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Still Alive But Now in Ohio

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I suspect (okay, I hope) that at least a few people are wondering where I've been the past four and a half months. I've been busy selling our house in Garland, TX and moving to Youngstown, OH. My wife's MS had reached the pointy where the high heat combined with the high humidity in North Central Texas was making her life unbearable. And there was no way we could afford the energy bills that would have resulted from keeping the house comfortable for her during our 8-9 month long "summers" ("summer" being when we would need the AC running to have any chance of keeping her comfortable. The real estate market in Garland was hot so we decided (pretty suddenly) to sell the house and move somewhere with a better climate for her needs, a lower cost of living, and saner politicians. We finally decided on Ohio. Winters will be awful but the rest of the year is bunch better for her. The cost of living in the Youngstown area is also much lower than in Garland.

We finally found a house here and sold our Garland house in late June. Movers arrived in late August, packed us up and arrived with our stuff on August 31. We drove up here over 5 days. Taking it slowly as long car rides are hard on my wife. The trip up was much easier than expected. Other than having to stay in Motel 6 because they are pet friendly, the trip up was actually enjoyable. We are currently in the midst of unpacking (and finally have Internet). It will be a few more weeks before regular posting -- and work on Microlite75 projects -- will resume. I hope to start a old school RPG up here late this year, so if you are in the Youngstown area and are interested in playing in a old school campaign, let me know. I have a long bar area in the basement that I plan to use for gaming so I will be able to accommodate a fair number of players.

Dungeon World Hits My Microlite7x Sunday Game Group

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Dungeon World coverOne of my four Sunday game players was going to be out of town for business for the last three Sundays in April. Originally, I was going to run my Sunday game for the remaining three players running some of their henchmen as PCs. However, the week before this was to start, the subject of Dungeon World came up on the group mailing list with one of the players asking me what I thought of the game. After saying that he had thought it would be fun but after playing it decided he did not like it as it was too restrictive. However, his real issue with the game was that it was too narrative. While lists of names and weird rules about no more than one of each character class in the game were mildly annoying, the real problem was he had no interest in doing the GM's job of creating the world and deciding what happens beyond what his character could control.

I said that I had heard a number of similar complaints from old school players who are there to explore the world as their character and want to play by saying what their character is doing in the world and have no interest in making decisions that their character couldn't make. Players who aren't playing to tell a good story but to "live" as their character day to day in the world. I pointed out that while Dungeon World is obviously written to be played as a narrative game, it would be easy enough to play the game like a standard early TSR version of D&D.

You could:

  • Ignore the lists of character names, the limit of only one character of each class in the game, and the like. These hardly even count as rules changes.
  • Ignore the bits about creating a world as a group and simply play in the GM's world.
  • When choices have to be made in the game that aren't a choice the player could make in character, the GM simply decides what happens the way he would in a normal D&D game. For example, while a character could choose to use extra ammo to get a hit, he could not choose something like his opponent stumbles so he can hit him (any more than I could choose that you agree with everything I write in this post).
As for the poorly named (IMHO) "moves" which annoy many OSR players, there are really two types of Dungeon World "moves":

The first type (the basic moves than anyone can do) are simply general situation resolution methods that the GM can use when needed -- just like an attribute roll, a hit roll, or a saving throw in old school D&D. They are just methods of resolving actions that the GM calls for when a player has his or her character do something that needs that method of resolution. The procedure is just dressed up in a different language. Making a move is just doing something that the GM says needs to be resolved by that particular resolution system. Therefore players don't need to even think about making these types of moves. They just roll when the GM asks them to roll, just like in old school D&D (but rolling 2d6).

The second type of move is a just a class ability description and the suggested method of the GM to use in resolving the use of that class ability. Moves of this second type are really no different than the class abilities of TSR-era thieves. For example the TSR thief ability "Hide in Shadows" is just like a Dungeon World class ability move: both describe a class ability and give rules the GM can use for resolving the use of the class ability when it comes up in play. Making these types of moves is just using a class ability.

In other words, if the GM and players ignore the narrative stuff and the GM runs Dungeon World just like he would run a old school D&D game, Dungeon World in play would be little different in play than old school D&D. The main difference would be the combat system which lacks the round by round structure of D&D, instead opting for a less structured handling of combat. I don't see a lot of problem here, both Dungeon World and early D&D combat is highly abstract. With some work one could even use a more D&D like combat system.

After discussing this a bit on the mailing list, I was asked if I could demonstrate it. So we've played a non-narrative version of Dungeon World for the last three Sunday games. When you drop the narrative stuff, it does indeed play much like early D&D. Of the three players in the three sessions, everyone thought it was okay but not something they'd want to use instead of my Microlite7x rules in our regular game.

I however, was impressed by how well class abilities (aka the special moves each class gets) worked in Dungeon World. I may experiment with adding a DW-like resolution system to at least some class abilities in a future Microlite7x variant.

Free Version of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Second Edition Available

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Microlite74 Swords and Sorcery 2e coverThe "pay what you want"/free version of the revised and expanded second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is now available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. This version lacks art (except for the cover) and is in my standard, two column "condensed type" format.

Moving from the digest format to the condensed type format was much harder than the reverse. For example, one major problem was all the tables copied from the digest format pasted in the condensed format document without their contents (that is, I ended up with nicely formatted tables that were empty). Going from the condensed format to the digest format never had problems like that. I hope I have caught all these issues. However, if some slipped through, at least DrivethruRPG/RPGNow will notify when I upload new versions (assuming you do not turn such notifications off).

Fortunately, the Microlite74 Ultimate Edition will only have a digest format version. Future projects will be done in the standard condensed format first and then converted to digest. While doing the digest first makes writing easier, I really don't want to see the weird formatting problems again.

You can download the no-art condensed type version of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery 2e here. For more about Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery 2e see this post.

Second Edition Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Now Available

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Microlite75 Swords & Sorcery 2e Digest CoverThe revised second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is now available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow in a digest and epub combo format -- perfect for printing out or reading on a tablet. Like the original edition, the second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is designed for low level play in swords & sorcery settings. If the fantasy stories of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Lieber, Clark Ashton Smith, C.L. Moore, Karl Edward Wagner, and David Gemell are more to your taste that those of Tolkein or Eddings, this version of Microlite74 may be just what you are looking for.

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is based on Microlite74 Extended 3.0 but with many special rules designed for swords & sorcery style campaigns. For example, there are only two classes (Adventurer and Sorcerer) and 6 levels, magic is limited and casting certain spells can corrupt the caster, and many 0e style magic items are relics of dead civilizations from long ago. Humans are assumed to dominate the world and most enemies are other humans and animals. True monsters certainly exist but they are assumed to be rare. Unlike most Microlite74 games which use a Microlite20-based experience system, this version uses a more standard experience point system.

The revised second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery adds rules for allegiances (which replace alignments), expands the rules for corruption -- using black magic effects the world (e.g weather, chance of wandering monsters, etc.), adds a few new spells to the spell lists, adds rules for mounted combat, expands the section on adventuring (including adding a section on ocean exploration), adds demons and Lovecraftian monsters, etc. Second Edition also adds a section of optional rules including several that have not been in any other versions Microlite74 (e.g. player-defined feats, rules for corrupt and/or tainted locations).

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery includes:

  • Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a class, a background, and allegiances.
  • Two Classes: Adventurer and Sorcerer, both limited to sixth level – but advancements continues even after reaching sixth level.
  • Backgrounds provide a simple and fast way to factor in a character's culture and non-class-related abilities.
  • Simple and fast-playing combat system that tracks physical damage (aka body points) separately from luck/skill/fatigue (aka hit point) damage.
  • Hit points recover with a night’s rest. Spells cost hit points to cast. Actual wounds recover more slowly.
  • Spells are divided into white, grey, and black magic. Using black magic eventually corrupts the caster and has strange effects on reality. Only first and second level spells can normally be memorized and cast directly. Other spells must be cast with lengthy rituals.
  • Rules for hirelings, monster reactions (not every monster wants to fight), morale (not every monster fights to the death), and more.
  • A complete list of spells, monsters, and treasure.
  • Compatible with most other 0e based games and adventures.

The digest pdf version of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is 160 pages. The epub version of contains tables and many epub readers display tables in a single column unreadable mess. Epub reader software designed to display epub3 files usually have no problem with the tables. Calibre displays this epub file well on Windows PCs and Gitden reader displays it fine (if slowly) on android. There is an IOS version of Gitden Reader for Apple devices, but it has not been tested. Note that tables in epub files do not adapt well to small screen devices. Both files include art.

You get both the digest-sized pdf and the epub version when you buy the digest/epub version of the second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery for $6.99. A "pay what you want" letter-sized "condensed type" without artwork will appear at a later date. I can't be more specific as real life here is about to get very interesting as it looks like my wife and I will be moving out of state as the climate here is playing havoc with her MS as she has gotten very sensitive to heat and humidity.

You can get a copy of the new second edition of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery on its page on RPGNow.

Microlite75 Extended Now Available for Download (Free OSR Game)

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Microlite75 Extended CoverThe third and final "core" Microlite75 game, Microlite75 Extended, is now available for download as a "pay what you want" game on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. As usual, free ($0) is a perfectly acceptable price, although I would love it if you would consider tossing in a buck or two to support the medical bills.

Microlite75 games are a sort of "new edition" of Microlite74. Like Microlite78 and Microlite81 games, Microlite75 games use an experience and advancement system much closer to the original "0e" system than the Microlite20-based system used in Microlite74 games. They also all include some of most popular "house rules" based system that first appeared in Microlite74 Extended (e.g. body points and backgrounds). They include rules for creating strongholds, magical research, and more detailed rules for dungeon, wilderness and sea adventuring. Finally, they include a complete treasure section so the game is more complete than their Microlite74 counterparts.

The Microlite75 Extended rules are based on three little booklets found in the boxed set of the 1974 original edition of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game plus the supplements and other early published material. The rules are not intended to be a clone of the 0e rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules. Microlite75 Extended is based on the third edition of the original Microlite74 rules, modified to use advancement and experience systems closer to those of the original game and including many of the author’s house rules from the era and a large selection of optional rules.

Although the Microlite75 Extended rules are complete, they assume that the GM understands the basic concepts of D20-based roleplaying games. Information for both the GM and the players on the various “old school” styles of play is provided. Microlite75 games can easily use adventures and material from early editions of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game or modern clones. Microlite75 Extended includes:

  • Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a race, class, background, and alignment.
  • Standard Classes: Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Illusionist, Magic-User, Paladin, Ranger, Thief.
  • Optional Classes: Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Monk, Mystic, Sorcerer, Warlord.
  • Backgrounds provide a simple and fast way to factor in a character's culture and non-class-related abilities.
  • Allegiances instead of (or in addition to) alignment.
  • Simple and fast-playing combat system that tracks physical damage (aka body points) separately from luck/skill/fatigue (aka hit point) damage.
  • Hit points recover with a night’s rest. Spells cost hit points to cast. Actual wounds recover more slowly.
  • Rules for hirelings; monster reactions (not every monster wants to fight); morale (not every monster fights to the death); dungeon, wilderness and ocean exploration; and more.
  • Lots of Optional Rules: Advantages and Disadvantages, Armor for Everyone, Weapon Mastery, Psionics, Sanity, Action Points, Traditional Systems, and many more.
  • A complete list of spells, monsters, and treasure.
  • Compatible with most other 0e based games and adventures.

Microlite75 games are trimmed-down miniature versions of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. The goal of Microlite75 games is to recreate the style and feel of that very first (“0e”) fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions. Other versions of the core Microlite75 rules include Microlite75 Basic and Microlite75 Standard.

Visit the Microlite75 Extended page on RPGNow to Download Now.

Upcoming releases: Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Expanded Digest Edition (Commercial, estimated price $6.99 -- ETA 1 to 2 weeks from now), Microlite74 Utimate Digest Edition (Commercial estimated price $9.99 -- ETA 2 to 3 weeks from now. Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Expanded Digest Edition will be a digest (and epub) version of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery expanded with new material. The Microlite74 Utimate Digest Edition will be a 300+ page digest (and epub) edition of Microlite74 which collects the best material from the first three Microlite74 Companions and integrates it into a Microlite74 Expanded rules base (along with some new material and a sample campaign setting with several prewritten adventure locations).

Cancer Fund Donations Welcome: If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.) Remember, if you donate $25 or more (via this RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund link), you will be listed as a sponsor in upcoming games.

I'm also testing the Patreon waters:

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Become a Patreon:
Support the development of Microlite74/75/78/81 games.

Microlite75 Standard Now Available for Download (Free Game)

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Microlite75 Standard CoverThe second Microlite75 game, Microlite75 Standard, is now available for download as a "pay what you want" game on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. As usual, free ($0) is a perfectly acceptable price, although I hope you will consider tossing in a buck or two to support the medical bills.

Microlite75 games are a sort of "new edition" of Microlite74. Like Microlite78 and Microlite81 games, Microlite75 games use an experience and advancement system much closer to the original "0e" system than the Microlite20-based system used in Microlite74 games. They also all include some of most popular "house rules" based system that first appeared in Microlite74 Extended (e.g. body points and backgrounds). They include rules for creating strongholds, magical research, and more detailed rules for dungeon, wilderness and sea adventuring. Finally, they include a complete treasure section so the game is more complete than their Microlite74 counterparts.

The Microlite75 Standard rules are based on three little booklets found in the boxed set of the 1974 original edition (0e) of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game plus much of the material in the 0e supplements and some material from very early issues of the offical magazine. Unlike Microlite75 Basic, these rules embrace the changes in the first supplement to hit dice and weapon damage dice. As with other Microlite74 and Microlite75 games, the rules are not intended to be a clone of the 0e rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules.

Although the Microlite75 Standard rules are complete, they assume that the GM understands the basic concepts of roleplaying games. Information for both the GM and the players on the various “old school” styles of play is provided. Microlite75 games can easily use adventures and material from early editions of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game or modern clones.

Microlite75 Standard includes in 56 pages:

  • Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a race, class, background, and (optionally) alignment.
  • Standard Classes: Fighter, Magic-User, Cleric, and Thief.
  • Optional Classes: Assassin, Druid, Illusionist, Paladin, Ranger.
  • Backgrounds provide a simple and fast way to factor in a character's culture and non-class-related abilities.
  • Simple and fast-playing combat system that tracks physical damage (aka body points) separately from luck/skill/fatigue (aka hit point) damage.
  • Hit points recover with a night’s rest. Spells cost hit points to cast. Actual wounds recover more slowly.
  • Rules for hirelings; monster reactions (not every monster wants to fight); morale (not every monster fights to the death); strongholds; magical research; dungeon, wilderness and ocean exploration; poison; and more.
  • A complete list of spells, monsters, and treasure.
  • Compatible with most other 0e based games and adventures.
Microlite75 games are trimmed-down miniature versions of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. The goal of Microlite75 games is to recreate the style and feel of that very first (“0e”) fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions.

Visit the Microlite75 Standard page on RPGNow to Download Now.

Upcoming releases: Microlite75 Expanded (Pay What You Want -- ETA next week), Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Expanded Digest Edition (Commercial, estimated price $6.99 -- ETA 1 to 2 weeks from now), Microlite74 Utimate Digest Edition (Commercial estimated price $9.99 -- ETA 2 to 3 weeks from now. Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Expanded Digest Edition will be a digest (and epub) version of Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery expanded with new material. The Microlite74 Utimate Digest Edition will be a 300+ page digest (and epub) edition of Microlite74 which collects the best material from the first three Microlite74 Companions and integrates it into a Microlite74 Expanded rules base (along with some new material and a sample campaign setting with several prewritten adventure locations).

Cancer Fund Donations Welcome: If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.) Remember, if you donate $25 or more (via this RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund link), you will be listed as a sponsor in upcoming games.

I'm also testing the Patreon waters:

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Become a Patreon:
Support the development of Microlite74/75/78/81 games.

New Free Game: Microlite75 Basic is Now Available For Download

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Microlite75 Basic CoverI'm happy to announce that the first Microlite75 game, Microlite75 Basic, is now available for download as a "pay what you want" game on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. As usual, free ($0) is a perfectly acceptable price, although I hope you will consider tossing in a buck or two to support the medical bills.

Microlite75 games are a sort of "new edition" of Microlite74. Like Microlite78 and Microlite81 games, Microlite75 games use an experience and advancement system much closer to the original "0e" system than the Microlite20-based system used in Microlite74 games. They also all include some of most popular "house rules" based system that first appeared in Microlite74 Extended (e.g. body points and backgrounds). They include rules for creating strongholds, magical research, and more detailed rules for dungeon, wilderness and sea adventuring. Finally, they include a complete treasure section so the game is more complete than their Microlite74 counterparts.

The Microlite75 Basic rules are based on three little booklets found in the boxed set of the 1974 original edition (0e) of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game. The rules are not intended to be a clone of the 0e rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules.

Although the Microlite75 Basic rules are complete, they are fairly basic. There are only three classes (Fighters, Magic-Users, and Clerics) -- however, backgrounds allow a great deal of easy character customization. Spells are limited and character levels top out at 12 to 14. Microlite75 Standard and Microlite75 Extended provide more classes and other options.

Microlite75 Basic includes:

  • Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a race, class, background, and (optionally) alignment.
  • Limited Classes as in original 0e boxed set: Fighter, Magic-User, and Cleric.
  • Backgrounds provide a simple and fast way to factor in a character's culture and non-class-related abilities.
  • Simple and fast-playing combat system that tracks physical damage (aka body points) separately from luck/skill/fatigue (aka hit point) damage.
  • Hit points recover with a night’s rest. Spells cost hit points to cast. Actual wounds recover more slowly.
  • Rules for hirelings; monster reactions (not every monster wants to fight); morale (not every monster fights to the death); strongholds; magical research; dungeon, wilderness and ocean exploration; and more.
  • A complete list of spells, monsters, and treasure.
  • Compatible with most other 0e based games and adventures.
Microlite75 games are trimmed-down miniature versions of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. The goal of Microlite75 games is to recreate the style and feel of that very first (“0e”) fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions.

Visit the Microlite75 Basic page on RPGNow to Download Now.

These two games are free and is still available in all the usual places, they are now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

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Support the development of Microlite74/75/78/81 games.

It's Not About The Mechanics

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Microlite74 Extended Premium CoverI posted about the nearly five year long campaign I ran in Waco (and that is still going under new GMs) recently on a forum. I received an a PM asking how I could run a game that used basically OD&D rules (filtered through Microlite74) for over 150 sessions without being bored by the simple and uninteresting mechanics.

The answer is pretty simple. I am not interested in the mechanics as mechanics. I want the mechanics to work and to be simple, easy to remember and easy to use so that they fade into the background. I don't play tabletop RPGs because I want to fiddle with mechanical rules toys. I play (and run) tabletop RPGs to explore settings, situations, characters. When I'm playing, I want to immerse in my character and "manipulate" the setting as my character as directly as possible. That is, I don't want to have to decide I want to do "X" in the campaign and then have to worry about how to use the rules toys and widgets to do "X". I want the rules to be simple enough that I can just say what I want to do without using "rulespeak" and the GM can tell me if what I want to do is a success, a failure, or what I need to roll to find out. I don't want a lot of "interesting in and of themselves" mechanics to come between me and the setting.

Since I'm not playing RPGs to interact with the rules/mechanics, I tend not to get bored with game systems that work for me. If the system lets me immerse in my character and interact with the world without having to deal with fiddly mechanics, I'm going to be as happy with the mechanics in the 150th session as I am in the first session. New mechanics may (or may not) have to be added along the way for new aspects of the campaign, but I'm not going to get bored with the rules because I've been using them for years. I'm simply not there playing for the rules but for the setting.

I understand that some players play because they enjoy mastering rules and finding ways to manipulate the mechanical widgets in the rules. I can understand how such players might get bored with their current rule set and want new and different rules fairly frequently. I'm pretty such that such players drive the current practice of a new edition of D&D with radically different rules every five years or so. However, new editions with completely different rules turn me off, so I stick with rules that have worked for me for many years because they do what I need them to do. I see no personal need for new rules when the old ones I do the job I need them to do.

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Epub Versions of Microlite74 Basic, Standard, and Extended Available

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I've been asked for epub versions of my games for ages. While the tablet-digest versions with their single column and larger text sized work better on tablets than the standard full-sized "condensed type" versions Epubs are better for viewing on tablets and phones because the text flows to try to fit the width of the screen.

While I've tried epubs before, epubs just don't handle tables well -- many epub readers display them as a single column (all the cells in the first row -- each on their own line, then all the cells in the second row -- each on their own line, etc.) which makes tables an unreadable, useless mess. A couple of years ago, Andy Lannan produced an epub version of Microlite74 Extended that solved the table problem by using jpgs of the tables. This produced an epub version of the file that displayed the tables in a readable and usable form. However, it played havoc with getting the text to reflow.

The epub3 format allows tables and other more fancy design, but until recently there weren't that many epub readers that displayed the new epub3 features (like tables) correctly. There are now. For example, Calibre displays this epub file well on Windows PCs and Gitden reader displays it fine (if a bit slowly) on android. There is an IOS version of Gitden Reader for Apple devices, but it cannot test it with my files as I don't have any Apple devices. Note that tables in epub files still do not adapt all that well to small screen devices.

So I have made an epub version of Microlite74 Basic, Microlite74 Standard, and Microlite74 Extended available as part of the new premium editions I've released on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow this week. These premium editions come with a deluxe digest-sized PDF for printed or reading on monitors or largest tablets and with a epub version that will display nicely with most epub3 readers. The pictures below are of the pdf covers for these premium packages. Click on one to go to its page on RPGNow.

Microlite74 Basic Premium Cover
Microlite74 Basic ($1.99)
Microlite74 Standard Premium Cover
Microlite74 Standard ($2.99)
Microlite74 Extended Premium Cover
Microlite74 Extended ($3.99)

Free versions of the epub files will be likely released at some point in the future. RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors can download these premium versions (both fancy PDF and epub) from the donor download area with the usual password. Paid Patreons donating at least $10 a month will also have access to copies of these files at no charge.

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Support the development of Microlite74/75/78/81 games.

Become a Patreon: Support Old School Microlite74/75/78/81 Games

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Support Microlite74/75/78/81 Games on Patreon

Patreon LogoI now have a Patreon account set up for those who would like to support my old school Microlite games with a monthly donation. Various levels of support get various perks:

Donate at least US$1 a month and you will get access to alpha versions of free/"pay what you want" games I'm working on and your comments on those works in progress will help shape development.

Donate at least US$5 a month you will be listed as a Bronze Patreon in any games published during a month which you donated and you will have access to alpha versions of both "free" and "paid" games currently under development.

Donate at least US$10 a month and you will be listed as a Silver Patreon in any games published during a month which you donated, you will have access to alpha versions of both "free" and "paid" games currently under development, and you will receive a free digital copy of any "paid" games released during a month in which you donated.

Donate at least US$25 a month and you will be listed as a Gold Patreon in any games published during a month which you donated, you will have access to alpha versions of both "free" and "paid" games currently under development, and you will receive a free digital copy of any "paid" games released during a month in which you donated.

I'm open to adding higher levels of Patreon rewards if there is real interest.

Note that donors to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund will still receive the benefits (access to special products and alpha versions of games) that they have always had. If you've donated to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund in the past, this patreon stuff does not affect you at all -- although you are welcome to become a patreon at any level if you want to support game development.

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Support the development of Microlite74/75/78/81 games.

Please Become a Patreon

Microlite75 2.0 Standard Draft 2 (and Basic Draft 3) Available for Donor Download

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Microlite75 1.0 CoverWhile I have not said much about it, I've been quieting working on Microlite75 games in the background. Unfortunately, I somehow messed up the word files in such a way that trying to print a pdf to upload to the donor area produced PDFs over 70 megs! I finally figured out the problem. A couple of huge images got pasted into the template file in such a way that I only saw them by looking for hidden text in the template. How very weird. Anyhow, as of today the problem is resolved, so I've uploaded new (and reasonably sized) drafts of Microlite75 Basic and Microlite75 Standard to the donor area of Microlite20 Download Library.

Microlite75 2.0 Basic is a version of Microlite74 Basic with a more standard 0e advancement and experience system. There are a few other minor changes such as all monsters have morale ratings and spell casters must memorize their spells. Draft 3 is "almost complete" -- it's actually close to a release candidate.

Microlite75 2.0 Standard is a version of Microlite74 Standard with a more standard 0e advancement and experience system. Standard adds the thief, illusionist, druid, assassin, ranger, and paladin classes. There are a few other changes such as spellcasters must memorize their spells, new dungeon and wilderness guidelines, stronghold construction rules, etc. This draft is also almost complete and close to being a release candidate.

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors have the password that will unlock these files and may download them here:


Official 1.0 versions of Microlite75 Basic and Microlite75 Standard are planned for public release around the first week of March if all goes well. This means that if you would like your name listed as a sponsor of the these two (and serveral future) Microlite75 games in the published game, you need to make a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $25 or more ASAP (like within the next week). Donors not only get listed in upcoming Microlite75 games but they get access to donor-only downloads (present and future) and access to draft version of these and future games. A donation of $25 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($50+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $75+ Silver, $100+ Gold, 200+ Platinum, 300+ Electrum, $500+ Adamantine) -- see the sidebar for a list of donors so far. If you would like to sponsor Microlite75 games with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.




Microlite74 Ultimate Edition Draft Available for Donor Download

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Microlite74 Ultimate Edition Draft CoverA draft of Microlite74 Ultimate Edition is available to RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors in the RRCF download area. Like all donor downloads, it is password protected with a password given to RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors.

Microlite74 Ultimate edition combines Microlite74 Extended with option rules for Companions I and III, a treasure listing, advice for the Game Master, some new material, and a sample small hexcrawl setting with a few sample adventure areas. It is something like Microlite81 Complete except it uses the regular (short) Microlite74 monster and spell listings as these are more popular than the longer, detailed descriptions in Microlite74 games. It includes numerous optional classes and races as well as optional rules. It is in tablet digest form and is currently about 320 pages. The rules are 90+% complete. Initial work on the sample Moonfall hexcrawl setting is included in this draft.

Microlite74 Ultimate Edition is an experiment. When finished, the illustrated version will be for sale on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. A free version without illos will be released at some point in the future.

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors can download this password-protected file here:

OD&D PDFS: What Do You Really Need to Play?

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OD&DOriginal D&D from the mid-1970s has finally been released in PDF form on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. As most readers of this blog know, I started playing D&D back in 1975. OD&D was my first RPG and is still one of my favorites today. This is a short post with my suggestions for what you need to buy to play OD&D and what additional items might be nice to have.

The only rulebooks you really need to have a copy of to play are the three little booklets originally sold as a boxed set: Dungeons & Dragons Original Edition (0e). This is a scan of the sixth printing rules as cleaned up for WOTC's expensive Collector's Edition in the wooden box.

While playing with just the three little booklets is popular in some old school circles today, back in the 1970s, most people played with material from the OD&D supplements TSR published. Everyone I knew or played with in the 1970s at least used material from the first supplement, Greyhawk. For example, Greyhawk added the thief class, different hit die sizes for the various classes and weapons, expanded options for non-human classes, added lots or new spells, monsters, and magic items, and more. Even if you elect not to use everything, you really need this book to understand how OD&D was usually played back in the mid-1970s.

The second supplement, Blackmoor, is a mixed bag. It adds the assassin and the monk classes, hit locations (which no one I knew actually used), underwater adverting rules and monsters, rules for specialists and disease, and a few other minor things. The star of the Blackmoor supplement, however, was the detailed writeup of one of the adventure locations for the Blackmoor campaign: the Temple of the Frog. This was the first complete example of a dungeon that most player and GM of the time ever saw. Is this supplement necessary for play? Unless you want to do underwater adventuring or add the assassin and monk classes, probably not.

The third supplement, Eldritch Wizardry, is one of my personal favorites. The psionic rules therein allowed me to play in a setting I had been creating for a novel I wanted to write since the late 1960s -- the Empire of Arn. The novel never did happen -- be thankful as I can't write fiction worth reading. The Empire of Arn setting, however, has been by go to setting for D&D -- used in about 60% of the campaigns I've ran over the years. In addition to the psionics rules (which most people consider unplayable at best and incomprehensible at worst), there are rules and spells for the Druid class, some new monsters (including demons), and rules for magic items of great power: artifacts and relics. Like Blackmoor, however, this supplement is only needed if you need some of the material in it.

The fourth supplement, Gods, Demigods, and Heroes, contains brief descriptions of deities from a number of pantheons, with a few magic items used by those deities. This fourth and final supplement isn't all that useful. It was written in part to counter the "California" style of play with its ultra-high level characters. From the forward: "This is our last attempt to delineate the absurdity of 40+ level characters. When Odin, the All-Father has only(?) 300 hit points, who can take a 44th level Lord seriously?" It failed, as most people who really used this supplement were the "California" style players and GMs who just treated the deities in this supplement as powerful monsters to try to defeat and take their stuff. It can be fun to read, but is probably the least necessary to have of all the OD&D supplements.

TSR did not actually publish any adventures for OD&D. The original version of B1-In Search of the Unknown and B2-The Keep on the Borderlands were included in the Holmes Basic Set (B1 in early printings, B2 in later printings). Unlike the Basic D&D sets of the 1980s, the Holmes Basic set was intended to be an introduction to OD&D. Therefore these two modules work quite well with OD&D. I've often used both to start a campaign: starting at the Keep but placing the B1 dungeopn nearby and planting a few treasure maps leading to it in the B2's Caves of Chaos. Both these modules give a lot of good GMing advice.

I strongly recommend one third party product from Judges Guild to all OD&D GMs: the Ready Ref Sheets. This is a booklet with copies of the combat tables from OD&D/Greyhawk, quick monsters lists and lots of useful random tables from early Judges Guild products: character social levels, poison types, metal and gem types, civilization and technological levels, non-player character cutups, construction and research guides, movement obstacles and wilderness terrain, beggars, shock recovery, crime and punishment, guards and garrison troops, resurrection results, special encounters, and more. I use my hardcopy from 1978 in games I run today. It's one of the useful third party supplements I've ever purchased.

Judges Guild also published a number of adventures for OD&D. They are a mixed bag that I hope to cover in a future post. However, I have gotten a lot of use out of City State of the Invincible Overlord, Wilderlands of High Fantasy (note, you need to buy the maps separately), The Book of Treasure Maps I, Modron, Castle Book I, and Village Book I. Unfortunately, many of the other JG OD&D products I like aren't available in PDF -- at least not in their OD&D forms. The Caverns Of Thracia module is available in an edition rewritten for 3.x, but the original version is much easier to use with OD&D.

Finally, you might want to consider picking up All the Worlds' Monsters. This is a three volume collection of monsters written by many different GMs published in the 1978s by Chaosium. The monsters are a varied bag and are of all power levels. The first and second volumes are better, at least in my opinion, than the third volume. However, I have used monsters from all three volumes over the years. Some of these monsters are completely original, others are adapted from folklore and literature.

All the Worlds' Monsters Vol. 1 (includes 265 monsters)
All the Worlds' Monsters Vol. 2 (includes 243 monsters, The "Perrin Conventions" for D&D combat, and a T&T conversion guide)
All the Worlds' Monsters Vol. 3 (includes 238 monsters and an index to all three volumes)

Note All product links are affiliate links.

Microlite81 Complete and Microlite81 Advanced Available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow (Still Free)

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Microlite81 Advanced CoverI've added my last two games, Microlite81 Complete and Microlite81 Advanced, to those available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. Finally. When I started this "simple" project I had no idea it was going to take so much of my time. However, it's now done and I can get back to my other projects, Microlite75, Microlite74 Ultimate, revised the RetroRoleplaying web site, etc.

For those not familiar with Microlite81 games, they are based on the Basic and Expert boxed sets published in 1981 Like are Microlite20-based games they use trimmed-down miniature versions of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. The goal of Microlite81 games is to recreate the style and feel of the B/X versions of the world's best known fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1981 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions. Microlite81 games are not intended to be a clone of the B/X rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules.

Microlite81 Complete: Take the standard version of Microlite81 and provide much more detailed descriptions of spells, monsters, and treasure and some advice for GMs and players and you get Microlite81 Complete. This is a version of Microlite81 designed to be easier to use for people who are not as familiar with tabletop fantasy RPGs as Microlite81 and Microlite81 Extended assume. The entire illustrated rulebook is only 128 pages.

Microlite81 Advanced: Take Microlite81 Extended and use the classes, spells, and treasure of the first edition of the world's most popular tabletop fantasy RPG and you have a game based on B/X rules but using the classes and magic of 1e. In other words you have the game similar to the game many people who started with B/X played in the 1980s: 1e features with the less complex B/X rules. Like Microlite81 Complete, Microlite81 Advanced includes detailed descriptions of spells, monsters, and treasure and some advice for GMs and players. It also includes a large number of optional rules modules that can be used or not used as the GM desires. The illustrated rulebook covers all of this in only 206 pages.

These two games are free and is still available in all the usual places, they are now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

Microlite81 and Microlite81 Extended Available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow (Still Free)

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Microlite81 Extended CoverI am continuing to add games to those available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. Today, the first two Microlite81 games are available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games: Microlite81 and Microlite81 Extended.

For those not familiar with these games, they are trimmed-down miniature versions of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. The goal of Microlite81 games is to recreate the style and feel of the B/X versions of the world's best known fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1981 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions. Microlite81 games are not intended to be a clone of the B/X rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules.

Microlite81: The rules are about 14 pages, including detailed class descriptions for clerics, fighters, magic-users, thieves, dwarves, elves, and halflings. The rules cover combat, adventuring, building strongholds, magical research and more. Optional rules are included to make the game less like its Microlite20 base and more like the original B/X. Spell, monster, and treasure descriptions are also included. Microlite81 comes together in a mere 46 pages.

Microlite81 Extended: This version includes everything in the standard version of Microlite81 with the author’s house rules from the 1977-1983 era modified as needed to work with a system based on B/X instead of one based on 0e. A number of optional classes (Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Illusionist, Paladin, Ranger, Warlord, Dragonborn, Tiefling, and Warforged) and more optional rules, including a psionics system, are included. Like the standard version of Microlite81, Microlite81 Extended includes everything one needs to play except dice and paper in 60 pages.

These two games are free and is still available in all the usual places, they are now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

Microlite78 First Edition Light, Microlite74 S&S, Microlite74 Light vs Dark Available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow (Still Free)

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Microlite78 First Edition Lite coverThree more of my "Microlite20" based old school games are available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games: Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery, Microlite74 Light vs Dark, and Microlite78 First Edition Lite. For those who are not familiar with these games, here are brief descriptions.

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is has been the second most popular version of Microlite74 by number of downloads after Microlite74 Extended. Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is designed for low level play in swords & sorcery settings. If the fantasy stories of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Lieber, Clark Ashton Smith, C.L. Moore, Karl Edward Wagner, and David Gemell are more to your taste that those of Tolkein or Eddings, this version of Microlite74 may be just what you are looking for. Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is based on Microlite74 Extended 3.0 but with many special rules designed for swords & sorcery style campaigns. For example, there are only two classes (Adventurer and Sorcerer) and 6 levels, magic is limited and casting certain spells can corrupt the caster, and many 0e style magic items are relics of dead civilizations from long ago. Humans are assumed to dominate the world and most enemies are other humans and animals. True monsters certainly exist but they are assumed to be rare. Unlike most Microlite74 games which use a Microlite20-based experience system, this version uses a more standard experience point system.

    Download Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery

Microlite74 Light vs Dark was originally known as Microlite74 Special Version I. That was an awful name so I decided to change it to something (hopefully) less awful. Microlite74 Light vs Dark is designed for a campaign world with only two deities (a Lord of Light (order) and a Lord of Darkness (chaos) who oppose each other. Magic is both common and rare in this campaign world in that about 25% of the population have the ability to use Minor Magic at will (including all characters and NPCs with a class level), but arcane magic is otherwise limited to long, complex, and costly rituals. Clerics have limited spell-like abilities called prayers. True magic Items are almost non-existent. What true magic items do exist are created by the GM as needed and are always one-of-a-kind. Magic items created by binding spirits to material items are more common.

These rules were designed for a specific campaign's proprietary setting and then the proprietary element's were removed to create this set of rules. The proprietary setting was centered around a large decadent empire which which was starting to fall apart at the seams while its borderlands were breaking away or were being overrun by subhumans and monsters. The central portions of the empire were ignoring the problems. The Church of Light was aware of the problems but its influence on the imperial government had been reduced by scandal after scandal. In the borderlands, however, the Church of Light was often the only institution able to see beyond local issues. The campaign world was early renaissance, at least in the central parts of the empire, but hand guns and long guns were never invented. However, the Microlite74 Light vs Dark rules will work fine for any setting with two powerful opposing deities and weak, but fairly common magic.

    Download Microlite74 Light vs Dark

Microlite78 First Edition Lite is a trimmed-down miniature version of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. The goal of Microlite78 First Edition Lite is do for First Edition (1e) what Microlite74 did for the Original Edition (0e): to recreate the style and feel of the First Edition of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1978 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions.

The Microlite78 First Edition Lite rules are based on the Microlite74 Extended rules modified as necessary to fit the 1978 First Edition (1e) of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game. Modifications include detailed first edition class descriptions with a standard old school experience system (instead of one based on research); complete monsters, spell, and treasure descriptions; rules for strongholds, magic , optional psionics, and more. These rules are not intended to be a clone of the first edition rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old school play without strictly old-school rules. Although Microlite78 First Edition Lite is a complete game, it assumes a basic knowledge on the part of the GM of how roleplaying games and the basic D20-system work. At about 160 pages, the rules are lean and do not hold your hand. These rules can easily be used with all original first edition adventures and settings (as well as those for BECMI or second edition with a bit of work) as well as with modern OSR adventures and settings.

    Download Microlite78 First Edition Lite

These three games are free and is still available in all the usual places, they are now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

All Five Microlite74 Companions Available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow (Still Free)

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Microlite74 Companion V CoverI've made more progress in listing my free games on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow with all five Microlite74 Companion volumes now available for download as "Pay What You Want" games (and free is a perfectly acceptable amount to pay).

For those not familiar with these booklets, they expand on the core Microlite74 games with additional rules and information. There are currently five Microlite74 Companions.

Microlite74 Companion I: Optional Rules -- This volume includes many optional rules. Most can be used with any version of the third edition of Microlite74: Basic, Standard, or Extended. There are optional rules included for stat generation, races, classes, class abilities, advantages and disadvantages, traditional saving rolls, skills and talents, metamagic, ritual magic, counterspells, weird science, fire-and-forget magic, combat stunts, armor for all classes, weapon damage by class, minis and battlemats, action points, fame, sanity, aspects, Psionics, spirits (combat, powers, and binding), fixed level campaigns, science fantasy, and more.

    Download Microlite74 Companion I: Optional Rules

Microlite74 Companion II: Treasure -- This volume contains a large number of magical items of treasure and a sample system for randomly determining what treasure is a given group of monsters has. With the publication of this Microlite74 3.0 Companion volume, Microlite74 becomes a complete and self-contained system with no need for the SRD or reference to other old school rules. This volume includes any classic treasure items as well as a few new items designed for the Microlite74 system.

    Download Microlite74 Companion II: Treasure

Microlite74 Companion III: More Optional Rules -- This volume includes many optional rules. Most can be used with any version of the third edition of Microlite74: Basic, Standard, or Extended. There are optional rules included for Supplemental Stats: Sanity and Luck, Optional Races (various goblinoid races, Tieflings, Catfolk, Dragonborn, and many more ), Optional Classes (Witches, Necromancers, Delvers, Swashbucklers, and many more), Optional Experimental Classes (like comic book Superhero), Races as Classes, Experimental Class Options (for standard classes), Specialist Priests (Clerics than vary by deity followed), Monster Mash Advantages (turning characters into vampires, lycanthropes, and ghosts), Spell Sphere (free form magic), Magic Item Creation, Feat of Strength and Skill, Shield Wall, Climbing on Enemies, Action-Type Initiative, Unusual Weapons, Mounted Combat and Jousting, Critical Hit Special Effects, Critical Miss Special Effects, Prime Requisite Experience Bonuses, Conjurer Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Necromancer Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Shaman Spell List (Divine, 7 levels), Ascetic Spell List (Arcane, 6 levels), Thaumaturge Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Witch Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Additional Monsters, and Traps, Natural Hazards, and Diseases.

    Download Microlite74 Companion III: More Optional Rules

Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters -- This volume contains descriptions of a large number of 0e and 1e monsters, including demons and devils. These descriptions are somewhat more detailed than those included in the Microlite74 rules. These monsters are usable with any version of Microlite74 3.0 including Microlite74: Basic, Standard, or Extended and the Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Edition.

    Download Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters

Microlite74 Companion V: First Edition Spells -- This volume provides more detailed descriptions of spells and provides many new spells similar to those in the first edition of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG. Using the spells in this companion volume instead of the ones in the Microlite74 Standard or Extended rules will make your game more similar the First Edition (1e) than the Original Edition (0e), especially when combined with monsters from Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters. Most of these spells are suitable for use with either the Standard, or Extended versions of Microlite74. With care some can be used with the Basic version of Microlite74. Healing spells list alternative effects for the Basic/Standard HP system and for the Extended HP/BP system.

    Download Microlite74 Companion V: First Edition Spells

These five Microlite74 Companion volumes games are free and is still available in all the usual places, they are now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

Microlite74 Basic, Standard, and Extended Available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow (Still Free)

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Microlite74 Extended Cover CoverLast week, I decided to try listing one of my free games, Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome, on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games as a test. It was a success with over 100 downloads. I'm now going to go ahead an make all of my free games available via DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. Today, the first three Microlite74 games are available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow: Microlite74 Basic, Microlite74 Standard, and Microlite74 Extended. Next week, I'll released the five Microlite74 Companions and the two special versions of Microlite74 on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow.

For those not familiar with these games, they are trimmed-down miniature versions of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. The goal of Microlite74 games is to recreate the style and feel of that very first (“0e”) fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions. Microlite74 games are not intended to be a clone of the 0e rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules.

Microlite74 Basic: This version has about 4 pages of actual rules (and about 6 pages of spell and monster lists). It emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game in its earliest form: the original 3 little booklets in the 0e boxed set. You have Fighters, Clerics, and Magic-Users, hit dice are all d6s (and is all weapon damage and most monster damage), there are relatively few spells (and they top out at 6th level, 5th level for clerics), and the maximum suggested level is only 12-14. It may sound limited, but it can be a lot of fun.

Microlite74 Standard: This version has about five and a half pages of actual rules (and about ten and a half pages of spell and monster lists). It emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game in its complete form: the original 3 little booklets in the 0e boxed set plus most of the material from the supplements and "official" material published in the early magazine articles. You have Fighters, Rangers, Paladins, Clerics, Druids, Magic-Users, Illusionists, and Thieves (and optionally Assassins, Bards, and Monks), with variable hit dice and weapon damage, a complete set of spells (through 9th level for Magic-Users, 7th level, for Clerics, Druids, and Illusionists), and combat is covered in slightly more detail. Microlite74 Standard has all the features of 0e as most people played it back in the late 1970s.

Microlite74 Extended: This version has about 8 pages of actual rules (and about 15 pages of spell, monster and equipment lists). This version emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game with versions of many of the house rules the author used in the late 1970s -- and uses today in his Wilderlands campaign. In includes everything Microlite74 Standard does and adds rules for character backgrounds (optional in Basic and Standard), alignment, spell casting with implements and rituals, Body Points (representing actual major wounds), a slightly more detailed combat system, more spells and monsters, and other minor rules changes. It is slightly more complex in play than Microlite74 Standard, but not considerably so.

These three games are free and is still available in all the usual places, they are now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

Free 0e Supplement Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome now on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow

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Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome CoverI decided to go ahead and try listing my free games on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. I'm starting by listing my generally forgotten 0e supplement Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome as a test. I listed it yesterday in the afternoon and it already has 31 downloads, so it seems listing items on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow does get them exposed to a different audience.

Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome is a supplement for 0e games -- either the TSR original or retroclones like Swords & Wizardry (which which it is fully compatible). It is a compilation of my 0e house rules from the late 1970s -- along with a few current day additions. Here's the "product description":

Tarnhelm’s Terrible Tome is a set of house rules for the original 1974 (0e) version of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game (and modern clones, like Swords & Wizardry). These house rules are modern renditions of the house rules the author used with his original edition games in the 1970s.

Some of house rules included:

  • A simple “skills” system based on class and background instead of lists of skills
  • A Hit Point/Body Point system where Hit Points represent fatigue and Body Points represent actual wounds.
  • Ritual Magic
  • An alternate alignment system
  • Critical Hits and Critical misses
  • A class based weapon damage system that ends class weapon restrictions.
  • An optional Armor system that ends class restrictions on wearing armor
  • An optional class: the Mnemonic Mage
  • Optional Divine Intervention rules

This digest-sized edition of Tarnhelm’s Terrible Tome is designed to be printed double-sided using the booklet-printing feature of Adobe Acrobat, the pages can be folded and stapled to create a “0e” style digest-sized booklet.


Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome is free and is still available in all the usual places, it is just now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

I'd like to thank everyone who replied to my Experiences Publishing Free Games on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow? post from a couple of weeks ago. Without the information in the replies, I would have never bothered to try this. Thank you very much!

A Microlite7x/81 Games Patreon Account?

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Patreon LogoA couple of my friends have suggested (very strongly suggested in one case) that I set up a Patreon account for my ongoing Microlite7x/81/etc. game design work instead of ongoing donation drives. After looking into Patreon, I am willing to consider giving this a try.

I would release 3-5 updates to the games I'm designing each month (that's 3-5 updates total each month, not 3-5 updates of each game I'm working on) and Patreons would be charged every release I make. Patreons can set a maximum donation limit each month, of course. (These releases would also be available to people who have donated to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund.) Public Betas and release versions would still be available to everyone for free, of course.

There would also be additional releases of material that would only go to Patreons if certain goals are reached. Special monsters, magic items, classes, etc. for my games that only Patreons would receive. These would sometimes be grouped together with a mini-adventure.

Is this an idea worth doing? If not, I am open to suggestions to make it "better" -- although I am limited as to what I can provide to what I can actually produce.

My wife suggested a separate Patreon campaign to support my photo to line art work. I'd release 10-15 conversions every week with Patreon support. Assuming multiple Patreon accounts are allowed, I will probably do this one. Artwork would still be released to everyone for free, Patreons would just be supporting the work and getting first access to my newest conversions.

OD&D Boxed Set Available as Legal PDF

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OD&DGuess what I just saw on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow? The original Dungeons & Dragons Boxed Set (White Box version) is available in PDF for $9.99! Finally. Now they just need the supplements.

More Free Drawings for Old School Games

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A few days ago i posted some line drawings I had converted from public domain illos for old school fantasy games (see Free Drawings from Photos for Old School Games). I was asked if I could do modern stuff for games like Shadowrun or Top Secret clones. I played with this in my spare time over the last couple of days and have come up with the following. My technique works for modern stuff but I think I will need to play with it more as it doesn't seem to work as well on modern stuff as I would like. Anyhow, here are a few images I did. The original picture were under a Creative Commons Zero (aka basically public domain) license -- as are my sketch conversions of them.

Image of Alleyway

City Alley


Image of City from Above

City From the Air


Image of City in the Fog

City in the Fog


Image of Factory Floor

Factory Floor


Image of Lab

Scientist working in a Lab


Image of Spacecraft in Orbit

Spacecraft in Orbit


Image of Used Bookstore

Used Bookstore

While I am not as happy with these as I was with the pictures I posted a few days ago, I think I will be able to improve modern conversions with practice. I think part of the problem is there is a lot more "bright and shiny" stuff in modern era photos and that gives my current conversions system issues. I know one of the pictures I tried to convert (but did not post) has lots of problems with the shiny plastic in the chairs people were sitting in.

Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive Drawing Delayed to January 24th

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Tekumel Journal #1 CoverMy wife takes a massive dose of steroids once a month to help her energy levels -- extreme fatigue is one of the many issues MS can cause. Unfortunately, she took them last Friday and experienced a steroid crash over the weekend. As house guests were the last thing she could handle, my Sunday game (and the donor giveaway items drawing to be held during my game) was cancelled. She is finally back to semi-normal this morning, which means it was not as bad for her as it is for some people.

She should finally be starting an expensive MS drug (fortunately almost all of the $5000-$6000 a month the drug costs (of course, it is not covered by insurance) will be covered by the drug company's program for people who aren't rich -- that's most people as few families can afford $60,000+ a year for a single drug. Of course, getting in this program has taken months. With luck this drug should make this monthly dose of steroids unnecessary. I sure hope they do as massive doses of steroids are not good for the human body.

Anyway, the drawings have been rescheduled for next Sunday's game. My apologies to Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund donors who are waiting to see if they are lucky enough to win one of the groups of giveaway items from our Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive.

On another note, my Samsung Tablet seems to be stuck in a bootloop. I rebooted it last night when it would not come out of ultra-low power mode (which I had accidentally turned on by fat-fingering a button). Even more annoying, I had just charged it to 100% and it will now not turn off. So it is sitting at the Samsung logo until it runs out of power. I suspect some of the boot data in the cache partition is corrupt. I've found a reset procedure, but the damn thing needs to be powered off to try it. Worse, it needs to be charged up to 100% before doing this and pushing the three buttons I have to push at the same time to restart it in a the special mode needed to clear the cache partition looks like it will be hard to do just right. If I don't manage, it will just start, be in the bootloop, and I'll have to wait for the battery to run down again. With my klutziness and general poor luck and I can see it taking weeks of this cycle before I manage to hit the buttons just right. I really hope I'm wrong.

Added: I've just been asked if someone donates (or donates more) before Sunday will they get chances in the drawing? I suppose so.

Free Drawings from Photos for Old School Games

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If you look at the art in my Microlite75/78/81 games, you've probably noticed that I tend to use public domain line art, either from old books or from the sets of art Sine Nomine Games has released into the public domain. However, this means I end up reusing a lot of art from publication to publication. Given that I can't afford to pay for art as my games are freebies, this probably is not a surprise to many readers.

If I wanted to use photographs, there are literally hundreds of thousands of photo available on the web with Creative Commons Zero or other very liberal Creative Commons-style licenses that allow modification and commercial use. Unfortunately, photos really do not fit the style I'm aiming for. I have been trying programs that convert photos to sketches on and off for several years. Unfortunately, most either are so "sketchy" that you can't tell what the drawing is of or so detailed that they look more like half-toned pictures than line art. However, last week I stumbled on a program on my Android tablet that does a decent job of converting photos to drawings -- especially if I do a bit of pre-processing of the photo before I use the sketch filter.

Here are fifteen examples of photos converted I have converted to drawings by this process. The original photos had a public domain like license (that only prohibited releasing the unaltered photos as a collection). I'd like to know what people think of "drawings" like these for using in old school gaming projects. If people like them and think they would be useful for people who need free art of old school games, I will do more of them in the future. If I did 10 or 15 a week, within a few months, I could have quite a collection available. These samples are suitable for fantasy games, but I would not always limit myself to fantasy.

I understand that these drawings will not appeal to those who believe that every game (even free ones) need original art done especially for that game. However, many hobbyists designing games cannot afford this. Also, note that the originals of these images are much larger and these larger illos would be the ones I make available for people to use in their publications.

Image of Intelligent Critter

Image of Bubble Monster

Image of Building

Image of Walled City on Hill

Image of Dice

Image of a Dungeon Entrance

Image of a Dungeon Entrance

Image of Explorers in Forest

Image of Manor House

Image of Dark Path

Image of Pagoda

Image of Ruins

Image of Spiral Stone Stairs Down

Image of Funeral in Stone

Image of Tiger Guarding Dungeon Entrance