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Post Funeral Update: Sunday Game, Microlite78, and New Microlite74 ebooks

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Microlite78 mockup coverThings have been moving since I last posted. I'm still in Garland and, except for some quick trips back to Waco, I will be for the forseeable future. There is a lot of work that needs to be done on the house my wife's mom lived it before it could be sold. A lot of fondation work had to be done a few years ago. Unfortunately, her mom put off things like replacing flooring, painting, and other repairs to things that were damaged either because of the foundation problems or during the repairs (installing some 20 piers). All of this will have to be done before the house could go on the market. Also, going through her things will take weeks by itself. I expect one or both of us will be here 3-4 days out of every week for the next 3-4 months.

This means the end of my Sunday Game -- at least as it is running now. One of the players has volunteered to copy my materials and try to continue it until my schedule is able to take it back. This is a good thing. I'll be back in Waco this week and will get the needed material to him. With luck, they'll be able to resume the campaign next weekend.

I had hoped to get a lot of work on Microlite81 and Microlite78 done over the last week -- as I had little to do for hours at a stretch. Unfortunately, I left the DVD with all my files backed up on my computer desk back in Waco, so there wasn't much I could do other than think about things. Donations for Microlite78 project really dropped off when my wife's mom died and I quit posting to this blog, message boards, etc. The deadline will be extended, of course, and once I bring up our computers this week, I'll have all my files. Work will then resume. Any chance of getting Microlite81 Complete to release candidate stage this month are likely gone, however. The new edition of the Microlite20 Collection will also be delayed to sometime in May.

Speaking of donations, it looks like we hit the $300 mark yesterday. I'll do a drawing and mail out items to lucky winners sometime this week (see Microlite78 Sponsorship/RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive Giveaway Items for more info or to donate). I can't say when as I don't yet know which days I will be in Waco. Thanks to everyone who has donated so far.

There is some really good news on the Microlite74 front. Shortly after all this happened, I received an email from Andy Lannan. He sent me a copies of Microlite74 Extended in epub and mobi ebook formats. I just discovered this email this morning, so I haven't had a chance to look at them, but it sounds like Andy did a great job -- even converting tables to jpgs so they would display correctly. Thank you, Andy, for what had to be a complex bit of work. I'll try to get these files uploaded soon. They will be free-to-all to download just like all the other Microlite74 materials.

Finally, I'll like to thank everyone who posted, emailed or called me with their condolences. I appreciated them and my wife was somewhat surprised that so many people she did not really know reached out to her. Thank you one and all.

My Wife's Mother Passed Away

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We get got a call from the rehab center she was transferred to yesterday. Donna's mother passed away last night. Needless to say, I will probably not be blogging much for a week or two and will be slower than normal at answering emails, including replying to donations. My apologies.

Three Days in Hospital Hell and a Microlite78 Status Update

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Microlite78 mockup coverI pushed the post on the Microlite78 giveaway items for the Would you like to see a Microlite78 RRCF donation drive on Sunday afternoon before my Sunday game. I had no idea when I did so that things were about to go to hell for a few days.

About 5:30pm with about 90 minutes left to go in the game, my wife got a phone call from a nurse's aide at a hospital in Dallas say that her mom wanted to talk to her. It turns out that her mom had been taken to the hospital from Macy's on Thursday last week and had been admitted -- and had not bothered call my wife (her next of kin) or her friend in Dallas (her emergency contact) or anyone else. If Donna's mom (who is in her early 80s) had not started feeling better and wondered why she wasn't getting any phone calls from her daughter or her friends, we might have never found out. Needless to say, our game ended for the week right then.

When my wife talked to the nurses after their shift change, she discovered that the hospital had all her medical info and records -- including next-of-kin and local emergency person contact info, but no one had bothered to use it in the 4 days she had been there. Needless to say she was not a happy camper. She (with some help from me) contacted the rest of her mom's friends and family and perpared to complain to the hospital Monday morning. We've spend Monday and Tuesday trying to get someone to admit that they screwed up but the best we can get is "protocols should have been followed" -- well, yes, but they weren't. They've also managed to lose her partial plate (which was removed in the ER and apparently mislaid. Fortunately, she is now out of the hospital and in a rehab facility. Hopefully, our life will soon be back to somewhat normal.

Things like this are particularly hard on my wife because she can't just go up to Dallas and handle things in person. The two hour drive would basically incapacitate her for several days (major back issues). A 15 minute drive around town is hard enough on her.

While all this has been going on, I've been getting a lot of support for Microlite81 both in donations (we may hit $300 in time for doing the drawing at next Sunday's game) and in emails from people saying they are interested even though they can't donate. I'm a bit surprised by the very high level of interest. I did not expect almost as much interest as there was in the early drafts of Microlite74 years ago. I have managed to put a very early (0.01) draft together. While it is available in the donor download area with the usual donor password, there is really no need to download it. At the moment it is just the 1E spells and Monsters from the M74 companions, treasure from M74 companion, rules mainly from M74 Extended, character creation from M81 Extended with the slight start on the 1E mods to character generation. I tossed this together in spare moments over the last couple of days. I'll work more on it once we hit about $400 in donations. For more about Microlite78: First Edition Lite (and to see how to donate) see this post: Would You Like to See a Microlite78: First Edition Lite?

Microlite78 Sponsorship/RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive Giveaway Items

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Microlite78 miockup coverYesterday (April 5th) I announced a RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive designed to convince my wife to let me add a requested Microlite78: First Edition Lite game to my free game production schedule (see Would You Like to See a Microlite78: First Edition Lite? for more details). We've already raised $145 toward the $600 goal.

All donors receive the usual array of free Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund donor downloads which includes work-in-progress copies of projects (like Microlite81, Microlite20 NG, and hopefully Microlite78) I'm working on. In my post yesterday, I mentioned I'd add some AD&D giveaway items. Here they are, two different drawings.

The first drawing will be held when we reach $300 in donations. The following AD&D 1e Greyhawk items (or sets of items in some cases) will be given away:

* Greyhawk Boxed Set (1983 - 48-page book, 80-page book, 2 fold-out maps),
* The World of Greyhawk (1980 - 32-page book w/oversized tri-fold cover, 2 fold-out maps)
* Adventure Pack (WG4 - The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun by Gygax, 1982; WG5 - Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure by Gygax and Kuntz, 1983; and WG6 - Isle of the Ape by Gygax, 1986).
* Adventure Pack (L1 - The Secret of Bone Hill by Lakofka, 1981; L2 - The Assassin's Knot by Lakofka, 1983; and L3 - Deep Dwarven Delve by Lakofka, 1999)

When we reach $600, the following AD&D Forgotten Realms items (and a special D&D rarity) will be given away:

* 10th Anniversary Collector's Set (1984 faux-leather slipcase containing Mentzer Basic, Expert and Companion Rulebooks, D&D Character Record Sheets, MSOLO1 Blizzard Pass, B1 In search of the Unknown, B2 Keep on the Borderlands, X1 Isle of Dread, AC2 Combat Shield and mini-adventure "Treasure of the Hideous One", AC3 3-D Dragon Tiles featuring The Kidnapping of Princess Arelina, six dice and a dice crayon)
* Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987 - 2 96-page perfect-bound books, 4 fold-out maps, 2 hex grid overlays) and Kara-Tur Boxed Set (1988 - 2 96-page books, 4 fold-out maps) This is the so-called "gray box" version
* FR1 - FR8: Waterdeep and the North, Moonshae, Empires of the Sands, The Magister, The Savage Frontier, Dreams of the Red Wizards, Hall of Heroes, Cities of Mystery
* FR9 - FR16: Bloodstone Lands, Old Empires, Dwarves Deep, Horde Campaign, Anauroch, Great Glacier, Gold & Glory, Shining South)

D&D 10th Anniversary Collector's Set illo from webThere were only 1000 copies of the special 10th Anniversary Collector's Set printed so while it's not an AD&D item, it is a fairly collectible item, especially as the copy I have to give away (one of the items I inherited from Ray) is still in its shrink wrap.

Other items such as Starbucks gift cards, Steam games, etc. are donated from time to time. If any are available at the time of the next drawing, they may be added as extra giveaway items. I've have not ever heard anyone complain about winning something unexpected. The first set of items will be given away at the end of April even if we raise less than $300. The 10th Anniversary Collector's Set will only be given away if we reach $600 by the end of April 2014). April donors get one chance for every $10 donated. Donate early to be sure you get a chance at both drawing.

As mentioned in my post from yesterday, anyone donating $10 or more during April will be listed as a sponsor in Microlite78: First Edition Lite. A $10 donation gets a "First Level Sponsor" listing, a $20 donation gets a "Second Level Sponsor" listing, a $30 donation gets a "Third Level Sponsor" listing, etc. All donations of $25 or more will be listed as a sponsor of all the Microlite81 games as well.

To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills, to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned items, and to convince my wife to let me add a Microlite78 to my writing schedule, send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. My apologies for having to ask for donations and my heartfelt thanks to everyone who donates. If you cannot donate but wish to help, please spread the word about my request and offer. Thanks in advance for any and all help.

Would You Like to See a Microlite78: First Edition Lite?

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I've been asked to piece together parts of Microlite74 to produce a complete single volume Microlite78: First Edition Lite and add a "few things" to make it more like the 1978 "First Edition". It would be dead simple to toss the rules from Microlite74 Extended with the descriptions from Companion II (Treasure), Companion IV (Bestiary of Monsters) and Companion V (First Edition Spells) together in one volume. However, the request is for a bit more. He'd like classes written up in more detail (like I do in Microlite81, including the more normal XP treatment) and some of the system altered a bit to make it more like 1e. These requests makes it more than a two day (or so) job.

When I did not sound enthusiastic about adding this to my workload, he offered a $100 donation to The RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for me to write it. My wife vetoed this as she thinks adding this to my RPG design schedule should at least pay off one of our our remaining lab bills -- like from her annual CT scans. $596 would pay off the one from 2012, so I told the person requesting this that he'd need to donate about $600 before my wife would allow me to add this project to the schedule. We compromised. He'd donate $100 (which he has) and I'd do Microlite78 if the remaining $500 was donated by the end of the month of April from other people who like the idea. So if you'd like to see a free Microlite78: First Edition Lite available, please donate as much as you can via Paypal to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund ASAP. If I receive most the the needed donations by the 20th of April, I'll work on an early draft copy during the last ten days of April so donors will get something they can download quickly.

Anyone donating $10 or more during April will be listed as a sponsor in Microlite78: First Edition Lite. A $10 donation gets a "First Level Sponsor" listing, a $20 donation gets a "Second Level Sponsor" listing, a $30 donation gets a "Third Level Sponsor" listing, etc. All donations of $25 or more will be listed as a sponsor of all the Microlite81 games as well. April donors will also be eligible for some AD&D 1e items in drawings (I'll list those in a blog post tomorrow or Monday). One chance for every $10 donated and these items will be given away even if the $600 goal is not met. BTW, as of this post we have %120 in donations so we are at 20% of the goal now).

Naturally donors get all the standard benefits from donating to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund: special donor downloads, access to donor draft copies of works in progress, etc. You can donate this Paypal link .

Some questions and answers about this project:

1) Will Microlite78 be based on 1e or the weird BX/1e mix you used back in the 1980s? While Microlite78: First Edition Lite will include my "standard" house rules (those in Microlite74 Extended), it will not be Microlite81 Advanced. The idea is to produce something like a "1e lite" not a major B/X variant, so it will not be based on my BX/1e plus the kitchen sink rules that will appear in Microlite81 Advanced.

2) Race as Class? No, 1e -- like 0e with the supplements -- had separate races and classes. Both had level limits. I have yet to decide if Microlite78 would use level limits or the adjusted XP system from Microlite74 Extended.

3) What about Bards and Psionics? Bards will be included as an optional class. However, it will be a stand alone class; that is, Bards will not have to progress through a series of other classes before becoming a Bard as they did in 1e. Psionics will be available as well, although it will be based on my system from Microlite74 Companion I, not the 1e version. Both the Bard class and psionics were optional in 1e, probably because neither worked all that well with the rest of the system. They will be an option in Microlite78 as well, but if a GM decides to use one or both they should should work much better with the rest of the system.

3) What about Alignment? The standard nine alignments from 1e will be used instead of my Light/Neutral/Dark system.

4) Will this project delay other projects? It probably will, but not by much as the next 4 to 6 weeks would be devoted to Microlite20 collection updates and other small projects anyway. Much of the heavy-lifting on Microlite78 has already been done with the various Microlite74 publications. For example, the monsters can be taken from the Bestiary of Monsters with only minor changes (e.g. alignment).

5) Will all the optional rules available with Microlite74 work with Microlite78? 0e with all the supplements is very much like a "lite version" of 1e. This means that many optional rules from Microlite74 would probably work with Microlite78 if one makes some minor changes to better fit the 1e paradigm, however, there no guarantees that your favorite Microlite74 optional rules would work. I have no plans to do Microlite78 conversions of all the Microlite74 optional rules.

6) Will adventures written for 1e work with Microlite78? As far as I can tell, you can use just about all TSR-era adventures and settings with Microlite74 or Microlite81 with only minor modifications that most GMs can make on the fly as they run them. This should apply to Microlite78 as well.

7) What if the $600 goal is not reached by the end of April? Microlite78 would probably still get written, just not in anything like the near future (sometime in 2016, perhaps). The closer we come to that goal, the more priority the project will have (as my wife will be more willing to give me more time to work on it). If we go over-goal, even more priority will be possible.

Time for the 2014 Edition of the Microlite20 RPG Collection

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It's been about two years since The Microlite20 RPG Collection 2012 Edition came out, so it's probably time to start work on the 2014 Edition. Unfortunately, other than my various Microlite74 and Microlite81 releases, I haven't seen many new Microlite20-based games. I have a new version of Beacon (Draft Version 6), Dark Heritage, Microlite20 (Stefan's Edition), and Gnomeo's Modified Microlite20. I've seen a few new Microlite20-based games on Scribd -- and unfortunately nowhere else -- which means there probably will not be included as I am unwilling to pay for a Scribd subscription to get them (Society for Paranormal Exploration, Shatterdome - Pacific Rim Microlite20, and Conan Microlite20).

If you know of any additional new Microlite20 games or variants (and their locations on the Net) please let me know. If you know of any updated versions of games included in The Microlite20 RPG Collection 2012 Edition, please let me know. I hope to have the third edition of the Microlite20 RPG Collection available later this month.

Microlite74/Microlite81 Adventures? Sorry Not From Me

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I'm often asked why I don't write and publish some adventures for Microlite74 or Microlite81. The easy answer is that there are already a large number of adventures written for the original games and their retroclones that can easily be used with Microlite74 or Microlite81. While this is true, a more honest answer is that I do not create adventures or settings that most people would be interested in downloading and using (let alone paying for).

My dungeons, for example, are a couple of lines about each (non-empty) room listing the basics of who and what is in that room. My dungeons are created by a most random method, a slight modification of the dungeon creation guidelines from OD&D:

I draw up a dungeon level and position a few special areas around that level -- the exact number of special areas in random but the larger the level, the more special areas there are likely to be. These areas average a 3-6 rooms and these rooms have fairly detailed descriptions, generally 4 to 10 lines per room. The rest of the level is filled in randomly. While the exact percentages vary by level, on average, about 30-40% of the rooms will have some type of monster in them, about 10% will have some type of non-monster encounter (trap, etc.), the rest will be "empty" (although not necessarily literally so). Monsters are randomly selected from encounter tables (special tables may be created for areas near certain special areas, of course). Most of these non-empty but non-special areas will only need 2-3 lines of writeup.

You can get a fair idea of what one of my dungeon levels looks like from visiting this web page which will create and stock a random dungeon level. The only real difference between the dungeon levels this page generates and mine is the levels created by this web page lack the hand-designed special areas that my personal dungeon levels have. Would you really be interested in downloading a using a such a dungeon just because I "designed" and published it? I didn't think so.

You may ask if I couldn't just take such a dungeon and expand on each room to get a dungeon more like what most people expect from a published dungeon? In theory, I certainly could. In practice, however, I get bored after a describing a few rooms and encounters in far more detail than I need to have to personally run the dungeon and go do something more interesting.

Settings are the same. My idea of a setting writeup is like the old Judges Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy (hex maps with a couple of lines on interesting hexes, villages, etc.) and not anything like a BECMI Mystara module or a Forgotten Realms boxed set. Again, when I try to turn the notes I have on my Hidden Valley campaign into some more complete that others could use, I get bored after a few pages and move on to something more interesting.

I'm just not cut out to design adventures or setting for publication. That's the real reason why you haven't seen any Microlite74 or Microlite81 adventures from me -- and probably never will. I know a lot people think old school authors should write more old school adventures and settings and fewer old school rules sets. I understand their point of view, but while I can write what at least some people consider "good rules", I lack that ability when it comes to adventures or settings. So I write what I can do well enough for others to enjoy.