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Microlite74 Basic, Standard, and Extended Available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow (Still Free)

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Microlite74 Extended Cover CoverLast week, I decided to try listing one of my free games, Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome, on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games as a test. It was a success with over 100 downloads. I'm now going to go ahead an make all of my free games available via DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. Today, the first three Microlite74 games are available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow: Microlite74 Basic, Microlite74 Standard, and Microlite74 Extended. Next week, I'll released the five Microlite74 Companions and the two special versions of Microlite74 on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow.

For those not familiar with these games, they 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 Microlite74 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. Microlite74 games 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.

Microlite74 Basic: This version has about 4 pages of actual rules (and about 6 pages of spell and monster lists). It 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 Standard: This version has about five and a half pages of actual rules (and about ten and a half pages of spell and monster lists). It 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.

Microlite74 Extended: This version has about 8 pages of actual rules (and about 15 pages of spell, monster and equipment lists). This version emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game with versions of many of the house rules the author used in the late 1970s -- and uses today in his Wilderlands campaign. In includes everything Microlite74 Standard does and adds rules for character backgrounds (optional in Basic and Standard), alignment, spell casting with implements and rituals, Body Points (representing actual major wounds), a slightly more detailed combat system, more spells and monsters, and other minor rules changes. It is slightly more complex in play than Microlite74 Standard, but not considerably so.

These three 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.)

Free 0e Supplement Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome now on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow

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Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome CoverI decided to go ahead and try listing my free games on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. I'm starting by listing my generally forgotten 0e supplement Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome as a test. I listed it yesterday in the afternoon and it already has 31 downloads, so it seems listing items on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow does get them exposed to a different audience.

Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome is a supplement for 0e games -- either the TSR original or retroclones like Swords & Wizardry (which which it is fully compatible). It is a compilation of my 0e house rules from the late 1970s -- along with a few current day additions. Here's the "product description":

Tarnhelm’s Terrible Tome is a set of house rules for the original 1974 (0e) version of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game (and modern clones, like Swords & Wizardry). These house rules are modern renditions of the house rules the author used with his original edition games in the 1970s.

Some of house rules included:

  • A simple “skills” system based on class and background instead of lists of skills
  • A Hit Point/Body Point system where Hit Points represent fatigue and Body Points represent actual wounds.
  • Ritual Magic
  • An alternate alignment system
  • Critical Hits and Critical misses
  • A class based weapon damage system that ends class weapon restrictions.
  • An optional Armor system that ends class restrictions on wearing armor
  • An optional class: the Mnemonic Mage
  • Optional Divine Intervention rules

This digest-sized edition of Tarnhelm’s Terrible Tome is designed to be printed double-sided using the booklet-printing feature of Adobe Acrobat, the pages can be folded and stapled to create a “0e” style digest-sized booklet.


Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome is free and is still available in all the usual places, it is just now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. (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.)

I'd like to thank everyone who replied to my Experiences Publishing Free Games on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow? post from a couple of weeks ago. Without the information in the replies, I would have never bothered to try this. Thank you very much!

A Microlite7x/81 Games Patreon Account?

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Patreon LogoA couple of my friends have suggested (very strongly suggested in one case) that I set up a Patreon account for my ongoing Microlite7x/81/etc. game design work instead of ongoing donation drives. After looking into Patreon, I am willing to consider giving this a try.

I would release 3-5 updates to the games I'm designing each month (that's 3-5 updates total each month, not 3-5 updates of each game I'm working on) and Patreons would be charged every release I make. Patreons can set a maximum donation limit each month, of course. (These releases would also be available to people who have donated to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund.) Public Betas and release versions would still be available to everyone for free, of course.

There would also be additional releases of material that would only go to Patreons if certain goals are reached. Special monsters, magic items, classes, etc. for my games that only Patreons would receive. These would sometimes be grouped together with a mini-adventure.

Is this an idea worth doing? If not, I am open to suggestions to make it "better" -- although I am limited as to what I can provide to what I can actually produce.

My wife suggested a separate Patreon campaign to support my photo to line art work. I'd release 10-15 conversions every week with Patreon support. Assuming multiple Patreon accounts are allowed, I will probably do this one. Artwork would still be released to everyone for free, Patreons would just be supporting the work and getting first access to my newest conversions.

OD&D Boxed Set Available as Legal PDF

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OD&DGuess what I just saw on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow? The original Dungeons & Dragons Boxed Set (White Box version) is available in PDF for $9.99! Finally. Now they just need the supplements.

More Free Drawings for Old School Games

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A few days ago i posted some line drawings I had converted from public domain illos for old school fantasy games (see Free Drawings from Photos for Old School Games). I was asked if I could do modern stuff for games like Shadowrun or Top Secret clones. I played with this in my spare time over the last couple of days and have come up with the following. My technique works for modern stuff but I think I will need to play with it more as it doesn't seem to work as well on modern stuff as I would like. Anyhow, here are a few images I did. The original picture were under a Creative Commons Zero (aka basically public domain) license -- as are my sketch conversions of them.

Image of Alleyway

City Alley


Image of City from Above

City From the Air


Image of City in the Fog

City in the Fog


Image of Factory Floor

Factory Floor


Image of Lab

Scientist working in a Lab


Image of Spacecraft in Orbit

Spacecraft in Orbit


Image of Used Bookstore

Used Bookstore

While I am not as happy with these as I was with the pictures I posted a few days ago, I think I will be able to improve modern conversions with practice. I think part of the problem is there is a lot more "bright and shiny" stuff in modern era photos and that gives my current conversions system issues. I know one of the pictures I tried to convert (but did not post) has lots of problems with the shiny plastic in the chairs people were sitting in.

Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive Drawing Delayed to January 24th

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Tekumel Journal #1 CoverMy wife takes a massive dose of steroids once a month to help her energy levels -- extreme fatigue is one of the many issues MS can cause. Unfortunately, she took them last Friday and experienced a steroid crash over the weekend. As house guests were the last thing she could handle, my Sunday game (and the donor giveaway items drawing to be held during my game) was cancelled. She is finally back to semi-normal this morning, which means it was not as bad for her as it is for some people.

She should finally be starting an expensive MS drug (fortunately almost all of the $5000-$6000 a month the drug costs (of course, it is not covered by insurance) will be covered by the drug company's program for people who aren't rich -- that's most people as few families can afford $60,000+ a year for a single drug. Of course, getting in this program has taken months. With luck this drug should make this monthly dose of steroids unnecessary. I sure hope they do as massive doses of steroids are not good for the human body.

Anyway, the drawings have been rescheduled for next Sunday's game. My apologies to Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund donors who are waiting to see if they are lucky enough to win one of the groups of giveaway items from our Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive.

On another note, my Samsung Tablet seems to be stuck in a bootloop. I rebooted it last night when it would not come out of ultra-low power mode (which I had accidentally turned on by fat-fingering a button). Even more annoying, I had just charged it to 100% and it will now not turn off. So it is sitting at the Samsung logo until it runs out of power. I suspect some of the boot data in the cache partition is corrupt. I've found a reset procedure, but the damn thing needs to be powered off to try it. Worse, it needs to be charged up to 100% before doing this and pushing the three buttons I have to push at the same time to restart it in a the special mode needed to clear the cache partition looks like it will be hard to do just right. If I don't manage, it will just start, be in the bootloop, and I'll have to wait for the battery to run down again. With my klutziness and general poor luck and I can see it taking weeks of this cycle before I manage to hit the buttons just right. I really hope I'm wrong.

Added: I've just been asked if someone donates (or donates more) before Sunday will they get chances in the drawing? I suppose so.

Free Drawings from Photos for Old School Games

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If you look at the art in my Microlite75/78/81 games, you've probably noticed that I tend to use public domain line art, either from old books or from the sets of art Sine Nomine Games has released into the public domain. However, this means I end up reusing a lot of art from publication to publication. Given that I can't afford to pay for art as my games are freebies, this probably is not a surprise to many readers.

If I wanted to use photographs, there are literally hundreds of thousands of photo available on the web with Creative Commons Zero or other very liberal Creative Commons-style licenses that allow modification and commercial use. Unfortunately, photos really do not fit the style I'm aiming for. I have been trying programs that convert photos to sketches on and off for several years. Unfortunately, most either are so "sketchy" that you can't tell what the drawing is of or so detailed that they look more like half-toned pictures than line art. However, last week I stumbled on a program on my Android tablet that does a decent job of converting photos to drawings -- especially if I do a bit of pre-processing of the photo before I use the sketch filter.

Here are fifteen examples of photos converted I have converted to drawings by this process. The original photos had a public domain like license (that only prohibited releasing the unaltered photos as a collection). I'd like to know what people think of "drawings" like these for using in old school gaming projects. If people like them and think they would be useful for people who need free art of old school games, I will do more of them in the future. If I did 10 or 15 a week, within a few months, I could have quite a collection available. These samples are suitable for fantasy games, but I would not always limit myself to fantasy.

I understand that these drawings will not appeal to those who believe that every game (even free ones) need original art done especially for that game. However, many hobbyists designing games cannot afford this. Also, note that the originals of these images are much larger and these larger illos would be the ones I make available for people to use in their publications.

Image of Intelligent Critter

Image of Bubble Monster

Image of Building

Image of Walled City on Hill

Image of Dice

Image of a Dungeon Entrance

Image of a Dungeon Entrance

Image of Explorers in Forest

Image of Manor House

Image of Dark Path

Image of Pagoda

Image of Ruins

Image of Spiral Stone Stairs Down

Image of Funeral in Stone

Image of Tiger Guarding Dungeon Entrance