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Microlite78 First Edition Light, Microlite74 S&S, Microlite74 Light vs Dark Available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow (Still Free)

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Wed, 02/10/2016 - 14:37
Three more of my "Microlite20" based old school games are available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games: Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery, Microlite74 Light vs Dark, and Microlite78 First Edition Lite. For those who are not familiar with these games, here are brief descriptions.

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is has been the second most popular version of Microlite74 by number of downloads after Microlite74 Extended. Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is designed for low level play in swords & sorcery settings. If the fantasy stories of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Lieber, Clark Ashton Smith, C.L. Moore, Karl Edward Wagner, and David Gemell are more to your taste that those of Tolkein or Eddings, this version of Microlite74 may be just what you are looking for. Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is based on Microlite74 Extended 3.0 but with many special rules designed for swords & sorcery style campaigns. For example, there are only two classes (Adventurer and Sorcerer) and 6 levels, magic is limited and casting certain spells can corrupt the caster, and many 0e style magic items are relics of dead civilizations from long ago. Humans are assumed to dominate the world and most enemies are other humans and animals. True monsters certainly exist but they are assumed to be rare. Unlike most Microlite74 games which use a Microlite20-based experience system, this version uses a more standard experience point system.

    Download Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery

Microlite74 Light vs Dark was originally known as Microlite74 Special Version I. That was an awful name so I decided to change it to something (hopefully) less awful. Microlite74 Light vs Dark is designed for a campaign world with only two deities (a Lord of Light (order) and a Lord of Darkness (chaos) who oppose each other. Magic is both common and rare in this campaign world in that about 25% of the population have the ability to use Minor Magic at will (including all characters and NPCs with a class level), but arcane magic is otherwise limited to long, complex, and costly rituals. Clerics have limited spell-like abilities called prayers. True magic Items are almost non-existent. What true magic items do exist are created by the GM as needed and are always one-of-a-kind. Magic items created by binding spirits to material items are more common.

These rules were designed for a specific campaign's proprietary setting and then the proprietary element's were removed to create this set of rules. The proprietary setting was centered around a large decadent empire which which was starting to fall apart at the seams while its borderlands were breaking away or were being overrun by subhumans and monsters. The central portions of the empire were ignoring the problems. The Church of Light was aware of the problems but its influence on the imperial government had been reduced by scandal after scandal. In the borderlands, however, the Church of Light was often the only institution able to see beyond local issues. The campaign world was early renaissance, at least in the central parts of the empire, but hand guns and long guns were never invented. However, the Microlite74 Light vs Dark rules will work fine for any setting with two powerful opposing deities and weak, but fairly common magic.

    Download Microlite74 Light vs Dark

Microlite78 First Edition Lite 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 First Edition Lite 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.

The Microlite78 First Edition Lite rules are based on the Microlite74 Extended rules modified as necessary to fit the 1978 First Edition (1e) of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game. Modifications include detailed first edition class descriptions with a standard old school experience system (instead of one based on research); complete monsters, spell, and treasure descriptions; rules for strongholds, magic , optional psionics, and more. These rules are not intended to be a clone of the first edition rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old school play without strictly old-school rules. Although Microlite78 First Edition Lite is a complete game, it assumes a basic knowledge on the part of the GM of how roleplaying games and the basic D20-system work. At about 160 pages, the rules are lean and do not hold your hand. These rules can easily be used with all original first edition adventures and settings (as well as those for BECMI or second edition with a bit of work) as well as with modern OSR adventures and settings.

    Download Microlite78 First Edition Lite

These three games are free and is still available in all the usual places, they are now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

All Five Microlite74 Companions Available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow (Still Free)

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 11:28
I've made more progress in listing my free games on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow with all five Microlite74 Companion volumes now available for download as "Pay What You Want" games (and free is a perfectly acceptable amount to pay).

For those not familiar with these booklets, they expand on the core Microlite74 games with additional rules and information. There are currently five Microlite74 Companions.

Microlite74 Companion I: Optional Rules -- This volume includes many optional rules. Most can be used with any version of the third edition of Microlite74: Basic, Standard, or Extended. There are optional rules included for stat generation, races, classes, class abilities, advantages and disadvantages, traditional saving rolls, skills and talents, metamagic, ritual magic, counterspells, weird science, fire-and-forget magic, combat stunts, armor for all classes, weapon damage by class, minis and battlemats, action points, fame, sanity, aspects, Psionics, spirits (combat, powers, and binding), fixed level campaigns, science fantasy, and more.

    Download Microlite74 Companion I: Optional Rules

Microlite74 Companion II: Treasure -- This volume contains a large number of magical items of treasure and a sample system for randomly determining what treasure is a given group of monsters has. With the publication of this Microlite74 3.0 Companion volume, Microlite74 becomes a complete and self-contained system with no need for the SRD or reference to other old school rules. This volume includes any classic treasure items as well as a few new items designed for the Microlite74 system.

    Download Microlite74 Companion II: Treasure

Microlite74 Companion III: More Optional Rules -- This volume includes many optional rules. Most can be used with any version of the third edition of Microlite74: Basic, Standard, or Extended. There are optional rules included for Supplemental Stats: Sanity and Luck, Optional Races (various goblinoid races, Tieflings, Catfolk, Dragonborn, and many more ), Optional Classes (Witches, Necromancers, Delvers, Swashbucklers, and many more), Optional Experimental Classes (like comic book Superhero), Races as Classes, Experimental Class Options (for standard classes), Specialist Priests (Clerics than vary by deity followed), Monster Mash Advantages (turning characters into vampires, lycanthropes, and ghosts), Spell Sphere (free form magic), Magic Item Creation, Feat of Strength and Skill, Shield Wall, Climbing on Enemies, Action-Type Initiative, Unusual Weapons, Mounted Combat and Jousting, Critical Hit Special Effects, Critical Miss Special Effects, Prime Requisite Experience Bonuses, Conjurer Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Necromancer Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Shaman Spell List (Divine, 7 levels), Ascetic Spell List (Arcane, 6 levels), Thaumaturge Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Witch Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Additional Monsters, and Traps, Natural Hazards, and Diseases.

    Download Microlite74 Companion III: More Optional Rules

Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters -- This volume contains descriptions of a large number of 0e and 1e monsters, including demons and devils. These descriptions are somewhat more detailed than those included in the Microlite74 rules. These monsters are usable with any version of Microlite74 3.0 including Microlite74: Basic, Standard, or Extended and the Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Edition.

    Download Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters

Microlite74 Companion V: First Edition Spells -- This volume provides more detailed descriptions of spells and provides many new spells similar to those in the first edition of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG. Using the spells in this companion volume instead of the ones in the Microlite74 Standard or Extended rules will make your game more similar the First Edition (1e) than the Original Edition (0e), especially when combined with monsters from Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters. Most of these spells are suitable for use with either the Standard, or Extended versions of Microlite74. With care some can be used with the Basic version of Microlite74. Healing spells list alternative effects for the Basic/Standard HP system and for the Extended HP/BP system.

    Download Microlite74 Companion V: First Edition Spells

These five Microlite74 Companion volumes games are free and is still available in all the usual places, they are now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

Microlite74 Basic, Standard, and Extended Available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow (Still Free)

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 17:35
Last week, I decided to try listing one of my free games, Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome, on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games as a test. It was a success with over 100 downloads. I'm now going to go ahead an make all of my free games available via DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. Today, the first three Microlite74 games are available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow: Microlite74 Basic, Microlite74 Standard, and Microlite74 Extended. Next week, I'll released the five Microlite74 Companions and the two special versions of Microlite74 on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow.

For those not familiar with these games, they are trimmed-down miniature versions 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 Microlite74 games is to recreate the style and feel of that very first (“0e”) fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions. Microlite74 games 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.

Microlite74 Basic: This version has about 4 pages of actual rules (and about 6 pages of spell and monster lists). It emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game in its earliest form: the original 3 little booklets in the 0e boxed set. You have Fighters, Clerics, and Magic-Users, hit dice are all d6s (and is all weapon damage and most monster damage), there are relatively few spells (and they top out at 6th level, 5th level for clerics), and the maximum suggested level is only 12-14. It may sound limited, but it can be a lot of fun.

Microlite74 Standard: This version has about five and a half pages of actual rules (and about ten and a half pages of spell and monster lists). It emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game in its complete form: the original 3 little booklets in the 0e boxed set plus most of the material from the supplements and "official" material published in the early magazine articles. You have Fighters, Rangers, Paladins, Clerics, Druids, Magic-Users, Illusionists, and Thieves (and optionally Assassins, Bards, and Monks), with variable hit dice and weapon damage, a complete set of spells (through 9th level for Magic-Users, 7th level, for Clerics, Druids, and Illusionists), and combat is covered in slightly more detail. Microlite74 Standard has all the features of 0e as most people played it back in the late 1970s.

Microlite74 Extended: This version has about 8 pages of actual rules (and about 15 pages of spell, monster and equipment lists). This version emulates the 0e version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game with versions of many of the house rules the author used in the late 1970s -- and uses today in his Wilderlands campaign. In includes everything Microlite74 Standard does and adds rules for character backgrounds (optional in Basic and Standard), alignment, spell casting with implements and rituals, Body Points (representing actual major wounds), a slightly more detailed combat system, more spells and monsters, and other minor rules changes. It is slightly more complex in play than Microlite74 Standard, but not considerably so.

These three games are free and is still available in all the usual places, they are now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

Free 0e Supplement Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome now on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 09:27
I decided to go ahead and try listing my free games on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow as "Pay What You Want" games. I'm starting by listing my generally forgotten 0e supplement Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome as a test. I listed it yesterday in the afternoon and it already has 31 downloads, so it seems listing items on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow does get them exposed to a different audience.

Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome is a supplement for 0e games -- either the TSR original or retroclones like Swords & Wizardry (which which it is fully compatible). It is a compilation of my 0e house rules from the late 1970s -- along with a few current day additions. Here's the "product description":

Tarnhelm’s Terrible Tome is a set of house rules for the original 1974 (0e) version of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game (and modern clones, like Swords & Wizardry). These house rules are modern renditions of the house rules the author used with his original edition games in the 1970s.

Some of house rules included:

  • A simple “skills” system based on class and background instead of lists of skills
  • A Hit Point/Body Point system where Hit Points represent fatigue and Body Points represent actual wounds.
  • Ritual Magic
  • An alternate alignment system
  • Critical Hits and Critical misses
  • A class based weapon damage system that ends class weapon restrictions.
  • An optional Armor system that ends class restrictions on wearing armor
  • An optional class: the Mnemonic Mage
  • Optional Divine Intervention rules

This digest-sized edition of Tarnhelm’s Terrible Tome is designed to be printed double-sided using the booklet-printing feature of Adobe Acrobat, the pages can be folded and stapled to create a “0e” style digest-sized booklet.


Tarnhelm's Terrible Tome is free and is still available in all the usual places, it is just now also available on DrivethruRPG/RPGNow. (If you are wondering if it is better to "donate" via paying what you want on DriveTruRPG/RPGNow or directly to my Paypal account, I see much more of the money if you donate directly to my Paypal account -- and you also get access to donor goodies.)

I'd like to thank everyone who replied to my Experiences Publishing Free Games on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow? post from a couple of weeks ago. Without the information in the replies, I would have never bothered to try this. Thank you very much!

A Microlite7x/81 Games Patreon Account?

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 10:33
A couple of my friends have suggested (very strongly suggested in one case) that I set up a Patreon account for my ongoing Microlite7x/81/etc. game design work instead of ongoing donation drives. After looking into Patreon, I am willing to consider giving this a try.

I would release 3-5 updates to the games I'm designing each month (that's 3-5 updates total each month, not 3-5 updates of each game I'm working on) and Patreons would be charged every release I make. Patreons can set a maximum donation limit each month, of course. (These releases would also be available to people who have donated to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund.) Public Betas and release versions would still be available to everyone for free, of course.

There would also be additional releases of material that would only go to Patreons if certain goals are reached. Special monsters, magic items, classes, etc. for my games that only Patreons would receive. These would sometimes be grouped together with a mini-adventure.

Is this an idea worth doing? If not, I am open to suggestions to make it "better" -- although I am limited as to what I can provide to what I can actually produce.

My wife suggested a separate Patreon campaign to support my photo to line art work. I'd release 10-15 conversions every week with Patreon support. Assuming multiple Patreon accounts are allowed, I will probably do this one. Artwork would still be released to everyone for free, Patreons would just be supporting the work and getting first access to my newest conversions.

OD&D Boxed Set Available as Legal PDF

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 06:52
Guess what I just saw on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow? The original Dungeons & Dragons Boxed Set (White Box version) is available in PDF for $9.99! Finally. Now they just need the supplements.

More Free Drawings for Old School Games

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 11:23
A few days ago i posted some line drawings I had converted from public domain illos for old school fantasy games (see Free Drawings from Photos for Old School Games). I was asked if I could do modern stuff for games like Shadowrun or Top Secret clones. I played with this in my spare time over the last couple of days and have come up with the following. My technique works for modern stuff but I think I will need to play with it more as it doesn't seem to work as well on modern stuff as I would like. Anyhow, here are a few images I did. The original picture were under a Creative Commons Zero (aka basically public domain) license -- as are my sketch conversions of them.



City Alley




City From the Air




City in the Fog




Factory Floor




Scientist working in a Lab




Spacecraft in Orbit




Used Bookstore
While I am not as happy with these as I was with the pictures I posted a few days ago, I think I will be able to improve modern conversions with practice. I think part of the problem is there is a lot more "bright and shiny" stuff in modern era photos and that gives my current conversions system issues. I know one of the pictures I tried to convert (but did not post) has lots of problems with the shiny plastic in the chairs people were sitting in.

Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive Drawing Delayed to January 24th

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 10:29
My wife takes a massive dose of steroids once a month to help her energy levels -- extreme fatigue is one of the many issues MS can cause. Unfortunately, she took them last Friday and experienced a steroid crash over the weekend. As house guests were the last thing she could handle, my Sunday game (and the donor giveaway items drawing to be held during my game) was cancelled. She is finally back to semi-normal this morning, which means it was not as bad for her as it is for some people.

She should finally be starting an expensive MS drug (fortunately almost all of the $5000-$6000 a month the drug costs (of course, it is not covered by insurance) will be covered by the drug company's program for people who aren't rich -- that's most people as few families can afford $60,000+ a year for a single drug. Of course, getting in this program has taken months. With luck this drug should make this monthly dose of steroids unnecessary. I sure hope they do as massive doses of steroids are not good for the human body.

Anyway, the drawings have been rescheduled for next Sunday's game. My apologies to Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund donors who are waiting to see if they are lucky enough to win one of the groups of giveaway items from our Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive.

On another note, my Samsung Tablet seems to be stuck in a bootloop. I rebooted it last night when it would not come out of ultra-low power mode (which I had accidentally turned on by fat-fingering a button). Even more annoying, I had just charged it to 100% and it will now not turn off. So it is sitting at the Samsung logo until it runs out of power. I suspect some of the boot data in the cache partition is corrupt. I've found a reset procedure, but the damn thing needs to be powered off to try it. Worse, it needs to be charged up to 100% before doing this and pushing the three buttons I have to push at the same time to restart it in a the special mode needed to clear the cache partition looks like it will be hard to do just right. If I don't manage, it will just start, be in the bootloop, and I'll have to wait for the battery to run down again. With my klutziness and general poor luck and I can see it taking weeks of this cycle before I manage to hit the buttons just right. I really hope I'm wrong.

Added: I've just been asked if someone donates (or donates more) before Sunday will they get chances in the drawing? I suppose so.

Free Drawings from Photos for Old School Games

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 10:13
If you look at the art in my Microlite75/78/81 games, you've probably noticed that I tend to use public domain line art, either from old books or from the sets of art Sine Nomine Games has released into the public domain. However, this means I end up reusing a lot of art from publication to publication. Given that I can't afford to pay for art as my games are freebies, this probably is not a surprise to many readers.

If I wanted to use photographs, there are literally hundreds of thousands of photo available on the web with Creative Commons Zero or other very liberal Creative Commons-style licenses that allow modification and commercial use. Unfortunately, photos really do not fit the style I'm aiming for. I have been trying programs that convert photos to sketches on and off for several years. Unfortunately, most either are so "sketchy" that you can't tell what the drawing is of or so detailed that they look more like half-toned pictures than line art. However, last week I stumbled on a program on my Android tablet that does a decent job of converting photos to drawings -- especially if I do a bit of pre-processing of the photo before I use the sketch filter.

Here are fifteen examples of photos converted I have converted to drawings by this process. The original photos had a public domain like license (that only prohibited releasing the unaltered photos as a collection). I'd like to know what people think of "drawings" like these for using in old school gaming projects. If people like them and think they would be useful for people who need free art of old school games, I will do more of them in the future. If I did 10 or 15 a week, within a few months, I could have quite a collection available. These samples are suitable for fantasy games, but I would not always limit myself to fantasy.

I understand that these drawings will not appeal to those who believe that every game (even free ones) need original art done especially for that game. However, many hobbyists designing games cannot afford this. Also, note that the originals of these images are much larger and these larger illos would be the ones I make available for people to use in their publications.





























Experiences Publishing Free Games on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow?

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Wed, 01/13/2016 - 10:08
I've been asked why my Microlite74, Microlite78, and Microlite81 games are not available on DriveThruRPG/RPGNet. I was under the impression that OBS (the parent company of those sites) frowned on people who only made free games putting them on their sites. I also thought that they required their PDFs to be formated very differently than mine -- something like the covers (both front and back) have to be before the rest of the book (which seems silly to me as it just makes the book hard to print out). I'm also not a fan of their watermark DRM -- I see no point to it on free stuff like my games.

However, I'll admit that I haven't really looked into this in several years (probably since I released since version 1.1 of Microlite74). If anyone has any recent experiences publishing free games on DriveThruRPG/RPGNet and feels like commenting on how much trouble it is (or isn't) to do so compared to just putting it up on their website, I'd much appreciate it. If you don't want to comment in public, email or a private message on Google+ is okay as well.

Thanks and a tip of my GM Viking Hat in advance!

The Winter Holidays (formerly the Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holiday giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $3500 dollars have been donated. That's 100% of our goal, however, any donations made before noon on Sunday, January 17th will still earn chances in the drawings listed above. Donate now before it is too late.

Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive -- Last Chance to Donate and enter the Giveaway Drawings

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Wed, 01/13/2016 - 09:36
Thanks to some extremely generous donations (some from family) the Winter Holidays Fund Drive has reached its goal of $3500. The drawings for the prizes listed below will be held at the next Sunday Game. Barring bad weather or other real life issues issues, that will be this Sunday, January 17th. You can still get a chance in this drawing by donating before noon on Sunday. Every $10 donated gets you one chance in each of the following donor giveaway drawings (and yes, you can win more than one -- I believe it has happened before). Donations of $25 or more also receive a sponsor listing in all the upcoming Microlite75 games.

Here are the groups of items being given away in the upcoming drawings. Each group will go to a lucky donor.

Drawing 1: S1 - Tomb of Horrors, S2 - White Plume Mountain, S3 - Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, S4 - The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

Drawing 2: All TSR Tekumel games: Empire of the Petal Throne, Legions of the Petal Throne, War of Wizards.

Drawing 3: Gamescience Tekumel Boxed Sets: Swords & Glory Volume 1, Swords & Glory Volume 2.

Drawing 4: Imperium Publishing Tekumel games: The Tekumel Journal #1 and #2, Book of Ebon Bindings, MISSUM!

Drawing 5: Adventure Games Teklumel material: Deeds of the Ever-Glorious, Tsolyani Language, Parts 1 and 2, Armies of Tekumel, Vol 1: Tsolyanu, Armies of Tekumel, Vol 2: Yan Kor and Allies.

Drawing 6: TSR early SF/F wargames: Star Probe, Star Empires, Warriors of Mars, Lankhmar, Divine Right.

There will be a separate drawing among only the top donors for a copy of the relatively rare The Artists of TSR portfolio from 1980 (containing two black and white illos from each of the following artists: Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Jim Holloway, Harry Quinn, Jim Roslof, and Tim Truman -- only a couple of hundred copies of this portfolio were printed), a shrinkwrapped copy of FEZ I, and a set of the 30 regular issues of TSR UK's Imagine magazine from the early to mid 1980s.

To get help us pay the medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Every $10 donated gets one chance in the above giveaways. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who donated (or will donate over the next few days) and made this donation drive a success. If you cannot donate but wish to help, please spread the word about my request and offer. Thank you all very much.

The Winter Holidays (formerly the Lazy Days of Summer RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holiday giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $3500 dollars have been donated. That's 100% of our goal, however, any donations made before noon on Sunday, January 17th will still earn chances in the drawings listed above. Donate now before it is too late.

Initiative, Healing, and Fairness in Old School D&D

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Wed, 01/06/2016 - 10:23
I received a complaint about group initiative in my games and in old school style games in general, I suppose. The complaint when like this: when you roll initiative every round it's possible the monsters will get two rounds of attacks in a row before the PCs can take a turn. This is unfair because it means the PCs cannot heal before the monsters get to attack again.

I blinked several times as I read this comment as it was the first time I can ever remember hearing something like this. In combat healing in old school games has always been very rare in my experience. TSR-era healing spells require the cleric to touch the person to be healed in most cases. Healing magic that works at a distance is rare. In games I've ran and played in, clerics healed between combats unless a party member was obvious about to die or something rather than both give up an attack (perhaps more than one if they have to move to the victim to touch them). Healing potions could be taken in combat, but they were always costly and requiring one not to be in melee combat to grab, open, and take safely.

I can see why some would object to rolling initiative every round as it does mean that sometimes one's enemies will get two back-to-back sets of attacks. Of course, it also means that sometimes the PCs will get two back-to-back sets of attacks before their opponents can respond. Real life combat is seldom neat and orderly and rolling initiative every round helps prevent it from being too orderly in the game.

I'm curious about in combat healing in other old school D&D (or D&D-like) games, however. I'd like to hear how often clerics or other healers cure people in the middle of combat in your games.

The Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive (formerly called the Lazy Days of Summer fund drive) is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio or a complete set of numbered issues of Imagine Magazine. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holidays giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1397 dollars have been donated. That's about 39% of our goal and about 86% of the way to the second $750 drawing trigger point.

Microlite75 2.0 Extended Draft 1 Available for Donor Download

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Thu, 12/31/2015 - 14:04
The first draft of Microlite75 2.0 Extended is now available for download in the Donor area of Microlite20 Download Library. Microlite75 2.0 Extended Draft 1 is not quite as far along as I would like thanks to a lot of real life stuff in the last week (a major fire at a neighbor's house on Christmas day, tornadoes in the area affecting some of my wife's animal rescue friends, one unscheduled doctor visit for my wife just to get a prescription renewed but it still took a morning, etc.). However, it's is far enough along for donors to see where it is going -- and I did promise something before the new year. Hey, I made it with a few hours to spare. (Yes, I known that illo is for the Standard edition, but I'm running out of time and energy.)

Microlite75 2.0 Extended is a version of Microlite74 Extended with a more standard 0e advancement and experience system. Extended adds three classes so far (Assassin, Barbarian, Monk) and the house rules I used in the late 1970s.

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors have the password that will unlock this file and may download it here:

The Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive (formerly called the Lazy Days of Summer fund drive) is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio or a complete set of numbered issues of Imagine Magazine. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holidays giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1335 dollars have been donated. That's about 38% of our goal and about 78% of the way to the second $750 drawing trigger point.

Microlite81 Rules Now Available in a Free Tablet-Friendly PDF

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Mon, 12/28/2015 - 11:29
The Microlite81 Tablet-Digest Edition has been released for free download. This should have happened about a week ago, but I forgot to upload it in all the preparations for Christmas.

For those who do not know, Microlite81 emulates the B/X version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game. The Microlite81 rules are based on the two boxed sets (Basic and Expert) published in 1981, often referred to as B/X. The rules are not intended to be a clone of the B/X rules, but rather a conversion of them to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules. Microlite81 is based on the third edition of the original Microlite74 rules.

The tablet digest version of Microlite81 is designed to be easy to read and use on tablets. Pages are digest-sized, the text is in a single column with a relatively large font (10pt Verdana). There is nothing new in this edition: material has simply been reformatted for tablet use.

The Microlite81 Tablet Digest Edition is now available for download in the Microlite20.org download area. Here is a direct link to the download: Click Here to Download: Microlite81-Silver-Tablet-Digest-Final.pdf.

The Microlite81 Extended Tablet Digest Edition will be released when we hit $1500 in donations to the Winter Holidays RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive.

I'd like to thank everyone who has donated to the Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive so far! Please keep those donations coming in.

The Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive (formerly called the Lazy Days of Summer fund drive) is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio or a complete set of numbered issues of Imagine Magazine. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holidays giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1311 dollars have been donated. That's about 37% of our goal and about 75% of the way to the second $750 drawing trigger point.

Holiday Cancer Fund Drive: $199 Away From Second Giveaway Drawing

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Sat, 12/26/2015 - 14:47
It's the day after Christmas and as I write this we need just under $200 to reach the second goal of $1500 -- and the second donor giveaway drawing. The second drawing will also include a couple of extra items which have been donated to the cause: a pdf copy of Castle Gargantua and a pdf copy of the S&W version of Rappan Athuk.

Christmas Day was a bit more eventful than I would have liked and reminded me just how much worse things can be. It was about 2pm, we had just finish Christmas dinner when we heard some type of explosion. Something (probably natural gas related) had exploded three houses up the street from us. The fire department was there quickly but natural gas was feeding the fire so they could not do much until the gas was turned off. Our neighbors had made it out of the house with their dogs but the house is a near total loss. It doesn't look too awful from the front, but it looks very bad from the back. The fire took over an hour to put out and three fire companies were on the scene. It was the worst fire house I've ever seen live (Unfortunately, this is the sixth I've seen live, although two were vacant houses.)

This reminded me that in spite of all of Donna's heath issues, we do have a lot to be thankful for. I've canceled by Sunday game for tomorrow to continue to help our neighbors save as much of their stuff as possible. However, the heavy rains now expected tonight may limit that quite a bit.

Now is a great time to donate to the Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive to help us keep our house and to get in on the second drawing as well as the future drawings described at the link above. Click that link for more information on the drive and to see the large list of items being given to lucky donors.

The Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive (formerly called the Lazy Days of Summer fund drive) is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio or a complete set of numbered issues of Imagine Magazine. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holidays giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1301 dollars have been donated. That's about 37% of our goal and about 74% of the way to the second $750 drawing trigger point.

Gift Suggestions for Your Favorite OSR Gamer

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Sat, 12/19/2015 - 09:43
If you are looking for a Christmas present for an OSR gamer or would like to spend some of your Christmas cash on yourself, here are some of my favorite newish OSR products on RPGNow/DriveThruRPG. There have been a large number of very good OSR products released this year, the following as some of my favorites:

White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying: Take Swords & Wizardry White Box and mix it with Star Wars-favored Traveller and you get White Star. I easy to modify very basic science fiction RPG that is compatible with Swords & Wizardry White Box. This game leaves a lot to the GM (including how interstellar travel works) as it does not provide or even assume a specific setting. Some people hate this, but most OSR gamers I know love it as much (or more) than I do. A PDF is $10 well spent, IMHO.

White Lies: White Lies is another Swords & Wizardry White Box based game. This game takes the simple S&W White Box system into the world of espionage and paramilitary action and adventure. If you enjoyed TSR's old Top Secret game, you'll probably like White Lies. The system is very different from Top Secret as it is based on 0e, but it is just as much fast-moving fun.

PX1 Basic Psionics Handbook: This is a very nice psionics system for OSR games. While it is written for Labyrinth Lord, it would be easy to adapt to any version of TSR D&D. It includes 2 classes, over 100 psionic powers, a working psionic combat system and more. This is one of the best takes on psionics in D&D I've seen and since my Empire of Arn setting has a lot of psionics in it, I've seen just about everything psionics and D&D starting with Eldritch Wizardry.

CC1 Creature Compendium: Over 200 monsters for Labyrinth Lord and other OSR games for only $2.00. While I would not use some of the monsters, most of them are interesting and useful. At less than a penny per monster, it's a bargain.

Dark Albion: The Rose War: Take England during the War of the Roses mixed with sorcery, demons and fae, and frog-like beings living in France. Okay, the latter bugs me a bit (like Ducks do in Glorantha) but doesn't stop me from enjoying the setting. Most of the book is system neutral, but their are appendixes with gaming info for OSR games including the publisher's excellent Fantastic Heroes & Witchery.

Castle Gargantua: This is a very usual (and huge) OSR dungeon. Dungeon generator might be a better description. The dungeon itself is a huge building as tall as the Empire State Building with over three million square feet of huge rooms and corridors -- huge as in scaled for giants. I don't think I can do better than the product description -- "Its rooms and corridors are so huge that condensation clouds of mist hover within and that it rains inside sometimes. There are miniature tornadoes in the spiral stairs and strong drafts of wind when the corridors are slightly sloped. If a curtain would fall, its weight alone would smash a dozen men to a pulp." Definitely something different. However, it is more of a generation system than a already laid out and described room-by-room adventure. Although there are a few detailed sample areas.

The Golden Scroll of Justice: This is a supplement for adding wuxia/kung fu action based on Chinese mythology and folklore to old school games. There are two new races, two new classes (and guidelines for using more standard classes in the setting), new magic and monsters, a "kung fu" system and more -- all modular so you can add only what you want to you game.

Note: I am an OBS affiliate, so if you purchase something through one of the above RPGNow links, I get a small commission.
The Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive (formerly called the Lazy Days of Summer fund drive) is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio or a complete set of numbered issues of Imagine Magazine. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holidays giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1257 dollars have been donated. That's about 35% of our goal and about 66% of the way to the second $750 drawing trigger point.

Microlite75 2.0 Standard Draft 1 (and Basic Draft 2) Available for Donor Download

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Wed, 12/16/2015 - 11:50
The first draft of Microlite75 2.0 Standard is now available for download in the Donor area of Microlite20 Download Library. As is the second draft of Microlite75 2.0 Basic.

Microlite75 2.0 Standard is a version of Microlite74 Standard with a more standard 0e advancement and experience system. Standard adds the thief, illusionist, druid, assassin, ranger, and paladin classes. There are a few other changes such as spellcasters must memorize their spells, new dungeon and wilderness guidelines, stronghold construction rules, etc. This is a draft, but it is fairly complete -- just not proofread.

The second draft of Microlite75 Basic. It adds expanded material on adventuring and switchews to the new turn undead system among other changes.

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors have the password that will unlock these files and may download them here:
The Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive (formerly called the Lazy Days of Summer fund drive) is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio or a complete set of numbered issues of Imagine Magazine. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holidays giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1141 dollars have been donated. That's about 32% of our goal and about 51% of the way to the second $750 drawing trigger point.

New Turn Undead System for Microlite75

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Mon, 12/14/2015 - 12:45
I've never been happy with the Microlite20-based system for turning undead that I used in Microlite74.

From Microlite74 3.0 Basic: "A Cleric can Turn Undead with a successful Magic Attack. DC is 10 + twice the Hit Dice of the undead. One undead flees per point over the roll needed. This can be used (2 + Level + MIND bonus) times per day."

It avoids the need for a table, but really doesn't feel that much like turning undead in 0e. Undead can only be turned. They are never destroyed as they can be in 0e. The number of undead turned depends on how well the player rolls on the turn attempt instead of being a random 2d6 undead.

I remember seeing a system where you rolled 2d6 and added twice the difference between the cleric's level and the undead's hit die, but that seems a bit "too much math" to be fun for many people. Looking at the formula, it looked like rolling 1d6 plus the difference between the cleric's level and the undead's hit dice (or 1d6 + Cleric Level - Undead Hit Dice) would be more or less equivalent but with less math. I started with a roll of 4 or higher needed to turn 2d6 undead and 8 or higher needed to destroy 2d6 undead. This worked, but roll 4+ was inconsistent with the roll 5+ system I've decided to use for things like surprise and perception (the same as the 0e roll 1-2 on a d6 but inverted to make using modifiers easier).

The final system I came up with was roll 1d6 + Cleric Level - Undead Hit Dice. If the result is 5 or higher, 2d6 undead are turned. If the modifier turns out to be +4 or higher (i.e. automatic success), then 2d6 undead are destroyed. While this does not give exactly the same as the table in 0e, it does not require a table and gives results much closer to 0e than the Microlite74 method. We tested in system in my game yesterday and it seemed to work while being easy to use.

Unless I hear a lot of objections to this system, I will probably use it in Microlite75 2.0.

The Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive (formerly called the Lazy Days of Summer fund drive) is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio or a complete set of numbered issues of Imagine Magazine. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holidays giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1122 dollars have been donated. That's about 32% of our goal and about 49% of the way to the second $750 drawing trigger point.

Microlite75 2.0 Basic Draft 1 Available for Donor Download

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Wed, 12/09/2015 - 14:35
The first draft of Microlite75 2.0 Basic is now available for download in the Donor area of Microlite20 Download Library.

While this is a first draft, the game is really ready to go (except for proofreading, layout, and a final decision on how I am going to handle saving throws). The Microlite20-based level advancement and experience systems of Microlite74 have been replaced with systems much more similar to those of 0e (similar to how Microlite81 handled things). Charisma has been added as a fourth stat -- it is really too important to old school gaming to leave out. Morale Ratings have been added for monsters. Group initiative is now standard -- with individual initiative optional -- reversing how it was in Microlite74 Basic. Spellcasters have to memorize spells. Saving Throws are currently handled by a one throw system somewhat like S&W, but I may switch to a more standard 0e system.

RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors have the password that will unlock this file and may download it here: Microlite75-Basic-20-DRAFT-1

The Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive (formerly called the Lazy Days of Summer fund drive) is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio or a complete set of numbered issues of Imagine Magazine. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holidays giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1089 dollars have been donated. That's about 31% of our goal and about 44% of the way to the second $750 drawing trigger point.

It Really Is Okay to Just Say "No"

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog - Mon, 12/07/2015 - 14:23
A popular (and relatively new from my old-timer point of view) GM meme goes something "Always say 'yes' or 'yes but'" with a strongly implied never say no. Personally, I think this is some of the worst GMing advice I've ever heard as there are times when saying anything but "no" is going to seriously hurt a game session or even a campaign.

For example, players who want to play characters who do not fit the campaign premise or the campaign's setting need to be firmly told "no" as allowing characters who do not fit the campaign is going to make the campaign less fun for the GM and probably less fun for at least some of the other players. As a GM you should not feel you are somehow obligated to accept every character concept a player comes up with or to change the campaign setting or premise to compromise with a player. If a character does not fit the campaign premise, the setting, the play style of the rest of the group, or uses rules that you as GM do not want to use, don't feel bad about rejecting the character outright. Do not feel an obligation to compromise with the player over a poorly fitting character concept unless such a compromise does not interfere with the campaign.

Another example, some things are simply impossible to do as they violate the "physics" of the campaign world. While a character running fast enough that time flows backward might be acceptable in a high-powered comic book superhero game, it's going to be simply not possible in the average fantasy or spy campaign. While this is an extreme example, I found over the years that players often come up with ideas that are just impossible -- and they need to be firmly told "no, you can't do that" when they do. Saying "yes" or even "yes, but" when something is actually impossible leads to all sorts of problems. A more reasonable example would be a character with a lot of skill in diplomacy trying to use a skill roll to talk an NPC enemy ruler into doing something that no one in their right mind would agree to (like turn control of the country's army over to the enemy PC). It doesn't matter how skilled one is in diplomacy, no sane person is going to agree to something like that unless he is under the influence of drugs, magic, blackmail, or the like so the character is effectively trying to do something that is simply not possible: no matter what they roll, the attempt should fail. Some cases where people see "broken rules" are really fine as the rule in question is only broken if the GM never says "no, that's impossible."

Saying "yes" or "yes but" when you can is a good idea. However, when "when you can" becomes "always", I've found it to be a very bad idea. Think before you say "yes" (or before you say "no" for that matter) -- don't let some "rule of good GMing" (that someone made up) force you to say "yes" when saying "yes" is actually a bad idea. This is even more true in old school games.

The Winter Holidays Cancer Fund Drive (formerly called the Lazy Days of Summer fund drive) is on. Every $10 donated gives you one chance to win a one of the many early D&D, Empire of the Petal Throne, and early TSR games items items described in the above-linked post. Multiple drawings will be held as described in the above linked post. The highest donors will have a separate chance to receive an Artists of TSR portfolio or a complete set of numbered issues of Imagine Magazine. Donate $25 or more to be listed as a sponsoring donor in upcoming Microlite75 2.0 games. These are in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. To get help us pay our medical bills (and to get access to some special downloads and possibly the above mentioned Winter Holidays giveaway items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!

As of the time of this post $1089 dollars have been donated. That's about 31% of our goal and about 44% of the way to the second $750 drawing trigger point.

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