So, with the release of +Charlie Mason's White Box and the upcoming release of the inaugural issue of his associated 'zine The Wizard's Scroll, I got to thinking about Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox again. I think over the past two years or so the OSR community has really seen an explosion in material for WB and WB-based games - and that's awesome.
I say that not just as a publisher, but also as a fan of this rules light game. From its stripped down astetic, to its ultra-simple rules set, to its seemingly infinite hackability, I can safely say its my favorite game in the OSR. But I think my love of WB doesn't really come from any of the things I mentioned above. I think it comes from the seemingly boundless creativity it creates in those who design products using it as a base.
In addition to my little sci-fi game, White Star, there are also a shit ton of WB-based games that are bent to different genres. +Bill Logan's White Lies is modern espionage. Sleeping Griffon has published Skyscrapers and Sorcery, which brings modern fantasy into play. +Pete Spahn just released WWII: Operation White Box, a historic incarnation based around World War II. I think it's only a matter of time before we see Cosmic Horror, Cyberpunk, and other genres bolted onto the White Box design elements.
But at its core, Swords & Wizardry: White Box is a fantasy RPG and many releases don't go far from that. Whether it's a heavily modified and expanded version (like The Hero's Journey) or a cleaned up version of the original with excellent layout and a few expanded rules like Charlie's White Box, both games hold close to the fantasy origins of the game. +Vincent Florio and +Brian Fitzpatrick published a more Conan-esque collection of adventures in their Lost Age Adventures line of products - something which I hope they return to some day. I've also had some success with more traditional supplements for fantasy, with my own line of White Box products.
In short, I think we've seen Swords & Wizardry: White Box go from an oft-mentioned but rarely utilized game to an active force in the OSR over the past two years or so. Mason's White Box brings a professional design element to that game and I think he's leading the charge for this game. It's my belief that Swords & Wizardry: White Box has finally stepped out of the shadows and is a game that will be played and enjoyed for years to come thanks to so many creative people grabbing hold of a simple set of rules and saying "You know what would be fun to do with this?" and then doing it.
Oh, and I love the fact that the vast majority of White Box-based games put in print are done so in digest format. Easy to store, transport, and reference at a table - and they don't cost $22,100 on eBay.