The comments section on my recent post about the differences between racial abilities in 1e AD&D and the new Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion attracted the notice of Dan Proctor and he weighed in a number of topics, one of them the sheer number of games seeing the light of day now that the Old-School Renaissance seems to be in full swing:
I think the real concern people have but have a hard time putting into words is that it is hard to support every clone (ish) game that is coming out or will come out. Many many more will come out, I have no doubt. I think what people are feeling is “support fatigue.”
How many more of these should we high-five before we say screw it, who cares? That’s a legit question, and I don’t have an answer. Honesty I don’t think any of us should feel an obligation to support every new retro game that comes out…one might ask why support AEC instead of OSRIC. I’m not asking anyone to.
I was thrilled to have Dan leave this comment, as it addresses something I’ve been wanting to write about for some time.
In July I wrote:
I’m also wondering how many people actually play multiple systems. Is it uncommon? With so many retro-clones, spin-offs of retro-clones, and new games out there now, not to mention the originals, do many players utilize several of them? Or do most pick a single system and stick with it?
Personally, I cannot materially support (in terms of purchases) every old-school game out there. I cannot even support every one I think is particularly good. First, the financial commitment would be far greater than I can afford. There is a lot of product being released, much of it of very high quality. I cannot even justify the expense of Labyrinth Lord hardcovers at this time, even though LL is my choice of one game to rule them all. There are a few products I’ve purchased to show my solidarity with the creators, and there will be more in the future. But not very many. If I don’t think I’ll use it at the table, I probably won’t be spending any money on it.
But even more limited than my gold is is my time. I simply don’t have time to play all the games I would like to check out. The whole reason I chose to go All Labyrinth Lord All the Time was that I was having trouble getting anywhere on my proposed S&W White Box game. And it wasn’t a lack of interest, as I was (and still am) very intrigued by the power curve of White Box. But there is only so much time in the day and so many players to play, so I won’t be spreading my effort over a half-dozen cool games. Unfortunately, this means that some games I’d sure like to try, such as Ruins & Ronin and Mutant Future, probably won’t get a chance.
I think most players are in the same boat as I am. I’ve made my choice (at least for now) and others will have to make their own choices based on their own interests. Some will pick multiple games. Some will play one or two but buy material for many others. I don’t know which direction things will take, though it appears that there will be a small number “bigger” games and a large number of “smaller” ones.
I’d hate to see good games struggle because things are so diluted, but the market will have its say. Fortunately, the publishing options available mean that nothing has to permanently “die,” and I think that quality material will always be in demand.
If you write it well, they will play it.
UPDATE: From a comment:
Arguably, extra gaming time is better spent expanding a smaller game than grokking a bigger game. Add to that the ease with which publishers can nuance games with house variants and setting/genre tweaks, and yes, we’ll continue to see more titles than we can keep up with.
But I think you hit the nail on the head: the required number of games is as many as it takes to find one you like.
I don’t think that we’ll reach a state of truly “too many” old-school retro-clones and retro-spin-offs. Such a state would be similar to having “too much” beer or “too many” girlfriends.
But (and this is a big “but”) once one finds the right game, beer, or woman, the others usually sort of fade into the background.