The one thing that all retro-clones share is the inability to use the Dungeons & Dragons trademark as the title of the game. There are many in the OSR publishing community that would jump on it if it could magically was opened up for use. But would that be helpful with the situation we have today?
I found this thread on RPG.net where the poster asked what would keep a newer player from playing an older edition. The usual range of edition arguments ensues with a few thoughtful replies. However the thread reminded me about the underlying issues.
"Back in the day", there were a variety of reasons why people moved on to a different RPG despite D&D being their first game. For some D&D was too abstract, not enough character options, didn't like fantasy, combat wasn't realistic, and so on.
Then D&D itself changed, with the parent company (TSR/Wizards) changing the game to what they felt would work best for the current market. So despite the fact that a game doesn't age it did change and a new generation learned and liked a new version of D&D. And now we have a least three major version of a game called Dungeons & Dragons. * Each of these versions have their own fans.
The arguments in the RPG.net brought the fact home to me that the name Dungeon & Dragon now represents several very different games. That it would be better for those who like the older editions to forge ahead and carve out their own identity with the version they love. That OSRIC/Labyrinth Lord/Swords & Wizardry/Dark Dungeons/etc are the new face of the older game. Just as Pathfinder the face of the 3.X versions, and 4.0 is now Dungeons & Dragons as deemed by WoTC.
This way we don't run into false expectations, it's older so it must suck in some way, why doesn't it have X or Y, and so on. The original game will live or die on it's own merit. Which many have found to be considerable.
*The line from OD&D to AD&D2 as one major version, D&D 3.X as another major version, and D&D 4.0/Essentials as a third version. Many break it down further than that but the point is that there distinct different games calling themselves Dungeons & Dragons.
Slügs in the Castle of the Mad Archmage
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