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Microlite74 Supplement 2: Wary's Grimoire Now Available

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Version 1.0 of Wary's Grimoire, the second supplement for Microlite74, is now available for download. Wary's Grimoire takes some of Microlite75 and "backports" it to Microlite74 by stripping it of the house rules and extras that make Microlite75 what it is. In other words, Wary's Grimoire contains the new classes, new spells, minor rules changes (like variable damage) from the 0e supplements and adds them to Microlite74 in much more "pure" 0e form than in Microlite75. If you want to play a relatively "pure" Microlite20 version of 0e and its supplements, you want Microlite74 and Wary's Grimoire, not Microlite75.

Wary's Grimoire adds half-elves and the following classes to Microlite74: Paladin, Ranger, Monk, Illusionist, Druid, Thief and Bard. It also adds the 0e 7th-9th level Magic-User spells, the 0e 6th and 7th level Clerical spells, and the entire set (1st-7th level) of the 0e Druid and Illusionist spells. This supplement also includes variable weapon damage, monster reactions, and a rewritten monster list including monster morale and variable damage. This is a fairly major update from the playtest version published last spring as all the spells have the description clarifications from Microlite75 Version 1.01.

As with all my regular edition old school Microlite20 games, Microlite74 Supplement 2: Wary's Grimoire is free! Download your copy from Mediafire today:

Harry Potter Meets pre-4e D&D

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Fan-written Harry Potter fiction is very popular. There are apparently 10,000+ stories on the Internet. One of the players in my Sunday game pointed me to Harry Potter and the Original Rules yesterday. It's a "what if the magic in the Harry Potter universe was D&D magic" story. Ten chapters, about 40,000 words, are up so far. The writing definitely isn't professional, but "D&D magic" version of the Harry Potter universe is interesting and full of ideas for running pre-4e versions D&D in the Harry Potter universe.

For an example of how well D&D magic can be made to work as "Harry Potter magic", here is a flashback to the battle between Potter's parents and Voldemort leading up to Voldemort's first death from the Prologue:

Prologue 1: Ends and Beginnings

A flash of brilliant light. A word, spoken in a voice that could only be described as lingering at absolute zero. A cloud of darkness.

A man's voice, courage and desperation mingling in the roar. "It's him! Take Harry! Take him, and go! I'll slow him down till they arrive!"

The frozen voice, now amused. "Wall of Stone." A woman's voice, distantly screaming.

A burst of dark fire, the blistering echoes of it almost obscuring the words, "Flame Strike".

The man's voice once more, an intriguing thread of pain now unravelling in it. "Hold Portal!"

The fierce cold of the laughter not quite heard becomes terrifyingly real with a whisper. "Freezing Sphere."

Splintering wood. Screams dwindling, running footsteps.

Laboured, gurgling breathing. A desperate skittering sound, something small and glassy rolling across an uneven floor.

"Finger of Death." The slightest flicker of green light. A thud, more screams, four slow footsteps.

"Give me the boy," the unbelievably chill voice now says. No emotion. No patience or particular impatience, but no room for excess syllables. They would have withered and died, attached to a voice like this. "Give me the boy, and save yourself."

A whimper, a scream, a whisper in the air marking the passage of a length of wood. The faint pop of something appearing. A swish of an arm, the clang of metal on metal, and then the echoing of flames once more.

In the distance, desperate fists beating on stone. Explosions. Cries.

Up close, two more words. "Energy Drain." A scream of agony, a pause. "The boy."

A long, long pause, and the woman's voice starts babbling, a prayer offered up to some unknown or unknowable god, words tripping over themselves to be heard and descending in spirals into some strange and unearthly tongue.

The cold voice has not run out of patience, it is simply aware that the previously allotted quantity of time has been expended. "Power Word... Kill."

Footsteps, and unconcerned green eyes open to stare into red ones. A hiss of surprise, unless it is recognition.

Tattered grey skin stretched over cold, bony digits, disrupts the moment of eyes. A brief moment to consider. Three words, spoken calmly.

"Finger of Death."

Green lightning, of an intensity never before seen. The thud and crackle of a body hitting the floor.

Brief silence, as even the distant cries and thumps falter.

An infant's voice, beginning to squall

Microlite20 OSS and Advanced Microlite20 OSS RPGs Now Available (and FREE)

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I'm happy to announce that version 1.0 of the Microlite20 OSS and the Advanced Microlite20 OSS roleplaying games are finished and available for free download. "OSS" stands for "Old School Style". Where Microlite74 and Microlite75 attempt to recreate old school games from the Microlite20 rules, the Microlite20 OSS games were written to encourage the "old school style" play using the much more standard 3.x edition base Microlite20 was written for. Microlite20 OSS is a Microlite20 variant designed for old school style play with a modern game system and nearly any 3.5 fantasy adventure module or setting you can pull off your shelf.

Microlite20 OSS is the equivalent of the Core Microlite20 rules. It includes the four standard Microlite20 classes (Fighter, Rogue, Mage, Cleric) and depends on the 3.5 Fantasy SRD for monsters, spells, treasure, and the like. This allows the actual rules to fit on the front and back of a single sheet of paper. Unlike standard Microlite20, Microlite20 has no specific skills. Instead players are expected to think like adventurers, tell the GM what they are doing and the GM decides if it will succeed in the situation, taking into account the character's class and background. Die roll guidelines are provided for cases where the GM decides a random roll is needed to determine success or failure. This game includes several pages of notes on old school play designed to help both players and GMs adapt to playing "old school style."

Advanced Microlite20 OSS is the equivalent of the Core and Expert Microlite20 rules. It makes the Microlite20 OSS system more "complete" at the cost of some additional complexity. Advanced Microlite20 OSS takes the basic rules of Microlite20 OSS adds material from the Microlite20 Expert set (new classes, etc.) and has somewhat expanded combat rules. It also adds the five Microlite20 skills back to the game, but in a old school manner. A simple talent system is provided for basic mechanical customization of characters. Metamagic, action points, and morale rules are also included. This almost doubles the length of the actual rules, from 2 pages to 3.5 pages. Advanced Microlite20 OSS also includes the notes on old school play included in Microlite20 OSS.

Download your free PDF copies from Mediafire:

Microlite75 Version 1.01 (Proofreading Update) Available

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Microlite75 Version 1.01 is available. If you've downloaded version 1.00, there's no real need to download this update. The only real changes are:

1) the addition of the Control Plants spell to the 5th level Druid list. The description is the same as that of 7th level MU spell of the same name.

2) two Illusionist spells were renamed -- the "1st Level Magic User Spells" spell became "Arcane Magic" and the 2nd Level Magic User Spells" spell became "Advanced Arcane Magic". These names are a bit less confusing.

All the other changes are minor corrections to spelling and grammar, things like putting periods after "vs" and adding the word "caster" before level in the spell lists. Lots of little copy-editing changes that make the books more "correct" but don't really change anything with respect to actually playing the game.

I'd like to thank Kevin Donovan for his proofreading skills -- and the time he spent going over the 40,000 plus words in Microlite75. He noticed many errors that my eye just glided right over. Microlite75 is much better for his efforts. Thank you, Kevin!

Here are the links to the new versions. I've also changed the link in the original announcement post from last week.

Microlite75 Version 1.00 is Finally Available (and it's FREE)

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Almost 6 months after I had originally hoped to get a final version of Microlite75 out, Microlite75 Version 1.00 is finally available. The edition available is the "Condensed Type" edition with very tiny "Microlite20" style print and only two illos per booklet, one of the front cover and one on the back cover. Larger print editions with more illos will be available in the future. The near future, I hope, but with my luck of late I am not going to make any promises. This edition of Microlite75 is free and the rules are 100% OGL.

For those new to the Microlite75 project, here'a a description of what Microlite75 is. Those familiar with Microlite75 can skip to the download links at the end of this post.

What is Microlite75?

Microlite75, like its parent game, Microlite20, is a trimmed down, sub-miniature version of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules (see license for more info) that has been designed to be quick and easy to play. The goal of Microlite75, however, is to recreate the style and feel of the early editions of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game published in the 1970s and early 1980s – but with a few modern ideas and additions that fit the early edition spirit.

The rules are based on the 1974 0e edition with its supplements and material from 0e magazine articles, some 0e third party material, some of the house rules the author used in the 1970s, and selected ideas from other roleplaying 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.

Are these rules better than the original systems? Microlite75 is more like 0e plus supplements expressed in Microlite20 terms. It doesn’t claim to be new, improved, or better, just the way we did it converted to a rules system more players are likely to be already familiar with.

Microlite75 is divided into two booklets, the Characters & Magic book and the Options & Monsters book.

The Characters & Magic book contains the complete basic rules and the equipment and spells lists. For many campaigns, this booklet contains everything a player needs to know to play. This book includes:

  • Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a race, class, background, and alignment.
  • Standard Classes: Fighter, Ranger, Paladin, Monk, Magic-User, Illusionist, Cleric, Druid, and Thief
  • 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), and more.

The Options & Monsters book contains a large number of optional rules a GM might elect to include in a campaign as well as monster lists and other GM-oriented information. This book includes:

  • Monsters and more monsters with simple stat blocks.
  • Old school GM guidelines.
  • Optional rules for additional character classes, single class campaigns, advantages and disadvantages, character goals and personality traits, metamagic, ritual magic, weird science, fire-and-forget magic, combat maneuvers, armor for all classes, action points, fame, sanity, psionics, spirits (combat, powers, and binding), fixed level campaigns, science
    fantasy, and more.

Download Microlite75

You can download the Condensed Type edition of Microlite75 here. The current version is 1.00, released in January 2011. [Links have been updated to Version 1.01 which corrects a number of grammar/spelling errors -- 18 Jan 2010.] There are two booklets to download:

Balance in RPGs -- Again

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Balanced rules in RPGs seem to be the big thing these days with many players. As I'm not a member of this "cult of balance" some people believe I am hostile to balance as a RPG design goal. I'm not hostile to the idea that balance should be considered in RPG design. I'm just extremely hostile to idea that rules balance should be the primary consideration (or one of the most primary considerations) in RPG design (which is what I see the "cult of balance" asking for).

Rules balance isn't very important to me because -- unless the design is as fixed as a boardgame or a computer RPG with little of no campaign or adventure design done by the GM and player actions are limited as much as possible to things covered by the balanced rules -- only individual campaigns can really be balanced. Good RPG rules in IMHO should provide tools the GM can use to create as balanced a campaign as his group wants instead of trying to provide all the balance in the rules.

Rules that focus too much on rules balance are generally useless to me because they are, more often than not, balanced in ways that make them unfun for me as GM (e.g. by making it hard or impossible to run in my standard homebrew campaign worlds) and/or unfun for my players (e.g. by forcing them into a playstyle they do not like).

Of course neither I or my players play RPGs primarily for the "game" aspect, instead we play for the fun of being a character exploring a different world. Rules are definitely secondary and we want them to fade into the background, not be the focus of campaign design or play. In my experience, the more the system is designed around "rules balance" the more the rules become the focus of play. That's just not fun for me.