Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Relative Popularity of Various Classic DnD Clones in the OSR

Following-up on a recent post about the Google+ followings of various DnD Clones, I put together a little survey which I posted on Google+ in communities popular with OSR adherents.  One of the problems with simply counting the number of Community Members to determine popularity is that membership doesn't necessarily mean that you play the game, or even that you have ever played it.

So to restate the question:

Which Retro Clones of DnD are being actively used by the most people to play games?
And let's define Retro Clones for the present as being recent RPGs based heavily on DnD 2nd Edition or earlier.

Survey Results

As for the survey, I asked:
In the last calendar year, what Flavours of DnD have you actually played/run?
People could select multiple answers, so the numbers add up to more than 100%.  The answers I got were:
  • Swords & Wizardry 28%
  • Labyrinth Lord 31%
  • OSRIC 8%
  • DCC RPG 32%
  • LotFP 24%
  • ACKS 10%
  • Some TSR(OD&D until 2e) 46%
  • Some WotC 14%
  • Pathfinder 24%
  • Other 33%

Note that percentage here is % of answers, not of respondents

So in answer to the question about the most-played DnD Retro Clones in the OSR, let's filter out all the brand name DnD, as well as anything based on later iterations of the game:

  1. DCC RPG 32%
  2. Labyrinth Lord 31%
  3. Swords and Wizardry 28%
  4. LotFP 24%
  5. ACKS 10%
  6. OSRIC 8%

So DCC, LL, S&W, and LotFP seem to be the Big 4, but with a lot of other systems out there getting use, especially considering that 33% of respondents checked the "Other" box.

Some Other Observations

I was surprised and impressed that the largest response(46%) was people who played in original TSR versions of the game.  Also, Pathfinder and WotC made very respectable showings.

The second most common answer was "Other" with 33% of people checking it.  There are A TON of DnD-based games out there, but I wonder if any are overwhelmingly dominant.  I should probably have added Basic Fantasy, Castles & Crusades, and Stars Without Number to the poll to see if that reduced the number of "Other" responses significantly.

Also, note that the average number of boxes respondents checked was 2.5.  So that would seem to indicate that your typical OSR guy or gal uses more than one system on a regular basis.

Comparison with Google Group Size

So how do those results compare with the Google+ Community Size numbers?

  1. Swords &Wizardry 826
  2. DCCRPG 776
  3. Lamentations of the Flame Princess 498
  4. Labyrinth Lord 382
  5. Adventurer Conquerer King 347
  6. OSRIC 110

            Actually, fairly similar, considering.  Most significantly, the survey showed that Labyrinth Lord is much more popular than it's Google+ following would seem to indicate.

            I wanted to look at the Correlation between the two metrics.  There does seem to be a loose relationship.  Too few data points to say if it's linear or what.  Assuming that it is linear, then Pearson comes out to about 0.76, which by the rule of thumb is probably not significant, so I can't say anything definitive with such a small data set except that there seems to be a relationship, which makes sense intuitively.

            Survey Methodology Notes

            Just a few notes on the methodology of the survey, so that others can criticize/improve-upon it.

            The list of Google+ Communities I posted the survey on is:
            • Swords & Wizardry Discussion
            • OSRIC
            • Labyrinth Lord
            • Lamentations of the Flame Princess(Deleted by Moderator)
            • DCCRPG(Deleted by Moderator)
            • FLAILSNAILS
            • Vintage Role Playing Games
            • B/X D&D
            • AD&D
            • Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition(Deleted by Moderator)
            • Adventurer Conquerer King

            I added ACKS to the list of answers late, after maybe 20 respondents had answered, so it's possible that their number should be slightly higher and Other should be slightly lower.

            Also, the survey got 147 answers.  The site I used, surveymonkey.com, would only allow me to see the first 100.  To see the other 47 they want a membership fee that comes out to about 50 cents per answer. It's not a huge difference, in terms of sample size, but I'd like to have the rest of the data, so I wrote the to ask if they would make an exception.  We'll see.  I guess it's worth reading the fine print on these "free" survey sites.


            1. I like the intent here. Why not use a google form?

              1. Wow, I wish I'd known about those--thanks!

                I probably won't be posting another survey for a while though--I don't want to become "that guy who spams all the message boards with surveys" ;)

            2. The reason that most LL groups are pretty quiet is that LL is such a "pure" retroclone that most people just talk about D&D instead of LL. Ditto for OSRIC.