Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Everything Old is New Again, sorta

I was making the tour of the various Old School / OSR / Retro-clone blogs and forums today and I noticed a lot posts on new spells, new monsters, and various house rules. For a bit there I had to make sure I was not flashing back to 1992 for a bit during the height of the netbook days on the net.

In some cases you could just replace "anti-TSR" stances with "anti-WotC" ones and barely know the difference. Except for the fact that Wizards totally ignores the sites and still pretty much gives away their best toy ever, the OGL, for free and it powers all the clones out today.

Today of course people can openly SELL their D&D-like or D&D-inspired creations and Wizards is not even likely to bat an eye. Back then of course TSR threaten legal actions and all the best fan-created stuff had to go underground. I am still waiting for my password for Morpheus' Anti-TSR D&D site.

But that got me thinking. How much of that formerly "banned" material could make it back as retro-clone material?

Now certainly most of what made up the bulk of AD&D material on the net back then was the "new" Second Edition material. But 1st ed and Basic were still out there to be found. I mean could I pull out the AD&D Guide to Vampires (called the "Vamprinomicon" in places) and clean it up and present as "new retro"? Could I still raid the files of MPGN or the Great Netbook Archive to find items who has time has come again?

Most of those old sites are gone. Deleted when the doc com bust killed their ISPs, when people graduated college and just from neglect, not corporate interference. Modern technology, the OGL and Wizard's own website policy changed everything. People have higher expectations now even from a free game (though I still have my doubts over the legality of some).

Plus, and let's be honest here, the great majority of that stuff was dreck. I mean not just in terms of non-existent layout or editing, but in terms of just writing and game design. While sometimes the original rules they were supposed to be supporting were not much better, today's gamer again demands more. OSRIC is a prime example of why this is. There is nothing really in OSRIC that is not theoretically in AD&D 1st Ed, but the organization is much cleaner and clearer.

But who is to say? One person's dreck is another's gold.

What were your favorite Netbooks back in the day? What would you like to see come back under the umbrella of a retro-clone (either netbook or game)?

1 comment:

Zzarchov said...

My old dreck never really died from the late 90's. I just kept fiddling with it in my spare time, constant tinkering and "improvement" (to me anyways) and still have it out there.

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