Swords & Spells was published by TSR, Inc. in 1976, the fifth and final supplement to the original Dungeons & Dragons boxed set, and can be referred to as "Supplement V", with supplements Greyhawk and Blackmoor having been released in the previous year, and Eldritch Wizardry and Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes released previously in the same year. It does not, however, bear the official "Supplement V" designation on the cover, as "Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes" is stated in its introduction to be "the last D&D supplement."Swords & Spells' product designation was TSR 2007.
The 45-page Swords & Spells has been billed as "The fantasy-based successor to Chainmail," and indeed is stated within the introductory text to be "the grandson of CHAINMAIL." The Chainmail rules originally formed the measurement and combat systems for the Dungeons & Dragons game, as the D&D rules could be cumbersome when conducting battles between armies. Improvisation was required, since D&D contained monsters and spells not covered in Chainmail. In Swords & Spells Gygax tried to fix this problem by introducing a diceless approach for large battles which averaged each monster's D&D statistics.
Swords & Spells proved unpopular, and its rules were discarded in later editions of D&D.