Saturday, July 30, 2011

Original Rules, Clone or Sequel?


I haven't seen a good name for "2nd generation clones" - games that use the OGL to mimic elements of D&D, but aren't creating a faithful retro-clone of the original rules.  So I'm going to start calling them Sequels, at least until someone smarter and wiser comes up with a cooler name (and no, not 'fantasy heartbreakers').  The sequel games I'm most familiar with are LOTFP or ACKS.  LOTFP goes lower magic, grim and grittier, with stronger character archetypes (niche protection), weirder magic, and a consistent skills set.  ACKS isn't even published yet, but it's looking really good.  It introduces a very strong campaign play mode that includes campaign roles for the core classes, domains, economics, and mass combat.  The class design approach mixes in some 3E style elements and might bridge the generation gap between new schoolers and old schoolers.  (I'm equating D&D new school = class customization and optimization).

True clones are things like Labyrinth Lord (BX D&D), OSRIC (AD&D), Swords & Wizardry (original D&D), and Dark Dungeons (Rules Cyclopedia/Mentzer D&D).

I don't know if it's nostalgia or comfort, but I find myself using different copies of the original rules as my primary references, and using the Clones or Sequels as a source of house rules.  30 years later, I still love the blue and red basic and expert books.  I can find things much faster in BX or the AD&D books than LL, for instance, although publishers are starting to move beyond basic publishing to usability at the table and layout - so my primary table references could change.  I have a hard time imagining using old-style thieves after using the LOTFP specialist - I also love the LOTFP encumbrance system, the skill system, and the focus on the fighter.  I've been getting all the prerelease rules of ACKS, and can see I'll be retiring my Companion domain economics  (among other things) once ACKS comes out, and play testing their own fighter tweaks.  I foresee my home games will be a mish-mash of systems going forward.

Seemed like a good idea for a poll.  Do you primarily run a purist game (Original Rules only), Original Rules with your own house rules, a Clone, a Sequel, or a Frankenstein mash-up of everything?

38 comments:

  1. I run a sequel (LotFP) every three weeks here in Stroudsburg, and play another sequel (Adventures Dark & Deep) every other week in Jersey with Greyhawk Grognard.

    So I like the games that improve upon the already solid foundations of the game.

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  2. "near clones" is what I have seen used.

    Though I would argue that S&W is really only a near clone. It differs enough from OD&D to only be a near in my book.

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  3. I use clones / originals the other way around to you -- running games with LL as the core, but using the original AD&D books for reference. I like using a clone as it's nice to be able to point players to rule books which are free to download or easily available in print.

    I'm gradually getting closer to simply playing "by the book", with less and less house rules, so sequels aren't of so much interest to me, in terms of actually using them at the table.

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  4. On those rare occasions I get to play LL, I play it Rules As Written (RAW) because I am that kind of guy. I would skip LL entirely, but the thought of people passing around my Moldvay Basic book and getting it all dirty and bendy makes me ill.

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  5. I will be (soon, so very soon) playing LotFP, and have just joined the kickstarter brigade with ACK, so will be checking that out and seeing what I can use. But, I also have a host of other books I happily use, from basic D&D stuff up to the various clones out there.

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  6. Jason Vey has referred to Spellcraft and Swordplay as a "retro - tribute" and I use the term for Dragons at Dawn becasue it fits perfectly. "Retro - revision" might be a better term for the sequel games you are talking about. At least to me Retro Revision tells me exactly what the game is about.

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  7. I call 'em Neo-clones myself just to keep my PDF folders clean... Retro-clones here, Neo-clones there.

    And then there's the Alter-clones for games like Mazes & Minotaurs, X-plorers, and Small but Vicious Dog -- the ones that clearly deviated from the D&D template and made their own game.

    I'm not running anything, but I like C&C for the streamlined ruleset. I like all the various retro-clones for the tone variances and rules and layouts... really interesting to compare them all.

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  8. Voted Frankenstein.

    I run Swords & Wizardry White Box, but that's basically the same as saying "I use lots of house rules." For those, about equal parts LOTFP, random blog stuff, & random personal stuff.

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  9. I like the term "Neo-clones" -- thanks Alexander.

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  10. When I use something D&Dish, I tend to use original with house rules. Right now, I've got two projects going: one is a Frankenstein which may one day turn into a sequel/neo-clone. The other is an implementation of FATE for dark swords-and-sorcery fantasy.

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  11. If the 1st generation were clones, we could stick with the genetic terminology. What's the proper term for an organism that's derived from another (i.e., a seperate species evolved from the first species, rather than a clone of it).

    I'm not a genetic engineer, but, being a blog full of geeks, I'm sure someone is: what's the proper term?

    Retroprogeny?
    Retrodescendant?

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  12. I can get behind using Neo-clone for the 2nd gen games - it's catchy and easy.

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  13. Another Frankensteiner here. I use Moldvay/Cook myself, my players use LL, with lots of house rules, monsters from the 1e books and the Hamsterish Hoard, Raggi's encumbrance rules and, possibly in the near future, his rules for making scrolls, wands, and staves and, just to get really crazy, 3e's Book of Vile Darkness.

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  14. Dan Proctor wrote a piece on the subject on his blog in 2009 in which he used the terms "near-clone" and "neo-retro" and provided a nice little diagram to explain it. I reckon I like the term "neo-clone" as a good catchall for any OGL-based game that's not a true clone.

    As for gaming, I'm definitely a Frankenstein gamer myself these days, using LL + AEC as the base, but heavily house ruled with bits and pieces from various clones and blogs, and using the original books generally for reference only.

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  15. I've been using the term neo-clone for the 2nd-wavers - actually as a pretentious European I really should use Nouvelle Vague instead.

    I like the idea of purely using rules-as-written but I always end up remixing stuff.

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  16. "I like the idea of purely using rules-as-written but I always end up remixing stuff."

    Yes, that. I am a tinkerer at heart, I always find something I just have to tweak.

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  17. I mostly use Labyrinth Lord, with house rules. Mostly because my Moldvay D&D books are falling apart.

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  18. Started a campaign Friday with my latest Franken-clone. OD&D/S&W/AD&D/Buncha OSR blogger's stuff/some of my stuff.

    All mashed, distilled, smoothed out and viola!

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  19. Nominally I use Labyrinth Lord and the AEC, but really it's a Frankenstein of LL, actual AD&D, RC, and LotFP.

    This is often difficult to explain to people who ask what I run, and makes it incredibly unlikely I'll ever get a publishable version of the Dark Country because it relies on too many other sources.

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  20. Frankenstein. B/X with some LL and LotFP stuff, and lots of my own homebrew, stuff stolen from various blogs, and gaps filled with AD&D stuff. I'd probably run more "pure" B/X if it were easier to merge the rulebooks (I'm not cutting up my copies and even if I did they would not necessarily fit quite right).

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  21. I run what you're calling a sequel (Adventures Dark and Deep) and I sorta like that term. Neo-clone sounds a bit antiseptic to me. I've been calling it a "reconstruction", which is a term I also apply to things like Dragons at Dawn; sets of rules that never actually appeared as rules, but could have or might have. I don't see why they'd need to be mutually exclusive terms, of course.

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  22. OD&D plus original supplements plus my own house rules. LotFP is the only clone I've ever run, and while it was fun, it just wasn't the same for me and I don't see running it or any other clone again.

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  23. Evan raises a good point for all of us Frankenstein mish-mashers; it gets wordy to describe what you're actually playing. When talking outside the OSR, probably best we just keep it "D&D".

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  24. I run one game of Adventures Dark and Deep (sequel) and play in another, separate, game of Adventures Dark and Deep.

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  25. "Evan raises a good point for all of us Frankenstein mish-mashers; it gets wordy to describe what you're actually playing. When talking outside the OSR, probably best we just keep it "D&D"."

    1. Question asked of me by a player Friday night, as I began a new campaign for complete strangers who've never heard of the OSR:

    "So, what edition are we playing?"

    2. Me: "Well..."

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  26. I will be running a real Frankenstein campaign - S&W with borrowed bits from BECMI, 1e, 3e/PF, minion rules from 4e, classes from all over the retro-clone scene, etc. I get nuts with it. I've seen Neo-Retro used for the "2nd gen clones" before. Kind of oddball, but it seems to work.

    As to what I describe to people what edition I play, I just say D&D with old rules. Seems to cut out the confusion, because essentially that's what I'm playing. I'm using it as a base, and borrowing from elsewhere, like I would with anything.

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  27. Someone should go really old school and mash Spell Law or Arms & Claw Law into their game. :)

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  28. "I like the idea of purely using rules-as-written but I always end up remixing stuff."

    Aside from my own ideas, there's this large group of a few hundred DM's, who write up new ideas and rules tweaks on a daily basis and put them up on the internet for free. How could I resist trying some of it out?

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  29. James, was there anyone who *didn't* do that back when AL came out, at least for a session or two?

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  30. At the moment, I'm running Frankenstein rules that are 85% LBB OD&D, 10% S&W Whitebox (AAC, treasure values), and 5% Labyrinth Lord. Nearly as often, I run straight, unmodified Labyrinth Lord.

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  31. I am running (and playing) Swords&Magic: Adventures on Fomalhaut, which would fit your concept of a "sequel". Although it would be misleading to call it a "2nd generation clone": the rules grew out of the Castles&Crusades development process in late 2003, and in pre-publication form, actually predate OSRIC, published 2006 and generally thought of as the first clone.

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  32. I play an omnivorous everchaninging-Franken-hack myself. If it's D&D or D&D-like from anytime before 4th edition I'll bend it, break it and shove it into place if I like a bit of it.

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  33. I don't know if you ever saw this or not, but I found this link the other day: http://www.retroroleplaying.com/content/retro-clones

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  34. I don't currently have a game that I'm running, but I'm working on a game that will use Swords & Wizardry: Whitebox plus a bunch of rules that I've found online and made up myself. I'm sure that a lot of those house rules will drop by the wayside and others will come into use.

    I'm also really interested in the idea of running a classic Top Secret game, so that might happen, too.

    Finally, I have a desire to continue developing a game based on the miniatures rules set WRG Ancients and Medieval, conceptually as if it were the first roleplaying game instead of D&D being based on Chainmail. I've hit a point, though, where much further development requires an active group. We'll see if and when that happens.

    Whatever terminology other people finally decide on is good by me.

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  35. Epées & Sorcellerie could be called a sequel, it fits pretty well. Currently, I run a light version of my own new clone, avantures fantastiques, so an hybrid between Moldvay and AD&D.

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  36. FRANKENSTEIN! Pathfinder+DCC Beta

    Also, starting a new B/X game soon at the game store (unless I change my mind...AGAIN!)

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  37. What does B/X qualify as here?

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  38. I love BX - would definitely consider it original rules since it was published by TSR.

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