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Happy New Year II: Replacing the Forum With G+ and/Or Discord?

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I have decided that the Microlite20 Forum (which is also the current home of my Microlite20 variant games (Microlite74, Microlite75, Microlite78, Microlite81, etc) is a failure. In its years of existence, it has attracted over 60,000 attempted spammer registrations (according to the count the Stop Forum Spam mod keeps), but few actual members, and very few posts. I've decided to shut down the forums part of it. The Downloads area will remain, however.

I have decided to replace it with either a RetroRoleplaying Google Plus community or a RetroRoleplaying Discord server -- or perhaps both. This would be a place to discuss all the games I've released or am working on. I can't see that there is enough interest to justify a separate community for every family of games. Not to mention that I would not have time to handle that many separate communities. A Facebook Community is out because I simply do not like Facebook enough to be their regularly -- and in my experience, Google+ communities are far more usable for real discussion than Facebook Groups.

There are a couple of major advantages switching to Google+ and/or Discord for the RetroRoleplaying community area. First, many people who would be interested in the community already have Google+ and/or Discord accounts and regularly visit those areas. This means that people would not have to create yet another account and remember to go to another place to check for activity. Second, moving to either would reduce the amount of maintenance I have to do (upgrading the forum software as bug fixes are released, fighting spammers, and the like).

If you have a preference, which would you prefer: a RetroRoleplaying Google+ community or a RetroRoleplaying Discord server?


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.

Happy New Year I: BX Advanced Playtest Version 0.75 Released

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BX Advanced Gold Edition Playtest 0.75 CoverI know i said just before Christmas that I had released the last playtest version of BX Advanced Gold Edition. I was wrong (sounds better than "I lied"). I've released a new playtest 0.75 version with a new cover (which may or may not be the cover for the release version), a sample campaign setting, and some layout and formatting improvements. It is available to RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors in the usual place with the usual password now. (Link below for those who don't remember the "usual place).

For those who have forgotten what BX Advanced is all about, it's 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. A couple of weeks ago, I said that 0.5 playtest version was "a fairly complete copy of what will be the 'Gold Edition'" of the game and that while "a few more small bits may be added," the Gold Edition was basically complete. Err, I decided a couple of days after posting the above that I really needed to add a sample campaign setting and do some text rearrangement. The 0.75 version I'm releasing today is the result. The final "release version" of the BX Advanced Gold Edition is still on target for later this month (January 2018) barring real life throwing me any unwanted curves.

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 rulebooks. 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. Note that the cut-off for being listed as a BX Advanced sponsor in the "Gold Edition" will be within 1 to 3 weeks if publication remains on schedule. Of course, the cut-off for being listed as a BX Advanced sponsor in the "Platinum Edition" is months away.

Watch for a Happy New Year II post tomorrow or the next day with some of my non-BX Advanced plans for 2018.

Play OSR D&D on an Amazon Echo?

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I've had an Amazon Echo Dot for over a year now. If fact, we now have three because they are much easier for my wife (with her MS-related hand issues) to use than a normal timer, alarm clock, etc. I've never found the games available as skills to be all that much fun to play -- at least more than a time or two.

Today, however, I discovered Six Swords -- an attempt to have Alexa run a D&D-like game. It's not based on modern D&D -- it's "based on OSRIC, an open source version of first Edition Dungeons and Dragons (tm)" according to the Six Swords skill description. I haven't had a lot of time to play with this, but I can already say it is the most interesting Alexa skill game I've tried yet. It's far from perfect, but it seems like it will be a fun away to spend some time. It also appears to be under active development with new releases with bug fixes and new features every few weeks. Here's the full description of the Six Swords skill. It's not going to replace a human DM anytime soon, but it's the best game I've seen for Alexa-powered devices.

Engage in classic fantasy adventure. Build a team of up to six companions to explore exotic cities, high castles, and deep dungeons. But be careful, the further off the path you get the more dangerous it becomes.
The system used is based on OSRIC, an open source version of first Edition Dungeons and Dragons (tm).

There are many features available in the skill which you can discover as you play it. Some of the more used commands are:

North, South, East, West: move around the game map.

Enter: enter into a town, castle or dungeon.

inventory: list what your party and your active player is carrying

who: list the companions in your group

activate : make one of your companions the active companion

give to : give an item from the party inventory to the companion

take from : move an item from a companion to the party inventory

When in combat you cannot use the move commands. However you can:

fight: fight a round of combat with the enemy

run away: flee a fight

Other versions: 6 Swords Lite and 6 Swords Kids.

If you received some type of Amazon Echo or another device with Alexa, you might want to give this a try.


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.

Stocking Stuffer: New BX Advanced Playtest Edition 0.5 for Donors

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BX Advanced Playtest 0.5 CoverJust in time for Christmas roleplaying! I've just released a new new playtest version of the standard (aka "Gold") edition of BX Advanced. It is available to RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors in the usual place with the usual password now. (Link below for those who don't remember the "usual place).

For those who have forgotten what BX Advanced is all about, it's 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 0.5 playtest version is a fairly complete copy of what will be the "Gold Edition" of the game. While a few more small bits may be added, this version is basically complete. Barring reports of problems from playtesters, it should be ready for proofreading, layout, adding artwork and then release of the Pay What You Want version -- hopefully in January, perhaps even early January.

This "Gold Edition" is for people who want to play 1e using B/X rules (and optionally, some of my standard house rules) and not be bothered with all sorts of additional classes, mutations, technology, other stuff cluttering up the rules. Never fear, however, if you want all of this good stuff, it will be in the "Platinum Edition" which should be out later in 2018. As soon as I get the BX Advanced Gold Edition out, I will begin expanding it and, of course, providing interim playtest copies to donors as I do. Mutations should be the first major new addition, so those who have been waiting for them (and complaining to me about the delay) should not have that much longer to wait -- at least if all remains well on the health front with my wife.

In the last update I published in early November, I announced a tentative BX Advanced publication schedule. Amazingly, despite my problems with real life that have caused me to miss almost every publication prediction I have made -- often by 6-12 months, I am still on schedule for BX Advanced. I said that I hoped "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." It's looks like I am actually a bit ahead of schedule -- at least as of today.

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 rulebooks. 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. Note that the cut-off for being listed as a BX Advanced sponsor in the "Gold Edition" will be within 1 to 3 weeks if publication remains on schedule. Of course, the cut-off for being listed as a BX Advanced sponsor in the "Platinum Edition" is months away.

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.