In an embarrassing oversight I made the faux pas of using the term "retro-clone" far too loosely, when I really meant "rules based on old editions of D&D".
How could such an amateurish mistake have happened? Certainly someone who has been playing D&D since 1980 would know better?!
Well, allow me to explain. I'm relatively late to this retro-clone party, and missed out on some critical early syntax development. Now, visiting the old school boards has become a part of my routine. I've been downloading and reading every free old school game I can get a hold of in order to mine for any precious gems usable in my own campaign.
Maybe its not 100% accurate to say I'm late to the party, since this is how I've always played D&D. Since photocopying pages from Dragon magazine in high school, using a mish-mash of D&D and AD&D rules, with heaping teaspoons of my own imagination and friend's ideas into the mix. We had guidelines for your character to achieve deity, dungeons that ran across pages of graph paper with room after room of kobolds, gelatinous cubes, drow, and red dragons.
Maybe now I give a little more consideration to reason and believability as far as that is possible in a fantasy game about wizards and dragons. But the spirit is still the same. Rules lite, improvisation rather than slavishly holding to detailed rules, and all in a spirit of fun. Those are the kind of games I meant.
I looked through a folder on my PC called "retro clones" and noticed the hodgepodge I'd collected and had this idea of updating this here blog with a handy link list of all the free RPG's that have been made by those, like me, who loved and longed for those days of classic gaming. Well I see retro clones was not a good name for that folder after having read Dan's definition. What I really wanted to say were "games similar to all editions of D&D before 4th edition". But that is too much of a mouthful, so I'm just going to call them Free Retro RPG's. Links now posted to the right for your benefit.