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.

Recent Discussions on
The Forum @ Rules Light RPGs

RSS Latests Discussion Topics
  • Design and Development • RPG Magic System Types
    Hey Microliters,As part of a little project I'm working on, I'm trying to identify the different types of magic systems on RPGs that I've used or encountered. Not the specifics of how they work (yet), but just at a high level what types of mechanics are around.For example, consider the "four by five" system that […]
    Which some browsers don't like and bring up a warning not to go forward since the link is 'un-secured'.I was having this same problem with some of my older WordPress websites, and it required me to go into settings and make sure the link for the entire website was the https:// one and not the […]
  • Rules Lite RPGs • A New Adventure for Risus
    This Saturday the gaming group had to cancel in person gaming because someone had a cold so the house became a qurantine zone. SMHSo I suggested we do something else. One player had been working on converting a old D&D adventure to Barbarians of Lemuria and I wanted to do something, anything, with Risus. I […]
  • Design and Development • Adventures written for other systems
    Hey y'all, this is maybe a weird question for those who "main" m20 as their system of choice, but to the extent that everyone plays or has played other systems:How much does a given adventure being statted/written for another system factor into your decision to buy?Is it a case of "if I like the premise […]
  • Ye Olde Bazaar • My own microlite.
    I don't have a particularly slick or complete document regarding my version of Microlite, which is sort of a greatest hits, using the highlights of each edition of Microlite and trying to balance them all in a way that stays true to the rules light ethos. I wanted the slightly broader statistical spread, and keep […]

Tiny Dungeon 2e CoverSeveral years ago I picked up a number of Tiny D6 games in a couple of game bundles. I was interested because from what I had read about Tiny Dungeon 2e, the system sounded quite similar to a two-page RPG I had written up in the late 1980s called “Generic Quick Simple RPG” (another of my infamously bad names). Tiny Dungeon 2e and GQS-RPG had a nearly identical general resolution system, vaguely similar but weirdly different combat systems, and a similar method of describing characters and monsters. Tiny Dungeons 2e was like a much improved,  greatly expanded, and actually play-tested GQS-RPG. I was very impressed with Tiny Dungeon 2e. Impressed enough to put it on my short list of modern games I’d be willing to run. I then put it and the other Tiny D6 pdfs I had purchased in a folder on my hard drive and forgot about them. After all, I had an old school campaign I was running and did not need yet another system.

Fast forward to today. Covid-19 killed the above-mentioned campaign as the players and I discovered we really loathed any type of online play. Because of immunocompromised family members, face-to-face play was out until everyone could get vaccinated and studies were done to be sure the vaccines actually protected our immunocompromised family members. By then (18+ months later), all our schedules had gotten out of sync, so the campaign was essentially dead. My wife and I were discussing the problems I was having getting the Sunday game running again while waiting for her doctor in the doctor’s exam room last month. There was a knock on the semi-open door and one of the nurses apologized for overhearing us, but asked if I would be interested in running a game for her, her husband, and 4 of their friends on Sunday afternoons. I asked what system — fearing it would be 5e which I have no interest in running. I was surprised to hear that they had been playing Tiny Dungeon. I gave her my phone number and email address and said I’d be willing to discuss it with them.

After about a month of email exchanges, phone discussions and a couple of meetings, we had a session on the 21st (and a second session yesterday) and everyone – including myself – seems to be having a good time. After only two sessions of Tiny Dungeon, I’ve concluded that I like the Tiny D6 system. It’s the first system since Microlite20 that actually excites me as much as old school D&D and retroclones. It’s almost old school as written – rules lite, fast to play (including very fast combat – a requirement for me to even touch a system any more), easy and fast to create characters (and monsters/NPCs), and very easy to house rule.  Also, while Tiny D6 systems are not a variant of old school D&D systems, after running a couple of sessions I can state that I can convert all my TSR D&D stuff – including my homebrew settings – to Tiny Dungeon on the fly without advance conversion work.

All the house rules I needed to run these sessions “old school” was to change the individual initiative system to group initiative and to warn the group that I was using morale rolls and reaction rolls which I ported directly from B/X. The eyes of those who know me are probably popping out of their heads at this point as I generally have pages of house rules ready to go for any new game I’m going to try before I ever run it.

The basic system for Tiny Dungeon 2e (and Tiny D6 games in general) is simple. To determine if an uncertain action succeeds, roll 2d6. If either die comes up a 5 or 6, it’s a success. If you have disadvantage, you only roll 1d6. If you have advantage you roll 3d6. Advantage and disadvantage do not stack. Disadvantage has priority except when the advantage comes from a magic item. Combat follows the same basic system (with a few minor complications like focus and evading). Hits from weapons generally do 1 point of damage. Characters start with 4 to 8 hit points depending on their heritage (aka race/species). Monsters are on the same hit point scale. For a rough idea of monster hit points in Tiny D6 games add 3 to a monster’s hit dice in 0e or B/X.

Characters are defined by traits which do things like provide advantage or special abilities. Creating characters is relatively easy although more choice (and therefore system knowledge) is required than in TSR D&D. First, the player selects a heritage (human, elf, dwarf, etc.) which provides starting hit points and a trait. For example, the Dwarf heritage provides 8 hit points and the Dark Vision trait which allows seeing in total darkness. Then you select three traits from the trait list. There are only 4 pages of traits, each with a few sentences explaining the trait so this is not as bad as it sounds; although having new players helped by an experienced player will speed this part of character creation up. Next you select one of the three weapon groups to be proficient in and one weapon from that group you have mastered. (Using a weapon from a group you are not proficient with gives disadvantage, while using a weapon you’d mastered gives advantage). Then you come up with a mundane family trade – what you learned about as a child: another source of possible advantage. Finally you decide on a belief: a simple statement of something that drives the character. An example belief: “My home is in my backpack.”

Starting characters are more capable than in old school D&D – probably about the equivalent of  a third level B/X character. Characters can grow with time — however, experience is an optional rule. There are two suggested experience systems. The simple system has characters gain a new trait every three sessions up to a total of seven (non-heritage) traits. A more complex system has a few experience points awarded each session when can be used to buy either a new trait, a new weapon proficiency (or a new mastered weapon), or an additional hit point. Tiny Dungeon 2e characters tend to broaden their abilities with experience rather than increase a limited number of abilities to “super-powered” levels.

Magic is handled very differently from old school D&D. There are two “obviously magic” traits: spell reader, and spell-touched. The healer, familiar, beastspeaker, and alchemist traits can also be considered magical if doing so fits what you are trying to do. The spell reader trait gives the ability to read one-use scrolls of fairly powerful spells, releasing their magic. Of course, these scrolls have to be found or purchased. The spell-touched trait gives the character the inherit power to sense magic and subtly affect their surrounding with minor magical effects (very roughly around the power level of first or second level TSR D&D spells).

Optional rules provide traits with more powerful magic, animal companions, and martial disciplines There are also optional rules for critical hits and misses, variable weapon damage, armor (provides damage reduction), and simple ship and mount rules.

Tiny Dugeon 2e Player's Guide Cover

The GM section of the rules provide advice from running adventures and a good selection of enemies (aka monsters) ready for use.

The rules section of the 194 page Tiny Dungeon 2e book ends on page 84. The remainder of the book contains an adventure generator and 18 micro-settings: 4 to 6 page campaign ideas each developed enough to give a good feel for the setting. Many of these micro-settings provide new heritages and/or traits developed specifically for the setting.

I would normally complain a bit about the high price of the Tiny Dungeon 2e book (as of late May 2022, its $17.99 in PDF at DrivethruRPG), especially with over half the book being micro-settings only of use to GMs. However, one of my players pointed out that there is a Player’s Guide that’s only $6.99 in PDF. I remembered I actually had a copy of this from one of the Tiny D6 bundles and hunted it up. Calling it a “player’s guide” is a bit of a misnomer as it actually has all the rules needed for players and GMs to run the game – basically all the material from the more expensive Tiny Dungeons 2e book except the micro-settings. This is everything needed to for both players and GMs to run the game if the GM provides the setting. The Tiny Dungeon 2e Player’s Guide turns the system into one of the most affordable good rules light game systems available.

In case you can’t guess from the above, I think Tiny Dungeon 2e and the Tiny D6 system in general are fantastic. I’ll probably be using the Tiny D6 system for most of my games in the future. If you want to run old school style games with a modern rules set that is easy to learn, teach, customize and use at the table, take a look at the various Tiny D6 games. They all use the same basic rules and so are easy to mix and match. Want to run a science fantasy game with “elves and orcs” in space? Combine Tiny Dungeon 2e with Tiny Frontiers. Super-heroes battling an evil empire in a galaxy far-far away? Tiny Supers with Tiny Frontiers. Modern espionage agents against Cthulhu cultists? Tiny Spies and Tiny Cthulhu.

Picture of a mouse covering its faceI started 2022 with big plans for this web site. In late February I began to implement them (see this post). While setting up the framework implementation for these ideas was interesting and even fun, I’ve been having trouble deciding when to actually open the site up to members. The more I thought about doing so, the less enthusiastic I became. The more I thought about doing so, the more I wondered if a complex community site was really needed. Sure what I planned provided a lot of features — some fairly unique to the OSR web “scene” — but given all the other OSR sites out there, were these features “needed” enough to justify the amount of work it would take to build and manage a complex community of OSR folks.

I’ve been running and helping to run online communities  since the late 1980s (fidonet echoes, GEnie Roundtables, Delphi forums, mailing lists, web forums, etc.), so I know exactly what I’m getting into. I also know that one of the main things needed for a successful online community is an enthusiastic and motivated site host. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve just not that motivated. Therefore, I’ve decided to drop the idea of turning this site into an Old School/OSR community site.

Instead, I’ll continue to spruce up the site as time permits and use it to host this blog  and free downloads of (currently) 200+ old school/OSR/rules lite games. The blog probably will only be slightly more active than it has been the past few years, but there are hundreds of older posts dating back to 2008 or so.

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
Gang aft agley,
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy.

— From “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns

Welcome to the Remodeled RetroRoleplaying.com!

As you can see we are still remodeling the site. However, enough is complete that we can reopen. A lot of the ancient cruft that has accumulated over the years has been removed — most will not be back. New material will be coming to replace it.

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), started when my wife had oral cancer to give me something else to think about. Then came Microlite74. Within a couple of years the focus of my blog and this site turned from information and discussion about old school style games in general to Microlite74 and the various other Microlite20-based versions of TSR versions of D&D I was creating. This was partially because creating games is time-consuming and because I eventually starting creating these games as was way to get money to pay all the cancer-related bills. For the last 11or 12 years, everything else fell by the wayside.

I turn 65 this year and I’ve retired. The cancer bills are paid. While my wife was diagnosed with MS a few years ago, she has insurance that covers most costs (thanks to the fact that advanced MS is as close to an automatic disability qualification as you can get). So I intend to return the focus of this site to old school and OSR gaming in general again. As I love designing games, I probably will not stop releasing new games. However, the emphasis will not be on selling these games as I am not longer under pressure to make extra money to pay medical debts. Most new games will be free (or perhaps Pay What You Want).

I have a number of plans for this web site, but I haven’t quite decided exactly which of these plans I will go with. The first step in any of those plans, however, is remodeling this site. The fact that I’m far enough long to reopen the site after less than a week is a good sign, I think.

Here are the changes so far:

  • New Look – It’s nothing special as I’m still not a visually oriented person, let alone a graphics designer, but it is an updated look. Be warned that I’m still tweaking it.
  • Blog moved back to its original home  (blog.retroroleplaying.com on blogger). I’ve cleaned it up to remove all the out-of-date cancer fund drive footers and post solely related to said fund drives.  There’s a lot interesting material there, especially in the early years 2008-2012. Note that most pictures are missing as they were stored on tinypic.
    Update (7 March 2022): I moved the cleaned up blog back to this site from blogger to cut back on Google tracking of blog readers.
  • Reviews are gone. This was a silly attempt to link to old school game reviews on other sites in an attempt to provide a centralized list of reviews. I doubt I updated it since 2008 or so. It may have been a semi-decent idea when I started this site, but even if it was its time has long passed.
  • Articles — Some ancient and generally outdated or pointless articles have been removed. For the time-being the short game system articles remain, however, they may eventually go as well as they really aren’t that good.

Some of the features I’m considering adding:

  • Memberships — The web site will allow people to join so they can participate in some of these features I’m thinking about.
  • OSR News — News postings of new games, supplements, adventures, settings, kickstarters, etc. Members producing such things will be able to post such news items directly to this news section.
  • Reviews — Actual reviews of old school, OSR, and other interesting rules light games in stead of links to reviews elsewhere. Any I write will probably be short reviews (similar to the “capsule reviews” in the The Space Gamer magazine in the 1980s), but the review section will be open to RetroRoleplaying site members who wish to write reviews.
  • Downloads — A download area where free games can be downloaded. Site membership will probably not be required.
  • Forum — The forum will use bbpress upgraded with all the nice Dev4Press addons to turn it into a powerful and much more usable modern message board. The prime rules will be no personal attacks and no real world politics of any type.
  • Special Interest Groups — Members will be able to create their own SIGs with a forum, document storage, and more. These can be used to discuss specific games, run play by post games, etc.
  • Wiki — An easy way to extend the site without having to master complex software.

Naturally, as this site is currently a one-person show, most of these ideas will not turn into reality overnight. Some may not actually happen as not everything I consider a neat idea turns out to be practical or truly useful.

Stay turned for future developments.

Lots of Microlite20/74/5e Goodness

I have recently discovered Brian Mathers’ blog, The Gnomish Embassy. Brain’s blog has a large number of posts for Microlite20 in general although his Microlite20 seems to focus on Microlite74 and Microlite5e. Here is a small sample of his Microlite20/74/5e posts:

The Gnomish Embassy also features well-developed characters and monsters for these (and many other games). It is one of the most interesting and useful blogs I’ve discovered this year. I don’t know how I’ve missed it before.