Monday, October 11, 2010

The retroclones have taken me back to the originals

I've noticed something lately... I'm not playing the retroclones as much as I'm back to playing the originals. This has less to do with the clones themselves than with the fact that the retroclones have done something invaluable - they've opened the door to me to *understand* the originals.

When I played AD&D and Holmes, I had no freakin' clue what I was doing. We just got together and killed things and took their stuff and made the world safe for... something. Gygax's prose, the intricacies of B2 and X1, the concept of the "underworld" - it meant nothing to me as a 14 year old hopped up on puberty hormones, MTV and Atari 2400.

Coming back to those games many years down the road, the retroclones opened my eyes to what I had missed in all that time. OSRIC laid out AD&D in clearer tones, and that was good! But now I find myself going back to the original DMG more than I crack open the OSRIC book. Hell, Kellri's CDD4 is probably referenced more than even the DMG. Swords & Wizardry gave me the simplicity of OD&D and Whitebox S&W gave me the OD&D "toolkit" to make my own game - the Ultima RPG. Yet now I keep going back to just the Ref sheets and the LBBs to tease out little bits on my own, or I open up Holmes.

It's not that the clones are bad, but I find they've taken me back to the originals and I'm happy with that. I've found myself almost at the same place I was back in 1979 and 1980 - mashing together Holmes and AD&D, but now I've got more stuff and more importantly, I've got more experience and understanding. I've got the blogs, I've got the forums and I've got the experience.

I still own the retroclones, but I'm finding my enthusiasm has waned a great deal in purchasing Yet-Another-Clone, especially in this economy. The Whitebox boxed set is the last RPG purchase I've made this year and probably will be the only one.

I don't know that this *means* anything, except that retroclone and simulacra publishers are going to give me the fat finger because my wallet is closed and I can't really recommend any clones save the ones I've already publicly supported. 

I am collecting monetary donations for the 2010 Chicagoland Toys for Tots Parade to be held on Dec 6th. This is a great charity where the Marines distribute Christmas toys to needy kids. I am raffling off some RPG items as well - the more you donate, the more "virtual tickets" you'll get. See this post for details and thank you!


Stormcrow said...

As the saying goes:
Everything new gets old again.

nextautumn said...

I think that's awesome, and I'm glad to hear you're back to a place where you feel comfortable mashing things up again - that's half the fun anyway.

I always thought the clones were there as a foundation, so that we could all make new adventures and settings and supplements, etc. for the old games. That's why I'm happy there here; and I hope they stick around, so that others can experience the kind of reawakening that you describe (and that I've also experienced).

Al said...

I have been flipping through my AD&D 1E books a lot lately (though I'm running Swords & Wizardry). Is it simple nostalgia, or the beginnings of a return to that edition, only time will tell...:)

m.s. jackson said...

Interesting discussion. I jumped into the retro movement with Whitebox and now I am dabbling with Warrior Rogue & Mage, but I find myself looking at the old Red Box more and more recently.

Bigby's Left Hand said...

As I've been getting ready to run my first game in a quarter of a century my interest in lots of game elements I'd once forgotten about has been perking up. This has resulted in my being tempted once or twice to just go ahead and buy the old 1E rule books on eBay or wherever, but then I'd be obliging my players to do the same. And since my players don't even know what an old school renaissance is (they don't follow this stuff like I do), I think it's best for me to just stick with easy-on-the-details Labyrinth Lord and spice it up with stuff cherry-picked from Holmes, Philotemy, and a few choice bloggers in the OSR.

After all, the kids just want to fight monsters, the parents and uncles just want to be around playing the game while they do it, and I just want to be the guy setting up the action. And make a cohesive world doing it, even if I'm the only guy who'll notice.

And, better, using LL means I'm the only guy who has to spend money at all. (Because I like illustrations. And also to support the writers.)

Scott said...

I think ultimately I'll end up with OD&D again as my base system, with some number of ports from LotFP (encumbrance, language, alignment, only Fighting Men advancing on the attack matrices, possibly the skill system if I allow Thieves).

I mainly run OD&D from my transcribed and spitwadded version of Volume I anyway, ignoring most of Volumes 2 & 3, so it's not difficult to add or subtract elements. I barely consult my original books or the supplements these days.

But yeah, OD&D still feels better to me than the clones. I enjoy running LotFP and think some of its changes are elegant, but I think in the long run I'll be running OD&D with a few bits from LotFP.

Matt Finch said...

Retroclones ain't going to give you the finger ... getting people back to the originals is a major part of the whole idea. :)

Delve Lord said...

I found myself taking a very similar path as you. I found the retro-clones several months ago and they led me back to a game in the spirit of OD&D and AD&D. I just started an AD&D 1e/OSRIC campaign and the first session was a role-playing blast!