SWAT: Special Wizards and Tactics
Writer(s): Oz Mills
Publisher: Oz Mills (via DriveThruRPG)
Product Length: 12 pages (v. 1.2)
Available Format(s): PDF
For better or for worse, many people like dressing up their stuff with military, paramilitary, or law enforcement accouterments. I get it. The assumption is that it’s generally stripped of redundant nonsense (those making that assumption have never been in a brigade run I bet) or distilled down to its most basic, and effective, traits. There is also the presumption of quality (ever jumped from a C-130?). But mostly, there is often an element of tactical badassery and I do think this is the main draw. Kids, from 9 months to 99 years, are all drawn to toys. Indeed, Marvin Davis wrote: “As men get older, the toys get more expensive.” Oz Mills hopes to capitalize on this notion with his urban encounter, SWAT: Special Wizards and Tactics. After all, if the business world can try to co-opt the SWAT term, why shouldn’t D&D?
This product is a fairly tricky one. On the one hand, it is definitely written and presented well. But on the other, it’s narrow in scope. I don’t foresee many DMs looking for so specific a title. If you’re planning an urban adventure for your 4th level players, I can’t imagine you’ll get stuck at an encounter and then turn to DriveThruRPG for help. However, I’m a reasonable person and concede that I could be wrong. Just bear in mind that this is a narrow and specific product. The encounter itself is only two pages long. The maps are good but you likely wouldn’t reuse them in anything of your other adventures.
But you may find the product inspirational in other ways. Perhaps it serves as a segue in a bigger campaign where you need to make a detour for any reason. This could be that nexus. Say if a player has some “real life” issues he or she needs to attend to yet other players don’t want to take a break then maybe they could be apprehended in town and effectively give your main campaign an indefinite hiatus.
What I’d hoped to see in SWAT was suggested tactics in given scenarios and how to implement them in a game like D&D. Like slicing the pie when entering a room or covering fire. What we do get is not bad. But it’s specific. The wandslingers will cast hold person on the bruisers and then fire bolt to incapacitate, for example. Surely, any caster could adopt this tactic. Yet I still would have enjoyed Oz Mills’s product so much more if it were more a manual and less an encounter. I know the product page and the text on the bottom of the cover explicitly state this is an encounter and not much more. But it may be a missed opportunity that Oz didn’t turn this into a reference manual for players preferring a more tactical approach to their combat.
It’s a good product if a bit short. But it could’ve been great.
- professional-grade writing and layout
- could serve as a good transition point between major episodes in your bigger campaigns or an adventure hook
- brief, and specific, encounter
- the somewhat misleading title implies it’s a tome of tactics