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Microlite74/Microlite81 Adventures? Sorry Not From Me

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I'm often asked why I don't write and publish some adventures for Microlite74 or Microlite81. The easy answer is that there are already a large number of adventures written for the original games and their retroclones that can easily be used with Microlite74 or Microlite81. While this is true, a more honest answer is that I do not create adventures or settings that most people would be interested in downloading and using (let alone paying for).

My dungeons, for example, are a couple of lines about each (non-empty) room listing the basics of who and what is in that room. My dungeons are created by a most random method, a slight modification of the dungeon creation guidelines from OD&D:

I draw up a dungeon level and position a few special areas around that level -- the exact number of special areas in random but the larger the level, the more special areas there are likely to be. These areas average a 3-6 rooms and these rooms have fairly detailed descriptions, generally 4 to 10 lines per room. The rest of the level is filled in randomly. While the exact percentages vary by level, on average, about 30-40% of the rooms will have some type of monster in them, about 10% will have some type of non-monster encounter (trap, etc.), the rest will be "empty" (although not necessarily literally so). Monsters are randomly selected from encounter tables (special tables may be created for areas near certain special areas, of course). Most of these non-empty but non-special areas will only need 2-3 lines of writeup.

You can get a fair idea of what one of my dungeon levels looks like from visiting this web page which will create and stock a random dungeon level. The only real difference between the dungeon levels this page generates and mine is the levels created by this web page lack the hand-designed special areas that my personal dungeon levels have. Would you really be interested in downloading a using a such a dungeon just because I "designed" and published it? I didn't think so.

You may ask if I couldn't just take such a dungeon and expand on each room to get a dungeon more like what most people expect from a published dungeon? In theory, I certainly could. In practice, however, I get bored after a describing a few rooms and encounters in far more detail than I need to have to personally run the dungeon and go do something more interesting.

Settings are the same. My idea of a setting writeup is like the old Judges Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy (hex maps with a couple of lines on interesting hexes, villages, etc.) and not anything like a BECMI Mystara module or a Forgotten Realms boxed set. Again, when I try to turn the notes I have on my Hidden Valley campaign into some more complete that others could use, I get bored after a few pages and move on to something more interesting.

I'm just not cut out to design adventures or setting for publication. That's the real reason why you haven't seen any Microlite74 or Microlite81 adventures from me -- and probably never will. I know a lot people think old school authors should write more old school adventures and settings and fewer old school rules sets. I understand their point of view, but while I can write what at least some people consider "good rules", I lack that ability when it comes to adventures or settings. So I write what I can do well enough for others to enjoy.

3 comments:
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Rob Kuntz said...
April 2, 2014 at 5:12 PM  

This is not a flaw, but a gift. The ability to extrapolate from bare bones traces its path back to Arneson, Gary and myself. Dungeon design is mainly a linear process whereas extrapolating and building ongoing and emerging content is a granular one. The first is easily mastered through imitation while the other is learned through countless hours, days and years of artful enterprise. Continued good luck with your projects--RJK

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Randall said...
April 3, 2014 at 2:47 PM  

Rob: Thanks for the kind words. However, Gary, Dave, and you all have me beat as I seem to have a number of published adventure with one of your names attached. Y'all can do both, while I can't manage to do the published adventure format. This isn't a big deal to me, but my inability to turn out adventures like I do rules does seem to annoy a few fans. Oh well.

To be honest, if I had not started playing in 1975 with just the brown box and Greyhawk, I wonder if I would have been able to DM as I do (or even at all)? If I'd had a bunch of published adventures to try to design up to, I doubt the first level of my first dungeon would have ever been finished enough to see play. Even the Temple of the Frog in Blackmoor or G1 would have set the "writeup needed" bar higher than I'd likely have had to time or interest to meet. Fortunately, the first "professional" adventure I saw was Palace of the Vampire Queen and my reaction was "wow, my dungeons are every bit as good as that." That wasn't my reaction to Temple or G1. LOL.

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Rob Kuntz said...
April 3, 2014 at 5:02 PM  

Yeh. The pros and cons side. But, what you do is personalized art (as Gary, Dave and myself preferred), the other is closed down design which money was made from. I am very good at it, but I don't like dungeon design. It is very restrictive/unintuitive if it doesn't stay open and instead adheres to a script, which all mission adventures do. They are two different beasts, actually. More people should just create these things themselves and learn the processes from this as thousands like you did 1974-1977 or thereabouts. Then we could focus on specific resources and design theory again rather than waiting on objects.

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