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Microlite74 Plus Edition Discussions

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A few discussions on Microlite74 Plus have started up on our new Microlite74 Forum. If you are interested in Microlite74 Plus, create and account, join in the discussions (and/or start your own on areas you are interested in), and help shape the contents of Microlite74 Plus.

Current topics of discussion:

Attributes in Microlite74 Plus?

Multi-classing for Demihumans in M74 Plus

Thieves and Thief Abilities

The M74 Plus Domain Game

Vancian Magic

The problem that prevented registration from a few days ago has been corrected thanks to Al, our technical admin. Apologies to those who tried to register and could not.

Microlite74 Plus: Four Attributes or Six Attributes?

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Microlite74 3.0 Extended uses the standard three attributes of the Microlite20 system (Strength, Dexterity, Mind) and Charisma. Strength combines two standard OGL20 attributes (Strength and Constitution). Mind combines two standard OGL20 attributes (Intelligence and Wisdom). In a tradition dating back to 0e, standard OGL20 games use six attributes: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, and Charisma.

In Microlite74, attributes bonus do not play as large a roll in the games as they do in later TSR and WOTC editions of the game. As attributes are less important, having fewer of them doesn't seem to hurt anything. However, some Microlite74 players have noted that using only 4 attributes reduces the amount of knowledge they have about their characters by one-third. Some GMs have noted that it is hard to convert some characters and NPCs in published adventures. For example, take a character with a strength of 18 and a Con of 9 -- there's really no good way to assign a M74 Strength attribute that is true to the original's outstanding strength but average constitution. Looking through early TSR and Judge Guild modules, I see even more of this problem with Intelligence and Wisdom.

Moving back to the six standard attributes for Microlite74 Plus would prevent such issues from arising and give players more info about their character for little extra character creation effort. However, it would mean there are six saving throws, one for each attribute using the current Microlite74 saving throw system. That's one more than the five standard saving throws from the saving throw tables in 0e and 1e. The saving throw issue also makes it hard to making using six attributes instead of the standard M74 four an optional rule: I need to be able to say "Save vs X" in monster and spell descriptions. "Save vs X if using 4 attributes but save vs Y if using six attributes" would be wordy and confusing to new players and GMs.

So the first Microlite74 Plus question I'm asking on on our new Microlite74 Forum is:

Should Microlite74 Plus use the standard six attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Charisma) of the "standard fantasy game" or the four attributes currently used by Microlite74 3.0 (the standard Microlite20 attributes of Strength, Dexterity, and Mind plus Charisma)? Why?

You can answer in a comment below, of course, but the best thing to do is join the Microlite74 Forum and answer in the Attributes in Microlite74 Plus? thread -- where it is easier to have a running discussion.

Reading and Commenting on OD&D at RPGNet

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There's a new "reading" thread at RPGNet on OD&D. The author has to have one of the early printings as there are references to hobbits instead of halflings. The thread has just starting, but is moveing through Men & magic at a good clip. Read it here: [OD&D]Where I read the OD&D Rules. It's interesting -- and so far none of the edition war nonsense that often haunts RPGNet's D&D section.

New Microlite74 Forum -- Join Now

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We haven't had a lot of luck with message boards. I get too busy to do the software maintenance and spammer management, so our boards eventually die. One of my players, Al (who plays the infamous Snarley in my Microlite74 Wilderlands campaign), has volunteered to do the software maintenance and spammer checking on a Microlite74 forum. In fact, since I gave him an account on the server Sunday, he's setup a SMF forum with some nice mods (including one to supposedly automatically block known spammers).

I've created some boards for the various Microlite74 games (including the upcoming Microlite74 Plus project) as well as a board for Microlite20 games in general and for old school RPGs in general. There is also a special board that only RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors can access (through the usual password) when donors can discuss draft downloads than are only available to donors. All the Microlite74 forum needs now is active members to post. How about you?

You'll find the new Microlite74 Forum at http://microlite74.com/forum/ -- note that http://microlite74.com/ still points to our Microlite74 Facebook page. Come on over, join, and start some discussion. Thank you

Microlite74 Plus Edition: Work Begins

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I've started "work" on the Microlite74 Plus Edition. At the moment, this work consists of dumping open game content that might be useful into a document with the Microlite74 3.0 Extended and Companion I rules. The document dumps have some lite editing to try to catch most trademark issues, no other changes (not even fixing formatting issues). Of course, not all of the material being dumping in will end up being used and much of what is used will require minor (or major) changes to fit the Microlite74 rules. I currently have open game content spells, monsters and magic items in Draft 0.1.

I don't expect to start much real design work until the Draft 1 stage. However, a PDF copy of Microlite74 Plus Edition Draft 0.1 is available to Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund donors in the usual place with the usual password. It will be replaced with the current draft when major changes are made. Beta versions will be available to all, but we are a long way from a beta version.

Microlite74 Plus Project

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While Microlite74 Plus will not be the final name of the product (at least I hope I can come up with something better), I have decided to go ahead and work on a not-really-microlite (in size) complete version of Microlite74 in mention a couple of weeks ago in this post: Microlite74 Next Generation?. Microlite74 Plus will be based on the rules for Microlite74 Extended but will include more explanation, a few examples, complete descriptions of spells, monsters, and treasure items, campaign information, advice to the gamemaster, etc. Just as with the cuurent standard/lite versions of Microlite74, Microlite74 plus will include a large number of modular optional rules (like those currently in Microlite74 3.0 Companion I) which will hive GMs and players a large number of ways to create the rules they want and need instead of just the rules I want and need.

There will probably be some changes to the current 3.0 core rules. Here are some possible changes I am currently thinking about:

* Use the six standard attributes instead of the reduced set of 3 or 4 Microlite20-based games use. This would make Microlite74 Plus more obviously compatible with the original games and their modern retroclones.

* Use more standard values for XP advancement rather than the lower numbers most Microlite20-based games use. Experience would work more like it does in the original games and in Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Edition.

* Include many monsters, spells and treasure items from 1e for those who want to use them. As the 1e player's book and monster book were published back in the 1970s, my group just gradually started using the 1e spells and monsters in our houseruled 0e variant. Adding these to Microlite74 Plus would allow others who wished to do the same and increase compatibility with settings and adventures produced for 1e (and even 2e).

* Have the basic rules only include the Fighter, Cleric, and Magic-User classes. Backgrounds would be able to simulate some classes like a thief or a bard. Druids would be clerics using a nature spell list. Illusionists would be magic-users using an illusion spell list. Etc. The extra standard classes would be included in the optional rules, however. This would put backgrounds to god use and make it easier to create new classes (for example, a necromancer would be a magic-user selecting spells from a necromancy spell list).

Note that none of the above chances are sure things. I'm just playing around in my mind while I finish up the current project, Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery. Ideas and comments on the Microlite74 Plus project are welcome.

For Gold & Glory Rules Finished (Free 2e Retroclone)

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Justen Brown has announced that the rules for his 2e retroclone, For Gold & Glory, are finished. While they have not been formatted and turned into a nice-looking PDF yet, the For Gold & Glory rules are available as a Word .doc file on Justen's Fey Square web site.

The one thing not done is a 2e monster collection. Justen is working on this but says:

Unfortunately the monsters have proven most difficult to research and adapt. 2E has the most in-depth monster write-ups in the series’ history, devoting at least a full page to otherwise mundane creatures, and this has lead to issues scouring books for OGL content and changing the experience values to actually match the guidelines given in the rulebook. In order for me to be completely satisfied, I’ll have to adapt the equivalent of the 200+ page monster book. I do have more than half the monsters adapted but the editing will take the longest amount of time.

I haven't had a chance to read the final rules document, but from what I've seen in previous drafts, Justen has done a great job with this 2e retroclone.

You can find out more about For Gold & Glory and download a copy of the final doc file here: Fey Square: Home of For Gold & Glory.

Putting Silly Rumors to Rest Department: A few people have noticed that I was talking about using the title "For Gold & Glory" for one of my projects some time ago, before Justen announced his project and wondered why I did not stop him from using a title I had announced and produced a early rules draft for. I changed the name of that project to Microlite75 when Justen announced his project. Why? Because I'm not a nasty corporation hoarding IP and defending it from all comers. The OSR community needs a good mostly open content retroclone far more than I needed to call a Microlite74 variant "For Gold and Glory." I doubt Justen even knew someone else was intending to use the title and he certainly did not send me legal threats to force me to change the name as one commenter once said.

HARP Fantasy Second Edition is Available in PDF

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Speaking of Rolemaster (in my post on Blood, Guts & Glory a few days ago), I just noticed the second edition of ICE's HARP Fantasy is out in PDF. What what I've seen HARP (High Adventure Role Play) does not have a lot in common with Rolemaster rules-wise, but in some ways still seems like a "spiritual" descendent of the game. Or at least that's what I've been told by some RM fans. Other RM fans seem to loathe HARP Fantasy. While I am somewhat curious about the game, I will not be picking it up. $20 for a 203 page PDF is way too pricey for me to pick up just to look at. If you are interested, here's a link to the game on RPGNet: High Adventure Role Playing Fantasy.

Blood, Guts & Glory (aka Darkest Dungeons) Now Available

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Blacky the Blackball (of Dark Dungeons and Darker Dungeons fame)has finished Darkest Dungeons, a mashup of D20 with early Rolemaster, trying to take the best features of each. Blacky has renamed the game from its working title of Darkest Dungeons to Blood, Guts & Glory. The default setting isn't a medieval D&D-like world, but "a post-apocalypse Elizabethan England populated by anthropomorphic animals". However, if that doesn't do anything for you there are guidelines for using the rules in a more standard fantasy setting.

According to Blacky...

* The system has the standard 6 ability scores and 20 levels from the SRD; but with classes and their skill costs and spell lists inspired by those in Rolemaster.

* The system for buying skills is inspired by the one in Rolemaster, but skill usage is standard SRD (d20+bonus vs variable DC) and skill bonuses are therefore scaled accordingly.

* The combat round sequence is taken from Dark/Darker Dungeons; with attacks, damage and healing being made in a manner inspired by Rolemaster (but scaled for use with a d20).

* The rules for spell casting are original for this game, but take their inspiration from both those in the SRD and those in Rolemaster.

* Character progression is mostly "have the go up a level at plot-relevant intervals", but there are optional rules in there for using experience points (and awarding them based on the acquisition of treasure).

You can download a free PDF of the game at Blacky's Gratis games website here. There will be a print version (sold at cost like the print versions of Dark Dungeons and Darker Dungeons, I believe) in the future -- after us PDF early adopters find all the missed typos and the like.

I've never been a fan of Rolemaster (too many tables) but I tolerated is "baby version" in MERPS, so I'm interested in seeing what Blacky has come up with. I've downloaded a copy, but haven't had time to really look at it.

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Release Candidate 2 Available (Free Download)

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The second "release candidate" version of Microlite74 3.0 Swords & Sorcery is now available for download. As I mentioned in a post a few days ago, people with far better proofreaders skills than mine found a large number of errors in the first release candidate. Many of these errors were nothing more than places where text had been copied from standard M74 and I had not noticed references to magic-users, clerics, etc. Oddly, I noticed and fixed some of these while not even noticing others. I hope I have caught most of them this time around. I've also added dinosaurs back into the monster list, however, in a simple way. There are states for various general classes of dinosaurs instead of 30 or 40 entries for specific dinosaurs.

Except for typos (of which I am sure there are more) the rules in second first release candidate are in (what I hope will be) their nearly final form. This means they are ready for you to download, proofread, math check, playtest, and the like. Please report any typos, places where the rules aren't clear, or where they seem broken in play so I can fix typoes (of which there are probably a large number) and take a second look at any troublesome rules. I do not plan to add any more rules or make major changes to these rules -- assuming, that is, there are no more major rules problems or omissions found by readers. The third release candidate will include a section on "swords & sorcery" and well as updated designers notes along with corrections to the rules from proofreaders. With luck, there will be no need for a fourth release candidate. I am still hoping for a final release sometime in September.

You can download a free PDF copy of Microlite 74 3.0 Swords & Sorcery Release Candidate 2 from Mediafire:


Please post comments and correction below or send them via email to m74ss AT retroroleplaying.com. Note that this address will only be valid during August 2011.

[Real Life Note: We are dealing with a very sick 16.5 year old dachshund at the moment, so if I do not reply to comments and emails as quickly as you might like over the next few days, please forgive me.]

Microlite74 Swords and Sorcery RC2 This Weekend

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My plans to only have two release candidates have already gone up in smoke. Proofreaders with actual proofreading ability (unlike me) have found large numbers of major issues. Things like references to clerics in the monster listing, saving throw issues, etc. Lots of "clean-up" stuff from the changes between standard Microlite74 and the Swords and Sorcery rules that I never even noticed. Have I mentioned that I'm horrible at proofreading?

A much cleaned up Release Candidate 2 should be out this weekend.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea PDF Available

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My PDF copy of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is downloading now. 80+ megs in a zip file. It was only $10 on RPGNow/Drivethru. Here's a link to the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea page on RPGNow. The download has finished so I'm off to look at the rules.

Microlite74 Next Generation?

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We were talking about 5e during a break in my Sunday game yesterday. One of my players thought it was funny that the 5e designers seemed to be having so much trouble designing a game that has a very basic set of core rules, but has a lot of optional rules when Microlite74 manages it. I had never really thought of it before, but Microlite74 does manage a wide variety of "official" optional rules -- both optional rules in the main rule sets and optional subsystems in the first Microlite74 Companion volume.

After some more delay of game -- I mean discussion -- folks convinced me to at least think about producing a "not-Microlite" version of Microlite74 that had more complete information on character classes, monsters, treasure, magic, etc. that anyone could pick up and play: a more complete game, in other words. With lots of entirely open game content retroclones of early TSR editions out there, it would be (relatively) easy to piece together the fairly standard bits then customize as needed to get the basic M74 and then the optional rules working with this material.

After thinking about this overnight, I'm still not sure about actually doing this. However, I am thinking about it. It would be a lot more work that a "microlite" game, but it might be worth to to provide a fairly complete game with lots of optional rules -- enough optional rules to turn the core "old-school" style game into a more new school game if that's what a group wants. This really can be done even if the 5e design team seems to be floundering over how to do so.

What do you think? Would this be a worthwhile "next project"? Would you be interested in seeing such a game? Would you be interested in seeing softcover and/or hardcover versions of such a game (via Lulu at cost like dark Dungeons does)? Note that some parts of the project would probably be "backported" to the current Microlite74 3.0 project so even if you have no need for a complete game version of Microlite74, some materials from it would likely show up for standard version as supplements (perhaps a monster supplement and a treasure supplement?).

Microlite 74 Swords & Sorcery Release Candidate 1 Available (Free Download)

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The first "release candidate" version of Microlite74 3.0 Swords & Sorcery is now available for download. For those who haven't been following my blog posts on this new variant of Microlite74 3.0, Microlite74 3.0 Swords & Sorcery is a special edition of Microlite74 focused on campaigns in a "swords & sorcery" setting. That is, it is designed for "gritty" campaigns with characters who are mercenaries, scoundrels, and explorers out to stay alive and increase their money supply, not for campaigns about heroes questing to save the world from the return of the Dark Lich. In other words, Microlite74 3.0 Swords & Sorcery is designed for play in swords & sorcery campaigns like the worlds of Conan, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Jirel, Imaro, etc.

While the basic rules of Microlite74 3.0 Swords & Sorcery are similar to those of Microlite74 Extended, many rules have been changed on added to provide a more "swords & sorcery feel." All PCs are human. There are only two classes, Adventurer and Sorcerer. Character levels range from 1 to 6. After reaching 6th level, characters still accumulate experience points and gain an epic point with every additional 50,000 xp. Epic points can be traded in for special advancements, Magic is divided into White, Grey, and Black and the different types of magic have different costs to (and on) a Sorcerer. While there are six levels of spells, Sorcerers can only memorize first and second level spells. All other spells can only be cast as time-consuming rituals (or cast from one-use scrolls). While there are powerful true magic items left over from ancient and powerful (but long dead) civilizations (think normal 0e items), most recent magic items are created by binding spirits to items.

The rules in this first release candidate are in (what I hope will be) their nearly final form. This means they are ready for you to download, proofread, math check, playtest, and the like. Please report any typos, places where the rules aren't clear, or where they seem broken in play so I can fix typoes (of which there are probably a large number) and take a second look at any troublesome rules. I do not plan to add any more rules or make major changes to theese rules -- assuming, that is, there are no major rules problems or omissions found bty readers. The second release candidate will include a section on "swords & sorcery" and well as updated designers notes along with corrections to the rules from proofreaders. With luck, there will be no need for a third release candidate. I am still hoping for a final release sometime in September.

You can download a free PDF copy of Microlite 74 3.0 Swords & Sorcery Release Candidate 1 from Mediafire:


Please post comments and correction below or send them via email to m74ss AT retroroleplaying.com. Note that this address will only be valid during August 2011.

Swords & Wizardry Kickstarter: First Day 186% of Goal Reached

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Matt Finch and Frog God Games has having a kickstarter to raise money for a hardcover edition of Swords and Wizardry (Complete). The kickstarter started this morning with a goal of raising $10,000. As of the time I started this post (less than a day later), $18,669 has been raised, blowing though the first four (of five) bonus goals. I don't think it will be long until they reach the final bonus goal of $20,000. Perhaps they need to add a few more bonus goals?

For more info on the kickerstarter, see Matt's blog post Tougher Books and More Monsters, YES! and, of course, the kickstarter page itself (Swords & Wizardry: The Actual 1st Edition Roleplaying Rules) where you can join the donors.

Congrats to Matt and Frog God Games on their very successful kickstarter. i can't want to see hardcover copies of Swords and Wizardry in game stores.