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Microlite74 Standard Rules Now Available in a Free Tablet-Friendly PDF

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Microlite74 Standard Tablet Digest Edition coverThe Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive hit its second $250 goal yesterday, so the second Microlite74 tablet version has been released for free public download.

For those who do not know, Microlite74 Standard emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game in its complete form: the original 3 little booklets in the 0e boxed set plus most of the material from the supplements and "official" material published in the early magazine articles. You have Fighters, Rangers, Paladins, Clerics, Druids, Magic-Users, Illusionists, and Thieves (and optionally Assassins, Bards, and Monks), with variable hit dice and weapon damage, a complete set of spells (through 9th level for Magic-Users, 7th level, for Clerics, Druids, and Illusionists), and combat is covered in slightly more detail. Microlite74 Standard has all the features of 0e as most people played it back in the late 1970s.

The tablet digest version of Microlite74 Standard is designed to be easy to read and use on tablets. Pages are digest-sized, the text is in a single column with a relatively large font (10pt Verdana). There is nothing new in this edition: material has simply been reformatted for tablet use.

The Microlite74 Standard Tablet Digest Edition is now available for download in the Microlite20.org download area. Here is a direct link to the download: Microlite 74 Standard Tablet Digest Edition.

The Microlite74 Extended Tablet Digest Edition will be released when we hit $750 in donations to the Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive (which will also trigger the first giveaway drawing).

I'd like to thank everyone who has donated to the Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive so far! Please keep those donations coming in. Also, while there will be a formal announcement post later today or this weekend, donors donating $25 or more will be listed in some of my upcoming releases -- more on those later as well.


Swords and Glory Volume 1 BoxThe Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned lazy days of summer items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $624 dollars have been donated. That's about 18% of our goal and about 83% of the way to the first drawing trigger point of $750 dollars.

It's Time for a Fourth Edition of Microlite74???!!!

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Microlite74 coverI received an email from a Microlite74 player this morning. He ask me when the fourth edition of Microlite74 will be out. He said that he hoped I was already working on it because the third edition of Microlite74 came out in 2011 and it will be five years old next year.

This email confused me. The author seems to be saying that Microlite74 needs a new edition just because it is four years old and will be five years old next year. That makes no sense to me. The only reason I can see to produce a new edition of Microlite74 would be to revise the rules to make it a better game. However, Microlite74 works as well today as it did in 2011 when it was released. It also accomplished all the goals I had for it: produce a stable 0e-like game for people who like the Microlite20 take on D20 mechanics and that could be easily built on with optional rules and to produce variant games. I don't see at need for a fourth edition of Microlite74 -- at least not at this time.

Am I wrong? Do you think there needs to be an new edition of Microlite74? Are the issues with Microlite74 that need to be fixed and are large enough changes to require a fourth edition of the game? If so, what are do you believe they are?


Swords and Glory Volume 1 BoxThe Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned lazy days of summer items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $333 dollars have been donated. That's about 9% of our goal and about 44% of the way to the first drawing trigger point of $750 dollars..

Wizard Guilds or Pacts Instead of Spell-Casting Classes?

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Wizard casting a spellWe had an interesting discussion during my Sunday Game yesterday. One of my players suggested that since using cult rules instead of clerical classes seemed to be working, perhaps I should consider eliminating remaining two spell-casting classes in Gryphons & Gramarye and replace them with a Wizard Guild that worked like a cult but provided spell-casting benefits instead of miracles from deities in exchange for a percentage of all treasure found. This would allow any class willing to pay the price in treasure(and advance in level much more slowly as the Guild's share of one's treasure would not count for experience), to cast arcane magic in addition to their normal class abilities.

The idea is interesting, but I immediately thought of a problem. With divine cults, if a character decides not to pay his treasure tithe, his cult benefits (including the ability to ask for miracles) would simply disappear as none of the cult abilities really come from training the character received, but rather power channeled from the cult deity. Since arcane magic comes from training, it wouldn't make much in-game sense for all a character's Wizard Guild abilities to just go away because the character stopped paying his Guild tithe of treasure found. After some discussion, we came up with a couple of possible solutions to this issue.

First option: The Wizard's Guild is just a special form of a divine cult for a greater deity of magic. While special training is required to cast arcane magic, one also needs to be in the good graces of this deity of magic or your spells just fail. Therefore, no treasure tithe means no spell casting just like it means no prayers or miracles in a normal divine cult. The main problem with this is it really limits evil mages as the deity could just take their magic away if they got too "uppity". This does not fit many worlds. Of course, there could be multiple deities of magic.

Second Option: Characters keep their spell-casting powers if they stop paying their guild treasure tithe (as training doesn't just disappear), but the guild has no tolerance for "dropouts" who continue to practice magic, sending assassins after them and otherwise making their life hell. If that doesn't work, they could always declare "open session" on the rogue caster where a reward would be offered for his death (something like a "Wizard's March" in Ars Magica). Unfortunately, for this to be a real deterrent, GMs would have to be willing to kill off characters who defied the guild. I'm not sure that's really all that likely in the average game group.

This morning, I thought of a third option. There isn't a guild that trains arcane casters. Instead arcane casters get their abilities from pacts with demonlords, angelic lords, or similar planar powers. The level of pact determines what powers are granted and those casters who fail to keep their end of the bargain lose their powers and/or have an offended planar power and its minions after them.

In any case, the levels of guild membership (or of pacts) and the abilities they grant would be something like:

Apprentice: Can buy spell scrolls from the Guild at cost. If they fail to cast a spell from a scroll, the writing does not fade, they just lose hit points. (5% Treasure Tithe.)

Journeyman: Can buy spell scrolls from Guild at cost. They can automatically cast spells from scrolls if the level of the spell is equal to their level divided by 2 -- no roll needed. If they fail to cast a spell from a scroll, the writing does not fade, they just lose hit points. They can perform ritual magic. They can record spells from scrolls in their grimoire for use in ritual casting and for memorization if they achieve master level. (20% Treasure Tithe.)

Master: Can buy spell scrolls from Guild at cost. They can automatically cast spells from scrolls if the level of the spell is equal to their level divided by 2 -- no roll needed. If they fail to cast a spell from a scroll, the writing does not fade, they just lose hit points. They can perform ritual magic. They can record spells from scrolls in their grimoire for use in ritual casting and for memorization. They can cast spells from memory. They can memorization up to their level in spells from their grimoire. (40% Treasure Tithe.)

If I did something like this with Gryphons & Gramarye, the number of classes would drop from five to three: Fighters, Hunters, and Scouts.

I'd like to know what you think of this idea. Is it worth working out in detail and playtesting or is it too different from of standard old school play to be something you'd be interested in? If you have any interesting other ideas for how something like this might work, I'd also love to hear them -- but be aware that by posting them you are giving me permission to use them in future free games.


Swords and Glory Volume 1 BoxThe Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned lazy days of summer items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $333 dollars have been donated. That's about 9% of our goal and about 44% of the way to the first drawing trigger point of $750 dollars..

The 20 Most Useless Spells? Only If You Lack Imagination.

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Wizard casting a spellSome people should not play a magic-user -- especially in an old school game where every spell you find in a scroll or spell book is a real treasure. A real treasure even if it is not a well known and most desirable spell. The author of 20 of the Most Useless Dungeons & Dragons Spells Ever is apparently one of those people who should stick to either playing a character class that does not need a lot of imagination to play or stay with newer versions of D&D where you generally get the good spells if you want them.

Sure, some of the spells on this list aren't ones most people would choose to take, but if they are the random spell you find on a scroll in an old school game, you're going to copy it into you spell book and expand your spell knowledge. All of the spells on the list would be useful in some circumstances and a few would be useful in many circumstances. For example, the author puts Hold Portal and Tenser’s Floating Disc on his list of the 20 most useless spells. Theses are two of the most useful low level spells in old school spell lists. With the exception of those two spells, none of these spells will ever been on a wizard's list of spells he'd most like to find. However, all the other spells on the list could be useful at times to a player willing and able to think outside of the box. Playing a spellcaster in old school D&D isn't a walk in the park and if the player can't think up good uses for the spells you find (instead of the spells you wish you had found), he's going to have a much harder time of it.


Swords and Glory Volume 1 BoxThe Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned lazy days of summer items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $300 dollars have been donated. That's about 8% of our goal and about 40% of the way to the first drawing trigger point of $750 dollars..

Microlite74 Basic Rules Now Available in a Free Tablet-Friendly PDF

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Microlite74 Basic Tablet Digest Edition coverThe Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive hit its first $250 goal yesterday, so the first Microlite74 tablet version has been release for free public download.

For those who do not know, Microlite74 Basic emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game in its earliest form: the original 3 little booklets in the 0e boxed set. You have Fighters, Clerics, and Magic-Users, hit dice are all d6s (and is all weapon damage and most monster damage), there are relatively few spells (and they top out at 6th level, 5th level for clerics), and the maximum suggested level is only 12-14. It may sound limited, but it can be a lot of fun. Microlite74 Basic is very similar to the first and second edition of the Microlite74 rules.

The tablet digest version of Microlite74 Basic is designed to be easy to read and use on tablets. Pages are digest-sized, the text is in a single column with a relatively large font (10pt Verdana). There is nothing new in this edition: material has simply been reformatted for tablet use.

The Microlite74 Basic Tablet Digest Edition is now available for download in the Microlite20.org download area. Here is a direct link to the download: Microlite74 Basic Tablet Digest Edition.

The Microlite74 Standard Tablet Digest Edition will be released when we hit $500 in donations to the Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive. The Microlite74 Extended Tablet Digest Edition will be released when we reach our first $750 target (which will also trigger the first giveaway drawing).

I'd like to thank everyone who has donated thus far! Please keep those donations coming in (however, if you have to choose between giving us something and giving Jim Ward something this paycheck, Jim Ward's needs are much more immediate that ours so please choose Jim!)


Swords and Glory Volume 1 BoxThe Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned lazy days of summer items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $252 dollars have been donated. That's about 7% of our goal and over 33% of the way to the first drawing trigger point of $750 dollars..

Divine Cult Rules Added to Gyphons & Gramarye

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Gyphons & Gramarye playtest coverAs readers of this blog probably remember, I planned to do away with clerics in Gyphons & Gramarye and replace them with Runequest-like cults that any character of any class could join at the Lay Member, Initiate, or Acolyte level (both at character creation and during play) and receive benefits in exchange for funding the cult with a percentage of all treasure and other earnings (and said donations do not count for experience). The second playtest draft of Gyphons & Gramarye contains the first draft of the core of these new Divine Cult rules. While they are complete enough to use (and are being used in my playtest games), they do not include variations for type of deity (demi-god, minor god, major god, etc.) nor many examples.

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors have the password that will unlock this file and may download it here: Gyphons & Gramarye Playtest Draft 2

For those who may have forgotten Gyphons & Gramarye is based on Microlite74/78/81 with different classes: a fighter who is truly superb at combat, a hunter who is a fair combatant but specialized in hunting supernatural creatures, a scout an outdoorsman who is also fair at combat, a magician who is a poor combatant but has access to healing and illusion magic, and finally the wizard who is truly awful at combat, but wields powerful magic.


Swords and Glory Volume 1 BoxThe Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned lazy days of summer items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $178 dollars have been donated. That's about 5% of our goal and over 23% of the way to the first drawing trigger point of $750 dollars..

Social Skills for Old School Games?

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persuasion graphicNew school games often include social skills (like Persuade, Intimidate, Seduce, Lie, etc.). I've never been a fan of such skills because they tend to eventually greatly reduce (or even completely replace) conversational roleplaying. Since in most such systems, the result of the die roll determines the success of what you are trying to do no matter what you say when roleplaying the conversation, I've noticed that many players and GMs using such systems tend to eventually reduce or even skip the conversation completely in favor of something like the player saying "I try to persuade the baron to loan us some troops" and making a Persuade skill roll to see if the character convinced the baron to provide the troops.

I much prefer the "old school" method of actually roleplaying the conversation with the GM making reaction rolls to see (modified by the PC's Charisma and exactly what the PC is asking -- and offering compared to the NPC's needs) how the discussion is going. New school proponents point out that this means a player is always limited to the player's ability to persuade, intimidate, etc. so a character really can't be better at persuasion than the player is.

Personally, I don't see a problem with this as I define a PC's reasoning and social abilities to be those of the player. However, after reading a long discussion on this on a message board recently, I starting to wonder if there wasn't a more old school way to handle this that did not replace the reaction roll with a skill check.

After some thought, I decided to look at my Talents system for my OSR Microlite20-based games as it is just a variation of the simple "Good at" skill system. Here's the Talent rules from Microlite74 Companion 1 (These rules are open game content under the OGL):

Talents
At level 2 (and every 2 levels thereafter), characters may select one narrow area of skill where they are better than average: something they are “Good at.” This talent should be either something directly related to their class or background -- or something they have spent game time and/or money learning. If the player wishes (and the GM approves), instead of selecting a new talent a talent the character is already “Good at” be improved to “Expert at” at a later even-numbered level and a talent the character is “Expert at” may be improved a final time to “Master at” at yet a later even-numbered level. The GM will consider the character's talents just as he would the character's class and background when deciding if a character will succeed with an action.

Version Suitability: Any.

Notes for the GM: Many players used to more “new school” styles of play want rules-based, mechanical ways to customize their characters. Talents provide a way to do this that does not add much complexity nor restrict characters from trying to do things anyone should be able to try because they failed to select some special mechanical customization feat. Talents let characters choose to be better than average in some specific, limited field. For example, while any character can try to swing from vines, a character that is “Good at: Swinging from Vines” is going to be more successful at it than the average character. If you need to assign numerical benefits to talents for when a success roll is needed, +2 per level is a good place to start for most talents (i.e. Good at +2, Expert at +4, Master at: +6).

Why not extend the Talent system to include social skills like "Persuasion" or "Seduction"? That way you could have a character who was "Good at: Intimation" or "Expert at: Fast Talk". However, what would these mean in game terms. To start with, the GM could simply take a character's "Good at: Persuasion" into account when making a decision about the success of a persuasion attempt.

If the GM uses Reaction Rolls to chart the course of such conversation and their final result, he could add +1 to the reaction roll for a appropriate "Good at" social skill (+2 for an "Expert at" and +3 for a "Master at"). Only one such skill could be added at a time, however. However, if one uses Greyhawk or B/X style attribute bonuses (where the Charisma bonus could be as high as +3), this could make the total bonus as high as +6. This seems a bit much for a 2d6 die roll.

Perhaps the easiest fix would be to rule that a character could add the better of his Charisma bonus or his "Good at: Appropriate Social Ability" bonus to the reaction roll. This would mean that high Charisma was a natural social skill bonus -- which would take a lot of training to better. For example, someone with a Charisma of 17 has a natural +2 bonus to their Reaction Roll. They would have to train to "Master at" in a social skill before it would provide a bonus better than their natural ability. At the opposite end, this system would really help those with low Charisma. Someone with a Charisma of 3 would have a -3 bonus to reaction rolls. However, if he had a "Good at: Persuasion" that -3 penalty would be replaced by a +1 bonus when the character tried to be persuasive. While this may seem a bit extreme, it does not strike me as completely unrealistic as in real life a little training in things like eye contract, posture, tone of voice and language can turn a poor speaker into a slightly better than average one, but if you already do these things naturally, it can take a lot more training and practice to improve beyond one's natural abilities.

Another possibility would be to roll more dice to extend the reaction roll scale so +6 was not so dominating. Perhaps roll 3d6 or even 4d6 instead of 2d6 for reaction rolls. A third possibility would be to add the Charisma bonus and the talent bonus together to get the bonus to the reaction roll but cap the bonus to a +3 under the "you can only be so good and you can get that way through natural ability, through training, or through some combination of both."

Of course, if you play a pre-Greyhawk version of OD&D where the best attribute modifier you can get is +1, you probably don't need to worry about the interaction of Charisma bonus and Talent bonus as a total bonus of +4 isn't that much better than you'd get with post-Greyhawk Charisma bonuses alone.

Please note that this has not been playtested at all and I'm not sure I would even want to use a rule like this in my games, but it looks like it would work and seems a fair way to handle "social skills" in an old school game for those who feel the need for them.


Swords and Glory Volume 1 BoxThe Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned lazy days of summer items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $178 dollars have been donated. That's about 5% of our goal and over 23% of the way to the first drawing trigger point of $750 dollars..