This is an answer to Rob Conley's question about what I like from the various D&D-based retro-clones and old-era D&D systems.
What I like about the systems I'd consider:
- Power level. I like the HP levels. I have a strong dislike for d4 HP thieves and I like d10 fighters better than d8 fighters.
- Cleric spells. I like clerics getting spells at level 1, and bonuses for Wisdom are fine with me. I get why from a world-building standpoint the vast majority of clerics being level 1 and not getting spells makes PCs quickly become special . . . but I'd rather have them start with a spell.
- I like AC starting at 10, not 9 (but see below.)
- I like that 1 isn't always a miss and 20 isn't always a hit.
- Treasure Types that I have imprinted on my soul, so I don't have to go look them up when I read them.
- I like the multi-classing approach of the Lankhmar supplement for AD&D for humans.
Advanced Labyrinth Lord
- a lot of the basic systems for exploration, opening doors, etc., hiring NPCs, etc. etc.
- Weapon weights.
- Encumbrance system seems actually workable.
Basic/Expert D&D (Moldvay)
- Morale. I love, love, love the morale system.
- Alignment. I like three-fold alignment. I could have gone with Good, Neutral, and Evil, too, but I think well of "You're on the side of order, the side of chaos, or you're on the sidelines." I think that's better than the nine-fold alignment system. It's easier to understand, it's clear you are picking a side, and you don't have to deal with the weirdness that comes from a party with a LG cleric, a CG ranger, a CN fighter, a N wizard. What does that even really mean? Endless words have been spent on defining what they are. Better you just choose a side, or to not have a side. (And potentially get shot by both of them.) LNC I think allows for more varied play, actually - GNE is tough because no one who chooses Good should be negotiating with Evil. But the forces of Law dealing with the forces of Chaos when that suits the results civilization needs . . . that's more plausible.
- The compact, two-books-do-it-all presentation.
- The reaction rolls/parlaying system.
- Simplified stat bonus charts. It's just easier. I don't think you need to split bonuses. And I do like the idea that you get +1 to +3.
- Easy to use Attack Bonus system.
- free single book solution with cheap printed option.
- Single target saves. Modified by stat bonuses.
- free single book solution with printed option.
Stuff I'm neutral on in general:
- Ascending AC. I agree it's easier. I still understand AC 10 < 0 < -10 though, natively, without having to translate it.
- Multiclassing. I like the Lankhmar approach instead of dual-classing for humans, but I could live with a different one. It's easier if I didn't have to so I can use AD&D modules unchanged.
- Ability checks. I haven't really seen a system I love more than others. Lots of old D&D modules did roll-under on d20, which isn't bad. Target rolls on a d20+stat bonus would work, too, and I know some systems do that.
- Initiative. I'm actually okay with AD&D initiative as we play it, but I'd use another system.
Stuff I dislike:
- Race as class. This is a deal-breaker.
- Weird Saving Throw systems (AD&D).
- platinum pieces. I'd simplify treasure, for sure, to copper/silver/gold/gems/jewelry.
- SM/L damage splits. Just have weapons do one damage; too many monsters are much weaker because they're L and suffer extra damage from PC-popular weapons. We took two-handed swords because 3d6 vs. L sized creatures is just the boss.
- Crossbows being weaker than bows.
Some other systems have nice bits - ACKS and DCC for example - but they haven't really given me something I'd absolutely have to have in my own system. Grappling would be the system Doug and I made.
I suppose I could dedicate a huge whack of my like to make "Dungeon Fantastic Delving & Dragons" but I'm not really going to do that.