So, I haven't done much in the way of gaming in the past month, except for my weekly D&D Encounters fix. Schedules around this chaotic household have been pretty hectic, between my working loads of overtime, home-schooling the kids, the wife's knee injury, and running kids around to Scouts and sports events, there hasn't been a lot of time at all to continue the 4E D&D game I started with the kids.
And truth be told, I think I need a simpler system to play with the kids. One thing I discovered while running the game for them is that kids naturally gravitate to the old-school ways, where they are willing to try anything they can imagine, and come up with crazy solutions to the problems placed before them. They don't need to be limited by the power cards in front of them. Nor do I want to constantly have to explain how the rules work for each of their powers.
I've always lurked around the OSR blogs, and started doing some research into the different systems that emulate the first few editions of D&D. We all know there are several out there (just take a look over at the sidebar at Tenkar's Tavern for a pretty comprehensive list of links). I didn't want an exact copy of an earlier edition- I've got my 2E books if I wanted to play that. I also really like the core mechanic of the D20 system in 3E and 4E. To me, the best improvement they made with 3E was the Ascending Armor Class (eliminating THAC0) and the addition of Non-Armor Defenses to replace those clunky saving throw charts.
So, after downloading a few free PDFs and perusing rules and blog posts about different systems, I stumbled upon Microlite. There is a new revision of the Microlite ruleset currently under proofreading, and I loved it from the start. Ascending AC, Non-Armor Defenses (with an option to use old-school saving throws instead!), a hit-point draining magic system (something I thought was great from my Dragonquest days), and easy compatibility with all my 2E books (particularly the magic items from the DMG, and the Monstrous Manual). I'll be using the Microlite74 Extended rules, but probably not all of them (things like combat stances won't be used). I really like the 4E nod to hit points fully recovering after a six-hour (Extended) rest, and the Body Points rules for dying are great. The system is still potentially quite lethal, but a single hit won't kill my son's wizard. I may take a deeper look at it and see if I can houserule a few things to include the standard D&D attribute array, as the Extended version of Microlite74 uses only 4 stats.
The best part is I can still mine all my 4E books for all the fluff (which is a big part of what I really love about 4E) because it will be damn easy to convert to Microlite. I'm looking forward to the final release of Microlite74 and am definitely going to start running it for the minions. They could give a damn what "edition" we're using, they just want to play D&D. And their character sheets will actually fit on one sheet!