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Dungeon World Hits My Microlite7x Sunday Game Group

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Dungeon World coverOne of my four Sunday game players was going to be out of town for business for the last three Sundays in April. Originally, I was going to run my Sunday game for the remaining three players running some of their henchmen as PCs. However, the week before this was to start, the subject of Dungeon World came up on the group mailing list with one of the players asking me what I thought of the game. After saying that he had thought it would be fun but after playing it decided he did not like it as it was too restrictive. However, his real issue with the game was that it was too narrative. While lists of names and weird rules about no more than one of each character class in the game were mildly annoying, the real problem was he had no interest in doing the GM's job of creating the world and deciding what happens beyond what his character could control.

I said that I had heard a number of similar complaints from old school players who are there to explore the world as their character and want to play by saying what their character is doing in the world and have no interest in making decisions that their character couldn't make. Players who aren't playing to tell a good story but to "live" as their character day to day in the world. I pointed out that while Dungeon World is obviously written to be played as a narrative game, it would be easy enough to play the game like a standard early TSR version of D&D.

You could:

  • Ignore the lists of character names, the limit of only one character of each class in the game, and the like. These hardly even count as rules changes.
  • Ignore the bits about creating a world as a group and simply play in the GM's world.
  • When choices have to be made in the game that aren't a choice the player could make in character, the GM simply decides what happens the way he would in a normal D&D game. For example, while a character could choose to use extra ammo to get a hit, he could not choose something like his opponent stumbles so he can hit him (any more than I could choose that you agree with everything I write in this post).
As for the poorly named (IMHO) "moves" which annoy many OSR players, there are really two types of Dungeon World "moves":

The first type (the basic moves than anyone can do) are simply general situation resolution methods that the GM can use when needed -- just like an attribute roll, a hit roll, or a saving throw in old school D&D. They are just methods of resolving actions that the GM calls for when a player has his or her character do something that needs that method of resolution. The procedure is just dressed up in a different language. Making a move is just doing something that the GM says needs to be resolved by that particular resolution system. Therefore players don't need to even think about making these types of moves. They just roll when the GM asks them to roll, just like in old school D&D (but rolling 2d6).

The second type of move is a just a class ability description and the suggested method of the GM to use in resolving the use of that class ability. Moves of this second type are really no different than the class abilities of TSR-era thieves. For example the TSR thief ability "Hide in Shadows" is just like a Dungeon World class ability move: both describe a class ability and give rules the GM can use for resolving the use of the class ability when it comes up in play. Making these types of moves is just using a class ability.

In other words, if the GM and players ignore the narrative stuff and the GM runs Dungeon World just like he would run a old school D&D game, Dungeon World in play would be little different in play than old school D&D. The main difference would be the combat system which lacks the round by round structure of D&D, instead opting for a less structured handling of combat. I don't see a lot of problem here, both Dungeon World and early D&D combat is highly abstract. With some work one could even use a more D&D like combat system.

After discussing this a bit on the mailing list, I was asked if I could demonstrate it. So we've played a non-narrative version of Dungeon World for the last three Sunday games. When you drop the narrative stuff, it does indeed play much like early D&D. Of the three players in the three sessions, everyone thought it was okay but not something they'd want to use instead of my Microlite7x rules in our regular game.

I however, was impressed by how well class abilities (aka the special moves each class gets) worked in Dungeon World. I may experiment with adding a DW-like resolution system to at least some class abilities in a future Microlite7x variant.

Free Version of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Second Edition Available

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Microlite74 Swords and Sorcery 2e coverThe "pay what you want"/free version of the revised and expanded second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is now available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. This version lacks art (except for the cover) and is in my standard, two column "condensed type" format.

Moving from the digest format to the condensed type format was much harder than the reverse. For example, one major problem was all the tables copied from the digest format pasted in the condensed format document without their contents (that is, I ended up with nicely formatted tables that were empty). Going from the condensed format to the digest format never had problems like that. I hope I have caught all these issues. However, if some slipped through, at least DrivethruRPG/RPGNow will notify when I upload new versions (assuming you do not turn such notifications off).

Fortunately, the Microlite74 Ultimate Edition will only have a digest format version. Future projects will be done in the standard condensed format first and then converted to digest. While doing the digest first makes writing easier, I really don't want to see the weird formatting problems again.

You can download the no-art condensed type version of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery 2e here. For more about Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery 2e see this post.

Second Edition Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Now Available

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Microlite75 Swords & Sorcery 2e Digest CoverThe revised second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is now available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow in a digest and epub combo format -- perfect for printing out or reading on a tablet. Like the original edition, the second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is designed for low level play in swords & sorcery settings. If the fantasy stories of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Lieber, Clark Ashton Smith, C.L. Moore, Karl Edward Wagner, and David Gemell are more to your taste that those of Tolkein or Eddings, this version of Microlite74 may be just what you are looking for.

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is based on Microlite74 Extended 3.0 but with many special rules designed for swords & sorcery style campaigns. For example, there are only two classes (Adventurer and Sorcerer) and 6 levels, magic is limited and casting certain spells can corrupt the caster, and many 0e style magic items are relics of dead civilizations from long ago. Humans are assumed to dominate the world and most enemies are other humans and animals. True monsters certainly exist but they are assumed to be rare. Unlike most Microlite74 games which use a Microlite20-based experience system, this version uses a more standard experience point system.

The revised second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery adds rules for allegiances (which replace alignments), expands the rules for corruption -- using black magic effects the world (e.g weather, chance of wandering monsters, etc.), adds a few new spells to the spell lists, adds rules for mounted combat, expands the section on adventuring (including adding a section on ocean exploration), adds demons and Lovecraftian monsters, etc. Second Edition also adds a section of optional rules including several that have not been in any other versions Microlite74 (e.g. player-defined feats, rules for corrupt and/or tainted locations).

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery includes:

  • Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a class, a background, and allegiances.
  • Two Classes: Adventurer and Sorcerer, both limited to sixth level – but advancements continues even after reaching sixth level.
  • Backgrounds provide a simple and fast way to factor in a character's culture and non-class-related abilities.
  • Simple and fast-playing combat system that tracks physical damage (aka body points) separately from luck/skill/fatigue (aka hit point) damage.
  • Hit points recover with a night’s rest. Spells cost hit points to cast. Actual wounds recover more slowly.
  • Spells are divided into white, grey, and black magic. Using black magic eventually corrupts the caster and has strange effects on reality. Only first and second level spells can normally be memorized and cast directly. Other spells must be cast with lengthy rituals.
  • Rules for hirelings, monster reactions (not every monster wants to fight), morale (not every monster fights to the death), and more.
  • A complete list of spells, monsters, and treasure.
  • Compatible with most other 0e based games and adventures.

The digest pdf version of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is 160 pages. The epub version of contains tables and many epub readers display tables in a single column unreadable mess. Epub reader software designed to display epub3 files usually have no problem with the tables. Calibre displays this epub file well on Windows PCs and Gitden reader displays it fine (if slowly) on android. There is an IOS version of Gitden Reader for Apple devices, but it has not been tested. Note that tables in epub files do not adapt well to small screen devices. Both files include art.

You get both the digest-sized pdf and the epub version when you buy the digest/epub version of the second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery for $6.99. A "pay what you want" letter-sized "condensed type" without artwork will appear at a later date. I can't be more specific as real life here is about to get very interesting as it looks like my wife and I will be moving out of state as the climate here is playing havoc with her MS as she has gotten very sensitive to heat and humidity.

You can get a copy of the new second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery on its page on RPGNow.

Microlite75 Extended Now Available for Download (Free OSR Game)

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Microlite75 Extended CoverThe third and final "core" Microlite75 game, Microlite75 Extended, is now available for download as a "pay what you want" game on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. As usual, free ($0) is a perfectly acceptable price, although I would love it if you would consider tossing in a buck or two to support the medical bills.

Microlite75 games are a sort of "new edition" of Microlite74. Like Microlite78 and Microlite81 games, Microlite75 games use an experience and advancement system much closer to the original "0e" system than the Microlite20-based system used in Microlite74 games. They also all include some of most popular "house rules" based system that first appeared in Microlite74 Extended (e.g. body points and backgrounds). They include rules for creating strongholds, magical research, and more detailed rules for dungeon, wilderness and sea adventuring. Finally, they include a complete treasure section so the game is more complete than their Microlite74 counterparts.

The Microlite75 Extended rules are based on three little booklets found in the boxed set of the 1974 original edition of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game plus the supplements and other early published material. The rules are not intended to be a clone of the 0e rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules. Microlite75 Extended is based on the third edition of the original Microlite74 rules, modified to use advancement and experience systems closer to those of the original game and including many of the author’s house rules from the era and a large selection of optional rules.

Although the Microlite75 Extended rules are complete, they assume that the GM understands the basic concepts of D20-based roleplaying games. Information for both the GM and the players on the various “old school” styles of play is provided. Microlite75 games can easily use adventures and material from early editions of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game or modern clones. Microlite75 Extended includes:

  • Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a race, class, background, and alignment.
  • Standard Classes: Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Illusionist, Magic-User, Paladin, Ranger, Thief.
  • Optional Classes: Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Monk, Mystic, Sorcerer, Warlord.
  • Backgrounds provide a simple and fast way to factor in a character's culture and non-class-related abilities.
  • Allegiances instead of (or in addition to) alignment.
  • Simple and fast-playing combat system that tracks physical damage (aka body points) separately from luck/skill/fatigue (aka hit point) damage.
  • Hit points recover with a night’s rest. Spells cost hit points to cast. Actual wounds recover more slowly.
  • Rules for hirelings; monster reactions (not every monster wants to fight); morale (not every monster fights to the death); dungeon, wilderness and ocean exploration; and more.
  • Lots of Optional Rules: Advantages and Disadvantages, Armor for Everyone, Weapon Mastery, Psionics, Sanity, Action Points, Traditional Systems, and many more.
  • A complete list of spells, monsters, and treasure.
  • Compatible with most other 0e based games and adventures.

Microlite75 games are trimmed-down miniature versions of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. The goal of Microlite75 games is to recreate the style and feel of that very first (“0e”) fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions. Other versions of the core Microlite75 rules include Microlite75 Basic and Microlite75 Standard.

Visit the Microlite75 Extended page on RPGNow to Download Now.

Upcoming releases: Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Expanded Digest Edition (Commercial, estimated price $6.99 -- ETA 1 to 2 weeks from now), Microlite74 Utimate Digest Edition (Commercial estimated price $9.99 -- ETA 2 to 3 weeks from now. Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Expanded Digest Edition will be a digest (and epub) version of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery expanded with new material. The Microlite74 Utimate Digest Edition will be a 300+ page digest (and epub) edition of Microlite74 which collects the best material from the first three Microlite74 Companions and integrates it into a Microlite74 Expanded rules base (along with some new material and a sample campaign setting with several prewritten adventure locations).

Cancer Fund Donations Welcome: If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.) Remember, if you donate $25 or more (via this RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund link), you will be listed as a sponsor in upcoming games.

I'm also testing the Patreon waters:

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Become a Patreon:
Support the development of Microlite74/75/78/81 games.

Microlite75 Standard Now Available for Download (Free Game)

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Microlite75 Standard CoverThe second Microlite75 game, Microlite75 Standard, is now available for download as a "pay what you want" game on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. As usual, free ($0) is a perfectly acceptable price, although I hope you will consider tossing in a buck or two to support the medical bills.

Microlite75 games are a sort of "new edition" of Microlite74. Like Microlite78 and Microlite81 games, Microlite75 games use an experience and advancement system much closer to the original "0e" system than the Microlite20-based system used in Microlite74 games. They also all include some of most popular "house rules" based system that first appeared in Microlite74 Extended (e.g. body points and backgrounds). They include rules for creating strongholds, magical research, and more detailed rules for dungeon, wilderness and sea adventuring. Finally, they include a complete treasure section so the game is more complete than their Microlite74 counterparts.

The Microlite75 Standard rules are based on three little booklets found in the boxed set of the 1974 original edition (0e) of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game plus much of the material in the 0e supplements and some material from very early issues of the offical magazine. Unlike Microlite75 Basic, these rules embrace the changes in the first supplement to hit dice and weapon damage dice. As with other Microlite74 and Microlite75 games, the rules are not intended to be a clone of the 0e rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules.

Although the Microlite75 Standard rules are complete, they assume that the GM understands the basic concepts of roleplaying games. Information for both the GM and the players on the various “old school” styles of play is provided. Microlite75 games can easily use adventures and material from early editions of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game or modern clones.

Microlite75 Standard includes in 56 pages:

  • Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a race, class, background, and (optionally) alignment.
  • Standard Classes: Fighter, Magic-User, Cleric, and Thief.
  • Optional Classes: Assassin, Druid, Illusionist, Paladin, Ranger.
  • Backgrounds provide a simple and fast way to factor in a character's culture and non-class-related abilities.
  • Simple and fast-playing combat system that tracks physical damage (aka body points) separately from luck/skill/fatigue (aka hit point) damage.
  • Hit points recover with a night’s rest. Spells cost hit points to cast. Actual wounds recover more slowly.
  • Rules for hirelings; monster reactions (not every monster wants to fight); morale (not every monster fights to the death); strongholds; magical research; dungeon, wilderness and ocean exploration; poison; and more.
  • A complete list of spells, monsters, and treasure.
  • Compatible with most other 0e based games and adventures.
Microlite75 games are trimmed-down miniature versions of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. The goal of Microlite75 games is to recreate the style and feel of that very first (“0e”) fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions.

Visit the Microlite75 Standard page on RPGNow to Download Now.

Upcoming releases: Microlite75 Expanded (Pay What You Want -- ETA next week), Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Expanded Digest Edition (Commercial, estimated price $6.99 -- ETA 1 to 2 weeks from now), Microlite74 Utimate Digest Edition (Commercial estimated price $9.99 -- ETA 2 to 3 weeks from now. Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Expanded Digest Edition will be a digest (and epub) version of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery expanded with new material. The Microlite74 Utimate Digest Edition will be a 300+ page digest (and epub) edition of Microlite74 which collects the best material from the first three Microlite74 Companions and integrates it into a Microlite74 Expanded rules base (along with some new material and a sample campaign setting with several prewritten adventure locations).

Cancer Fund Donations Welcome: If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.) Remember, if you donate $25 or more (via this RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund link), you will be listed as a sponsor in upcoming games.

I'm also testing the Patreon waters:

Patreon Logo
Become a Patreon:
Support the development of Microlite74/75/78/81 games.

New Free Game: Microlite75 Basic is Now Available For Download

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Microlite75 Basic CoverI'm happy to announce that the first Microlite75 game, Microlite75 Basic, is now available for download as a "pay what you want" game on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. As usual, free ($0) is a perfectly acceptable price, although I hope you will consider tossing in a buck or two to support the medical bills.

Microlite75 games are a sort of "new edition" of Microlite74. Like Microlite78 and Microlite81 games, Microlite75 games use an experience and advancement system much closer to the original "0e" system than the Microlite20-based system used in Microlite74 games. They also all include some of most popular "house rules" based system that first appeared in Microlite74 Extended (e.g. body points and backgrounds). They include rules for creating strongholds, magical research, and more detailed rules for dungeon, wilderness and sea adventuring. Finally, they include a complete treasure section so the game is more complete than their Microlite74 counterparts.

The Microlite75 Basic rules are based on three little booklets found in the boxed set of the 1974 original edition (0e) of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game. The rules are not intended to be a clone of the 0e rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules.

Although the Microlite75 Basic rules are complete, they are fairly basic. There are only three classes (Fighters, Magic-Users, and Clerics) -- however, backgrounds allow a great deal of easy character customization. Spells are limited and character levels top out at 12 to 14. Microlite75 Standard and Microlite75 Extended provide more classes and other options.

Microlite75 Basic includes:

  • Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a race, class, background, and (optionally) alignment.
  • Limited Classes as in original 0e boxed set: Fighter, Magic-User, and Cleric.
  • Backgrounds provide a simple and fast way to factor in a character's culture and non-class-related abilities.
  • Simple and fast-playing combat system that tracks physical damage (aka body points) separately from luck/skill/fatigue (aka hit point) damage.
  • Hit points recover with a night’s rest. Spells cost hit points to cast. Actual wounds recover more slowly.
  • Rules for hirelings; monster reactions (not every monster wants to fight); morale (not every monster fights to the death); strongholds; magical research; dungeon, wilderness and ocean exploration; and more.
  • A complete list of spells, monsters, and treasure.
  • Compatible with most other 0e based games and adventures.
Microlite75 games are trimmed-down miniature versions of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. The goal of Microlite75 games is to recreate the style and feel of that very first (“0e”) fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions.

Visit the Microlite75 Basic page on RPGNow to Download Now.

These two games are free and is still available in all the usual places, they are now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

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Support the development of Microlite74/75/78/81 games.

It's Not About The Mechanics

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Microlite74 Extended Premium CoverI posted about the nearly five year long campaign I ran in Waco (and that is still going under new GMs) recently on a forum. I received an a PM asking how I could run a game that used basically OD&D rules (filtered through Microlite74) for over 150 sessions without being bored by the simple and uninteresting mechanics.

The answer is pretty simple. I am not interested in the mechanics as mechanics. I want the mechanics to work and to be simple, easy to remember and easy to use so that they fade into the background. I don't play tabletop RPGs because I want to fiddle with mechanical rules toys. I play (and run) tabletop RPGs to explore settings, situations, characters. When I'm playing, I want to immerse in my character and "manipulate" the setting as my character as directly as possible. That is, I don't want to have to decide I want to do "X" in the campaign and then have to worry about how to use the rules toys and widgets to do "X". I want the rules to be simple enough that I can just say what I want to do without using "rulespeak" and the GM can tell me if what I want to do is a success, a failure, or what I need to roll to find out. I don't want a lot of "interesting in and of themselves" mechanics to come between me and the setting.

Since I'm not playing RPGs to interact with the rules/mechanics, I tend not to get bored with game systems that work for me. If the system lets me immerse in my character and interact with the world without having to deal with fiddly mechanics, I'm going to be as happy with the mechanics in the 150th session as I am in the first session. New mechanics may (or may not) have to be added along the way for new aspects of the campaign, but I'm not going to get bored with the rules because I've been using them for years. I'm simply not there playing for the rules but for the setting.

I understand that some players play because they enjoy mastering rules and finding ways to manipulate the mechanical widgets in the rules. I can understand how such players might get bored with their current rule set and want new and different rules fairly frequently. I'm pretty such that such players drive the current practice of a new edition of D&D with radically different rules every five years or so. However, new editions with completely different rules turn me off, so I stick with rules that have worked for me for many years because they do what I need them to do. I see no personal need for new rules when the old ones I do the job I need them to do.

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Support the development of Microlite74/75/78/81 games.