Swords & Spells (1976)

So, Tim Kask’s foreward claiming Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes was the final D&D supplement was dated July 4, 1976. His foreward for this one, Swords & Spells, is dated July 22, 1976. That’s some fast turnabout.

This is a bit of an odd book, by Gary Gygax. It basically extrapolates the established D&D rules into a system for…large scale miniature combat. This is odd because D&D was born out of the Fantasy Supplement of Gygax’s Chainmail…which were rules for large scale miniature combat. The snake, it is eating its own tail. I guess this is meant as a definitive refinement of the Chainmail rules for fantasy wars, but it seems to be missing the point about what makes RPGs special and unique from wargames?

D&D wanted, for decades, to return in some way to wargaming. Battlesystem is probably the best example, but there are other, mostly half-hearted attempts along the way. Swords & Spells is evidence that this strange impulse is nearly as old as D&D itself. I don’t honestly understand the compulsion.

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