Microlite81 Complete Public Beta Available for Download

Microlite81 Complete is intended to be standard Microlite81 with more complete descriptions of spells, monsters, and magic items and a few extras like an example of play and instructions for GMs which will hopefully make the game more friendly to players with less experience with old school gaming. Microlite81 Complete allows the GM to select which version of the "core game rules" to use (the standard B/X-like rules from Microlite81 or the B/X-like rules with the author's house rules from the early 1980s added as in Microlite81 Extended).

This is a public beta version which the author beliefs to be feature complete. It needs (at a minimum) proofreading, layout and artwork before it will be ready for formal release. If you notice typos, missing material, or the like, please let the author know.

Microlite81 Complete is now available for download in PDF format in the Microlite20.org download area. Here is direct download link: Click Here to Download: Microlite81-Complete-Public-Beta.pdf. (If this link does not work, the beta is no longer available because a release candidate or the final version is available.)

2015: Many New Versions of Microlite74

When I last had access to this version of the site, Microlite74 2.0 was the latest version of Microlite74. Since then, A lot of new Microlite74 material has come out. The current edition is 3.0 and there are a number of companions and variant versions available. Microlite74 is a family of free old school tabletop roleplaying games produced by RetroRoleplaying.com. 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 based on the original 1974 edition of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game filtered through the rules light Microlite20 version of the third edition of the rules system. 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.

There are three major versions of Microlite74: Basic which is similar to the original 3 little booklets in the 0e boxed set, Standard which is similar to 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, and Extended which includes everything in Microlite74 Standard does and adds the 0e house rules the author was using in the late 1970s.

Microlite74 Companion volumes add optional rules and optional expansions to the Microlite74 system. There are currently five Companion volumes: Companion I: Optional Rules, Companion II: Treasure, Companion III: More Optional Rules, Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters, and Companion V: First Edition Spells. These volumes provide many optional rules as well as more complete descriptions of treasure, monsters, and spells. Using Companions IV and V along with the Microlite74 Standard or Extended rules provides a "first edition"-like experience (instead of the original "0e" edition).

Finally, there are special versions of [i]Microlite74[/i] designed to provide a specific "feel" for specific types of campaigns. Currently, two special versions are available. Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is Microlite74 Extended with many special rules designed for swords & sorcery style campaigns. Microlite74 Special Version I was designed for a specific campaign setting for a Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund contributor who graciously allowed us to make the rules available to everyone (stripped of specific information on his campaign world).

Microlite74 and Eberron

Today I ran a one-shot for a friend using Eberron and Microlite74. It was a weird blend of conflicting designs that didn't end up running very smoothly. Microlite74, of course, focuses on tweaking Microlite to resemble old-school brown-box OD&D -- about as old-school as you can get. I would describe it as almost of a gritty feel. Eberron, OTOH, is inspired by movies like Indiana Jones -- several steps beyond high fantasy into a sort of pulp and dark adventure feel.

My friend started off by rolling up an elf -- acting as a M-U. The adventure started as the intrepid elf stumbled across a body on one of the skyways of Sharn (I was adapting the sample aventure from the back of the Eberron campaign setting for this game). There was a satchel in the corpse's hand, and as the elf looked through it, a warforged swung up from one side of the bridge and demanded the satchel with a drawn battleaxe.

Two combat rounds later, my friend was rolling up his *second* character (In a regular 3.5 game, I would have expected the PCs to kill or drive off the warforged miscreant within two rounds -- not get slain and have to restart with a new character!), this time a dwarf fighter who heard screams of "Murder!" and "Summon the watch!" from a nearby tower. Investigating, he stumbled across the same crime scene. Some poor elf was murdered!

...oh, and there might have been some other body there, too. Or something. So much for the nominal adventure plot.

From there, we had a bit of intrigue with a mysterious cloaked figure giving a hint to a clandestine meeting in the back of a tavern, a patron handing out a quest to retrieve a MacGuffin to the befuddled dwarf, and a boisterous dwarven cleric drinking buddy coming along for the ride.

Going into the dungeon, the scrappy dwarves got themselves ambushed by a pair of shifters and another warforged. That turned out to be a pretty easy fight. While the PC and his NPC ally were both wounded, they won, so they had an easy time retreating and healing back to full HP to continue on. This was another definite jarring moment -- the adventure had a bit about fighting in the sewers, valves opening, and water flows affecting the battlefield, but we weren't using minis for combat, so I wasn't sure how to incorporate that into the fight. Also, one of the 0e retroclone themes is 'exploration and treasure hunting above simply killing things' -- and this segment was geared more towards having a simple speed bump combat on the way to the goal (though the bit with the water flows looked cool, if only I could have incorporated it...).

Beyond that, the party ran into a trapped door -- when opened, magic symbols shot acid in front of door. Party got zapped three times before they bypassed it by pushing the door open with a 10' pole! They completely missed the (admittedly subtle) clues about touching a journal in their possession to the symbol on the middle of the door in order to deactivate the trap.

From there, they went down a vertical shaft that gradually angled to the horizontal. First they dropped a corpse from the shifter/warforged fight first, then a torch with a rope tied to it (burned part of the rope off before they hauled it back up and doused it in sewage, ew), then they rappelled down themselves.

At the bottom, they came to a large rubble-strewn chamber. Another short combat ensued where a beetle swarm rushed forth to defend its nest -- they had to retreat and distract the swarm to avoid dying -- and finally the party made it to the peaceful-looking ruins of an ancient temple. They didn't search very thoroughly, so they missed the holy water font (the remaining water acts as three Cure Light Wounds potions), and that's where we broke off the game due to time constraints.

There really were a lot of jarring "oops, these don't mesh well" moments. In the future, I doubt I'll use Eberron as a Microlite setting -- it seems like it requires too much time and effort to reconcile competing design themes.

Working on Microlite74 2.0

I'm finally working on the long-awaited "revised and expanded" Microlite74 2.0. You can follow progress, comment, and make suggestions on my Microlite74 board at Retroroleplaying.com. There will not be a lot of changes to the current M74 rules, but there will be a number of new optional rules and the monster list is being completely reworked to be much closer to 0e and 0e retroclones.

Microlite20 Psionics!

From the pen of San Kim comes Microlite20 Psionics, a 'litified rendition of the SRD Psionics rules complete with the Psion and Psychic Warrior classes, Powers, Items and Monsters!

Download it here.

UPDATE: San has revised this document further, making it even smaller (in the best Microlite tradition), added additional credits and a shiny updated layout and logo. If you've already downloaded it, grab it again for the update!

UPDATE 2: Now available in handy pocketmod format!

Download the Psionics Pocketmod Download the Powers Pocketmod

Microlite20 VERMIN

Tooth and claw in the streets! "Could you be just a little more quiet, Barkhead," growled Trom, the rat. "It's not like we're begging to get noticed or anything."

Barkhead snickered, "Sure... like there's anything awake in this alley in the middle of the night. Let's just go in, grab the ham and get out. I don't even know why I'm helping you guys. I don't even eat ham."

"Because, you, you, you're our friend," squeaked the little mouse sneak Keiter. "And, and, we smelled pine nuts. Promise."

Barkhead scrambled up the wall unto the windowsill. "Ok... grab this rope and get up here," he said, concentrating for a moment. "... ... ...," he appeared to scream. "... ... ...

Get the pdf here, by copycat042.

Moving the blog

I've decided to move my RPG blog to here: http://oldguyrpg.blogspot.com/ I'm not giving up on microlite20! I'll still be here adding stuff to the Macropedia and participating, but I wanted to get some blogging going on where I could customize the look/feel and do some things that Drupal doesn't support. Greywulf's been nothing short of wonderful and I greatly appreciate his hospitality of my ramblings here.

I've moved some of my older posts there. Anything related to m20, the m20chargen and m20npcgen will still be posted here!

Long live microlite!

Critical/Fumble rolls and injuries

I've discovered the blog "The Tao of D&D" and [url=http://tao-dnd.blogspot.com/2008/10/hit-points.html]this post on injuries[/url] got me to thinking. I know that I'm not as learned as some on the fine arts of D&D, but one thing I do appreciate are light rules and quick gameplay. There's alot that can go on in combat, and when there are opportunities to inject some additional role playing elements into it, I'll take those opportunities, but not at the expense of making the game harder or more rules bound.

The idea of someone suffering a broken arm, or potentially loss of limb, makes combat a bit more precarious. The problem is, as pointed out in that post, how to incorporate "injury" into combat. Do you put some sort of "alternate" HP in place? Do you do something like D&D4e, which has the concept of "blooded" (1/2 total HP loss, if I remember correctly)?

Since I like simple, and I'm sure everyone has done something like this at some point, I thought tie bad injuries to fumbles and criticals.

I have a list of possible effects and I randomly choose one, so I'm going to add the broken/useless/loss-of limb effect.

Playing an OD&D Solo Game with my wife

In the tradition of Oakspar7777 (http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=471897), I thought I would put down some of my thoughts, ideas and game replays of an OD&D campaign I'm running with my wife. It's a one-on-one game, using a mashup of microlite74, OD&D according to the Little Brown Books and Holmes Basic, as well as Swords & Wizardry and some house rules. My wife played D&D as a teenager in highschool, much as I did, although I've spoken a bit about my history as an RPG'er on this blog. [[Read more to read the full blog story]] I wanted to come up with something for my wife that would be easy to play, and yet fairly filled out and quick for me to convert to microlite74, so the sample dungeon (1st level of the Tower of Zenopus) from the back of the Holmes basic book was my test. If she likes it, then I'll move to converting the 1st level of a dungeon I created for a campaign that I've bounced around my skull and various maps called "The Vale." It's something I've semi-fleshed out and have started the same "intro" adventure a couple of times with various people under various rulesets. This time, I'm making it stick!

The first game went pretty well, and pretty quick, which I mentioned here: http://www.microlite20.net/node/104 . During the week, I asked my wife a little bit more about the type of game she wanted to play. "Oh, I like to bash heads in" she replied and my heart warmed - I knew there was a reason I loved this woman - she likes to get into the dirty dungeons and play whack-a-goblin! I went through some questions/answers (based on Oakspar's list of questions to get an idea of what kind of game a player might enjoy) and based on her answers, I think my Vale campaign idea will still fit the bill. She wants to dungeon delve, but as she gets more confident with the rules and the flow of the game, more role playing. She would enjoy mid-level fantasy (think Tolkein/Conan), mid-power magic, she likes the thought of a low powered game where the characters struggle and fight to succeed, she'd like all sorts of tones from dark to light, and she's good with a lot of gore.

Now these questions were more about "plot" than they were about my settings. The dungeons are going to be the dungeons, but the campaign that I wrap around them is where the plot and story come in. She's also fully aware that death is fairly easy to happen (as she saw in the game we just played) and that survival will be more about luck and her wits than any sort of powers found on her character sheet. The really cool thing is that she really doesn't have any sort of "bias" or pre-existing expectation, so in a way, I am really taking her through a learning curve. That's somewhat scary, as I'm in a (re)learning curve myself at being a DM.

So we've come up with a short history of her character (or characters that she might play, depending on if her character survives) but that's about it.

So... on with the game.

We started off with her character, Aeli, counting the spoils of their first 2 room dive into the ruins of Zenopus's Tower. Everyone had survived, aside from the torch/loot bearer fainting after the combat with the ghouls. Aeli was off to spend some of her hard earned loot. She bought a bow/arrows/quiver combo, although she was really ripped off by the merchant! 75gp for a set that would have cost 50 at list, but she didn't barter, so the merchant closed his shop early that day!

He did feel expansive enough to tell her that after their first dive into the Tower, a bit of fame had spread about them. He also gave her some information on the recent history of the tower - namely that it hadn't been explored in recent memory, and that everyone was nervous about the strange lights and the dark figures dancing on the top of the fallen tower's roof. (My wife was a bit unsure of 'talking' to the merchant, so I gave her some benefit of doubt and encouragement and she got into the spirit of asking questions.) Her history has some bad feelings about mages, so she quizzed the merchant about the NPC that I've had go along with her, Tironell. The merchant knew nothing.

After that, she went back to the Inn to meet up with the band for another day of tower diving. Unfortunately, the hirelings/men-at-arms were busy drinking down their pay and boasting of their exploits, so now EVERYONE wanted to go with Aeli. Aeli also wanted to renegotiate the shares/payment arrangement with Tironell - since she'd proven her mettle, she didn't want to pay for the hirelings on her own! After a bit of back and forth, Tironell agreed to split the cost. She decided to hire one more man-at-arms and rehire the 3 from earlier and off they went.

(I asked her if she wanted to hire more men, and she wasn't sure, so I use my NPC to drop hints and suggestions, but I'm also making it clear that she's the one that decides. When she's tried to put the NPCs/hirelings "in charge", I play them in a way so that she feels like she's the one to make decisions. She's starting to get the hang of it.)

They found the entrance again, and once again, stepped into the dark corridors. At first, she wanted the hirelings to go in front, but they were really reluctant to do so, so Aeli agreed to be in the front. Muahahaha.

(My wife started making simple maps - and I repeated some of the advice that I've read elsewhere about not going crazy with the maps, as long as it's useful for her to find her way back out. She seemed reassured by that.)

The group reached the first, and familiar, 4 way intersection after the stairs and she decided they would go forward. After listening and opening a door to an empty room, she then just yanked open the following door across the way (no listening or preparation) and came face to face with 5 goblins that had heard her open the first door and were fully prepared to do battle. (As soon as she told me she was opening the door and I started to speak, I saw a look of "Oh crap, that was a bad idea!" come across her face. Experience is the best teacher at times...)

Thus began the first parlay of Aeli with goblins. Tironell, by dint of his Intelligence (and a quick on the spot ruling by myself), could speak some goblinish and was able to translate the conversation. The goblins demanded that the party leave. She demanded that they let the party through. The goblins replied that they could pass, once, if they paid 15 gold. After a quick discussion with the NPCs, Aeli offered 8, which the goblins took, but the goblins warned the party to not return. Aeli decided they would take the door opposite the one they came in. Aeli asked the goblins what was behind the door and the goblin leader smirked "What you deserve..."

What was behind the door was a very small 15 foot long corridor with another door. As soon as the party was in the corridor (and the hireling/mage were in the open doorway of the goblin room) the goblins rushed the door, pushed everyone into the corridor by slamming it shut behind them and began hammering spikes into the door.

So now Aeli and 5 other people are squished into a 15 ft by 10 ft area. Listening at the door was difficult, and she heard nothing obvious, so Aeli opened the door (it swung into the room) and her and one of the hirelines were basically pushed into the room by the press of people.

Unfortunately, the giant spider that was lurking in the ceiling of the room heard the noises and based on random roll, jumped on the hireling instead of her. The spider missed and combat was joined.

(This was where I took the time to give my wife some suggestions about tactics. She would have stayed at the doorway, preventing the other men-at-arms an opportunity to attack, so I suggested she let the rest in. We were using dice as miniatures at this point, and once she saw how things were stacked up, she spent a turn moving [m74 combat turns are one action - move or attack or cast] - now maybe that's a bit of too much hand-holding, but I also saw this as a good way of giving her some things to think about without telling her what to do. I hope I'm not leading her too much by the hand, but I also don't want her to get too frustrated, so I'm walking a balance that I'm probably not good at walking. Anyone else have comments on teaching someone about tactics?)

A couple of rounds of misses, and then Aeli scored a critical hit (natural 20), so I let her roll another die of damage (just an on the spot ruling, since she had rolled a 1 damage) and described how her arrow had pierced one of the eyes of the spider and ripped through it's head to come out the other side through another eye. The spider lost a great deal of hit points, but was still around. Unfortunately, the next two rounds were disastrous for the party.

One of the hirelings rolled a 1 and his sword went sailing across the room. The spider then scored a hit and proceeded to rip out the hireling's throat, killing him. The next round, Aeli herself fumbled (natural 1) and her bowstring broke. The spider bit another hireling and he failed his saving throw - died from poison. Things were looking pretty bleak when the mage NPC finally scored with a tossed flask and torch and now the room was lit with the flames of a burning spider. Another hireling managed to land the killing blow and now the room was filled with the fumes of charred arachnid and the sight of 2 dead hirelings. After a quick search of the room, the party had to decide what to do.

(At this point, my wife was pretty surprised at how fast things could seesaw back and forth. I also started asking her to be more explicit in how she was doing things. Instead of "I'm searching the room.", I asked her how and where she was searching. No die rolls, in the spirit of OD&D. That meant that because she didn't poke around the remains of the spider, she missed a +1 dagger. But that's how it is...)

Aeli wanted to move on into the dungeon, but I role played the NPC mage who protested that "we've lost a third of our party, we're stuck exploring an area that we don't know about, and you want us to push on?" Aeli wanted to know how only 2 fighters and a mage could take on 5 goblins and a spiked door. Tironell mentioned that he might be able to dispatch some of them with a spell, allowing her and the other man-at-arms better odds.

So the party stripped the hirelings of their gear (and Aeli took back the gold she'd spent on hiring them - rather cold blooded, my wife is!) and went back to the now spiked door.

(My wife wasn't sure what to do at this point, so I pointed to the swinging door that lies between our kitchen and dining room and asked her how she would get that door open if she were on one side and I was on the other keeping it from opening. She thought about it, and said she'd try to push it open and maybe put her shoulder into it. So I suggested she try it.)

Aeli put her shoulder into the door and it gave a bit. Encouraged, Aeli and the remaining man-at-arms put their shoulders into the door and started ramming into it. A quick roll of a d6 to see how many times it would take, and two pushes shoved the spiked door open (apparently the goblins didn't do a very good job).

Of course, the goblins were waiting in a battle formation and combat ensued. The mage put two of the goblins to sleep, one of the goblins fumbled and ended up on his back, but managed to avoid getting hit and two goblins were slain by Aeli. The fumbling goblin attempted to flee, but because he had to open doors, Aeli caught up with him and sliced him in half.

After recovering their 8gp toll on the goblin leader, a discussion between Aeli and mage was about what to do with the sleeping goblins. Aeli wanted to kill them - "They'll be here when we come back!" and Tironell was reluctant to. He pointed out that they were more than likely to not hang around, but Aeli said "They might come back with friends [DM Note - oh yes they will!!! Muahahaha!] Tironell managed to convince Aeli to just tie them up, so she did and then she explored the room.

She found several sacks of thousands of copper and a mysterious glass vial with a substance inside and an unlocked, closed chest. Once again, not thinking, Aeli flipped the lid open, only to be surrounded by a green gas. Aeli made her Fortitude Save (microlite74 mechanic) and the mage wryly observed that she should be a bit more cautious next time. Inside the chest was more treasure, a few hundred silver. After loading down the poor bearer (who is rightfully named Nodwig), the party returned to the surface and ended the game.

With this intro game, I wanted my wife to learn a few things - and after the game, we talked about it. She figured out that jumping into things is going to get her killed, even though she likes to play headstrong. If you ever get to know my wife, you'd say "well, that's not a surprise!" *laugh* I praised her for parlaying with the goblins, and she said "Well, they weren't attacking, so we weren't." She also likes the quick combat pace - the spider combat lasted the longest at about 3 to 5 minutes. So, so far, her introduction to OD&D is going well.

Now what I have to decide is: - How do they get the glass vial identified? (I'm thinking that they could find a sage or wizard who might do it for a fee... ) - How the town will deal with the rumors that the hirelings will bring back of death from above, goblins and danger in the tower - and the lure of treasure. There might be another adventure group forming? Competition?

I also have some plot ideas based on my wife's backstory for Aeli. Aeli's recent history was filled with a terrible tragedy and one that has left her with a single purpose in life - revenge. She was of a rich noble family. The family was rumored to have held great secrets from an ancient relative who had brought them to their noble status. A mage befriended Aeli, seeking to take advantage of her naivetee, to gain access to these secrets?

After learning how best to infiltrate the family's home, he did so, seeking the scrolls. He attacked the home with many hirelings and a horrific battle ensued between the bandits and her family's men-at-arms. They were eventually overcome. The mage could not find the ancient secrets, and he killed the majority of her family (some where not present during the attack) trying to get the information on where the scrolls were kept.

Aeli was not at the family estate, as she had been away preparing for her impending marriage. Upon learning of the attack, she ran off from her family and fiancee to track down the mage and make him pay.

Now the cool thing is that if Aeli dies, and she wants to keep this plot going, her 'replacement' could be a sister, or brother, or cousin or a friend of the family's.

I've also got the BBEG all planned out - Calypso, who may or may not be what he seems. He seduced Aeli to get to the ancient knowledge... but is he keeping tabs on Aeli? What is he? What does he want? I am plotting that out, and the nice thing is that my Vale setting was vague enough that Calypso and Aeli will fit right in.

So far, running solo works out nice! I'm really trying hard to make sure that my wife is the decision maker and I'm only giving suggestions when she's really stuck, or there's a teaching moment, like with battle tactics. I'm letting her learn the hard way, like with yanking open doors and chests - but also providing some food for thought - like when she wanted to keep going with half her party's fighting ability taken out by the spider.

There's more to Zenopus's Tower example, but once she's done first level, I think I'll have the plot present an opportunity for her to pursue her story, or keep going in Zenopus's Tower. We'll see.

Old School vs. "New School" D&D

Just my opinion. Old school D&D has the emphasis on the setting. Megadungeons, fantastic castles, Tombs of horror and Temples of evil - these were the things that players hurled themselves against to gain gold, glory and the satisfaction of saying "I survived."

Makes sense when you look at it from the aspect of a wargamer - wargames are about surviving the scenario. The scenario is all - players are merely units to perform orders and fight battles to see who will overcome the whole of the scenario. You might make history, you might rewrite history.

Of course, that simplifies things to a great degree, but I think it's a valid point - and explains why the rules were about rulings, but the dungeon/wilderness were emphasized.

Fast forward to New school D&D. This has the emphasis on the player's experience. Supermages, fantastic fighters, dealers of spells and might. These players complete quest after quest, gaining levels and even more power ups.

Makes sense when you look at the far reaching market of RPGs today. These are people who grew up with CRPGs, video games, movies bringing formerly imagined stories to life and literally huge fantasy worlds involving millions of people. The rules for min/maxing a person to start out as a superhero rule. This also simplifies the modern gaming experience, but again, I think it's a valid point.

Neither is better than the other in the sense that at the end of the day, if you're having fun, then it's a Good Thing.

For me, I grew up on the old school. I like the old school feel and the old school spirit.

Microlite20, purest essence

Paul Lessack has kindly contributed a beautifully laid-out version of Microlite20. Weighing in at 17 pages, it's a 1.4Mb pdf that's as close to my vision of a complete professional Edition of Microlite20 as I've seen to date. It includes Character Generation, Combat, Advancement, Monsters, Equipment, Spells and the full Expert rules and GM Guide too!

Download it here.

DM'ing a newbie and Dragon humor

I'm about 3 years late coming to this thread, and it's not as "old school" oriented as, say, Grognardia; however, this thread http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=471897 is one of the most informative, thought provoking and well written threads on the fine art of DM'ing as I've ever seen. I've spent the last 2 hours reading it and I'm maybe halfway through. Amazing stuff. Incidentally, the Dragon humor came from someone's signature in that thread, I don't know whom to credit, so I'll just say it came from this [url=http://forums.gleemax.com/member.php?u=377918]participant's profile[/url]: [b]Why Dragons Should Never Lose[/b]

-You think you have the element of surprise, By the time you reach my lair, I'll have figured out what you're capable of by watching your progress through my traps and guards. If a snot-nosed wizard with a meager 15 Int is smart enough to cast alarm before he goes to bed, what makes your think my lair won't be coated with it?

-Your casting spells and wielding weapons with my elemental weakness? Okay, I cast protection from elements, or If my DM owns the draconomicon, take a few feats and eliminate it.

-Oh, you've got a a beefy min/maxed fighter of one hit killage. I can fly

-Oh You've got ranged weapons Protection from arrows

-Oh, You've got the flight spell on fighter now Bull rush him into the ground, preferably the same tile as one of your allies

-Oh, You're rogue can dodge my fire breath 95% of the time Chomp

-Oh, Your wise enough to protect your arcane spellcaster Fly, Chomp

-Oh, Your fighter has a high AC and lots of health Burn

-Oh, Your cleric is healing everyone Grapple, fly 300-400 ft. in the air, release (and hope the arcane caster is dumb enough to waste his featherfall on the fool).

-Oh, I'm down to about a 3rd of my health I'll just fly off to one of my emergency back up lairs where I keep multiple healing potions in edible bottles which I obviously had the foresight to prepare ahead of time given my 20+ INT. Once I'm healed, your dead.

-Oh, I'm down to a 3rd of my health, and you've undermined my resources. I'll retreat. Even your hasted monk has a dice's chance in mechanius of keeping up with an airborne dragon taking double move. And once I'm healed up... You'll NEVER be able to sleep safely again...

Magic Fumbles

In discussing Magic Attacks vis-a-vis microlite20/74's "Magic Attack" mechanic, the subject of "natural 1s/20s" came up. If you are performing a Magic Attack (that subject itself has caused a bit of discussion when/how to use in the [url=http://forum.microlite20.net/]microlite forums[/url]), and the player rolls a natural 1/20, the GM might decide to invoke a houserule of fumble/critical hit. This opens up a HUGE amount of possibility, especially depending on how the GM approaches the use of magic in his/her campaign. Is magic like 'technology' and more of a tool, rather than a force to be reckoned with? Is magic a wild and unnatural thing, and the possibility of a fumble could be an Ultimate Bad Thing and a critical hit an Ultimate Yesss-I-Feel-The-Power! moment?

I did a quick search on Google (fumble spell chart) and found [url=http://www.nihsen.com/Ironwood/Fumble_Chart.doc]this interesting set of weapon/magic fumble/critical charts[/url] (Microsoft Word Document) by David Nihsen. I've copied them locally, in case his server or this link ever dies, but in case I want to indulge the Great RNG in its Divine Randomness, these charts are very thought provoking! Not all of the mechanics are quickly translated to m20/74, but they give a lot of options towards your own fumble ideas.

91-98 Magic shoots out of caster’s nose like a sneeze. Caster loses nose. CHR is at 10%.

Bwah!

The carrion birds are already circling...

My D&D module Ultima 1 recreation is dead. Long live Ultima 1! Back early this year, I worked hard on an implementation of Ultima 1. I had the world of Sosaria written out. I had maps. I had a game flowchart, an outline, a schedule of events in the world, I had hooks, main quests, sub-quests. I had a freakin' SPREADSHEET with every encounter, gold piece, treasure item and monster tied to macros and calculations to make sure that everything was "balanced" and that the CRs worked out and that the likelihood of leveling would allow someone to go to the next area. I even had flowcharts for if the PCs really screwed things up and failed quests - I hadn't written out those story lines, but I was ready for it. This thing was *tight*...

... except that it was really suited for a computer game and not a role playing game. (Continued in full view) Sure, I could have run this, and it would have been a nice railroad. But what if the characters had told Lord British to take a flying hike? What if instead of performing the tasks to get the required gems, they stayed at home, or worse, went on a dungeon raiding spree to get gold? What if they decided to let Monitor fall to the army besieging it? What if, for some reason, they just didn't care that Mondain was about to lay waste to the countryside, they wanted to just protect the forests and the city of Dawn?

*thud*

I had fallen into the worst of all traps - assuming that players would want to do XYZ and setting up a railroad adventure that assumed XYZ. And that wasn't what I wanted to do, in the end. I don't think the problem was that I write bad adventures. I think the problem is the source material and concept I started from.

Ultima 1 is a railroad story that we participated in. It was a fantastic story and the first 4 Ultimas will always have a special place in my heart, right next to Bards Tale 1 and Morrowind. It was, however, a story with an arc. I didn't want the players to re-enact Ultima 1, because as a player, I would be *bored*. I wanted the players to live in the time of Ultima 1 and, if they chose, to participate in the quest to rid the world of Mondain. I could present them the hooks, give them the opportunity, if they chose, to run a series of adventures who's campaign end was to rid the world of Mondain... but ultimately (no pun intended) it should be less about the same story arc and more about *their* story arc.

And that is where I get hung up. It's almost like the anti-thesis of what I understand "old school" D&D to be about. Yes, there was a Greyhawk campaign and yes, there were plots and plans and things that happened, but ultimately (if I understand my D&D history right), it was about what the players did and how they shaped the world.

I've already started raiding my ideas to put them in other campaigns. I'm rewriting (again, for the 3rd time) my Vale campaign. It's based off the old "Fast Play" modules that came out for 2e right before 3e came out. I rewrote it for 3e and now I'm rewriting it for microlite74/0e-ish play. A really nice and nasty dungeon is going from my Ultima 1 writings to Vale.

I don't want to leave the land of Sosaria behind. I really want to bring Sosaria and Lord British and Mondain to the tabletop, but I'll be damned if I know how to do it. Maybe it's the fact that I "know" the story as it was written by the CRPG and I need to leave that behind. Start at Ground 0, put the chess pieces on the board, write out a few of the opening sandboxes and let it go where it can?