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Holiday Cancer Fund Drive Final Report

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I am happy to be announce that the Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive raised just over $1100 dollars. With the $700 of my wife and I contributed, we had just over $1800 -- which was doubled, meaning $3600 was paid on our cancer bills -- which just about covered my wife's annual CT Scan from November. Although we wish we could have raised the entire $3000, we can't complain at all.

Unfortunately, we did not reach the $2000 goal Todd had set for his OD&D items. Todd has agreed to offer them again in our next donation drive -- which will not happen until I have some more really good items to give away. I've managed to contact the winners of the AD&D items and I'm happy to say that all the AD&D items have been mailed out. Well, all but one. Tom C. Stopped by on his way to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl and collected his copy of Unearth Arcana (1e version). It was nice to meet you. I hope you enjoyed watching the Longhorns win.

The only idea unaccounted for is the high donor item -- the special one-of-a-kind edition of one of the Microlite74 versions. A.H. please check your email.

I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to this drive. I'd sing the "Thank you very much" song from Scrooge, but my singing is classified as torture. So I'll just link to the Youtube clip.

Including Microlite74 Optional Rules in Gyphons and Grammarie?

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Gyphons & Grammarie is the working title of the set of variant rules for S&W I'm working on -- based on the same 0e house rules I incorporated into Microlite74 3.0 Extended. I've had a few requests to include S&W version of some of the more popular optional rules in Microlite74 Companion I in Gyphons & Grammarie as optional rules. I'm not sure this would be a great idea. On the other hand I'm not really opposed to doing so.

Some optional rules from M74 Companion 1 that might work as G&G optional rules without a lot of changes to the basic G&G system:

* Optional Stat generation methods
* Optional Races
* Fighter Special Abilities
* Character Goals & Personality Traits
* Weird Science and the Techno class
* Combat Stunts
* Armor for Everyone
* Weapon Damage per Class
* Overwhelming Opponents
* Black Powder Weapons
* Action Points
* Fame
* Sanity
* Aspects
* Deities and Divine Intervention
* Spirits

Should I include some or all of these as optional rules in Gyphons & Grammarie? If some, which some?


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of six AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (described in more detail here). These items 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 donor giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1760 dollars have been donated. That's about 59% of our goal of $3000. Please donate now if you can.

Drive Ends at 7am December 18 -- less than 18 hours from post time!



Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive -- Less than 36 Hours Left

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There are only about 36 hours left to donate to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund during our Holiday Fund Drive and have a chance at our Donor goodies giveaway: First, a couple of AD&D books: one copy of Unearthed Arcana for SD&D 1e, one copy of Oriental Adventures for AD&D1e, one copy of C1 (Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, 1980), one copy of C2 (Ghost Tower of Inverness, 1980), one copy of S2 (White Plume Mountain, 1979), and one copy of The Official Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Coloring Book. These six items will be raffled off to donors, one chance per dollar donated. See the links below for more information.

Don't forget that all donations with be doubled by a Waco-area supporter so every dollar you donate pays two dollars of medical bills.


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of six AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (described in more detail here). These items 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 donor giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1487 dollars have been donated. That's about 49% of our goal of $3000. Please donate now if you can.

Rob Kuntz has a New Blog!

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Rob Kuntz has a new blog: Lake Geneva Original RPG.

So what are you waiting for? Go see it now, then come back and make a donation to our combined Toys for Tots/Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund drive.



For the next 2 days (say until 5:59 CST Sunday evening) any money donated to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund will be split 50/50 (after Paypal fees, if any) between Toys for Tots and the cancer fund. Donors will still get full credit for their total donation in chances to win the donor Giveaways I'm giving away in the Holiday Cancer Fund Drive. Only 50% of the donation will count toward donor amount for the high donor OD&D items Todd is giving to the one of the three highest donors. To make this clear, let's say you donate $50 and there are no Paypal fees (as you donated from your Paypal balance), $25 would go to Toys for Tots and $25 to the Retroroleplaying Cancer Fund. You'd get 50 chances in the drawings for the donor giveaway items and $25 of the donation would count towards Todd's "high donor" OD&D item giveaway. To donate and help Toys for Tots, send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- via Paypal before 11:59pm CDT Sunday evening (December 16th).

Help Provide Christmas Toys to Needy Children (aka Future Gamers)

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While I have a lot of "acting experience" from playing NPCs in RPGs for over 30 years, my sole true acting experience was in high school. I was Gentleman #1 in A Christmas Carol. I had very few lines and most were very short. My longest line was "At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."

I was reminded of this line a couple of nights ago when one of our neighbors, a retired marine sergeant, made his annual visit to all the neighbors asking for donations for Toys for Tots. He came at a bad time as we had just lost our seventeen-year dachshund earlier in the afternoon, but somehow the idea of children without Christmas presents snapped us out of our funk long enough to invite him in for some of my wife's Christmas baking and a donation for Toys for Tots. It's a great cause and the Marine Reserve has always done a wonderful job with the program. There are never enough toys to go around, of course, as the need is always great.

Later that night, I remember that Michael Shorten (aka ChicagoWiz/ChgoWiz) used to have annual Toys for Tots donation drive on his (now unfortunately defunct) blog. Seeing how much success we had with a combined donation drive for Karen's House and the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund earlier in the year, I decided that there are a lot of children out there that we gamers could help with a quick donation drive for Toys for Tots via my blog. I may not have the power of persuasion that ChicagoWiz had, but I think the cause and the group behind it speak for themselves: Toys for Tots, powered by US Marines and a lot of civilians like us donating toys and money, doing their best to see that no child goes without a toy for Christmas.

Therefore, for the next 2 days (say until 5:59 CST Sunday evening) any money donated to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund will be split 50/50 (after Paypal fees, if any) between Toys for Tots and the cancer fund. Donors will still get full credit for their total donation in chances to win the donor Giveaways I'm giving away. Only 50% of the donation will count toward donor amount for the high donor OD&D items Todd is giving to the one of the three highest donors. To make this clear, let's say you donate $50 and there are no Paypal fees (as you donated from your Paypal balance), $25 would go to Toys for Tots and $25 to the Retroroleplaying Cancer Fund. You'd get 50 chances in the drawings for the donor giveaway items and $25 of the donation would count towards Todd's "high donor" OD&D item giveaway.

So here's a chance to help two decent causes with one stone, err donation. If you can spare a ten or a twenty, or even more, it will help so much. Toys for Tots will be able to help more children and I will pay off more cancer bills. To donate and help Toys for Tots, send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- via Paypal before 5:59pm CST Sunday evening (December 16th).

GENTLEMAN #2: "...a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?" -- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of six AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (described in more detail here). These items 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 donor giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1453 dollars have been donated. That's about 49% of our goal of $3000. Please donate now if you can.

Microlite74 Companion 3 More Option Rules Beta 1 Available for Free Download

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We hit $1400 raised (of our $3000 goal) last night. As promised, I've released a beta copy of Microlite74 3.0 Companion 3: More Option Rules today. This second book of optional rules for Microlite74 includes a large number of completely independent optional rules designed for GMs to go through and add rules they like and which fit their campaign. No one campaign is likely to use all of these rules.

There are optional rules for:

* Optional stats: Sanity and Luck
* Many optional races, including orcs, goblins, dragonborn, orges, shifters, catfolk, pixies, and many more.
* Many optional classes: Witches, necromancers, delvers, witch-hunters, sages, swashbucklers, rogues, and many more
* Experimental classes: Superheroes, psychics, acrobats, priests, and ascetics
* Optional rules for race as class
* Experimental class options for standard classes
* Specialist Priests
* Character Monsters
* Spell Spheres (a limited form of free-form magic)
* Simple rules for magic item creation
* Material Components for spells
* Feats of Strength and Skill, Shield Walls, Climbing on Enemies, Mounted Combat
* Action-Type Initiative
* Unusual Weapon rules
* Special effects for critical hits and misses
* Prime Requisite Experience Bonuses
* Additional Spells for conjurers, necromancers, shaman asetics, thaumaturges, and witches.
* Many additional monsters
* Traps, Natural Hazards, and Diseases

You can download a copy of Microlite74 3.0 Companion 3: More Option Rules from Mediafire. It's a 30 page PDF file (about 500K to download.

Download Microlite74 3.0 Companion 3: More Option Rules Beta 1

Comments on these rules are welcome, either in this post or on our message board.

Please enjoy these rules, but remember that they are NOT yet in final form. Also please remember that we still have a few more days to raise money in our donation drive. See below for more info and please donate if you can. Thank you!


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of six AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (described in more detail here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1406 dollars have been donated. That's about 47% of our goal of $3000. Please donate now if you can.

There's Only One Megadungeon

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I discussion of megadungeons vs small dungeons on theRPGsite reminded me of how I handled dungeons in one campaign in the late 1970s. There was only one real dungeon in the world, all dungeons deserving of the name were magically linked. Not obviously linked in many cases, but linked nevertheless. In some cases magically linked corridors were only open to monsters or people who were initiates of particular chaotic deities. Others were only connected by hidden teleportals or even gates that only opened at certain times, in the presence of certain items, or even only when certain rituals were performed.

Dungeons usually did not start out linked as part of the megadungeon. However, when a dungeon, a cave system or even goblinoid tunnels grew beyond a certain size, a link or links to some part of the megadungeon would appear -- sooner or later. Some were other these links were created on purpose by wizards or powerful magic-using monsters, but others just seemed to appear. A knowledgeable (and powerful) character, NPC, or monster could take advantage of these interconnections to travel the world relatively quickly (and without using traceable magic like long distance teleports or opening a gate), provided he or she (or it) did not mind a dangerous journey through dungeons to get there. Intelligent monsters used this method of moving around a lot. One powerful lich even managed to run four separate small kingdoms without anyone being aware that each kingdom was ruled by the same being as his home sat over a small part of the megadungeon that was somewhat of a nexus between many other parts of the megadungeon.

These connections even extended to a few alternative versions of the prime material plane. One connection the players found opened to the dungeon beneath the city of Jakalla in Tekumel. Another corridor opened into a corridor on the USS Enterprise, a corridor that only those with the ability to see magic could find from the "Star Trek" side. Although no PCs ever went deep enough into dungeon(s) to find it, the very lowest levels connected directly to the Abyss.

The connections to the Abyss, of course, were the true source of the ever expanding connections that incorporated dungeon after dungeon into the megadungeon. The powerful demons and godlings in the Abyss had a plan to incorporate the prime material plane(s) into the Abyss by creating many connections between the Abyss and the prime material plane(s). Eventually, they would send billions of demons and other chaotic creatures through these connections and conquer the prime material plane(s). Of course, being highly chaotic and unwilling to work closely together, the invasion never happened. Actually invading would require far more coordination and cooperation than chaos could muster. But the megadungeon just kept growing and expanding....

Are the dungeons in my current Microlite74 Wilderlands campaign linked in a similar manner? That would be telling.


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of six AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (described in more detail here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1371 dollars have been donated. That's about 46% of our goal of $3000. Please donate now if you can.

No D&D Next (If I was in Charge of D&D at WOTC)

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I've made no secret of the fact that the new "D&D Next" isn't doing much for me. I've been asked what I would do if I were in charge of D&D at WOTC several times over the past year. Here's my answer.

First, I'd hire a couple of D&D 4e experts to go over the 4e material and finalize the system (between the original 4e material, the later 4e material and the Essentials), and write a definitive Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, and GM Guide. I'll call this line "D&D Tactics" and publish new material for it through the current online system. Yes, I personally loathe 4e, it stresses everything I dislike about D&D while downplaying just about everything I do like about D&D. However, it has a current following and works well for non-traditional-campaign and competitive play. It should also be the basis for some great tactical computer games and boardgames. There's no reason to kill it off, just steamline it by finally deciding how it works and rename it to "D&D Tactics".

Second, I would take the D&D Rules Cyclopedia from the early 1990s and clean it up with the fan errata (see here). I'd make no other changes to the current text, but I would add three additional appendixes. The first would provide rules for separating race from class (adding around 6 t 8 pages). The second would provide ascending AC combat rules (adding 2 to 4 pages). The third would provide advanced (grid-based) combat rules, basically a form of the 3.x rules streamlined a bit (adding 10 to 20 pages). I'd replace the art and reformat the layout as needed and publish a nice hardback book -- everything you need to play D&D in one book. When this was published, I'd release a slightly updated version of the red box Basic set as free PDFs online long with free PDFs of B1 and B2. Give away the basic version of the game as a way to sell the full D&D game. I'd support this game by selling PDFs of the old BECMI modules, gazetteers, and supplements online at reasonable prices. I'd also release several new adventure modules a supplements a year. I'd also have a liberal license that encouraged third parties to publish adventures, campaigns, monster books, treasure books and the like and D&D needs strong third party support.

To that end, I'd try to get Piazo to resume publication of Dungeon and Dragon magazines with the right to support all editions of D&D (except 4e would would be handled online by WOTC as it is now) and other D20 games -- including Pathfinder. I'd be willing to be very liberal with the license as getting magazines out is good advertisement for the games. If Piazo was not interested, I'd try to find someone else who was. In house publication would probably be out as magazines are simply not profitable enough for the Hasbro bean counters.

Finally, I'd also make everything TSR and WOTC had published for D&D (0e through 3.5) available as PDFs and via POD. And I'd formally reprint the core books (corrected for errata) of each version, probably one edition a year, as "classic"/collector's editions".

There's really no need for a "D&D Next" -- all it will do is fragment the D&D player base yet again.


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of six AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (described in more detail here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1371 dollars have been donated. That's about 46% of our goal of $3000. Please donate now if you can.

D&D Editions and Harry Potter Characters as DMs?

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One of my players has this theory (which he will not tell us yet) about D&D editions and Harry Potter. He's asked us all (Sunday game folks) to tell him our version edition of TSR or WOTC D&D and which Harry potter character we think would be the most interesting DM to run a campaign of that game for us. I assume he thinks there is some correlation between favorite edition and Harry potter character, but he will not tell us because he wants a larger sample set first.

Therefore, in the interests of this not eating at my mind, I've decided to ask readers of this blog to chime in in comments with their favorite edition of TSR or WOTC D&D and which Harry Potter character they'd like to have run a campaign with that set of rules for them. With any luck, enough people will answer so he'll have a big enough set of samples and will tell us this "theory". (Which I will, of course, pass along on this blog.)

Yes, I know it is silly to let something like this eat away at my brain, but it's like a song I hate but just can't get out of my head... Comment with your picks, please! My addled brain really really thanks you.


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of six AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (described in more detail here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1266 dollars have been donated. That's 42% of our goal of $3000. Please donate now if you can.

Help the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund And Get a Chance at OD&D and AD&D Items

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This is an updated post about the Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive. As several additional donor giveaway items have been added since the drive started, the original post is out of date. Therefore, I'm posting this new updated version.

Background: As many regular readers know my wife had oral cancer some years back and i wrote the original version of Microlite74 to take my mind off of her daily radiation treatments. At about 4.5 years after surgery to remove over one-third of her tongue and six weeks of radiation treatments for oral cancer, her CT scan results in early November were stable, that is no change. This is all you can ask for. Unfortunately, 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 (with another $3500-4000 about to be added for the CT Scan and associated lab and doctor fees). While over 80% 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.

We are lucky this year, a local family-run foundation has offered to match what we raise until December 17th dollar for dollar up to $3000. (The original amount they were willing to double was $2500, but they told me yesterday they are willing to go to $3000 and gave us an extra week to raise money.) The money raised will first be used to pay off the 2012 CT Scan expenses and then to pay down the huge bill we have for Donna's radiation treatments. Between money donated during the 3 day fund raiser for Karen's House (the 50% that went to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund), a few dollars donated already this money, and the almost $700 we had saved this year for a "down payment" on this year's CT scan, we have about $900.00 raised at the start of this drive (about $1200 as of this revised post). This means we need to raise about $1800.00 between now and December 17th to reach the maximum amount they will double. If we can do this, we'll have paid for this year's CT Scan and over one-tenth of the remaining radiation treatment bill. So we are having a Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund drive.

What All Donors Receive: 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. All donors also have access to work-in-process versions of my current projects -- whatever they might be. Current projects available are draft versions of Microlite74 Companions II and III, Microlite74 Plus, and Gryphons & Grammerye (a version of S&W with my house rules circa 1977-1978).

Sponsor Listings: Anyone donating $25 or more during this fund drive will be listed as a sponsor in the two upcoming Microlite75 Companions. Anyone donating $50 or more will also be listed as a sponsor in Gryphons & Gramarye.

Donor Giveaways: We also have a few goodies to give away. Nothing super-valuable from a collector's point of view this time, but some nice stuff to actually use in play. First, a couple of AD&D books: one copy of Unearthed Arcana and one copy of Oriental Adventures for AD&D1e. As these were my spare copies, they were barely used, which means Unearthed Arcana's binding is intact and with care will remain that way. I bought multiple copies of each the day they came out: one to keep/read, one to use at the table, and a spare. Here's a picture of the copy of Unearthed Arcana:

AD&D 1e Unearthed Arcana

I also have nice copies of these early AD&D adventures to give away: C1 (Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, 1980), C2 (Ghost Tower of Inverness, 1980) and S2 (White Plume Mountain, 1979). Finally, we have a copy of The Official Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Coloring Book. These six items will be raffled off to donors, one chance per dollar donated. New Items added to the giveaway list during the drive:

High Donor Giveaways: First, the person who donates the largest amount will get an autographed copy of their choice of one of my Microlite74 publications -- in a special one of a kind printing that no one else will have a copy of -- not even me.

Second, provided we raise at least $2000.00, the three donors who donate the largest amounts will be asked to select a number between one and one hundred and the donor who comes closed to the number selected by Todd will win a collection of OD&D items he has donated:

White Box D&D* White Box OD&D, 4th Printing, includes loose table sheets
* Chainmail 3rd Edition, 2nd Printing (early, stapled binding)
* Greyhawk, 3rd (or later?) printing
* Eldritch Wizardry, First Printing
* Swords and Spells, 4th printing
* Arduin Grimoire, early printing (has TSR stuff marked out so it was printed before TSR's cease & desist order)
* Boot Hill, 1st Printing?
* Warriors of Mars, 1st printing

See this post for more details.

If you donated to the quick fund raiser we had for Karen's house at the end of October 2012, your donation counts for both the sponsorships and the item give-aways.

How to Help: 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. Remember, the amount you donate (after PayPal fees and up to the maximum of $3000) will be DOUBLED so every dollar you donate does twice as much good. Thank you very much in advance.

(I'm occasionally asked if it is possible to donate without using PayPal. I can accept postal money orders (the kind you get from the post office) via snail mail if you don't want to use PayPal. You'll have to email me for the snail mail address.)

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, I'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. Unlike some of my characters, I can't read minds.

Click here to donate now. Thanks!


Progress as of 4 Nov: $1211 of the $3000 goal raised.

Microlite74 Update: Companions II and III

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Several new versions of Microlite74 Companion II (Treasure and Warfare) and Companion III (More Optional Rules) have been uploaded to the donor area recently. Unfortunately, a couple of them were under the same file name as older versions because I forgot to change the file name. New versions with different filenames have just been uploaded (with more changes/additions).

Companion II has a new system for determining monster treasure as well as descriptions of magical treasure items. Also included are some rules for land and sea warfare.

Companion III is a huge collection of optional classes, races, rules, monsters, traps, and more. Optional races include the various goblinoid races, Dragonborn, warforged, tieflings, and many, many more. Optional classes include Witches (with their own spell list), Necromancers (with their own spell list) Delvers, Warlocks, Sages, Beastmasters, Thaumaturges, (non-beresker) Barbarians, and more. Experimental (aka very usual classes) include Superheroes and Psychics. Optional racial classes can be used instead of the standard race rules and their are optional additions to the standard M74 classes. Several ways of replacing or modifying the Cleric are included for those who find the Cleric "too blah." Advantages are included that allow PC vampires, weres and ghosts. There are rules for "Spell Spheres" (a limited from of free-form magic), Feats of Strength and Skill in combat, climbing on large enemies, unusual weapons, action-type initiation (where the order characters act in a round is determined by what they are doing), special effects for critical hits and critical misses, lots of new spells, lots of new monsters, including many favorites missing from the standard M74 monster lists, lots of traps, and more.

Companion III looks like it will soon be ready for a public beta edition. In fact, I'll release a public beta as soon after we hit $1400 in the Holiday Retroroleplaying Cancer Fund drive as I can (say, within 24 hours). That's only $189.00 (plus a few extra to cover Paypal fees) away.


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 10 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of five AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (as described here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $2500 $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1211 dollars have been donated. That's 40% of our new goal of $3000. Please donate now if you can.

Starships & Spacemen 2e Out and Labyrinth Lord Compatible

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The PDF version of the second edition of Starships and Spacemen is available in PDF from RPGNow. The second edition rules are compatible with Labyrinth Lord, which means they are basically compatible with all TSR editions of D&D, their clones, and similar games. Like the original version of Starships and Spacemen, the second edition is designed to loosely emulate the a very popular television series (either the original series or later versions). My only complaint is that the rules are not OGL. The rules are well worth the $6.45 price of the PDF.


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 10 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of five AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (as described here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $2500 $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1186 dollars have been donated. That's 40% of our new goal of $3000. Please donate now if you can.

D&D Next: My Interest in 5e Takes Another Giant Decline

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There's a new Legends and Lore column out. I don't normally read this, but someone posted about this one on theRPGsite. So i went out and read it. I wish I had not as it makes it yet more clear that the longer the 5e play test goes on, the less 5e is looking like a game I would want to play. Based on their latest feedback, they are making some changes:

* People object to rogues being less powerful in combat, sio they are going to turn them back into a more combat-oriented class (like 3e and 4e). This was apparently a litmus test for having classes that are not all about equal in combat, so it looks like all 5e classes we be great in combat. Not what I want to see as I like have some classes great in combat, some classes so-so in combat, and some classes who really need to avoid combat.

* The are moving further away from Vancian magic as the base magic system. At-will spells will now be allowed to increase in power with caster level. Characters will be allowed to prepare a number of spells for each spell level they know and cast any one of those prepared spells for a spell slot of the appropriate level. Spells prepared are not forgotten when cast.

* Worst of all, they seem to be backing further away from a modular design as Mearls says they will soon begin "to break up the core rules into basic, standard, and advanced sections so you can begin to get a sense of how we look at the rules and the game's core complexity." That's not modular, at least not in my book. What I wanted (and was promised at the beginning of the 5e design process) was a simple set of core rules that I can then add rules modules of my choice to. This sounds like a basic set of rules and two sets of preselected and combined modules of more complex rules. I suppose they could do this like I do Microlite74's Basic, Standard, and Expanded rules and then have longs of optional modules on top of those, but that doesn't sound like what they intend.

The chances that I will buy a copy of 5e (let alone convert my campaigns to it and run it every week) continue to drop. What is your take on the direction 5e seems to be moving. Is it headed in a direction you like?


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 10 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of five AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (as described here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $2500 $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1186 dollars have been donated. That's 40% of our new goal of $3000. Please donate now if you can.

Worlds Apart -- Fantasy Version of Traveller on the High Seas

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A lot of Traveller players who enjoy fantasy RPGs have wondered what a "Fantasy Traveller" would look like: A fantasy RPG using Traveller-like rules where fantasy characters could trade and adventure across the seas of a fantasy world. Expeditious Retreat Press has released such a game, Worlds Apart. Based on the Mongoose Traveller SRD, this game allows adventures to "brave the Forever Sea in a fantasy game of trade and exploration. Take the role of soldier or sailor, entertainer or scholar, dweomercraefter or drifter. A thousand thousand islands populate the world and riches, adventure, and danger lurks upon every shore!"

The rules are entirely open game content and are available in PDF from RPGNow.com in two versions. A free version (without art) free version (without art) here and a version with art for $12 available here.

I have just downloaded the free version of the rules, so I've only had a chance to quickly glance through them. From this quick glance they look to be nicely done. The only strange (to me) thing I saw is that the ships (called "Voyagers") have a "jump drive" that can only be engaged when the ship is out of sight of land. The islands and island groups are apparently so far apart that normal ships cannot sail between them -- only the elemental-powered Voyager ships can. Islands are created on Traveller-style subsector charts.

Expeditious Retreat already has details of several islands from the Lyart Subsector (the sample in the rule book) available at the fairly reasonable price of $2 for each 4 page PDF:

* Awmrie - Lyart Subsector - 0709
* Deave - Lyart Subsector - 0602
* Gryce - Lyart Subsector - 1008

Worlds Apart looks like it could be a lot of fun. If my opinion of it holds up after a full reading of the rules, you can expect to see more on this game on this blog.


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 10 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of five AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (as described here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $2500 $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1144 dollars have been donated. That's 45% of our goal of $2500. Please donate now if you can.

Fourth Printing White Box D&D Added to Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive Giveaway Items

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I have some more early D&D items for the Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive. I received an email a few days ago offering some nice items for donors.

I would like to help your holiday cancer fund drive. I can't donate much money, but I can donate my old white box D&D for one of your donors. It has the three D&D books, Chainmail, Greyhawk, Eldritch Wizardry, Arduin Grimoire, Boot Hill, Warriors of Mars, and Swords & Spells.

After some back and forth discussion, here's what he has:

* White Box OD&D, 4th Printing, includes loose table sheets
* Chainmail 3rd Edition, 2nd Printing (early, stapled binding)
* Greyhawk, 3rd (or later?) printing
* Eldritch Wizardry, First Printing
* Swords and Spells, 4th printing
* Arduin Grimoire, early printing (has TSR stuff marked out so it was printed before TSR's cease & desist order)
* Boot Hill, 1st Printing?
* Warriors of Mars, 1st printing

(Printings identified with the help of The Acaeum's descriptions)

Todd says that all the booklets are in very good shape, except for the Arduin Grimoire which has a couple of pages loose in the center. The box is in so-so shape ("It's not falling apart...yet.") While from Todd's descriptions, none of these items are going to appeal to collectors, they sound like nice copies of some fairly rare TSR/D&D material for play use. Todd wants me to take the three highest donors and have them guess a number between 1 and 100 and he'll mail these items to the donor who comes closest to the number he has selected. Sounds like a deal to me. Most donations so far have been low amounts (the highest so far is only $100), so it looks like it will be possible to have a chance at Todd's OD&D collection without breaking the bank. There is a catch, however, Todd will only give this collection away if we raise at least $2000 of our $2500 goal.

Yes, I know that Boot Hill and Warriors of Mars aren't really D&D supplements, but they are old TSR products and creatures from Warriors of Mars are actually listed in the encounter tables in The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures. I'd like to thank Todd for this offer as well as everyone who has donated or will donate to this fund drive.


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 10 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of five AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (as described here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $2500 $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1126 dollars have been donated. That's 45% of our goal of $2500. Please donate now if you can.

You'd Better Watch Out: Santa Claus in My Campaigns 1976-2012

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Santa illoI was running a fairly large college game of D&D in 1976. December comes around and we get one last session in before finals and everyone heading home for the holidays. As the party returned from the dungeon, they noticed a lot of strange activity in town. People were excited. Shops were closing early. Even the taverns were shutting down, something that did not even happen on holidays. The group's first thought was that the town was shutting down to prepare for some type of bandit or goblin attack, but when they dragged their banged up selves to the local militia grounds to offer their services, even it was closed down. They finally just asked some random person on the street (not that there were many of them) what was going on. They were told that the town seer had said that Santa Claus was coming tonight. The characters were confused. The players, however, just looked at me with jaded and dubious glares. Not trusting me a bit, they set watches -- something they only did in town if they had a lot of treasure or otherwise suspected they might be targeted by bandits or they like.

There were no encounters that night, yet the characters discovered the next morning that various items had mysteriously appeared in their socks or their boots. Useful items like Potions of Extra-Healing, a treasure map, and strangest of all, a magic short sword. And not just any magic short sword but the heirloom sword of one of the characters that they had seen turned to melted slag in a fireball a couple of months before. They quickly discovered that everyone in town had received something in the same mysterious manner, things like food, or just enough money to pay the rent, or in one case a potion that cured the horrible wasting disease that was killing the person it was given to. No one save the PCs seemed to find these gifts unusual, but were thanking their gods for the visit from Santa Claus.

This started a tradition that has continued every (real world) year since: Santa Claus pays a visit to my campaign setting on the last game session we have before Christmas. It doesn't matter if it has been many years or only a few months of campaign time since the last visit of Santa. There is no regular holiday associated with Santa's visit in my campaign worlds as there is in the real world. Only seers can tell when Santa will next appear and only shortly before he does.

No one has ever found out who Santa is or why he does what he does -- even the gods seem to know no more about Santa than their followers do, or if they do know more, they aren't telling. However, over the years, an assortment of facts and legends about Santa have been discovered. Here are some of the more interesting ones.

* Santa brings everyone something that they can use (although not necessarily something they want). It does not seem to matter if one is paladin good, merely good, bad, or evil with a capital "E".

* Crossing Santa is supposedly very bad. There are legends of what happened to people who did. For example, according to one common legend, an evil ruler sent out his city guard to collect every present Santa had given to the citizens of the city. The next time Santa came, the evil ruler was found the following morning quite dead -- impaled on one of his castle's turrets -- and every guardsman who had participated in the confiscation of presents from Santa woke up with no hands. No one knows if any of these legends are true or if they are true that Santa was even responsible.

* Some of Santa's gifts are weird. For example, in the current campaign Santa restocked the food and water supplies for city under long siege -- and even restored the city's walls to perfect pre-siege conditions, but gifted the army encamped around them with better siege weapons.

* Even the gods apparently get visits from Santa. Most gods seem to fear him, perhaps because he seems at least as powerful as they are.

* As far as sages can tell, Santa visits every being in every world (including those parallel prime material planes and on other planes) on the same night. Some believe the visits all occur at the same instant in time.

* Some believe Santa is the most powerful of the Gods. Some believe that there is no Santa, but that Santa is just the gods acting in unison to be very mysterious. Others believe that Santa was once an unimaginably evil being who was cursed to aid others as punishment. Etc.

* Santa is worshiped as a god in some places. Such religions supposedly seldom last long, perhaps because they offend Santa.

* No one ever sees Santa. However, legends record various people and beings who supposedly have seen and even interacted with Santa during his visits.

This year, Santa arrived in my Wilderlands campaign the Sunday before Thanksgiving -- our last M74 Wilderness Campaign session for the year. The characters received a number of useful presents, the most interesting one was a map that supposedly leads to a character's father -- who has been long thought dead. The map shows him in a keep of a powerful -- and very evil -- wizard on an island far across the sea. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the players decide to have their characters do with this map.

Santa Claus has been an interesting (and often useful) addition to my campaigns. The sad thing is I doubt this tradition would have gotten started if I had not started playing when I did -- a time when gonzo stuff that did not make much campaign sense was much more welcome in games than it seems to be now. Even gonzo stuff that broke the line between the game world and the real world was often welcome. While the lack of such gonzo stuff probably makes for a more believable campaign world, I sometimes think we are missing out on a lot of fun by ruling it out almost automatically.


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 10 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of five AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (as described here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $2500 $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1059 dollars have been donated. That's 41% of our goal of $2500. Please donate now if you can.

AD&D Coloring Book Added to Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Donation Drive

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While unpacking boxes of Christmas decorations Thanksgiving weekend, I discover a small box of gaming materials I hadn't seen since my move to Waco in 2004. The main find was my three notebooks full of hand printed rules and campaign notes for my Empire of Arn game circa 1981-1985 -- probably close to 500 or 600 pages of material. Much of it probably worthless now, even to me. However, I have to go through it all and see what might still be useful, or at least interesting, today.

I also found a few set of old rules, modules, and very nice copy of the The Official Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Coloring Book. It was written by Gary Gygax, illustrated by underground comic artist Greg Irons, and published by Troubador Press in 1979. It was a coloring book and a playable introduction to AD&D. If you've never seen it, the Monster Brains blog has a complete set of scanned pages (reduced in size as The Official Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Coloring Book was a large oversized book) in this post. My copy is at least as nice as the one show in this post. The cover is in much better condition, for example.

I'm adding this item to the items I'm giving away as part of the Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive. Donate for a chance at receiving this or the other items being giving away. You'll find more information and a list of the other items I'm giving away in this post: CT Scan Results, Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive, and AD&D Giveaway. Remember that the amount donated in this drive (up to $2500) will be matched by every dollar you donate (after PayPal fees) does double towards paying our bills.


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 10 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of five AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (as described here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $2500 $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1036 dollars have been donated. That's 41% of our goal of $2500. Please donate now if you can.

What Makes You Thankful RPG-Wise?

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It's Thanksgiving Day in the US. Amidst all the cooking, eating, seeing family, eating, watching parades, eating, watching football, and eating, most of us usually manage to find time to be thankful for all the things we have in life. Tabletop RPGs have been a big part of my life since the mid-1970s. Looking back, I'm most thankful for all the friends I've made playing RPGs and the good times we've enjoyed playing them together. I'm also thankful for Gary, Dave, and all the others who created D&D and started this hobby -- and have kept it going all these years. Finally, I'm thankful for all the free RPGs that have been developed and made available over the years.

What makes you thankful RPG-wise?

(And to my fellow American readers, Happy Thanksgiving!)


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 10 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of five AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (as described here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $2500 $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1013 dollars have been donated. That's 40% of our goal of $2500. Please donate now if you can.

New Player Try-Outs Unfair? -- Part Two

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I had planned to write about Santa Claus in my campaigns over the years today, but I have to continue the saga of new player try-outs, first mentioned in this post last week. If you've read this post, you may remember that my campaign is losing a player which opens a slot for a new player. However, the first person with a chance at the shot threw a hissy fit over the fact that new players in my game have a try-out period so we can all be sure the potential new player is a good fit for our playstyle and personalities -- and did so in spite of being told of this policy ages ago when he asked to be put on our "wait list" of people wanting a chance to play should a player spot open up. As the original post said, we ended up removing him from consideration and moving on the the next person on the wait list, who did not feel that try-out periods are inherently unfair. I thought this would be the end of it.

Sunday afternoon, I discovered I was wrong. As players arrived they all told me that they had received emails from this "try-outs are unfair" person both Saturday evening and Sunday morning -- dissing the game and telling them to leave their horrible GM and come and play in the new game he would run for them Sunday afternoons. While this was a clear case of sour grapes, everyone was amused to see that as he could not handle more than five players in a session, if more than five players wanted to play, he would interview players and select based on how interesting their character was and how well they knew the rules. This sure sounded like a type of "try-out" to all of us. About an hour into the game, this guy called and accused me of "mind-controlling" the players in my game because they did not choose to leave my game and play in his. I just hung up and added his number to the block list on my phone.

This is the weirdest problem player experience I've had in many years.


The Holiday Cancer Fund Drive is on (through December 10 17, 2012). Every dollar donated gives you one chance to win a one of five AD&D items described in the above-linked post. The three highest donors also have a chance at a 4th Printing White Box OD&D set (as described here). These items 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. Here's the best news, every dollar donated (to $2500 $3000) which be matched by a local family foundation. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1013 dollars have been donated. That's 40% of our goal of $2500. Please donate now if you can.

CT Scan Results, Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive, and AD&D Giveaway

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As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my wife was scheduled for her annual CT Scan in early November. The results are back and are excellent. At about 4.5 years after surgery to remove over one-third of her tongue and six weeks of radiation treatments for oral cancer, her CT scan results were stable, that is no change. This is all you can ask for. Unfortunately, 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 (with another $3500-4000 about to be added for the CT Scan and associated lab and doctor fees). While over 80% 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.

We are lucky this year, a local family-run foundation has offered to match what we raise until December 10th 17th dollar for dollar up to $2500 $3000. The money raised will first be used to pay off the 2012 CT Scan expenses and then to pay down the huge bill we have for Donna's radiation treatments. Between money donated during the 3 day fund raiser for Karen's House (the 50% that went to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund), a few dollars donated already this money, and the almost $700 we had saved this year for a "down payment" on this year's CT scan, we have about $900.00 raised already. This means we need to raise about $1600.00 $2100.00 between now and December 10th 17th to reach the maximum amount they will double. If we can do this, we'll have paid for this year's CT Scan and about one-tenth of the remaining radiation treatment bill. So we are having a Holiday RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund drive.

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. All donors also have access to work-in-process versions of my current projects -- whatever they might be. Current projects available are draft versions of Microlite74 Companions II and III, Microlite74 Plus, and Gryphons & Grammerye (a version of S&W with my house rules circa 1977-1978).

Anyone donating $25 or more during this fund drive will be listed as a sponsor in the two upcoming Microlite75 Companions. Anyone donating $50 or more will also be listed as a sponsor in Gryphons & Gramarye.

We also have a few goodies to give away. Nothing super-valuable from a collector's point of view this time, but some nice stuff to actually use in play. First, a couple of AD&D books: one copy of Unearthed Arcana and one copy of Oriental Adventures for AD&D1e. As these were my spare copies, they were barely used, which means Unearthed Arcana's binding is intact and with care will remain that way. I bought multiple copies of each the day they came out: one to keep/read, one to use at the table, and a spare. Here's a picture of the copy of Unearthed Arcana:

AD&D 1e Unearthed Arcana

I also have nice copies of these early AD&D adventures to give away: C1 (Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, 1980), C2 (Ghost Tower of Inverness, 1980) and S2 (White Plume Mountain, 1979). These five items (and additional items added below) will be raffled off to donors, one chance per dollar donated. New Items added to the giveaway list during the drive: The Official Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Coloring Book, 4th printing White Box OD&D (and more -- follow link for info on this item).

Finally, the person who donates the largest amount will get an autographed copy of their choice of one of my Microlite74 publications -- in a special one of a kind printing that no one else will have a copy of -- not even me.

If you donated to the quick fund raiser we had for Karen's house at the end of October 2012 or donated already this month, your donation counts for both the sponsorships and the item give-aways.

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, I'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. Unlike some of my characters, I can't read minds.

I'm occasionally asked if it is possible to donate without using PayPal. I can accept postal money orders (the kind you get from the post office) via snail mail if you don't want to use PayPal. You'll have to email me for the snail mail address.

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. Remember, the amount you donate (after PayPal fees and up to the maximum of $2500 $3000) will be DOUBLED so every dollar you donate does twice as much good. Thank you very much in advance.




Progress as of 18 Nov: $900 of the $2500 goal raised.

Are New Player Try-Outs Unfair?

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My Microlite74 Wilderlands campaign has unexpectedly lost a player. One of the original players who started this campaign has to be in Oklahoma City by December 10th. His wife got a fantastic job offer they can't turn down, even if it gave them three weeks to move. While we'll all miss him (and the occasional homemade pies from his wife), our campaign style (see Long Campaigns Don't Have To Be Boring!) means that losing a player -- even a long-term player -- will not disrupt the campaign.

I had four players on the wait list, but the player at the top of the list decided he did not want to play when he found out that I meant what I told him when I met him and put his name on the wait list -- getting to the top of the list means the new player get a 2 (sometimes 3) session try-out so I can be sure the new person if a good fit for the campaign and the other players can be sure the new player's personality doesn't rub them raw.

I've handled new players this way for many years with few complaints from potential players. (However, I have had several players get annoyed when they were not accepted.) The player at the top of this list this time has thrown a fit, claiming that such try-outs are unfair to players who have been on the wait list for many months. He feels that a player who has waited patiently for a spot deserves to be able to play, even if he is somewhat disruptive to the group. Some of his comments to our email list:

"The group should be able to adapt to any new player, especially one who has showed he really wants to play by sitting on the wait list for over a year."

"Try-outs are inherently unfair and something I associate with competitive sports not with D&D."

"I will not give up my spot. I've earned the right to play."

You've probably guessed that I told him that he hasn't "earned" anything and no one has an automatic right to move into my house for a few hours every Sunday. I've removed him from the wait list and from the group mailing list. The second person on the wait list is now up for a try-out and she doesn't seem to have any problems with it.

Personally, I think the first person was a jerk -- especially since he was told that we did "try-outs" when we first met and did not register any complaints then. BTW, when asked about this he said that he did not object because he knew if he did I would reject him out of hand. However, I'm interested in what this blog's readers think. Are trial periods for new players somehow unfair? Even if they are unfair, are they more unfair than a player who turns out not to fit well with a group being allowed to stay even though he's ruining the fun for others in group? How do (or would) you handle adding new players who are strangers to an ongoing group?

Save Karen's House -- The Results

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Real life has taken over the last half of the week. However, I did send money raised from our donation drive on to Karen Thursday morning. Karen says that thanks to our donations and some help from her family, they have the $1400 and their house should be safe. ("Should be" because large mortgage companies aren't known for sticking with what they say -- but things seem to be going as they are supposed to, without any unwelcome last minute surprises). We did not raise anywhere near $1400, but apparently everything together was enough to do the job and that's all that really matters. Thanks to everyone who donated or who spread the word of our Halloween drive for helping out.

Long Campaigns Don't Have To Be Boring!

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I'm occasionally asked how my campaigns can run for years with basically the same players playing week after week without everyone getting bored. I think there are a couple of major reasons why long campaigns have always worked for my groups.

First, my "campaigns" are different than what seems to be the common style today. Most people seem to use "campaign" to mean a series of adventures with the same characters with a "story arc" of some type. I run a sandbox, so I don't have a "story arc" with a beginning and end. There is always something new for the characters to do. While various activities do wrap up from time to time, the PCs allows have other things to do that have been "on-hold" while dealing with something else. There's never a place where everything is wrapped up and there is nothing left that anyone is interested in doing. Without this, there is no obvious place to stop playing and start another, different game.

Second, most players in my games play multiple characters. They aren't playing the same character week after week for years on end -- unless they want to, of course. Microlite74, like old school D&D in general, does not assume the characters in a party are all about the same level. The game works just fine with a wide range of levels in a party. This means that when a player is starting to get bored playing his fighter character, he can leave him or her in town and start a new character with a different class, background, and personality. My Sunday Wilderlands campaign has been running for over two years now and most players have several player characters, which one they play any given week depends on what is going on in the game and what they are interested in playing that week. We can always tell when one player has had a bad week, for example, because she always plays her combat-happy barbarian fighter who just lives to kill things instead of her scholarly magic-user after a rough week.

Multiple characters ties in with the first point as well. Characters can achieve their goals and retire from regular play without the campaign ending. This happened last Sunday. One character's reason to adventure was to recover his family's heirloom sword as its loss had saddled the family with a nasty curse -- no children born to the family would live past their first year. He found the sword a few weeks ago, managed to acquire it from its current owners, and last Sunday returned to his family home to a hero's welcome. The player is retiring this character as he's become the new head of his family and clan. Other characters, however, still have reason to adventure.

The ease of starting new characters at any time, means that it is also easy to work new players into the campaign when necessary. The sandbox style means players can come and go without disrupting the campaign. Without "story arcs", the campaign with not fall apart if a player with an important to the "story arc" characters has to miss a few sessions or even has to quit playing completely.



We are on Day 3 of our drive to collect money for the cancer fund and Karen's house as described in this post: Help a Former TSR Editor Keep Her House! The Final Episode. We've raised over $175 total so far. If you can spare a ten or a twenty, or even more, it will help so much. Karen and family can keep their house and I can pay for my wife's next CT Scan (coming up November 5th). To donate and help both Karen and myself, send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- via Paypal before 6am CDT the morning of November 1st. If you can't donate, good thoughts and prayers for Karen and her family are more than welcome. Please help spread the word to others who might be willing to help.


Help a Former TSR Editor Keep Her House! The Final Episode

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If you've been reading this blog for the past few months (since last May), you are probably aware of the saga of former TSR staffer Karen Boomgarden attempt to keep her house from foreclosure. For those who are not familiar with her work at TSR, she was a editor with editor credit on a large number of TSR products and was the designer for a few products like my favorite Amazing Engine game, For Faerie, Queen, and Country. Since her TSR days, she's remarried was doing well until the economy collapsed. She has been out of work for two years (and her husband had been out of work for over a year until finding work a few weeks ago). To make things worse, their daughter fell off a balcony and was injured pretty badly (although remarkably not as severely as she could have been) earlier this year.

Back in May we had a successful fund raiser (in association with a non-gaming message board Karen and I are on) so she could get current on her mortgage so that she and her husband could qualify for unemployment forbearance. (See these posts for more info on the first episode of this saga: Help a Former TSR Editor Keep Her House!, Update: Help a Former TSR Editor Keep Her House!, Progress Report: Microlite74, RetroRoleplaying Forum, Real Life. etc..) By August, I was able to announce that they had qualified for up to a year of unemployment forbearance (see this post: Help a Former TSR Editor Keep Her House! Update and Part 2).

I thought the saga had ended at this point. Karen's husband even found a job a few weeks ago, which was great news. Unfortunately, the mortgage company had one last surprise. Since they are no longer unemployed, they had a month to pay all the back payments (about $5000) the unemployment forbearance had allowed them to skip or they would foreclose immediately. This, of course, makes the whole "unemployment forbearance" thing sort of useless as one month's net salary isn't going to pay many months of a mortgage, at least for most workers. [Long rant about US financial companies and this recession deleted.]

Amazingly, Karen and family have managed to come up with a lot of this, they only need $1400 more by November 4th to keep their house. I'm hoping we can have a quick "Trick or Treat" fund raiser and help them out one final time. Readers of this blog raised over $900 for Karen in between our May and July fund raisers. The message board we're both on raised over $1700. So I think between us, we have a chance of cutting this last $1400 down to size.

Let's see how much money we can raise between now and the witching hour on Halloween. I'd like to see us beat out the message board this time. Just like in May and July, any money donated to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund from now to 6am on November 1st will be split 50/50 (after Paypal fees, if any) between Karen and the cancer fund. I'll transfer Karen's 50% to her on November 1st so they have plenty of time to get the bill paid. All donors will get access to the usual RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donor downloads, including current draft copies of all four of my current Microlite74 and S&W projects. These donations will also count (in their full amount) for donor goodies in our upcoming November Fund Drive. I can't announce what these are until early November, but I do have permission from the sponsors to count any donations made during this special "Save Karen's House III" drive as donations to the upcoming November Fund Raiser.

So here's another chance to help two decent causes with one donation. If you can spare a ten or a twenty, or even more, it will help so much. Karen and family can keep their house. To donate and help both Karen and myself, send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- via Paypal before 6am CDT the morning of November 1st. If you can't donate, good thoughts and prayers for Karen and her family are more than welcome. Please help spread the word to others who might be willing to help.


Looking for Advanced Marvel Superheroes Blogs and Websites

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As I mentioned in a recent post (A FASERIP December For Me), I'll be running a few sessions of TSR's Advanced Marvel Superheroes in December instead of taking our usual 3-4 week holiday break. If any readers know of any good Advanced Marvel Superheroes blogs or web sites, I'd really appreciate links to them in comments to this post. I already know about the Classic Marvel Forever web site, but there are bound to be a few blogs out there as well.

Swords & Wizardry Plus House Rules Progress Report 1

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I've been playing around with the Word document S&W Core Rules the last couple of days, and in a few hours of work have probably made at least 50% of the changes needed to incorporate my the 0e house rules I added to Microlite74 to get Microlite74 Extended. Some things have to be translated back from M74 way of doing things to a "more pure" 0e way of doing things, but considering my house rules started life in 0e, this is not really much of an issue.

Another question for those interested in this project, would you rather see the rules for Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings remain as they are in the S&W Core Rules (which is very similar to the way they were in 0e before the Greyhawk supplement) or would you rather see a more post-Greyhawk version of demi-humans?

Swords & Wizardry Plus My 0e House Rules From Microlite74 Extended?

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I've been asked a number of times since my 0e house rules first appeared as part of Microlite75 (now Microlite74 Extended) if I would not publish a variant of Swords & Wizardry with my house rules baked into the rules book. I've always held off because most people did not want a supplement, but a complete copy of the rules with my house rules built into the game. I really had no desire to cut into S&W sales by producing a complete set of the rules with my house rules included.

However, the requests keep coming in and it really would not be that hard to edit the ".doc" version of OGL S&W Core Rules to add in some or all of my 0e house rules, lightly format it into two columns, can call it something like "Blades & Sorcery" and make it available for download. Now that Swords & Wizardry has been available for several years, I have much less problem doing something like this.

If I were to do this, I would need to know which house rules people would want to see put in this S&W variant. I would definitely include backgrounds (and the "skill" rolls that can be used with them), the minor powers of clerics and magic-users, and my Body/Hit Point system. Saving throws would not change, however -- as many people like the one saving throw system S&W currently uses and not changing it makes modifying the rules much easier. My alignment rules (and the optional Virtues and Vices" system would probably be included. The major questions would be:

1) Whether or not to replace the standard "Fire & Forget" magic system with my "burn HP to cast spells" system. I used it with 0e back in the late 1970s, but many people do not consider it real "D&D" without a Vancian magic system.

2) Whether to add my more complex combat rules to the current system or to leave the current system more or less alone?

What would you like the answers to these questions to be? Other comments on the idea are welcome as well.

Microlite74 3.0 Companions II and III In Draft

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In addition to slow work on Microlite74 Plus, I'm currently working on two new Companions for Microlite74. One is entitled Treasure and will be an adaption of the Treasure section of the Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery treasure section for standard Microlite74. The second is (tentatively) titled More Optional Rules and will be just what it says, more optional rules for Microlite74, including much of the material Librarylass has been posting on the Microlite74 Forum.

I hope to have these finished by Thanksgiving, but Christmas or New Year's is probably more realistic. Draft copies are available now to Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund Donors in the usual place with the usual password.

If you have any Microlite74 optional rules or nifty treasure items you would like considered for these M74 Companions, please let me know ASAP. Remember that these "products" will be entirely Open Game Content and that bu submitting material you are agreeing to it being published as such. The best place to submit material is on the Microlite74 Forum.