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Microlite81 Advanced Expanded Tablet Digest Edition Available Next Week

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Coming next week. Microlite81 Advanced: Expanded Tablet/Digest Edition.

The Microlite81 Advanced: Expanded Tablet/Digest Edition takes the popular Microlite81 Advanced rules and puts them in a format designed for easy use on tablets (larger type, smaller single-column pages). However, it also adds a lot of new material that is not in the pay-what-you-want "condensed type" edition of Microlite81 Advanced -- such as:

  • about 100 additional monsters
  • over 50 new magic items, including some magic items designed specifically for Microlite81 systems (e.g. the hit point fueled magic system)
  • a few new spells
  • rules for using small parties of 1-3 characters in old TSR adventures designed for 8+ PCs
  • expanded rules for dominions (the territories high level PC rule).
  • sample adventures
  • art -- lots more art, including color art.
There are 888 pages in the pdf version. Epub and mobi versions are also included, although the formatting may not be perfect (especially on small screen devices like phones). The price will be $9.95.



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.


Dungeon Delving Undying Light SRD Now Online

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I've created a Dungeon Delving Undying Light "SRD" web site where the entire Dungeon Delving Undying Light rules are online as web pages. The site is not spectacular to look at, but it is functional and allows reading the Dungeon Delving Undying Light rules from a web browser on just about any modern computer, tablet, or smartphone. SRD sites are popular with other games like D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, Dungeon World, and others; and I've had requests to provide such sites for my games. Since Dungeon Delving Undying Light is a small game and I recently discovered a way to easily convert MS Word files to Markdown (which can then be converted to html without the mess of weird Word html you get from converting Word directly to html), I decided to give it a try. If this site proves popular, I will try to find time to create SRD web sites for my other games.

You'll find Dungeon Delving Undying Light "SRD" web site here: https://dungeondelvingulsrd.retroroleplaying.com/

"Free" Version of Dungeon Delving Undying Light Now Available

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The Pay-What-You-Want (aka Free) version the Dungeon Delving Undying Light is finally available!

Dungeon Delving Undying Light is a trimmed down and simplified version of Swords & Wizardry. This game takes the Continual Light edition and cleans up the rules and the formatting, then adds backgrounds, more monsters, rules for morale and reaction rolls, additional minor optional rules, four optional systems (True Magic Rituals, Action Points, Body Points, Advanced Combat), and some basic explanations for the referee on how to handle dungeon and wilderness exploration. Designed to be easy to play and easy to teach to those new to tabletop roleplaying games while retaining all the fun of exploring strange new lands and crawling through dark and dangerous dungeons. Referees can easily create their own adventures and campaign settings or use adventures and setting designed for Swords & Wizardry or other early editions and variants of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game. The complete game -- all the standard rules, monster and spell descriptions, and guidelines for the GM on adventuring procedures -- are covered in a mere 19 pages.

The Pay-What-You-Want (aka "Free") version of Dungeon Delving Undying Light is two-columns and is letter-sized with less art that the paid version. The paid version is digest-sized, single-column with larger type and includes more art and sample blank dungeon maps and dungeon geomorphs. The text is the same exception references to the blank dungeon maps and dungeon geomorphs in the paid version have been removed. While you are welcome to download and enjoy the Pay-What-You-Want version for free, a dollar or two would always be appreciated.

You can download a copy of the pay what you want version of Dungeon Delving Undying Light from RPGNow or DriveThruRPG:

Dungeon Delving Undying Light (PWYW Version) on RPGNow

Dungeon Delving Undying Light (PWYW Version) on DriveThruRPG

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors can download a password protected zip file with a copy of the paid version of Dungeon Delving Undying Light at the usual "donor download" place with the usual donor password.


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.

Playing Dungeons & Dragons as a Test of Artificial Intelligence?

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The article below points out that getting a computer to play Dungeons & dungeons and pass a human player might be a better test of artificial intelligence than games like Go or Chess. I agree that playing Dungeons & Dragons (or any tabletop RPG) requires showing a much different time of intelligence than playing Chess or Go -- games with strict rules and a very limited set of actions one can take on their turn.

Everyone had died – not that you’d know it, from how they were laughing about their poor choices and bad rolls of the dice. As a social anthropologist, I study how people understand artificial intelligence (AI) and our efforts towards attaining it; I’m also a life-long fan of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), the inventive fantasy roleplaying game. During a recent quest, when I was playing an elf ranger, the trainee paladin (or holy knight) acted according to his noble character, and announced our presence at the mouth of a dragon’s lair. The results were disastrous. But while success in D&D means ‘beating the bad guy’, the game is also a creative sandbox, where failure can count as collective triumph so long as you tell a great tale.

What does this have to do with AI? In computer science, games are frequently used as a benchmark for an algorithm’s ‘intelligence’. The late Robert Wilensky, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a leading figure in AI, offered one reason why this might be. Computer scientists ‘looked around at who the smartest people were, and they were themselves, of course’, he told the authors of Compulsive Technology: Computers as Culture (1985). ‘They were all essentially mathematicians by training, and mathematicians do two things – they prove theorems and play chess. And they said, hey, if it proves a theorem or plays chess, it must be smart.’ No surprise that demonstrations of AI’s ‘smarts’ have focussed on the artificial player’s prowess.

Yet the games that get chosen – like Go, the main battlefield for Google DeepMind’s algorithms in recent years – tend to be tightly bounded, with set objectives and clear paths to victory or defeat. These experiences have none of the open-ended collaboration of D&D. Which got me thinking: do we need a new test for intelligence, where the goal is not simply about success, but storytelling? What would it mean for an AI to ‘pass’ as human in a game of D&D? Instead of the Turing test, perhaps we need an elf ranger test?

Of course, this is just a playful thought experiment, but it does highlight the flaws in certain models of intelligence. First, it reveals how intelligence has to work across a variety of environments. D&D participants can inhabit many characters in many games, and the individual player can ‘switch’ between roles (the fighter, the thief, the healer). Meanwhile, AI researchers know that it’s super difficult to get a well-trained algorithm to apply its insights in even slightly different domains – something that we humans manage surprisingly well.

Second, D&D reminds us that intelligence is embodied. In computer games, the bodily aspect of the experience might range from pressing buttons on a controller in order to move an icon or avatar (a ping-pong paddle; a spaceship; an anthropomorphic, eternally hungry, yellow sphere), to more recent and immersive experiences involving virtual-reality goggles and haptic gloves. Even without these add-ons, games can still produce biological responses associated with stress and fear (if you’ve ever played Alien: Isolation you’ll understand). In the original D&D, the players encounter the game while sitting around a table together, feeling the story and its impact. Recent research in cognitive science suggests that bodily interactions are crucial to how we grasp more abstract mental concepts. But we give minimal attention to the embodiment of artificial agents, and how that might affect the way they learn and process information.

Finally, intelligence is social. AI algorithms typically learn though multiple rounds of competition, in which successful strategies get reinforced with rewards. True, it appears that humans also evolved to learn through repetition, reward and reinforcement. But there’s an important collaborative dimension to human intelligence. In the 1930s, the psychologist Lev Vygotsky identified the interaction of an expert and a novice as an example of what became called ‘scaffolded’ learning, where the teacher demonstrates and then supports the learner in acquiring a new skill. In unbounded games, this cooperation is channelled through narrative. Games of It among small children can evolve from win/lose into attacks by terrible monsters, before shifting again to more complex narratives that explain why the monsters are attacking, who is the hero, and what they can do and why – narratives that aren’t always logical or even internally compatible. An AI that could engage in social storytelling is doubtless on a surer, more multifunctional footing than one that plays chess; and there’s no guarantee that chess is even a step on the road to attaining intelligence of this sort.

In some ways, this failure to look at roleplaying as a technical hurdle for intelligence is strange. D&D was a key cultural touchstone for technologists in the 1980s and the inspiration for many early text-based computer games, as Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon point out in Where Wizards Stay up Late: The Origins of the Internet (1996). Even today, AI researchers who play games in their free time often mention D&D specifically. So instead of beating adversaries in games, we might learn more about intelligence if we tried to teach artificial agents to play together as we do: as paladins and elf rangers.Aeon counter – do not remove

Beth Singler

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.



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.

Dungeon Delving Undying Light Now Available (Paid Version with Art)

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The first game in RetroRoleplaying.com's new series of Swords & Wizardry-based games, Dungeon Delving Undying Light, is now available in a 96 page digest-sized pdf for only $3.99 (an epub version is also included, although it has minor issues with fonts and illos). A Pay-What-You-Want/Free two-column letter size version (without art) will be out in 5 to 10 days. All the rules fit in about 24 pages in the letter-sized version, so in spite of the page count of the digest-sized edition, it really isn't that much larger than SWCL. As usual for my games, the rules are open game content.

Dungeon Delving Undying Light is a trimmed down and simplified version of Swords & Wizardry. This game takes the Continual Light edition and cleans up the rules and the formatting, then adds attribute rolls, backgrounds, more monsters, rules for morale and reaction rolls, additional minor optional rules, four optional systems (True Magic Rituals, Action Points, Body Points, Advanced Combat), and some basic explanations for the referee on how to handle dungeon and wilderness exploration. It is designed to be easy to play and easy to teach to those new to tabletop roleplaying games while retaining all the fun of exploring strange new lands and crawling through dark and dangerous dungeons. Referees can easily create their own adventures and campaign settings or use adventures and setting designed for Swords & Wizardry or other early editions and variants of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game.

You'll find Dungeon Delving Undying Light on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG (where a 20-page preview is available):

Dungeon Delving Undying Light ($3.99) on RPGNow

Dungeon Delving Undying Light ($3.99) on DriveThruRPG

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors can download a password protected zip file with a copy at the usual "donor download" place with the usual donor password.


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.

Perhaps Really Huge Dungeons Aren't "Unrealistic" After All

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I stumbled across an article on a huge complex of man-made tunnels under parts of China that were apparently, like the Great Wall, built to help defend the Northern part of China from invaders.  From the article (click here to read the entire article):

Experts have dug out similar war passages in Yongqing, Xiong county, and Bazhou. The ancient war passages are about 65 kilometers from east to west, 25 kilometers from north to south, which extend through 1,600 square kilometers. When the border between the Song Dynasty and the Liao Dynasty went as far west as Rongcheng county and Xushui county, it is thought that many ancient war passages existed in that area. How far the ancient war passages extended eastwards from Yongqing is still unknown.

These passages were apparently built around 1000 AD. Given the size of this tunnel complex and their apparent usage, perhaps megadungeons aren't as an unrealistic idea as even those of us who enjoy them have assumed they were.


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.


Current RPG Design Project List (Revisited)

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There have been some changes to the project list I wrote about in early February. Here goes:
  • BX Advanced Admanantine Edition: This is still my priority. However, just the mutations material is requiring a lot of playtesting and rewriting/adjustment cycles. So I think my hope of getting this out the door by summer is shot. My current target is "late in the year." Saying this doesn't make me happy, but I would rather delay it than publish rubbish. I may have to settle for a less complete mutation system just to get the game moving forward.
  • Micolite81 Advanced Tablet Digest Edition: This will be the next minor project I plan to tackle. I need to add the planned extra monsters and finish the layout. It's not hard but life seems to be conspiring against "time to work" lately.
  • BX Advanced Gold Edition (Printed Version): I know a lot of people really want this. However, I can't really start work on it as long as people are still finding annoying typos in the PDF versions. Hiring a proofreader is out of the question as the costs would be almost twice what I've made from the PDF version and any spare money goes toward my wife's medical needs. It looks like the print version will have to be done via Lulu as the requirements for layout/design for Lulu are actually within my skill set where the requirements for RPGNow/DriveThru are truly beyond me.
  • Dungeon Delving Undying Light: Back in February, I mentioned that I would be working on a version of The Black Hack because of my friends (and a player in my Waco campaign back when I lived in Waco) wanted to run it. He decided not to run The Black Hack when he saw Swords & Wizardry Continual Light. So my hack of The Black Hack polymorphed in a hack of Swords & Wizardry Continual Light. The resulting game, Dungeon Delving Undying Light, should be out next week. All BX Advanced donors to date are also credited as sponsors for this game. I might (or might not) try to do a printed version of this game as a "test" before doing the more complex BX Advanced printed edition.
  • Dungeon Delving: Whitebox: I recently mentioned I was planning on doing a revised version of Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome, my Swords & Wizardry/0e supplement. Working on Dungeon Delving Undying Light made me realize that I don't really want to revise this so much as I want to write my very own version of Whitebox incorporating things I like from S&W, SWCL, The Black Hack, Delving Deeper, and a lot of my own ideas. So the revised Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome is canceled and my very own version of Whitebox replaces it. The Whitebox variant will probably be published under some version of the Dungeon Delving name, so I've given it the working title of "Dungeon Delving: Whitebox". Please don't hit me -- I promise that will not be the final title. BX Advanced donors will also be credited as sponsors for this game. I'm not going to even try to set even a tentative release date. I'll be working on this when I'm having BX Advanced writer's block: that could mean it will barely be started before the BX Advanced Admanantine Edition is released or it could be finished by then. Most likely, it will be well-started but far from finished.
  • Mini-Adventures: A lot of people ask me to write adventures. However, I'm terrible at writing adventures for publication as my campaign stuff looks like what Gary Gygax used: Room (or hex) numbers with stats for whatever in is the rooms and a few words of description to get me started when a group enters the room. In other words, nothing that you could not get from any number of random generators on the Internet. I am going to try to produce a couple of one or two page adventures that might actually be worth downloading. No promises, however.
Important Note: My wife's medical needs come before writing/design/playing time and as a stage 3 cancer survivor with MS and spine issues, my wife has a lot of medical problems which require lots of doctor visits, tests, etc. So any publication schedules/plans have to take a backseat at times. This means my rpg projects generally take longer to complete than I would like. However, while my track record for getting games out on my planned and announced time schedule is really poor, my record of actually getting games finished and published is pretty good. I will not do kickstarters and the like because (among other reasons) I know I probably will not be able to meet any deadlines I set. My world is just not predictable enough and my primary job has to be being my wife's caregiver.


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.