Monday, September 14, 2009

The real problem with the "what is the point" question.

Every so often someone asks what the point is of the "retro-clone" games, and occasionally it sparks another heated debate. This time the forum is Dragonsfoot.

I've tried very hard in the past to succinctly answer this question on various forums. Probably over at DF too, but I've decided I'm done trying, which is why I didn't make a post there.

You know what the real problem is? Sure, occasionally someone new to "the scene" is genuinely confused and wants to know what's up. But more often than not the person asking knows full well what the point of the retro-clones is but refuses to accept that as an answer. The question is only asked to try to twist everything into a knot. I could (yet again) outline exactly why I wrote Labyrinth Lord, the goals behind it, the whys and hows, but the problem is that when I've done that in the past it is just ignored. It's not the answer they're looking for. It's not that the truth is so hard to grasp, its that they reject the answer. They have already decided that there is no point to the retro-clones, so you're lured once again into what actually amounts to people being upset that retro-clones might be taking attention away from out of print games.

Is there a point to the retro-clones? Yeah. If you're receptive to the answer, you already know it.

14 comments:

Wulfgar22 said...

[warning: rant] But then a large proportion of posts on various forums are the same...ego-posting: people posting not because they are genuinely interested in debate or conversation but because they like the sound of their own on-line voice. How many posts start with a question which the poster then goes on to immediately answer because they don't want to engage just pontificate. The whole online thing gets me down sometimes...it just feeds the ego of the me-generation. [rant over]

Badelaire said...

Actually, for a long time I wasn't really anti-clone (although the OSRIC hubub of a year or two ago really turned me off from even looking at "clones" for a while), but I did make the argument that the older versions of the games weren't THAT hard to find.

However, having downloaded and printed out LL, gotten it nicely bound and really happy with the way it turned out, I can definitely see the appeal. I think it is, in essence, a better organized and better presented (and free) version of the classic D&D game.

So I can see where some of the anti-clone RPG comments come from (besides "ego-posting"), but I do think in the last year or so, a lot of the reasons for staying away from clone games either no longer apply, or just aren't as viable as they once were.

Lord Kilgore said...

It's not that the truth is so hard to grasp, its that they reject the answer.

Exactly. It's even clearer when (as in this case) one or two posters ask questions which are answered several times, only to simply ask the same question again. When new people respond with new answers and the original people who answered add more detailed explanations of their original answers, the poster merely asks the same question AGAIN.

This continues until everyone gives up. Then a new thread is started a few days/weeks/months later with the same questions.

WalkerP said...

If you're a gamer and you don't get the point of retro-clones, than you either have some pre-existing bias against them (as is the point of your post) or you really aren't trying very hard. Um, free game based on the rules upon which our entire hobby rests, nicely organized, laid out and illustrated, lots of people making cool extra resources for it (also mostly free). There really is nothing to not get. Just download the game and play it!

By the same token, I don't think there is any need to worry about people who don't get it. The right people are getting it and the games are getting played. That's what matters.

kelvingreen said...

Is there some weird broken bit in their brains which tells them that if Labyrinth Lord and OSRIC weren't around, WotC would be publishing the old TSR versions? I am frankly baffled by the anti-clone stance.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

The Retro-clones are one of principle reasons I returned to D&D.

We should be grateful that people with passion and intelligence made these available to us.

Just play.

David Macauley said...

Sadly it took me several pages of that thread (and several of my own posts) to realise that the original poster wasn't interested in having his question answered. Damn, I've just gone and made myself troll-bait once again. When will I ever learn to avoid threads like that on DF?

Dan of Earth said...

At one time it was thought that the folks at Dragonsfoot would amount to a decent sized audience. I don't think that has proven true even for modules, much less actual rules sets. You see more reviews for the old modules than anything new. In one sense that is too bad, but in another sense it is promising because at the end of the day it's only a few loud people who gripe about anal issues. You're much better off letting these people go and not pursuing them; they're not the target audience anyway, which is a lesson the Troll Lords knew well and smartly targeted other people.

ancientvaults said...

For some reason I get to see a lot of offline retro-clone/simulacrum traffic/action and nobody I have encountered and shown the books to has had a single problem with the concept, from now and then gamers to hardcore D&D players, I get a lot of positive feedback about the OSR, the retro-clones and people just wanting to get back into gaming.

S'mon said...

I posted a couple of reasons why retro-clones are good - (a) superior presentation and (b) convenience for online gamers, esp those who are not D&D-grognards and/or don't have a stack of old D&D books in their house.

http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=38355&start=195

A third reason is consistency - much easier to say "We're playing LL" than "We're playing Moldvay-Cook B/X with the spell aditions from BECM, but no Weapon Mastery or X Y & Z" etc.

Melan said...

Hear, hear. The deliberate obtuseness that crops up in these discussions is really becoming annoying.

myrystyr said...

For the record: my D&D campaign (when it finally gets going) will be run using Moldvay Basic + Mentzer Expert + house rules document, with the 1E PHB tagging along for the ride. However, Labyrinth Lord will also be on the table, and I will be directing players to download LL for their own reference, and to consider buying it instead of searching EBay for overpriced out-of-print games. Given the badly battered state of my Basic/Expert books, I am seriously considering just running with LL anyway.

In other words, thank you for LL.

David Macauley said...

@myrystyr - After 3 years of playing 1e, last week I introduced my gaming group to LL. To quote one of my players afterwards "that was the best game of Dungeons & Dragons we've ever played", which I thought was very interesting for many reasons.

Chris T said...

I reckon this should be the old school FAQ.