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RetroRoleplaying Blog Comment Problems?

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There haven't been any comments to my last few posts. I just figured that I haven't been posting regularly and had said anything comment-worthy in my last few posts. However, LibraryLass reported a comment problem on our forum: Are you aware that the blog's got restricted comments right now?.

No, I was not aware of that, but I've tried to fix it. Still no comments, however. If you have a chance, please try to leave a comment to this message. If you can't and are a member of the RetroRoleplaying Forum, please post in the above thread to let me know exactly what you are told when you try.

Thanks in advance!

Microlite78: First Edition Lite Public Beta 1 Available for Free Download

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Microlite78 mockup coverThe first (and with luck, only) beta version of Microlite78: First Edition Lite is now available for download. It should be feature-complete and only need proofreading and final editing -- barring someone (like you) pointing out a major problem or omission.

Microlite78 is a trimmed-down miniature version 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 Microlite78 is do for First Edition (1e) what Microlite74 did for the Original Edition (0e) to recreate the style and feel of the First Edition of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1978 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions.

Please point out any issues you see ASAP as I would like to get the "Final 1.0" version out in the next few weeks. Like just about everything else I do game-wise, both the beta and final version of Microlite78: First Edition Lite will be free of charge -- although donations to the Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund as always welcome. Thanks in advance for downloading this beta -- and please point out any problems you notice.

Monks and/or Bards in Microlite78?

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Microlite78 mockup coverI'm pleased to report that I have made more progress on Microlite78: First Edition Lite. Over the last few days, I've added rules for retainers (hirelings, henchmen, mercenaries, and specialists) as well as a number of optional rules including rules for fire-and-forget magic, traditional saving throws, item saves, and psionics. I've made a number of other minor changes and improvements as well. I've made Draft 0.3 available for download by RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors (who have the password needed to unlock these zip files). The Draft 0.3 file can be found in the download area of the RetroRoleplaying Forum. Here are direct links to the download page:

If you would like access, you can make a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund -- or you can wait for the first beta version which should be available near the end of February (unless something else goes wrong in real life) and will be available to everyone.

At the moment, I am not including two classes which were included in the First Edition of the world's most popular fantasy RPG: the monk and the bard. I have not included the monk because I never felt the monk really belonged in the standard "European" version of the game but rather should be reserved for an oriental setting. I haven't included the bard because First Edition bard was insane. One had to go though at least 5 levels as a fighter, then become a thief for at least 5 levels then begin as a bard.

Personally, I'd rather leave both of these classes out of Microlite78: First Edition Lite, but I'm willing to listen to good reasons as to why I should include one or both in comments to this posts (either here on the blog or on Google+).

Microlite78 Progress Report

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Microlite78 mockup coverI'm pleased to report that I have made major progress on Microlite78: First Edition Lite during my months of near silence. Unfortunately, I forgot all about uploading them to the donor areas as some days only a few words would change and I'd put off doing it. I finally uploaded Microlite78 Draft 0.1 to the donor area yesterday -- only to find I did not have time to announce that I had done so. This morning, I found time to do quite a bit more work on M78 (the most I've had time to do in one day since last spring just before my wife's mother died and we began the move/remodel process). Therefore, I've uploaded Microlite78 Draft 0.2 to the donor area. While there is really no need to download both, I've left Draft 0.1 up just in case any RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors are interested.

For those who have forgotten what Microlite78: First Edition Lite is supposed to be, here's a description for my first post on M78:

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.

Microlite78 Draft 0.2 is fairly complete, although a great deal of minor editing is needed. Some is simple editing like changes names while much is more complex: altering things to more resemble 1e while not breaking the M74 system.

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors already have the password needed to unlock these zip files. The files can be found in the download area of our (unfortunately seldom used) RetroRoleplaying Forum. Here are direct links to the download pages:


If you would like access, you can make a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund -- or you can wait for the first beta version which should be available in a week or two (unless something else goes wrong in real life) and will be available to everyone.

D&D's 40th Anniversary Has Been A Busy One

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2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the iconic roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, and thus far it's been far more than a note on the calendar. Often, a major milestone for an entertainment product will be marked simply by a commemorative badge on covers or new editions in stores. But with the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, the game is experiencing something of a turbulent year.

For starters, there's the issue of film rights, with various studios actually battling in court for the right to make a Dungeons & Dragons movie. But that's a separate issue that likely won't be resolved for some time. Aside from the film debate, Dungeons & Dragons as a game is facing the larger problem of attempting to remain relevant after a 4th Edition that many found disappointing.

To some extent, the idea of Dungeons & Dragons fighting for relevancy almost seems blasphemous. Yet an article in WGBH pointed out earlier this year that by 2012, D&D ranked only as the third best-selling roleplaying game. For reference, the wildly popular Pathfinder took over the top spot. There will always be fans loyal to the D&D brand, but at this point there's no denying the fact that other games—many of them directly imitating D&D—have succeeded in making themselves appealing to modern consumers.

Yet can Dungeons & Dragons really be struggling when its influence is so apparent across all spectrums of gaming? Think for a moment about different genres of table top games and video games—you may be surprised just how many of them trace back to the game widely credited with starting up the roleplaying genre, and popularizing fantasy models as well.

The first branch of influence comes quite simply from the title of the game! While D&D certainly didn't invent dragons, it did help introduce them to gaming spheres, and these days they seem to be everywhere. Popular video games like Skyrim and the Diablo series stand out as some of the biggest and best recent examples, but dragons have permeate all levels of gaming for years. Even in the online casino industry, the InterCasino platform—the longest running site in the industry—hosts numerous slot arcades designed with dragon themes (and titles) that you can view here. And in mobile apps (which can be said to represent the newest form of video games), dozens of dragon-related games are available in stores—some of them even playing with a roleplaying format.

Ultimately, D&D's influence in the gaming industry is so deep and broad-reaching that CNN even made it the focus of its 40th anniversary write-up. Going all the way back to 1988, the article cited Pool Of Radiance as the first video game to be developed based on D&D. Given some of the games just mentioned, it's fair to say that the video game market has been feeding off of D&D lore for over 25 years. In that regard, it's difficult to comprehend the idea of the original game struggling in any sense give that it's still being sold and maintains a passionate audience.

And right on cue, it seems that Hasbro and the folks behind D&D have created a new version to satisfy a modern market that was drifting away. To some extent, D&D may never regain its former popularity, simply because video games (and their increasing focus on online multiplayer capability) have taken over the industry. But it appears that the newly released 5th Edition of the game has at least helped to put D&D back on track, and it has received a favorable response from players.

Perhaps most importantly, the game seems to have returned to the basics in some respects, resembling all the best parts of its earlier editions. In an article titled "It's The Perfect Time To Play Dungeons & Dragons," Kotaku writer Quintin Smith noted: "This is the best, most exciting kind of D&D we've had in twenty years, and that's not all. It's never been more beginner friendly." That's about as strong a review as D&D fans could hope for: the best game in some time for experienced players, but also one that excels in attracting new players.

Whether or not the game can retake the top spot in the roleplaying genre remains to be seen. But for a 40th anniversary, 2014 has been a busy year for the D&D franchise—and possibly a great one as well given the review reviews of the 5th Edition.

Free (Old School) Fantastic Adventures Playtest Rules Available

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I've mentioned that I am working on a special version of the Microlite74/Microlite81 rules for the new old school campaign I'm planning to start in October in the few posts I've managed to make since my world fell apart in April. I finally have an early (0.15) version of these rules "finished" and I have decided to make this initial very rough draft available as a public playtest. Many future drafts will probably come out over the next couple of months -- most of the will only be released in the Donor Downloads area for RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Donors. Another public playtest draft should appear about the time the new campaign starts.

Fantastic Adventures combines some of the features of Microlite81 on top of a Microlite74-ish base. Some of the distinguishing features of Fantastic Adventures include: only 3 classes (Fighter, Magician, and Sorcerer -- Magician is limited to white magic and can fight and turn undead); backgrounds include race, culture, and prior "profession" (and can be used to create thieves, woodsmen, priests, etc.); only one spell list but three types of spells (white, grey, and black -- casting black magic can corrupt the caster). The final version of this game will be more of its own thing than an obvious version of M74/M81, however -- especially as it will be more complete (and therefore less "lite").

You can download a free copy of the 0.15 version of Fantastic Adventures here.

An ACKS Style Skill System?

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I'm attempting to convert my standard skill system from Microlite74 and Microlite81 to work as Adventurer Conqueror King System "throws" instead of the D20-style rolls plus bonuses because the people who want to play in my upcoming Garland campaign want to use ACKS style attack rolls, etc. I've come up with the following draft "Skill" rule and I'm looking for comments on it from a wider pool of people than the four people who will be playing in my new campaign. So please read and comment. :)

Skills
There are no skills in Microlite Old School 2014. Instead players are expected to think like adventurers, tell the GM what they are doing and the GM decides if it will succeed in the situation, taking into account the characters’ classes. If the GM decides a random success chance is truly needed he may resolve the situation with a throw or roll of his choice or he may call for one of the following throws from the table below:

Primary Class Throw: if the character is attempting something directly related to their class.
Secondary Class Throw: if the character is attempting something only loosely related to their class.
Primary Background Throw: if the character is attempting something that is not related to their class but is directly related to their background.
Secondary Background Throw: if the character is attempting something that is not related to their class but is at least loosely related to their background.
Unrelated Skill Throw: if the character is attempting something that anyone should be able to try with at least a small chance of success but is not really related to their class or background.

When the GM calls for a skill throw, he will declare the type of skill throw, which stat the skill throw falls under (add Stat bonus to throw), and any situational modifiers and the player will make a skill throw. The GM should make the throw in secret if seeing the result would give the player more information than his character should have.

Unless the GM rules otherwise, a natural roll of 20 always succeeds for a Primary Class, Secondary Class, or Primary Background Roll. The following situational modifiers are suggested for task difficulty: Easy: +1, Normal: 0, Difficult: -1, Hard: -2, Very Hard: -4, Legendary: -6, Unbelievable: -8.

If the skill throw is a success, the character's attempt to perform the task succeeds. Otherwise, the character's attempt to perform the task fails, meaning the character makes no progress toward the task's objective (or -- if the GM wishes -- makes progress but suffers a setback determined by the GM).

Skill Throw Table

Level Primary Class Secondary Class Primary Background Secondary Background Unrelated
1
10+
12+
14+
16+
20+
2
9+
11+
13+
15+
19+
3
9+
11+
13+
15+
19+
4
8+
10+
12+
14+
18+
5
7+
9+
11+
13+
18+
6
7+
9+
11+
13+
17+
7
6+
8+
10+
12+
17+
8
5+
7+
9+
11+
16+
9
5+
7+
9+
11+
16+
10
4+
6+
8+
10+
15+
11
3+
5+
7+
9+
15+
12
3+
5+
7+
9+
14+
13
2+
4+
6+
8+
14+
14
1+
3+
5+
7+
13+

Questions for Consideration:
1) Should the a Stat Bonus really be added to all skill throws? I add them to skill rolls in Microlite74 and Microlite81 so I've kept the system here, but I really am not sure it is a good fit.

2) Are the suggested task difficulty situational modifiers reasonable?