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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is it time for an Oriental Adventures Retro-clone?

I mean a full on retro-clone, not a few add-on classes for Labyrinth Lord, or a conversion of an earlier version of D&D, like Ruins & Ronin for OD&D/S&W, but an AD&D 1st edition, OSRIC* I guess, Oriental Adventures book. I never bought OSRIC, I just downloaded the free .pdf files because I already own 1st edition AD&D, but I just might to work on this project. Mostly because I hate to read lengthy works on my computer and I like real books. To be clear here, I am not volunteering to retro-clone OA, I am volunteering to be a team member on a retro-clone project. I think that someone with experience doing this sort of thing would be a better team leader than me, and I have already had one major project (B/X WW2) more or less fail, although that was more due to me being more enthusiastic about it than my gaming group.

Since I brought it up, I have to ask, how closely do you have to hew to the original rules in a retro-clone? Can you correct things that turned out to not really work in play? Can you add to the game? I guess I am asking because, despite what EGG intended it to be, I always considered AD&D to be a toolbox like earlier versions of D&D, if non-weapon proficiencies have to be included at all, can we make them optional? Can we make them work like they did in 2nd edition? Can we rename them "Skills"? The OA NWP system kind of made expectation that there would be a certain style of play, involving a lot of time spent in Courts, and that there would be all of these peaceful "contests", but there weren't really any guidelines for how to run an adventure set in a court, so did anyone ever do that? Should we write some guidelines for it? Can we expand the Ancestry and Birthright tables? I know we have to change them and I hate writing random tables, I know there are people out there that love doing them though, so that's another reason I want a team. I am good at coming up with cool random stuff on the fly in the game, not so much at making an entire table of it before hand.

Should an OA retro-clone be even more narrowly focused on Japanese culture and myth? Or should we open it up to more of Asian myth and legend? If that's the case where do we draw the line? I think the obvious intent is EAST Asia, and one of the odd bits of 3e's OA book was incorporating stuff from the Indian subcontinent, even odder considering the clearly Rokugan setting, but they did make the alternate fantasy India-based setting free DLC. Can we incorporate stuff that was published in other TSR materials like modules or boxed sets or 2nd edition stuff? I have almost everything TSR ever made for OA, with the sole exception of the Kara-Tur trail maps, which I assume are just maps, right? I even recently acquired the 2nd edition Ninja book, which, technically isn't an OA book, but might be useful, I don't know I haven't really read through it yet. Hell, I even have the next "connected" part of the Forgotten Realms- The Horde boxed set, and most of the stuff to go with it, because I felt it was supplemental to Kara-Tur and Oriental Adventures; and, of course, because the Mongols are wicked cool. I know we can't use any Kara-Tur material in a retro-clone and would have to create our own mini-Asian setting for it, if we were going to include any setting information at all, but those things all have little tidbits of inspiration and occasional rules clarifications or entirely new rules- usually new monsters or spells as I recall, it's been a while since I read through my OA module/boxed set collection.

There's a lot of old school goodness in OA and I think it is deserving of a real retro-clone, but I don't really know the ground rules of retro-cloning I guess. So, has anyone reading this blog written a retro-clone before? Would you like to be team leader on a new OA retro-clone? Can anyone answer the questions I have? Does anyone else want to be on the team? On the plus side, I am pretty sure I can get it lavishly illustrated at a pretty reasonable rate :) If we can't get a team together I guess I can keep muddling through and subtracting what I think doesn't need to be there, tinkering with stuff and adding in a few bits for my own game, but I think this could be a good community project.

*Although I'd be OK with a full on supplement for Labyrinth Lord AEC too. I am down with both OSRIC and LL; S&W too, but it already has Ruins & Ronin.

These came in the mail the other day, Ashli's birthday actually-

They popped up on my EBay radar because they were listed as Clan War cards. Don't judge me too harshly, I just figured since they were cheap I'd see what all the fuss was about and if the CCG sucks, I can still use the cards as art inspiration for my OA campaign.


  1. Well, what I was hoping to do was compile my stuff into a LL supplement but that's some way off.

  2. Not sure how feasible a "true" OA clone would be. Did the 3.x OA have the new spells, featured in the AD&D version? There may be enough untrod territory, that you'd have to be real careful about separating "underlying algorithms" and "artistic presentation." As in, Hire a Lawyer careful.

    If it were me, I'd make whatever changes I deemed necessary and let the OSR pundits argue about whether or not it's a "true clone" or "simulacrum." :)

  3. @Fabian- Were you planning on a full OA supplement or just the classes or something in between? I keep saying I wished I'd waited until you were done with the classes before I started my current campaign, you want to be on the team? Team Leader?

    @James- I guess I am less worried about true cloning and more interested in fixing but leaving true to the rules set.

  4. James raises a good point about a full retro-clone, given that the 2nd OA was for a later edition.

    Is it worth considering a supplement for Joe Bloch's 'Dark & Deep'? It's got the AD&D base, his PDF's are very easy to navigate, and it's OGL.

    If you wanted to go in the direction away from OGL to an original game, there's tons of different Asian cultures which would be quite a bit of research to distill into game friendly systems, etc.

  5. @Jagatai - the time is most definitely right. There had been an OSRIC supplement, the name of which escapes mr, converted the samurai and martial arts. My goal was to integrate the races, classes, weapons and spells tightly with LL so that there would be no power discrepancy between them and AEC. I can see several routes to doing a retro clone or 'inspired by' game like R&R (a superlative work). I'll try to set out my thoughts in a blog post later.

  6. I would love to help playtest whatever you come up with.