Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Send In The (Retro-) Clones(-ish Games)!

"...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!


  1. Seconded! Keep publishing clones & simulacrum's until Some internet dude's head fucking explodes!

  2. Thirded-ed! ;)

    Send in the clones. Where are the clones? The aughta be clones... (I miss classic Paranoia ;)

  3. Yes! The more clones, the better. All these little variants make for such an interesting smorgasbord. Bring 'em on!

    "How about using the EOTPT Magician class and associated systems instead of the Magic-User?"

    Funny you should mention that, I was reading the EPT rules earlier today and contemplating that exact question!

  4. Great post. I couldn't agree more. I've got the LL books printed out, I bought the LotFP box set, I've got a copy of S&W Whitebox coming in the mail next week. So much cool stuff out there right now...Sure, the market will eventually be flooded, but the best will rise to the top and the rest will be forgotten.

  5. Well said. What about the Planet Algol box?

  6. This is perhaps the best time to be alive for role playing games besides the entire 70s through 80s. I can't begin to describe how happy this blog & others like plus the opinions expressed here have made me happy. The old school movement is like the sound of legos snapping together. It builds cool things without even trying. Viva Algol & all of the works it represents. Merry Christmas & happy holidays to everyone who has made me a better gamer & better Dungeon Master. Regards,Eric Needles Fabiaschi

  7. >>LOTFPWFRPG was bad enough

    I'm insulted. I'm not "bad enough," I'm the WORST of the WORST.


  8. More the merrier - there can never be enough ideas out there.

  9. I can't imagine how any hobbyists feel market fragmentation is something to be avoided. It like ranting: I just hate more of the stuff I like.

  10. Nice re-framing of this increasingly tiresome debate (both sides).

    I say to hell with the market too, up with Frankenstein-monster variant D&D!

  11. Goodman just announced that the DCC rpg won't be coming out until Nov. 2011. So we've got a long wait for that one.

  12. Mine will be ready soon but it wasn't intentional, really, it wasn't.;)

    I just couldn't find a system to tell the story with that I have worked at for over a decade and I had to build it...which is leading to some other exciting ideas!

    This is the best time in gaming since '83.

    Everybody, keep up the good the rate the 'industry' is collapsing we will have a load of refugees before you know it. :)

    Yeah! More for us!

  13. To be more succinct, as a consumer I appreciate the prospect of the availability of wide selection of D&D variants and compatible campaign resources.

    @ Gnombient: It seems like a natural fit once you think about it, very Conan-esque!

    @ NetherWerks: When it's awesome enough...

    @ Jim: You're not the one that had the torches and pitchfork set after them...

  14. Also, Gnombient, more Zhontaar!

  15. If someone's got a real original game going more power to them, but for some reason it's easier in my area to get a game going if the books are in print. And, frankly, most of the clones' presentation is cleaner than the original if you're dragging in new players.

  16. As a major ideas-horker myself, I couldn't agree more with your sentiments, THANKS!!