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Microlite74 -- Over 100 Downloads in 48 Hours

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There have been just over 100 downloads of Microlite74 in its first 48 hours on the web. Not bad at all, in my opinion, for a fairly specialized type of game.

Microlite74 Released -- Download Your Copy Here!

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Microlite74 has been released!

Microlite74, like its parent game, Microlite20, is a trimmed down, sub-miniature version of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules that has been designed to be quick and easy to play. The goal of Microlite74, however, is to recreate the style and feel of that very first ("0e") fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974.

This five page PDF includes variant rules based on Microlite20, a complete spell list and monster list, and a short designer's note section touching on the differences in style between "old school" and the usual style of play encountered today. Microlite74's rules were written to support the "old school" style, while retaining many of the more modern rules features of OGL games based on the 3.5 SRD. Microlite20 trimmed the fat from the 3.5 SRD, paring the game down to a fast-moving and easy to learn two-page system. Microlite74 takes the M20 system and modifies it for a 1974 style, but leaves most of the basic Microlite20 rules in place.

Those looking for a retroclone of that 0e Fantasy RPG from 1974 will be disappointed in Microlite74 as it makes no attempt to be a clone of the 0e rules, only of the feel and style of Oe play. Those looking for a 0e retroclone should take a look at Swords & Wizardry. Those looking for a way to play 0e adventures and campaigns with rules based on the popular SRD-based Microlite20 system will probably find Microlite 74 well worth the download. It's only 100K or so, what do you have to lose?

D&D Without Level Advancement?

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I have been looking at some of my old classic Traveller campaign notes over the last few days. One of the quirks of classic Traveller was that characters did not improve. They started out with a lot of prior experience and abilities and were played with what they had. If you are used to games where leveling up is the goal, classic Traveller seems strange. As we were used to OD&D, I remember thinking the game wouldn't be any fun without regular character improvement before we started playing. That turned out not to be true. Traveller was a lot of fun to play, you just focused on different goals, goals like paying the monthly payment on your ship or tracking down that patron who had left you to hang out to dry when the Imperium came sniffing around.

Many people seem to find that they enjoy playing D&D most at (or near) a particular level of power. They don't really enjoy working up to that level and once they get too far beyond that sweet spot, they find their interest in the character waning. If your fellow players and DM are willing, why not borrow the "no advancement" idea from classic Traveller and just create characters at your group's sweet spot and play them at that level. They can have goals other than advancement, perhaps moving into or up the noble hierarchy, stopping some great evil, or even just becoming rich and famous from their adventures.

Fixed level characters might also present the players with challenges that they do not normally face. For example, if a powerful monster needs to be stopped and it is too powerful to defeat in combat, players will have to think of some other way to defeat it because they are as strong as they will get, they can't just wait until their characters gain a few more levels where can easily defeat it.

I know this idea needs some fleshing out, but I wanted to get it down in writing before it completely slipped my mind. It should work with any edition of D&D (or any other advancement oriented game system). Comments are welcome.

N. Robin Crossby, Author of Harn, Dies

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This terse announcement at Kelestia.com was not unexpected, but it is still very sad.

On July 23rd 2008, Robin succumbed to his cancer at a hospice in Coquitlam, BC.
After Harn came out, I often dropped the island of Harn into my Arn campaign, replacing a similar sized close group of islands on the original Arn map. What drew me to Harn originally was the incredible coincidence of the name "Harn" and the size of the island (about the size of Madagascar) with my own island of "Arn" which was also about the size of Madagascar. Robin and I even had a brief correspondence over it. (No, not the "threatened lawsuit" type but the "isn't this a really weird coincidence" type.)

However, what kept me using the island of Harn after I got over the weird coincidence phase which made me buy it to begin with was the incredible detail and believability of it all. It was -- and still is -- great stuff. Robin and his unique vision will be missed.

Why D&D 3.5 Will Probably Never Die

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I get the impression that WOTC would really like it if D&D 3.5 would die a quiet death and do so soon. Unfortunately, I don't think that will ever happen as there is now no realistic way to prevent the nearly no cost duplication of all the major D&D 3.5 books. I say someone bragging online about how they had the major WOTC D&D 3.5 books (about 60 of them) and 15 WOTC Forgotten Realms books in PDF format on his computer, taking up just over 4.2 gigs of space on his hard drive.

I have no idea how much these cost him, but probably a lot given that PDF copies of books are not discounted nearly as much as they should be. But at about 4.2 gigs of space, they will all fit on a single DVD. I recently purchased a package of 50 DVD-Rs for $16.99 which works out to about 34 cents a DVD. That (and 10-20 minutes of copying time) is how much it would cost him to give a copy of these 75 books to a new player. That new player would be able to do the same for another new player, etc.

Is this legal? Of course not, but neither is copying music CDs for your friends or the like and people have been doing that for years (as they did with tapes and records before CDs). With the cost of entry for new 3.5 players being effectively nil and WOTC having no way to kill the supply of copies, I expect D&D 3.5 will have many players -- and many new players -- for years to come.

It's always been hard to kill off older editions of D&D as some players just prefer them and were willing to track down used copies for new players to keep their campaigns alive an growing. Between easy to copy PDF editions of the rules and the OGL allowing new 3.5 material to be published forever, I suspect that D&D 3.5 will have a very long life indeed.

Don't Like D&D Fourth Edition? Beware the Moving Goal Posts

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I've been following discussions about D&D's Fourth Edition on various message boards for several months now. I've seen a lot of 4E fans complain that those who publicly state that they don't like 4E (or who discuss things they see wrong with 4E) don't play 4E and therefore aren't qualified to have an informed opinion on it.

On the surface, this sounds like a legitimate issue. However, the goalposts have been moving over the last couple of months. Those who like 4E and make this complaint keep raising the requirements someone who does not like 4E needs to meet to be "allowed" to comment negatively on the game.

Before 4E was published, those who read the preview material and said they would not like 4E were told that their comments could not be considered seriously until the game was published and they had purchased copies and read them cover to cover.

Once the game was published, people who bought and read a copy and still commented negatively were often told that reading the rules wasn't enough to have their "I don't like 4E" comments taken seriously, they needed to play in a 4E session. Oh, and Shadowfell wasn't good enough as it was designed to show off the system, not to be a real play session.

When people play in a "real" session and still don't like 4E, I've seen them told that they really need to play in multiple sessions before they can form a valid opinion of the game.

I fully expect that people who bother to meet this latest "moving goalpost" requirement and still don't like 4E will be told that they need to play through a complete level 1 to level 30 campaign before their "I don't like 4E" comments can be taken seriously.

Not only are the requirements for negative comments to be taken serious constantly moving, but those who state they like the Fourth Edition don't have any requirements for their opinion to be taken seriously. Their "I like it" comments were considered valid even before the game was published and are valid even if they haven't read all the rules, played in one or more real sessions, etc.

Color me "Not Impressed" with the moving goalposts and double standards of some of Fourth Edition's stronger and more vocal online proponents. The opinions of those who do not like D&D 4E are just as much right to state and defend their opinions of those who like 4E do. And if there are going to be extra requirements for having a "valid opinion" on the game then those requirements need to be the same for all.

Microlite74: Release Candidate 2 Available

The second release candidate for Microlite74 is available.

Major Changes from Release Candidate 1:

Major Changes to Races: No stat bonuses, special abilities for elves, dwarves, and halflings similar to those in the first fantasy RPG.
Added simple language rules.
Restored "Flame Demonlord" to monster list
Started Designer's Notes.

Comments are greatly desired -- and, as you can tell if you read the thread, really do affect my design decisions.

You can download Microlite74's second release candidate from the first message in the Microlite74 (Release Candidate Discussions) thread on the RetroRoleplaying Forum. I'm linking to it there not because I'm trying to force you to visit the forum, but so there will only be one place I have to update when new release candidates come out.

Mongoose Releases Traveller SRD under OGL

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While WOTC may wish the OGL would just wither and die, that does not look very likely. In fact, Mongoose has just released the Traveller SRD under the OGL. The SRD looks fairly complete. The major missing items are careers (one sample career is included) and the classic Traveller aliens. As careers are easy to write up and cloning the classic aliens is easy (as they were clones of standard pulp SF aliens), I expect someone will have a retro-clone of Classic Traveller out in the relatively near future.

James Raggi Hates Fun

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I really need to read Jim's blog more often. He wrote an interesting post on old school roleplaying entitled "I Hate Fun" in mid-June and I've just now noticed it. While I don't completely agree with everything Jim said, I think he makes some interesting points. If you haven't already read it, you ought to.

Quick Primer for Old School Gaming

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Matt (Mythmere), author of the new Swords & Wizardry retroclone, has posted a draft of a "Quick Primer for Old School Gaming" article over at Knights and Knaves Alehouse. Even as a first draft, it's a great summary of how "old school roleplaying" is different from current roleplaying. Go read it. Now.

Quick Primer for Old School Gaming

I've already ask Matt is I have put a copy of the final version up here at RetroRoleplaying. I know I'll be including it in my "house rules" copy of Swords & Wizardry as it will be something I want all new players to my campaign to read.