Swords & Wizardry is the ENNIE award-winning retro-clone of the original 1974-1978 edition of the world’s most famous fantasy roleplaying game. We can’t name it specifically, under the rules of the license we used to reproduce the rules, but you know the game we’re talking about.
We’re starting to run low on our stock of the 2nd printing, and it’s time to print some more. We didn’t just want to do an exact reprint, and the history of the changes here date back a while ago to when we were talking with designer Stacy Dellorfano about the fact that many OSR games have a physical appearance and presentation that really targets the 40 year old guys who’ve been gaming since forever, and doesn’t have nearly as much appeal to younger or female gamers of the generations following that first wave of players from the 1980s. In point of fact, old-school games, with their light-rules aspect and emphasis on a game master’s “common sense” interpretation of situations, are actually a really good tool for anyone who feels like rules-lawyers may be spoiling the game by trying to be over-authoritative or even overbearing with a GM. But if the appearance and presentation make the game look like it’s purely a throwback and not a modern tool for good gaming, then there’s a real obstacle to the game’s push into the mainstream gaming community.
As a result of this analysis, we engaged Stacy as a designer to produce an edition that’s no less appealing to older male gamers, while being MORE appealing to younger and to female gamers. Stacy put together a team, all women, to address this dual objective. We think her team has done an awesome job, and when you see the design results, we think you’ll agree.
Unfortunately, we think there may be some controversy about the fact that the design team here is made up entirely of women. We’ve already heard a couple of comments that generally turn on the idea of “Why restrict the project to women designers? Shouldn’t the objective be to pull the best talent whether male or female? What a gimmick.” We’d like to address that out front, rather than have it turn into a back-channel controversy in the halls of the internet. The missing piece of information is this: there are so many different directions that a project can take that there’s no such thing as “the best talent.” Given our goal of making the game more accessible, we hired – through Stacy – talent that coordinates with the goal. We asked Stacy to put together an all-woman team not as a societal goal, but because she had the chops to assemble the kind of team we wanted. This isn’t a “pink” edition of the rules. It’s the more-accessible next printing that we are targeting toward the mainstream market. It has always been our goal to get the open-ended rules of 1974-78 gaming into the mainstream, and this is our objective here. We think that Stacy’s team has hit this goal out of the ballpark, and we think you’ll agree.
Stacy writes: "I am Stacy Dellorfano, the Project Manager for Frog God Games on this project. I’m going to lay out this Kickstarter by walking you through what we’ve done, why I’m passionate about it, and why this work is important. I’ve gotten a great deal of support and advice from Bill Webb, the main force behind Frog God Games, and the author of Swords & Wizardry, Matt Finch."
Our cover artist, Kaos Nest, painted the cover by hand - in ink, watercolor, and ballpoint pen. I asked for something abstract, dark, and gothic, giving her hints like thorns and blood and bones and leaves.
For the interior, Frog God wanted to keep the artwork black and white like it is for the current printing of the book. Kaos also provided us with plenty of the in-book artwork, adding in more of her killer pen work. Kaos hails from a small town in Italy, and travels the world picking up new skills and working on her illustrations (many of ours were done while she was visiting Ireland). Though her work has graced the covers of fantasy novels, Swords & Wizardry was her first tabletop RPG project, but surely not her last!
A total of seven illustrators put together all the artwork you’ll see in the book. Wherever possible, we had the same artist handle all the illustration for a particular area. For example, Abigail Larson, whose most recent work is a fully illustrated version of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Cats of Ulthar”, added her gothic ethereal look to our class illustrations.
Gennifer Bone, who’s worked on OSR titles before, did all our monster illustrations. She specializes in monsters, and runs a Patreon where she creates gaming illustrations each week. Her beautifully hideous monsters grace the pages of the monster section, which opens with a full-page all-out monster brawl also illustrated by Gennifer.
Jenna Fowler, whose work has graced the pages of many RPGs since she started her freelance career in 2010, did a fantastic job illustrating our spell section as well as adding several other illustrations to the book’s interior.
Another newcomer to RPGs, Angela Rizza, illustrated a few of our full-page images, and created 10 separate inside borders for the pages - a different border for each section of the book. Her classical storybook illustration style provided rich depth to our borders, and her attention to detail means you’ll see something new every time you look at the page.
For layout design, Sydney-based illustrator and graphic designer Leigh Tuckman has taken the reigns. Of the many things she’s created for us, my favorite by far is her re-creation of the character sheet. We were able to make a PDF you can get for free including ten versions of the PDF - one of each border as they appear in the book only set as a frame for a full page.
Just the artwork and layout! The text of the book is exactly the same as it was in the 2nd printing save for some minor adjustments to the gameplay example.
Why The New Design Team?
This project came out of a discussion largely about how to get more women interested in OSR games, and evolved into a request to create a product that would appeal to all genders and challenge the idea of what an OSR game should look like. For many of the women who illustrated the book, this is their first foray into freelancing in the tabletop RPG industry. By participating in this project, we’re raising their visibility and adding more female voices to the industry.
What this is not is an “RPG for women”. This is Swords & Wizardry the same as it’s been for the last two printings, just with new artwork and layout for the new printing.
But Wait, There’s More! In addition to redesigning the book for the 3rd printing, we’ve designed two whole new adventures that utilize the same layout and features more of Kaos Nest’s fantastic work.
- $12 Softcover ($6 PDF) of The Five Maidens by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul - Liz brings us this fantastic city-based adventure set in a unique fishing village caught in a perpetual nightmare of a storm. The people there have lost the capability to dream, and it’s been gone so long they can no longer even remember dreaming. Now, a sleeping sickness has swept over the city, and it’s up to you and your party to find out what’s going on and tackle the beasts, storm, and sickness to save the city’s inhabitants. The Five Maidens is half mystery, half city-crawl. Figure out why the inhabitants are suffering, decide what to do about the problem, then fight your way through the consequences.
- $12 Softcover ($6 PDF) of Zaya’s Promise by Stacy Dellorfano - Buried under miles and miles of twisting vines and poisonous thorns lies a long-forgotten city destroyed in a long-forgotten war. Beneath the city’s ruins there reportedly lies a vast maze of rooms and corridors containing wonders never seen before, and treasure beyond description. The only problem is that for as long as anyone remembers, no one who has gone in seeking said wonders and treasure has returned. This adventure is more of a classic dungeon crawl, themed around the accidentally terrifying dreamscape of an elven girl trapped in a nightmare of her own making. The dungeon shifts and exits move about as the party explores, making each run through the dungeon a unique experience and allowing for infinite replays of the same adventure.
- $30 Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook (2nd Edition Printing) - Limited Quantity Erol Otus Cover Book
- $50 Monstrosities Hardcover ($25 PDF) - The perfect companion to the Complete Rulebook!
- $12 Deck of Treasures - Treasure items to use in your S&W games!
- $10 Hex Crawl Chronicles 1-7 Softcover ($4 PDF) - each sold separately, collect the entire set!
- $9 Bill Webb's Book of Dirty Tricks Softcover ($4 PDF) - Learn all the secrets of Dungeon Master Bill Webb with this excellent Softcover which can be utilized for all RPG systems!
- $15 Bill Webb's Deck of Dirty Tricks - 52 cards to aid your players during the most perilous adventures, written by Bill Webb himself!
- $7 Grimmsgate - What great evil and what fabulous treasures are to be found in these lands? A brave band of adventurers might make their fortunes here. Or perhaps they might never return…
- $7 MCMLXXV (1975) - Bill's Module was written for the Swords & Wizardry Kickstarter bonus goal. It is a second introductory module to Matt Finch's First Introductory Module, Grimmsgate.
- $10 Against Tsathogga - Kickstarter Only Limited Edition Print - Deep in the heart of a forsaken and filthy mire, a great amphibious foe awaits. Led by an ancient evil from the world's history, can you stop the summoning of the Demon Frog- God? If not, you may face the Devourer of Life!
- $7 S&W DM Screen (2nd Edition Printing)
- FREE Strange Bedfellows PDF (special bonus for all backers for funding in the first day!)
We have two different types of stretch goals for this project. Funding Level and Number of Backers:
- $15,000 - Everyone gets a free PDF of the Art Poster (book cover in 11x17")
- $18,000 - Deck of Treasures becomes a free PDF and a $12 physical add on!
- $21,000 - Deck of Spells becomes a free pdf or a $12 physical add on!
- $24,000 - Deck of Hirelings becomes a free pdf or a $12 physical add on!
- $27,000 - Deck of Encounters 1 becomes a free pdf or a $12 physical add on!
- $30,000 - Deck of Encounter 2 becomes a free pdf or a $12 physical add on!
- $35,000 - A free PDF of Hall of Bones for everyone!
- $40,000 - We will reprint Tome of Adventure Design and make it available as a $21 PDF and $42 Hardcover +PDF!
- $50,000 + ???
- 600 Backers - we reprint all 7 of the Hex Crawls for Kickstarter and make each available as a $10 softcover +PDF or a PDF only for $4!
- 700 Backers - we reprint all 10 Splinters of Faith for Kickstarter and make each available as a $9 softcover +PDF or a PDF for only 4$!
- 800 Backers - we reprint 5 of the 6 One Night Stands for Kickstarter and make each available as a $10 softcover +PDF or a PDF for only $4!.
Stacy Dellorfano is the CEO and Founder of ConTessa, an ENnie award winning organization that has been nominated for a Diana Jones Award. ConTessa is dedicated to bringing more women into the leadership aspects of tabletop gaming and runs events at conventions all over the country and online. She's been gaming, herself, since the early 90s when she was introduced to gaming on the floor of the band room, where she instantly took up the role of GM. After two decades working in software, Stacy recently left the tech world to invest full time in writing and designing games as well as running plenty of ConTessa events all over the country.
Risks and challenges
Our only foreseeable risk is if our production facility gets backlogged or if there is a production delay. Our printer is a large producer of college text books and yearbooks, so depending on the time of year they can have a suddenly busy production schedule. We have been using them for our big books for the last 5 years, and they have always been reliable, but if our order gets caught in a text or yearbook crush it can cause delays in the printing. This has not been a problem to date but is always a remote possibility.
A production delay could include lost files due to a computer crash (we have backups), or if one of our key people suffers real-life difficulties such as illness, etc. The books are already written, so this risk is mainly at the layout and shipping phases.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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