Swords & Spells

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Dungeons & Dragons Supplement V: Swords & Spells
Swords & Spells cover.jpg
Author Gary Gygax
Genre Role-playing game
Publisher TSR, Inc.
Publication date
Pages 45

Swords & Spells is a supplementary rulebook by Gary Gygax for the original edition of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Its product designation is TSR 2007.


Swords & Spells was a supplement of miniature rules, for use with the original D&D set.[1] It provided miniature-scale battle rules more compatible with D&D than those of Chainmail.[2]

Swords & Spells is a set of rules for large scale miniatures battles based on Dungeons & Dragons, a very elaborate and expanded updating of the Chainmail rules.[3] The sample game in the appendix gives a number of examples of magic.[3]

Publication history[edit]

Swords & Spells was written by Gary Gygax, with art by David C. Sutherland III, and was published by TSR in 1976 as a 48-page digest-sized book.[1]

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."[4] Swords & Spells' product designation was TSR 2007.

The 45-page Swords & Spells has been billed as "The fantasy-based successor to Chainmail,"[5] and indeed is stated within the introductory text to be "the grandson of Chainmail."[2] 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.


Robert R. Taylor reviewed Swords & Spells in The Space Gamer No. 11.[3] He commented that "S&S is extremely well done. The layout is excellent, the artwork is good and appropriate, and the rules are superb. They are written in a clear, easy style that allows for quick assimilation."[3] Taylor added that "The rules are particularly strong in one of the most difficult areas of fantasy miniatures - magic. The spell casting and spell chart make applying D&D magic to miniatures very simple and straightforward."[3] He also noted that the examples of magic in the sample game "helps in further clarifying this often nebulous area of fantasy wargaming".[3] He felt that "The other rules are equally logical and concise, and make S&S a highly recommended buy for someone just getting interested in miniatures wargaming."[3] Taylor concluded his review by saying, "Although the author (Gary Gygax) obviously spent a great deal of time and effort on these rules, especially the magic section, some concessions were made to allow for a more streamlined approach to miniatures. This reviewer found S&S to have a nice balance between complexity and playability. The staff of TSR should be congratulated for another fine piece of work."[3]

Lawrence Schick, in his 1991 book Heroic Worlds, felt that this book was "Sloppily produced, with some howling blunders in the rules."[1]

David M. Ewalt, in his book Of Dice and Men, commented that Swords and Spells "is the odd man out in the original D&D rule set. Rather than adding new details to the fantasy role-playing game, it takes a glance backward and provides rules for large-scale miniature war games that are merely based on Dungeons & Dragons. In his foreword, editor Tim Kask describes it as 'the grandson of Chainmail.'"[6]


  1. ^ a b c Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 147. ISBN 0-87975-653-5. 
  2. ^ a b Tresca, Michael J. (2010), The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, McFarland, p. 62, ISBN 078645895X 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Taylor, Robert R. (April 1977 - May 1977 - June 1977). "Reviews". The Space Gamer. Metagaming (11): 45.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ Kuntz & Ward. Gods, Demi-Gods, & Heroes, Foreword. TSR Rules, 1976.
  5. ^ "Original D&D Supplements". The Acaeum. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  6. ^ Ewalt, David M. (2013). Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It. Scribner. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-4516-4052-6.