In my recent post about Dragon Fist, Matt of the Land of Nod blog thought my idea to create a DF retro clone was a good idea, and that I should contact Chris Pramas to see what he thought of the idea.
Now, that might be a good idea, but I get the feeling Chris wouldn't sign on to such a deal. The way he always talks about DF, it seems like it's a very personal game for him--it's his RPG baby. He's holding onto a new version until he can find a way to put it out that pays some bills.
More power to him. It's a fun game, and if he can rework it in a way that makes him happy and makes him some money, I'm all for it.
But in the meantime, it's been 4 years since Green Ronin shut down their DF forum and sacked their plans to revise and re-release the game. The original free pdf version has been unavailable for a few years more. I think whether Mr. Pramas signs off on such an idea or not, a retro clone is in order.
Here are my thoughts on how to do it:
Use either Labyrinth Lord or Swords and Wizardry as a base. DF was a 2E based game, but it got rid of a lot of the fiddly stuff from AD&D, so why not go with a simpler system than OSRIC?
Remove all the Tianguo world info (including the secret societies). Either replace it with an original idea, or just add a section with tips for creating a campaign.
Write up information for the kits (generically), the martial arts maneuvers, the spells and the monsters.
Work up a hybrid combat system that meshes LL/S&W style combat and the original DF system (streamlining initiative, which is a little wonky in DF would be the big thing, I think).
Rewrite the section on martial arts feats and contests.
Find or beg some art.