Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Which Retro Clone Is On Top?

Consider it a matter of curiosity, not any sort of statement of quality or allegiance--which retro-clone (OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, etc.) is getting the most play or attention right now?

It's tough to gauge, because online discussion doesn't always hinge on actual play, but I find myself wondering if we'll get to a point where one is standing head and shoulders above the others in terms of support.

James Raggi seemed to feel the OSRIC was getting left behind somewhat. I can't say as how I've noticed, but then again, I felt like Swords & Wizardry had a pretty good push going there for a while.

Again, it doesn't really matter, aside from wondering how things will pan out, and if we'll see one of those entries make a bigger jump than the others. They're all great efforts, and I'd be proud of any of them. Personally, I like them all and currently run Castles & Crusades, which is why I love system-lite products that can easily be used with any legacy-style game. No reason to cut up the pie any more than it already is.


Chgowiz said...

I think LL and S&W are the two of the most active, in terms of development of supplemental material and modules. However, I see LL, S&W and OSRIC as maintaining quite a bit of momentum in terms of published materials released.

OSRIC isn't being left behind as much as I get the feeling that it did it's job, but the end result is still ongoing. OSRIC was intended on providing an OGL platform for people to develop 1E materials without fear of legal issue. It's succeeded in that the creators have said "We're done." It's now up to the other publishers to develop materials.

Contrast that to S&W which has had a lot of development over the past year and has both the Core Rules and WhiteBox rule sets. LL has it's newly revised edition.

OSRIC isn't dead - Black Blade is doing the DCC conversions, there are quite many modules out for OSRIC and there is the supplemental book being developed by Kellri on K&K.

Mike said...

I think S&W is getting the most attention at the moment, but that's mostly because it's the new kid on the block. It also seems (at least to me) that it's getting more support in the form of adventures and some interesting supplements (like Ruins & Ronin) at the moment.

The others, I think, are doing fine, but they just aren't doing anything as news-worthy/note-worthy as of late.

Badelaire said...

I'll agree that LL and S&W are out in front, but it also probably has to do not only with the fact that they are newer, but also due to the fact that they are less complex.

This especially works in the favor of S&W. There just isn't that much technical "meat on the bone" to have to muck about with, so taking that rules set and generating new content for is should be pretty easy. Not quite so much with LL, but we have seen Mutant Future grow out of it.

I think popularity in terms of actual dice being rolled will always be difficult to tell, but I do think whichever game hits the most shelves in a tangible published format available in FLGSs will take a big step forward. At the end of the day, there's nothing quite like being able to hold a published product in your hand, thumb through it, feel the paper, and make the final decision to purchase it.

Restless said...

It's sort of hard to say; I just got involved in a 1e game and we pulled out my OSRIC hardback a couple times to try to clarify issues, but for the game I'm supposed to start SOMEday I am leaning towards LL.

One game I always wish had gotten more love is Basic Fantasy RPG. I really like the game and I think it does the Right Thing™ in a lot of places, but it just never took off like the others. I'm not exactly sure why.

Frost said...

OSRIC might not get as much attention because materials for the system it's cloning, AD&D, aren't hard to come by. I suspect folks that want to play AD&D still are using the original books. S&W and LL clone systems that are harder to come by.

Another possibility is that many of the OSR crowd have plenty of experience with AD&D, but not the LBB D&D. As such, S&W might have more "shine" on it than OSRIC as it feels, ironically, newer or fresher.

Badelaire said...

"One game I always wish had gotten more love is Basic Fantasy RPG. I really like the game and I think it does the Right Thing™ in a lot of places, but it just never took off like the others. I'm not exactly sure why. "

I'll agree with that. I actually liked it's more (gasp!) modern mechanics, and it was the "basic D&D" game I downloaded and printed out first.

Has the author done anything since to promote it / develop it? I think perhaps it's more modern trappings might have hurt BFRPG in the beginning, but LL definitely kept itself "in the press" as time went on, and that helped it stay in the forefront of everyone's mind a whole lot more.

Restless said...

Many of the more modern mechanics (like ascending AC) are in S&W, too, so that shouldn't be an impediment any more.

Yes, there is some development going on to Basic Fantasy. If you drop by the Simulacrum forum on Dragonsfoot there is even a thread asking that! There are several threads there and in the Workshop developing it, though, but it definitely seems to have fallen off and may be suffering from lack of attention.

I think part of difference is that the authors of LL and S&W support a very chaotic, wild-and-woolly development to happen, but the author of BFRPG likes to keep a little more control of what is released, at least "officially." That may turn away some people who just want to publish and post some material.

VW: "castess" - a type of female magic-user.

The Recursion King said...

I play Labyrinth Lord with a group of four or five players, every week, and have done for over a year now, if that helps.

Mike said...

My own current interests also lean towards S&W, and I think one of the reasons for that is because I never played White Box D&D back in the day. OSRIC never held any interest for me because I still have the 1st Edition AD&D books ... if I want to play 1st edition A&D, I just play it, and not OSRIC. There's no reason to do so.

As someone else pointed out, ironically, S&W is the "shiny and new" game of the three, at least for me.

d7 said...

The last time I ran AD&D we had OSRIC on the table, but we were playing AD&D, not OSRIC.

I think OSRIC gets ignored a bit because OSRIC doesn't exist to be played so much as it exists to give creators license to create for AD&D. By contrast, S&W and LL exist to be both played and created for directly.

James V said...

I've been running house-ruled BFRPG for a while now, though I have been considering moving over to LL once they publish the Advanced-style expansion.

BFRPG has made a lot of good choices for players who are happier with current rules, but I'm more in the mood for rules like older AD&D.

David Macauley said...

From my observations reading several forums regularly, it seems to me that more people play LL than the other two clones. More people create rules-variants using S&W than the other two, and finally, more third party material has been produced for OSRIC than the other two.

BlUsKrEEm said...

I'd say of all of the Reto's OSRIC is by and far the "sexiest" of the Retro's. It's just such a beautiful presentation. I don't know if a week has gone by since I got my copy that I haven't been tempted to run a game. The problem is OSRIC is just to much of a game for me to handle.

BFRPG is a great game. I own a softcover copy and have passed it around my gaming group a few times. Everyone likes it well enough, and it's got a fantastic array of supplemental support at it's site for free, but I can't bring myself to run it. I don't know why exactly, but it just isn't the game for me. I do make use of a lot of the supplemental material and adventures for my LL games, however, and would likely buy any supplements if just to support the free material.

Labarynth Lord is my game of choice. The basic family has been my favorite lineage of D&D for years, and LL gives me all the juicy goodness of BX in easily accessible one book. Players can easily peruse LL for free on their own time, and my old BX books still make great spell books and crib notes during the game when we don't have enough LL's to go around.

I'm also fond of LL because I like tinkering with rules to fit my settings, and LL provides a great skeleton for homebrews and additional rules. I love being able to pick choice pieces of the Rules Cyclopedia, Original Edition Characters, and Mutant Future with little to no work on my part. ( I prefer to add notes to my games, rather than ban content.)

S&W is a good enough game, but a few of the Quirks of OD&D just don't jive well with me (especially in regards to Elves and Halflings.) Original Edition Characters fills my (meager) OD&D needs.

Norman Harman said...

My Local D&D Meetup has been running a AD&D game recently, does that count as OSRIC.

I've seen a lot more activity in Real Life for the actual older games 1st ed, 2nd ed, Rules Cyclopedia than any retro-clone.

Chgowiz said...

@Norman - IMHO, yes. OSRIC is AD&D. Plain and simple. Although I will call out the name OSRIC when I'm playing it, I go back and forth between calling my game an AD&D game (which it really is) and an OSRIC game. The differences are few and far between.

@Bluskreem - I hear you, which is why I've made AD&D/OSRIC my own game. Simplified the combat. Reduced the number of races in my world. I started a full campaign this year not having played AD&D in about 25 years. I've ramped up and even now, I still refer to the rules to learn something new. The only time I really felt over my head was with some of the spells and grappling. Philotomy's Combat Sequence was huge in helping me to simplify/speed up combat.

Anonymous said...

It's all D&D. In fact, I would say everything from the Little Brown Books through 3.5 and all their various are all legitimate versions/variations of D&D. 4e I'm not too sure about.