We got together for our second session with Swords & Wizardry:Whitebox this week and I had a couple of observations I thought I would like to talk about. A scene from our game as the players do battle with the nasty ghouls of the ship called The Black Gate.
The first thing that became quickly apparent to me is why I liked original D&D when I first started playing, and why I like rules-lite now. Whitebox is rules lite and as such it encourages role-playing. The original D&D rules did the same thing, sitting on the boat during the adventure, hacking away at the ghouls….wow, it was sort of boring, really. “I swing my sword“, “The ghoul lunges at Edan” quickly became pretty monotonous and I found myself struggling to try to make it interesting for myself and the players. I am aware that the interactions between players grows as they become more accustomed to each other and the group grows together. This group has exceptional role-players already and I can already see some of that interaction starting to take place, so I am not worried that this group will come together and form a tight knit social group. In this way, I can say that Whitebox is a good tool working towards creating situations encouraging role-playing .
The second thing I realized is that a two hour session, twice a month may not be enough to create a strong campaign. Due to adult and other life obligations this is about the best we can all manage, but I think this will also create less of a pull for a ongoing game than I would like. Maybe I am just fantasizing about the games I ran as a youth, but I know my friends back then could not wait for the next game, and would often talk about it here and there during the week leading up to a game: What they thought was going on, who was behind everything, who might not make it out of the next dungeon, etc. I am not sure if that sort of interest and draw is even possible now that we have all grown up, but I sure would like to try for it.