Once you have rolled up your ability scores, the next step is to choose a “Character class.”

Your Referee may also have invented other Character classes which are available to you. Decide what sort of Character you want to play, keeping in mind that certain ability scores work well with certain Character classes. Later you will choose your Character’s race and “Alignment,” which is the Character’s alliance with Law or Chaos. Some classes can be of any race and alignment, but others have restrictions, so you should be aware of this when you are considering your choice.

After choosing your character class, make sure to write down your experience point (XP) bonus. It’s based on your Wisdom (possible +5%), your Charisma (possible +5%), and the Prime Attribute for the character class you choose (possible +5%), with a total possible +15%.

Some are More Equal Than Others?

Some of the classes appear on the surface to be more powerful than Fighters or Clerics, and it is common for players to ask why they would ever choose to play a Fighter or Cleric. In the Original Game, there were minimum required ability scores for the “powerful” classes of Ranger, Paladin, Monk, Druid, etc. If you had some bad die rolls, these classes were not available for your Character. The minimum scores were:

Your Referee might require these minimum scores, possibly allowing you to add points to one score by subtracting from another (most likely on a 1-for-2 basis). Players who are familiar with later “Advanced” editions of the Original Game may notice that Swords & Wizardry uses a strict interpretation of the Original Rules in one very important respect: even though Paladins and Rangers are considered types of Fighters, they do not have some of the key advantages of the true Fighter class. They cannot parry as Fighters do, they cannot make multiple attacks against creatures of less than 1 hit die, and they do not gain Strength bonuses to their to-hit or damage rolls. The Original Game does not specify that Paladins and Rangers have these abilities of the Fighter class, and given the additional powers of the Ranger and Paladin classes, there is no reason to stretch the rules to give them more benefits. “Advanced” versions of the game allowed attack bonuses (based on high Strength) to all Character classes, but in the Original Game and in Swords & Wizardry, attack bonuses are a specific attribute of the Fighter class.

Why would I play a Fighter or Cleric?

Non-human Characters are limited in their advancement in many classes. If a Character has only a single class, rather than completely halting the advancement in that class, the Referee might allow the Character to continue gaining levels more slowly. A severe penalty would be applied to the amount of experience being gained once the ordinary maximum (as indicated in the appropriate Race description) is attained. The penalty might, for example, be 50%, although any XP Bonus would still apply.

If a Character with multiple classes has maximum limits to levels in all classes, the Referee might allow the Character to advance slowly in one class after all limits have been reached. When the multi-classed Character has reached the highest permitted level in all classes, the Referee may let the player choose one class in which the Character can continue to advance. The Character could then continue gaining levels, but with a severe penalty to the amount of experience being gained, such as the 50% suggested above. In addition, the usual procedure of dividing experience points among all classes still applies.


Single-classed Fighters, Magic-Users, Clerics, and Thieves can change Character class, progressing in the new class and abandoning the old one. The only limitation is that Magic-Users may not switch to become Clerics, nor can Clerics switch to Magic-User. In order to change class, the Character must have a minimum ability score of 16 in the Prime Attribute of the new class. Further rules are up to the Referee, who will take into account that advancing in the new class would be quite fast, since the low levels do not require as many experience points for advancement. One possible way to limit a rapid rise in hit dice for one of these “dual-classed” Characters is to reduce the amount of XP given to the Character from adventuring, dividing all gained XP by the level at which the Character made the switch. Thus, a 5th-level Magic-User who switches to become a Fighter (keeping the Magic-User powers) would divide all awards of experience points by 5 for gaining Fighter levels until becoming a 5th level Fighter. Note that switching classes would not allow the Character to have more than 9 full hit dice no matter how many total levels were gained. Obviously, too, the Character must be behaving mainly in the capacity of the new class, relying on the abilities of the former class as a secondary or even last-ditch resort. There are many possible ways to handle such “dual-classing,” and the Referee is the ultimate decision maker on how to handle it.

Taking the Vows of a Paladin

A Fighter of Lawful alignment may at any time take on the vows of a Paladin, and become a member of that class, provided the Character has a Charisma of at least 17. The Referee will decide how to handle such matters as the level, hit dice, and experience points the Character has after making this change; it is strongly recommended that the Character not actually gain experience points by changing classes, however.


Dwarfs, Elves and Half-Elves may have more than one class at a time, called “multi-classing.” Each race has certain allowed combinations for player Characters. Halfling and Human Characters may have only a single class. Multiple classes are written with a slash as a separator, as are multiple levels. For instance, a dwarf Fighter/Thief may be level 6/7 (listing the Fighter level and then the Thief level), while a half-elven Fighter/Magic-User/Cleric might be level 4/3/4.

Multi-Classing Note 1...

The rules of the Original Game are exceedingly unclear on the details of how some of this multi-classing operates. Swords & Wizardry treats each multi-class in the same basic fashion, which is one valid interpretation of the Original Game, although not necessarily the only one.

Humans cannot be true multi-class Characters, but can still be dual-class Characters. See the earlier sidebar, “Changing Character Class,” for details. Multi-classing note 3 The Swords & Wizardry method for dwarven, elven, and half-elven multi-classing (that is, granting new hit dice only once all levels are reached) has the effect of slowing down the pace of hit-point advancement for these Characters, thus offsetting the natural advantages of seeing in the dark, etc. Also, the restricted availability of certain single classes is done (maintained from the Original Game rules, actually) to represent the inherently different nature of these races; it helps avoid the “elves are humans with pointy ears” syndrome.

Multi-Classing Note 2...

The rules of the Original Game are unclear about when a multi-classed Character would gain hit dice, since the rules of Supplement 1 might or might not be seen as a change to certain methods for using elven multi-classed Characters. For Swords & Wizardry, we decided that it did change the whole method. Those who are interested in variant possibilities might want to find a copy of the Original Game, and compare the description of the Elf Fighter/Magic-User to the description of the Elf Fighter/Magic-User/Thief in Supplement 1

Hit Dice

Multi-class Characters begin with a single hit die. Each multi-class hit die is calculated by rolling the appropriate die for each class and averaging the result. A multi-classed Character is limited to a total of 9 hit dice no matter what combination of classes is used. After reaching 9 HD, the Character gains only 1 hit point per additional level

Abilities and Limitations

The multi-classed Character acts with the abilities of both (or all three) classes at one time, and is also subject to the limitations of each class at once. Therefore, although a Fighter/Thief can choose to wear armor of any kind, the Character cannot use thief skills while wearing any armor heavier than leather. In addition, an Elf or Half-Elf cannot cast spells while wearing non-magical armor, although magical armor does not inhibit spell casting (for Elves and Half-Elves only)

Saving Throws

The saving throw of a multi-classed Character is the best available from the different choices, including any bonuses from a Character class. For example, a elven Fighter/Magic-User of level 1/1 making a saving throw against a spell would compare the saving throw of a Fighter to the saving throw of a Magic-User. The Fighter's saving throw would require a roll of 14. The Magic-User's roll would require a roll of 15, but Magic-Users have a +2 saving throw bonus against spells, so as a Magic-User the Elf would require a roll of only 13 (since 13 + 2 is 15, the saving throw’s minimum number). Thus, the saving throw would be made as a Magic-User, requiring a minimum roll of 13 to succeed. The Character would not use the Fighter's saving throw (14) with the Magic-User's bonus of +2; it must be one way or the other

Experience Points

Any experience points received are divided evenly among all the classes of a multi-classed Character, even when the Character can no longer advance in one or more classes. Multi-classed Characters do not receive bonuses to experience points, regardless of their Attribute scores

Level Advancement

The abilities of a class are gained as soon as a new level is achieved in that class, but a new hit die is not gained until the Character has advanced a level in all classes. In other words, a dwarven Fighter/Thief would not gain a “Thief” hit die at level 1/2; instead, the Character would receive a second multi-class hit die (the averaged result of the roll of a d8 and a d4) after reaching second level as a Fighter also.

If a multi-classed Character reaches the point where one class is “capped,” and the Character cannot advance in that class any more, the Character still only gains a new hit die when both (or all three) levels would have been reached. For example, an elven Fighter/Magic-User reaches 4th-level Fighter and 4th-level Magic-User with 10,000 XP in each class, when the Magic-User experience reaches 4th level. Now the player rolls a new hit die, rolling a d10 and a d4 and taking the average of the result. When the Character later reaches 16,000 XP in each class, normally that would mean gaining a level as a Fighter. However, since an Elf is capped at 4th level as a Fighter, there is no result. When the Elf reaches 20,000 XP in each class and becomes a 5th-level magic-user, the new hit die is rolled. (It is still an average of rolling a d10 and a d4.) For the sake of example, if somehow the Elf had lost XP in the Fighter class, reaching 10,000 XP in the Magic-User class (4th level) without first reaching 8,000 XP (4th level) as a Fighter, then the Elf would not gain an additional hit die until reaching 8,000 XP as a . This situation is not likely to arise.