Poll -- Best Retro, Old School (OSR) Rule Set
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Poll: What is the Best Old School (OSRIC) Rule Set?

Basic Fantasy RPG 9%       9%  [ 4 ]
Castles & Crusades 28%       28%  [ 12 ]
Swords & Wizardry 23%       23%  [ 10 ]
Labyrinth Lord 12%       12%  [ 5 ]
White Box RPG 5%       5%  [ 2 ]
I want my, I want my, I want my B/X/C 23%       23%  [ 10 ]
Total votes : 43

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Post Posted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:47 pm 
 

JimLotFP wrote:
Making good on a messed up preorder I did some time back for what is up to this point vaporware. Some people are going to get 50€ boxes for what was a 10€ order.

I hope the rest of you here will consider this a prime candidate for a future collector's item though. ;) I'll start taking orders only when all the parts are printed, and I expect that to be at the end of this coming week.


Are you saying Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill is not going to happen? :( And we are getting this now instead? (Either way you'll need my new address)

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Post Posted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:56 pm 
 

Plaag wrote:Are you saying Insect Shrine of Goblin Hill is not going to happen? :( And we are getting this now instead? (Either way you'll need my new address)ShaneG.


I'll be emailing everyone on the list to make sure my mailing list is up to date after the box components are all here and I'm beginning to assemble the thing.

Insect Shrine is 95% done, I have all the art, the maps, spent 6 more weeks playtesting it last year... but... I don't know what it is about this project. Something else always pops up and basically grabs me and demands that I do it first. I've proven that I can get stuff out the door now, but this one thing... it's just weird.

I plan on getting the last bit of the Shrine done and out the door this year, really, but I can't really afford to keep offering all these freebies. And there's one other module that's now in the queue in front of it.

So the email I send out to people will lay out three options: Take the box instead of Insect Shrine and we'll consider it even, pass on the box and wait for Insect Shrine later in the year, or just take a refund of the original 10€. I expect people to take the box, but that's up to everyone to decide on their own.



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Post Posted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 5:01 pm 
 

mbass, mark me aside for one of your 10..  8)  :lol:


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Post Posted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 7:50 pm 
 

I may as well edit and *bump*
since I have a question about the old school rules sets:

Some retro clones use an AAC scale (which I just might prefer).

So, to convert from D&D's or AD&D's armor class to an AAC scale, you simply "flip" the AC.

Is there a trick to this, or is it as simple as it sounds?

Thanks
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Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:54 am 
 

This is not a review per se, but more my first impressions of the product that just landed this morning....

Image

The box is sized to carry digest size books in the traditional 'white box' form, however, unlike most, this box is a single form thick cardboard mailer type box with a full colour printing on one side and a plain white lining on the other. No weak corners that can split, no colour paper wrap that can peel away, and what feels like a reassuringly heavy package in a box that could take some punishment.

The whole thing was shipped in a ziplock bag to prevent the packaging from rubbing the box, and as you can see, mine arrived in pristine condition.

Image

My initial impression is one of dark and brooding gothic horror, D&D with a hint of Cthulhu.

Image

The box is surprisingly full, like opening Castle Zagyg:Upper Works, you find there isn't that much spare room in there, the thing is full of digest books and all manner of extras. On the top we have a tiny set of dice in a ziplock baggie (like a little gamer fix), a pencil, and a Thank-you/Disclaimer advice sheet.

Image

Our first two books are the Referee book (aka GM Guide) and the Rules book (aka Players Handbook).

Image

Next we have a book called Tutorial and one called Magic. Tutorial is as its title indicates; simplified explanations of the game mechanics and stats followed by a simple adventure dungeon and a written commentary watching a group of players map and work through the dungeon, in the James says; Enrico says; type thing. This will probably be the first book I read cover to cover when I get the time to dip into this.

Magic details the Cleric and Magic-user spells and mechanics.

Image

Then we have a pleasantly thick stack of specially printed character sheets, (as opposed to just a page you have to photocopy) a stack of quadrille mapping sheets, flyers for Expeditious Retreat Press and Dragonsfoot.org, a copy of the OGL, and a short booklet titled, Recommended Reading. Recommended Reading provides a short synopsis of notable influential authors who's writings have contributed toward the tone of this boxed set, and will probably be the booklet I read after I've read Tutorial.

Image

At the bottom of the box is your beginner module Tower of the Stargazer in traditional booklet with wrapover card cover with interior maps.

Image
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And finally Wierd New World, a gazetteer to the world of Lamentation of the Flame Princess.

Conclusion

A well presneted product in a market that is already saturated with similar 'clone' rulesets. This one stands out from the others by being more highly polished, more promising in what it offers the reader, and surprisingly complete for those who have never dipped into RPGs.

I don't know whether I'd pay £39.99 for it if it were on the shelf of my local games store, but I probably wouldn't think twich at the £25 mark. Maybe we'll see a Retail Edition hit the shops on the back of J.E.Raggi's reputation and past success, but in the meantime, these little gems look great, unusual, and I'm glad I have one.


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:58 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:I do realise there is a gap for new players, as they cannot access the games we played. Like why would a kid go and buy a Commodore 64 or Spectrum and some tapes, when they can get an Xbox? And how can they know the history upon which Playstation and Xbox are built upon, and why in hell would they want to play them anyways.


The technology of an Xbox is superior in nearly every way over the Commodore 64. What the c64 could do the XBox can do better including emulating the c64 itself (if folks were interested doing that.

Games don't age, they can be better presented, written clearer, but the rules themselves play as well (or not) today as they did back in the day. Is Chess or Go somehow inferior because they don't have a 2.0 version?

As it turns out a lot of folks still want to play older editions of D&D and and some younger folks too.

mbassoc2003 wrote:So we all try to reprint the rules as far as the OGL permits without treating on anyone's IP, and make it look all shiney for the kids. They have mony. They may buy. But I can't help feel it's an alsoran game now with WoTC dominating the market by a hige margin, Pathfinder fighting a sterling battle and C&C falling far behind.


D&D was always beholden to the commercial interests of TSR and Wizards. They wanted to put out a new edition based on completely different rules there is literally no alternative to "do" anything about it. However thanks to the OGL that no longer true. And it a new thing as far as the industry. Right now in addition to what going with with older editions of D&D there the whole Paizo things with Pathfinder/3.5 it has a long way to play out.

As for Wizards the network effect and the rest of their distribution will nearly always insure that the whatever RPGs they call D&D will be the RPG that is most played.

This always been the situation for second tier publishers. Perhaps in the 90s there was a brief moment that White Wolf could have yanked the crown from D&D when TSR faltered but Wizards knocked out of the park with 3.0 and ensured D&D's continued dominance.

What this all means for players, referees, and especially publishers of older edition is that we have to grow our own market just as if we some other company establishing a new RPG. We do an advantage is that there is an existing fan base that can help make things go faster.


mbassoc2003 wrote:Surely if you're gonna enter the market with what essentially is a set of House Rules For The World of Jim, you'd be better off in terms of saleability, and the prospect of contributing to posterity, by writing and publishing adventures. I can't help seeing the list you gave above, for the most part, being about gamers massaging their own egos.


It a judgment call, my bet was to make the Majestic Wilderlands a supplement for Swords & Wizardry/OD&D. Jim is to make a variant complete RPG. I suspect what it will really boil down to is the reputation of the author as established by the quality of their work. And Jim has a good start on that.


mbassoc2003 wrote:I doff my hat to creators and publishers of good adventures more so than I do those who copy other people's works, albeit having been retypeset and wordprocessed differently.

It may be cynical, but I'm not really a follower of those on bandwagons. I prefer to watch and invest in trailblazers, and they are few and offen come out of the blue.


However rules need to available if we want to expand for new players. If Swords & Wizardry didn't exist I would have created my own. But it there, under the open game license and I don't have to worry about that.

I think the retro-rules era is coming to a close. We will still see a few new ones especially ones that have are D&D like but with a strong theme like Swords & Planets or one of the other major Fantasy sub-genres.  Jim' emphasis on weird puts it more in the latter category than the former.

  


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:03 pm 
 

Keith the Thief wrote:I may as well edit and *bump*
since I have a question about the old school rules sets:

Some retro clones use an AAC scale (which I just might prefer).

So, to convert from D&D's or AD&D's armor class to an AAC scale, you simply "flip" the AC.

Is there a trick to this, or is it as simple as it sounds?

Thanks
Keith


Yes you essentially flip the AC.  For example AC 3 is 10-3 = 7 +10 = 17 ACC.  The Base 9 AC editions for AC 3 go 9-3 = 6 + 10 = 16 AAC.

This takes advantage of the fact that except for AD&D's six repeating 20s each lower AC is one harder to hit then the previous AC.

  


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:12 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:I have no idea why they don't republish any of the original D&D stuff verbatim,


If they ever want to kill the sales of the retro clones that pretty much all they have to do.  Even a small print run will suck the oxygen right out of the retro market for rulesets. I also believe the upcoming Red Box Essential 4e D&D will cause confusion in attracting newcomers to the retro market as well because of the nostalgia feel of it's packaging.

The only good news is that the longer Wizards doesn't do a reprint the more chances the individual retro-publishers can survive as they build their own networks.

  

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Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:34 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:I prefer to watch and invest in trailblazers, and they are few and often come out of the blue.

My last sentence that you quoted was the relevant part of that statement. At the time of posting, I had not known the new member of our forum, the one posting the question, was Raggi. Raggi was the stalking horsewaiting in the wings to which my last sentence eluded to.

The point I was making is that everyone is printing D&D clones. They are all pretty much the same; bland, fairly poorly typeset, fairly badly presented, poorly illustrated, poorly thought out, and fall into that non-catagory of also-ran products. The type of products that resellers cannot shift for $5 and regret having purchased from the outset.

The number of authors and publishers that understand the difference between a marketable product, a good marketable product and a great marketable product, are few and far between. Often they go on to become great well known publishing houses or authors (or both, take Bill Webb for example).

Yes, I agree, the market is hard, and WoTC will always dominate. That is both a fact of life, and irrelevant. It merely shepes the market landscape. Understand that, and how to operate within that constraint is the difference between a working publisher and a successful working publisher.

At the moment, James Edward Raggi IV is an interesting author/publisher who is promising in both his understanding of what makes the difference between good and great products, and is learning to navigate the market within the constrants of real world business. At this moment I find his work more exciting and promising than most of the products I look at, and whilst at the time of posting my criticism of 'clone rulesets' in response to posed question, I was at that time unaware of the person posting the question, unaware that he was planning on releasing a product, but more than aware of the author moving quietly in the wings.

A lot can be learned from the way this package has been put together and presented to the market. Presentation and polish, while not impacting on the rules and mechanics, will dictate sales. Too many 'clone' rules sets just look like nasty decorated boxes of badly typed cheaply printed paper. The authors of such things just don't see or understand their mistake, and the fact that they don't understand or don't think it's important goes to explain why they fail to make any impact or build a customerbase outside of their own groups of friends on the boards.


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:44 pm 
 

robertsconley wrote:The only good news is that the longer Wizards doesn't do a reprint the more chances the individual retro-publishers can survive as they build their own networks.

Sadly, I don't see the overwhelming majority of these systems ever survivng. As a collector on the collector's boards, this is a fine opportunity for people to be identifying future collectables. The mojority of these fly-by-night products will be gone within a few years, into history. The early proliferation of authorised PDFs will cap the returns on investment, but as pure collectables, many of these are worth picking up at cover price.

Sadly, even games like C&C which has a horrificly large following, has peaked. Pathfinder is the only real growth product that I can see that has sound potential at this time.

We will see where LotFP goes from here, but as for the rest of the sad little list on the poll, they are all dead ducks. Some just haven't realised it yet.


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:23 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:Sadly, even games like C&C which has a horrificly large following, has peaked.


I imagine this could change shortly, if TLG finishes that damned CKG. At least it is finally going to editing and layout, although in chunks.


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:57 pm 
 

serleran wrote:
I imagine this could change shortly, if TLG finishes that damned CKG. At least it is finally going to editing and layout, although in chunks.

It's reached the realms of an 'advanced' game system that requires a sizeable investment from new adoptors, That dramatically reduces it's growth potential in the market. It can push sales on the basis of already having a market share (it was the first successful 'clone'), but RPGers are fickle and flit between games, and it's not one of the big core RPGs. So I suspect it'll die unless TLG has an injection of something considerably inspirational and marketable (like re-signing a deal with GG).

The perfect RPG ruleset to grow in a secondary market seems to be a single unit core product that forms the rule set, priced reasonable ($25-40), and a whole slew of cheap (sub-$10) supporting products none of which are important or key to gameplay (adventures, options, gazetteers, etc).

If you have a well presented single core unit with an array of well written complementary products, you can grow it. This is a phase TLG went through quite successfully, but it is the phase that the overwhelming majority of other 'clone' rulesets fail to even understand. They either don't have the quality or ability of writer to put out the complementary products, or their single core unit product is horrifically sh't or a product that is essentially good but presented in a manner that the publisher has taken a good product and treated it like sh't.

TLG have taken C&C and transitioned from a basic core ruleset into an established advanced rules system. The problem is that by doing so you have to abandon the single core product model that allows for easy adoption and growth, in favour of a richer and more complex model to feed the established and loyal customer base.

This is where TSR got their marketing right in their hayday. They maintained their single core product ruleset which brought in new players and encoraged them to explore the game in a reletively cheap and simple manner, and they introduced AD&D for the established loyal customer base that wanted to expand and go further and invest in their hobby.

As C&C has cut off its root system, its ability to draw new players in in a cheap and simple manner, the system can only die. It may die slower than the dramaticly quick death and forgetting of most of the other 'clones' that just don't get it, but without the new player being able to set up and run a whole game for $25 (and not feel like he's losing out  because of everything else that he doesn't yet own), you have no future gamers. Your only other growth potential is the possibility of new and inspiring writing, and at the moment you have little. There appears to be no clear and deffinate vision and no clarion callers to rally the faithful.

C&C needs a trailblazer or an established heavy hitter.


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:04 pm 
 

I don't care to get into your opinion, but some of what you said was almost right.


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Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:36 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:Sadly, I don't see the overwhelming majority of these systems ever survivng.


Technically you are right only because there are indeed a dozen plus retro clones out there. However you are also wrong because the big three (Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, and OSRIC all have enthusiastic fan bases behind them.) Their authors and partners are committed to making them available for retail in a professional manner.

However the key element is that all three are under the OGL. This means if they falter another can be pick it up and try a different approach. Even if they don't falter another person can pick up the rules and try their approach which exactly what James Raggi is doing.

The OGL makes it a different hobby/industry. I am not going to engage in hyperbole and say it is a industry changer. But it does means that the future will play very different for these games then it has in the past. How much so we will have to see.





mbassoc2003 wrote:Sadly, even games like C&C which has a horrificly large following, has peaked. Pathfinder is the only real growth product that I can see that has sound potential at this time.

We will see where LotFP goes from here, but as for the rest of the sad little list on the poll, they are all dead ducks. Some just haven't realised it yet.


Kinda of pessimistic for a niche only in it's third year of publication. Most of the retro games haven't been in distribution for less than a year. For myself I had very good sales for the Majestic Wilderlands. Granted it is in the low hundreds but I exceeded my projections by double.  I am not trying to make a living off it nor I need too. But I made enough to make the next project a little better and I will keep bootstrapping my way up the line.

  

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Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:55 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:The perfect RPG ruleset to grow in a secondary market seems to be a single unit core product that forms the rule set, priced reasonable ($25-40), and a whole slew of cheap (sub-$10) supporting products none of which are important or key to gameplay (adventures, options, gazetteers, etc).


This is right on the money, as it were.
One (1) rulebook.  
TSR created this trilogy mindset that only worked
because D&D was so innovative.  

But the true brilliance of D&D lay in something
much simpler:
The Dungeon.

I think Dave Arneson was responsible for this.
Rant though we may against railroading PCs,
it is still this core theme (keep the PCs confined)
that was so intoxicating to us back in the day.

If someone can produce a quality product
with that kind of out of the box (ahem) thinking then we'll
have the next big "D&D".

Or I could be full of sh**.  My wife & kids think so.


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Post Posted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:41 am 
 

I voted for Swords and Wizardry because:

a)  I like the cover art better.

and

b)  I believe "the white box" is also Swords and Wizardry.

also

c)  Mythmere is a member here.

THEN I just realized that JimLotFP is also now a member here...and his cover art is also cool...and so my system of selection is now screwed up even worse than its inane beginning.

Anyone publishing a retro-clone has to be doing it as a labor of love.  I doubt anyone is getting rich.  As such, I believe that every one of them is worthy of support and encouragement.

I have recently shifted my collecting dollars to supporting the Old School movement...and soon I intend to learn how to spell "Rennaisance."

(Renaissance?  I'll have to look it up, dang it!)

I was just in time to discover that copies of Green Devil Face are no longer immediately available.  :x

*Shameless Behavior Warning*

Anyone who wants me to write a review of their product can send me a copy.  I'd love to do that.


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Post Posted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:44 am 
 

I don't think anyone need worry about WoTC reprinting D&D in it's original format. The whole 'close' industry is aimed squarely at the 'old skool' D&Der. If it brings any new blood into the industry, then it only acts as a stepping stone to allow them to develop towards one of the advances RPG rulesets.

C&C are trying to monopolise on that, and they have an established player base to keep their ruleset alive for now, but the only other rulesets for new players to transition into are D&D4E or Pathfinder..

The real difference between compnies who succeed and grow in this industry, and those who muddle along, is a combination of small elements of genius within the company, and foresight to see opportumity as it developes. It seems to be the case with most successful business.

TLG really needs the rights to develop EGG's IP, and brand. And it really needs a simple well constructed ruleset that does not make buyers feel like they are buying 'C&C Lite' or are missing out. That means a whole different ruleset that has it's own suite of modules and supplements, but is similar enough to allow for players to step over. Their perfect product would be 'Gary Gygax's Dungeon Adventures'.

If they sold their soul and secured the use of the IP, and retained that already worked on it before, they would be in a stong position to increase its market share.

The old business addage is that if you are not growing, you are dying.


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Post Posted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 10:23 am 
 

Um, hot flash -- Gail pulled all Gary's stuff a LONG time back. The Trolls don't have any rights there, nor any current or recent products from him.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 10:53 am 
 

Just to point this out, Castles & Crusades isn't considered a simulacrum game by many people, especially its fans. The simulacrum games attempt to bring about "old school" feel by closely mimicking the source rules. C&C attempts to bring about "old school" feel by game play and doesn't concern itself with looking like an old game. It IS however the game that ushered in the old school renaissance.

That said, I prefer my version of OD&D (in my signature), and voted for B/X.



  


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Post Posted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:19 pm 
 

Traveller wrote:
That said, I prefer my version of OD&D (in my signature).


Hadn't checked that link before, thanks for the nod to it!

However, it brings up a warning when trying to download, mentioning potential adware/spyware content.

I'm guessing thats not the case, based on who you are on here.  :)


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