Our Free Roleplaying Games

Microlite81 Playtest Draft CoverMy current design project is Microlite81. Microlite81 will be a Microlite20-based version of the B/X version of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game -- the two boxed sets (basic and Expert) that were published in 1981. The object of this project is to do for B/X what Microlite74 did for 0e, produce a version of the original B/X based on the Microlite20 rules that recreates the style and feel of ver popular fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1981 without giving up all of the clearer mechanics of modern D20-based versions. Microlite81 games are based on the 1981 Basic/Expert 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. Microlite81 games 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.

Several different versions of Microlite81 are currently planned. All will be free in PDF format.

Microlite81: This is the standard version the game. It is intended to be fairly standard B/X converted to a Microlite20-based system. A public playtest draft is already available. Download the current Microlite81 Public Playtest PDF (38 page PDF, about 850K) from mediafire.

Microlite81 Expanded: This version will be Microlite81 with the author’s house rules from the 1977-1983 era. Most of the house rules used in Microlite74 Expanded will also be used in Microlite81 Expanded. They will be modified as needed to work with a system based on B/X instead of one based on 0e. A number of optional rules may also be included.

Microlite81 Complete: This version 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 which will hopefully make the game more friendly to players with less experience with old school gaming. There may (or may not) also be a Microlite81 Expanded Complete providing the same more complete descriptions and extra features to “standard” Microlite81 Expanded rules (“standard” as in not necessarily including all of the optional rules that might be included in Microlite81 Expanded).

Microlite81 Advanced: This is a version of Microlite81 using the spell lists, monsters, and treasures from the 1e (Advanced) version of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG. There will be a large number of optional rules: psionics, mutations, etc. At the moment, this is intended to be a Microlite20 version of my planned Lords & Wizards game, the actual Lords & Wizards will then be based on this Microlite version.

A few Microlite81 Companions or Supplements are certainly possible in the future, but none are currently being planned.

For early access to drafts of the various versions of Microlite81 and early input on the design and direction of the game, please make sponsor Microlite81 with a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund or watch the RetroRoleplaying Blog for progress updates.

Current Project: Lords & Wizards

Lords & Wizards coverMy current design project is Lords & Wizards. Lords & Wizards will be a new old school tabletop roleplaying game which tries to duplicate the system I was using in the late 1970s and early 1980s which was based on 0e with things I liked from 1e and B/X. However, it will not stop there as I will not be afraid to add some things from more recent system which fit the old school paradigm. Unlike my Microlite74 games, Lords & Wizards will be written fully written with examples and less terse text. Early drafts of this project will be available to RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund donors in the donor file area using the usual donor password. Beta copies, when we reach that point, will be available to all. The final game will be free in PDF form. In may also be available in print at cost. My Sunday group has volunteered to be the main playtest group.

Current Plans for Lords & Wizards:

  • No rules, only guidelines. While the game will be playable RAW, playing RAW will never be assumed.
  • Most classes from 1e as standard classes. I'm currently undecided about Assassins and Monks as they really do not fit most campaigns. If included, they will probably be optional classes. There may be a small number of other optional classes.
  • Levels will probably only go up through level 14. This will focus gameplay on the levels where the original editions worked best. There may be some type of optional epic advancement toward "immortal" status after one has reached 14th level.
  • Most 1e spells, at least through 5th level for clerics and 6th level for magic-users. Higher level spells will probably only be available as rituals. Some new spells will be added.
  • Combat with be very fast and fairly abstract as it was in 0e/1e. There may also be optional rules for tactical combat with minis, but the rest of the game will not assume their use.
  • My body point/hit point system will be used.
  • My class/background based task resolution (aka "skill" system) will be used.
  • Guidelines for domains, other planes, and the like will be included. Use of the domain end game will be assumed and built into the higher level guidelines.
  • GMs should be able to use any published old school adventure or setting in Lords & Wizards with little or nor major modification.

For early access to drafts of Lords & Wizards and early input on the design and direction of the game, please make a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund or watch the RetroRoleplaying Blog for progress updates.

Microlite74

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 Microlite74 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 RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund contributor who graciously allowed us to make the rules available to everyone (stripped of specific information on his campaign world).

All Microlite74 materiakl mentioned above is available for free download in PDF form from our Microlite74 page. Donations to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund are encouraged, however.

The Microlite20 RPG Collection: 2012 Edition

The Microlite20 RPG Collection is a PDF compilation of Microlite20 based games. This collection is made available for free and is not to be sold. Each individual game is copyrighted separately, is based on the Open Game License (because the original, Microlite20, is OGL), and is available for free. Each game is a separate entity with its own copyright and license. The author of each individual game is solely responsible for his or his work. No editing of individual games has been done. The original 2010 edition was a single volume with around 600 pages. The 2012 edition is two volumes with a total of over 1300 pages.

In addition to the standard Microlite20 rules (and a large number of optional systems and expanded rules, The Microlite20 RPG Collection (2012 Edition) includes the following Microlite20-based role-playing games: Microlite20 House Rules, MicroFantasy, Alter Microlite20, Ultramicrolite20 Revised, Ultramicrolite20 Revised II, Nanolite20, Microlite20 Modern, M20 Modern: Expert, Microlite20 Modern-Day, M20 Hard Core Rules, Swords against Sorcery, M20 Heroic, Iron Heartbreakers, Microlite11, WildWalker’s M20 4e, Microlite20 Variant 4e, Microlite 4E, Micro Action Fantasy, MULRAH, Lite20, Mini20, Realms of Renown, Microlite74: Basic, Microlite74: Standard, Microlite74: Extended, Microlite74: Companion I, Microlite77, Microlite20 OSS, Advanced Microlite20 OSS, Argo, M20 Hyborian Age, Microlite Conan, Prehistoric Microlite20, Microlite20 Bronze Age, Microlite Dark Sun, Omerian Tales, Beacon, WarEngine RPG, Yamato M20, Challenges & Champions, Microlite20 Elf Lords, Microlite20 Resident Evil, Microlite20 Cthulthu, Microlite20 Vampires, Microlite20 2012, SpyLite, Giant Bug Invasion, Cyberpunk, SuperLite, Microlite20 Costumes, Tumbleweed, Gunsmoke & Goblins, Owl Hoot Trail, Microlite Storytelling, TileHack, Dragoons, ZombiePocalypse, Relics & Ruins, OmegaLite20, RABID, Microlite20 Vermin, Where No Man Has Gone Before, Galactic Methuselah, FrontierLite, M20 Star Wars, Microlite20 Star Wars, Scions of a Primordial Planet, Micro MechWarrior, Stargate 1895, Blaster D20 Microlite, Pendragon D20 Microlite, Diabolical D20 Microlite, PathfinderLite20, Microlite20 Golden Edition, DungeonFinder Player’s Guide, DungeonFinder GM’s Guide, DungeonFinder Book of Monsters, Grimm Lite.

Free Games from RetroRoleplaying.com

fake Microlite74 cover art

We publish a number of free games, most based on Microlite20, a trimmed down, sub-miniature version of the 3.x Primary Fantasy SRD rules which designed to be quick and easy to play. Most of these games are designed for "old school" play.

  • Microlite74 recreates the style and feel of that very first ("0e") fantasy roleplaying game published back in 1974 using somewhat more modern rules. The third edition of Microlite74 was released on October 1, 2011. Microlite74 is not quite a clone of 0e, but most people find it close to a clone. There are three versions of Microlite74 available: Microlite74 Basic, Microlite74 Standard and Microlite74 Extended. The current edition is 3.0.
  • Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery is a special version of Microlite74 3.0 designed for Swords & Sorcery style campaigns.
  • Microlite75 was a heavily expanded and house-ruled version of Microlite74. It has been replaced by Microlite74 Extended.
  • Microlite20 OSS (Old School Style) is an attempt to do "old school style" with rules that can use all the standard SRD monsters, spells, and treasure just as you can with standard Microlite20. Version 1.0 is available for download.
  • Advanced Microlite20 OSS is an expanded version of our basic Microlite20 OSS rules with supplemental material from Expert Microlite20 and other modifications. Version 1.0 is available for download.
  • The Microlite20 RPG Collection is a 1300 plus page PDF compilation of Microlite20 rules and variants as well as a large number of Microlite20 based games. In two volumes, the current 2012 edition is available for download.

RetroRoleplaying Site Features

Our Games: This section of our site covers the games we have published, including the Microlite20-based games mentioned above, a number of older games designed in the 1990s to play in chat in SFRT3 (the third Science Fiction Roundtable) on the old GEnie Online Service, and some early attempts at small, universal RPG systems. All of these games are free, although donations to the Retro-Roleplaying Cancer Fund are welcomed.

Retro-Clone Introductions: Thanks to the Open Game License (OGL) and a number of System Reference Documents (SRD) released under that license by publishers, fans of out-of-print game systems have been able to produce a number games that "clone" the rules and systems of popular out of print games in "new" games. These retro-clone or simulacrum games were originally designed so that individuals and companies who want to produce new adventures and supplements for the original game can do so, referring to the retro-clone to avoid legal problems with trademarks. However, many of these games have proved popular with gamers as they are free to download which means every player in a game can have a copy without having to track down an affordable used copy.

Reviews: Finding reviews of Old School products (both old and new) by Old School reviewers can be a chore. There are a lot of reviews out on the Web, but finding them can be a pain. The Reviews section of this site will be a growing collection of reviews. A few reviews may be published here, but most will be published elsewhere on the Web, and linked to here. The plan is for this section of the site to slowly become an index to Old School product reviews.

Game System Introductions: There are a lot of different out-of-print RPGs available. The Game Systems section of this site will introduce you to classic roleplaying games like Original D&D, Basic Dungeons & Dragons, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Runequest, and others. It will help you find low cost sets of rules and adventures to play with those rules. There will be reviews so you can decide what to buy, advice on finding affordable playable copies on eBay, links to free rules and adventures on the web, and more to help you get started playing these classic roleplaying games. We will also cover a few card and war games like Ace of Aces, Magic Realm, and Poker.

Blog: The webmaster maintains a blog, creatively named Retro-Roleplaying: The Blog, whith information on this site and commentary on RPGs from the point of view of someone who started playing D&D in 1975 with a third printing brown box set and the first supplement.

About RetroRoleplaying

RetroRoleplaying.com started out as a site devoted to out-of-print, unsupported, and/or out-of-style tabletop roleplaying games (and modern "retro-clones" of those games). While we have over one hundred pages devoted to this, as of 2010 we are probably better known as the publisher of free Microlite20 variant games designed to reproduce the feel and style of "old school" editions of the "worlds most popular tabletop RPG" including the popular (and free) games Microlite74 and Microlite75.

While it may surprise many people, the earlier editions of classic RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons sold many more copies than the newer D20 and 4e versions. These once very popular games are available in hardcopy on the RPG MarketPlace, Amazon, or eBay -- and are still being played today. Retroclones are much less expensive, however (often free in PDF form).

Many people prefer older tabletable roleplaying games because of their less complex, easier to modify rules and their "feel." While many 3.x and 4e games feel more like playing a computer game around a table with much emphasis on optimal character building and detailed tactical combat, pre-D20 games feel more being in a movie or novel -- the emphasis is what the characters do in the campaign world as opposed to what skills and feats are on their character sheet.

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