Favorite D&D Retroclone?


Swords & Wizardry Complete. It's very fast, rules light and has a lots of content despite being ~130 pages long. It also has seperate race and class, optional ascending AC, the single saving throw mechanic, and it's free now.

I really love DCC RPG, but it's a unique gem, while it's an old-school game I don't consider it a retroclone. It's a thing of it's own, it's not about emulating a specific edition of D&D but a genre of fantasy literature - the same one that gave birth to D&D, but doing it better.

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I'm admittedly biased, but I'll put in a word for Adventures Dark and Deep. It starts with the 1E rules, smooths out a lot of the rough edges, and adds new classes (mountebank, bard, jester, savant, mystic) and tons of new spells, along the lines Gary Gygax was proposing back in the mid-1980's.

Joe / GG


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I will have to give a nod to Basic Fantasy RPG (surprised there were so many who commented) and CPerkinized C&C.

Ha. I think everyone who runs BFRPG is active on the internet and hobbysites like this one. Might be only a few hundred voices ... as a free game it's sold 700+ copies and has had thousands of downloads. There's circulation figures somewhere at the basicfantasy site.


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Currently running BFRPG myself. One of the pro's, which may be a con to some people, is the simplicity of the game and associated supplements. Every single supplement is downloadable in Open Office format so the individual DM can customize the game to his/her liking. I personally like this. I can choose to start with the base game, expand as I need it, and flex the rules before they go into my binder.


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My group recently switched from Dungeons & Dragons fourth edition to Castles & Crusades. So far it has been a huge hit with the players. So much so in fact my intention was only to run one of the campaigns I am Dungeon Mastering with C&C but the players of the other group asked to convert their 4E characters (the other campaign was a new one replacing a completed 4E game). In addition to purchasing several Castles & Crusades game books I have purchased the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game and the Adventures Dark and Deep Player's Manual. I could see myself playing any of these games but I could also just as simply play the original editions that BFRPG and ADaD are cloned from.

Castles & Crusades is my favorite of the bunch because it is simpler and still has that first and second edition feel. I can also use any magic item from AD&D 1e/2e/3e and creature statistics & spells are very easily converted on the fly. C&C isn't perfect and does require a lot of DM adjudication but it is part of the approach used. The other issue is that the old school multi-classing rules seem to be an afterthought tacked on the book at the end. I wish they would rewrite this section and give it a better text and place it in the classes chapter. The old school multi-classing is one of the strongest selling features in my opinion of this system.


I switched from C&C to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. While C&C did many things right, I never git happy with the prime attributes and the method of calculating target numbers in addition to calculating the modifier to the dice roll. AS&SH is very close to 1st edition AD&D, but edited in a way that makes the rules actually comprehensible. While I think it should have adopted positive AC and don't see the point in not including a page for nonhuman races because the included sampke setting doesn't have them, these are things I can easily apply myself and I quite like the vrry simple way the game handles ability checks and thief skills.
It doesn't have multiclassing, but inludes a number of "compound classes" similar to kits, which do s great job of blending abilities of the basic together (warlock as fighter/mage, scout as ranger/thief, legerdermainist as thief/mage, and so on).

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