|"A View Near Tivoli", by Thomas Cole|
I started them off with 0-level characters, 10 total (two the players had two characters--because they already had characters from the last session, the other two had three characters). At the end of the session, 5 characters survived. A wild board had gored three of them to death. One went crazy, attacked another character with a shovel, who promptly hit him back with a torch. The character caught fire and when tumbling down the slanting tunnel they were in and down into a bottomless pit. A fourth character took a strange fever and just got up in the middle of the night and left the group.
The rules of course, were Swords & Wizardry, with a couple sheets of house rules. I told them that the basic classes were available (Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, Thief), which they could find in the S&W free rulebook download. The more "advanced" classes are, of course, available from S&W Complete. One character even expressed interest in playing a witch, using Timothy Brannan's The Witch--which you can win a free copy of The Witch over at The Other Side Blog. And here's my review of The Witch.
I even threw in stuff from Al Krombach's Beyond the Black Gate Compendiums--Scroll down to "stuff I wrote" (and where is Mr. Krombach these days? I miss his posts.)
All of this is one reason I love Swords & Wizardry, and the OSR in general. You just take stuff from old school games and mix it all together with little or no problem. You can even take stuff from new editions of D&D and plug it in. For example, in one of Krombach's compendiums, he tells you how to use feats from 3e/3.5e by applying them to magic items (i.e. +1 Battle Axe of Cleave).
Hey, maybe now's the time to get more use out of the Tome of Magic--who wants to play an elementalist wizard?
How many versions of the Bard can you find? Which one would you like to play?
Okay, you can play a barbarian from AD&D's Unearthed Arcana but only if your character meets the ability score requirements, doesn't hang out with magic-users, wants to destroy magic-items, and you, yourself, are willing to deal with your character taking a long time gain levels (6,000 xp to get to second level!)
I'm encouraging my players to go out and find this stuff--or better yet, make up material on their own. For those who just want to play casually, the basic classes are available--no big deal.
At this point, I'm find myself not even interested in what 5e, or D&D Next (or whatever you want to call it) has to offer. Maybe it'll be the "next big thing," maybe it'll bomb. I really don't care.
With Swords & Wizardry, Matt Finch reminded us all that we, ourselves, possess the magic of creation, that genie in the lamp that Finch mentions in the Introduction of the Swords & Wizardry rulebook. Corporations like WotC, Paizo, and Games Jerkshop (yeah, I said it) possess this power only if we let them.
I'm not waiting around for the next big thing along with the grumbling, drama, and edition wars that go along with it.
The Expeditions in the Northlands is my next big thing.
And it's already here.