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New Release: Darker Dungeons RPG

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Blacky the Blackball, author of the RC-clone Dark Dungeons has released Darker Dungeons. Where Dark Dungeons was intended to be a clone, Darker Dungeons is sort of a "house-ruled" version. It's the game as it is played at Blacky's table. According to the Gratis Games page...

[Darker Dungeons] tries to bring it up to date by replacing many of the disparate game mechanics with a unified system (although it is careful to keep the probabilities of success/failure of actions the same to within +/-5%, so the feel of the game is very similar to Dark Dungeons).

Additionally, Darker Dungeons takes advantage of the fact that it does not need to stick to its source material as closely by including other changes, including:
  • Ability Scores and hit points no longer being randomly generated.
  • Changes to classes (the human Mystic has been replaced by the demi-human Lupine, the Mountebank has been added, and the Magic-User and Elf have been swapped).
  • Removal of Alignment.
  • The ability for clerics and magic-users (and elves) to specialise in one or more types of spell at the cost of being less good with other types.
  • Shields no longer giving a flat bonus to armour class, but instead characters spending Proficiency slots on them to get their bonuses, just like weapons.
  • The removal of Shield Weapons (Knife Shield, Horn Shield, etc.), and the addition of Flails and Morning Stars.

You can download a free pdf copy of Darker Dungeons (or the original Dark Dungeons) from the Gratis Games page. You can also purchase a printed copy from Lulu (at cost of printing and shipping).

I haven't had a chance (yet) to really look through Darker Dungeons, however, I'm very impressed with the original Dark Dungeons.

Fall Cancer Fund Drive Results

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I'd like to thank everyone who made the gift of a donation to the our Fall 2011 RetroRoleplaying Fund Drive. We raised close to $2000 from several large donations and a host of smaller ones. Thanks to everyone who helped.

The drawing for the copy of ST1-Up the Garden Path was held during my Sunday game last Sunday and is going to K. Meier in Essen, Germany. A person who wishes to remain anonymous in a surburb of LA selected First Fantasy Campaign, the Walled City Geomorphs, and the copy of the Cook Expert Rulesbook for donating the largest amount. There was almost a tie for second place -- only ONE DOLLAR separated the two donations, but that one dollar difference allowed J. Brown of Indianapolis to select the Rules Cyclopedia and the City State of the Invincible Overlord. These items are in the mail and on the way to their new owners. The drawing for the remaining two items (the 5th edition OD&D booklets and the Monster & Treasure Assortment) will held next Sunday with the able assistance of the players in my Sunday game. I'm really surprised that one of the top two donors didn't snag the OD&D books, but that just means someone is going to get very lucky next Sunday.

Thanks again to everyone who donated!

Fall Cancer Fund Drive (and ST1: Up the Garden Path Giveaway) Ending Oct 15th

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The Fall RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive (and Goodie Giveaway) will end in about 36 hours (as this is being written). It runs through October 15th, but any donations arriving while I'm asleep on the night of October 15-16 will count as entries (I'm usually up about 6:30 am Central Daylight Time). I'd like to thank everyone who has already donated to the Fall RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive -- it's been very successful. Donations have come in not just from the US and UK but from Germany, Italy, Japan, France, Australia, Finland, and Sweden. Here's a repeat of the information on this fund drive -- and what we have to give away -- from my October 1st post.

As most readers know, my wife is recovering from oral cancer (with her next CT scan coming up in early November) 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 $120,000 so far. While almost three-quarters of this has been absorbed by hospital foundations or paid by previous fund drives, monthly payments by us, and the like, we still owe quite a bit. Our last fund drive was in July of 2010, but we've now accumulated enough old school items to hold another.

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. Anyone donating $25 or more during this fund drive will be listed as a sponsor in the upcoming public digest-sized versions of Microlite74 3.0.

Special Donor Goodies for the Fall 2011 RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive (Mainly Original D&D Items)

Anyone who donates from now through October 15, 2011 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 ST1 Up the Garden Path module. Condition note: it's in what I would call very good condition. The major defect is a very light cup ring on the back cover. It's so light that I can't get it to show up in a picture, but you can clearly see it if you hold it at just the right angle to the light. I suspect it was made by a water glass and not by coffee or soft drinks.

Second, we have items for the largest donors. While these aren't nearly as rare as the ones we had in July of last year, they are probably more useful. The following items are available: First Fantasy Campaign (Judges Guild book by Dave Arneson on his Blackmoor campaign from 1977, first printing, good condition, map present); City-State of the Invincible Overlord (Judges Guild, 1977, this is the original "small booklet" version, two of the blank dungeon maps are missing, otherwise good condition); Original D&D - 3 books (the three little 0e books -- good condition but no box, look to be 5th printing), Outdoor Geomorphs Set One: Walled City (TSR, 1977?, unknown printing, 11 uncut one-sided graphic sheets but cover missing), Monster & Treasure Assortment Sets One-Three (TSR, 1980, booklet version, probably second printing), Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, very good condition), and Expert Rulebook (TSR, 1981, David Cook edition, very good condition),

The person making the largest donation will receive his or her choice of THREE of the above items. The person making the second largest donation will receive his or her choice of TWO of the above items (from those items remaining after the top donor has made his selection). The remaining two items will raffled off. Ties will be broken with OD&D trivia questions.

As was done in our fund drive last year, the major item is being awarded by raffle. This should give almost everyone able top donate a chance at the big prize -- even if they cannot afford to donate a lot. As always, everyone who donates any amount (even just a dollar) gets access to these special PDF downloads: The Grimoire #1, The Grimoire #2, Microlite74 2.0 Special Edition, Hidden Valley House Rules (B/X D&D), and more. A two volume digest-sized "special donor edition" of Microlite74 Extended has been added to the donor downloads in the last week.

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.


Microlite74 Extended Play-by-Blog Looking for Players

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Sully over at A Pack of Gnolls is looking for players for what sounds like a fun sandbox-style campaign:

This will be a player-driven, hex-crawl, sandbox type of game. While the standard fantasy races described in Microlite74 Extended will all be available for PCs, the setting will be low-magic, and with the same basic "Points of Light" idea that 4th Edition D&D espouses. I'll be using converted AD&D2E monsters and magic items, along with plenty of homebrewed goodness. I have no overarching grand plot. The landscape will be liberally sprinkled with plenty of adventure sites, of which the players will hear plenty of rumours about. I will utilize multitudinous random tables to determine a lot of things as the game progresses. This will NOT be all nice and balanced like 4E, nor will it focus excessively on that tactical combat side of things.

Sully is planned on running this using a blog, something like the Grind4e blog campaign. Looking at the Grind4e blog, this does look like a very nice way to run a play-by-post campaign.

If you are interested in playing, contact Sully as described in this post: Microlite74 Play-By-Blog anyone?. The initial set of houserules Sully is using is in this post: Microlite74, Sully's Houserules. (Sully disagrees with my strong gnomes. ::sadly shaking head:: The next thing you know people will disagree with Gygax over beards on female dwarves.)

While I don't have time to play myself, I am looking forward to following the game's blog.


The Fall 2011 Cancer Fund Drive is on (through October 15th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of ST1: Up the Garden Path (a rare D&D module published by TSR UK in 1986). Highest donors will also divide a list of other TSR and Judge's Guild RPG items. You can see the complete list of giveaway items and read more about this fund drive in this post: ST1: Up the Garden Path and More to Giveaway (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 special items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

ST1: Up the Garden Path Map

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A couple of readers have asked if I could post the maps from ST1: Up the Garden Path (see previous posts on this rare D&D module published by TSR UK in 1986 here and here). The maps appear to be official maps of the real world location with game info (encounter locations, etc.) printed over it. Here are scans of the two page map from the inside of the module cover. I've had to crop and reduce them to get them to fit here.




These are the only maps included in the module. There are no detail maps for any location in the module, just verbal descriptions. However, the descriptions are so well done that I did not really notice the lack of any location maps until I started looking for them to scan for this post.


The Fall 2011 Cancer Fund Drive is on (through October 15th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of ST1: Up the Garden Path (a rare D&D module published by TSR UK in 1986). Highest donors will also divide a list of other TSR and Judge's Guild RPG items. You can see the complete list of giveaway items and read more about this fund drive in this post: ST1: Up the Garden Path and More to Giveaway (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 special items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Wizards Ruin Encounters in D&D!

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If you've read many forums or blogs where D&D is discussed over that past 8-10 years, you have probably heard many players complaining about wizards ruining encounters with spells like sleep or fire ball that take out large numbers of the opposition. While I expect to hear GMs (especially GMs who run more linear and/or more pre-plotted adventures) complaining about players who manage to quickly defeat or defuse a situation they have set up and planned out in detail using some power or ability (or just a good idea) they had not "planned for", the idea that players would object to winning an encounter quickly generally seems alien to me.

I've been playing and running D&D and D&D-like games since 1975 and I can't remember any complaints from players about how wizards ruin encounters by taking out the opposition with a sleep spell or a fireball or other magic. Occasionally players would get upset with a wizard who did this if they slagged the treasure in the process, if they killed someone on the opposing side that needed to be kept alive for some reason, or for some similar campaign/adventure related reason. However, I can't remember a single pre-3.x game session where any player complained that a wizard ending a combat before it really could get started was somehow ruining the encounter simply by quickly taking out the opposition. I've only seen this in WOTC editions of the game -- although I suspect I might have heard it if I had ever played 2e with all the Player's Option books.

Why is were such complaints very rare in TSR editions, but seem much more common in WOTC editions? To be honest, I'm not sure -- but I have a hypothesis. These complains are more common in WOTC editions because the place of combat in the game changed greatly with the WOTC editions. (Note: the change really came with the Player's Option books, but the change there was entirely optional and the Player's Option stuff really wasn't that widely used.)

Combat in TSR editions (pre-Player's Option books) was designed to be relatively abstract and very fast to play out. A single combat encounter seldom took long to play and was seldom seen by players as the main activity in the game -- even among players who played just to fight things. Players who enjoyed combat got their enjoyment from having lots of combat encounters in a session -- not from any single encounter. Wizards were unlikely to be able to pack enough combat-ending spells to end many combats during a game session so it was generally a non-issue even for players who were "combat monsters".

Combat in WOTC editions is very tactical (and really needs minis and battlemats from 3.5 on) and each combat consumes a lot of a session's play time. Detailed combat encounters therefore became the main focus of (and source of "fun" in) the game for many players: they enjoyed the tactical feel of combat and looked forward to spending 30 to 90 minutes of real time in each combat encounter.

Given the above, I can understand why players of WOTC editions are more likely to see a wizard ending a combat with a spell early as a problem while players of TSR editions are more likely to not care. Players of WOTC editions are more likely to be playing because they want a detailed tactical combat that takes a major chunk of time to play through; therefore they are more likely to see a spell or two ending combat quickly as bad because it cuts the part of the game they enjoy most out. Players of older versions of D&D are more likely to thank the wizard who put the goblins to sleep as they administer the coup-de-grace, check them for treasure and move on, thankful that they were spared the risk to their limited hit points.

Is the fact that many players today object to wizards using magic to quickly end a combat encounter wrong or silly? Of course not, but it does highlight one of the major difference between older editions of D&D and newer editions of D&D and show why some people are going to clearly prefer newer editions to older editions and vice-versa. There are major differences between older and newer editions that can't be swept under the rug as some try to do by saying "the game plays the same." It simply doesn't play the same.


The Fall 2011 Cancer Fund Drive is on (through October 15th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of ST1: Up the Garden Path (a rare D&D module published by TSR UK in 1986). Highest donors will also divide a list of other TSR and Judge's Guild RPG items. You can see the complete list of giveaway items and read more about this fund drive in this post: ST1: Up the Garden Path and More to Giveaway (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 special items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Microlite74 Extended Digest Available for Retroroleplaying Cancer Fund Donors

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A two volume digest-sized version of Microlite74 Extended is now available for download in my "donors folder" on Mediafire. The first volume, Microlite74 Extended: The Rules, is 60 digest-sized pages, including covers. The second volume, Microlite74 Extended: Magic & Monsters is 64 digest-sized pages, including covers. Both volumes are designed made nice digest-sized booklets when printed using the "Booklet Printing" option in the print dialog in Adobe Reader.
If you have ever donated to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund in any amount, you can download these two pdfs for free. They are located in the location listed for the other free donor downloads in the email I sent you in reply to your donation -- they use the same password listed in that email as well. If you've donated, but lost that information, you can email me giving me the email address your Paypal account used and the approximate date you donated and I can check you donation and send you the info you need to download these files.

This digest-sized special edition of Microlite74 Extended contains no additional material not available to everyone. It's simply formatted for digest printing with slightly larger type, illustrations, and other formatting changes. This special edition is just a another "thank you" for cancer fund donors.


The Fall 2011 Cancer Fund Drive is on (through October 15th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of ST1: Up the Garden Path (a rare D&D module published by TSR UK in 1986). Highest donors will also divide a list of other TSR and Judge's Guild RPG items. You can see the complete list of giveaway items and read more about this fund drive in this post: ST1: Up the Garden Path and More to Giveaway (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 special items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!



More on ST1: Up the Garden Path (1986 TSR UK module)

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I've been asked to describe the ST1: Up the Garden Path adventure as "most people will never see it as only one person can win the copy." That's a fair request, but the adventure is very hard to describe.

Quick Adventure Summary: ST1: Up the Garden Path is set in a very small pocket dimension sandbox full of weirdness. The PCs get dumped there and have to find their way out. There is a catch, of course. This pocket dimension should not be able to exist, but it does. Unfortunately, it is headed for a collision with the "real" universe the PCs come from. If it is allowed to do so, both this pocket dimension and the PC's universe will cease to exist. The PCs travel from one area of silliness to another trying to find eight contradictions -- things so contradictory that they stand out even in this weird dimension. Once they have located and collected these eight contradictions, they have to find the being who sustains this madhouse and present these contradictions to that being.

When they do so, the pocket dimension will go "poof!" and the PCs will find themselves back in their real universe -- having just saved it from destruction. No one will believe that they saved the universe from destruction, of course. Fortunately, any items the PCs acquired in the pocket dimension and have with them when they confront the partial Quirk of Probability who sustains the pocket dimension will return with them to the real universe. However, "any object brought back into the PCs' world will have a rather peculiar property. Whenever it is needed, looked for or even mentioned, there is a 2 in 6 chance that it is not actually there!"

Details: The adventure itself is a sandbox. There's a number of well-described locations and inhabitants and the players are pretty much free to have their characters explore and interact as they will. Locations include:

1. Maypole Hill
2. Four different Railway Stations
3. The Spring
4. Ancient Ruins
5. Wishing Well
6. Harbour Village
7. The Rainbow
8.Stone Circle
9. Fort
10. Camera Obscura
11. The Cliff
12. Lakes
13. Shadow Palace of John Smith
14. Railway Station (Dimensional Portal where the PC arrive)
15. The Vinery
16. Sprite's Spiral
17. High Watch
18. Small Lake
19. Abandoned Market
20. Lonely Wanderer Inn
23. Labyrinth
24. Dragon Bedding Display
25. Amphitheater
26. Rocky Valley
27. Compass
28. Arena
29. Arborinexorabilaneous' Sanctury
30. Temple of Pra'aaps

The various railway stations are part of the Gnomish Short & Light Railway Company ("a triumph of gnomish engineering skill"). It a way to travel around the adventure, but not necessary quickly as the gnomes haven't invented corridors in the rail cars yet, so the conductor has the move around on the outside of the train. Naturally he often falls off and the train has to stop so he can get back on. Other inhabitants include the members of the Round Earth Society who believe the pocket dimension is really round instead of flat, a mage called John "I ain't really here" Smith who believes the Garden dimension doesn't really exist at all, Oblivious the (drunk) spirit dragon, the Enceepeh tribe of gnolls and plains barbarians who live in what would be the parking lots of the real Garden, and many wandering inhabitants. The PCs real problems will come from the Cult of Pra'aaps. The cultists have a better idea than most Garden inhabitants as to what the Garden really is. However, they believe that when the Garden is destroyed their God will save them. Naturally they will not be happy that the PCs might interfere with this.

ST1: Up the Garden Path looks like it would be a fun, if silly, adventure to play through. It's definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea, however.


The Fall 2011 Cancer Fund Drive is on (through October 15th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of ST1: Up the Garden Path (a rare D&D module published by TSR UK in 1986). Highest donors will also divide a list of other TSR and Judge's Guild RPG items. You can see the complete list of giveaway items and read more about this fund drive in this post: ST1: Up the Garden Path and More to Giveaway (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 special items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Microlite74 Extended Digest-Sized Special Edition Coming Soon

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I'm working on a digest-sized special edition of Microlite74 Extended which should be ready in a few days. It will be split into two volumes, each probably around 64 pages. The first volume will include the rules and play/GM advice. The second volume will include spell and monster descriptions. There will be artwork. The print will be larger. This special edition of Microlite74 Extended will be available to everyone who has ever donated to the Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund. An edition without all the art will be made available to everyone for free at a later date.

I may do similar digest-sized special editions of Microlite74 Basic and Microlite74 Standard -- if there is enough interest.


The Fall 2011 Cancer Fund Drive is on (through October 15th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of ST1: Up the Garden Path (a rare D&D module published by TSR UK in 1986). Highest donors will also divide a list of other TSR and Judge's Guild RPG items. You can see the complete list of giveaway items and read more about this fund drive in this post: ST1: Up the Garden Path and More to Giveaway (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 special items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

Spell Components Made Easy

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Some older editions of D&D require a caster to have specific spell components on hand to be able to cast a spell. This is both a method of limiting the power of magic and providing a slightly more "magical" feel to the game. Unfortunately, it is such a pain in the ass to track that few groups regularly use it. Here is a method of using spell components which requires less far bookkeeping.

Spell Components
Casting an arcane spell requires various components which are consumed in the spell. Most spells only require the generic components discussed here. However, the GM may require very specific components to cast specific rare or powerful spells -- such components will have to be bought or found. Conversely, the GM may decide that a few spells (like "power word" spells) do not require components to cast.

Generic spell components can be obtained in most towns and cities. One simply purchases a number of gold pieces worth of generic components. Each 500 gp worth of generic components weighes one pound. When an arcane caster wants to cast a spell, he or she pulls the appropriate amount of generic components out and casts the spell. Spells require their spell level squared time ten gp worth of spell components. That is, a first level spell requires 10gp [(1*1)*10gp] worth of spell components to cast, a second level spell requires 40gp [(2*2)*10gp] worth of spell components to cast, a third level spell requires 90gp [(3*3)*10gp] worth of spell components to cast, a fourth level spell requires 160gp [(4*4)*10gp) worth of spell components to cast, etc.

A rule like this one provides most of the benefits of requiring spell components to cast spells, but eliminates much of the boring list keeping. The GM still has the optional to require specific special components for spells that he considers very powerful or very hard to use in his campaign. It's up to the GM as to what happens if a character doesn't have the needed spell components (he ran out, they were stolen or lost, etc.). It might be impossible to cast spells without components or spells might cost more in other areas to cast without components -- perhaps taking many minutes to cast or costing more spell points (in systems with spell points.


The Fall 2011 Cancer Fund Drive is on (through October 15th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of ST1: Up the Garden Path (a rare D&D module published by TSR UK in 1986). Highest donors will also divide a list of other TSR and Judge's Guild RPG items. You can see the complete list of giveaway items and read more about this fund drive in this post: ST1: Up the Garden Path and More to Giveaway (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 special items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!



ST1: Up the Garden Path and More to Giveaway (for Cancer Fund Donors)

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It's been a very long time -- over a year -- since we had a fund raiser for the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund (which helps pay down the huge bills associated with my wife's cancer treatments from 2007-2008). I've been asked several times when we were going to have another. The problem has been a lack of items to give away. As of yesterday's mail, this is no longer a problem. I received a package from a Microlite74 GM in Belfast containing a very nice copy of a rare D&D module from the UK: ST1 - Up the Garden Path.

If you are like me, you've never heard of this module. It is a special module written by Graeme Morris and Mike Brunton produced by TSR UK and sold at the 1986 National Garden Festival and the 1986 Games Day convention. From glancing through it, all I can say is it is one of the strangest D&D modules I've even seen. It is set in a pocket dimension that looks like the grounds where the 1986 National Garden Festival was held (at Stoke on Trent for those more familiar with the UK than I am). The adventure itself reminds me of Gygax's Dungeonland adventure -- very whimsical and humorous (in a British way). The adventure is for 5-8 characters of levels ranging from 4 to 7. I'm not sure I'd run it, but then I never had much luck with Dungeonland.

From the back cover:

The day has been long and hard and, as night falls, you gratefully surrender to the soft, silent blackness of well-earned sleep.

Then the dream comes.

You are seated on a throne in a cavern where the sun has never shone; where no voice has ever spoken. Yet you are not alone. Through the darkness, silent figures are moving. Blacker than black... formless yet menacing... advancing towards you from every side....

You feel their touch; icy claws plucking at your skin and hair, lifting the throne and carrying you helpless on a journey from darkness into further darkness, from silence into deeper silence. You scream, and a million anguished, reedy voices answer your call.

Suddenly you awake...

...and the dream is real.

This adventure is for use with the Dungeons & Dragons Expert and Basic rules sets. Both of these are needed to use the information in Up the Garden Path. Experienced Dungeon Masters of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game should have no difficulty in adapting this adventure to the AD&D game system.

I'd like to thank Ryan for sending me one of the three copies(!!) he found over the summer as gives me a nice item to base a Cancer Fund Drive around. As most readers know, my wife is recovering from oral cancer (with her next CT scan coming up in early November) 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 $120,000 so far. While almost three-quarters of this has been absorbed by hospital foundations or paid by previous fund drives, monthly payments by us, and the like, we still owe quite a bit. Our last fund drive was in July of 2010, but we've now accumulated enough old school items to hold another.

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. Anyone donating $25 or more during this fund drive will be listed as a sponsor in the upcoming digest-sized versions of Microlite74 3.0.

Special Donor Goodies for the Fall 2011 RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive (Mainly Original D&D Items)

Anyone who donates from now through October 15, 2011 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 ST1 Up the Garden Path module described above. Condition note: it's in what I would call very good condition. The major defect is a very light cup ring on the back cover. It's so light that I can't get it to show up in a picture, but you can clearly see it if you hold it at just the right angle to the light. I suspect it was made by a water glass and not by coffee or soft drinks. Anyone who has donated to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund in any amount during the last year will been given one free chance in this raffle.

Second, we have items for the largest donors. While these aren't nearly as rare as the ones we had in July of last year, they are probably more useful. The following items are available: First Fantasy Campaign (Judges Guild book by Dave Arneson on his Blackmoor campaign from 1977, first printing, good condition, map present); City-State of the Invincible Overlord (Judges Guild, 1977, this is the original "small booklet" version, two of the blank dungeon maps are missing, otherwise good condition); Original D&D - 3 books (the three little 0e books -- good condition but no box, look to be 5th printing), Outdoor Geomorphs Set One: Walled City (TSR, 1977?, unknown printing, 11 uncut one-sided graphic sheets but cover missing), Monster & Treasure Assortment Sets One-Three (TSR, 1980, booklet version, probably second printing), Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, very good condition), and Expert Rulebook (TSR, 1981, David Cook edition, very good condition),

The person making the largest donation will receive his or her choice of THREE of the above items. The person making the second largest donation will receive his or her choice of TWO of the above items (from those items remaining after the top donor has made his selection). The remaining two items will raffled off. Ties will be broken with OD&D trivia questions.

As was done in our fund drive last year, the major item is being awarded by raffle. This should give almost everyone able top donate a chance at the big prize -- even if they cannot afford to donate a lot. As always, everyone who donates any amount (even just a dollar) gets access to these special PDF downloads: The Grimoire #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 fundraising 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 never could pass 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.


Microlite74 Version 3.0 Now Available (Free 0e-like M20-based rules)

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Microlite74 Version 3.0 is finally here. I'd like to thank everyone who has commented on or helped to proofread the various drafts that have been published over the last couple of months. Version 3.0 is far better for all the help. I'd especially like to thank the players in my Sunday Wilderlands game -- which starts its third year of play this Sunday -- who have been the major push behind improvements to Microlite74.

Microlite74 games, like all Microlite20 variants, are trimmed-down miniature versions of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. The goal of Microlite74 games is to recreate the style and feel of that very first (“0e”) fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions. The rules are not intended to be a clone of the 0e rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules.

The new third edition of Microlite74 comes in three different versions:

Microlite74 Basic -- This version has about 4 pages of actual rules (and about 6 pages of spell and monster lists). It emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game in its earliest form: the original 3 little booklets in the 0e boxed set. You have Fighters, Clerics, and Magic-Users, hit dice are all d6s (and is all weapon damage and most monster damage), there are relatively few spells (and they top out at 6th level, 5th level for clerics), and the maximum suggested level is only 12-14. It may sound limited, but it can be a lot of fun.

Microlite74 Standard -- This version has about five and a half pages of actual rules (and about ten and a half pages of spell and monster lists). It emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game in its complete form: the original 3 little booklets in the 0e boxed set plus most of the material from the supplements and "official" material published in the early magazine articles. You have Fighters, Rangers, Paladins, Clerics, Druids, Magic-Users, Illusionists, and Thieves (and optionally Assassins, Bards, and Monks), with variable hit dice and weapon damage, a complete set of spells (through 9th level for Magic-Users, 7th level, for Clerics, Druids, and Illusionists), and combat is covered in slightly more detail. Microlite74 Standard has all the features of 0e as most people played it back in the late 1970s.

Microlite74 Extended -- This version has about 8 pages of actual rules (and about 15 pages of spell, monster and equipment lists). It emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game with versions of many of the house rules the author used in the late 1970s -- and uses today in his Wilderlands campaign. In includes everything Microlite74 standard does and adds rules for character backgrounds (optional in Basic and Standard), alignment, spell casting with implements and rituals, Body Points representing actual major wounds), a slightly more detailed combat system, more spells and monsters, and other minor rules changes. It is slightly more complex in play than Microlite75 Standard, but not considerably so. The original edition of Microlite74 Extended was called Microlite75.

Microlite74 Companion Volumes will add optional rules and details to the game. The first Microlite74 Companion volume is titled "Optional Rules" and includes many optional rules. Most can be used with any version of Microlite74 Version 3.0: Basic, Standard, or Extended. There are optional rules included for stat generation, races, classes, class abilities, advantages and disadvantages, traditional saving rolls, skills and talents, metamagic, ritual magic, counterspells, weird science, fire-and-forget magic, combat stunts, armor for all classes, weapon damage by class, minis and battlemats, action points, fame, sanity, aspects, Psionics, spirits (combat, powers, and binding), fixed level campaigns, science fantasy, and more.

You can download free copies from Mediafire:

Microlite74 Basic (850K PDF -- the back cover image is much of this)
Download Microlite74 Basic

Microlite74 Standard (550K PDF)
Download Microlite74 Standard

Microlite74 Extended (892K PDF)
Download Microlite74 Extended

Microlite74 Companion 1: Optional Rules (590K PDF)
Download Microlite74 Companion I: Optional Rules

Enjoy the new edition of Microlite74!


The Fall 2011 Cancer Fund Drive is on (through October 15th). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a copy of ST1: Up the Garden Path (a rare D&D module published by TSR UK in 1986). Highest donors will also divide a list of other TSR and Judge's Guild RPG items. You can see the complete list of giveaway items and read more about this fund drive in this post: ST1: Up the Garden Path and More to Giveaway (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 special items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!