About RetroRoleplaying.com

RetroRoleplaying.com is a  site devoted to old school and OSR tabletop roleplaying games. These days, it is an archive site holding my older material such as my old blog (RetroRoleplaying: The Blog). main features are my old blog and a free game download area. This site is ran by a hobbyist as a hobby and is not a business. We do not accept paid advertising in any form. Server bills, however, have to be paid so links to commercial products are often affiliate links.

Most activity has moved to my new site, RulesLightRPGs.com, which is devoted to rules light games in general: old school, new school, no school such as Microlite20, The Black Hack, OD&D and B/X D&D, Tiny D6, Knave, GLOG, OneDice, 24xx, etc.

New in Downloads

Prowler's Microlite2020 Character Sheet

Prowler said: Mocked together a simple character sheet for Microlite2020 and thought I would share it. It's fillable, so might be useful for online sessions. Please note that in order to attach a picture of your character, you must use Adobe Reader or equivalent (it's not possible in the web browser, or via simple PDF readers like SumatraPDF).

Apologies for the A5 format, but it should look pretty decent on half-letter or letter as well.

Microlite2020 Character Sheets

Excellent Microlite2020 character sheets created by Vanya. Both PDFs for printing and .docx files for modifying are included in the zip file.

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Edition 1e

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Edition is a special version of Microlite74 3.0 designed for Swords & Sorcery style campaigns. 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. This is the first version of Microlite74 to provide detailed information on treasure. This is the first edition.

Microlite75 Original Version

This original version of Microlite75 (published in 2011) is a version of Microlite74 (Version 2.0) based on the 1974 0e edition with its supplements and material from 0e magazine articles, some 0e third party material, some of the house rules the author used in the 1970s, and selected ideas from other roleplaying games. The Characters & Magic (aka "player") book contains the complete basic rules and the equipment and spells lists. For many campaigns, this booklet contains everything a player needs to know to play. The Options & Monsters (aka "GM") book contains a large number of optional rules a GM might elect to include in a campaign as well as monster lists and other GM-oriented information.

Note: Microlite75 was renamed Microlite74 Extended when Microlite74 Version 3.0 came out. Much later, the Microlite75 name was reused for a variant version of Microlite74 3.0.

Microlite74 Version 2.0 Wary's Grimoire

Microlite74 Version 2.0 Wary's Grimoire is a supplement to Microlite74 Version 2.0 adding most of the classes, spells, and monsters from the supplements to the original edition of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game. Also included, 6-9th level spells and more monsters.

Microlite74 Version 2.0 Ancient Auguries

Microlite74 Version 2.0 Ancient Auguries is a supplement to Microlite74 Version 2.0 adding four pages of optional rules, including: Specialist Class, special abilities for each standard class, skills, ritual magic, metamagic, fire-and-forget magic, combat stunts, etc.

Microlite Version 2.0 Standard

Microlite Version 2.0 Standard (10 pages, no covers or interior art, standard M20 small print, 167K PDF) The second edition of Microlite74 is Version 2.0 was released on March 4, 2009 in honor of the first anniversary of the passing of Gary Gygax. Major changes include more complete spell and monster descriptions and spells and monsters were modified to make them more like those of 0e and more compatible with those in other (much larger) 0e retroclones.

Microlite74 Release 1.1

Microlite74 Release 1.1 Standard is a six page PDF. It includes variant rules based on Microlite20, a complete spell list and monster list, and a short designer's note section touching on the differences in style between "old school" and the usual style of play encountered today. Release 1.1 contains minor error corrections, information on other OGL retrogames based on early editions of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game, and new rules for morale, hirelings, and equipment. Microlite74's rules were written to support the "old school" style, while retaining many of the more modern rules features of OGL games based on the 3.5 SRD. Microlite20 trimmed the fat from the 3.5 SRD, paring the game down to a fast-moving and easy to learn two-page system. Microlite74 takes the M20 system and modifies it for a 1974 style, but leaves most of the basic Microlite20 rules in place.

This version is popular for convention and meetup games as it is short enough that copies can be cheaply printed for each player.

Microlite74 Release 1.0

This is the very first released version of Microlite74. It's only 5 pages long (including the OGL in fine print). It includes variant rules based on Microlite20, a complete spell list and monster list, Microlite74's rules were written to support the "old school" style, while retaining many of the more modern rules features of OGL games based on the 3.5 SRD. Microlite20 trimmed the fat from the 3.5 SRD, paring the game down to a fast-moving and easy to learn two-page system. Microlite74 takes the M20 system and modifies it for a 1974 style, but leaves most of the basic Microlite20 rules in place.

WARNING: This version is very broken as it was not playtested beyond third or fourth level (and higher level characters are far too powerful for 0e monsters and adventures). The original idea for Microlite74 was that it could be used to introduce 3.x-era players to old school gaming. If they liked old school gaming, I just assumed they would they start a game using "real" rules. So I never actually played beyond third level. When others decided they liked both old school gaming and M74 -- and wanted to just play Microlite74 -- the problems with higher level characters were immediately apparent, were reported to me, and Microlite74 1.1 was released.


Scarlet Sea Campaign Setting

This is a small setting for a Microlite20 campaign: a coastal area long the Scarlet Sea.

This zip file contains the setting/adventure area description in two pdfs (one a pockmod) and two jpg maps of the area (one color, one black and white).

News and Views

New Articles on Rules Light RPGs

New posts are now appearing on my new site: RulesLightRPGs.com. The following feed lists the five most recent News and Article posts from RulesLightRPGs.com.

RSS Recent News and Articles on RulesLightRPGs.com
  • Mini-Setting: The Pan-Sentient Confederation (Part 3) July 19, 2022
    The StarForce The StarForce is the Confederation’s military arm. It is charged with the defense of the Confederation, the enforcement of Confederation law in space (and, when necessary, on member planets to the limited extent allowed by the Confederation constitution), and exploration. Most of the Confederation budget goes to its support. StarForce Ship Designs Due […]
  • Dreamlands as a Multisetting Campaign Device July 3, 2022
    One of my players said that it would be fantastic if there was a way to play a single character in every universe possible with the Tiny D6 rules. Naturally, I came up with several ways this could be handled as we were talking about the idea to the slight shock of my players who […]
  • Mini-Setting: The Pan-Sentient Confederation (Part 2) June 22, 2022
    This is the second part of a short series of posts on the Pan Sentient Confederation, a system neutral “final frontier” mini-setting. The first post is here. Please remember that this material was created in the 1990s for SRRT3 on the Genie online service with writing fiction in mind, so it probably goes into more […]
  • Kickstarter: By This Axe: The Cyclopedia of Dwarven Civilization June 21, 2022
    Autarch has a new Kickstarter for ACKS and other OSR games: By This Axe: The Cyclopedia of Dwarven Civilization — a 200 page compendium of information on dwarves. The first day isn’t over as I write this and By the Axe has already funded. From the Kickstarter page: In this tome you will find the […]
  • Mini-Setting: The Pan-Sentient Confederation (Part 1) June 19, 2022
    I’ve occasionally heard people say they would like to run campaigns in the Traveller’s Third Imperium universe, the Star Trek universe, the Star Wars universe, etc., but they never do because they don’t want to deal with the canon fanatics. My solution is to just not play with canon fanatics. However, I realize that this […]

Recent Discussions on
The Forum @ Rules Light RPGs

RSS Latests Discussion Topics
  • Design and Development • Flexible magic/spell systems (for m20 variant)
    Does anyone have a favorite magic system from other games that either uses flexible spells (i.e. set effects you can dial up or down as needed) or is completely freeform?I want to offer an alternative to the typical Vancian-style "spells," whether they run off of spell slots or HP (as in Purest Essence), and I'm […]
  • The Prancing Pegasus • Looking for advice on designing a very basic RPG
    This is purely as a little hobby. I wanted to try my hand at a really simple RPG design for an online wargaming universe called Three Plains, with the support of its creator. I have chosen the Creative Commons-licensed Simple RPG System for mechanics.Thing is, I really have no clue what I'm doing, so I […]
  • The Prancing Pegasus • Has DTRPG abandoned small creators?
    I have been posting self-produced sets of rules on DTRPG and its associated sites, wargames and RPGS, for years. What I loved about DTRPG was how they not only allowed us little guys to submit our stuff but also supported us. That seems to have changed. I don't want to complain. DTRPG is still an […]
  • The Prancing Pegasus • The World in this video needs to be an RPG
    My wife sent me a link to this 11 minute long video short (Whiddershins) yesterday. After seeing it, I want to play in a game set in this quirky steampunk universe. iframe Statistics: Posted by randalls — Mon Jul 04, 2022 9:22 am — Replies 0 — Views 342
  • Site and Community • Rules Light RPGs Discord?
    Back when this site was Microlite20 Nexus, I had requests to set up a Discord server for this site. I never did because I don't have time to be active on a Discord server. However, I'm hoping that if this new site attracts more active users some of those users might like Discord, be on […]

Dealing With Player Death

I’ve been playing and gamemastering tabletop roleplaying games since 1975 and I have dealt with a lot of character deaths, both my own characters and characters of players in the games I’m running. I’ve even had a few former players die over the years — long after they had left my game. However, I’ve never had a player currently in my game die — until last week that is. 

 James texted me Monday evening asking if he could drop by on his way home from work Tuesday to drop off a couple of books he had borrowed and grab a couple more. Tuesday afternoon, when he didn’t show up, I called him. His wife answered the phone and told me James had had a mild heart attack in the early hours of the morning and that he was in the hospital, but doing well. I spoke to him briefly and said I’d come by during visiting hours Wednesday and see him. 
I arrived at the hospital a little after noon on Wednesday to find James in surgery and Robin very worried. James had a second heart attack that morning and his doctors had decided to do emergency bypass surgery. I stayed with his wife until their son arrived from Akron but then I had to head home to take care of my wife. I got a call from Robin a few hours later telling me that James had come through surgery (a quadruple bypass and the insertion of two stents) and was in guarded condition. His doctors had told her if he could make it through the next 36 hours without any major issues, his prognosis would be excellent. We did not talk long as she had a lot of calls to make to friends and relatives. Sadly, James never regained consciousness and passed away about 7 Thursday morning.
The funeral was Sunday afternoon — about the time my Sunday game would start. Needless to say, there was no game as all of us were at the funeral. To be honest, we are all a little lost. It’s one thing to lose a longtime player from your game because they had to move or because their work hours changed. It’s apparently a very different thing to have a player die. We aren’t sure what we are going to do with the campaign. The campaign will continue, but we are unsure exactly how to continue it — starting with the obvious question of what to do with James’ characters. Should we retire them? Use them as NPCs? Something else? It’s not like we can just ask James what he wants done with them. We have some time to decide how we want to proceed as we have cancelled this week’s game which means will not play again until the 19th (as the 12th is Mother’s Day). 
 I had only known James a few years. He was my first local gaming contact when we moved to Youngstown from Texas in late 2016. He and his family have become good friends. James as a good person.He was retired from the navy and worked with a local non-profit to bring jobs to Youngstown. His characters were as enthusiastic about their game lives as James was about real life. If there is gaming in heaven, James will be rolling his dice. Perhaps he’ll get his wish and can play in Arduin with Dave Hargrave as GM. All I know for sure is that I will miss him.

Interested in the First Edition of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game, but put off by its seemingly random mechanics and design elements? Interested in trying some of the best known First Edition adventures with old school play but want to use the “better designed” D20-style mechanics you already know. The second edition of Microlite78 First Edition Lite is the game for you. These rules take the First Edition rules and filter them though the D20-based Microlite20 system to produce a conversion of the First Edition rules to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules.

The second edition of Microlite78 first Edition Lite is available on RPGNow/DriveThruRPG in PDF for $7.50 — click here to go to the Microlite78 First edition Lite page on RPGNow (Or click here for DrivethruRPG). There will be a Pay-what-You-Want/Free version of these rules (without art) available in the near future.

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.

This 236 page pdf contains the complete rules for the second edition of Microlite78 First Edition Lite, including:

* Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a race, class, alignment and a background.
* Basic Classes: Fighter, Magic-User, Cleric, Druid, and Thief.
* Additional (Optional) Classes: Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Illusionist, Paladin, and Ranger.
* Races: Human, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, and Halfling.
* Simple and fast-playing combat system that tracks physical damage (aka body points) separately from luck/skill/fatigue (aka hit point) damage. Combat is BAB-based: no to-hit tables or THAC0.
* Hit points recover with a night’s rest. Spells cost hit points to cast. Actual wounds recover more slowly.
* Rules for hirelings, monster reactions (not every monster wants to fight), morale (not every monster fights to the death), and more.
* Many optional rules (Advantages and Disadvantages, Psionics, Action Points, Sanity, more traditional magic and saving rolls, etc.): use none, some, or all.
* A complete information on spells, monsters and treasure.
* Gamemaster section with setting design information, and advice.
* Rules for PC-ruled dominions.
* Compatible with most other 1e based games and adventures — as well as many designed for 0e, B/X, BECMI, and 2e.

The rules needed to create characters and actually play are short and sweet. Character creation rules (including race, class, alignment, and background descriptions) are 11 pages. Core rules (skills, saving throws, magic, combat, experience and level advancement) are 8 pages. They are written in fairly normal English, not “High Gygaxian”. The rules assume that the GM understands the basic concepts of roleplaying games, but provides information for both the GM and the players on the various “old school” styles of play. Microlite78 First Edition Lite games can easily use adventures and material from early editions of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game or modern clones.

This is the second edition of Microlite78 First Edition Lite. Changes from the first edition:

* The Barbarian and Bard classes added.
* The method of determining the number of experience points needed to advance no longer requires recalculating entire experience point advancement charts if optional rules are used.
* The treasure section is more like the first edition of the world’s most popular roleplaying game which makes the game easier to use with published adventures.
* Rules for character-ruled dominions are included.
* Gamemaster section with advice for creating and running campaigns added.
* Some artwork is in color.

Labor Day Sale — 40% Off

Celebrate Labor day with 40% off all RetroRoleplaying.com games, including BX Advanced, Microlite81 Expanded Edition, and Microlite74 Ultimate Edition. This sale ends sometime on September 4th.

* BX Advanced $9.95 — Sale Price: $5.97
* Dungeon Delving Undying Light Edition $3.99 — Sale Price: $2.39
* Microlite20 Comprehensive Edition $7.50 — Sale Price: $4.50
* Microlite74 Basic Digest/Epub $1.99 — Sale Price: $1.19
* Microlite74 Extended Digest/Epub $3.99 — Sale Price: $2.39
* Microlite74 Standard Digest/Epub $2.99 — Sale Price: $1.79
* Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery 2e Digest/Epub $6.99 — Sale Price: $4.19
* Microlite74 Ultimate Edition Digest/Epub $9.95 — Sale Price: $5.97
* Microlite78 First Edition Lite $4.95 — Sale Price: $2.97
* Microlite81 Advanced Expanded Edition (Digest/Ebook)— Sale Price: $9.95 $5.97
* Microlite81 Complete Digest/Epub $7.50 — Sale Price: $4.50

Project News

* The full-sized “condensed type” version of the second edition of Microlite78 First Edition Lite should be out next week. The major changes in revision includes the barbarian and Bard classes, a treasure list more like 1e than BECMI, a revised method for determining XP needed to advance (recalculating experience tables by hand if using optional rules that slow advancement is no longer needed), rules for dominions, and a chapter of GM advice. This will make the game more like 1st edition and less like Oe with first edition spells and monsters. Estimated Price: $3 to $5 (A free “low art” version will be available later in the month).

* The digest-sized “Expanded” version of the second edition of Microlite78 First Edition Lite should be out later in September or in early October. This will include all the changes listed for the “condensed type” version, plus even more character classes, expanded spell lists and treasure lists, over 100 additional monsters, and more. All in a digest-sized book designed for easy use on tablets. Estimated Price: $9 to $12.

* Work and playtesting continues on the BX Advanced Adamantine Edition. Mutations are (hopefully) finally finished. Current work is on technology rules and tech items. Estimated Completion is winter or spring of 2019.

* Print editions: I’m still having no luck learning enough Indesign to make printed editions possible. I know many people would like printed copies, so I haven’t given up. But progress is painfully slow. I just do not think in the way one needs to use layout software based on the “Pagemaker paradigm” — like Indesign. I miss the long dead Ventura Publisher which worked the way I think.

* Blog Move: Moving the blog to WordPress is low priority, but some work is being done — occasionally.

The Pay What You Want/Free (no art) version of the Microlite20 Comphrensive Edition is now available.

Microlite20 is a tiny version of 3.x designed to allow use of 3.x supplements and adventures without all of the complex 3.x rules. In its raw form, Microlite20 and its more important optional and supplemental sections are a hodge-podge of short pdfs produced by different people and formatted however the producer of that section wanted. The Microlite20 Comprehensive Edition takes all this material and combines it in one document — all formatted the same and somewhat reorganized in places to make it easier to use. This Pay What You Want/Free “no art” version is 60 pages.

The actual rules include the following sections: Basic Rules, Basic Rule Examples, Expert Rules, Equipment, Spell Lists (Magi, Cleric, Illusionist, Druid), Monster List, Gamemaster’s Guide, Designer’s Notes (explaining the hows and whys of Microlite20’s design), Appendix A: Minor Rules Expansions, Appendix B: Microlite20 Martial Arts, Appendix C: Microlite20 Psionics, Appendix D: Rune Magic, Appendix E: Microlite20 Mass Combat, Appendix F: Microlite20 Mecha and Starships, Appendix G: Microlite20 Old School Style, and (of course) a copy of the OGL.

Get your copy of the Microlite20 Comprehensive Edition (No Art) at RPGNow.

Get your copy of the Microlite20 Comprehensive Edition (No Art) at DriveThruRPG.