Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Where are the 2e retro clones?

While it is no secret that I am a fan of 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons and a huge fan of Pathfinder, I also have a fondness for 2nd edition AD&D. Sure I've got issues with THAC0 but it isn't like it is hard to use, I just never liked it. To me it never felt as natural as Ascending AC and BAB, so even when I was playing 2e I didn't like THAC0.

Of course every edition and pretty much every RPG has things about it that I don't like. I think that this is true of nearly all gamers. If it wasn't then there probably wouldn't be any houserules and I've never met a gamer who didn't houserule something.

So even though I had and still have my issues with 2e, it is one of my favorite editions. For me some of the best supplements ever written for D&D were done during this era. To be realistic and before I get blasted for making such as statement I also realize that there were some truly terrible books put out during this edition and that there have been great books in every edition. I just personally think that 2e had more of them. There are tons of books in 2e that I still enjoy reading and have used, in some capacity, for nearly every fantasy RPG game I have run over the years.

All of the chatter around the net about the recent events/decisions at WotC have gotten me to thinking about a lot of different things. One of them is the OSR movement. For the most part the guys that have worked on all of the retro-clones have done a brilliant job of using the OGL to keep older editions alive. Well most of the older editions except 2e.

There seems to be more retro-clones out there for the various versions of Basic/OD&D and 1e than I would ever get around to playing. Nearly all of them are top notch, labors of love and my hat goes off to every single person who worked on those games.
That being said, why are there no complete 2e clones?

I know that I'm not the only person who still likes 2e and yes I know that the lack of a clone does not prevent me from playing with the books I already own or buying more 2e books on Amazon/ebay etc. The purpose of the retro-clones, as I understand it, is to enable publishers to produce new material with the OGL that is compatible with older editions and thus keep them alive with better organized and usually better/more clearly written rules. So I ask again where is the 2e love?

I knew that someone, somewhere had to be working on a 2e clone and I was right. Unfortunately there only seems to be 2 and they're not completed yet.

First I found Myth and Magic by New Haven Games There is a starter kit for this that runs through level 5, which I have downloaded. There is also playtest versions of the rules the allow you to play up to level 10 that you can access if you register with the forums. I've literally just started reading the starter kit and will probably post my thoughts on it soon.

Secondly I came across Adventures Dark and Deep (AD and D, gotta love that) by Greyhawk Grognard. What little I have read claims that this is not a retro-clone but an entirely new game. I put it here because every time I inquired about 2e clones on the boards this one came up. However, since I've just downloaded the rules I have no personal opinion on this one yet,  but I'll post something once I'm done reading it.

On a side note Dragonsfoot is a good place to find some material if you are needing stuff for a 2e game as well as stuff for other older editions.

So that is all I have found so far. While the two I have found seem to show promise I can't help but wonder why there aren't more 2e retro-clones and if they do exist where are they? Thinking on this topic has also made me consider what I'd like to see in a 2e retro-clone.

My number one wish is to have optional Ascending AC & BAB rules like Swords & Wizardry. I'd also like for it to retain the old school feel that S&W, OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord have done such as good job at recreating. Keeping it as compatible with original products as possible kind of goes without saying. Seeing new material produced for the system is the whole reason for doing a retro-clone, IMO. Lastly, I want rules clarity. My main complaint I've heard by many gamers, besides THAC0, is that the rules for 2e could be a bit intimidating for newer players. I want a game I can easily teach to kids or adults that are not already familiar with the game.

I've thought about doing my own retro-clone for 2e, that way I can make it how I want, but to be honest I just don't have the time or gumption to do it. So I can not and am not complaining about the work that has been done so far by others. I'll just have to wait until the games that are in progress are completed and hope more 2e clones are in the works.

I also feel that I have to give a big pat on the back to those that have and are working on keeping older editions alive. Your work is appreciated, even though the sentiment may get lost in the noise caused by the bickering between which clone is better or more "true" as well as the current editions wars, but thanks for what you've done. You've done the fans of older editions a huge favor and deserve our gratitude and respect. Keep up the good work...but if you get some free time I'd really like a good 2e clone.


sycarion said...

New Haven Games is specifically creating a 2e clone.

Greg Christopher said...

Errant is kind of a 2e retroclone. It doesnt have decending AC, but it does have a roll-under core mechanic.

Anonymous said...

For Gold & Glory is a 2e retro-clone. The PHB and DMG are done and the MM is in progress.

Geek Gazette said...

I know about Myth and Magic and I mentioned that one in the post. I did not know about For Gold and Glory. I wonder how I missed that one? I will have to check it out.

Anonymous said...

And I'm a Pathfinder fan but have a soft spot for 2e too. I really don't like the 3.x rules bloat; I felt that 3e was a great upgrade to 2e at the time but there's definitely things that in retrospect maybe weren't an improvement. I hope one of these will capture the 2e simplicity without the cruftiness though...

Geek Gazette said...

I've had many people argue with me about this, but I am a 3e fan because even thought there was rules bloat, thought not as much as we say with 2e IMO, it was optional. Even in the core books you could disregard full sections of rules and not impact your game. I've never felt beholden to any system's rules with the exception of the very core mechanic. (i.e. role d20 add bounus/penatly and compare to difficulty/AC etc). Even the rulebooks say use what you want and never let the rules get in the way of having fun. I think a lot of gamers seem to forget that part and get too wrapped up in rules.
To me that is the black mark on the hobby. The day that rules became the most important part of the game for so many people.
I've bought the 3e core books a few months after they first came out, which was also when we finished the last 2e campaign I ran. With the next campaign we switched to 3e and have never had a complaint.
Maybe my attitude comes from the fact that I started playing D&D with a hodge podge of books from different boxed sets and editions of the game, basic and AD&D. We didn't know anyone else who played so my group interpreted the rules as best as we could. If we didn't understand something or if something one book didn't fit or contradicted something in another book we either modified it to work or threw it out. When we started playing none of us even owned anything but d6. We'd never seen a d20 in our lives until a few months after we started playing I spotted some at a little shop in the mall.
I'm just rambling now.

Joseph said...

You're correct about Adventures Dark and Deep; it's not a retro-clone of anything, but an attempt to make a "Gygaxian" 2nd edition based on his Dragon magazine articles from the mid-1980's and other things he's written over the years relating to how he would have done things had he not left TSR in 1985.

Mechanically, ADD owes much more to 1E than to 2E, although a few things from 2E are in there. THAC0 is not one of them, alas.

David Cutts said...

2e is my game of choice, an dI agree about thac0.