As I’ve mentioned before my favorite version of Swords & Wizardry is the Third Printing. That printing of the S&W rules featured an option to play as one of the three core classes (Cleric, Fighting-Man and Magic-User) or as a slower moving but further advancing race specific class.
In a lot of respects this was really cool for people like me who love dwarves and love to play as the proto-typical, Tolkienish Dwarf. However, these race specific classes (The Dwarven Warrior and the Elf Adventurer) were pretty much rehashes of the Fighting-Man and Magic-User but with slower level gain.
The wonderful part about this is that it allows the player and the Referee to craft an individually unique class and identity for their elves and dwarves. The option for this, in fact, creates a sandbox of sorts for the players to create, destroy and experiment. The player and the DM can, with these race specific classes create entire mythos around the culture of elves and dwarves. Questions can be raised as to why with the new sun an elf must chose either the sword or magic, or why the dwarves have such a martial background. Honestly the pure thought process and brainstorming of these questions can produce reams of material to be folded into a Referee’s world, campaign and so on. Are the dwarves so martial because they are the last defenders (or maybe guards) of an ancient sleeping god and don’t even know it? Are the elves forced to choose a different path every day of their lives because of the sins of their greatest ancestors? How would the players discover these things? Again glorious work and I will always love Matt Finch for it.
Now that I’m working on my own campaign setting, The Lands of Eira, I’ve expanded on this idea of not race as class but race specific classes that Matt included in the Third Printing. Every race in the setting but one are bound (at the moment) to two or three classes that only that race has. There is of course some cross over as almost every race has an arcane magic-user and two have divine magic-users, but, even with the course over each class is tailored to its race so that no two classes can ever be called interchangeable.
The difference between what Matt did in the Third Printing and what I’m doing with Eira is that I’ve trimmed down the size of the sandbox considerably with lore, background information and the like. However, this information and lore is as broad and as generalized as I can make it without losing the flavor of the world being created. Huge and campaign changing questions may not be asked anymore, but smaller more personal ones may. Does the Dwarven warpriest mock the human ardent for refusing to wear armor? Does the Cat-Sith Fili look at the Pixie Trickster in disgust? How do the similar, yet vastly different, warriors work together toward the common good? Can a squad of Dwarven Defenders work as a fluid unit with Human Highlanders?
I can’t lie, the creation of these classes bother me in some respects as it takes away some of the player’s power, some of his or her’s own story. However, the beauty of a campaign setting has always been in letting others into your sandbox and seeing what comes of it.
As a bit of a bonus here is the first draft of the Pixie. Pixie - Races of Eira
Tell me what you think!