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Quick Microlite81 Extended Progress Report

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Microlite81 Extended Release Candidate 1 would be out now. However, my Sunday group surprised me last Sunday by volunteering to proofread it. Everyone has taken a few pages and will be proofreading their section this week. The proofreading will be of variable quality because some of my players have more time for and/or skill at proofreading, but at least more eyes than my own will have gone over the rules before I release them for everyone interested to proofread. Barring real life issues, Microlite81 Extended Release Candidate 1 should be out Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. I'll allow a week to ten days after that for public comment and corrections, after which the "silver edition" final should appear fairly quickly.

A new donor-only alpha version of Microlite81 Complete will probably be available to donors in a week or ten days. With some luck a public beta of Microlite81 Complete may be available by the end of March.

Looking for Android Tabletop RPG App Suggestions

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Acer Iconia A1-810I recently received a Android tablet. As I have no use for a smartphone, this is the first "smart device" I've owned. For those who care, it's an Acer Iconia A1-810-L416 (7.9-Inch screen, 16 GB) running Android 4.2.2. It's certainly not the latest or the greatest, but it seems nice to me -- especially since it was a gift.

I'm looking for recommendations for free apps useful for running/playing tabletop RPGs. In some cases, I've overwhelmed by choices, for example, there seem to be a huge number of die rolling apps. I never have the time nor the interest to try them all in the hope of finding the best, or even just the best for me. In other cases, I have no idea what is out there and vague searches on Google Play don't turn up much -- not even software I've seen mentioned around the net.

So, remembering that I'm mainly interested in old school D&D and retroclones, what Android apps should like look at -- and why? As I mentioned, I've definitely interested in a good, general purpose die roller app but please don't limit suggestions to die rollers. Thanks in advance.

A Really Extreme Case of Player Entitlement?

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My Sunday Game lost a player in January -- her work schedule has her working every Sunday for the foreseeable future. Her company needs more billable hours. As I can only fit nine players and one GM into my living/dining room for a game and I always have more than nine people who want to play, filling a spot is easy. I keep a first-come, first-served list of people who want to play and I've at least met for coffee. These "wait listers" have access to the campaign's mailing list and private web site so they can see what is going on and interact with the group. The person who has been on this "wait list" the longest when we have a player vacancy, gets first chance at chance at it. We have a three session try-out period where myself as GM, the new player and the rest of the group can be sure we all want to continue together. As I've generally had more people interested in playing than I have room for, I've been running campaigns like this much of the time (since 1975) with few problems (see Are New Player Try-Outs Unfair? and New Player Try-Outs Unfair? -- Part Two for one of the rare cases where their were problems).

To be fair, I didn't really have a problem with the wait list/tryout system this time, but things did turn sour. Our new player, I'll call him John (as in "John Doe"), seemed to be having a good time and both I and the regulars enjoyed having him in the game. Things seemed to be going well until last Sunday -- the end of his third game. After the game, he told us that he liked the group and my GMing, but if we wanted him to play as a regular, we would have to make as few small changes. Alarms started going off in my head, but I ignored them in favor of hearing him out. I wish I would have just said, "sorry but the campaign is as is -- take it or leave it."

Here are the main changes he "required" if we wanted him to play:

a) Two of the current players would have to drop their current characters because they would clash with plans for his character.

b) While a sandbox campaign was fine, the players would have to agree to complete what they start and not abandon "stories" before they were finished because something more interesting came up. In the second session he played in, the characters abandoned plans to explore the second level of the dungeon to go help fight off bandits attacking a village (where an NPC they liked lived). John did not like this and did not want it to happen again.

c) Magic items were to be distributed randomly, not go to the PC or NPC who could best use them as the group was doing.

But the real killer requirement was...

d) Move the campaign permanently away from the Judges Guild Wilderlands (which he said was dull) to the Forgotten Realms. Easily done according to John. The PCs could just start next week's game by walking through a gate that would take them to the Forgotten Realms and the gate would conveniently breakdown and never work again once the party were through.

When he finished this list and all the reasons why, I told him that I was sorry but I was not going to make any of those changes and that if those were actual requirements for him to play, I was sorry that he would not be playing any more. At this point he said that I had no right to decide for the group and that the group should vote. I pointed out that I had no interest in running a game in the Forgotten Realms nor was I going to change the type of open sandbox campaign I run and no vote could make me do so. He asked the other players to support his demands anyway and discovered that no one was interested in making any of his "required for John to play" changes to the campaign. He then told us that he would not be playing and that we are all unreasonable and selfish -- and packed up and left. Needless to say, we were all slightly gob smacked by this. It's definitely the worst case of "player entitlement" I've ever personally seen. Has anyone reading this had the misfortune to experience worse?

A Fictional Night in the Life of a Fictional Spy

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Guest author Michael Evans provides a look at what a story in certain popular series of spy novels and movies could have looked like if Gary Gygax's idea of truly competitive "chess tournament"-like D&D had actually happened.

The Bond and the Battlefield

James Bond walks into a smoke-filled, casino-like room. The smoke isn’t from tobacco, but from a fog machine that one of the Gamemasters set off to achieve a post-battle effect. The super spy quickly surveys the room, looking for any potential threats or traps. His instincts give him the go-ahead to proceed. He is now just doing one thing and one thing only. He is preparing his mindset for combat.

This is no ordinary room. The dynamics are different here. It’s not individuals facing off against a dealer or machine. Everyone seems to be battling each other, forming shady alliances and trying to be named king. The air is thick and the tension is digging its angry claws into 007’s neck. This is the world of Role-Playing Games (RPG).

Mr. Bond is a gambling man by nature. He once played poker for 37 hours in a row without a bathroom break. He enjoys playing Chicken against 18-wheelers while riding his unicycle. And, he often tries his luck with the BetFair Wonder Woman slot game because he loves the flashing lights, teasing sounds, and, of course, the female superhero. He is an all-in, take-it-or-leave-it competitor, with a taste for blood. In a world of options, victory is the only one in his playbook.

Foxletter, Bernie Foxletter

This particular event is not known by all. It is the biggest, most clandestine RPG convention in the western world. It is the silent Comic-Con of the RPG universe. It doesn’t even have a name. Money can’t buy you in—reputation can. James Bond, known as Bernie Foxletter from Cleveland in these circles, earned his stripes playing tournaments throughout Europe and the United States. Many trophies have his alias inscribed, but if he is to earn one tonight, he has to be perfect on a global scale.

The Pathfinder tables are overcrowded and violent. For a brief moment he thought to sign up for this RPG competition, but after learning that Listverse only ranked it second among the current tabletop Role-Playing Games, he was quickly dissuaded and chose to participate in the game he and his team had never been able to master. The one game that is universally considered the original and most prolific.

Dragons Are Forever

He walks by the Pathfinder bedlam and sees a sign indicating that the second level was devoted to Dungeons and Dragons. He decides to take the elevator instead of the stairs in order to conserve energy. The elevator doors open and he immediately spots his team anxiously awaiting his arrival. There is Liz from Manhattan, Dwight from Scranton and Sheldon from Pasadena—all looking pale with bloodshot eyes. “None of you got any rest,” he says in an exasperated tone. “Bloody rookie mistake!” Liz claims that they were all too nervous to sleep and Dwight agrees while Sheldon asks, “When did you start using the term 'bloody'?”

They hustle over to the quietest corner of the room and begin to discuss key points from the D&D Strategy Guide. Bernie gives his best Braveheart-style speech to motivate his team. They put their games faces on and slowly approach the player’s table. The scene is set and all gloves are off. The super spy is ready for his next adventure that will make all of the others seem like child’s play. He thinks of his fictional hero, Sherlock Holmes, and whispers, “the game is afoot.”

Tomorrow Never Dies

Bernie from Cleveland looks tired as he exits the building. He loosens his bow tie and takes a deep breath while gazing at the crescent moon. He thinks of the long road that brought him to this magnificent place – the old enemies and new friends he met along the way. He is at peace and feels humble. He walks off into the unforgiving night, empty-handed and beaten, but with a slight grin, thinking about next year.

Progress Reports: Holiday Cancer Drive and Microlite81

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The Holiday 2013 Cancer Fund Drive was a complete success. Thanks to over 100 different donors (most made some donations, although some make very generous donations) we raised just under the amount we needed. We then got lucky and A client who had owned me money since last September decided to pay up which covered the remainder we needed. We keep the house. I'd like to thank each and every one of the 100+ people who donated for their help. Y'all have been wonderful.

I'll be holding the final/main round of Holiday 2013 Cancer Fund giveaways after my Sunday Game this evening. Unfortunately, I probably will not be able to announce the winners until late in the week as the winners of the high donor items have to pick the bundles they want before I can award the remaining bundles randomly to the drawing winners. Then I will have to pack them up and ship them out. My wife has three days with doctors appointments I have to get her to this week and three more next week. Packing and mailing will have to work around this, but I will keep the giveaway winners informed as to what is going on.

Progress on Microlite81 has been slow in January because much of my spare time has been taken up with doctor appointments for my wife, 11 days with them last month. While there has not been much actual time to write, I have been able to make a lot of notes and do some proofreading while sitting in waiting rooms. Even with another month full of doctor appointments coming up, I hope to have a Release Candidate of Microlite81 Extended done by the end of February and a more complete (just shy of beta) version of Microlite81 Complete available for donors. I hope to get both finished or at least mostly finished by the end of March so I can get started on Microlite81 Advanced. I haven't done any work on it yet because I know if I started to work on it, none of the other versions of Microlite81 would see any work at all.