Yesterday the Swords & Wizardry Complete 3rd Printing Kickstarter launched. For reasons there has been talk about its cover:
The cover is a major departure from the last printing, which featured an Erol Otus original:
The Otus cover speaks strongly to me, but the change has me reflecting on the change in the OSR. We've gone from the original Labyrinth Lord:
To the art book that is Maze of the Blue Medusa:
As much as I like the Otus cover for S&W Complete, it's a cover that ties the game back to TSR. As much as it's a fresh piece, it has intentional echoes of the cover for the Moldvay Basic box - and that leaves it in what is now effectively the OSR's past. Fewer and fewer OSR modules feel the need to consciously emulate TSR's look and feel, and Lamentations of the Flame Princess has been the leader here.
By severing the TSR connection, Swords & Wizardry has a chance to be its own game. I think that's particularly important for S&W to move forward, since effectively Frog God has just treated it as one of several options along with Pathfinder and 5e D&D. It doesn't have a strong identity, and if it could gain one outside of bog-standard fantasy, I think that would be a wonderful thing.
Look at the Kickstarter, by the way - the layout of the book is also getting a radical overhaul. I'm most excited for monster illustrations by Gennifer Bone, the artist who worked with Rafael Chandler on Lusus Naturae. Gennifer is one of the most exciting artists in the OSR right now, and I'd recommend you back her on Patreon.
It's kind of a funny coincidence to me that my recent game, set in the megadungeon I am slowly working on, used Swords & Wizardry Complete. More than any other OSR system, S&W really benefits from a strong vision on the referee's part, and I think giving the book a new look and adventures outside of the Gygaxo-Arnesonian tradition is a move toward that. LotFP, after all, is not far off from B/X D&D in the text of the rules but the actual play experience is far different. I'd like to see where Swords & Wizardry can go.