Recently I finally read White Box Fantasy Medieval Adventure Game. I made some comments about its seemingly hard-line, arbitrary nature. Helpful commenters informed me that this was not because the creators of Original Dungeons & Dragons (from which Swords and Wizardry and its clone White Box are derived) had any interest in hard, rules-as-written play but rather because it is intended to supply what are essentially shortcuts to bits of play that negotiation could not adequately resolve (for example: negotiating whether someone’s character died, which often got very charged). It has no interest in providing a full suite of tools for play, and is much more interested in just handling the boring bits and letting you get to the fun bits.
You know what other genre of game styles itself like that? Powered by the Apocalpyse. And hence the true terror is born: OD&D PbtA. I isolated the pieces of play White Box ruled on, converted them into pbta moves (and added a little houseruling of my own), and here are the results. Enjoy.
Add tags (words in italics) to your character.
Humans get medium and a choice of strong, dextrous, durable, intelligent, wise, charismatic.
Dwarves get small, craftsman, infravision, non-magic.
Elves get medium, infravision, magic.
Halflings get small, accurate, infravision, non-magic.
Class can be fighter, magic user, cleric, thief.
Humans can be any class.
Dwarves can be fighter, thief.
Elves can be both fighter and magic user. Choose which to be each day.
Halflings can be fighter, thief.
Everyone starts with 1 Hit Die (HD). Get more by getting XP = current HD * 1000 (1000 XP to advance from 1HD to 2, 2000 from 2 to 3 etc.). 1 GP = 1 XP. Monsters drop their HD * 100 XP when killed or defeated by any means.
Advantage = roll 3d6 take highest 2. Disadvantage = roll 3d6 take lowest 2. Advantage and disadvantage cancel each other.
If something isn’t specified by a move, talk it out. If you must roll dice, roll 2d6. 10+ is good, 7-9 tricky, 6- bad. Consult tags to determine advantage or disadvantage.
Make a Saving Throw
Roll 2d6. Non-magic creatures get advantage vs magic saving throws. Having higher HD than originator of saving throw means you get advantage, lower means you get disadvantage.
10+ Choose 2 – You don’t get hurt, you don’t lose anything, you get a reaction.
7-9 Choose 1 from the above.
6- You suffer the full effects.
Engage in Combat
Roll 2d6, subtract enemy HD. If you are a fighter add your HD, a thief add your HD if stealth or surprise applies, a magic user get disadvantage. If you are a small creature fighting large creatures get advantage, disadvantage if vice versa. Mounted units get advantage against ground unless they have polearms. Accurate creatures get advantage on ranged attacks.
10+ You deal and receive 1 HD damage. Choose 1: You don’t receive 1 HD damage, You deal 1 HD extra damage, you produce situational effect.
7-9 You deal and receive 1 HD damage. Fighters also choose 1 from the above.
6- You receive 1 HD damage.
Engage in Thievery
Roll 2d6. Thieves add their HD, small or medium creatures get advantage when dealing with distracted or unaware targets/guards.
10+ All 3: You get what you want, you don’t get spotted/noticed, you do it quickly
7-9 Choose 2 from the above.
6- You don’t achieve your goals.
Engage in Magic
Roll 2d6 and use a prepared spell from an item or your brain (Magic user only). Magic users add their HD. +1 for each of the following you do: spend 1 hour to complete a ritual, use a rare monster/thematic ingredient, drink a dose of quicksilver (2-in-6 chance for 1 HD damage). Non-magic creatures get disadvantage, magic creatures get advantage.
10+ The spell goes off as planned at the cost of spell order HD. Choose 1: Halve HD damage (rounding down), stealth casting, spell is not burned from your mind.
7-9 The spell goes off as planned at the cost of spell order HD. Magic users also choose 1.
6- The spell backfires.
Engage in Prayer
Roll 2d6 to determine mood of god (praying creature must have a religion). Clerics add their HD. +1 for each devout creature of same alignment praying next to you, -1 for every opposed creature praying. Subtract order of demand (1 for cosmetic or minor, 2 for substantial aid, 4 for miraculous or problem-resolving power) from roll result. You can pray HD times between periods of rest.
12+ God is pleased, you get what you want + 1 HD healed
10-11 God is pleased, you get what you want
7-9 God demands sacrifice of: Order*10 gp, Order HD, Order magic items, Quest (choose 1)
6-3 God is displeased, you don’t get what you want
2- God is displeased, you don’t get what you want + smote for 1 HD
Engage in Dungeoncraft
Roll 2d6 and spend 10 minutes. Craftsmen add their HD. Auto 10+ if you spend 30 minutes doing this.
10+ Hold 3. Spend hold to do a dungeon action when in this area. This can mean: detecting secret doors, detecting hidden mechanisms, detecting magic disguises, noticing slopes on the floor.
7-9 Hold 1.
6- Hold 0.