If you shake off the idea of a medieval fantasy world and set your sights more on four-color urban fantasy...say something in the style of Justice League Dark...I think the SWL rules would actually work pretty nicely. Besides the fact that there are a ton of superheroes and related characters that would be just fine as Fighters and Thieves...I haven't really kept up with the show, but from the bits I've seen, it looks like just about every DC character that shows up on Arrow would work here...you could do a lot worse than a Magic-User or some sort of Cleric variant to play heroes like John Constantine or Zatanna. I mean, Vancian magic can be problematic for "accurate" portrayals...but comic book magic is often pretty hand-wavey, anyway.
In this vein, a public domain character that I've taken a liking to is John Force, Magic Agent. Combining early-60s Cold War spy thrills with supernatural themes, Force protected the land of the free as an agent for the American Security Group. You can check his bio out here on the Public Domain Super Heroes wiki, and read his public domain adventures right here.
|If you're wondering...yes, he did come before Nick Fury...!|
Obviously, they don't call him the Magic Agent for nothing. John Force has a magical coin with four columns on it corresponding to four different (although arguably not all that different) supernatural abilities...
When it came time to work his magic, he'd touch the appropriate column and cast his spell:
Honestly, this is pretty perfect for a D&D-style magic system, in my opinion. While it doesn't correspond perfectly, the compartmentalization of magical abilities matches up nicely. It may even be possible to pick out a spell for each column...
Now, there are a couple of combat-related issues that could come up in using SWL classes in a modern supers context. The first is that, as you know if you've ever read...oh, just about any comic book ever...pretty much every hero can throw a solid punch. The Magic Agent is no different:
While the Brawler is certainly designed to be the class that excels at such fisticuffs, I don't see any reason why Light City in general couldn't use some form of the Swords & Wizardry Complete rules on unarmed combat...say, perhaps, that any character with class levels (as I'm thinking of a majority of people as 0-level humans...) can deal a point of damage with a punch. (And let the appropriate class[es] modify that damage...?)
And then there's the matter of firearms. John Force is a secret agent. Of course he uses 'em...
When it comes to weapon proficiencies, I appreciate the old school simplicity of characters that either can or can't use a certain weapon...and this works well in a world built around the game. I have no issue with wizards who don't wield swords because...well, because they just don't, okay...?!
Arguably just as simple, though...and probably more practical in many games...is a simple house rule that anyone can try using any weapon (within reason with regard to complexity) but take a penalty if they aren't proficient with it. And I may not be guessing at an ideal sweet spot here, but -5 to hit seems reasonable to me at the moment, so that's what I'm going to try. We'll see how it goes...
Oh! And one final thing on the Magic Agent here...he might be more suitable at a higher level, but until Swords & Wizardry Continual Light rolls out to take the four basic classes up to 7th, I'll probably avoid any assumptions about what we're going to see at higher levels (or expanded versions of these lower levels). So, he's strictly SWL for now...!
John Force, Magic Agent
First appearance: Magic Agent #1 (1962)
STR 10 DEX 15 CON 13 INT 14 WIS 12 CHA 8
2 HD (9 HP) Saving Throw 12
Attack: Dagger, +0 to hit, 1d6-1 ldamage; Unarmed Strike, +0 to hit, 1 damage; Pistol, -4 to hit, 1d6 damage.
Spells Known: Level 1 - Charm Person, Detect Magic, Sleep; Level 2 - Invisibility