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Another Skill System For Swords and Wizardry Whitebox

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Microlite78 mockup coverSomeone asked for a simple skill system that would work with Swords and Wizardry Whitebox on one of the forums I read. I know there are a lot of this out there, but I'm sure there is room for one more. Here is a slightly edited version what I came up with (including my reasoning).


1) I hate skills as they are normally handled in D&D-type games as they tend to lock characters who don't have the skill out of using it even though most skills in a "medieval-era" world should be things anyone would have at least some chance of success at, even with no training. Any skill system I would use would give even the unskilled a reasonable chance of success on all but the few skills that really can't even be attempted (with a chance of success) by the untrained.

2) I dislike skills because too many players think all they should have to do is say "I use my X skill" instead of actually describing what they are doing -- especially when it comes to interacting with others. Any rules for skills I would use must do their best to prevent this misuse (IMHO) of skills.

3) Pre-Greyhawk (that is, before thieves) 0e already has a limited skill system. For example, characters had a 1 in 6 chance of finding secret doors but certain races had a better (2 in 6) chance.

4) Most people prefer high rolls to be successful and such rolls make it easier to work with modifiers.

Rough Draft Skill System for S&W Whitebox:

Roll a six-sided die for skill success with the following rolls needed for success:

6+.......Untrained (no special racial/other affinity)
5+.......Untrained (with special racial/other affinity)
4+.......Skilled-Apprentice Level
3+.......Skilled-Journeyman Level
2+.......Skilled-Master Level

When a character can choose a skill, he can either select a new skill at Apprentice Level or raise a skill he currently has by one level (from Apprentice to Journeyman or from Journeyman to Master). I'd probably let characters select a couple of skills at first level and one at each level thereafter.

All skills (except those designated by the GM) may be attempted untrained.

The GM may give circumstantial modifiers to the roll (usually totaling from -3 to +3) where needed.

The player must describe what his character is doing in order to attempt the skill with any chance of success, this is especially true of "interaction with others" skills. Players who just say something like "I use my fast-talk skill to convince the guard to let me go" should fail automatically. The player should at least say something like "I'll try to fast talk the guard into believing I have an important message for and that the guard should let me in to avoid get his ass chewed out for delaying the message." Conversely, if what the player describes sounds like it should work, the GM should just say it works without requiring a skill roll. Rolling should not replace roleplaying, especially when it comes to interaction with others.

Skill List:

This is up to the GM. In my opinion, however, a small number of broad skills work better than a large number of narrow skills in a S&W Whitebox game.

RetroRoleplaying Blog Comment Problems?


There haven't been any comments to my last few posts. I just figured that I haven't been posting regularly and had said anything comment-worthy in my last few posts. However, LibraryLass reported a comment problem on our forum: Are you aware that the blog's got restricted comments right now?.

No, I was not aware of that, but I've tried to fix it. Still no comments, however. If you have a chance, please try to leave a comment to this message. If you can't and are a member of the RetroRoleplaying Forum, please post in the above thread to let me know exactly what you are told when you try.

Thanks in advance!

Microlite78: First Edition Lite Public Beta 1 Available for Free Download

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Microlite78 mockup coverThe first (and with luck, only) beta version of Microlite78: First Edition Lite is now available for download. It should be feature-complete and only need proofreading and final editing -- barring someone (like you) pointing out a major problem or omission.

Microlite78 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 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.

Please point out any issues you see ASAP as I would like to get the "Final 1.0" version out in the next few weeks. Like just about everything else I do game-wise, both the beta and final version of Microlite78: First Edition Lite will be free of charge -- although donations to the Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund as always welcome. Thanks in advance for downloading this beta -- and please point out any problems you notice.

Monks and/or Bards in Microlite78?

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Microlite78 mockup coverI'm pleased to report that I have made more progress on Microlite78: First Edition Lite. Over the last few days, I've added rules for retainers (hirelings, henchmen, mercenaries, and specialists) as well as a number of optional rules including rules for fire-and-forget magic, traditional saving throws, item saves, and psionics. I've made a number of other minor changes and improvements as well. I've made Draft 0.3 available for download by RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors (who have the password needed to unlock these zip files). The Draft 0.3 file can be found in the download area of the RetroRoleplaying Forum. Here are direct links to the download page:

If you would like access, you can make a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund -- or you can wait for the first beta version which should be available near the end of February (unless something else goes wrong in real life) and will be available to everyone.

At the moment, I am not including two classes which were included in the First Edition of the world's most popular fantasy RPG: the monk and the bard. I have not included the monk because I never felt the monk really belonged in the standard "European" version of the game but rather should be reserved for an oriental setting. I haven't included the bard because First Edition bard was insane. One had to go though at least 5 levels as a fighter, then become a thief for at least 5 levels then begin as a bard.

Personally, I'd rather leave both of these classes out of Microlite78: First Edition Lite, but I'm willing to listen to good reasons as to why I should include one or both in comments to this posts (either here on the blog or on Google+).

Microlite78 Progress Report

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Microlite78 mockup coverI'm pleased to report that I have made major progress on Microlite78: First Edition Lite during my months of near silence. Unfortunately, I forgot all about uploading them to the donor areas as some days only a few words would change and I'd put off doing it. I finally uploaded Microlite78 Draft 0.1 to the donor area yesterday -- only to find I did not have time to announce that I had done so. This morning, I found time to do quite a bit more work on M78 (the most I've had time to do in one day since last spring just before my wife's mother died and we began the move/remodel process). Therefore, I've uploaded Microlite78 Draft 0.2 to the donor area. While there is really no need to download both, I've left Draft 0.1 up just in case any RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors are interested.

For those who have forgotten what Microlite78: First Edition Lite is supposed to be, here's a description for my first post on M78:

I've been asked to piece together parts of Microlite74 to produce a complete single volume Microlite78: First Edition Lite and add a "few things" to make it more like the 1978 "First Edition". It would be dead simple to toss the rules from Microlite74 Extended with the descriptions from Companion II (Treasure), Companion IV (Bestiary of Monsters) and Companion V (First Edition Spells) together in one volume. However, the request is for a bit more. He'd like classes written up in more detail (like I do in Microlite81, including the more normal XP treatment) and some of the system altered a bit to make it more like 1e.

Microlite78 Draft 0.2 is fairly complete, although a great deal of minor editing is needed. Some is simple editing like changes names while much is more complex: altering things to more resemble 1e while not breaking the M74 system.

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors already have the password needed to unlock these zip files. The files can be found in the download area of our (unfortunately seldom used) RetroRoleplaying Forum. Here are direct links to the download pages:

If you would like access, you can make a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund -- or you can wait for the first beta version which should be available in a week or two (unless something else goes wrong in real life) and will be available to everyone.