"...Blah Blah Blah...Why do these jerkwads continue rereleasing old D&D with their houserules tacked on? LOTFPWFRPG was bad enough, but if DCCRPG, WOTRP, and AS&SOH are released I'm going to totally freak out on some internet forum..."
- Some internet dude
Castles & Crusades, OSRIC, BFRPG, LL, S&W Core, S&W WB, LL AEC, LOTFPWFRPG, S&W Complete, DCCRPG, AS&SOH... sheesh are there ever a lot of retro-clone(ish) games out there...with more coming.
As many pundits have observed, not only is it bad enough that these ungrateful hacks are raping the legacy of Gygax, Arneson & co. before pasting their own names on it and gouging the consumer for their intellectual theft, but there seems to be no end to this madness. In addition to a legion of unimaginative hacks, Swords & Wizardry Complete will be for sale any second, and next year sees the release of both the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, Warriors of the Red Planet, and the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. "What's the point? I already know how to play D&D, I already have the original books or can just buy them used, these retro-clone publishers are a bunch of assholes...THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!"
Myself? I love 'em (well, maybe not so much with C&C although I dig prime attributes as a skill system), and I can't get enough of them. Sure I own the B/X D&D and AD&D originals (I was considering shopping around for OD&D material...but I've got to save up for university, nevermind that the wifely creature would probably kill me). I'll be buying S&W Complete (although granting bows two attacks per round fills me with furious nerd rage!), I'll be buying DCC RPG, WOTRP, and I'll definately be getting AS&SOH (haha... Ass-Oh!).
What good do they serve? In the case of the clones that cleave to the original sources, they make for a nice reference work as well as serving as an alternative perspective. And they allow several options to play oldschool D&D with the variety of ruleset that suits your fancy.
In the case of the games that deviate to a significant degree from the originals, they serve as a set of alternative and additional rules for my use as a DM. Swords and Wizardry has the inspired "single saving throw," which I have become quite enamored with, and LOTFP has a plethora of legacy D&D compatible rules options (investments, starvation, etc.).
It's much like the original "Houseruled D&D Clone", Empire of the Petal Throne, at first blush it's just a different variety of OD&D...but how about using the EOTPT Magician class and associated systems instead of the Magic-User? How about using the level based combat damage option? How about using the Monsters and Treasures instead of the D&D slection? How about all of the other rules that replace or supplement the original D&D material? It's a fucking buffet man, and I have a big plate and a big appetite.
And since all of these clones, simulacrums, and "house ruled systems" all share 90-99% of their D&D DNA, it's easy enough to mix-and-match them to make YOUR GAME.
"I want a game with the Swords & Wizardry single saving throw, EPT Magicians, LOTFP Specialists, C&C SIEGE system for task resolution, and AD&D Fighters & weapon proficiencies" ...easy enough to do man!
And if your choice D&D-ish rpg doesn't have the rules for a certain subject you're interested in, and you want rules for it, it's easy enough to find them in another D&D-ish rpg. "I need castle construction costs; rules for how much room henchmen need; maritime warfare rules...good thing I have this stack of retro-clones!"
So, in summary, I don't think retro-clones are redundant; I don't care if they fragment the market (ha!); and I'm looking forward to more of them!