Thursday, April 26, 2012

Into the Vaults: SPI's Swords & Sorcery

The Adventurer Conqueror King system is for me the first fantasy role-playing game to answer the question “Why wouldn’t I just use the game I began using in 1978?”  At the same time, the Adventurer Conqueror King system is closer to the game I began with than more recent editions of the game, giving me a good reason to re-visit some of the gaming artifacts of my youth.  In my Into the Vaults series of posts, I share my thoughts on these artifacts.

I began playing (Advanced) Dungeons & Dragons in 1978.  A friend of a friend, a little older than us, had a boxed set that I never saw and was our Dungeon Master.  One of my friends had the relatively new AD&D Monster Manual.  Another friend had the newer still AD&D Player’s Handbook.  As the new addition to the group, I would acquire the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide as soon as it was available in my local hobby shop.  I will be forever thankful for my grandmother for many reasons, perhaps least of which that she agreed to buy me a book that looked like a “crazy book” to her, with its devilish giant (an Efreet, of course) and scantily clad woman on the cover.  When I wanted to borrow the Player’s Handbook or Monster Manual, I loaned out my Dungeon Master’s Guide to my friends, and vice versa.

There were no adventures or campaign worlds available for purchase that we were aware of.  Only many years later would I read of using Avalon Hill’s Outdoor Survival game board as a campaign world.  Our Dungeon Master used the SPI Swords & Sorcery game map as our campaign world.  The game Swords & Sorcery has a mixed reputation due to the puns and lack of seriousness with which the game approaches fantasy.  In spite of that, the game itself is pretty interesting and the world it portrays even more so.  We were probably too young to catch a lot of the humor, and what we did catch, we more or less ignored.  We used the Swords & Sorcery map as a “hexcrawl” setting.  In particular, hunting dragons in the dragon tunnels in the mountain ranges of the map was a lucrative, if dangerous, pursuit.  Many a randomly generated dragon met its end at our hands, and many a randomly generated dragon hoard filled our coffers.

Some years later, I took my copy of the Swords & Sorcery map and physically cut and paste terrain features from other map sheets to “advance the time line” of the campaign world.  Later (What was I thinking!), I managed to acquire another copy of the game so that I would have the original map.  I’m thinking both of these maps would be a great blast from the past to use for an Adventurer Conqueror King system game.  I’ll keep you posted.

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