Dungeons & Dragons retro-clones

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Basic Fantasy RPG)
Jump to: navigation, search

Dungeons & Dragons retro-clones are fantasy role-playing games that seek to emulate editions of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) no longer supported by Wizards of the Coast. They are mostly made possible by the terms of the Open Game License and System Reference Document, which allows the use of much of the proprietary terminology of D&D that might otherwise collectively constitute a copyright infringement. While these rules lack the name D&D or any of the associated trademarks, their intent is to have a playable experience similar to those older editions.


A portion of long-time D&D fans prefer earlier editions to the current one and continue to play them. In addition, new games have been published which address the perceived inability of newer editions to preserve the tone of classic D&D while still fixing some of the faulty rules of older versions. Castles & Crusades is one such example, utilizing the unified d20 mechanic of 3rd Edition while dropping what are often perceived as complications (Feats, Skills, Prestige Classes, etc.).

Role-playing game publisher Matthew Finch was involved in the development of Castles & Crusades, serving as editor of the Player's Handbook, and was the initial author of OSRIC, which was afterward taken up by Stuart Marshall and released to the public in 2006 as a retro-clone of the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1977–1989). The release was met with minor online controversy, and served to prompt another game designer, Daniel Proctor, to write and release Labyrinth Lord in 2007, a more complete retro-clone of the 1981 version of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set and its accompanying Expert Set. The following year, Finch announced the release of Swords & Wizardry, ostensibly a retro-clone of the original Dungeons & Dragons game.

Many variants have appeared since the original release of OSRIC, as well as restatements of other editions of D&D and other adventure role-playing games. The games are fostered and supported online by various forums and blogs, sometimes collectively referred to as the Old School Renaissance (OSR), but are also increasingly finding their way into brick and mortar game stores.

Notable retro-clones[edit]


Main article: OSRIC

OSRIC, short for Old School Reference and Index Compilation, describes itself as "a compilation of rules for old school-style fantasy gaming...intended to reproduce underlying rules used in the late 1970s to early 1980s".[1] Although OSRIC never refers to this directly for legal reasons, it is intended to reproduce the rules of the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

The purpose of OSRIC is to provide publishers with a tool to legally produce gaming materials compatible with the non-copyrightable aspects of the underlying rules set. Gaming materials described as OSRIC-compatible alert potential users those materials may be compatible with the rules of late 1970s and early 1980s AD&D.[2]

The initial version of OSRIC was released in 2006. The latest version, OSRIC v. 2.0, was released in 2008.[3]

As of 2009, more than seventy-five products describe themselves as "OSRIC-compatible".[4]

Labyrinth Lord[edit]

Main article: Labyrinth Lord

Labyrinth Lord (LL) is a retro-clone written and edited by Daniel Proctor and published by Goblinoid Games. LL takes its inspiration from the 1981 Basic Set edited by Tom Moldvay and the accompanying Expert Set by David "Zeb" Cook.[5]

Any adventure written to be played with classic D&D can be run using LL with little or no adjustment. However, there are a few differences between the two games. It extends the rules so characters can advance to 20th level (the 1981 Expert Set only included levels up to 14). In addition, in a nod to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, clerics receive spells at first level.

Basic Fantasy RPG[edit]

Basic Fantasy RPG
Designer(s) Chris Gonnerman
Publisher(s) Self-published
Years active 2007–present
Genre(s) Fantasy
Playing time Varies
Random chance Dice rolling
Skill(s) required Role-playing, improvisation, tactics, arithmetic
Website www.basicfantasy.org

Basic Fantasy RPG is a retro-clone written by Chris Gonnerman that emulates, and is largely compatible with, the 1981 Basic and Expert sets. Its differences from B/X D&D include d20-style ascending armor class and separation of character race and class. It was first released in 2007,[6] and updated in 2008.[7] The game has been positively received.[8][9]

Swords & Wizardry[edit]

Swords & Wizardry
Designer(s) Matthew Finch
Publisher(s) Mythmere Games via Frog God Games
Publication date 2008
Years active 2008–present
Genre(s) Fantasy
Playing time Varies
Random chance Dice rolling
Skill(s) required Role-playing, improvisation, tactics, arithmetic
Website www.swordsandwizardry.com

Swords & Wizardry (S&W), developed by Mythmere Games, emulates the original 1974 edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Swords & Wizardry won the Silver for the 2009 ENnie Award for Best Free Product.[10]

Dark Dungeons[edit]

Dark Dungeons
Designer(s) "Blacky the Blackball"
Publisher(s) Self-published
Publication date 2010
Years active 2010–present
Genre(s) Fantasy
Playing time Varies
Random chance Dice rolling
Skill(s) required Role-playing, improvisation, tactics, arithmetic
Website www.gratisgames.webspace.virginmedia.com

Dark Dungeons has as its primary inspiration the 1991 Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, with secondary inspiration (particularly for the cosmology of the default game setting) coming from the 1989 Spelljammer campaign setting. The name Dark Dungeons and the names of the sample characters (and their players) found in examples throughout the text are used in parody of the Chick Tract of the same name.

Because Dark Dungeons emulates the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, which itself contains collected and edited rules from the Basic, Expert, Companion, and Master sets published from 1983–1985, it is strongly compatible with most adventures and supplements designed for those sets. However, while Dark Dungeons does include rules for immortal level play, those rules are primarily inspired by the 1993 Wrath of the Immortals supplement to the Rules Cyclopedia and are therefore not readily compatible with adventures and supplements designed for the 1985 Immortals Set.

Mazes & Perils[edit]

Mazes & Perils
Designer(s) Vincent Florio
Publisher(s) WG Productions, LLC
Publication date 2011
Years active 2011–present
Genre(s) Fantasy
Playing time Varies
Random chance Dice rolling
Skill(s) required Role-playing, improvisation, tactics, arithmetic
Website www.wildgamesproductions.com

Mazes & Perils RPG (M&P) is a retro-clone developed by WG Productions, LLC, emulating the 1977 version of the Basic Set edited by John Eric Holmes. M&P expands the game from its original level limit of level 3 up to level 12. It won the 2013 ENnie Award for Best Free Game[11]

For Gold & Glory[edit]

For Gold & Glory
Designer(s) Justen Brown & Moses Wildermuth
Publisher(s) Self-published
Publication date 2012
Years active 2012–present
Genre(s) Fantasy
Playing time Varies
Random chance Dice rolling
Skill(s) required Role-playing, improvisation, tactics, arithmetic

For Gold & Glory is a retro-clone of the AD&D 2nd edition rules from 1989. It was first published in 2012, and was written by Justen Brown and edited by Moses Wildermuth. It is available as a free per download, or as a print-on-demand book.[12]


The following periodicals include retro-clone-compatible content:

  • Classic Fantasy Review by Goblinoid Games
  • Fight On! by Fight On! Publications
  • Knockspell Magazine by Swords & Wizardry
  • Old-School Gazzette by XRP
  • Oubliette Magazine by Gold Piece Publication
  • Scribe of Orcus by Goblinoid Games
  • Zor Draxtau by Usherwood Adventures
  • Gygax Magazines by TSR Games


  1. ^ "About OSRIC". Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  2. ^ Yourgamesnow.com, retrieved 14 June 2010.
  3. ^ "RPGNet Info on OSRIC". Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  4. ^ "OSRIC-Compatible Products". Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  5. ^ Varney, Allen. "Retro-clones". The Escapist. Retrieved 27 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "Core Rules 1st Edition (Release 62) – February 17, 2007". Retrieved on 2008-08-09.
  7. ^ "Core Rules 2nd Edition (Release 75) – July 15, 2008". Retrieved on 2008-08-09.
  8. ^ "Labyrinth Lord vs. Basic Fantasy << The Dwarf and the Basilisk". Retrieved on 2008-08-16.
  9. ^ "Random Acts: The Basic Fantasy Game". Retrieved on 2008-08-09.
  10. ^ ENWorld (2009), 2009 Nominees and Winners, ENWorld, retrieved July 9, 2012 
  11. ^ 2013 ENnie Award Winners
  12. ^ For Gold & Glory at DrivethruRPG.com. Accessed October 27, 2015