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D&D 5e/Next: One Year On

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It's been about a year since WOTC announced that they were working on 5e (aka D&D Next). D&D Next Originally promised as some type of modular system when everyone could play the edition/types of D&D they wanted. I was skeptic then (see D&D 5th Edition Announced, What Will It Take to Get Old School Players to Convert to 5e?, Who really needs D&D 5e?, D&D 5e Playtest Issues: Hit Points & Healing, ansd more, I'm sure), and I'm still skeptical now.

The first playtest set seemed like WOTC might actually be on the right track, but each additional playtest set added more brand new rules and ideas that had never been in D&D before. The idea of modular rules where those who liked OD&D could play with OD&D like rules while those who like 4e could play with 4e-like rules seemed to quickly disappear in favor of adding lots of stuff to the the rules that would keep late 3.5 and 4e players happy. My interest in 5e quickly waned as it became apparent that 5e was unlikely to be a game I would be interested in playing, yet alone a game that would be so much better than what I'm playing now (OD&D/Microlite74) that I would be willing to go to the work of converting my campaign world to it.

Here we are a year later and there is a new "manifesto" from WOTC. Modular D&D is still gone, unfortunately, but now there will be three versions, Basic, Standard, and Advanced. Mike Mearls explains this plan in three posts: Basic, Standard, and Advanced. This sounds somewhat promising, but so did the modular idea from last year at this time. Will this idea survive the crush of late 3.5 and 4e players who seem to dislike this almost as much as they disliked the modular idea of a very simple core game with lots of optional modules so each table could build the game best for them? I am not going to hold my breath. However, I will say that this new plan has moved me from 99% doubt that I'd play 5e to about 70% doubt that I'd play 5e. The basic version might not be too bad and I like the idea of lots of modular advanced rules. However, I still stand by What Will It Take to Get Old School Players to Convert to 5e? post. If D&D 5e Basic can't meet most of the requirements in this post, I might buy it, but I'd have no reason to convert my campaigns to it. What about you?

New Plans for RetroRoleplaying.com in 2013

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I've already answered what seems to be the burning question, will Microlite74 continue now that legal TSR-era PDFs are returning in this post: Publication of Microlite74 Will Continue. However, the return of TSR-era PDFs has made me rethink my plans for the RetroRoleplaying web site in 2013.

I originally planned the RetroRoleplaying web site as a hub of information on old school games -- especially TSR-era D&D -- that would help people figure out what old school products they wanted to try to hunt up on ebay or buy as PDFs. With the withdraw of TSR era PDFs 3-4 years ago, I sort of lost interest in this idea. With the return of the PDFs, I am considering it again. Although, this would take a back seat to my game design work.

Here's what I'm hoping to do with the RetroRoleplaying web site during 2013. Please note that these are my current ideas and plans -- nothing is set in stone.

* Move the current Microlite74 forum from its home on microlite74.com back to retroroleplaying.com. All the current M74 material and topics will continue.

* New forum areas with topics on TSR-era material would be added so people can comment on/review TSR-era products without having to buy another copy on DNDclassics/RPGNow to do so. Many of us "grognards" already have copies and have actually playing them. This will provide a place where we can provide this expertise to new people.

* The planned Microlite20 file download area will be incorporated to retroroleplaying.com instead of Microlite74.com. The files are already available here.

* The forum software may switch to PHPBB from SMF. While I like SMF better (a lot better), there is a Drupal mod that would allow me to fully integrate a phpbb3 forum into the site. There is nothing like that available for smf2.

* I'd like expand eventually expand coverage to some of my favorite non-D&D old school games (e.g. classic Traveller, Runequest 2, Gamma World, Ysgarth, etc.), but give the flood of D&D PDFs expected this year, I doubt this is likely in 2013.

Comments and ideas are welcome.

Personal Note: I haven't been nearly as active this month as I had planned to be. We had medical issues this month. It turned out to be much ado about nothing (Thank God!) but this ate up most of my free time and a lot of money we don't have over the list 20 days or so. (Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund donations would be much appreciated.) I've made no real progress on the two M74 Companions this month, but Gryphons and Grammyre is about ready for its first public beta. I just need to rewrite the races section. G&G just took less brainpower to work on.

Publication of Microlite74 Will Continue

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With the return of early D&D edition PDFs (find them at DNDClassics), I've had two emails asking me if Microlite74 will continue and one email bluntly telling me that I should stop publishing them so people will play more "real D&D". I think I need to explain my plans for Microlite74.

First, Microlite74 will continue to be published and new material will continue to come out. The two M74 Companions I'm currently working on should be out this spring (if not sooner). Microlite74 Plus is a long term project, but I'm still plugging away at it. TSR era PDFs were legally available when M74 was first published. I even included directions on how to get them in the design/play notes of early versions of Microlite74. WOTC did not pull them until well after M74 appeared.

To my eyes, Microlite74 serves several purposes. First, it is an easy way for those most familiar with WOTC-era editions to try old school play. It uses the ascending AC, D20 rolls, etc. from modern editions which makes it easier than the originals for players who have mainly played WOTC editions. Second, because it uses "modern D20 systems" (in much simplified form, of course) it is a great system for those who want to play old school byt tack on a few of their favorite sub-systems the the wealth of published D20 material. It's a lot like Castles and Crusades in this respect but the base game more TSR-era than WOTC-era -- at least in the eyes of many players. Third, it has become a very complete game that is simply easier to understand for many people than 0e while giving many consider a very 0e experience, especially when you consider that every table played 0e differently (both in rules interpretation, house rules, and what material from third party sources like The Dragon, Warlock, the Arduin Grimoire, Dungeoneer, etc. were used). The return of legal TSR era PDFs does not really negate any of this purposes.

In summary, it's business as usual for Microlite74. The return of legal TSR-era PDFs just means that there will be a lot of good, low cost old school adventures available to use with Microlite74 (or your favorite edition or retroclone).

B1 is FREE for the opening week of DnDClassics.com

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The classic module B1 - In Search of the Unknown is available for free for one week to celebrate the opening of DNDClassics.

Module B1: "In Search of the Unknown," forms a complete adventure for use with Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set. It is especially designed as an instructional aid for beginning Dungeon Masters and players, specifically created to enable new Dungeon Masters to initiate play with a minimum of preparation.

In addition to descriptive and situational material, this module also includes special informational sections giving background history and legends; listings of possible monsters and treasures, and how to place them; a list of adventuring characters; tips on various aspects of play for the Dungeon Master; and helpful advice for starting players.

Download B1 here!

Classic D&D PDFs Available Again!

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DriveThruRPG/RPGNow has classic D&D PDFs available again on a new site, DNDClassics. There are about 80 items available now (from all versions of DnD through 3.x) and more will be added each month. However, if you purchased D&D PDFs from DriveThruRPG/RPGNow before WOTC pulled them a few years ago, you will be able to download the newly updated D&D PDFs for free in the My Library section of the My Account page as they are re-released by WotC. You can log in with your DriveThruRPG/RPGNow account. More later.

R.I.P. Lynn Willis

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Charlie Krank announced yesterday on the Chaosium web site that Lynn Willis has passed away. He was responsible as both line editor and author for much of Chaosium's Call of Cthulthu line, including (with Larry Ditillio) my favorite CoC adventure: The Masks of Nyarlathotep. Another important member of the early RPG world has passed on -- and will be missed.

Microlite20 Games Download Site

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Over the holidays, I received an email from someone who was interested in Microlite20 and a couple of its variants, but did not want to have to download the entire The Microlite20 RPG Collection to get them. Adfter looking around the web, I discovered that there really does not seem to be a central location to find and download Microlite20 based games. This is especially true since the official Microlite20 forum switched from SMF to Vanilla and lost the download area (among other useful features Vanilla lacks -- admittedly, it one of my least favorite types of forum, so some prejudice may creep in here).

I've made all the Microlite20 files and variants (both minor and complete games) available as separate downloads at in the Microlite20 folder on my Mediafire account. These are all free games and are all available for free download. Eventually, each major variant will have its own topic (with a link to the variant download) in a planned Microlite20 area of the Microlite74 Forum. This will make it easier to find out about and discuss the many Microlite20 variants, but until then at least they are available in one play for easy download.

You'll find the basic Microlite20 rules (and numerous minor variants) as well as the following major variants in the download area: 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, 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. The following "mega-edition" versions of the Microlite20 system are also available: Microlite20 Golden Edition, DungeonFinder Player’s Guide, DungeonFinder GM’s Guide, DungeonFinder Book of Monsters, and Grimm Lite.

My Mictolite74 games are not in this download area. They remain the the Microlite74 Version 3 folder.