Guide to retro-clone roleplaying games

It’s probably pretty obvious that I recently discovered the world of old-school gaming for me. In a way this new passion started with Dungeonslayers (which is actually not old-school at all) and later I stumbled upon X-plorers. Since I love SF and it seemed easy to run, I gave it a try and this paved the road for me having a look at the real retro-clones like Swords & Wizardry.

One thing that bugged me for quite a while was the question what the differences between the various retro-clones are. The most well known are obviously Swords & Wizardry (which itself is available in two distinct versions), Microlite74, OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord and Basic Fantasy RPG.

All of those games are inspired by early editions of D&D and make use of the d20 Fantasy SRD under the terms of the OGL and they are all available for free as PDF. But what versions of D&D do they try to emulate and what version is the right one for me?

Retro clones

I initially wanted to write a big post about all this, but when I started doing research I stumbled upon the perfect article about retro-clone roleplaying games at the “To The Blogmobile!” blog. The post not only describes the various games in detail it also links a few interesting reviews.

If you are interested in playing any retro-clone, you should probably read “Old is new again: a guide to ‘retro-clone’ roleplaying games" before doing so.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

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