Yes, yet another post on Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.
In my earlier post on Why Swords & Wizardry is the #1 RPG, I mentioned that used Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG's "Funneling system" with Swords & Wizardry. Why? Because its frakking cool and it shows how Swords & Wizardry can accomodate nearly any add-on from other similar rules systems.
If you're not familiar with the "funneling system," here's the gist of how it works, as well as I how I used with Swords & Wizardry.
Each player rolls up 3 zero-level characters. These characters have no classes, but their races, professions, and equipment are determined randomly on Tables 1-3 and 3-4 in the DCC RPG rulebook.
The characters start with:
--1d4 hit points, modified by Constitution (in DCC its called Stamina)
--5d12 Copper Pieces
--Base Saving Throw of 18 (Using S&W), for all of their saves.
--+0 to all attack rolls
--Proficiency in whatever weapon they start with. However, say if player wants his character to become a wizard, he shouldn't being going around wielding swords and wearing armor.
--Negative 100 XP. That is, -100 XP. (In DCC you start with 0 XP). Once a 0-level character survives his first adventure, he should be promoted to 1st level with exactly 0 XP, regardless if actual total falls short. The player then chooses his class (if human). Elves, halflings, and dwarves simply become 1st level elves, halfings, and dwarves.
(I also use Sanity from Call of Cthulu, but that's the subject of another post.)
Of course, the key is surviving. The funneling system does "funnel" out unworthy characters pretty quick. You'll start off with three characters, but chances are two will die in the first adventure.
Yet one thing I love about this method is that it forces the players to think, problem solve, rather than relying on the skills and powers of their characters. It's amazing watching giant rats be an actual threat. A gang of average goblins can cause a TPK if the PCs don't resort to ambushs and other tactics rather than just wading in to combat.
The result is that the average 1st Level character in S&W is a few hit points tougher, making 1st level not as lethal. The survivors also come with backgrounds, backgrounds the players can appreciate:
"I remember the days when I was just an orphan with a rag doll, but now I can harness the power of magic!"
And that's DCC RPG's funneling system combined with Swords & Wizardry