Thursday, January 12, 2012

Microlite Doesn't Suck

Seems like everyone in the OSR is debating whether or not 1st level characters in D&D "suck", and I have a few things to say about that. 

Heroes ought to be just a cut above the average joe to start out. The necessary resolve it requires in a person to have the guts or be crazy enough to risk their life on a daily basis fighting monsters and braving trap-filled dungeons simply necessitates it. The ability to swing a sword well, pick a trapped lock, or even cast simple magic spells automatically places the people who can do these things a cut above the rest of the general population of smithies, farmers, and merchants. 

First-level characters do not suck. They aren't awesome enough to face down the Balrog yet, or cleave an orc cleanly in two, but they'll get there if they're lucky and smart. 

This is one of the reasons I'm enjoying Microlite so much. PC's aren't easy to kill unless they do something really stupid. At first level they can stand up to several encounters before resting, but the threat of death is still there if they're not careful or smart. They can handle a mess of goblins and with good teamwork overcome tougher monsters as well. Saving throws are still hard to make, but not overwhelmingly so. My kids have never felt like they "sucked", even when they have to run away. Maybe that has more to do with their complete lack of experience playing at higher levels, but I think it's also built into the system at-large. In a word, it works. 


  1. You remember Doom?

    Remember God Mode?

    That's what's wrong with modern gaming.

    Build a battle tank to hack your way through a herd of wild chipmunks.

    And yes, Microlite rocks.

    That's why I chose it for my work and with any luck I can complete the third draft(the custom engine now renamed MX83)and have it ready to show soon. (PLEASE STOP THE STORMS LORD, PLEASE!) :)

  2. God mode, cheat codes, game genies, I honestly never understood why anyone would want to cheat to beat a video game. Takes all the fun out of it.

  3. Maybe this is a stupid question, but what is Microlite? Then I could respond more appropriately. LOL!

  4. I should have posted a link in the article, sorry. Go to for more info and the free downloads. It is basically a retroclone based off the D20 SRD. Rules-lite and very easily adapted to material from every other retroclone out there, and the original source materials as well. I use my 2E books in tandem with Microlite and it all works really well.

  5. Cool. I have some reading to do for tonight. Thanks.

  6. Microlite begins with Microlite 20 where Robin Stacey stripped 3.x down to one page of rules. Pure genius.

    He released it as OGC and people started using it for many purposes. Randall has a ton of stuff at his blog including a 600 page compilation of rules-lite variants built using the basics. Highly rec the comp along with M74 in its many flavors.

    And you can use it to run just about anything ever written. I have read of folks running OD&D, AD&D1e,3.x,PF, etc.

    And don't worry...after this year is over EVERYONE is going to know about M-based games :)

    My office is almost back in order...almost...

  7. Good luck with the office! Looking forward to seeing this MX83 project of yours. I'd be happy to help with editing/proofreading along the way.

  8. I'd agree that Microlight is great but I'm starting to think that Microlight starting characters have too many HP contrasted with the average d20 monsters. In my Microlight variant ( I found players getting pretty lazy and learning to make a lot of head-on rushes at low level because they could get away with it - only to have this backfire on them once they started getting higher level foes and bigger groups. I've been playing with the idea of starting players out with half STR + d6 for hitpoints just to tone things down a bit and make the goblins and orcs a bit more scarey again.

  9. Thanks for the comment Todd. I do agree that M74 starting PCs have a higher than normal amount of HP, but that was something I liked about it, as I'm running a game for my kids, the higher HP gave me a nice buffer and allowed them a bit more staying power so they weren't rushing back to town after every other combat encounter. An argument could certainly be made that M74 PCs at first level are more akin to 2nd or 3rd level PCs in other retroclones.