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4E and 2E meet Microlite75

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It all started Saturday when one of my Sunday players asked me if I wanted to ride over to the FLGS with him. He was going to pick up some over-priced Eurogame for a birthday present for his son. I was just along for the ride -- and to look at their dice. Naturally, I ended up buying some dice. Not that I don't have enough around the house, but these were crystal and swirly.

While at the store we ran into a gamer who is arguing that every RPG should use minis and battlemats. Naturally, I could not keep my mouth shut and explained to him why I don't use them. He was gobsmacked. Not by the fact I argued with him, but by the fact that I did not consider combat, let alone detailed tactical combat, to be the main purpose of RPGs. He could not believe that I had 8 players most weeks who felt enough like I did to play in my campaign as it could not be any fun. Not a tactical combat fest apparently meant "boring" to him -- and that's okay because I consider a "tactical combat fest" to be boring. To each their own.

My friend told him it really was a lot of fun and if he had never tried it, perhaps he should sometime. As his Sunday 4e game had been canceled, he asked if he could come by and watch our game. He said he'd bring a book and if he was bored, he'd just read, not expect to be entertained. I sighed and eventually said sure. I gave him my business card and told him to call me if he couldn't make it or needed directions.

I got a call from him that evening. He wanted to bring his girl friend, who he said "wasn't that much of a gamer anymore." I'm thinking how this is going further south by the minute, but agree when he says they'll bring soft drinks. From previous experiences with barely gamer significant others, I was resigned to entertaining two bored people.

Our 4e player lived up to my expectations. He thought our game was boring as hell. It did not have enough combat and what combat it had was boring. No minis. No battlemats. Abstract Rules. He did admit that it was a lot faster than combat in any game he'd ever seen, however.

His girlfriend was another story, however. She read through some of the Microlite75 rules and watched us play. About an hour into the game, she asked if she could roll up a character and play. Her boyfriend thought she was nuts and said so. This did not go over well. I quickly asked a couple of players who were less involved at the moment to help her create a character, hoping this would prevent any bf/gf arguments. It did. She created a "amazon" warrior in less than 10 minutes and I worked her into the session almost immediately. She was every bit as good a player as anyone else in the group. Her boyfriend soon left in a huff -- even more huffy when she said she was staying to play and would get someone to bring her home. It turned out she had already discovered one of my regulars lived only a few blocks from her so this wasn't as thoughtless as it sounds.

With her boyfriend gone, we discovered that she had played a lot of 2E in high school and college in the 1990s. The reason she wasn't much of a gamer in her boyfriend's mind was that she had little interest in 3.x and no interest at all in 4e. She said those versions were too much into long, drawn out combats -- especially in the groups her boyfriend liked -- and bored her to tears. She had no idea that anyone still played like we did. She enjoyed the rest of the session and wants to come to future sessions. She left with copies of Microlite20, Microlite74, and Microlite75. Assuming her boyfriend doesn't talk her out of playing, it looks like the Sunday group is up to nine regular players now.


The Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive is on (through July 12th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen (the first D&D module published -- in 1976). Highest donors will also divide a huge list of other RPG items from the 1970s and early 1980s (including more rare publications). You can see the complete list of 10 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: OD&D Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Notes on Dragonlord (Wee Warriors/Cosmic Frog, 1977)

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While most Wee Warriors products were for D&D, Dragonlord was a fantasy board game written and illustrated by Morno. It was jointly published by Cosmic Frog and Wee Warriors in 1977. It came with nicely illustrated rules (6 sheets, printed on both sides), a board on six various sheets of legal-sized thin card stock that you had to cut the edges off to fit together and counters that needed to be pasted on cardboard and cut apart.

This was a two player game. Players were warriors mounted on dragons fighting other warriors mounted on their dragons. There are four scenario: 1) single combat; 2) village raid; 3) one team of dragons/riders versus another; and 4) Ragnarok -- the battle to end all battles with all the dragons. It looks like fun, but I never played it. No one in my group at the time was really interested. I mounted the counters to cardboard with rubber cement but never cut them apart. So I never even played the game solitaire. I honestly don't know why as the game looks like fun and the rules are very simple compared to the SPI and Avalon Hill boardgames I was buying and playing at the time.

Glen Williams reviewed the game in Dragon #17. Here are some of his comments on the game:

The artwork is outstanding. It is equalled only by the rule book illustrations in Red Moon, White Bear and Nomad Gods. The pictures convey the swirling blur of scales, claws and flame that I have imagined would be the nature of dragon combat. Unfortunately the excellent artwork is applied inappropriately on the map. The map is drawn from perspective so that hills and cliffs are seen from the side rather than from on top. While aesthetically pleasing, that technique has mechanical drawbacks which affect play. Where are those slopes and cliffs supposed to be? If you are diving onto a low flying opponent, that ambiguity can create bitter feuds over whether or not you have clutched your opponent or plowed into a rocky slope. In the middle of the board is a very nice picture of a ruined castle, but because it is drawn from the side, the castle would have to lean at a forty-five degree angle to occupy the space it fills on the map!

The map is archaic in terms of game technology. At the price, some cut and paste is permissible. Each section of the map, printed on construction paper-like material, has to be trimmed and taped to its fellows. Unfortunately, the map sections do not align properly, creating a strange jog when your dragon flies across a taped edge. Further, the map grid is a set of Cartesian squares which regulate movement and combat. Thus, each diagonal move counts as 1.5 squares. That may leave a half movement factor lost simply due to the grid. An old time gamer remembers why the hobby almost universally adopted the hex grid system. Sometimes there are good reasons for such a system; for example, the tactical display boards in Battlefleet Mars are based on Cartesian co-ordinates because of the Newtonian movement. This game has no such compelling reason. Since SPI gave the hobby permission to use their numbered hex grid system so long as they received credit, why settle for an inferior system that distorts the game? The mechanics of the game are also complicated. A dragon has five separate attributes: maximum speed, dexterity, strength, endurance and maximum damage they can absorb: Riders have two characteristics: strength and maximum damage. They also have the option of wielding one of three weapons, all of which can be carried aloft simultaneously. Each weapon varies in the damage it may inflict, the number of times it may strike per combat round, and the directions in which it may be used. The lance may strike only in a forward direction, a sword forward and to the sides and side rear squares, while an axe may be used in any direction.

Speed, altitude and damage taken require separate tallies for each beast plus damage taken by his rider. Since there is a scenario using twelve dragons and riders per side, the player may have to monitor up to 84 individual factors (dragon speed, altitude, endurance, strength, damage taken, rider strength and endurance). Under these circumstances, bookkeeping is more important than fun.

Here's a picture of my copy:


Note: This game can be yours see below for more information on the Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive.


The Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive is on (through July 12th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen (the first D&D module published -- in 1976). Highest donors will also divide a huge list of other RPG items from the 1970s and early 1980s (including more rare publications). You can see the complete list of 10 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: OD&D Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Psionics, Spirits, and Microlite75

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A few days ago, I received a very helpful set of comments on Microlite75 in email from Kevin Donovan and, with his permission, have been posting and discuss some of the more interesting/controversial nuggets in recent blog posts. (Hit Points as Spell Points and the 15 Minute Adventuring Day and Ideas for the Warlord in Microlite75). Feel free to comment with your own views on the issues Kevin raises. Feedback is good and, outside of my Sunday campaign group, I don't get nearly as much as I would like.

Today, a few general Microlite75 comments from Kevin:

Also, what you think of a psionicist character? Essentially, a magic-user that slings psionics instead of spells. I'm thinking through some of the details, and I'll send along my ideas later on.

While I have nothing against a psionicist class, I'm trying to make the psionics system work like the system on 0e and 1e where most classes had a chance of being psionic. One of my major campaign settings was designed around this back in the 1970s, so I need it to work that way. This will also allow easy use of old adventure modules and campaign material from TSR. There is a 3.x based psionics supplement for Microlite20 which could probably be dropped into Microlite75 with only a few changes for those who want class-based psionics.

Adding a psionicist class to the main rules would be hard because psionics as spells and psionics as powers are so different that I would have to include two separate (and probably incompatible) psionics systems in the "core rules." I think that would be very confusing. However, I'd be really interesting in seeing your psionicist class ideas for possible inclusion in the "Unearthed Arcana" type supplement in the future.

Speaking of spells and optional stuff, a "fire and forget" spell system might make for a good optional rule.

I'll go ahead and add it. Unless I want to go with a formula system (which is hard for many to understand), it'll add a couple of pages to the final version. I doubt that will matter as rules are already so long that "Microlite" is a bit of a misnomer.

Moreover, I curious to see how the spirit-binding rules could fit in with Carcosa. As such, a PC with a shamanic background would definitely have a better chance of success with the spirit realm. But that's just my 2 cents worth.

I can't see why something like this would not work. Spirits could just as easily be demons.

Also, do you have any particular favorite settings that you're using ML 75 for?

I'm designing Microlite75 so it has all the non-setting-specific rules needed to run either of my two major campaign worlds: the Hidden Valley and the Empire of Arn. The Hidden Valley is a fairly standard low to medium powered fantasy world. The Empire of Arn is a much higher-powered world where technology and magic co-exist to some extent. This should enable Microlite75 to be used in almost any fantasy world. I can see it working from Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms, Mystara, the Wilderlands of High Fantasy, and similar settings. My playtest campaign is set in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy.

Finally, I'd like to thank Kevin for both his comments on Microlite75 and for allowing me to discuss some of those comments here.


The Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive is on (through July 12th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen (the first D&D module published -- in 1976). Highest donors will also divide a huge list of other RPG items from the 1970s and early 1980s (including more rare publications). You can see the complete list of 10 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: OD&D Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

North Battlement Sector for Terminal Space (Free)

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Here a nifty free module I just discovered... North Battlement Sector. It's is a free sector for the Terminal Space supplement to OD&D/Swords and Wizardry, written by Chris Robert.

A free sandbox for the Terminal Space supplement to OD&D. Sahuagin in space, Phase Spiders nesting in asteroid mines, and battered hulks infested with the undead. No Vulcans allowed.
Down this 8 page PDF here. Download Terminal Space here.


The Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive is on (through July 12th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen (the first D&D module published -- in 1976). Highest donors will also divide a huge list of other RPG items from the 1970s and early 1980s (including more rare publications). You can see the complete list of 10 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: OD&D Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Notes on Legacy (David Feldt, 1978) - Is it the F.A.T.A.L. of 1978?

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The Legacy RPG by David A. Feldt was self-published in 1978. It is an odd, but weirdly fascinating, duck. It's unplayable (because it is barely understandable), but when you read it you will be drawn to some of its weird ideas and want to implement something like them in your game. Unfortunately, I never could get any of them to work.

The game itself is a collection of loose leaf pages, looks like it was typeset with a high quality typewriter and is full of half-tone-like illos (including one of the designer on vacation). The writing style is pretentious, perhaps the most pretentious style I've ever seen in an RPG. The author never says anything in a few words and is fond of slightly different names for things that he never abbreviates; for example, Role Assumption Simulation Game (for RPG) and Game Operator (for GM).

For an example of the writing style, here is the Introduction. The entire game is written in this style! All 160 pages of it.

The LEGACY game is a second generation role assumption simulation which incorporates much that has been learned by users of role assumption games during the last four years. Many of the concepts and rules contained within the LEGACY game system are sophisticated compared to those included in other commercially available role assumption games, yet they are contained in a logically structured and internally consistent format which allows players to use information they already possess to aid them in locating rules and procedures and resolving game situations. Because the LEGACY rules attempt to simulate reality in a holistic manner incorporating many currently accepted principles of Biology, Geology, Chemistry, Physics, and Astronomy, the existing body of information available in reference and other sources may be used in conjunction with or to expand the LEGACY rules upon need.

The underlying principle of the LEGACY game is the capability to create a logical and internally consistent environment within which a player or players may interact with a variety of components to cause one or more interesting or educational experiences. Unlike many other role assumption games this is accomplished by simulating the entire environment and leaving the player free to choose from a variety of courses of action limited primarily by the players own ability to perceive and interact with his or her environment. In other role assumption games the options or courses of action open to a player at any given time are limited by the available rules or preparations made by the game operator, while the LEGACY game has been specifically designed to allow the players a virtually unlimited number of options and the game operator the capability to expand the rules and preparations as needed, without significantly interrupting the course of play. This is accomplished through the availability of a hierarchy of scale levels on which the action of the game may be resolved and the provision for new rules and procedures built in to the existing portions of the LEGACY rules.

The variety of environments and situations which the LEGACY game system attempts to simulate is substantially greater than any of the existing commercially available role assumption games, yet the number of environments for which specific information is contained within this rules booklet is smaller than that which is offered by some of the commercially available role assumption games. This is primarily due to lack of space within this booklet, but careful instructions are included allowing the user to “load” the game with rules and information sufficient to create an independent environment or situation. Many of the rules included in commercially available role assumption games such as; magic, psychic ability, large scale combat, warfare, naval combat, fantastic mutation, and cultural conflict are not included in the LEGACY rules to allow a complete coverage of the topics which are included within this booklet. Should rules covering those areas mentioned above be needed in order to resolve a situation arising from the play of the LEGACY game other games and simulations, role assumption or otherwise, may be adapted for use in conjunction with the LEGACY game system. A discussion of who this may be accomplished is included in the GAME OPERATOR’S SECTION of this booklet.

The overall effect of the LEGACY rules is the capability to establish a simulated reality of variable characteristics in which individuals or groups may act out their fantasies, perform experiments, or participate in adventures of their own devising.

I've seen Legacy compared to F.A.T.A.L., but I think that is an unfair comparison, both are awful RPGs, but Legacy is at least interesting with bizarre subsystems that just don't quite work but seem like they could be useful if they did. For example, "Intentionality" is a way of determining what NPCs will do. It looks like a great idea, especially for what are now called sandbox campaigns. Unfortunately, it is not clearly explained or well-implemented. However, my friends and I spend a great deal of time and effort trying to make it work because it seemed like such an interesting idea. There's little or nothing in F.A.T.A.L. like that -- and Legacy lacks all the sexual stuff that seems to have drawn attention to F.A.T.A.L.

I can't do this Legacy justice in this short post. There is just too much weird stuff packed in its pages. Fortunately, I discovered an entire thread from 2007 on Legacy over on RPG.net: Legacy, the worst game every written? or the least the unintentionally funniest!. It's well worth reading as the thread is full of quotes from the book and posts are often funny.

My copy of Legacy is complete with the card stock sheets of cards and the transparent overlay. It will be given to one of our high donors in our Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive. Here's a picture:




The Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive is on (through July 12th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen (the first D&D module published -- in 1976). Highest donors will also divide a huge list of other RPG items from the 1970s and early 1980s (including more rare publications). You can see the complete list of 10 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: OD&D Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Ideas for the Warlord in Microlite75

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As I mentioned yesterday (Hit Points as Spell Points and the 15 Minute Adventuring Day), I received a very helpful set of comments on Microlite75 in email from Kevin Donovan and, with his permission, I'm going to post and discuss some of the more interesting/controversial nuggets in a couple of blog posts. Feel free to comment with your own views on the issues Kevin raises. Feedback is good and, outside of my Sunday campaign group, I don't get nearly as much as I would like.

Today we are going to focus on the Warlord, an optional character class. Here's the description from version 0.4 of Microlite75:

Warlords can wear any kind of armor, can use all weapons and may use shields. Physical Combat Bonus is equal to their class level/2, round up. Magical Combat Bonus is equal to their class level/4, round up. Experience Base is 25. They add +1 to all attack and damage rolls. This increases by +1 at 5th level and every five levels thereafter. When leading a group of hirelings under their command, the hirelings subtract the Warlord’s fighter bonus in any morale checks and add one-half the Warlord’s fighter bonus (round up) to their attack and damage rolls. Warlords are expert at riding and at small unit tactics.

Warlords are intended to represent fighters who are trained as leaders (e.g. knights, centurions, etc.). While they don't get the attack and damage bonuses as fast as a fighter, there can pass some of their bonus on to any fighting hirelings under their direct command.

Kevin said:

Moreover, I like the idea of the D&D Warlord (from the D&D Miniatures Rules and 4th Edition) with his/her abilities to assist multiple player characters. But here, they only influence "a group of hirelings" which means party NPCs. I know that PCs do not make Morale Checks, some influencing NPCs in that way is fine by me. But how about something for the player characters themselves? For example, using one-half of the Warlords fighter bonus (round up) to modify the attacks and damage rolls of PC involved in physical combat, not spell-casting. Even better, having about giving the Warlord the option, at the starts of every combat round, of either supplementing the attack and damage rolls of PCs or using his bonus to modify the party's initiative roll (or as an alternative, modifying each individual PC's Strike Speed) to represent coordinating the efforts of the party.

I'm afraid that here we seem have a difference of game design principle. I prefer game mechanics to be easy to describe as actions in the game world (without speaking in terms of rules). Rules that do not map well to in game world actions have become more common in later editions of D&D (what some are called dissociated mechanics). I try to avoid such rules as much as possible as they annoy me greatly -- in fact, far too much "dissociated mechanics" is one of the major reasons I can't get into playing 4e.

For my warlord class, it is fairly easy to map the rules to their game world effects (and vice-versa). The warlord gives orders in battle and the hirelings under his command obey them like pieces on a chess board, which allows them to be more effective in combat. Instead of thinking for themselves, they just follow the Warlord's orders and therefore benefit from his or her experience in battle and tactical expertise. As they trust the warlord's knowledge, they are also less likely to break morale. Note the key words, "under his command." Hirelings not under his command do not benefit from his abilities. If NPC Bob refuses to put his bodyguard hirelings under the command of the Warlord, they do not benefit from his tactical skill.

How would this work for Player Characters? Few players are going to be willing to turn over control of their character's actions in battle to another player to get a bonus. Yet this is how the Warlord's ability works, those under his command get a combat bonus because they are following his orders, using his tactical skills instead of doing what they think best.

Unless I turn the Warlord's ability into some type of magic power that inspires characters to do better in combat, I can't see any explanation for allowing Player characters to benefit from it that does break verisimilitude of the game world. Therefore, I will not be adding this to Microlite75. However, if a GM really wants to do something like this, it's his/her game and it would be easy to add house rules to the game.

Kevin added a few additional Warlord ideas in another email:

I was continuing to think about the Warlord class for Microlite 75 the other day. Another possibility for the Warlord is to deduct his/her combat bonus from the number of hit points spent on combat maneuvers during that round, but can never bring the cost below zero. The rationale for that ability would reflect motivation and coordination. Having two possible options (i.e. increased attack rolls, or better Initiative) could make for more interesting choice: do you want to hit harder, or increase your chance of hitting first? But perhaps such options would better fit a Microlite 75 supplement. (Expanded character options via a ML75 Unearthed Arcana like document).

I have the same problem with this expansion of the Warlord class that I do with the first, it just doesn't make much in-game-world sense for PCs as they aren't under the Warlord's command.

However, I really like Kevin's idea of a Microlite75 "Unearthed Arcana"-like supplement that could feature ideas from other M75 players and GMs that are interesting and well-thought out -- but don't necessarily fit my idea of what the game should be. I'm not sure what it would be called (it couldn't be "Unearthed Arcana" for obvious trademark reasons, but if there's interest, I'd love to put such a supplement together. Kevin's expanded warlord ideas would be great for such a supplement.

Next time: Kevin's ideas for Psionics.


The Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive is on (through July 12th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen (the first D&D module published -- in 1976). Highest donors will also divide a huge list of other RPG items from the 1970s and early 1980s (including more rare publications). You can see the complete list of 10 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: OD&D Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Hit Points as Spell Points and the 15 Minute Adventuring Day

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I received a very helpful set of comments on Microlite75 in email yesterday and, with the permission of the author of these comments (Kevin Donovan), I'm going to post and discuss some of the more interesting/controversial nuggets in a couple of blog posts. Feel free to comment with your own views on the issues Kevin raises. Feedback is good and, outside of my Sunday campaign group, I don't get nearly as much as I would like.

Kevin said:

I also have some concerns, such as spells using up hit points. I remember that concept back when I played Metagaming's Wizard. In terms of adventuring, rather than magical arena combat, weakening oneself via spell use sort of encourages the dreaded 15 minute adventuring day.
Using hit points as spell points was a concern back when Robin was designing the original Microlite20 four years ago. However, it has worked well in practice. It limits magic-users without going to a pure Vancian Fire-and-Forget system. However, it's not a modern invention. The Body Point and Hit Point division I using in Microlite75 (and using the hit points as spell points) was something I started doing in the late 1970s as it solved a number of problems with D&D and with using spell points instead of the Vancian Fire-and-Forget system.

Hit points were always a problem in D&D as they represented too many things: actual physical damage, luck, dodging out of the way, training in combat, etc. They were not supposed to represent actual wounds, but they "healed" very slowly as if they were wounds and not treating them as wounds often made describing what was happening in combat in "real world terms" iffy. Spell points were a nice way of freeing magic-using characters from the fire-and-forget system which many players and GMs disliked, but in play, most spell point systems tend to make magic-users even more powerful -- often too powerful compared to non-magic-using characters.

Moving to a Body Point and Hit Point system eliminated many of these issues with only a small increase in complexity. Body Points represented actual wounds -- damage that required lengthy healing times and reduced the character's effectiveness. Hit points represented minor nicks and scratches, luck, energy to dodge out of the way, etc. Body Points healed according to the normal D&D healing rules. Hit Points recovered with a full night's rest.

Once I started thinking of Hit Points as energy, the idea of using them as spell points to cast spells or as energy for fighting classes to use in special maneuvers soon followed. This made Hit Points a resource that players had to decide when to use. Was it better to use your hit points on that Knock spell or Great Blow with your sword, or to have them available to soak up damage in combat later in the day?

At first, players were very reluctant to use their Hit Points for non-combat abilities even with 10-20 points on damage cushion in the form of Body Points. I renamed Hit Points "Fatigue Points" and the reluctance went away. While the system was tweaked over the years (like having critical hits do 1 point of Body Point damage per die of damage roll), the basic system has worked well in my games ever since. The variant I'm using in Microlite75 is working quite well in playtest.

However, this doesn't answer the problem of "the dreaded 15 minute adventuring day." I'm going to be honest and say that this simply isn't a problem I've ever seen in my campaigns in all by years of gaming. I think it is a problem unique to certain groups of players and only in games like D&D 3.x where there are a huge number of buff and protection spells that magic-users are expected to cast on themselves and other party members before entering combat. D&D 3.x had a large number of them and the CR "encounter design" system seemed to assume that characters would be designed fairly optimally and would be fully buffed out for combat.

Earlier versions of D&D lacked most of the buff spells of 3.x and the encounter system wasn't about producing encounters carefully balanced around the character's current abilities, so the "15 minute adventuring day" problem was far less common. As far as I can tell, it was pretty much confined to groups of players who were adverse to taking any risk and then only happened if the GM was willing to play along and not toss wondering monsters in as they rushed back to town after every combat to rest up.

As Microlite75, like the early TSR games it is based on, does not have very many buff spells, does not expect carefully balanced encounters, and has wondering monsters, I don't expect the "15 minute adventuring day" to be a problem in most Microlite75 campaigns. It certainly isn't in mine -- nor have I heard of any "15 minute adventuring day" problems in Microlite74 which also uses hit points as spell points and has very few buff spells. However, I'm always interested in hearing how it works in your games. Tweaks are always possible.

Next time: Kevin's ideas for the Warlord class.

Side Note: The Ancient Auguries supplement for Microlite74 has optional rules for a fire-and-forget magic system fairly close to that of the original 0e. Should I include something like this as an optional rule in Microlite75 for those who perfer fire-and-forget to "spell points"?


The Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive is on (through July 12th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen (the first D&D module published -- in 1976). Highest donors will also divide a huge list of other RPG items from the 1970s and early 1980s (including more rare publications). You can see the complete list of 10 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: OD&D Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Notes on Geomorphic Mini Dungeon Modules (Fantasy Art Enterprises, 1979)

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Most old school gamers are probably familiar with TSR's Dungeon Geomorphs. Fewer have probably seen these Geomorphic Mini Dungeon Modules published by Fantasy Art Enterprises in 1979. While these geomorphs are smaller than those from TSR, they can be used to create much more interesting dungeons. This is because most of the geomorphs are "three-dimensional." That is, they have passages that go over or under other areas on the geomorph. So characters in a dungeon mapped with these geomorphs can't easily tell whether they are on the same level as they can in a dungeon without such features.

There were 52 geomorphic modules in Geomorphic Mini Dungeon Modules, on five sheets of cardstock. Like the geomorphs from TSR, you had to cut them apart yourself. The set I have is uncut. I believe this is because I did not buy this product myself. One of my players probably did and left it at my house. He never reclaimed it and it was eventually buried in a pile of papers and forgotten. I know if I'd bought these nifty geomorphs, I have been using them. They seem like they would be much more useful than TSR's, at least for the type of dungeons I like.

As I seem to lack the collector's gene, I find it hard to believe that these five sheets of cardstock are apparently fairly valuable on the collector's market, but I've been told they are. Erol Otus was one of the primary people involved in Fantasy Art Enterprises and may have actually done these geomorphs before he took a job with TSR -- that alone will make them worth something to many collectors I guess.

As my scanner is refusing to cooperate with Windows 7 at all today, I can't include a scan of one of the sheets. Instead here is a picture I took of all five sheets. Sorry that it's not better.


Fortunately, Allan Grohe (Grodog) has a picture of all 52 of the geomorphs in use over at his Greyhawk Online website here. BTW, I'd like to thank Allan for helping me identify these. The "cover sheet" with the product name was stuck in another pile of papers when I first found these, so intially all I saw was a bunch of small dungeon geomorphs I did not recognize.


The Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive is on (through July 12th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen (the first D&D module published -- in 1976). Highest donors will also divide a huge list of other RPG items from the 1970s and early 1980s (including more rare publications). You can see the complete list of 10 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: OD&D Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Notes on Palace of the Vampire Queen (Wee Warriors, 1976)

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Palace of the Vampire Queen was the first professionally published standalone adventure module for D&D. Written by Pete and Judy Kerestan, it was published by Wee Warriors in 1976. It was even distributed by TSR for a brief time. While the product would be considered an amateur production today, in the early days of D&D, it was professional. It wasn't published as an adventure or a module -- those terms had not been "invented" yet. Instead it was called "Dungeon Master Kit - Number One.

Here's the cover page of my copy.


And here is my transcription of the module description from top of the cover page:

DUNGEON MASTER KIT - NUMBER ONE

PALACE OF THE VAMPIRE QUEEN - LEVELS I -V

This Kit Contains:

Detailed maps of the dank and darkened chambers of the Tomb Stronghold of the Vampire Queen of Baylor

Referee maps of the area showing the trips and traps of each room

Sheets of pre-factored creatures and treasures for solo as well as group play

Designed for use with the Dungeons and Dragons rules set, this kit represents a ready-to-use adventure for those of strong heart and steel strength. (Possession of a wooden cross couldn't hurt, either.)

The bottom of the page is the start of the module background. It really makes the module sound very exciting.
BACKGROUND

For three centuries the peasants of the Dwarvish island of Baylor have feared the raids of the Vampire Queen and her minions. Sweeping down at night from the palace in the shrowded peaks of the island, they range ever farther in their search for blood. And not only blood -- the children of dwarf peasants often dissappear if they are so unfortunate as to be out at night. Even the cities are no longer safe. The most recent victim was the Princess of Baylor, daughter of King Arman, who was taken in a midnight raid on the capital city of Ar Toe within past weeks. King Arman has offered fabulous riches and land holdings with titles to the person or persons who can brave the stronghold of the Vampire Queen and return his daughter to him alive and well. But, in truth, he holds little hope. For even King Arman, Ruler of Baylor, Defeater of the Ten Orc Tribes, is afraid in his heart to face the Vampire Queen.
The background goes on (on another page) to tell how the vampire queen has shipwrecked on the island long ago and how the palace in the mountains is rumored to be full of treasure. Naturally the poor people of the island are awaiting a group of heroes to end the reign of terror. It's a great setup for an adventure.

There are ten pages of maps of the dungeon (the Palace). Here's a reduced copy of level one.
There are five double-sided pages of room descriptions. These are very brief. The DM is told: "Feel free to use your imagination for dialogue or any extra details you feel would add to more exciting play. The kit itself is only a basic outline - you can make it a dramatic adventure." And every word of that is true. Here is the dungeon key for the first five rooms of the first level. It's presented a a four column table: Room, Creatures Encountered, Max Damage, Contents of Room.

Room Creatures Encountered Max Hits Contents of Room
1 3 Goblins 4 3 3 17 GP on Goblins
2 none 6 bags - each bag contains rations for 1 for 1 week in dungeon, but 1 bag is poisoned
3 3 Goblins 4 4 1 Armory, 5 swords, 3 shields, 2 daggers. All non-magical.
4 none Chest with poison lock, 1,000 CP in chest
5 4 Goblins
2 sleeping, 2 on guard
5 2 3 3 Empty. 30 CP, 10 GP on Goblins

While not all encounters are this straightforward (e.g. the Madman and his ten attack house cats in room 18), most are. If you are used to modern adventures, this seems pretty sketchy. It is pretty sketchy. However, it was an example of a dungeon -- something that was very exciting back in 1976 when the only other complete dungeon available was The Temple of the Frog in the Blackmoor supplement. It was also quite playable. DMs were used to having to create everything from scratch. This "Dungeon Master Kit" did most of the boring stuff - drawing the maps and populating them with monsters. It left the exciting stuff, turning those maps and keys into an adventure to the DM. While there was a "plot" (try to rescue the princess and free the island from the terror of the vampire queen and her evil, it was just background. If the DM did not want to use it, he could drop the Palace of the Vampire Queen into his world and create his own background for it without requiring any major changes to the module. I placed it in the Majestic Mountains north of the City-State in one of my early campaigns.

If you are interested in all the variations between the editions of the Palace of the Vampire Queen, you will find this information on the Dungeon Masters Kits page at The Acaeum. According to this information, my copy is a second edition. I'd like to apologize for the image quality in this post. My 4 year old scanner and 64-bit Windows 7 do not get along very well. Any typos in the quoted material are probably mine, the original is relatively free of typos.

Note: This module can be yours see below for more information on the Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive.


The Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive is on (through July 12th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen (the first D&D module published -- in 1976). Highest donors will also divide a huge list of other RPG items from the 1970s and early 1980s (including more rare publications). You can see the complete list of 10 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: OD&D Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Microlite75 Playtest Version 0.4 (with Equipment and Weird Science) Available

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The fourth playtest draft of Microlite75 is now available. Changes for this draft are again mostly in the optional rules section. Major additions include: more advantages and disadvantages, the Techno class (and "weird science" rules to support it), the Adventurer class (for single class games), fame, sanity, psionic combat, spirits and spirit binding, combat tricks/stunts, and an equipment list.

I spent a lot of time rearranging the spell list into alphabetical order only to discover that by the time I added tables listing spells by level for each type of magic the result was much longer than spells-by-level listing I've been using -- even with reduntant spells removed. Unfortunately, this wasted about a week's worth of spare time work. My ideas for revised combat maneuver rules flopped in play, so they aren't included in this version. I did not get quite as much done for this version as I had hoped thanks to the time I wasted with the spell reorganization.

You can download a copy of the version 0.4 playtest from Mediafire (a 420K PDF) here: http://www.mediafire.com/?zmzjmzyuytk


The Firecracker Cancer Fund Drive is on (through July 12th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen (the first D&D module published -- in 1976). Highest donors will also divide a huge list of other RPG items from the 1970s and early 1980s (including more rare publications). You can see the complete list of 10 items and read more about this fund drive in this post: OD&D Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors). This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

OD&D Wee Warriors Goodies Available (For Cancer Fund Donors)

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If you've been reading my blog this week, you know I discovered a few old D&D items in a box full of old papers from the 1970s. Items like Palace of the Vampire Queen and The Dwarven Glory, the first modules published for D&D in the mid-1970s (from Wee Warriors). My wife has decreed that these items (which I admit I thought I had lost 25 or 30 years ago) should be used as giveaways for a Retroroleplaying Cancer Fund Drive.

As most readers know, my wife is recovering from oral cancer (she finally was allowed to get a set of lower dentures last month) and that I worked on the original Microlite74 as way to cope during her recovery from 6 weeks of radiation treatment in 2008. 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, we still owe a lot of it. Over the past couple of years, people have donated old school items for RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund drive which have helped lower the bills even more.

Everyone who donates anything at all (even a dollar) to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund 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 the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund web page. And while I'm working on Microlite75 and Advanced Microlite20 OSS, donors giving $25 dollars or more, are listed as Sponsors of these two new free games as described on their web pages.

Special Donor Goodies for the Firecracker RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive (Mainly Original D&D Items)

Anyone who donates from now through the next three weeks (through July 12, 2009) will be eligible for some extra goodies in addition to the special downloads everyone who donates gets and sponsorships.

First, for every $10 you donate you will receive one chance in a raffle for the copy of the Palace of the Vampire Queen from Wee Warriors. This is a second printing from 1976. It is the first adventure module ever published for D&D. It was even sold by TSR for a while. To be honest, it's not a great adventure, but it is the first and it is in very good condition. If you have donated anything in the past, you have been given one free chance in this raffle.

Second, we have items for the largest donors: The Dwarven Glory (Wee Warriors adventure from 1977, first printing); Dungeon Designer's Kit (Wee Warriors battle board type thing with counters for dungeon items), Dragonlord (Wee Warriors boardgame with Morno artwork, 1976), Tegel Manor (Judges Guild, 1977, first printing third release according to The Acaeum), The Curse on Hareth ("generic" adventure from The Companions, 1982), Treasure Trove I: Cards of Power (magical deck treasures from The Companions, 1982), Starfaring (Flying Buffalo, 1976, SF RPG with T&T-like rules), Geomorphic Mini Dungeon Modules (Fantasy Art Enterprises, 1979), Legacy (Complex RPG by David Feldt, 1978, includes card sheets and transparent hex overlay), and FEZ 1: Valley of Trees (early adventure from RoleAids, 1982 version).

The person making the largest donation will receive his or her choice of FOUR of the above items. The person making the second largest donation will receive his or her choice of THREE of the above items (from those items remaining after the top donor has made his selection). The person making the third largest donation receive his or her choice of TWO of the above items (from those items remaining after the top two donors have made their selections). If I'm counting correctly, this will leave one item which will be raffled away just like Palace of the Vampire Queen. (Note: Ties will be broken with OD&D trivia questions.)

In previous Fund drives, everything has gone to the highest donors. As most of our donors can't give a lot, we are adding the raffle for the "prize item" this time. This should give almost everyone able top donate a chance at the big prize. As always, everyone who donates any amount (even just a dollar) gets access to these special PDF downloads: The Gromoire #1, The Grimoire #2, Microlite74 2.0 Special Edition, Hidden Valley House Rules (B/X D&D), and more.

If you would like to help but cannot make a donation, please help spread the word around the blogsphere (and other places). In fact, if you make a post to your blog talking about this funfraising drive and post a link to your post in a comment to this post, we'll give you one entry in the raffle. Note: Your blog will have to have some way for us to email you if you get lucky or will will not be able to get your prize to you. I failed Mind Reading 101.

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.


More Ancient RPG Items (and Dungeons) From the 1970s Box

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I finally had a chance to go through the rest of that box of papers I found Palace of the Vampire Queen in. I discovered a few additional RPG items published in the late 1970s (and, near the bottom of the box, early 1980s): Enfland, The Curse on Hareth, Dwarven Glory, Starfaring, another copy of Tegel Manor, Warlock (a large OD&D variant article published in Spartan Magazine), FEZ 1: Valley of Trees, Legacy, Dungeon Designer's Kit, some non-TSR dungeon geomorphs I don't recognize and a Wee Warriors boardgame called Dragonlord. I've wondered where some of these things have been for years and a couple I don't even remember: Enfland and the small dungeon geomorphs.

The real find, however, was some of my old 1970s dungeon maps and character sheets. Including my attempt to do a huge fortress based loosely on Angband (the Tolkien version, not the modern rogue-like game). This was obviously huge without any attempt to make it realistic. The first level includes huge underground parade grounds for the orc armies -- about 800 feet wide and 2000 feet long and not a support pillar in sight. Most have a 150 foot opening with a ramp up to the surface for the orc units to march out of on their wars of conquest. The next few levels are basically barracks for those orc armies. The same rooms over and over connected with ever larger corridors that eventually lead up to those parade ground rooms.

The first three levels were probably the most BORING I've ever designed as far as exploring is concerned, but they were -- I suppose -- very useful for their original intended purpose. Worse, they were pretty much picked over for treasure, to get to the interesting stuff that hadn't been looted repeatedly over the last few hundred years, one had to find one of the four small and well hidden stairways leading to the fourth level. This is probably the worst dungeon I ever designed. Sadly, I remember putting far too much time into it. Fortunately, most of the stuff I did back in the day was not quite this awful.

Found: Palace of the Vampire Queen

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I found a box full of old papers from the 1970s Sunday and was going to toss it out as it looked to be old papers from college. Fortunately, I decided I had better at least glance through the stuff before tossing it. I'm glad I did. I've only had time to go flip through a few folders. Look what I found in a folder full of calculus homework....


My long lost copy of Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen. This was the very first independent adventure module ever published for D&D (assuming you do not count the Temple of the Frog in Blackmoor  as a module). It was even distributed by TSR for a short while. I have no idea what printing this is, but it looks to be in pretty good condition. Not all that surprising as it has apparently been sealed in a box since 1978 or so.

Legends of Steel - Barbarians of Lemuria Edition

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Barbarians of Lemuria is a surprisingly simple and robust swords & sorcery RPG. It's one of the best non-retroclone RPGs if you want to do swords & sorcery. This new PDF combines the Barbarians of Lemuria rules with the excellent Legends of Steel setting: Legends of Steel - Barbarians of Lemuria Edition.



Evil DM Productions has teamed up with Beyond Belief Games to bring you Legends of Steel - Barbarians of Lemuria Edition.

Now you will be able to adventure in the Sword & Sorcery world of Erisa with heroes created using the highly acclaimed and innovative engine from The Barbarians of Lemuria RPG.

The Legends of Steel campaign setting together with the Barbarians of Lemuria rules engine, promises to be the quintessential "rules light" Sword & Sorcery RPG package

Legends of Steel: Barbarians of Lemuria Edition will include the complete Barbarians of Lemuria rules and the complete Legends of Steel campaign world. with additional material such as:

* New Boons
* New Flaws
* New Careers
* A Bestiary of Erisa
* Two ready to play adventures

It's good stuff, althought at $15 for a PDF, it is pushing what I'm willing to pay for a PDF.

Special Note: Don't forget that you can buy a copy of Dark Fate and help the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund at the same time. The author of this very nice old school campaign setting, Marcelo Paschoalin, is kindly donating the net proceeds of all sales from May 15th to June 15th will go to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. See this post for more information. You can click here to Buy Dark Fate.

Psionic Combat in Microlite75

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I've added psionic combat to the optional Psionics rules in Microlite75 at the request of one of my players. He thought that if I was going to do psionics, I shouldn't leave half of it out. This version of psionic combat is different than the one in 0e supplement 3. Psionic Defense modes act as a mental armor class and a psionic attack roll is made against it. In other words, psionic combat works very much like physical combat. I'd love to claim this idea as my own, but I saw defense modes as AC somewhere on the Internet a while back and just adopted the idea for Microlite75. This has not been playtested and therefore is subject to change.

Manifesting Psionic Attack and Defense Modes: Psionic characters manifest psionic attack and defense modes as they gain psionic abilities. Specific modes manifest as the character manifests a specific number of abilities.

Number of Psionic Abilities Manifested

Attack Mode
Manifested

Defense Mode
Manifested
1
Mind Thrust
Thought Shield
2

Mind Blank
3
Ego Whip

4

Mental Barrier
5
Psionic Blast

6

Intellect Fortress
7
Id Insinuation

8

Tower of Iron Will
9
Psychic Crush


Psionic Combat: Only psionic characters who have manifested a psionic attack ability can make a psionic attack. Psionic attacks are made at Strike Speed 12 (the same as Glance attacks). The Psionic Attack Roll is 1D20 + MIND bonus + number of psionic abilities manifested. The attack is successful if it is higher than the target’s Psionic Armor Class (10 + MIND bonus + armor bonuses from a psionic defense mode).

Psionic attacks do psionic damage (see below for amounts). Tally psionic damage separately. If the total psionic damage ever becomes greater than the character’s current hit points, the character falls into a coma and remains in a coma until he has more hit points than psionic damage points and makes a successful WILL save (may be attempted once per hour). With a night’s sleep, psionic damage “heals” 1d6 + twice the number of psionic abilities manifested, if any.

Psionic Defense Modes: Defense modes increase the character’s psionic armor class when in use. Only one mode can be in effect at one time. Thought Shield costs 0 HP to use and gives a +1 bonus to the character’s psionic armor class. Mind Blank costs 0 HP to use and gives a +2 bonus to the character’s psionic armor class. Mental Barrier costs 0 HP to use and gives a +4 bonus to the character’s psionic armor class. Intellect Fortress costs 2 HP to use and gives a +4 bonus to the psionic armor class of the character and everyone within 10 feet. Tower of Iron Will costs 3 HP to use and gives a +6 bonus to the psionic armor class of the character and everyone within 3 feet.

Psionic Attack Modes: Mind Thrust costs 1 HP to use and does 1d8 points of psionic damage. Ego Whip costs 2 HP to use and does 2d6 points of psionic damage and the target must make a WILL save or be stunned for one minute. Psionic Blast costs 4 HP to use and attacks everyone in a conic area in front of the psionic doing 1d6 damage to everyone in the affected area, double damage to those in short range (0-10 feet), half damage at long range (31-50 feet). One attack roll is made and used against all possible targets. Id Insinuation costs 2 HP to use and does 3d6 psionic damage and the target must save vs Fear or be affected as a fear spell for 1d6 rounds. Psychic Crush costs 5 HP to use and does 4d6 psionic damage and 2d6 physical (HP) damage.

Special Note: Don't forget that you can buy a copy of Dark Fate and help the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund at the same time. The author of this very nice old school campaign setting, Marcelo Paschoalin, is kindly donating the net proceeds of all sales from May 15th to June 15th will go to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. See this post for more information. You can click here to Buy Dark Fate.

Microlite75: The Adventurer Class

I've had a request for an optional Adventurer class for Microlite75. The Adventurer class meant to be the only class used (at least by Player Characters) in the game. It is intended to be used in more swords-and-sorcery style campaigns where magic is fairly rare and actual wizards and other magic using specialists are even less common. It's a generic class that can do just about anything. Here is the Microlite75 description:

Adventurers can wear any kind of armor, can use all weapons and may use shields. Physical Combat Bonus is equal to their class level/3, round up. Magical Combat Bonus is equal to their class level/3, round up. Experience Base is 30. They add +1 to all attack and damage rolls. This increases by +1 at 4th level and every four levels thereafter. They can cast spells from scrolls at the normal HP cost plus 1HP for every bonus point of armor they are wearing. They can use all magic items. They can permanently learn a spell from a scroll by expending XP equal to the HP cost to cast the spell.

Adventurers do not the class level/2 physical combat bonus that fighting classes normally get in Microlite75 to further the gritty and dangerous feel of swords and sorcery. Monsters will seem even more dangerous this way. However, as all characters will be Adventurers able to wear all the armor they wish and use any weapon, the additional monster advantage will really be fairly small. Using the optional Talents and/or the optional Advantages and Disadvantages rules in M75 will allow some mechanical customization of characters for those groups who want this. Special thanks to "Bad John" for requesting this and having the patience to explain what he wanted and why when I couldn't quite figure it out.

Special Note: Don't forget that you can buy a copy of Dark Fate and help the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund at the same time. The author of this very nice old school campaign setting, Marcelo Paschoalin, is kindly donating the net proceeds of all sales from May 15th to June 15th will go to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. See this post for more information. You can click here to Buy Dark Fate.

What Would You Like to See in Microlite75?

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One of my players mentioned in an email this morning that those playing in my current Wilderness campaign (which was recently converted from OD&D to Microlite75) have a major perk: their suggestions for Microlite75 get heard. He has a point, but your suggestions can be heard here. What would you like to see in Microlite75? Download the current playtest version from the Microlite75 page and let me know what you think is missing, needed, or would just be a nice option.

Microlite75: Gold Standard or Silver Standard?

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I'm going to add an equipment list to Microlite75 this weekend. Believe it or not, this has been one of the most requested additions for both Microlite74 and Microlite75. However, I have a problem. All editions I'm aware of of the world's most popular fantasy RPGs are on a gold standard -- that is, they have prices in gold pieces. I always use a silver standard with prices in silver pieces. This has always felt more realistic to me.

The question is, which standard should I use for Microlite75: the gold standard most gamers are used to or the silver standard I personally use in my campaigns? While I'm torn as to which way I should do it, I have to admit that it really doesn't make that much difference within the game. The only real difference is whether the "base coin" is called a silver piece or a gold piece. Please tell me which you'd rather see Microlite75 use.

Sponsor Microlite75 and Advanced Microlite20 OSS

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I'm still looking for people to sponsor Microlite75 and Advance Microlite20 OSS with a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. Sponsors will not only get all the downloadable pdfs that all donors to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund receive but will be listed as a sponsor in all version 1.x editions of the game -- including upcoming playtest versions.

  • If you donate $25 or more you will also be listed as a Bronze Sponsor of Microlite75 and Advanced Microlite20 OSS in all 1.x editions of the rulesbooks.
  • If you donate $50 or more you will also be listed as a Silver Sponsor of Microlite75 and Advanced Microlite20 OSS in all 1.x editions of the rulesbooks.
  • If you donate $100 or more you will also be listed as a Gold Sponsorof Microlite75 and Advanced Microlite20 OSS in all 1.x editions of the rulesbooks.
Some of the currently available downloads include:
  • pdf copies of the two issues of The Grimoire I published in the late 1970s (which I blogged about here: The Grimoire #1 and The Grimoire #2
  • pdf copy of The Second Grimoire of Pharesm the Bright-Eyed, a set of house rules for a BECMI campaign I ran at a game shop in the mid-1980s.
  • Microlite74 2.0 Special Edition -- a 60-page PDF designed to be printed in booklet format from Adobe Acrobat. Like the digest-sized version of Microlite74 1.1, the artwork is by Håkan Ackegård. (Visit Håkan Ackegård's Fantasy Gallery to see more of Håkan Ackegård's fantastic art.) Unlike that first attempt at a digest-sized edition, the pages in this edition are numbered and there is a table of contents. This Special Edition incorporates the rules from the first supplement, giving you all the rules currently available for Microlite74 in one booklet. The text has been reformatted into a single column in a large enough font to easily read.
When finished, special donor editions of Microlite75 and Advanced Microlire20 OSS will be available for download as well. To get access to these downloads, send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal at this link:


And until the final versions of Microlite75 and Advanced Microlite20 OSS are published, donations of $25 or more will be considered Microlite75 sponsors as described above. We already already has four bronze sponsors (Dennis Kadera, Shane Morales, Ronald Pehr, Richard Tongue) and two silver sponsors (Matthew Cooper, Sebastian Dietz), hopefully more people will feel that it is something they can and want to do. If you run an old school RPG related business, you can trade being listed as a sponsor in the front of the rulebooks for ad space in both games (quarter page ad -- $25, half page ad -- $50, full page ad -- $100). However, space for ads is limited and are first come, first served. Microlite74 was downloaded nearly 4000 times last year, so this can be an affordable way to help my cancer bills and get some targeted advertising.

Special Note for those who have no idea what the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund is all about: my wife is recovering successfully from oral cancer. I worked on the original Microlite74 as way to cope during her recovery from 6 weeks of radiation treatment in 2008. We are some of the 40 to 50 million people in the US who do not have health insurance. Worse, we do not qualify for government aid as we live in Texas and have no children. The cancer treatments have cost over $110,000 so far. While some of this has been absorbed by hospital foundations and the like (and donors to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund have chipped away at more of it), we still owe a lot of it. We accept donations to help us pay these bills.

Why I Still Play Old Role-Playing Games

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I'm often asked why I play old RPGs instead of whatever the current fad is or whatever the latest edition of the game I'm playing is. Of course, most people asking are really asking why I have no interest in the latest version of D&D. In any case, my answer is really simple. I play games I own and enjoy.

I'm more likely to try a new game if it isn't trying to replace an old favorite, especially if it is doing so by trying to take an old favorite in directions I do not enjoy. D&D started going in directions I did not enjoy much with 2e. After a few years, I even stopped buying 2e stuff.

3e looked great at first, then I discovered how long combat was and how character build-oriented it was quickly becoming -- two things I loathe in RPGs. I dropped it quickly. I tried 4e but immediately discovered that it was even more into long detailed combats than 3.x was, that 4e rules actions did not map to reality very well -- and the damn build-orientation was still there, although toned down.

New ceased being better in the D&D world for me about 1992/1993 because the designers moved the newer versions game further and further away from the type of play I enjoyed into types of play I did not find fun at all. However, I have all this OD&D, AD&D1e, B/X, BECMI/RC D&D (and even some AD&D2e) stuff that still plays well and caters to the style I enjoy, so I play it. I really can't imagine why this surprises so many people. I don't waste a lot of time and money on all sorts of different D&D-like games in the hope that one of them will be better for me than what I already have, know well, and really enjoy.

Note that I'm like this with everything. I drive a 1998 minivan and 1982 car. They both work well and do their job, so why waste money on new ones just because they exist and many people think they are much better (for what they value as "better") than what I have? I guess I lack the "newer must be better" gene or something. I know friends in marketing and advertising have told me many times that they are glad most people aren't like me. :)

That said, I do pick up new games every once in a while. They are usually games for subjects I think I might enjoy but do not already have a "go to" game for -- or a system that appears to have a new and interesting (to me) take on a subject I really like. I buy based on what interests me, not on the need of some game company to put out a new version or whatever. Also, I seldom buy sight unseen any more. If I can't sit down and look through the game rules for an hour or so before purchasing it, chances are pretty good that I'll just decide to save my money rather than chance wasting it on yet another game that sounded good but turned out to be something I would probably never play more than once or twice.

However, it all boils down to I play what I like and I don't care if what I like isn't that popular, that new, or even that good in the eyes of some game design theorist.