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Coming Soon: A New RetroRoleplaying Message Board

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Long time readers may remember that RetroRoleplaying once had a message board. Unfortunately, after I finished Microlite74, I did not use it much -- and no one else did either. Shortly after the beginning of the year, spammers broke the spam protection and I just shut the board down rather than fight them.

I'm working on a new board with better spammer blocking and a number of nice features including social groups (so members can have areas to discuss whatever games they want or even to run private play-by-post games -- social groups were popular on the old Role Play Media Network), a project area (for designers wanting an organized way to handle design feedback), multiple selectable signatures (so your characters in a play-by-post game can have their own sig), blogs for members, and more.

I will use this as "home base" for the new "Monster Mash" edition of Microlite75 and to support Microlite75, Microlite74, and my other Microlite20 variants. General discussion of older RPGs will be welcome as well. The board will also be available for members to run play-by-post games and for other old school designers and publishers to use if they wish (including a forum the designer/publisher gets to moderate).

I hope to have this new message board open by the end of July.  Needless to say, membership will be free.

Attribute Bonuses in Microlite75

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I'm not happy with the huge attribute bonuses in Microlite75. The rules say to calculate by this formula:

Attribute bonus = (STAT-10)/2, round toward zero.

This means attribute bonuses range from -3 for a attribute of 3 to +4 for an attribute of 18. I don't actually use this formula in my games, but was talked into putting them in the rules because "most players expect large attribute modifiers" and because my table can't be expressed as a simple formula. I actually use this table:

Stat Bonus
3 -1
4-15 0
16-17 +1
18 +2

This makes having "good attributes" far less important. Only a 3 gives a negative modifier and even someone with an 18 is only going to be about 10% better than average. Like in the original three booklets, a character doesn't need high stats to be effective. Even though it will meaning adding a table, I will be including the system I actually use in the next edition of M75 as an optional rule.

Experience in Microlite75 Monster Mash Edition

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There is some discussion amongthe players in my group about experience points in the upcoming Monster Mash edition of Microlite75. About half the group wants to keep experience points like they are now in M75:

Characters get Experience Points (XP) when their party defeats monsters. Experience Points (XP) = Hit Dice of defeated monsters. Add +1 for each doubling of the number of foes. e.g.: 1 kobold (a 1 hit die monster) = 1 XP. 2 kobolds = 2 XP. 4 kobolds = 3 XP, 8 kobolds = 4 XP etc. Add +1 or +2 XP (GM’s discretion) if the foes have dangerous special abilities.

Characters also earn a GM-assigned amount of experience points for defeating traps, solving puzzles, excellent roleplaying, and the like. The GM should assign XP depending on the situation (usually from 1 to 5 XP). Characters can also lose up to 5 XP for generally ignoring their alignment or other very poor roleplaying.

Individual characters can also earn experience points from spending money found in treasures (or taken from monsters) in totally frivolous ways (e.g. wine, women, song, donations to a temple without getting anything in return, generic “training,” etc.). A character earns 1 XP for each 100gp so spent.

Add up the Experience Points (XP) of every successful encounter you take part in plus any earned from GM specials and treasure spent. When the total is equal to your Experience Base x your next level, you've advanced to the next level. Reset the total XP to 0 after advancing.

The other half of the group would like to see experience points more like 0e. That is, experience points would be more finely grained. instead of taking an average character 25 or so XP to advance to second level, it would take about 2000 XP. Experience would be awarded in larger quantities more like in 0e. For example, a single 1 hit die monster might be worth 10 XP and gold spend would be worth 1 XP per gold piece spent in a totally frivolous way.

This would be more like the original game and would allow the GM to be more exact in awarding XP, but it would make the numbers larger and make the experience system more complex. Which do you think would be better -- the less complex Microlite method with smaller numbers or the more complex 0e method with larger numbers?

Microlite75: the "Monster Mash" Edition

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After months of "strong encouragement" by a couple of my players and a few people in the OSR blogsphere, I've started work on a new edition of Microlite75, with the working title of  the "Monster Mash Edition" or "M75-MME". It will have a different name when it's published. While "Microlite75" is a large enough game that it really stretches the idea of "microlite" well beyond where it should probably go, M75-MME will be a even larger book.

The first part of the book will be a revised version of the current standard and optional Microlite75 rules. They will -- hopefully -- be a bit better explained and will come with some examples of play. The second part of the book will be a complete write-up of M75 spells and monsters -- not just the short one or two line descriptions in the current edition. Treasure will be covered as well, not just mentioned in passing. The third part of the book will include guidelines for wilderness and dungeon adventures. In other words, M75-MME is designed to be a complete set of rules and guidelines for M75 campaigns. There will be no need to refer to the SRD, old TSR manuals, or other OSR games to play -- unless, of course, you want to.

The book will be available as a free PDF just as all my previous Microlite20 variants. However, it may also be available (at near cost) as a print on demand book from Lulu, Createspace or some other POD publisher. As this edition will not be pretending to be "microlite," it will use larger type and therefore be easier to read.

As you might guess from the "Monster Mash" name, this edition will be a "mash up" of all the OGL material out there for the text of parts two and three -- lightly (or heavily if needed) rewritten to fit the Microlite75 rules base. I've finally been convinced that enough people really want all this material in one volume to do this. Please note, however, that M75-MME is not the much requested "Swords and Wizardry rewritten with all the M75 house rules added." I simply cannot do that to all the good people who produce Swords and Wizardry -- no matter how legal it might be. I'm not a big corporation so I don't see any need to screw others over just because it is convenient and not illegal to do so.

I plan to include a number of interesting OGL and other open content monsters, spells, and treasures that others in the OSR have created and published as well as a number of monsters and spells I have created over the years. I may also include a complete setting in the book, most likely a version of my Hidden Valley setting, but I am also considering other OGL campaign settings.

I'd really like to have this project done by Christmas 2011. That's probably not realistic given my real life commitments, but it is my initial target date. I'll try to keep everyone informed as to my progress. And I'm certainly open to your ideas and suggestions.