...the kids prefer Pathfinder, while my wife prefers Swords & Wizardry.
I probably shouldn't be surprised, and it may be as simple as the fact that the Pathfinder campaign is about 5th Level right now, whereas the S&W campaign is on the tail end of 1st Level. And really, who doesn't like playing more powerful characters?
S&W of course follows the OSG convention that characters start off being n00bs, and are barely less inept than peasants. They frequently have to hire people (meat shields and torch bearers) to accompany them, and those hirelings often run afoul of the "Save or Die" traps that most OSG dungeons seem to have. But my players (also not surprisingly, given their ages) think that's "mean" and (more thoughfully) that getting too many hirelings killed will anger the people in the town(s) from which they're hiring people. Kinda hard to argue with either point, except that the hirelings knew the dangers when they signed on, and if you give their cut of the reward to their families, you'll at least get the reputation of an honorable party. Though that may come at the price of a reputation for being the kind of party you really don't want to be invited to join...
Pathfinder characters start off pretty tough though, even at first level. Not as tough as 4e characters, but certainly not the sort of people an average peasant or even city guard would want to mess with. And with all those feats and skills, you can make some pretty spectacular themed characters, as long as you don't mind ignoring the whole "min/max" aspect of 3e gaming, and just choose powers to fit your concept.
For fun, I rolled up an Air/Storm Elemental bloodline Sorceress (loosely based on a miniature I have), whose statblock I've included below for illustrative purposes. Her stats are fairly average, and only the racial +2 for any stat pushes her over into heroic territory. I don't remember, but I suspect I used the "Roll 4d6, drop lowest" method, and arranged my results in order of preference. I'm intending to introduce her as a friendly rival and sometimes ally to my party, but like many characters I make, I find that I'm now anxious to play her in a campaign. :) Maybe someone I know will start a Pathfinder game I can get in on sometime later in the year.
It must also be said that HeroLab makes creating new Pathfinder characters exceptionally easy and fun. If only they supported all the games I play. I don't think I'd enjoy making characters for d20-based games very much without software support. (Which, of course, is why I like S&W. Sigh.)
Female Human (Ulfen) Sorceress 1
CG Medium Humanoid (human)
Init +2; Senses Perception +1
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10 (+2 Dex)
hp 7 (1d6+1)
Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +2
Speed 20 ft.
Melee Dagger +2 (1d4/19-20/x2) and
Spear +0 (1d8/x3)
Special Attacks elemental ray (6/day)
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 1):
1 (4/day) Color Spray (DC 14), Shocking Grasp
0 (at will) Mage Hand, Open/Close (DC 13), Breeze, Jolt
Str 10, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 16
Base Atk +0; CMB +0; CMD 12
Feats Arcane Strike, Eschew Materials, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics -1 (-5 jump), Bluff +7, Climb -3, Diplomacy +4, Escape Artist -1, Fly -1, Intimidate +7, Perception +1, Ride -1, Stealth -1, Swim -3, Use Magic Device +7
Languages Common, Auran, Skald
SQ bloodlines (elemental [air])
Other Gear Dagger, Spear, Backpack (21 @ 27.1 lbs), Bedroll, Candle (5), Chalk (5), Explorer's outfit, Mirror, Rope, Trail rations (5), Waterskin, 120 GP, 3 SP, 7 CP
Arcane Strike As a swift action, add +1 damage, +1 per 5 caster levels and your weapons are treated as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Elemental (Air) You may change any energy spell to use [Electricity] energy.
Elemental Ray (6/day) (Sp) Ranged touch attack deals 1d6 Electricity damage
Eschew Materials Cast spells without materials, if component cost is 1 gp or less.
Jala is the daughter of an Ulfen merchant, born at sea during a particularly violent thunderstorm. Always slight person and pale even by Ulfen standards, Jala has always known that she is different from her friends.
Jala channels her elemental power into a quick temper, and she is not without the legendary Ulfen forceful will. In combat, she fights with a spear, and always has a dagger on hand to handle dangerous situations in her down time.
Though many find her sense of humor odd, Jala is an accomplished diplomat, able to bluff and intimidate her way through many situations, and her fascination with magic has lead her to an understanding of magical constructs and their proper operation.
As a novice sorceror, Jala has mastered a handful of electrical and air disciplines, as well as Color Spray and Unlock - to talents she has found useful when adventuring for gold.