When I announced this project, I figured it would only take a week to ten days to do as the material was written. All I had to do was strip out the campaign specific information (aka the "product identity") and reformat. Unfortunately, seasonal allergies and other real life things conspired to give me little free time -- at least little free time where I felt good enough to work on it. However, almost a month after I announced this "quick" project, it is finished. Microlite74 Special Version I is ready for download.
To recap, this project started last month when I was offered a $100 donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund if I would piece together various rules from the different Microlite74 rules sets and companions (and customize them slightly) for a specific GM's campaign world. I decided that the customized version of the rules was interesting enough to stand on its own without the 20 pages of private campaign material and Microlite74 Special Version I.
This special version of Microlite74 is designed for a campaign world with only two deities (a Lord of Light (order) and a Lord of Darkness (chaos) who oppose each other. Magic is both common and rare in this campaign world in that about 25% of the population have the ability to use Minor Magic at will (including all characters and NPCs with a class level), but arcane magic is otherwise limited to long, complex, and costly rituals. Clerics have limited spell-like abilities called prayers. True magic Items are almost non-existent. What true magic items do exist are created by the GM as needed and are always one-of-a-kind. Magic items created by binding spirits to material items are more common.
The campaign these rules were designed for was centered around a large decadent empire which which was starting to fall apart at the seams while its borderlands were breaking away or were being overrun by subhumans and monsters. The central portions of the empire were ignoring the problems. The Church of Light was aware of the problems but its influence on the imperial government had been reduced by scandal after scandal. In the borderlands, however, the Church of Light was often the only institution able to see beyond local issues. The campaign world was early renaissance, at least in the central parts of the empire, but hand guns and long guns were never invented.
You can download your free copy of Microlite74 Special Version I from Mediafire. It's 24 pages and about a 1.15 meg PDF.
Download Microlite74 Special Version I
If you like this free RPG, please consider a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 | 0 Comments
Long ago, I picked up a copy of The Dungeon #10 at my hobby shop just as they arrived. This was the October 1977 issue and was one of the first issues of The Dragon magazine to be available at Dibbles. This issue had a couple of good articles and the Snit Smashing boardgame -- the first Tom Wham game published in The Dragon. The best article in the magazine from my point-of-view was "Random Monsters" by Paul Montgomery Crabaugh. Two pages full of tables for rolling up random monsters. Not random monsters as in what standard monster appears on Dungeon Level 6 on a roll of 8 or what monster appears in a forest hex on a roll of 12, but a method of creating completely new monsters that had never been seen before.
I rolled up a lot of them and wrote each one on a 3x5 index card. When I needed a new monster for an encounter, I'd let a player draw a card from the deck and that creature was what they ran into. As the discovering group, they would get the honor of naming the monster if they defeated it (or at least managed to survive. Most of these random monsters were seldom, if ever, seen again. A few, however, became regular "standard" monsters in my campaign. I've listed of few of those below. The descriptions as rolled up from the random monster card (yes, I still have most of these cards). The names were all given by my First Campaign Arn group. You should be able to take this "card descriptions" and write them up for whatever system you are using. Consider these Open Game Content.
Highly Intelligent, Neutral, Reptile
Speed: 9", AC: 3, HD: 6d8+1
Special Features: 2
-- Breathes Lightning: 2d6 damage, 2x/day
-- Sting in tail, does paralysis (save okay)
Looks like a giant scaled toad (dark with occasional yellow patch of scales) with a scorpion like tail with a glowing stinger. About 12 feet long, 50% of that is tail).
Unintelligent, Chaos, Undead
Speed: 6", AC: 7 HD: 2d8
Turned as a Zombie, Destroyed by holy water.
Red-skinned humanoid with rotting flesh. Mindlessly obeys last order given by their creator. Their touch causes 1d6 painful rotting damage, turning the area hit to an ugly red until healed or washed with holy water (which also eliminates the pain).
Unintelligent, Lawful, Mammal
Speed: 6" (Fly: 18) AC: 8, HD: 3d8
Damage/touch: 2d6 fire
Special Features: 1
-- Fiery Aura surrounds creature (think Human Touch), damages all it comes it contact with
(This was rolled as "does double damage" and was my explanation for why)
Small bat-like creature with a 3 foot wingspan. At night, it looks like a flying fireball from a distance.
Monday, May 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
I'm sorry that I've been silent for a few weeks. My seasonal allergies turned into a nasty sinus infection which I am just now truly recovering from. It seemed to be immune to the initial drugs I was given.
Progress on Lords & Wizards rules writing has been slow. This is a good thing because we still do not have its full direction mapped out. A couple of my players really lobbied for basing the system on the Adventurer Conqueror King System instead of Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry as I had originally planned. We've now tried that and it simply did not work as well as its proponents in my Sunday group hoped it would. Two of the most noticeable issues were proficiencies and tying expected wealth to experience points.
Proficiencies are simply a mess when you are used to my broader backgrounds and talents system. They are often more limiting and a couple of different attempts to combine ACKS proficiencies and my backgrounds and talents system simply made a larger mess that brought out the worst in both systems. Proficiencies are technically optional in ACKS, but dropping proficiencies takes away one of the main reason for using ACKS as the rules framework.
There are two problems with the ACKS XP-Wealth tie. First, I do not like anything that works remotely like "wealth per level". If a group of first level characters manages by some miracle to get an ancient red dragon's hoard, that's fine with me. I don't want to feel like I need to stop this because it will make the characters far too wealthy for the mechanics of the system. Likewise, I don't see anything wrong with a 10th level character who has gone broke and do not want the rules mechanics making this inadvisable. The second problem with tying XP to wealth is I really want to use the partial XP for weaker monsters rules as 0e and 1e did. For example, under these rules, if a 4th level character defeats a 1st level (aka 1HD) monster, he'd only get one-quarter of the XP the monster and its treasure would normally give. I used these rules back in the day and the object of Lords & Wizards is to create and (slightly modernized) version of the weird combination of 0e, 1e, B/X, Arduin, house rules, etc. I used in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Using a partial XP for weaker monsters rule tosses the idea of the ACKS XP-Wealth tie out the window.
Don't get me wrong. I like ACKS and think it is a good game, but for these and other reasons it has become fairly obvious than ACKS is simply not a good framework to base the Lords & Wizards rules on. Even the two strong proponents of basing L&W on ACKS among by Sunday game players agree that it simply does not work as well for L&W as they thought it would. Starting with today's game, we'll be trying a version of L&W based on the Labyrinth Lord family of games (Labyrinth Lord, Original Edition Characters, and Advanced Edition Companion). I expect that this will be a better fit for what I am trying to do. This does not mean that ACKS will have no influence on L&W, however. I expect many of the campaign design and high level/domain play ideas from ACKS may eventually find their way into L&W -- at least as a major influence.
Sunday, May 19, 2013 | 0 Comments
I was recently (like last Monday) offered a $100 donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund if I would piece together various rules from the different Microlite74 rules sets and companions (and customize them slightly) for a specific GM's campaign world. I did so. I'm now stripping out the specific "product identity" of the donor's campaign world so I can release this special version to the general public. I hope to have it done in a few days.
The campaign world is what makes this "special version" of Microlite74 different. Some important differences with standard rules:
* Two Classes (Adventurers and Clerics), max level is 12.
* Only two deities, the Lord of Light and the Lord of Darkness (think Zoroastrianism).
* True (Arcane) magic is rare. It can only be cast via long, complex, and expensive rituals.
* Clerics have prayers (aka their normal divine spells). Clerics of the Lord of Light can also turn undead and create herbal healing potions. Clerics of the Lord of Darkness can also command undead and animate dead.
* About 25% of intelligent beings are able to use an expanded form of Minor Magic called Sorcery. All player characters are assumed to be in this 25%. Sorcery includes casting minor magic "spells", arcane blast, and sorcerous dueling. It also can include alchemy and/or spirit binding, but these increase the experience base of a character if taken.
* Anyone can try to cast True (Arcane) Magic spells as long, complex, and expensive rituals. Those with Sorcery have a slightly better chance of success. Of course, first you have to find a copy of the ritual (magic spell) you want to cast. And spending a couple of hours to cast a fireball is only going to be useful in a limited set of circumstances.
* True magic items are rare and each must be designed by the GM if wanted. Most magic items are simply spirits bound to items.
Friday, April 26, 2013 | 2 Comments
The Brown Box/Wee Warriors Retroroleplaying Cancer Fund Drive ended on April 11th. We selected winners of the random drawings at my Sunday Game on April 14th. The first part of the results (posted last week), listed the high donor winners. This post lists the random drawing winners, or at least those who told me I could post their names and/or locations. All items have now been shipped. Again, I'd like to thank everyone who donated (and there were a lot of you) for your generous donations.
The "Guidon Games Chainmail (2nd Edition, goldenrod cover)" went to Fredrick J. of Aspen, Colorado. James B. from Michigan won the copy of "Wee Warriors Character Archaic (TSR distributed)" and a copy of the "TSR Monster & Treasure Assortment #1, #2, #3". Havard G. from Los Angeles drew the seven issues of "The Strategic Review". Sal W. of Altanta won the signed copy of the "Empire of the Petal Throne". Dawn S. of Boston won a Starbucks gift card. Alvin R. and Samuel C. won DrivethruRPG gift certificates. People who either requested to remain anonymous or who never gave permission to list their names drew the following items: "Wee Warriors The Endless Dungeon", "TSR Dungeon Geomorphs #1, #2, #3", "TSR Outdoor Geomorphs" and Steam, Amazon and DrivethruRPG gift certificates.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 | 0 Comments
Here are some of the basic changes to the Adventurer Conqueror King System we are using at the start of the Lords & Wizards conversion -- the rules we'll be using this afternoon:
Race and Class are separate. Humans are the standard. Others races add abilities which increase the XP total needed to advance for a standard class:
Dwarves: +200xp (2nd), +400XP (3rd), +600xp (4th) +800xp (5th)
Elves: +125xp (2nd), +250xp (3rd), +375xp (4th), +500xp (5th)
Halflings: +150xp (2nd), +300xp (3rd), +450xp (4th), +600Xp (5th)
Characters may select, with the approval of the GM, a one or two-word background that represents a broad base of skills and knowledge, e.g. Farmer, Merchant, Desert Nomad, Noble, Shaman, Templar, Thyatian Mercenary, Ritualist, etc. Backgrounds need not be related to the PCs class, e.g. a player who creates a deeply religious fighter skilled in the arts of vision interpretation, divination and oration might pick 'Prophet' as a background. Backgrounds may not duplicate a class. The GM will consider the character's background just as he would the character's class when deciding if a character will succeed with an action. For example, a character with an “Engineer” background should have a much better chance of damming a creek or building a bridge over it than a character with a “Courtier” background.
There are no specific skill to roll against in Lords & Wizards. 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 character's class, background, and proficiencies. If the GM decides a random success chance is truly needed he may resolve the situation with a roll of his choice or he may call
for one of the following rolls:
Proficient Task Roll: 1d20 + Stat Bonus + Class Level if the character is attempting something directly covered by a Proficiency which the character possesses.
Skilled Task Roll: 1d20 + Stat Bonus + (Class Level/2, round up) if the character is attempting something strongly related to their class or background.
Unskilled Task Roll: 1d20 +Stat Bonus + (Class Level/4, round down) if the character is attempting something not really related to their class or background.
When the GM calls for a task resolution roll, he will declare the type of task roll, which stat the task roll falls under, and any situational modifiers and the player will make the task roll. (The GM should
make the roll in secret if seeing the result would give the player more information than his character should have.)
Roll higher than the GM assigned Difficulty Class to succeed.
Suggested Difficulty Classes:
Normal - 10, Hard - 20, Very Hard - 30, Legendary - 40, Nearly Impossible - 50.
If Hit Points reach 0, the character is unconscious and begins to take severe physical injury. Further damage, including any remaining points of damage the attack that reduced hit points to zero, directly reduces Body Points. Hit Points represent stamina, luck, minor cuts and scrapes, etc. Optional: To avoid confusion, “Hit Points” may be renamed “Fatigue Points.”
Recovering Hit Points: All characters recover all hit points after six hours of total rest. If a character has lost Body Points due to wounds, only 50% of total hit points lost are recovered per six hours of rest.
All characters have 10 Body Points. If Body Points reach 0, the character is dead. Each point of body damage a character has suffered gives a -1 to all attack, success, saving, and similar rolls.
Healing Body Point Damage: Body points lost recover at a rate of 1 point per 4 full days of rest (adjusted by CON bonus: decreased by 1 day per point of positive bonus, increased by 1 day per point of negative bonus; minimum of 1 day). If a character with up to 5 points of BP damage performs more than very light activity or careful travel during a day, he has a 50% chance of losing an additional body point. If a character with 6 or more points of BP damage does anything other than rest quietly in bed during a day, he has a 50% chance of losing an additional body point.
Casting a spell costs one HP. A caster may attempt to cast a spell without spending a hit point, but must roll over twice the spell's level on a D20 or the spell fails and is lost from the caster's repertoire until he has a chance to re-add it to his repertoire (arcane caster) or performs a minor penitence set by a higher level cleric of his deity (divine caster).
Characters my spend hit points before they roll a die, each hit point spend adds +1 to the die roll. A character can spend no more than 50% of their level (rounded up) in extra effort on any single task.
Note that we are trying a different method of handling proficiencies from the one I thought of a few days ago. While this new method will requiring rewriting a number of proficiency descriptions, it will (if it works in actual play) play well wityh my Background system -- which all my players would to see retained.
Sunday, April 21, 2013 | 0 Comments
Many readers know that I loathe feats as used in WOTC D&D because far too many of them take things that anyone should be able to try to do and limit trying to do it to those characters who have a particular feat written on their character sheet. This generally leads to one of two situations, either the GM still allows characters without the feat to try to perform the action (often upsetting players whose characters who took the feat) or the GM refuses to allow anyone to perform the action unless they have the feat on their character sheet (no matter how unbelievable this restriction is). In a game with hundreds or thousands of feats (like WOTC editions of D&D), such issues can become a real problem. This is especially if you are playing "old school style" where characters need to solve in game problems creatively as many of the things they will want to try will likely be limited to someone who has taken one of those hundreds or thousands of feats.
One solution, of course, is to limit feats to only providing a bonus for actions that anyone should be able to try. Only actions that absolutely require training (or special genes) to even attempt with a measurable chance of success could be turned into a "special snowflake" (i.e. only because you have this feat you can attempt to do X) feat. Unfortunately, game designers tend not to design feat this way because there is a sizable and vocal group of gamers who believe that only "special snowflake" style feats are interesting and worthwhile to take, so many games that use an ever expanding list of feats end up limiting more and more actions that any character should be able to try to do with some chance of success to only those characters who have taken the appropriate feat.
I'm currently working on adapting the ACKS rules to be the underlying system for Lords & Wizards. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that while most of ACKS current Proficiencies do not block out tasks than anyone should be able to do and limit them to those with the proficiency, there are some ACKS Proficiencies which do and those will not work in Lords & Wizards.
Here are three examples of a ACKS Proficiencies that seem to effectively limit character actions to those characters with the Proficiency:
Bribery: The character is exceptionally skilled at bribing officials with gifts of money or merchandise. Offering a bribe permits an additional reaction roll during encounters, with the throw modified by the size of the bribe. As a general rule, a bribe equal to one day’s pay for the target provides a +1 bonus, a week’s pay provides a +2 bonus, and a month’s pay provides a +3 bonus. Only one bribe can be attempted per target in any given situation.
Sensing Power: The character can detect spellcasters within 60’ and estimate their level of power relative to his own. He can tell when arcane magic has been used within the last 24 hours within the same vicinity. Each use takes a turn.
Trapping (G): The character can build simple pits, snares, and deadfalls capable of capturing creatures up to the size of an elephant (such as giants, ogres, wyverns, etc). With a proficiency throw of 11+ the snare is built properly. The character can also detect and disable simple wilderness pits, snares, deadfalls, etc., as a thief of his class level. This proficiency provides no abilities with regard to mechanical traps in a dungeon, or magical traps of any sort.
Bribery is a real problem as anyone should be able to attempt to bribe someone. The proficiency description seems to recognize this at the start by saying it represents a character who is "exceptionally skilled" at bribing. The problem is is suggests bonus to the reaction roll for bribes that are so low that there really isn't any room for bonuses for characters without the proficiency attempting to bribe. The bonuses given are about what I would normally give for anyone making a bribery attempt. Given the way reaction rolls work, however, any higher bonuses would not make sense and might even break the system. As written bribery tries to allow for the fact that anyone can try to bribe, but actually fails to leave any real room for characters without the proficiency to try to bribe with any realistic effect.
The Sensing Power proficiency isn't a problem. While it provides actions that only those with the proficiency can perform, they are actions that someone without special abilities and/or special training would simply not be able to do. This ACKS Proficiency is fine as written.
The Trapping proficiency is another real problem. IMHO, anyone can try to build simple pit, snare, and deadfall traps with a reasonable chance of success. With training their attempts might function better and be harder to spot, but trying to limit digging a hole in the ground and covering it to only those with training is not very believable.
Given that I do not want any proficiency in Lords & Wizards to block out actions than any character should be able to try to do, I need to come up with a method to handle ACKS proficiencies like Bribery and Trapping without nerfing the proficiency for characters who have it; without preventing characters who do not have the proficiency from attempting to bribe someone, build a trap or perform some other action covered by an "everyman can try" proficiency; and with requiring much extra effort on the part of players or the GM.
My first thought was to simply treat the proficiencies a character has like his character class or background in my normal background and skills system. Unfortunately, I saw a number of issues with this. For example, it does not really give a character with the Trapping proficiency any bonus if the character has a background (like Woodsman) that includes the abilities of proficiency.
My second thought was to give any character attempting to perform an "everyone can try it" action that is covered by a proficiency but without having the proficiency a -5 modifier to any roll needed to determine success or failure. This would work. However, it would be a pain in the ass to GM. Any time a character wanted to try to perform an unusual action, the GM would have to look through a list of proficiencies to determine whether the action the player wants his character to perform is covered by an "everyone can try" proficiency. At the moment, this would be a short list which the GM could easily memorize, but chances are the number of "everyone can try" proficiencies available will grow with time.
The best way to handle this would be to come up with a method that only comes into play when someone with an "everyman can try" proficiency uses it. A +5 bonus to the die roll for characters with the proficiency could work (the opposite of my first method), but given that the success determination procedure differs somewhat from proficiency to proficiency, the bonus would probably vary with the proficiency. The bonus would need to be added to the proficiency description and the players and GM would need to remember to use it. This would work, but it would be nice to come up with some easy system that worked the same way for every "everyman can try" proficiency as it would avoid the need to rewrite proficiency descriptions and add non-standard modifiers than need to be remembered or looked up.
After some thought I came up with what I think is an easy system. If a player with an "everyman can try" proficiency uses that proficiency to perform an action, he gets two rolls (whatever the proficiency description says) and the most favorable result is the one that counts. This will need playtesting, of course. If it works it would be allow the rolls and modifiers in the proficiency description to be used by both characters with and without the proficiency when attempting to do things covered by the proficiency. For example, a character attempting to bribe a guard with a day's pay would get a +1 to the reaction roll -- but if the character had the Bribery proficiency (and remembers to tell the GM that he does), the GM would roll the reaction roll twice and the better for the character result would be the one that counts.
We'll be playtesting this "roll twice of you have the proficiency" method of handling "everyman can try" proficiencies over the next couple of sessions and see how it works in actual play.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 | 10 Comments