For several days now I've tried to avoid thinking about this. It was to no avail, as I can't seem to stop. When I think about blogging, it is uppermost. Now, when I even think about gaming, it is there. I know I am allowing it to take up far too much of my thinking, so, I've decided to get it off my chest. Maybe then I can move on. If you don't want to read any further, it won't hurt my feelings.
I believe the retroclones should operate on the same principle, since they are made possible only by the auspices of the OGL (which I know differs in details, but the "open" spirit is what's important here).
It offends me that there are those who will take the work of others, work made freely available in good faith, and use it to profit. I am specifically speaking of Crypts & Things. Maybe there are others, I don't know. Before we go any further, I want to make something perfectly clear:
I do not own this game in any form. All of these comments are based on the ad write-ups and reviews I've seen. If I am misinformed, it is due to my sources.
Something else I want to be clear about: I know that C&T includes a background and that there are mechanical ties woven into the rules. In all sincerity, I congratulate the folks behind the design and development of that background. Taking your raw creativity and turning it into a living is a wonderful thing.
My issue lies not with the original background material or house rules to support it. It isn't with making that background a commercial product. My problem is with using someone else's work to help sell it. Swords & Wizardry is freely available. Akrasia's house rules are freely available. Those two documents are the engine that drives the setting in C&T. Without them, and the OGL S&W was written under, C&T would not exist as it does.
As far as I know, all the other games that are directly derived from clones, or the original rules, have a freely available option. Some are full versions, such as S&W Core, and some are missing the art, like Labyrinth Lord. But they all make a full, free version available. That is within the spirit of the "open" movement. I'm not campaigning for a free version of C&T for myself. I don't need it. I have S&W and Akrasia's house rules. I can house rule out races and add rules making magic dangerous (in fact, I have posted about it already). As good as I am sure the background is, I don't need it, either.
I'm arguing for a principle here. If you're going to take advantage of the work and imagination of others, work that is made freely available, you should give back. Otherwise, taking advantage is all you're doing. The open community, whether open gaming, or open source, is symbiotic. Don't be a parasite.