I've played Swords & Wizardry Whitebox, and really enjoyed it. I already have it as a DIY printed PDF booklet, so I decided to get Whitehack instead. I am looking for a simple D&D version for quickstarting some one-shot-sessions, but enough meat to play a campaign. I felt, that Whitebox did the trick extremely well. And it's easy to move to S&W Core from WB, if needed!
But I am always open for new retro-clone-similacrum-OSR-systems, so I bought this one.
This is not a review. I have not read the book yet (except checking how core mechanics work to get some idea what I want from character). Let's see how easy and fast it is to create a character without reading character creation rules beforehand!
If you are in a hurry, just transfer a pregenerated character to a copy of the character sheet. Well that was fast! Now let's try to create a character ourselves! I didn't print a character sheet, so I have to draw one myself. Luckily the character sheet is simple (but damn awesome). Picture somewhere below.
|This is a cool and so simple!|
For 1st edition.
STR: 10; DEX: 14; CON: 10; INT: 12; WIS: 16; CHA 13
I want to make a magic-user-guy! That's why I put high WIS, because it affects not only perception and insight but also magical abilities. Whitehack magic is different without spell list, so I'd want to try it out!
Attribute scores affect different bonuses, but most of them are not listed yet. But from attribute descriptions I get:
+1 to initiative from DEX, two extra languages from INT
Character Classes. There are three classes, or archtypes. If you are familiar with True20 (Bluerose has one), this is similar. Deft are skilled, Strong are fighters, and Wise are magicians, alchemist, scholars, priests etc. I am going to be Wise.
Magic I get I write a description myself. There is no spell list. Cool! Also spell casting is not Vancian memorize-and-forget, but you loose HP when you use spells. You've got twice spells than your slots. Slots are your spells that are ready to be cast. You must "memorize" spells to slots to use them. Nice! What I write down as a fresh, first level Wise, is:
HD: 6 (1d6+1); AV (attack value): 10; ST (Saving Throw): 6; Slots (for miracles) 1: Groups (for mechanical benefices): 2; Raises (which level attributes +): 0
My healing rate is doubled, but I cannot be healed with spells, medicine or skilled treatment. Shields and heavier than leather armor make me pay double HP for miracles. I also get -2 AV (to-hit) for two-handed weapons, except ye wizard weapons (like staff). +2 to save versus magic and mind tricks.
Class advantages and restrictions sound extremely reasonable and are totally fine with me. Great! I imagine that double healing rate but unable to boost healing means, that you basically automatically treat yourself all the times.
Groups. Broad definition of skills. Groups are attached to an attribute, so the group can give benefices to an attribute roll. My groups are:
Preacher, to CHA
Duelist, to DEX
Preaching duelist? Up yours D&D and sharp weapons restrictions for Clerics!
Now there are pregens, and names in a weird place cutting chapter in half. Not confusing, just weird layout.
Species. Now it tells me that my first group must be species! Damned. Wait, I fix previous groups I already decided. I think that species should be earlier in any character creation rules. Here's a great example why ;) Oh wait a sec!
Groups section says I don't have to choose all groups right away, but can choose two (I did above). Broad definition of skills... bla bla. Write next to an atrribute, check. How to use, two per attribute max etc. Gotcha! Species section right after says that the first type of group is the character's species. It must be chosen at a character creation bla bla. I can note them after two attribute, but if I am half-demihuman I only write it down one attribute. Second is my vocation (but if I am full-dwarf I already used my two groups to be dwarf-dwarf so I can't get a vocation). Vocation is barbarian, or wizard or something. Like your class description (I am a Wise, so barbarian vocation would be interesting concept). If I don't use Groups for species, I am a human.
SO if I want to be human wise-preacher-duelist I don't have to use my slots for races. These two chapters, groups and species, could have been written 100 times better! They suck the first time. Booo. Oh wait, what! Species, vocations, affiliations, are all under GROUPS. So I sucked at reading.
Affiliations are guilds, societies and what-not.
So you can use your two group slots for species, vocations, and affiliations. I am going with what I already got, even though they are not beforementioned. I need to go on, I've been stuck with this too long already!
Gold & Equipment. 3d6 x 10 gold, I've got 60. I am poor. Leather armor costs 15 and gives AC 2. Quarterstaff with damage 1d6-1 costs 1. Shortsword with 1d6-1 damage costs 8. Total cost is 24. Rest of the money I use to buy trinkets. I hate buying starting equipment, so I skip this. Calculating equipment weight is also as boring as it gets!
Calculating Armor Class. Unarmored 0 + Leather armor = 2. Yay! If they want to hit me, they need to roll between 2 and their attack value. My AV is 10, so I need to roll 2-10 with d20 to hit myself.
Languages. From the campaign world, which is unknown for me. I speak my own language and something extra. Maybe divine, because I am a preacher.
Character creation is quick, if you know what you are doing. I didn't read it beforehand, so I had a hiccup there with Groups. I think that the character creation is a bit wordy, and all things could be explained so much easier for even quicker results. There should be a fast character creation check list or something to get through with it.
But if you know what you are doing, this is good. Enough similarities to know what you are doing, but enough simple variations to make your character stand out really easy.
I need to try this with beginner group to check out how well they grab the Groups concept. In my experience beginners can think out of the box, when grognards only think Fighting Men, Magic-Users and Elves.