Thursday, July 7, 2011

Warlock: What is it?

I know, the world already seems pretty crowded with D&D variants, but Warlock really does something for me. I've played Castles & Crusades, Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, and a handful of other retro-clones, but none of them seemed to do it just right. Warlock does, at least for me. So, what is Warlock and why does it press my buttons?

Well, it's probably best to start off by telling you what Warlock isn't. Warlock isn't a clone of D&D - it's more an outgrowth of Original D&D (1974), building upon that system's assumptions and rules. Indeed, first published in 1975, Warlock has been around almost as long as D&D. It made its first appearance in The Spartan 'zine (Issue #9) as "Warlock: or How to Play D&D Without Playing D&D" and was later expanded and re-published by Balboa Games as "The Complete Warlock" - since that time it has been played and revised almost continuously.

The current version of the Warlock rules still shows its Original D&D roots, but it really differentiates itself in a few important ways (aside from obvious things like adding more classes). Notably, it replaces Vancian magic with a point-based spell casting system, introduces the concept of special abilities and fighting styles for fighters, and delivers a cleaned up weapon versus armor system (no doubt inspired by that in the Greyhawk supplement).

It's really an excellent old school affair. If you'd like to check it out, you'll need to join the Yahoo Group (there are also some proposed rule changes there in various stages of playtest). If you're a fan of OD&D (1974), Warlock is definitely worth a look. I recommend that you take a few minutes to check it out, if you haven't already.

Finally, If you hadn't already guessed, my own adventures with Warlock will form the basis for this blog. I'll be chronicling my own experiences with the system here, as well as posting actual play logs of my planned campaign. So, stay tuned for some old school goodness by way of Warlock.