See the new (first!) edition of Sw:N (read 'swinn') by the acclaimed author and design genius of Elaborate Lord (EL), Caprice & Calculations and Slayers of GoodSensia: James S. "Nold" Carter III.
As Nold told me there will be no sacred cows in his upcoming edition of Sw:N not to speak of artwork or layout of any kind. Stats Without Numbers' deep laid mechanic enables the gaming group to implement ideas and concepts like never seen before in any classical or story game and without struggling with understanding the math. Nold drives the old-school renaissance to it's indie revolution as he combines nostalgic arbitrariness with modern whateverism.
The Old School
Sw:N is as easy as publishing a retro clone. In case of a game event with uncertain outcome (like who has to get the beer from the fridge) one player casts a D20 adds a stat bonus (see below) and compares it to the difficulty level (DL). A result at least equal to the DL means success for the players, otherwise failure. This is called a test (even if it is not a test in a strictly sense of the word). The referee (he controls the game world) determines the height of the DL depending on the propability of one test outcome he considers to be of any importance for the gaming group. A low DL is easy to achieve and a high number might be quite a challenge. The referee may elaborate his decision but the other players have to live with his judgement anyway. At this point the players may not leave the game table yet (see below) otherwise the game can not commence.
The New School
Sw:N is progressive as it is down-to-earth. The aforementioned 'players' (see chapter 3.2 to 220.127.116.11 in the full document for precise definitions) each controls one character in the game world described by so called 'stats'. The players name these stats in any number as they see fit to portray their own character in an entertaining manner (there is no obligation to change a stat if no one is entertained, though). Then they distribute numbers among the stats, beginning from a low digit. A high number means the character is good at something in a way.
After the referee set up the DL the player/s try to overcome the said DL to accomplish the outcome at stake. To do this one player involved in the 'conflict' (any game event) chooses one of his character stats and adjusts the stat number like he thinks his character would hold up. Again, a higher stat means a more likely success (don't wonder how, it's true!). After the test the stat reverts to its former number.
The Nold School
After the DL and stat number are set one, few (or each?) of the players/referee might be discontented with the situation. At this point each person at the gaming table has a veto against the set up (though someone can insist that his veto is 'double important', see full document for explanations). The game mechanic opens to the negotiation phase: As no one may alter the numbers set beforehand everyone involved (or uninvolved) tries to make a compromise on a new number, called bonus. The bonus alters the die result and depicts some kind of luck, fate, heroic incentive or just the opposite if it is negative (it is still called bonus).
At this moment a participant may point out again that he is still not entertained by some of the stats of other player's characters. This may affect the negotiation. If still no agreement is coming up there are three options:
1. every participant except the host has the option to leave the table and go home at any time thus optimizing the conflict resolution [CR] (this is not a game term)
2. every participant may demand that the outcome in question has to change to an outcome with which the group more easily agrees on a bonus
3. if there is still no agreement about the final numbers or outcomes the negotiation phase is concluded as a success as any participant is playing together for 'fun' [FU] (see definition in full document) and not against each other (and otherwise the game mechanic would not work).
Bringing it all together (or 'what 50+ years of gaming brought us.. in a nutshell')
If the test with D20 + stat +/- bonus comes up with a number the player who rolled the die or the referee may narrate something (every other player may talk as well in the course of the whole game of course and even talk their fellow players into contents they prefer). Everything someone narrates is true (hence narrative truth, d'uh!) unless he is lying and success and failure is a matter of perspective anyway.
When the gaming group end the adventure (this means narrating over the course of several tests and in between) the players may raise their stat numbers and/or change their stat descriptions. If one player had no fun, he is playing the game WRONG! (for full explanations see wikipedia or any RPG discussion board).
Habt ihr Fragen zu Sw:N? Dann stellt sie doch im RSP-Blogs Forum und ich leite sie weiter. Verbesserungsvorschläge sind jedoch aus offensichtlichen Gründen unnötig.