What types of retroclones do people really *want*?

Well, I’m already starting some games (but not in the discord realm, alas). For me, running games doesn’t really make the “making games” itch go away. And if I’m going to make stuff, I might as well make useful stuff.

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I think the wiki suggestion is apt. Looking at the sample above discussing different task resolution procedures, I’m already thinking of ways I’d like to see them phrased differently :wink: (Target20 gets kind of undersold, for example; and I think a little more on the pros/cons of different approaches could help). That’s not me trying to quibble-storm this thread, but just to note that making the descriptions open to community input would allow the advocates of each different houserule to offer their own perspective on what makes it work (for them).

Like some here, I see this idea as an OUTSTANDING way to help new O/NSR-designers figure out their options, but of limited utility past a certain point.

This thread did make me think about an interesting problem I see with some ‘new’ rulesets…we often praise new rulesets for their amazing layout (or criticize them for shabby layout) but the fact is that so few of use actually run RAW, that the amazing layout becomes kind of irrelevant if we’re just going to patch our own aberrations into everything anyway! In that light, a modular library of rule options would prevent unified layout but might be more realistic for use anyway.



I wish I could tell you what kind of “OSR” game I’d really want to see, then. I think I’ve settled into a phase where FKR, Electric Bastionland, or 5E can cover all my needs.

I guess everyone else’s enthusiasm for an “OSR rules wiki” shows that some people want to see that (again, I swear such a thing already exists, but I can’t recall where). I do think formatting it as a wiki or an online how-to guide would be more useful than as a printed book.

(If you’re really asking what “retroclones” I want to see, I agree with @JustinH: I want to see clones of non-D&D games. But, again, that doesn’t seem to be what you mean.)

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I like all of your ideas. In particular, the point you make that ‘new’ rulesets are not run as written, but are beautifully designed, brings me to another point. I sometimes think that the rulebooks work like talismans that authorize play, that say, “We are playing this game,” and that is consoling and exciting to players (who may not be aware of the rules as written). Having a rulebook suggests that we are not just sitting around making stuff up (even though we are!), and that there is an ultimate recourse of order. In this way, the beautiful OSE books are perfect for the job.

@JustinH has mentioned a number of times how he runs OD&D and the books are mostly ignored, but they are inspiring to have around. They say, “Hey, this is the real D&D!” Which is cool, even if he is actually running it more freeform (as the authors originally prescribed, in fact)!

I have the OSE Classic Rules Tome in the fancy cover. This is the only retroclone I bought. I just like looking at it. I find it inspiring. I know that is silly, because I have my '81 copy of Moldvay’s Basic.

All that art, the books, the design–they work together to induce a consciousness of playing something specific. That’s not anything that a rules Wiki can capture, even though you and I agree that it would be nice to have such a thing.

More musings! :slight_smile: :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


I didn’t hear @JustinH talking about wanting to see clones of non-D&D, but I’m all for it. (My home rules are an offshoot of Fighting Fantasy, so of course I would be all for it.) I think it’s a great idea, but there’s one catch. Most old rules don’t have an equivalent of the OGL, and somebody out there has the rights to most of those old sets. Rules can’t be copyrighted, but an OGL sure helps to facilitate clones, doesn’t it?

Tim, if you can find that cache of house rules, let us know! Not that you should spend a lot of time searching for it–and if we found it, we’d only want to make it bigger.

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Hmm… I do recall seeing some kind of wiki once… and being terribly disappointed at the dearth of content. Anyways, the wiki seems like the way to go, since I am not very well acquainted with a lot of these systems.

Going back to @Gundobad_Games’ very good point about these beautiful retroclones nearly always being remade by the user and @VanWinkle’s very good point about the value of books like the OSE tomes as talismans (I relate to both!):

I would actually really like to see a well (graphically) designed and well curated toolkit, that didn’t propose a single unified system, but did do work towards clarifying and nicely presenting a select collection of related old school approaches.

In other words a rules tome that acknowledged that it was going to be used as a set of modular elements to build your own game, but didn’t entirely abandon its tome-ness - either aesthetically or conceptually: A beautiful object that makes an effort to present things more clearly than it’s sources and choose those tools/rules/etc the authors find most valuable.

A tome that recognized how its readers would actually use it.

(All that being said, I agree that wiki would also be super useful, just a different thing)

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I’ll top that: Print-on-demand rules tome. You select the rules you want included from a long series of drop-down menus, then your custom ruleset is printed and shipped directly to you in beautiful hardcover. We’ll put every other indie RPG retailer out of business!

(The above has been my first attempt to make a joke in the forum format.)


The programming would be… Quite tricky :thinking:

more than programming the website, it requires an extremely well made modularity in the rules themselves

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I’ve tried to do a similar thing with BRP, given the modularity of that family of systems, and even hunting down the second reference you have to thread through when one rule changes becomes a bit of spaghetti.

Since I usually play these games with kids I’d like to see some hacks or reworks that put emphasis on cuteness and being clever/non-confrontational. I don’t have money to spend on games right now, but I’m intrigued by games like that recent Neverland game and I have a copy of Ryuutama. But still, some storybook kid-friendly (so not as dark as they usually go) rules or system would work well for me.

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Just as an FYI: Neverland is an “adventure” not a game system. So you can run it with most anything.


Oh, I know, but I am mostly interested in how it uses childlike fairy tale flavor in an osr game. To make it about wonder and social interactions and combat as a last resort.