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An Open Note to 4e Fans Upset at the Direction WOTC Appears to be Heading with 5e

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I've seen a good number of D&D 4e fans on forums like RPG.net complain that WOTC is ignoring 4e fans (and the design features of D&D 4e they like) in their rush to make 5e popular with fans of pre-4e D&D. I have no idea whether they really are throwing 4e fans under the bus as I haven't even seen a playtest draft of the rules. However, I wonder why 4e fans seem so surprised that WOTC might do this, given that WOTC basically threw a large number of fans of 0e-3.5e under the bus when they came out with 4e, which was very different from previous versions of D&D. If a company was willing to throw a sizable number of its pre-4e customers away to try to meet corporate profit goals three or four years ago, why would anyone be surprised if they decide to do it again with a different set of customers as they chase their next corporate profit goal?

I understand that 4e fans are at least as upset about being thrown under the bus as 3.x fans were when 4e came out and while I could not stand 4e and am happy that 5e appears to be reversing course I don't blame 4e fans for being upset. I just don't understand why, given WOTC's track record under Hasbro, they are surprised this is happening again only they are the victims this time. I suspect when 6e comes out, lots of 5e fans will be thrown under the bus in the next version of the edition mill. So long as WOTC sees a new edition every few years as the only way to make enough money to make Hasbro happy, I suspect this is going to continue to happen.


The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through March 18, 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980)(won by Melson Davis), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set (won by Janice Allison), and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The two highest donors (in amount donated) will receive Classic Traveller items or the four Bloodstone Pass modules. 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. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1490 dollars have been donated. That's 50% of our goal and over 99% of the way to the second drawing trigger point of $1500 dollars.

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund: Empire of The Petal Throne Drawing Soon

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Thanks to a few generous donations over the last couple of days, we are now only $80 away from the second drawing's trigger point in our Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive. The second drawing is for a copy of the TSR Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set from 1978 with the The Nightmare Maze of Jigresh EPT adventure from Judges Guild and a copy of Legions of the Petal Throne, the set of Miniatures rules for EPT TSR published in 1977, in the box in addition to the Empire of the Petal Throne rules and maps.

Donate now to get in on this drawing (and the remaining two drawing described here). After we reach the $1500 point, I'll have some news about additions to the giveaways for the the second half of this drive!


The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through the end of February 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980)(won by Nelson Davis), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set, and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. 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 items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1420 dollars have been donated. That's 47% of our goal and over 94% of the way to the second drawing trigger point of $1500 dollars.

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Edition Beta 1 Available

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The first beta version of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is available for free public download. Draft copies of "between betas" work will still be available to RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors. This beta incorporates feedback from donors and from members of my Sunday group of players. However, the rules are still "very beta" and will be subject to many changes based on further thought on my part and feedback from those who download the betas and choose to give me comments and ideas.

One already noticeable change is in the classes. The Physical Combat Bonus (PCB) and Magical Combat Bonus (MCB) in the beta rules are smaller than the were in my A First try at Classes post. Higher level characters were just too superhuman in the original draft. Spirits have been added and Sorcerers have the ability to bind them. I am considering having spirits bound to items as the main source of magic items in the game. One think I haven't changed much is the monster list. At the moment it is taken directly from Microlite74. However, I am considering making some changes, removing elves, dwarfs, and other intelligent species that don't really fit a S&S campaign and adding more large normal animals like lions and tigers. Suggestions on handling the monster list are strongly invited. Heck, suggestions on anything and everything are welcome.

Download your copy of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Beta 1 from the Mediafire link below. It's 370K PDF file.

Download Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Beta 1


The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through the end of February 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980)(won by Nelson Davis), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set, and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. 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 items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1175 dollars have been donated. That's 39% of our goal and over 78% of the way to the second drawing trigger point of $1500 dollars.

UPDATE: The Searchers of the Unknown RPG Collection Revised Available for Free Download

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I no sooner posted about the The Searchers of the Unknown RPG Collection than I received a new of new and updated variant rules sets. Rather than wait an entire year to include this, I decided to release a 2012 Revised Edition (as i did with the Microlite20 ROG Collection in 2010). The 2012 Revised Edition adds the SotU Wilderness Encounter Generator, Brickmasters of the Unknown GrueHawk, and Supers of the Unknown! as well as updated versions of Cyborg Samurai Are Go!, Wheelspins in the Wasteland, Scavengers & Spacewrecks, and Swashbucklers of Mars. It's probably worth the download even if you just downloaded the original edition I uploaded a few days ago.

You can download the current (2012 Revised) edition of The Searchers of the Unknown RPG Collection here. The current edition is approximately 3.75 megs and about 68 pages. The download is via Mediafire.

The Searchers of the Unknown RPG Collection (2012 Revised Edition)



The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through the end of February 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980)(won by Nelson Davis), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set, and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1005 dollars have been donated. That's 33% of our goal and over 67% of the way to the second drawing trigger point of $1500 dollars.

NEW: The Searchers of the Unknown RPG Collection Available for Free Download

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I noticed that many of the links to the various Searchers of the Unknown games listed in my Searchers of the Unknown One Page RPG: The Many Variants post from about a year ago have gone bad. Some of them seem to have disappeared from the Net completely (except behind Scribd's download paywall which is really annoying given that the games themselves are free). Therefore I decided to quickly toss together a collection of SotU games as a PDF and make it available for free download.

The Searchers of the Unknown RPG Collection is a compilation of Searchers of the Unknown based games. This collection is made available for free and is not to be sold. Each individual game is a separate entity. is copyrighted separately (if at all), and is available for free. The author of each individual game is solely responsible for his or his work. No editing of individual games has been done.

If you aren't familiar with Searchers of the Unknown, it is a one-page roleplaying game where player characters are entirely defined by a minimalist old school Dungeons & Dragons one line tat block (e.g. "AC 7, MV 9, HD 2, hp 9, #AT 1, D 1d8 mace") something like monster stat blocks in early editions of D&D. All actions are based on those stats. Armor class is the old school “lower is better,” but the way armor class is used in SotU it makes sense with armor class generally helping against attacks but hindering initiative and attempts to be stealthy. The basic SotU generally uses a level plus AC roll under mechanic, using an opponent's AC when attacking or the character's own AC when trying to be stealthy. Saves require a roll under level plus 4. Variants versions of SotU use D20 or Target20 rolls. In the basic game, all characters are human adventurers. Supplements add demi-humans and spell-casting classes. Like Microlite20, the original Searchers of the Unknown rules inspired a large number of similar games based on the same principles, ranging from simple variants like SotU Refired to modern day games, science fiction games, after the holocaust games, etc. Most of these games are complete in one or two pages. A few have additional supplements of their own.

In addition to the standard Searchers of the Unknown rules (and a small number of optional systems and expanded rules), The Searchers of the Unknown RPG Collection (2012 Edition) includes the following Searchers of the Unknown-based role-playing games: Dwarven Glory (and supplement), Karry on Krawling, Witches of N'kai, Adventurers!, Cyborg Samurai Are Go!, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Funkin Fists of Fu, Jung Guns, Raiders of the Unknown, The Bastards, Brickmasters of the Unknown, Mutant Got Gunz, Mutant Scavengers of the Ruined Earth (and a supplement), Tempora Mutantur (and many supplements), Searchers in Spaaaace!!!, Scavengers & Spacewrecks, Swashbucklers of Mars (and a supplement), and Song of the Symbi.

You can download the current (2012 Revised) edition of The Searchers of the Unknown RPG Collection here. The current edition is approximately 3.75 megs and about 68 pages. The download is via Mediafire.

The Searchers of the Unknown RPG Collection (2012 Revised Edition)

Update: The original link has been replaced by a link to the 2012 Revised Edition published a few days after this post with new and updated material. See UPDATE: The Searchers of the Unknown RPG Collection Revised Available for Free Download for more information on the update.


The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through the end of February 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980)(won by Nelson Davis), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set, and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $940 dollars have been donated. That's 31% of our goal and over 62% of the way to the second drawing trigger point of $1500 dollars.

The Microlite20 RPG Collection 2012 Edition is Available for Free Download

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The new two volume 2012 Edition of The Microlite20 RPG Collection is now available for free download. The Microlite20 RPG Collection is a PDF compilation of Microlite20 based games. This collection is made available for free and is not to be sold. Each individual game is copyrighted separately, is based on the Open Game License (because the original, Microlite20, is OGL), and is available for free. Each game is a separate entity with its own copyright and license. The author of each individual game is solely responsible for his or his work. No editing of individual games has been done. The original 2010 edition was a single volume with around 600 pages. The 2012 edition is two volumes with a total of over 1300 pages.

In addition to the standard Microlite20 rules (and a large number of optional systems and expanded rules, The Microlite20 RPG Collection (2012 Edition) includes the following Microlite20-based role-playing games: Microlite20 House Rules, MicroFantasy, Alter Microlite20, Ultramicrolite20 Revised, Ultramicrolite20 Revised II, Nanolite20, Microlite20 Modern, M20 Modern: Expert, Microlite20 Modern-Day, M20 Hard Core Rules, Swords against Sorcery, M20 Heroic, Iron Heartbreakers, Microlite11, WildWalker’s M20 4e, Microlite20 Variant 4e, Microlite 4E, Micro Action Fantasy, MULRAH, Lite20, Mini20, Realms of Renown, Microlite74: Basic, Microlite74: Standard, Microlite74: Extended, Microlite74: Companion I, Microlite77, Microlite20 OSS, Advanced Microlite20 OSS, Argo, M20 Hyborian Age, Microlite Conan, Prehistoric Microlite20, Microlite20 Bronze Age, Microlite Dark Sun, Omerian Tales, Beacon, WarEngine RPG, Yamato M20, Challenges & Champions, Microlite20 Elf Lords, Microlite20 Resident Evil, Microlite20 Cthulthu, Microlite20 Vampires, Microlite20 2012, SpyLite, Giant Bug Invasion, Cyberpunk, SuperLite, Microlite20 Costumes, Tumbleweed, Gunsmoke & Goblins, Owl Hoot Trail, Microlite Storytelling, TileHack, Dragoons, ZombiePocalypse, Relics & Ruins, OmegaLite20, RABID, Microlite20 Vermin, Where No Man Has Gone Before, Galactic Methuselah, FrontierLite, M20 Star Wars, Microlite20 Star Wars, Scions of a Primordial Planet, Micro MechWarrior, Stargate 1895, Blaster D20 Microlite, Pendragon D20 Microlite, Diabolical D20 Microlite, PathfinderLite20, Microlite20 Golden Edition, DungeonFinder Player’s Guide, DungeonFinder GM’s Guide, DungeonFinder Book of Monsters, and Grimm Lite.

The downloads are free. However, if you like it please consider a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. As usual, we have a huge pile of doctor bills, so donations are really appreciated).

You can download the current (2012) edition of The Microlite20 RPG Collection here. The current edition is in two volumes. The first volume is approximately 23 megs and about 1080 pages. The second volume is approximately 30 megs and about 300 pages. Both volumes are available for download through Mediafire.

Microlite20 RPG Collection 2012 Volume I

Microlite20 RPG Collection 2012 Volume II


The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through the end of February 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980)(won by Nelson Davis), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set, and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $915 dollars have been donated. That's 30% of our goal and over 60% of the way to the second drawing trigger point of $1500 dollars..

Coming Very Soon: 2012 Microlite20 RPG Collection

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I've set aside Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery at Draft 4 for a few days so I can see how it works in play at my Sunday Game tomorrow and evaluate the results. For a change of pace, I'm actually working on a new edition of the one-volume Microlite20 RPG Collection. I haven't updated this in almost two years, so it is past time. I hope to have a new (and even larger) edition with a number of updates and new games ready early next week. Perhaps as early as Monday. The bad news is I may need to split it into two volumes to keep the size reasonable. You can see the 2010 edition here (20 meg download) or just wait for the larger 2012 edition in a few days.


The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through the end of February 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980)(won by Nelson Davis), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set, and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!


As of the time of this post $905 dollars have been donated. That's 30% of our goal and over 60% of the way to the second drawing trigger point of $1500 dollars..

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Drive First Drawing (For Pharaoh))

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As I mentioned Sunday, the first goal in our $3000 Leap Month RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive has been reached. A drawing for the Daystar Media edition of Pharaoh was held Monday evening. The winner has been contacted and has kindly given permission to announce his name and general location here. I'm therefore happy to announce that Nelson Davis of New York City has won the first donor giveaway item in the Leap Month RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive, the Daystar Media edition of Pharoah. I'd like to thank him for his generous donation (and Alexi for donating the copy of Pharoah) and both Alexi and I hope Nelson enjoys his "prize" -- which is in the mail as I write this post.

The next item up for giveaway is a copy of the TSR Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set from 1975. The TSR version of Tekumel is probably the most accessible version out there for those who don't want to be buried in Tekumel minutia. There is enough information on Tekumel given to given GMs and players the flavor of the alien world and society without so much that you are afraid to design anything out of fear that it will not be "canon" enough. While the rulebook from the TSR edition has been reprinted, as far as I know the boxed set with its two color hex maps and its large color map of the city of Jakalla never has been. It turns out there are some extras in the box: copy of one of the few adventures ever published for the TSR version, The Nightmare Maze of Jigresh from Judges Guild, and a copy of Legions of the Petal Throne, the set of Miniatures rules for EPT TSR published in 1977. These all go to the lucky winner of our next giveaway which will be held after we reach the next goal of $1500 as explained in this post: Leap Month RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive and Giveaway.

I've managed to squeeze in some work on Microlite74 Swords and Sorcery this week as well -- after a lot of discussion with a couple of players from my Sunday game on Monday evening. I hope to have more on this in a post tomorrow. Until then, thanks to everyone who has donated so far. Remember, if you have donated you are still eligible for future giveaway drawings in our Leap Month RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive.


The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through the end of February 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980) (won by Nelson Davis), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set, and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $845 dollars have been donated. That's 28% of our goal and over 56% of the way to the second drawing trigger point of $1500 dollars.

Cancer Drive First Goal Reached: Drawing for Pharoah Monday/Tuesday Evening

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The first $750 goal in our $3000 Leap Month RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive has been reached. Unfortunately, I did not think to check email during my Wilderlands game this afternoon or I could have held the drawing for the copy of Daystar Media edition of Pharaoh then. I should be able to get a couple of my players to come tomorrow evening (or Tuesday at the latest) to do the drawing then. So there is still a small amount of time to donate and still get in on the first drawing (three more are to come). See the Leap Month RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive and Giveaway post for more details.

Speaking of my Sunday game, there is a lot of interest in the Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery game from the players in the game -- perhaps even enough interest to suspend our long running Wilderlands campaign to run some play-test games in a post-Conan Hyborian setting.


The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through the end of February 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set, and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!


As of the time of this post $815 dollars have been donated. That's 27% of our goal and over 100% of the way to the first drawing trigger point of $750 dollars. The drawing for the Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh is tentatively planned for Monday evening (Feb 6). Donate now for a chance at this item (and chances at later items).

D&D: Combat as Sport or Combat as War?

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Last year I wrote a post on the problems of trying to design a single version of D&d that could be every D&D player's "go to" system because so many of the things players need/expect from D&D are nearly polar opposites: A New Edition of D&D Designed to Unite D&D Players -- Can It Be Done?.

I saw a post on Enworld that not only adds another to that long list of polar opposites, but that hints at why 4e was a divisive as it has been: Combat as Sport vs. Combat as War: a Key Difference in D&D Play Styles... This post points out that there are two very different ways to enjoy combat in a D&D game: "combat as sport" and "combat as warfare".

Some D&D players love the tactical elements of the game and well-fought evenly matched combat within it while other players prefer the logistical and strategic elements and if only end up in evenly matched fights if something has gone horribly wrong. These two kinds of play styles also emulate different kinds of fantasy literature with Combat as Sport hewing to heroic fantasy tropes while the Combat as War side prefer D&D to feel like a chapter of The Black Company.
The article points out that while either can be done in almost any gamesystem, certain systems favor one over the other. For example and in IMHO, 1e favors "Combat as War" while 4e favors "Combat as Sport." While You will want to read the entire article, here's the example the author gave of each style: The basic situation is "the PCs want to kill some giant bees and take their honey because magic bee honey is worth a lot of money."

Combat as Sport Approach:
the PCs approach the bees and engage them in combat using the terrain to their advantage, using their abilities intelligently and having good teamwork. The fighter chooses the right position to be able to cleave into the bees while staying outside the radius of the wizard’s area effect spell, the cleric keeps the wizard from going down to bee venom and the rogue sneaks up and kills the bee queen. These good tactics lead to the PCs prevailing against the bees and getting the honey. The DM congratulates them on a well-fought fight.

Combat as War Approach:
the PCs approach the bees but there’s BEES EVERYWHERE! GIANT BEES! With nasty poison saves! The PCs run for their lives since they don’t stand a chance against the bees in a fair fight. But the bees are too fast! So the party Wizard uses magic to set part of the forest on fire in order to provide enough smoke (bees hate smoke, right?) to cover their escape. Then the PCs regroup and swear bloody vengeance against the damn bees. They think about just burning everything as usual, but decide that that might destroy the value of the honey. So they make a plan: the bulk of the party will hide out in trees at the edge of the bee’s territory and set up piles of oil soaked brush to light if the bees come after them and some buckets of mud. Meanwhile, the party monk will put on a couple layers of clothing, go to the owl bear den and throw rocks at it until it chases him. He’ll then run, owl bear chasing him, back to where the party is waiting where they’ll dump fresh mud on him (thick mud on thick clothes keeps bees off, right?) and the cleric will cast an anti-poison spell on him. As soon as the owl bear engages the bees (bears love honey right?) the monk will run like hell out of the area. Hopefully the owl bear and the bees will kill each other or the owl bear will flee and lead the bees away from their nest, leaving the PCs able to easily mop up any remaining bees, take the honey and get the hell out of there. They declare that nothing could possibly go wrong as the DM grins ghoulishly.

Both styles are lots of fun for those players who enjoy the style (and often very annoying to those her prefer the other style, of course). Problems arise because the type of rules that provide a great "Combat as Sport" experience (mandated balance, no save-or-die effects which could end the combat unfairly, etc.) have the effect of nerfing many of the options the "Combat as War" players want. On the other hand, many of the things that make for a great "Combat as War" experience make it hard to even set up good "Combat as Sport" encounters.

I strongly prefer "Combat as War" to "Combat as Sport". Microlite74, while not purposely designed to be hostile to "Combat as Sport", definitely favors "Combat as War" in its design.

The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through the end of February 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set, and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $690 dollars have been donated. That's 23% of our goal and over 92% of the way to the first drawing trigger point of $750 dollars.

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery: A First Try at Classes

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Here is a very early draft of the Character Classes for Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery. Everything is Open Game Content under the OGL. Everything is also very "First Draft." Changes are extremely likely. Comments are welcome, greatly desired even.

Classes

The classes are Adventurers and Sorcerers. Characters normally begin at Level 1 (unless directed otherwise by the GM).

Adventurers can wear any kind of armor, can use any weapon and may use shields. Hit Points (HP), Physical Combat Bonus PCB), Magical Combat Bonus (MCB), Saving Throw (Save), and Minimum Experience Points Required for Level (XP) are listed on the table below. Maximum Level is 6.

Level

HP

PCB/MCB

Save

XP

1 - Adventurer

1d8+STR

+1/+0

14

0

2 - Explorer

2d8+STR

+3/+1

12

3100

3 - Champion

3d8+STR

+5/+2

10

12500

4 – Hero

4d8+STR

+8/+3

8

50000

5 – SuperHero

6d8+STR

+11/+5

6

120000

6 - Lord

8d8+STR

+15/+7

4

250000

Sorcerers can wear any type of armor, can use any weapon, may not use shields – however, wearing armor and using anything but one-handed light weapons will interfere with spell casting. Physical Combat Bonus is level/4, round up. Hit Points (HP), Physical Combat Bonus PCB), Magical Combat Bonus (MCB), Saving Throw (Save), and Minimum Experience Points Required for Level (XP) are listed on the table below. Maximum Level is 6.

Level

HP

PCB/MCB

Save

XP

1 – Apprentice

1d6+STR

+0/+1

16

0

2 – Conjurer

2d6+STR

+1/+3

14

4000

3 – Sorcerer

3d6+STR

+2/+5

12

15000

4 – Warlock

4d6+STR

+3/+8

10

60000

5 – Wizard

5d6+STR

+5/+11

8

150000

6 - Mage

7d6+STR

+7/+15

6

300000

Class Special Abilities

Some classes have special abilities which are described in this section.

Adventurer Special Abilities: All Adventurers have the following special ability.

Cleave - After an Adventurer kills an opponent, he may immediately make another attack against any still-standing foe within 5 feet. The maximum number of attacks he can make in one round is equal to twice his level.

Adventurers may select one special ability from the following list at levels 2, 4, and 6. Each special ability may only be selected once.

Accuracy – An Adventurer with this special ability rolls one die size larger for damage (1d6 instead of 1d4, 1d8 instead of 1d8, etc.) with thrown or missile weapons.

Berserker Rage – An Adventurer with this special ability may go into a berserker rage when in combat. During a berserker rage, the always fighter attacks the nearest foe (determine randomly if multiple foes in range). His ferocity adds his level to his attack roll and his damage. To break off combat (before all foes are dead) the berserk fighter must make a MIND save versus a DC of 10 (plus 2 for every opponent still standing) in order to break off from fighting. Each round the fighter is berserker costs him 2 hp, subtracted immediately after the berserker rage ends. A berserk fighter cannot use any combat stunts nor the Find Weakness, Leadership, or Tactical Expertise fighter special abilities.

Brutal Attack – An Adventurer with this special ability rolls one die size larger for damage (1d6 instead of 1d4, 1d8 instead of 1d8, etc.) with melee weapons.

Danger Sense: An Adventurer with this special ability has a sixth sense for danger and can never be surprised so long as he is conscious and aware.

Dodging - When not wearing armor, an Adventurer with this special ability may add 1/2 his level plus 1 for every point of dexterity above 15 to his AC.

Find Weakness - When attacking an unaware opponent, an Adventurer with this special ability may ignore any AC bonus the opponent has due to armor worn. He is hitting at his opponent’s weak, exposed areas.

Leadership - When an Adventurer with this special ability is leading a group of hirelings under their command, the hirelings subtract the Adventurer’s level in any morale checks and add the adventurer’s level to their attack and damage rolls.

Tactical Expertise – An Adventurer with this special ability has a number of Tactics Points per day equal to twice his level plus one for every point of intelligence above 13. These points are spent directly before the attack roll of anyone in the adventurer’s party, giving a +1 per point spent. Tactics Points can also be spent before any enemy’s attack roll, giving a -1 per point spent.

Unarmed Combat – An Adventurer with this special ability does 1d6 damage with his bare hands (instead of the standard 1d2 bare handed damage).

Sorcerer Special Abilities: All Sorcerers have the following special abilities.

Minor Magic - Sorcerers can cast minor "everyday/non-combat" magic at will. Basically, any everyday thing someone could do mundanely, a sorcerer can do with minor magic. Attempting something the GM considers abusive fails and causes the magic-users wand or other implement to explode (doing 1d6 backfire damage to the magic-user unless a WIL save is made). Usable once per round if no other action taken. Requires waving a handmade wand. Minor Magic is considered Grey Magic and each use costs HP equal to 1 + the number of corruption points the caster has (if any).

Some examples: Light a candle or pipe with a flame from the wand tip. Dust things – at first level a minor magic spell might be needed for each shelf or piece of furniture, while at third level a single spell might dust a room and at sixth level the magic-user's the entire floor of a house or tower. Tie or untie a knot. Float coins from the magic-users coin purse to a merchant's hand. Open a cabinet. Mix drinks. Dress/undress.

A Sorcerer knows how to create the handmade wand required for this ability. The wand must be made by the Sorcerer using it to function. Creating the wand requires a knife, a living tree to cut the wand from, and 12 minus the Sorcerer's level hours (minimum of 1 hour) of uninterrupted time.

Cast Spells (From Memory) – Sorcerers can memorize and cast directly cast (without a ritual) first and second level spells as described in the magic section of these rules. Any sorcerer may memorize and directly cast first level spells. Second level spells can be memorized and directly cast once sorcerer reaches fourth level.

Scribe Scrolls – Sorcerers may create scrolls from spells recorded in their spell books, provided that the level of the spell being copied is less than their level. Creating a scroll costs 100 gp for materials and one day of full time careful effort per level of the spell being copied. (For example, a scroll with the 3rd level spell Hold Person would cost 300 gp and take three days to scribe.)

Scrolls created in this manner can only be used by Sorcerers. A scroll can be created so that anyone able to read the language it is written in can use it. Such a scroll costs 200 gp for materials and 3 days of full time careful effort per level of the spell and requires a successful MIND Saving Throw or the scroll is ruined and useless.

When cast from the scroll, the spell costs 50% of its normal cost in hit points and costs the normal amount of corruption points if the spell is black magic. Copying a third through fifth level spell to a scroll allows it to be directly cast. Scrolls are consumed by magic energy when the spell they hold is cast.

The Cost of Sorcery: Delving into the mystic arts takes a toll on the Sorcerer’s body. A Sorcerer must accept one of the following handicaps at levels 2 and 5. Except for Phobia, each handicap can only be taken once. The handicap may be determined randomly or the GM may allow the player to select.

Frail: the Sorcerer is unhealthy and weak of frame, subtracting 1 from the number of hit points gained at each level (minimum 0).

Meager Fortitude: Character is sickly and weak of stomach, taking a -3 penalty on STR saves.

Noncombatant: The Sorcerer’s intensive studies have left him inept at melee combat; take a -2 penalty on all melee attack rolls.

Phobia: The Sorcerer has acquired a fear of some common object or situation so strong it can overwhelm him. Phobias can be temporarily overcome with a MIND save.

Poor Reflexes: The Sorcerer’s lack of time for physical activity has left him with poor reflexes -- he  zigs when he should zag -- taking a -3 penalty on DEX saves.

 Shaky: The Sorcerer has become slightly shaky and is relatively poor at ranged combat, taking a -2 penalty on all ranged attack rolls.

Unlucky: The Sorcerer has delved into things man was not meant to know and has developed bad luck, usually at the worst possible time. The GM will arbitrarily make something go wrong for the character each game session. This bad luck cannot kill the character outright, but just about anything else goes.

Unreactive: The Sorcerer is so caught up in his mental preparations that he is slow to react to danger, taking a -4 penalty on initiative checks.

The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through the end of February 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set, and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $585 dollars have been donated. That's about 19% of our goal and about 78% of the way to the first drawing trigger point of $750 dollars.




Why "The Math" Should Not Be the Primary Focus of RPG Design

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Some people tell me that "The Math" is broken in games I like, play, or design. The thing is, I don't consider "The Math" to be the be all and end all of good game design. "The Math" matters to some extent, but there's so much more a great game depends on. "The Math" for a game might be as close to "perfect" as one can get and still not produce a game that suits my needs or the needs of those who play in my campaigns. Great "Math" does not mean the game is fun for everyone or mean that it will suit the play style and specific needs of any given group. A game with "math" most people who care about such things consider horribly broken might be much more fun for a given group.

Avoiding "Math" so broken that the game does not work as intended (e.g. "skill challenges" in D&D 4e as originally released) is important in any game, but beyond that I think "The Math" is less important to creating a fun game than many of its proponents believe. Too much focus on getting "The Math" right often results in game that work perfectly in a spreadsheet and might even feel very elegant but that aren't as much fun to actually play for many people as games with bad "Math" because the design focus was on other areas of the game. "Fun to Play" for a broad range of players is more important that "Great Math" in my book. Your mileage may vary, of course.


The Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive is on (through the end of February 2012). Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of five items described in the above-linked post: Daystar West Media edition of Pharaoh (1980), FEZ 1 (the 1982 Valley of Trees version), the Quest for the Fazzlewood from Metro Detroit Gamers, Empire of the Petal Throne boxed set, and a set of all of the issues of The Strategic Review and the first ten issues of Dragon Magazine. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetrpoRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Firecracker items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!


As of the time of this post $490 dollars have been donated. That's 16% of our goal and over 65% of the way to the first drawing trigger point of $750 dollars.