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Swords & Wizardry Coming Soon to a Game Store Near You!

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Matt Finch has announced that Swords & Wizardry will now be published by Black Blade Publishing. This should get Swords & Wizardry into game stores. The S&W PDF will still be free.  Here's the press release.

Black Blade Publishing to become Exclusive Publisher of the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules and Knockspell Magazine

October 27, 2009 – Mythmere Games, developer and publisher of the ENnie-award winning Swords & Wizardry fantasy role-playing game, is pleased to announce an exclusive agreement with Black Blade Publishing to publish the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules and Knockspell magazine, and to lead the charge to get Swords & Wizardry into retail distribution. The first print releases under this agreement will be a softcover version of the 124-page Swords & Wizardry Core Rulebook and Knockspell #3.

Working with Studio 2 Publishing as its distribution partner, Black Blade Publishing expects the Swords & Wizardry Core Rulebook to start hitting the shelves of brick and mortar game stores by February of 2010. In addition, the in-print version of the Swords & Wizardry Core Rulebook will be available for purchase directly from Black Blade Publishing or through select retailers by late-October, 2009.

Electronic copies of the Swords & Wizardry Core Rulebook will be available immediately directly from Black Blade Publishing, and will be available very soon directly from Studio 2 Publishing, DrivethruRPG, RPGNow and YourGamesNow.

Print versions of Knockspell #3 are available for purchase directly from Black Blade Publishing, and issue #4 may be distributed to stores around February of 2010, at the same time as the core rules.

“The Swords & Wizardry fantasy role-playing game is about a lot more than a return to the way these games used to be played. Swords & Wizardry unapologetically throws off 30 years of re-imagining and so-called ‘fixing’ of the original rules, returning to the wonder and mystery of “free-form” fantasy gaming without complicated rules and long rulebooks. Black Blade Publishing is very excited to be publishing the key Swords & Wizardry titles from Mythmere Games. The quality of new products being introduced in the old school gaming community is amazing, and we are really excited to be a part of it.” -- Jon Hershberger, co-founder of Black Blade Publishing

Founded in 2008 by Matthew J. Finch, Mythmere Games is best known for the Swords & Wizardry fantasy role-playing game, the award-winning retro-clone of the original 1974 edition of the world’s most popular fantasy game. For additional information, visit http://www.swordsandwizardry.com.

Formed in 2009 by Jon Hershberger and Allan Grohe, Black Blade Publishing will begin publishing the Swords & Wizardry Core Rulebook in October 2009 under license from Mythmere Games. For additional information, visit http://www.black-blade-publishing.com.

Studio 2 Publishing has been serving the games hobby industry since 2004, serving game designers and publishers as a sales and marketing organization as well as providing fulfillment and inventory management services. For additional information, visit http://www.studio2publishing.com.

[Don't forget that rare Traveller fanzines (Working Passage & Imperium Staple) and the RPGA limited edition AD&D Modules R1 (To the Aid of Falx) and R2 (Investigation of Hydell) are available (for Cancer Fund Donors) -- addition to the usual PDF downloads every donor has access to. There is still plenty of time to make a donation and get in on the giveaway which ends at the end of October 2009. Thanks much to those who have already donated.]

The Microlite74 Report: October 2009

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I am occasionally asked what is going on with Microlite74? The answer is nothing. People are still downloading the game (close to 3000 downloads of Version 2 so far) and, more importantly, playing the game. Version 2 seems to be far less "buggy" that version 1 was. That is, it comes able as close as a Microlite20 based system can to the feel and play style of 0e. As far as I can see, the game is pretty much finished.

The Ancient Auguries supplement added a number of optional rules and shows just how easy it is to customize M74 -- even with rules from 3.x. Optional rules for a Specialist class, Special abilities for fighters, magic-users, and clerics, a Skills system, Ritual Magic and Metamagic, Vancian magic in two forms (memorized spells and a full fire-and-forget magic system), Combat variants (Simple and complex combat stunts, no initiative rolls, overwhelming opponents), and Hit points and body points (a replacement damage and healing system) are included in this supplement.

I really can't think of much else to add. However, if you see problems in the basic Microlite74 rules or have some ideas for widely useful optional rules, please let me know. I'm not abandoning Microlite74. I just don't see a need to continually release new material for it. After all, one of the main features of an old school game is that it is easy to modify to fit your campaign and your players. You don't need an Official Supplement(tm) from The Game Designer(tm) when you can do it yourself.

I'm still considering a version of M74 which only uses six-sided dice (see Microlite74 with 2D6?), but am leaning toward making this a separate game as it really would not have much to do with the Microlite20 gamesystem.

[Don't forget that rare Traveller fanzines (Working Passage & Imperium Staple) and the RPGA limited edition AD&D Modules R1 (To the Aid of Falx) and R2 (Investigation of Hydell) are available (for Cancer Fund Donors) -- addition to the usual PDF downloads every donor has access to. There is still plenty of time to make a donation and get in on the giveaway which ends at the end of October 2009. Thanks much to those who have already donated.]

Trick or Treat: October Cancer Fund Update

Just a quick update to remind readers that our October Cancer Fund drive is still going. Any donations sent before November 2nd will be eligible for our donation giveaway:

* Traveller Items: Working Passage Fanzines, The Imperium Staple Fanzines, and Classic Traveller items

* D&D Modules: RPGA Modules R1 and R2 from 1982

I'd like to again thank thank the folks who donated these items and agreed to extend this drive through the end of October.

In case you are wondering what this is all about: My wife is recovering from oral cancer. We are some of the 40 to 50 million people in the US who do not have health insurance and do not qualify for government aid as we live in Texas and have no children. The cancer treatments and related expenses have cost over $110,000 so far. While over half of this has been absorbed by hospital foundations and the like (and some of the rest was covered by our July Donation Drive), we still owe a lot of it.

We have established a RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for donations. Everyone who donates anything at all (even a dollar) gets access to a few special downloads (like pdfs of two 1970s D&D fanzines, a special edition of Microlite74, and more) as described on that page.

To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. My apologies for having to ask for donations and my heartfelt thanks to everyone who donates. If you cannot donate but wish to help, please spread the word about my request and offer. Thank you very much in advance.


Which Edition of D&D Should I Play?

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Believe it or not, "Which edition of D&D should I play?" is probably the most common question I'm asked. In some cases it is because the person asking the question wants to argue with my choice, but most of the time the questioner seems to sincerely want my opinion. Unfortunately, I can't really answer the question -- because there is no "one true answer." The best edition of D&D is the edition that best fits your needs. The answer for me may not be the answer for you as what you and your group want out of your game may be much different from what I want out of my game.

That said, I will list the various editions of D&D in the order I personally rank them based on how well they meet the needs of the types of games I like to play in and run. Your list may be much different than mine -- and that's as it should be. There really is no one best edition for everyone. Those who tell you there is are probably trying to sell you something.

1) Original Dungeons & Dragons with the Supplements: Fairly simple rules with a lot of room to make the campaign and the game your own with house rules. OD&D with the supplements is a lot like playing AD&D but without all the complex stuff AD&D added. Combat is fast and abstract -- just the way I like it.

2) BECMI Boxed Sets/Rules Cyclopedia: The Rules Cyclopedia (The BECM boxed sets in one hardback book) is probably the best version of D&D ever printed in hardback. It is a complete in one book, well-explained game that one can play for years without much modification, yet it is simple enough to easily house rule to fit your own group and campaign. Like OD&D, combat is fast and abstract.

3) Moldvay/Cook Basic/Expert Boxed Sets: Later expanded into BECMI, this earlier edition only takes characters through 14th level. That is its only major disadvantage compared to the BECMI rules, but it is a great set for those who prefer low level play.

4) Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (First Edition without Unearthed Arcana): If you want more complete rules to reduce the amount of GM rules decisions, First Edition AD&D is the way to go. Compared to later editions, it is still rules lite, but it is much more rules dense than previous versions and has a number of rules designed to better balance character classes -- although not is the same way people seem to see "balance" today. Combat is more detailed but still abstract and fast.

5) Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (Second Edition -- Core Rules Only): This is a cleaned up and slightly simplified version of AD&D, it really isn't all that different from first edition, but it lacks the character of Gygax's writing (which is a bad thing in my eyes, but is a good thing to some).

6) Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (First Edition with Unearthed Arcana): All the advantages of first edition with some extra classes and spells. Unfortunately, some of these extra classes turned out to somewhat overpowered.

7) Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (Second Edition -- Plus the Kit Books): The kit books basically add a large number of subclasses to each standard class. This provides a lot of mechanical variety in characters at the cost of extra complexity and having to buy a large number of rule books.

8) Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (Second Edition -- Plus the Kit Books and the Skills and Powers Books): The skills and powers books add a great deal of complexity to AD&D. They also start the trend of needing minis and battle mats to play out the complex and slow combats. As I like fast and abstract combat and am bored to tears at combats that take more than 10-20 minutes max to resolve, this is where D&D and I began to part company.

9) Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 This is the last edition of D&D that really feels like the D&D game I started playing in 1975 to me. While there were a lot of changes and additions, all the basics of D&D were still there and had not changed so much that they were something different with the same name. Combat is slow and tactical, it's hard to run without minis and battle mats. The designers tried hard to make a rule for everything and to reward players who mastered the manipulation of those rules. Not my cup of tea. GM prep time is unreal if the GM cannot or will not simply wing it. Houseruling can be hard as the game systems are tightly interrelated, changing something can have expected side effects in other areas of the game.

10) Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Lots of changes to spells and other areas: the names are often the same but the effects can be completely different. Minis and battle mats become almost required and combats are even slower. GM prep takes even more time, but there is a rule for almost everything any character to ever want to do scattered about the many, many volumes of rules.

11) Dungeons & Dragons 4e IMHO, this is a tactical minis skirmish game with roleplaying interludes between the battles given the D&D label. It has very little in common with any previous edition of D&D besides names. 4e character classes and monsters are extremely well-balanced for combat -- and if that is what is important to you, D&D 4e is probably the only edition you will want to play. However, it's not for me at all.

[Don't forget that rare Traveller fanzines (Working Passage & Imperium Staple) and the RPGA limited edition AD&D Modules R1 (To the Aid of Falx) and R2 (Investigation of Hydell) are available (for Cancer Fund Donors) -- addition to the usual PDF downloads every donor has access to. There is still plenty of time to make a donation and get in on the giveaway which ends at the end of October 2009. Thanks much to those who have already donated.]

Amagi Games Site is Back

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The Amagi Games site is back. In spite of a couple of abortive attempts to return, Levi Kornelsen's Amagi Games site has basically been down since a nasty crash months ago. The site is a collection of interesting rules systems designed to be plugged into other games. Levi describes the site as "a site for tinkering with tabletop roleplaying games."

Many of the rules systems on this site are quite unusual. For example, The Soap Opera plugin is a way to turn a game into a soap opera. Like most of the rules systems on this site, the actual rules for accomplishing this are short and sweet. While I probably would not actually use many of the rules systems presented here because they just do not fit the style of game I run, I find them very interesting and thought-provoking reading.

The new Amagi Games site is hosted on Google Sites which should make it less likely to crash and burn the way the original site did early in the year. You can find it here: http://www.amagi-games.org/

[Don't forget that rare Traveller fanzines (Working Passage & Imperium Staple) and the RPGA limited edition AD&D Modules R1 (To the Aid of Falx) and R2 (Investigation of Hydell) are available (for Cancer Fund Donors) -- addition to the usual PDF downloads every donor has access to. There is still plenty of time to make a donation and get in on the giveaway which ends at the end of October 2009. Thanks much to those who have already donated.]

Old School D&D vs New School D&D: The Combat Divide

From talking to players in my old school campaign and players at the local game shop, I've decided that, locally at least, the main divide between liking old school D&D and new school D&D seems to be the player's opinion of combat. Players who like fast, narrative combat are interested in older version of D&D while players who like using miniatures and battleboards for tactically detailed combat are interested in newer versions of D&D.

This divide seems to be nearly universal among local D&D players I've talked to and seems to be a better "determining factor" for interest in older version of D&D than other factors (such as save or die, level drains, character skills vs player skills, or GM fiat) I see talked about on RPG forums and blogs. Players who enjoy the long, tactically rich combats of 3.x and 4e show the least interest in trying older versions of D&D while players who do not like long, tactically rich combats are much more open to trying older versions of D&D.

Is this universal? I have no idea, but I've discovered recruiting players locally is much easier now that "discovered" this.

[Don't forget that rare Traveller fanzines (Working Passage & Imperium Staple) and the RPGA limited edition AD&D Modules R1 (To the Aid of Falx) and R2 (Investigation of Hydell) are available (for Cancer Fund Donors) -- addition to the usual PDF downloads every donor has access to. There is still plenty of time to make a donation and get in on the giveaway which ends at the end of October 2009. Thanks much to those who have already donated.]

Engines & Empires: Labyrinth Lord (D&D) in Victorian World

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Swords and sorcery meets technology in in a Victorian world in the new Labyrinth Lord variant Engines & Empires. It's over 200 pages of D&D goodness in a free PDF -- or you can buy a printed copy from Lulu for the very reasonable price of $9.99 plus shipping. This review is of the free PDF download so I can't comment in the print quality.

The blurb on Lulu describes Engines & Empires as "...a campaign setting designed for use with the LABYRINTH LORD fantasy RPG. Sitting at the crossroads of heroic high fantasy and Victorian gaslight romance, E&E pits magic and science against an ancient darkness intent on once again enveloping the world of Gaia... along with all the Free Folk that now dwell thereupon." This does not do the game justice.

Engines & Empires is much more than a campaign setting, it is a complete set of variant rules for Labyrinth Lord (a retro-clone of B/X D&D) which expand the game system with new classes, new ways of looking at magic, Victorian era technology, and more. Over 160 pages of new rules -- all open content -- before reaching the setting, the world of Gaia which has an additional 70 pages of content. It's very well thought out and simply but professionally presented.

Character Classes include Boxer, Expert, Halfling, Faun, Fighter, Dwarf, Centaur, Sylph, Mage, Fay, Scholar, Elf, Merrow, Tech, and Gnome. All classes have 36 levels (like B/X D&D's successor, BECMI D&D). The classes look to be well thought out. Expert and Tech are the most unusual.

"Experts are human characters who turn normal, 'civilian' professions into unique adventuring skill-sets." This can be anything from a burglar to a noble to a master of some craft or obscure lore. Naturally, this requires a bit of discussion between GM and the player of an Expert character, but it looks like it should work well.

The Tech "is a living symbol of the modern era. By combining the two complementary arts of science and engineering, techs can build a machine or brew a chemical for any occasion." As a Tech advances in level he learns new technological principles that he can use to create tech items. I've seen a number of attempts to a "Techno" character class to D&D (starting with the first Arduin Grimoire back in the 1970s). In my opinion, none have really worked well. To be honest, most have not worked at all. The E&E Tech class looks like it should at least work okay and prehaps every well -- although I'd have to see a few played by an inventive player to be sure. There are three fields of technology: biology, chemistry, and physics. Each field has 12 degrees. These degrees which have to be earned in order within a field, but the player can choose to specialize or generalize.

Characters can also learn skills. There are 12 skills and they are handled in a old-school manner by rolling 1d6 and trying to roll under your skill rank. Like BECMI, the game is divided into stages which include ruling dominions and going on epic adventures at higher levels.

The last part of the book deals with the world of Gaia. I can't do justice to it here. However, I can say that reading about the world gives me all sorts of idea for adventures and makes me want to run the game -- which is exactly what a good campaign setting should do.

If you have any interest in "Old School" D&D variants or just like the idea of mixing swords, sorcery, and technology in a Victorian setting, you need to download a copy of the Engines & Empires Campaign Compendium from Relative Entropy Games' page on Lulu. The download is free and well worth a look.

[Don't forget that rare Traveller fanzines (Working Passage & Imperium Staple) and the RPGA limited edition AD&D Modules R1 (To the Aid of Falx) and R2 (Investigation of Hydell) are available (for Cancer Fund Donors) -- addition to the usual PDF downloads every donor has access to. There is still plenty of time to make a donation and get in on the giveaway which ends at the end of October 2009. Thanks much to those who have already donated.]

Armor for All Classes in OD&D

One thing that really seems to sit wrong with some players in older versions of D&D are the armor and weapons limitations on classes. Some players really want their magic-users to wield swords and wear armor. While I've never felt this way, I did come up with a system back in the late 1970s that allows any character class to wear any type of armor while doing a fair job of maintaining the "balance" of each class.

Base Armor Class: Each class has a base armor class that is in effect anytime the character is conscious and not tied up to the point they can't move at all. This base armor class takes into account the character's combat training which allows him to dodge and parry blows.

Fighting Man -- Base AC of 5
Paladin/Ranger/Monk -- Base AC of 6
Cleric/Druid/Bard -- Base AC of 7
Thief/Assassin -- Base AC of 8
Magic-User/Illusionist -- Base AC of 9

Any character who is unconscious or heavily restrained has a Base AC of 9. Other classes should be slotted in on the level of the character that makes the most sense. ONLY the fighting man should get a Base AC of 5, however. Other fighter classes/subclasses should come in on the Paladin/Ranger/Monk line at best. The Monk is a special case, the AC by levels given in the monk class chart simply need to be replaced, starting with AC 6 instead of AC 9.

Armor: Armor adds to the character's Base AC when worn. Armor may have side effects for some classes. (Remember that a plus to AC in older versions of D&D reduced one's AC.)

Leather Armor: +1 to AC. Magic-Users and Illusionists cannot cast their highest level of spells known while wearing Leather Armor.

Chainmail Armor: +2 to AC. Magic-Users and Illusionists cannot cast their two highest levels of spells known while wearing Chainmail. Thief abilities are halved while wearing Chainmail.

Plate Armor: +3 to AC. Magic-Users and Illusionists cannot cast their three highest levels of spells known while wearing Plate Armor. Thief abilities are unusable while wearing Plate Armor.

Shield: +1 to AC, only when character is concious and mobile. Magic-Users and Illusionists cannot cast their highest level of spells known using a shield -- if they are using a shield and armor tthe shield adds 1 to the levels of spells they cannot use.

Examples: An unarmored OD&D fighting man is AC 5. The same fighting man in plate armor and using a shield would be AC 1.

An unarmored 10th level (OD&D) wizard would be AC 9 and could spells normally. If that tenth level wizard wears chainmail, she would be AC 7 but would not be able to cast any of her 4th or 5th level spells. A 1st through 4th level magic user wearing chainmail would not be able to cast any spells at all.

This system was playtested with OD&D and AD&D 1e rules (reduce base AC by 1 as the worst AC in AD&D is 10 instead of 9) in the late 1970s and worked well. I did not use this much back then and probably would not use it today, but a number of groups in South Texas were using these rules back in the day as they were published in a local gaming club newsletter.

[Don't forget that rare Traveller fanzines (Working Passage & Imperium Staple) and the RPGA limited edition AD&D Modules R1 (To the Aid of Falx) and R2 (Investigation of Hydell) are available (for Cancer Fund Donors) -- addition to the usual PDF downloads every donor has access to. There is still plenty of time to make a donation and get in on the giveaway which ends mid-October 2009. Thanks much to those who have already donated.]

RPGA Modules R1 and R2 from 1982 Added to October 2009 Cancer Donotion Drive

I received an email from a former gamer who wishes to remain anonymous offering a copy of the first two RPGA modules (R1 and R2 for AD&D) for donors to my current October 2009 Cancer Donation Drive. As these modules were limited editions available only to RPGA back in 1982, I've never seen these modules in their original form, although they were reportedly the basis for the first part of generally available I12 module (Egg of the Phoenix) which is one of my favorite mid-1980s modules.

R1 (To the Aid of Falx) was written by Frank Mentzer and is in "pretty good condition with only a few pencil marks -- some hit point notes and a few folded page corners". R2 (Investigation of Hydell) is also by Frank Mentzer and is in "fair condition too with some pencil marks, a pen doodle on the inside of the back cover, some folded page corners, and a slighted faded back cover". Condition descriptions provided by donor.

The top donor in this cancer drive will now have his or her choice of the Traveller fanzines (Working Passage and The Imperium Staple) described in this post or the D&D RPGA R1 and R2 modules described here. The runner-up with receive the other item. The third place donor will now receive the first printings of Mercenary and High Guard for Classic Traveller. The fourth largest donor will now receive the second printing of Supplement 2: Animal Encounters for Classic Traveller. The fifth largest donor will receive an old adventure from D&D from my collection. These items and this donatyion drive were described in more detail in this post: Rare Traveller Fanzines (Working Passage & Imperium Staple) Available (for Cancer Fund Donors).

Of course, everyone who donates gets access to the special PDFs (The Grimoire #1, The Grimoire #2, the Microlite74 2.0 Special Edition booklet, etc.

To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. My apologies for having to ask for donations and my heartfelt thanks to everyone who donates. If you cannot donate but wish to help, please spread the word about my request and offer. Thank you very much in advance. (And again, a very special thank you to Scott R. for donating the fanzines for this giveaway and to the anonymous donor of R1 and R2.)





Three Solitaire Role-Playing Games Using Regular Playing Cards

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Many years ago -- and long before computers became common household items -- I thought it would be really neat to design a solitaire "Role-Playing Game" that used nothing more than a deck or two of regular playing cards, a sheet of paper, and perhaps some dice. I spend a good number of hours fiddling with cards trying to come up with a system that worked and felt enough like a RPG to be a fun way to kill some time alone. Alas, I never succeeded and finally just gave up.

I was out at the Card Games web site this evening looking for a new two-player card game that my wife and I could try. I was going through the Invented Games section and was quickly sidetracked by three solitaire "role-playing" card games. I haven't had a chance to try any of these yet, but they all look interesting.

CardRPG is a relatively simple solitaire "roleplaying game" credited to "Ray of Ash". It needs a regular deck of cards, three six-sided dice and paper and pencil. As one might expect it is more a combat-fest than a role-playing game, but it is short, simple, and looks like it might be a nice way to kill some time. A couple of paragraphs at the end present a two-player version.

CardRPG - Advanced (Link is to a PDF file) is an expanded and extended version of CardRPG by Stephen Rogers. This 12 page PDF adds more powers and abilities -- and lots more dice. It looks like this version might feel more like a "roleplaying game." Rules for more than one player are included.

Hebrac's Dungeon is a dungeon exploration RPG by Luc Miron. This game uses two or more decks of regular playing cards. Some of the cards are used to form a level of the dungeon which is then explored. Each room has two cards, a monster and a treasure. You have to defeat the monsters to get the treasure. The object of the game is to find all four magical treasures (a ace of each suit) before you die. Different cards represent different monsters and treasures -- each with different abilities. This game looks like a lot of fun and I'll probably try it first.

Of course, these games are more like a simple computer RPG than they are a real face-to-face game. However, given that they are something I thought would really be nifty back in the early 80s, I'm excited to find them. Does anyone know of any others?

Now it's back out to the Card Games web site to resume my original search for an interesting new two-player card game.

[Don't forget that rare Traveller fanzines (Working Passage & Imperium Staple) are available (for Cancer Fund Donors) -- addition to the usual PDF downloads every donor has access to. There is still plenty of time to make a donation and get in on the giveaway. Thanks much to those who have already donated.]

A New Look at Attribute Saves in D&D

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I've used attribute saves (roll 1d20 and roll under a selected attribute) in D&D to handle actions that aren't covered by the rules but that I feel need some type of random element is needed since 1976 or so. It's simple but it has some issues that I've never liked: it gives too much reward to high attributes (and too much penalty to low attributes) and it does not take into account the player's level.

As I'm starting a new OD&D campaign, I decided to give rethink this procedure. Here's what I've come up with. Comments are not just welcome, but desired.

Attribute Saves: When the DM calls for a save versus an attribute, the player rolls 3d6 and adds the following die modifiers:
1) the bonus for the attribute (from the attribute tables in the game)
2) if the DM says the task falls under the characters class or background, the player adds a bonus based on his character's level (1-3, +1; 4-8, +2; 9-15, +3; 16-24, +4; 25+, +5).
3) any situational modifiers assigned by the DM.

If the result is 8 11 or higher, the character succeeds at whatever is being attempted. [Updated: Thanks to Daniel for noticing the 8 should have been an 11.]

This system greatly reduces the bonus or penalty from high or low attributes and takes the character's class level into account if he is trying something that falls within the boundaries of his class. This should take care of my main issues with attribute saves. Using 3d6 instead of 1d20 means that rolls are more likely to be near average instead of all results being equally likely -- which seems to make sense given the way I use attribute saves in my games. It is also easy to explain and use. What do you think of the system?

Note: I don't use attribute rolls as skill rolls. Players can't say "I'll make an INT save to try X." They have to tell the DM (me) what they are trying to do and if I think a die roll is needed, I will tell them the save they'd need to make to succeed.

[Don't forget that rare Traveller fanzines (Working Passage & Imperium Staple) are available (for Cancer Fund Donors) -- addition to the usual PDF downloads every donor has access to. There is still plenty of time to make a donation and get in on the giveaway. Thanks much to those who have already donated.]

Rare Traveller Fanzines (Working Passage & Imperium Staple) Available (for Cancer Fund Donors)

Scott R. has donated copies of Working Passage and The Imperium Staple (Traveller fanzines) as giveaways for the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. As many of you know, my wife is recovering from oral cancer and that I worked on the original Microlite74 as way to cope during her recovery from 6 weeks of radiation treatment last year. We are some of the 40 to 50 million people in the US who do not have health insurance and do not qualify for government aid as we live in Texas and have no children. The cancer treatments and related expenses have cost over $110,000 so far. While over half of this has been absorbed by hospital foundations and the like (and some of the rest was covered by our July Donation Drive), we still owe a lot of it.

We have established a RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for donations. Everyone who donates anything at all (even a dollar) gets access to a few special downloads (like pdfs of two 1970s D&D fanzines, a special edition of Microlite74, and more) as described on that page.

Special Donor Goodies for October 2009 (Rare Traveller Fanzines)

While I had not planned to have another special giveaway for a good while, I received a package from Scott R. today with some nice Traveller items: ten issues of Working Passage and three issues of The Imperium Staple -- rare Traveller fanzines from the 1980s. He specifically requested that I give all these items to the top donor in the first half of October 2009. Who am I to say no to a generous gift like this one? Thank you, Scott R.

For those who aren't familiar with Traveller fanzines, Working Passage and The Imperium Staple are two of the most popular Traveller fanzines ever. I saw a complete set (of 12 issues) sell for over $300 on eBay once even though the description said some of the issues were probably photocopies. A set of the first ten issues of The Imperium Staple reportedly sold for over $1000 -- in perfect condition I assume. So Scott R. has set a very nice top donor package.

The ten issues of Working Passage are #0 through #9, published in 1984 and 1985. The three issues of The Imperium Staple are #2 (April 1986), #5 (July 1986) and #6 (August 1986). Some so-so pictures I took are attached at the end of this post. Working Passage issues are filled with short articles on Traveller, mainly Classic Traveller from what I see. The are lots of short articles per issue. The Imperium Staple #2 includes major articles on Laser Weapons, Martial Arts and the Standard Configuration Starship (part 2, unfortunately). The Imperium Staple #5 includes major articles on Psionic Additions, Circular Meson and Particle Accelerators in Traveller, and Starship Maneuverability. The Imperium Staple #6 includes major articles on Low Berth Naval Duty, Robot Agility and Robot Programs, Hunter Character Sketch, and the Raidan Subsector.

Thanks to Scott R., whoever donates the most between now and the middle of October will get all of the Traveller fanzines listed above. The second place donor will receive first printings of Mercenary and High Guard for Classic Traveller. The third place donor will a second printing of Supplement 2: Animal Encounters for Classic Traveller. The Classic Traveller books are used -- but in good shape -- and from my Traveller collection.

Of course, everyone who donates gets access to the special PDFs (The Grimoire #1, The Grimoire #2, the Microlite74 2.0 Special Edition booklet, etc.

To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. My apologies for having to ask for donations and my heartfelt thanks to everyone who donates. If you cannot donate but wish to help, please spread the word about my request and offer. Thank you very much in advance. (And again, a very special thank you to Scott R. for donating the fanzines for this giveaway.)






Working Passage Fanzines

The Imperium Staple #2


The Imperium Staple #5


The Imperium Staple #6