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New Map of The City-State of the Invincible Overlord

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To be honest, there's rarely anything new released that is of immediate use to me in my RPG campaigns. Today was one of those rare -- and very happy -- exceptions. Bat in the Attic Games has released (with permission of Judges Guild) a new map of the City State of the Invincible Overlord. This isn't a just a better scan of the original map from 1976, but a new map created from scratch based on the original map.

To quote the description: "Now forty years later that map has been redrawn in full color. It preserves all the original detail while adding new ones like rocks, foot paths, trees, and shrubbery. This has been checked against the no-name city blueprint that was the first draft of the map. This helped to clarify details obscured by the offset printing process used in the 1970s. This map is not a scanned image of the original but has been redrawn from scratch."

For a mere $8 you get several versions:

* A vector based PDF with layers at 22" by 34"
* A bitmap based PDF at 22" by 34"
* A jpeg of the map with building labels and legends removed suitable for virtual tabletop software.
* A 17" by 14" map with the city arranged in its correct location on the original 5 mile hex map published on the back of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy.
* A PDF with overlapping sections of the full map suitable for printing on letter size paper.
* A PDF with a letter sized black and white only map suitable for taking notes on during a campaign.

It's wonderful -- especially that large PDF with layers. It is much cleaner than my original from the 1970s and better in just about all ways than the scanned versions Judges Guild is currently selling in RPGNet. If you are a City State of the Invincible Overland fan, click the link below and get your copy. Thanks and a tip of the hat to Rob Conley and Bat in the Attic games for starting my holiday season off with a bang. I'll be using this map for my next Sunday game in two days.

New Color City State of the Invincible Overlord Map via RPGNet (Affiliate link -- buy it via this link and I get a small percentage of the price)


Please Support BX Advanced with a Donation: If you would like to have access to the BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" Retroroleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ 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 BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.







BX Advanced Rules: Multiple Success Rolls and Probability

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BX Advanced Playtest 0.1 Cover CoverIn the "GM Advice" section of the BX Advanced rules, I'm trying to tackle a problem I see quite a bit of in play: Gamemasters not truly understanding that requiring multiple successful rolls to complete a simple task will reduce the final chance of success. Even those Gamemasters who realize this often do not seem to realize just how much requiring even a single extra roll will reduce the chance of success. The theory seems to be that players enjoy rolling dice and that having to roll dice increases tension, so breaking a task down into smaller steps that each require a success roll is a good thing. Don't get me wrong, it can be a good thing if used carefully, but most of the GMs I know don't understand how probability works when dealing with multiple independent events like die rolls. To find the probability of success you have to multiply the probabilities involved which means the final result is likely to be lower that one might expect. For example, if you require two rolls to successfully complete a task and the character has a 60% chance of success with the first roll and a 45% chance with the second roll, the character's actual chance of successfully completely the task is only 27% (.60 x .45 = .27) -- which is likely less than the average GM assumes it will be.

I've added a few paragraphs on this to the GM Advice section of the BX Advanced rules. I'm trying to explain the situation clearly while not going into a lot of math/probability theory detail and will not taking up a lot of space in the room book (as I expect most peoples' eyes will glance over if I explain the math in detail or if the section is "too long". Here is my current draft. I would really like comments on it. Is it clear enough? If not what needs to be clearer? Does it take the right tone (i.e. I'm not trying to say never require multiple rolls, just that if one wants to require them one needs to understand their effect on the game)? Is it too long? Too short?

Note that the quoted text below is Open Game Content under the OGL and any suggestions for improvement that you make and I use will be released as Open Game Content under the OGL.

Multiple Success Rolls and Probability
Many Gamemasters like to break tasks like climbing a cliff into a number of success rolls, as players tend to enjoy rolling dice and Gamemasters often believe that rolling dice adds tension to the game. There is nothing wrong with doing this provided you understand and accept the effects requiring multiple successes have on the chance of failure.

For example, let's take climbing a cliff. You have decided that the party needs to roll 15 or less on a D20 (a 75% chance of success) to successfully climb the cliff face and that each attempt will take about an hour. This is one roll and the characters have a 75% chance of successfully climbing you gave them, so the characters will find themselves at the top of that cliff in an hour 3 out of 4 times (i.e, 75% of the time just as you would expect from their success chance). However, if you decide that the cliff is high enough that two rolls are required, one to reach the midway point of the climb and another to reach the top of the cliff from the midpoint, then the characters will only find themselves at the top of the cliff about 12 times in 20 attempts - their chance of success dropped from 75% to about 56% (75% x 75%). If you require three rolls, the characters will only find themselves at the top of the cliff about 21 times out of every 50 attempts - the chance of success dropped to just over 42% (75% x 75% x 75%). Requiring 4 rolls drops the chance of reaching the top to just under 32% (75% x 75% x 75% x 75%). Requiring 5 rolls drops that chance to about 24% (75% x 75% x 75% x 75% x 75%).

While multiple die rolls for success can fun and can increase tension, multiple rolls should probably be used sparing due to the reduction in the chance of success caused by requiring multiple successful rolls to complete the task. When you choose to require multiple rolls you should generally ensure that the result of failing any one roll does not result in a disaster. For example, if you are going to require three rolls to climb a cliff, the result of failing a roll should be something like time lost to having to try another route up the cliff instead characters injuring themselves or worse, falling to their doom.


Please Support BX Advanced with a Donation: If you would like to have access to the BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" Retroroleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ 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 BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.

My Five Favorite Microlite20-Based Games

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With the publication of the third edition of The Microlite20 RPG Collection, I've been asked what some of my favorite Microlite20-based games are as there are a large number of variants in the collection. I'm always reluctant to answer such questions as my tastes in games don't always match up well with the tastes of others. However, for what its worth, here are my five favorite Microlite20-based games -- and I'm picking any the of games I've written.

5th Place: Scions of a Primordial Planet -- Some humans (Vikings!) end up on a Barsoom-like version of Mars. Of course, you could ignore the vikings and just use these rules to play on ERB's Barsoom. Either way, this is a good little game that is fun to play.

4th Place: M20 Hyborian Age -- What can I say, I'm a fan of Robert E. Howard's Conan stoies and this two page (plus one page for the OGL) set of rules provides a fast and simple way to run games set in Hyboria. You have to know the world of Conan to make it work, but if you are a Conan fan like me, this isn't a problem.

3rd Place: SpyLite -- I've been a fan of espionage RPGs since TSR's original Top Secret and Victory Games' James Bond games. I really wanted to like Spycraft, but found it far too complex and time-consuming for my tastes. SpyLite's goal was "to take Greywulf's excellent Microlite system, beat it senseless, and create a game that will do one-tenth of what Spycraft does, but with only one-half the work." in just 16 pages of rules, SpyLite manages to do much better than that. A couple of short SpyLite supplements are also included in the collection.

2nd Place: Tumbleweed -- I grew up on Westerns, and while I can see their many flaws today (heck, I saw many of them as a kid but ignored them), I still like the fictional Old West as a setting. Tumbleweed provides a nifty set of Microlite20-based rules for Old West campaigns that work and do not include some type of fantasy aspect. Note that there are other two Old West variants in the collection that do include fantasy aspects if you want goblins or magic in your setting.

1st Place: Stargate 1895 -- "In November of 1893 the renowned Egyptologist Lord Conway made an amazing discovery in the Qattara Depression. It was in a previously unsurveyed temple complex, buried beneath the floor of what appeared to be a great tomb. In his journal he described the artefact as ‘a giant quoit of an unknown metal, some 8 yards across." Yes, a stargate is discovered by English explorers in the late Victorian era and eagle-headed men come through when it is opened a couple of years later. The British government turns the problem and the stargate over to Mycroft Holmes. The PC are explorers travelling through the stargate. What's not to like when you combine Stargate with the Victorian era British Empire?

There are many more good variants, including variants designed around Star Wars, Star Trek, superheroes, zombie invasions, Star Frontiers, etc. Download the free/Pay-What-You-Want copy of the Third Edition of The Microlite20 RPG Collection and you can decide the best ones for yourself.

You can download the current (2017) edition of The Microlite20 RPG Collection in the above listed games and many more on RPGNow (click here to download) where it is a "Pay-What-You-Want" game with a Suggested Price of $0.00. Just enter a "0" in the price box and you are good to go. The current edition is about 2000 pages and is a 63 megabyte download. If you don't have an RPGNow/DriveThruRPG account, you can get 2017 edition of The Microlite20 RPG Collection via this Mediafire link (but you have to put up with Mediafire's ads). You can also get the individual games from the download area of the unofficial Microlite20 website if you do not want the entire collection.

I'd love to hear about your favorites in the comments!


Please Support BX Advanced with a Donation: If you would like to have access to the BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" Retroroleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ 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 BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.

BX Advanced Update: New Playtest Edition and Other News

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BX Advanced Playtest 0.1 Cover Cover A new playtest version of the BX Advanced project is available to RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors. BX Advanced is a clone the Basic/Expert rules using the First Edition classes, spells, monsters, and treasure. In other words, it is First edition played the way many people who started playing with B/X (or later, BECMI) and then moved on to the "advanced" edition played the game. This second playtest edition simply combines the open game content from a popular B/X and a popular 1e clone with new material. Major new material in this second playtest pdf: barbarian class, bard class, experience rank system, advantages and disadvantages, psionics, unedited optional dominion rules. The formatting has been greatly improved since the first playtest version -- which makes this version much more useful. While more material will be added, what you have here should be quite playable "as is".

Other BX Advanced News: First, A number of people have asked me if I could also produce a "less modified" version of BX Advanced -- one that stays closer to being just 1e using the B/X rules and does not include mutations, additional classes, technology, etc. Given that none of these additions have made it beyond notes we are using in my Sunday game (and that generally have major changes from week to week), I think I can do this. When all the standard stuff is finished (probably by the next major published playtest version, 0.3) and works well, I will go ahead and publish a "BX Standard" which will just have B/X rules with 1e material (and a few optional rules). Those who don't want a couple of hundred pages of additional rules for mutations, technology, unusual classes, etc. as they just want to play 1e with B/X style rules can use this BX Advanced Standard Version.

Second, I've been asked if I can give some idea of a publication schedule. A everyone following this blog and my games knows, real life means I have missed almost every publication prediction I have made -- sometimes by 6-12 months. With that warning, I will say that I hope to have the newly announced standard version of BX Advanced available within the next 3 or 4 months and the full version of BX Advanced available by the middle of 2018.

Finally, I've been asked if BX Advanced will be free or paid. Like most of my games, there will be a pay-what-you-want/free version and a paid tablet/epub version. The pay-what-you-want/free version will be released first. Current plans have this true of both the just announced above Standard version and the "as originally planned" "extended" version with mutations, technology, lots of optional classes and rules version. The production schedule mentioned above is for the pay-what-you-want/free versions. Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund help make the free versions possible.

Speaking of donations, if you are a RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donor, you have the password that will unlock the second BX Advanced playtest pdf and may download the (password-protected) zip file here:

If you do not have the password and would like to have access to this (and future) sets of BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" Retroroleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ 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 BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.

Halloween Sale: Microlite81 Complete, M74 Ultimate, Etc. 25% Off

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Microlite74 Ultimate Edition CoverIt's Halloween and that sounds is a good excuse for a sale. The new Microlite74 Complete Digest Epub Edition is now 25% off on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. All our other products (that are not already "pay what you want") are also on sale at 25% off.


This sale runs through November 1st at 9am CDT.


Please Support BX Advanced with a Donation: If you would like to have access to the BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" Retroroleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ 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 BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.

Microlite81 Complete Digest/Epub Price Permanently Reduced to $7.50

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Microlite74 Complete Edition CoverI released a slightly revised and expanded (with 25 additional monsters) digest/epub version of Microlite74 Complete on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow last weekend for $9.95. That seemed to be a reasonable price for 380+ page PDF. However, after releasing it I decided to do an initial rough conversion of Microlite81 Advanced to a digest-sized document. That document turned out to be about 550 pages without any illustrations and without the 50 or so new monsters I intend to add for the digest/epub version. The final Microlite81 Advanced degist-sized document will probably be at least 600 digest-sized pages.

As I do not want to charge more than $9.95 for the Microlite81 Advanced Digest/Epub edition, I quickly decided that price I decided to ask for the 380+ page digest/epub version of Microlite81 Complete was too much and lowered it to $7.50. I have contacted those who purchased it before the price change to offer $2.45 refunds. If you purchased a copy of the digest/epub edition of Microlite81 Complete for $9.95 during the first 24 hours or so of its release and did not receive an email from me offering a refund of the $2.45 difference in price, please contact me. Note: This week is full of doctor appointments for my wife (and me as I have to do the driving), so --in the worst case-- responses may be delayed until this weekend.

If you don't have a copy yet, you can get a copy of the new digist/epub version edition of Microlite81 Complete on its page on RPGNow for its new price of only $7.50. RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors will be able to download their copy from the donor download area within a few days.


Please Support BX Advanced with a Donation: If you would like to have access to the BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" Retroroleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ 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 BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.


Expanded Microlite81 Complete Digest/Epub Version Now Available

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Microlite74 Ultimate Edition CoverA slightly revised and expanded (with 25 additional monsters) version of Microlite74 Complete is now available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow in a digest and epub combo format -- perfect for printing out or reading on a tablet. Microlite81 Complete is based on the Basic and Expert (B/X) boxed sets of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game published in 1981. This game takes the popular B/X version of the game and recreates it using the rules-lite Microlite20 version of modern D20 system. You get all the advantages of the B/X system with a more modern set of rules. In other words, Microlite81 Complete is a conversion of the B/X rules to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules. The Microlite81 system does for B/X what Microlite74 did for 0e: easy to learn and use modern rules that can used to play old adventures designed for the B/X system (or the many new adventures created by OSR publishers) with very little conversion effort required -- general little more than converting the descending AC used in old adventures to the modern ascending AC (and yes, how to do this is explained in the rules).

Unlike most of the games I write, Microlite81 Complete is a complete game with complete descriptions of spells, monsters, and magic tems instead of the short one ot two sentence descriptions. There are even examples of play and information for the GM on how to create dungeons and wilderness areas. Microlite81 Complete also does not assume an experienced GM who has access to better descriptions of spells, monsters, and magic treasure in the SRD or in other old school books. This tablet/epub version of Microlite81 Complete includes some new and revised material not included in the free "condensed type" version.

Microlite81 Complete includes everything one needs to play except dice and paper. The 480+ page illustrated digest-sized rulebook -- designed for easy reading on tablets -- includes:

  • Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a class, and alignment (and background if using the Extended Rules Set).
  • Standard Classes: Fighter, Magic-User, Cleric, Thief, Dwarf, Elf, Halfling
  • Two short sets of "core" rules: standard and extended. The standard rules are less complex while the extended rules incorporate many of the author's house rules)
  • Extended rules include backgrounds which provide a simple and fast way to factor in a character's culture and non-class-related a abilities without including a complex skill system.
  • Simple and fast-playing combat system -- which tracks physical damage (aka body points) separately from luck/skill/fatigue (aka hit point) damage if the extended rules are used.
  • Hit points recover with a night’s rest. As in Microlite20, spells cost hit points to cast. Actual wounds recover more slowly. (Optional rules for more standard "fire-and-forget" magic are included for those who prefer "Vancian" magic.)
  • Rules for hirelings, monster reactions (not every monster wants to fight), morale (not every monster fights to the death), strongholds, magic research, and more.
  • Optional rules for character advantages and disadvantages, character goals and personality traits, fire-and-forget magic, traditional saving throws, psionics, divine intervention, and more
  • A complete list of spells, monsters, and treasure with detailed descriptions and random tables for monsters and treasure
  • Compatible with most other B/X or BECMI based games and adventures: both old and new
  • This tablet/epub edition of Microlite20 Complete includes 25 new lower level monsters and a few additional rules sections not included in the free version of Microlite81 Complete.
This is the tablet/epub version of Microlite74 Complete. You receive two files: a standard pdf and an epub file. The digest-sized pdf is suitable for printing or for easy reading on a tablet. Unlike the "pay what you want" version of Microlite74 Complete, this pdf is formated in a single column and uses a larger typeface to make it easier to use on a tablet.

An epub version of Microlite74 Extended is also included, although the formatting is not as nice. Note that this file 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.

You get both the digest-sized pdf and the epub version when you buy the digest/epub version of Microlite81 Complete for $9.95. Text corrections made in this edition will be backported to the "pay what you want" condensed type version of Microlite20 Complete in the near future. The new rules sections and the new monsters, however, will only ber available in this digest/epub edition.

You can get a copy of the new digist/epub version edition of Microlite81 Complete on its page on RPGNow for only $9.95. RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors will be able to download their copy from the donor download area within a few days.

Please Support BX Advanced with a Donation: If you would like to have access to the BX Advanced playtest rules (as well as other donor files -- like free copies of all the "for sale" Retroroleplaying publications), you can make a donation towards my wife's medical fund (old oral cancer bills and more current MS-related bills). Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund for $10 or more will also earn a listing as a sponsor in the BX Advanced rulebook. A donation of $10 gets a Bronze Donor listing. ($25+ earns a Copper Donor listing, $50+ 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 BX Advanced with a donation, you can send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund via Paypal.