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RPG» Forums » General Discussion » General Role-Playing

Subject: Recommend me a D&D retro-clone rss

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Chris Talbot
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I have one board gaming friend who would love to try out D&D (he's never roleplayed before), and I am seriously considering putting together an old school Red Box campaign that would run irregularly to give him a feel for roleplaying, dungeon crawling, puzzle solving, character progression and accumulation of cool gear. Y'know, all the things we loved back in the old days.

He wants to try out D&D, but I think what he really wants is the D&D experience. Although Red Box D&D is likely to be the game I'll go with, I'd like to hear some thoughts on good D&D retro-clones. Any suggestions as to which ones are good and give the appropriate D&D "feel?"

Chris
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I've only recently become aware of them, so I can't say anything about how they work. But, the theory is that they are clones, it's exactly the same game, with restated rules (to avoid copyright infringement). The purpose is more to give new players and publishers a way to reference the old rules without having to scour eBay (for the player to have the rules) or the publisher to tiptoe around an impossible license, and not as interested in presenting cleaned up or 'improved' version.

There are three flavors that I'm aware of:
OSRIC = AD&D 1e (I don't know if it just covers the original three books, or adds in the UA classes or non-weapon proficiencies from WSG/DSG or not.)

Labyrinth Lord = Moldvay D&D

Swords & Wizardry: Core Rules (3rd Edition) = Dungeons & Dragons (Original Edition)

The only one I've looked at so far is Labyrinth Lord, and I haven't done that in detail. I've noted that the experience points are slightly off (2,050 for 2nd level Fighter; obviously they put some number crunching in and did not care to round), and the charts go up to 20th level (instead of 14 for the original Expert Set). The free 'no-art' version is just that, a PDF of the full document with the art layer turned off, leaving holes in the manuscript (fair enough), and the font is the same as the Moldvay version (very distictive).

Ah! It seems there is one based off the Rules Cyclopedia: Dark Dungeons. I need to check that.
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Swords and Wizardry looked like fun. As I recall the PDF was free to download from their website if you want to check it out. I don't have it, or my old D&D in front of me, but I remember there bing some differences.
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Take a look at Dark Dungeons. Since the Rules Cyclopedia is no longer in print, a fan has made his version using the SRD.

http://darkdungeonsblog.wordpress.com/
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I have Labyrinth Lord and like it, although it's still fairly easy to find the original box sets on Ebay as well.
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Chris Talbot
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Considering I do have the boxed sets from the mid-Eighties D&D, is there really any reason to use a retro-clone? Are there significant enough changes in any of them to make it worthwhile making the switch?

Chris
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While I don't mind your idea, I would make sure that you tell this friend what you are exposing him to is not the D&D that he'll find on sale at his local store.

If he gets into D&D, and decides to strike out on his own without you, he's gonna wonder why nobody else's character has THAC-0 and 5-7 saving throws.
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Personally I'd stick with D&D 3.0 or 3.5 (or Pathfinder).

I know that if I started to explain THAC0 with my one group they'd just glare at me blankly and ask to play another game.
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Redbeardin84 wrote:

If he gets into D&D, and decides to strike out on his own without you, he's gonna wonder why nobody else's character has THAC-0 and 5-7 saving throws.


If his saving throws are 5-7 he's 13-14th level Fighter.

I'm sorry. I'm not being any help here.
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Rindis wrote:
I've noted that the experience points are slightly off


Almost certainly to avoid the possibility of a copyright infringement. OSRIC has done the same. I don't remember Swords and Wizadry's xp tables.


I know of two others...

Castles & Crusades is a clone of the original white/brown box original edition.

Basic Fantasy is a d20 based on the 3.5 edition D&D but bought back to the old school style.

They are all good, my favourite is OSRIC which probably has the most available source material out there both genuine AD&D and recent publications.


- Pauli
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Chris Talbot
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Redbeardin84 wrote:
While I don't mind your idea, I would make sure that you tell this friend what you are exposing him to is not the D&D that he'll find on sale at his local store.

He knows. I've already discussed this idea with him a bit in the past.

Chris
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Chris Talbot
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Ugavine wrote:
Personally I'd stick with D&D 3.0 or 3.5 (or Pathfinder).

I understand why you're suggesting it, but I really couldn't return to D&D 3.xE at this point. Pathfinder is tempting, but I imagine it still contains many of the things that eventually bugged me about 3.xE (which mostly had to do with the number of combat options and complexities).

The last time I ran Red Box D&D, I actually removed THAC0 and replaced it with the BAB system from 3.xE. It was very easy to do, and I would likely do it again.

Chris

EDIT: And now upon further thought (a whole two minutes), I'm thinking maybe I could do 3.xE again. I don't think I'd have a bunch of rules lawyers at my table, so it might be fun. Hmm...
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ctalbot wrote:
Considering I do have the boxed sets from the mid-Eighties D&D, is there really any reason to use a retro-clone? Are there significant enough changes in any of them to make it worthwhile making the switch?

Chris

In short, no. A few rules are better explained and there are some small differences in XP requirements (to avoid copyright issues) but no real changes.
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William Hostman
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Some are not retroclones, but pseudoclones...and they do differ considerably. C&C is mechanically not very close, and Basic Fantasy is 3.x stripped to look like BXCMI.

So which one you pick makes a huge difference in whether or not it's compatible.
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Chris Talbot
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aramis wrote:
Some are not retroclones, but pseudoclones...and they do differ considerably. C&C is mechanically not very close, and Basic Fantasy is 3.x stripped to look like BXCMI.

So which one you pick makes a huge difference in whether or not it's compatible.

Ah, okay. I'm not necessarily looking for full rules compatibility, but instead something that gives the feel and atmosphere of D&D games. The rules should be similar, but they don't have to be exactly as the old Red Box rules were.

I'm still toying with exactly what I'm going to do for this game, and I may just end up biting the bullet and running it in D&D 3E, which I was pretty sure I would never run again. At least I have extra core books for that one I can leave with my buddy.

Chris
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paulidale wrote:
Rindis wrote:
I've noted that the experience points are slightly off


Almost certainly to avoid the possibility of a copyright infringement. OSRIC has done the same. I don't remember Swords and Wizadry's xp tables.

I'm really doubting that. That's the sort of mechanical thing that would be hard to claim as part of the copyright. Also, if so, I would expect them to just rescale to something that came out even again. That 50-point oddity suggests (to me at least) a mathematical underpinning.

Oh, and Dark Dungeons uses the exact XP progression of the original (other than letting the demi-humans go all the way to 36th, instead of all the odd compromises of Companion and Master—thank goodness).

paulidale wrote:
Castles & Crusades is a clone of the original white/brown box original edition.

Odd. I understand that's what Swords & Wizardry: Core Rules (3rd Edition) is. I wonder what the difference is.

paulidale wrote:
They are all good, my favourite is OSRIC which probably has the most available source material out there both genuine AD&D and recent publications.

Always a plus. I also count it as one of the less 'necessary' ones, as getting a hold of the main hardbacks. It's mostly useful to give a name that new publications can use.

Since you've looked at it, Does OSRIC just cover the 'big three', or does it have anything from UA, WSG, DSG, etc?

Chris, it sounds like it really comes down to what you want to do. If you want to run D&D you know, and have your own materials that you'll be running D&D3 is possibly the way to go. If you're saying, 'I wonder what it'd be like to actually run that adventure...' you might want a retro-clone. If you want a really stripped-down system, it's probably LL.

Oh, and what, exactly, is the problem with THAC0? You have one number, you roll the die. You tell the DM how far off your number you are. That's the armor class you hit. Is it the monster's AC or better? Done.

(Not that reversing the ACs in 3rd was bad, in fact I agree it's far better that way. I just don't understand why everybody says something dirt simple is too complicated.)
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Chris Talbot
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Rindis wrote:
Oh, and what, exactly, is the problem with THAC0? You have one number, you roll the die. You tell the DM how far off your number you are. That's the armor class you hit. Is it the monster's AC or better? Done.

(Not that reversing the ACs in 3rd was bad, in fact I agree it's far better that way. I just don't understand why everybody says something dirt simple is too complicated.)

I think it's mostly a perception of THAC0 based on the younger me (who was not as good at simple arithmetic as the older me). I struggled with THAC0 as a kid/early teen, and it has left a (perhaps undeserved) negative impression. However, when I last played Red Box D&D (about three years ago, I think), I was able to do the math in my head, even though I did swap out the THAC0 system for the 3E BAB system (it was the one change I really liked about D&D 3E).

Chris
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James Lowry
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That part is meant to be addressed a bit more generally, since I see THAC0 get ragged on a lot. I mean, I was horrible at 'rote' math for ages (RPGs helped immensely with that...), but THAC0 made perfect, obvious sense since the first time I encountered it. (Hmm. The best thing that particular group did for me too.) So, I just don't get the pain.

BAB? (I know that 3e reversed AC. New terminology also?)
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Chris Talbot
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Rindis wrote:
BAB? (I know that 3e reversed AC. New terminology also?)

Base Attack Bonus. In the old editions, your THAC0 improved as you gained levels. In 3E, since AC numbers were reversed, what the designers did was give classes a BAB +1 every so many levels.

I found BAB much simpler and more intuitive than THAC0, but what BAB really does is remove the math necessary to convert AC to a THAC0 target number.

Chris
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RPG » Forums » General Discussion » General Role-Playing
Re: Recommend me a D&D retro-clone
Rindis wrote:

paulidale wrote:
Castles & Crusades is a clone of the original white/brown box original edition.

Odd. I understand that's what Swords & Wizardry: Core Rules (3rd Edition) is. I wonder what the difference is.


Just going through what I've got handy...

S&W-WB is rules compatible (mostly) with D&D whitebox with some nods to Moldvay compatibility (namely, racial classes as options); S&W Core is actually AD&D 1E mostly compatible. Both have an "BAB & ascending AC" option

C&C is a new engine with the same classes and levels supported as either white box (the Collector Box) or AD&D 1E PH (Hardcover), and roughly similar abilities.

Spellcraft and Swordplay is yet another different engine with AD&D comparability but not true compatibility. It uses 2d6 for checks for 11+, DM from stats and difficulties... and ascending AC (from 0), with magic bonuses not going to AC but penalizing opponents' attempts to hit.

Labyrinth Lord is essentially Moldvay style B/X D&D.
LL Advanced Edition Companion is essentially "AD&D as if Moldvay had redone it"

Osric is almost identical to AD&D1E PH and DMG mechanics, but reworded. Monks are missing due to the difficulty of rewording them...

Forward To Adventure is a T&T influenced D20 stripdown with minimal compatibility (but monsters can be used pretty easily from D&D/AD&D/3E sources. Surprisingly well done, but its past the "No Longer D&D" stage.

Redbox Hack is unrelated mechanically, and is just old school in tone.

Searchers of the Unknown -"Another minimal way to play D&D" is D&D as if PC should have the same info as a monster stat block. Single page rules.

Basic Fantasy is D20 D&D stripped down to Moldvay/Mentzer complexity.

Mazes and Minotaurs is a mostly D&D white box inspired set of mechanics, but has streamlined, then folded, spindled, and mutilated them into something fun, simple, but not D&D anymore. It is simple, great fun, and of similar complexity to Moldvay.
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Thanks for all that. Sadly, since one of the things they're doing is avoiding the use of Certain Trademarked Names, a lot of these rulebooks leave you guessing as to what they're actually doing! (OSRIC and LL seem to be the most straightforward, since being 'bit compatible' is part of the mission statement.)
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Rindis wrote:
Thanks for all that. Sadly, since one of the things they're doing is avoiding the use of Certain Trademarked Names, a lot of these rulebooks leave you guessing as to what they're actually doing! (OSRIC and LL seem to be the most straightforward, since being 'bit compatible' is part of the mission statement.)


OSRIC and LL both do respectable jobs, too.

If tasked to run one, no extant D&D/AD&D modules to be used, I'd grab M&M; if it's the D&D experience, I'd go S&W Core...
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ctalbot wrote:
I have one board gaming friend who would love to try out D&D (he's never roleplayed before), and I am seriously considering putting together an old school Red Box campaign that would run irregularly to give him a feel for roleplaying, dungeon crawling, puzzle solving, character progression and accumulation of cool gear. Y'know, all the things we loved back in the old days.

He wants to try out D&D, but I think what he really wants is the D&D experience. Although Red Box D&D is likely to be the game I'll go with, I'd like to hear some thoughts on good D&D retro-clones. Any suggestions as to which ones are good and give the appropriate D&D "feel?"

Chris


If you want the feel of D&D then why don't you just play D&D or more specifically with all the comments so far AD&D.
that kinda removes all the "issues" with clones.
K.I.S.S.
keep it simple stupid
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skotkolr wrote:

If you want the feel of D&D then why don't you just play D&D or more specifically with all the comments so far AD&D.
that kinda removes all the "issues" with clones.
K.I.S.S.
keep it simple stupid


Some of the clones do a better job with simpler rules... more D&D feel, less stress with the rules.

S&W is one of those...

FTA does for d20 what S&W does for OD&D... simplified, streamlined, and very old school feel, without the funky old-school rules mush.

Gygax's Box is not well written, not terribly clear, chock full of uncorrected typoes; at least one printing is missing the rule for hitpoints done by a successful attack... (guess which printing I own...) but it was and is a brilliant concept executed in an excremental manner.

Most of the closer clones do the same feel, but have gone to offering the option of ascending AC. the various ones snapshot various designers preferences of the options in OD&D and its supplements 1-3. (Well, almost no one includes supp 3. It's all about psionics.) Supps 4-5 are less often included, and really don't add much. (Gods Demigods and Heroes is a bestiary...)
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