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I’ve been playing Swords & Wizardry Whitebox from 2009 or so, just after it was first released. It’s a great game, in my case due to its simplicity, since I was gaming with my kids back then. In all the time I was playing it, I never noticed that it was lacking almost all of the material from The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures. I think because I just naturally ‘knew’ the standard ways doors, traps, encounters, etc. were handSwords & Wizardry Whiteboxled. The game is, after all, a toolkit for GMs who want to play a 0e-style game without the original source material, and as such, it is full of suggested house rules. What was missing I just filled in on-the-fly during games. I wonder if this was an oversight when the rules were being written – how to handle a wandering monster check, for example,  I would consider as essential information for a new GM.

In any case, I think S&W Whitebox could benefit from a few pages of information, the same information that is present in the S&W Core and Complete editions, modified slightly to give it a 0e flavor, while still leaving some things up to the referee in the spirit of S&W Whitebox. Sort of a minimal but essential rules supplement.

The rules are below, also here is a document with the same rules you can download in any available Google docs format.


Dungeon Doors: Dungeon doors are large, heavy and even unlocked are hard to open. Humans and Elves will open an unlocked door on a roll of 1-2 in 6, while Dwarves and Halflings have a base 1 in 6 chance. At the referee’s option, characters will apply any strength bonus or penalty to this roll. It is assumed that most monsters can easily open doors, and that once opened, doors will shut on their own.

Light: Torches and lanterns illuminate a 30-foot radius. Torches burn for one hour (six turns), while lanterns burn one pint of oil in four hours (24 turns). Players using a light source cannot normally surprise monsters, but they can of course still be surprised. It is assumed that all monsters see in the dark, unless they are charmed or otherwise in the service of players.

Lantern Surprise

Listening at Doors: Humans have a 1 in 6 chance of hearing noise, non-humans hear noise on a roll of 1-2 in 6. Note that success indicates the player heard something, but they may not know what caused the sound.

Oil: Thrown oil that is subsequently set alight by a thrown torch or similar will burn for two rounds, doing 1-6 damage per round on a successful hit of AC 8 [11]. The referee should adjust the chance to hit based on the size of the creature being targeted, obviously large creatures such as Ogres and Giants will be easier to hit than, say, giant spiders.

Outdoor Movement: Base movement rate is in miles per day, but can be doubled during a forced march. For outdoor combat round movement rates, take the base rate, divide by three and multiply by 10 yards. For example a base movement rate of 9 normally allows 9 miles of travel per day, 18 miles forced, and 30 yards of movement per combat round. The referee should decrease the normal rate of movement for travel over difficult terrain, like swamps or mountains.

Secret Doors: Secret doors can be detected  by any player who is actively searching for one with a roll of 1-2 in 6. Elves, however, find secret doors 4 in 6 when searching, or may sense with a 1 in 6 chance that something is amiss by merely passing by a secret door. It takes one turn for each 10’x10′ area searched.

Traps: Most traps and pits are triggered on a roll of 1-2 in 6 when any player passes over the triggering mechanism. Note that Dwarves can detect stonework traps similarly to how Elves detect secret doors – they have a 4 in 6 chance to detect such traps if actively searching, or 1 in 6 if merely passing by. Players falling into a pit trap will take 1-6 damage per 10 feet fallen.

Note on finding secret doors and traps: I would be judicious in my use of die rolls for either.  Ideally, players would be descriptive enough during a search that they would automatically find a trap or secret door. For example, if moving a wall sconce opens a secret door, and the player says “I examine the sconces on the north wall for anything unusual”, I might automatically allow them to figure out how the secret door opens. If, however, they merely state “I search the north wall for secret doors”, I would roll.  Some features might be so well hidden as to always merit a die roll, or at least a roll with some sort of adjustment. In my opinion, this method of descriptive search is much more rewarding and interesting than generic searches and repeated die rolls.

Deadly Trap

Wandering Monsters: In the dungeon, check every hour (six turns) for wandering monsters. Outdoors, check once per day for wandering monsters. Normally there is a 1 in 6 chance of encountering something, the specific encounter is rolled on a table. Initial encounter distance is dependent on the circumstance.

Underworld Encounter Tables, by Dungeon Level

Die Roll Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
1 Kobold Beetle, Giant Fire Demon, Lemure Hell Hound Hell Hound
2 Skeleton Centipede, Giant Grey Ooze Centipede, Giant Hydra
3 Rat, Giant Ghoul Harpy Doppelganger Dragon, White
4 Goblin Gnoll Lycanthrope, Wererat Gargoyle Cockatrice
5 Human, Bandit Lizardman Lycanthrope, Werewolf Gelatinous Cube Ochre Jelly
6 Orc Spider, Giant Wight Worg Mummy
7 Zombie Hobgoblin Bugbear Wraith Ogre
8 Dwarf Human, Berserker Shadow Ogre Ogre Mage
9 Elf
10 Hobgoblin
11 Human, Berserker
12 Beetle, Giant Fire
Die Roll Level 6 Level 7 Level 8 Level 9 Level 10
1 Hell Hound Minotaur Lycanthrope, Werebear Hydra Hydra
2 Dragon, White Hell Hound Hydra Dragon, Blue Lich
3 Dragon, Black Hydra Dragon, Blue Dragon, Black Dragon, Red
4 Hydra Dragon, White Dragon, Black Dragon, Green Dragon, Gold
5 Basilisk Dragon, Black Dragon, Green Dragon, Red Black Pudding
6 Blink Dog Dragon, Green Vampire Chimera Elemental, Air
7 Medusa Banshee Elemental, Air Demon, Ballroch Elemental, Earth
8 Specter Vampire Elemental, Earth Vampire Elemental, Fire
9 Troll Griffon Elemental, Fire Elemental, Water
10 Manticore Salamander Elemental, Water Roc
11 Wyvern Gorgon Slug, Giant
12 Djinni Invisible Stalker Purple Worm