Wednesday 13 April 2011

4 reasons you should be playing retroclones

The OSR (old school renaissance) is a behemoth. This movement to revitalise classic roleplaying has stretched far and wide and it seems like every week a new OSR blogger is added to the ranks. Those who choose to stick by modern games are really missing a trick by not being part of this burgeoning community, and here's why.

1. Tonnes of fan-generated content

Although all the old TSR stuff is out of print and yellowing on the bookshelf, the OSR has a dedicated fanbase that is churning out quality material left, right and centre. From guides to adventures, OSR content is generally pretty cheap and well worth the money. Hell, even the games themselves can be counted as fan-generated content. As well as blogs and websites, retroclones have an array of great high-quality publications such as Knockspell and Oubliette filled with high quality articles. 

2. Returning to roleplaying roots

While I love a lot of modern roleplaying games it's great just to go back to where it all started by cracking open a good retroclone. If you cut your teeth on the venerable 1st edition AD&D then you might like OSRIC, whilst Holmes/Moldvay fans would probably gravitate towards Labyrinth Lord. Even if you were brought up on 4th edition, it's a good learning experience to have a go at the older editions to see just how the game has changed over the years. 

3. Inexpensiveness  

Retroclones are cheap. You can get most of the PDFs for free providing you don't mind forgoing artwork or the paid-for downloads aren't exactly wallet-busting. In a world where the economy's in the toilet it's good to know that you can get together with friends and play a game completely gratis. Also, since there are old-school games, there is no emphasis on minis, so there's a big money sink right out of the window.

4. No corporate shenanigans

Wizards of the Coast has come under fire in recent years for some of the decisions they made with D&D and as a result has lost some support from the fans. Since retroclone creators aren't completely profit-oriented they are more likely to listen to fan suggestions and implement them. Not only that, under the OGL you can create all the content you desire for your favourite retroclone without the impending hand of a lawsuit on your shoulder.


  1. Hey, just wanted to compliment you on the nice new look of your blog. I especially like the new font.

  2. I've been playing 4e for about 2 years, but I was raised on D&D Basic and 1st/2nd Edition. I would love to give Labyrinth Lord a spin - I've got one player convinced, just four more to go. :-) Maybe I should send them here to read this post.

    Good job, thank you!

  3. The retroclones also seem to make the "old school" much more coherent and efficient than then whatever D&D edition before 1980 ppl played.