Retro-clones also are widely referred to as "OSR", "Old School", or "Old School Renaissance" games. In general, retro-clones are considered an established, accepted part of the hobby and they hold a particular fascination for many gamers.
Retro-clones can be (more or less) distributed into three broad categories:
- 1 - "Original" or "0e" games, based primarily on Dungeons & Dragons (Original Edition)
- 2 - "Basic" games, based primarily on one of the flavors of Basic Dungeons & Dragons
- 3 - "AD&D" or "1e" games, based primarily on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Edition) or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd Edition)
There obviously is much overlap and interplay between these broad categories, especially when it comes to "re-imagining" them into a new system. Many retro-clone games draw freely from multiple sources. Most retro-clone games seek to preserve the "look and feel" of the originals while offering something additional or new - however, some implementations seek to preserve the originals as closely as possible with a minimal amount of innovation. Both approaches are valid and interesting.
A further complication arises when well-known and well-established retro-clones are themselves used as the basis of another retro-clone, resulting in a "two steps removed" type of game experience. For example, there are many re-implementations of the notable retro-clone Swords & Wizardry - see Swords & Wizardry and Compatible Products. To a somewhat lesser extent, the notable retro-clone Labyrinth Lord has itself served as the basis for several other games - see Labyrinth Lord Compatible.
For other popular retro-clone families see:
- The Fantasy Trip and Compatible Products
- Marvel Super Heroes and Compatible Products
- Star Wars D6 Compatible Products