Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sword and Wizardry Appreciation Day and my first ever Crypts and Things game

As you might have guessed, today is Sword and Wizardry Application Day.  This also happens to coincide with the preparation of my first ever Crypts and Things game that is scheduled to go down this Saturday.  These two things actually tie in rather well together since Crypts and Things is a Sword and Wizardry Variant. 

Swords and Wizardry is a retroclone of the original White Box Dungeons and Dragons game that came out back in the 70’s.  I had run across in on the web years ago and downloaded a free copy of the pdf.  Later, I purchased a softback copy of the rule set from the folks as Frog God Games ( and I was a backer of Frog God Games Sword and Wizardry campaign on Kickstarter as well.  An 18 strength only gives you a +1 to hit and to damage.  There is only one saving throw number. There are no skills and there are no feats, and the game works very well without them.  This is old school bare bones role playing and if get tired of the more complex gaming systems, I would highly recommend that you give Swords and Wizardry a try.  Also, without Sword and Wizardry, we wouldn’t have Crypts and Things.

Crypts and Things aims at capturing the spirit of Sword and Sorcery tales by likes of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock and Karl Edward Wagner with a healthy dose of the weirdness of Clark Ashton Smith and the cosmic terror of H.P. Lovecraft.  It does an excellent job of capturing this kind of fantasy literature. 

Getting ready for the game this Saturday

Crypts and Things differs from Swords and Wizardry in several ways.  There is only one race available for player characters:  Human.  Elves, dwarves, Halflings and orcs are nowhere to be found.  There are only four classes:  Fighter, Barbarian, Thief and Magician.  The rules for ability scores are different in Crypts and Things as well, bring the bonuses and minuses for scores more in line with what you find in Castles and Crusades.  For example, a fighter with 18 strength would have a + 3 bonus to hit and to damage.  The Thief class in Crypts and Things is more martial in nature when compared with the Thief class in Swords and Wizardry.  While Sword and Wizardry follows the Law vs. Chaos alignment system, there is no alignment in Crypts and Things.  For player characters in Crypts and Things, hit points represent more exhaustion than real damage and you can recover hit points fairly quickly through rest and/or strong drink.  That comes in handy in a game system without clerics.  When you run out of hit points, you start to take constitution damage.  Once you run out of constitution, you are dead.  Cure spells actually restore constitution points, not hit points.  Oh, everyone in Crypts and Things has the back-stab ability!

The biggest difference is in the magic system.  In Crypts and Things, there are three types of magic:  White, Grey and Black.  White magic, in general, is healing and protection magic.  A magician can cast any white magic spell without fear of losing sanity.  Grey magic, which involves alteration and illusion, costs the magician hit points to cast.  Black magic, the cool, destructive stuff, requires that the magician conduct human sacrifice or risk losing Sanity points when casting their spells.  If you can freely cast Black magic spells, you have been doing some terrible things.

Sanity score is another aspect of Crypts and Things.  Your character’s sanity score is based upon the character’s wisdom score.  When a character encounters some horror from beyond, they need to make a saving throw.  If they fail, they lose sanity.  Fortunately, most of the time, sanity can be recovered through rest but using Black magic can and will lead to permanent sanity loss.  A character that hits zero Sanity score is completely insane and will then fall under control of the game master. 

The front of my custom made Crypts and Things GM screen

The back of my custom made Crypts and Things GM screen
I was a supporter of the Crypts and Things indiegogo campaign and I have wanted to run it ever since I got my hands on the pdf.  By chance, the stars aligned and I will finally be able to run it for at least an adventure or two, starting this Saturday.  When my Castles and Crusades group wrapped up our last adventure, the players graciously allowed me the opportunity to give Crypts and Things a whirl.  I have taken Mongoose Publishing’s Legend of the Spider God’s Bride ( and converted some of the adventures to Crypts and Things and this Saturday, the game beings in the city of small city of Belthaar where a new religious cult headed by a onetime bandit now claiming to be a god threatens to throw the city in chaos….

If you want to learn more about Crypts and Things, then check this out.

One more thing:  Today only you can buy products from Frog God Games, including S&W Complete and resources for it, at 25% off. Use the code SWApprDay for the discount. You can also buy S&W PDFs from the d20pfSRD Store at 25% off using code SWAD252013.


  1. Great post. I haven't used, played or even read Crypts and Things much. I need to change that.

    My Swords & Wizardry posts, The S&W Witch and The Ördög

  2. Any change you could share the file you used for your Crypts & Things screen?

    1. Well, I didn't really use a single file. For the front, I just printed out some art work that I found out on the Internet or from stuff that was posted on Facebook. As for the inside, I printed out pages from the Crypts and Things.

    2. I take that back. I did create one file for the GM screen. It was for Base to Hit tables for using Ascending Armor Class in Crypts and Things. I could send that to you if you like.