to S&W. The Ruins of Ramat is a small dungeon that is not overly deadly, despite its intention as a 0-level funnel.

Kids - Ruins of RamatWith the scene set, the kids quickly asked questions about the situation. In fact the younger daughter was quite inquisitive, immediately asking extremely relevant questions about the claws, how many, what size, and other things about the hill before heading there. I was quite impressed!

My son plays two characters, a Magic-user and a Halfling Thief and my daughter plays the elven ranger. They have hired two henchman to assist as they head out to investigate.

The two have played many times before and did well at exploring and battling the denizens within. Several of the fights went quite quickly with good tactical playing by both of them. The final fight got a little close to going quite poorly. The two henchman both feel to the foul creatures, and the high starting hit point of the ranger saved her. But in the end they vanquished the threat and recovered the missing dog from the ruined temple.

Returning to the town as heroes, they enjoyed their spoils and tallied up their gold and experience points. A very successful first session of the new campaign!

What is Next?

DiceInspired by The Delvers podcast, I decided to pick up Barrowmaze. I continually hear positive things about the megadungeon. I also think back to my early days of dungeon crawling and remember enjoying expansive dungeons.

So I have decided to drop Barrowmaze into this early portion of the campaign. I suspect we can get a lot of great game time out of it. It should make regular game prep a little easier always having that as an option as well. Anything to reduce the hurdles of running the campaign from my end is a good thing. On weeks I have a little more time I can always drop in another side adventure for a break from the Barrowmaze if need be.

Once we get a few Barrowmaze sessions in I will do another post on how the family Swords & Wizardry game is coming along!

9 thoughts on “S&W Family Campaign

  1. “Random spell results?”

    Thanks! Now I know that I do not wish to play Dungeon Crawl Classics.

    Tell your son, that’s not my “thing” either.

    • Well, random to a degree. For example if you cast magic missile in DCC RPG you roll a d20 plus some modifiers on a spell table. The results will range from failure and losing the spell for the day or all the way from a magic missile that does 1 point of damage to multiple missiles that do 1d8+1 damage to multiple targets. So it is the same spell, just varying degrees of success.

      My son just prefers his magic missiles are more predictable than that and I certainly respect that! I am a big DCC RPG fan, but S&W seemed a better fit for this campaign.

      If you have any interest in hearing more about the DCC magic system though, the most recent episode of Spellburn (a DCC RPG podcast) covered wizard magic in the most recent episode: http://spellburn.com

    • It’s random, but unless you roll horribly, the result is the spell is lost or cast. In standard vancian magic you ‘lose’ the spell after casting anyway. You really only fear a low, low roll – corruption (weird things happen to your wizard). Randomness on the high end just produces greater result – and you can ‘burn’ points of STR, AGL or STA to boost your roll. I much prefer this system to fire and forget (for the day) OSR magic.

    • We’ve started Barrowmaze for now, they just found the entrance last weekend! But I should sprinkle in some DS adventures for side treks on weeks we don’t feel like delving into the Barrowmaze. Good idea!

  2. I appreciate the input, but . . .

    If the result is random — depending upon the roll of the die — then how can a person be a “Master” of the Art? A Master Magician is going to have more control over his spells than that and that’s how I like to play it. DCC’s random spells is more in tune with Wild Mage magics.

    That’s just how I play it, though I will “look in” on the pod-cast.


  3. Sounds like fun! How old are they?

    I recently bought Barrow Maze II from a Half Price Books for about $16. I’d be interested in getting the first part as well.

    As for DCC’s magic system. I made the natural rolling of 1s and 20s significant, but not much else. I also like the Mercurial effects. However, I’ve just switched from DCC to S&W, so will probably be using both to some degree.


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