...and it didn't cost me a dime. --Johnny Cash
Okay, it has cost a bit of money for the original rules, but thanks to being a teacher, hard copies can be produced at work when no one's looking. What am I talking about?
Well, I've realized lately that I'm slowly piecing together what will be, if I ever follow it to completeness, my own personal retro-clone. Of course, since I'm not intending to publish it for the world at large, it's full of copyrighted stuff (thanks to Frank Mentzer, mostly). But that's more or less what it's becoming.
I started out, when I quit 3.5 and got back to Classic D&D a few years back, just putting together a document of my 'homebrew' classes, which at that time were just retrofitted from level 1 versions of Mentzer's high level option classes--Druid, Paladin, Avenger.
I then toyed around with some options for upping demi-human level limits, but then scrapped it. When I was happy with the three classes above, I thought about adding in some of the AD&D favorites like Rangers and Bards. And I figured that in order to make it easy to see what classes were available in my games, I'd make a document which combined my new classes with the originals.
I couldn't help but tweak the originals, of course. I added in a few special abilities here and there, decided that the four basic human classes should be capped at 20 rather than 36 (21st or 22nd is about the highest I ever got any characters in the long campaign that ran from me getting the Red Box in 84 up through the last college summer break where we broke out the old characters around 94 or so). I doubt I'll get any more 10 year long groups together again, so 20 ought to be high enough.
I rearranged spell tables, added in and tweaked my homebrew classes, and ended up with mostly new classes that either were human but played more or less as a demi-human (dwarf--barbarian, elf--bard, halfling--ranger), or that bridged what would be a multiclass combination in AD&D (half-orc is a fighter/thief, druid is a cleric/magic-user, etc.). Then I tweaked some more.
Currently, because I've created an Illusionist (magic-user/thief) and had to write up a bunch of spells for it, I've been copy/pasting all of the spells from Mentzer, giving them a slight re-write most of the time, and adding it to my big houserule character document.
So if I keep this up, in a few years I may have monsters, treasure tables (more on that in another post, as that's another project I'm already working on which will be for release), and general rules for exploring dungeons and wildernesses, what to do at high levels, and general advice for running a game.
So I'll basically have my D&D. Who knows, if I get ambitious, I may replace Frank's text for OGL text some day, and try to release it. There seems to be some interest in a game that's basically Classic D&D rules, but with AD&D flavor, and that's sorta what I've got here.