What is Microlite74?

fake Microlite74 cover artMicrolite74 games, like all Microlite20 variants, are trimmed-down miniature versions of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules designed to be quick and easy to play, especially when compared to modern incarnations of the game. 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. The rules 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.

While Microlite74was originally designed as an introduction to “old school” play for players more familiar with modern rules systems based on the Primary Fantasy SRD, it has become a game that many groups have chosen to run full blow campaigns with. Microlite74 version 3.0 — released in October 2011 — has been designed as a complete rules set for regular play, although it can still serve as a fast introduction to old school play for those more familiar with later editions. All three versions of Microlite74 use a rules-lite OGL based game system that old school grognards – especially those who cut their gamer teeth on “0e” – should find equally enjoyable. The system also easy to modify with your own house rules or rules drawn from your favorite edition of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game. The game system is also compatible with most 0e-based rules, adventures, and other materials.

Three Versions of Microlite74?

The biggest change with third edition of Microlite74 is that there are three versions of the game: Microlite74 Basic, Microlite74 Standard, and Microlite74 Extended. Each version emulates a different form of 0e.

Microlite74 Basic — This version has about 4 pages of actual rules (and about 6 pages of spell and monster lists). It emulates the 0e version of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game in its earliest form: the original 3 little booklets in the 0e boxed set. You have Fighters, Clerics, and Magic-Users, hit dice are all d6s (and is all weapon damage and most monster damage), there are relatively few spells (and they top out at 6th level, 5th level for clerics), and the maximum suggested level is only 12-14. It may sound limited, but it can be a lot of fun. Microlite74 Basic is very similar to the first and second edition of the Microlite74 rules.

    Download Microlite74 Basic (850K PDF — the back cover image is much of this)

Microlite74 Standard — This version has about five and a half pages of actual rules (and about ten and a half pages of spell and monster lists). It emulates the 0e version of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game in its complete form: 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. You have Fighters, Rangers, Paladins, Clerics, Druids, Magic-Users, Illusionists, and Thieves (and optionally Assassins, Bards, and Monks), with variable hit dice and weapon damage, a complete set of spells (through 9th level for Magic-Users, 7th level, for Clerics, Druids, and Illusionists), and combat is covered in slightly more detail. Microlite74 Standard has all the features of 0e as most people played it back in the late 1970s. This version is similar to the second edition Microlite74 rules with the material in Wary’s Grimoire (the second supplement for the second edition of Microlite74).

    Download Microlite74 Standard (550K PDF)

Microlite74 Extended — This version has about 8 pages of actual rules (and about 15 pages of spell, monster and equipment lists). It emulates the 0e version of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game with versions of many of the house rules the author used in the late 1970s — and uses today in his Wilderlands campaign. In includes everything Microlite74 standard does and adds rules for character backgrounds (optional in Basic and Standard), alignment, spell casting with implements and rituals, Body Points (representing actual major wounds), a slightly more detailed combat system, more spells and monsters, and other minor rules changes. It is slightly more complex in play than Microlite74 Standard, but not considerably so. The original edition of Microlite74 Extended was called Microlite75.

    Download Microlite74 Extended (892K PDF)

Microlite74 Companions

Microlite74 Companion volumes expand on the core Microlite74 games. Microlite74 Companion 1, for example, adds a number of optional rules. Additional Microlite74 Companion volumes will be published in the future. Companions in the planning stages include volumes with more complete information on spells, ob monsters, and on treasure.

Microlite74 Companion I: Optional Rules — This volume includes many optional rules. Most can be used with any version of the third edition of Microlite74: Basic, Standard, or Extended. There are optional rules included for stat generation, races, classes, class abilities, advantages and disadvantages, traditional saving rolls, skills and talents, metamagic, ritual magic, counterspells, weird science, fire-and-forget magic, combat stunts, armor for all classes, weapon damage by class, minis and battlemats, action points, fame, sanity, aspects, Psionics, spirits (combat, powers, and binding), fixed level campaigns, science fantasy, and more.

    Download Microlite74 Companion I: Optional Rules (590K PDF)

Microlite74 Companion II: Treasure — This volume contains a large number of magical items of treasure and a sample system for randomly determining what treasure is a given group of monsters has. With the publication of this Microlite74 3.0 Companion volume, Microlite74 becomes a complete and self-contained system with no need for the SRD or reference to other old school rules. This volume includes any classic treasure items as well as a few new items designed for the Microlite74 system. Microlite74 Companion II: Treasure can be used with any of the three versions of Microlite74: Basic, Standard, or Extended.

    Download Microlite74 Companion II: Treasure (480K PDF)

Microlite74 Companion III: More Optional Rules — This volume includes many optional rules. Most can be used with any version of the third edition of Microlite74: Basic, Standard, or Extended. There are optional rules included for Supplemental Stats: Sanity and Luck, Optional Races (various goblinoid races, Tieflings, Catfolk, Dragonborn, and many more ), Optional Classes (Witches, Necromancers, Delvers, Swashbucklers, and many more), Optional Experimental Classes (like comic book Superhero), Races as Classes, Experimental Class Options (for standard classes), Specialist Priests (Clerics than vary by deity followed), Monster Mash Advantages (turning characters into vampires, lycanthropes, and ghosts), Spell Sphere (free form magic), Magic Item Creation, Feat of Strength and Skill, Shield Wall, Climbing on Enemies, Action-Type Initiative, Unusual Weapons, Mounted Combat and Jousting, Critical Hit Special Effects, Critical Miss Special Effects, Prime Requisite Experience Bonuses, Conjurer Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Necromancer Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Shaman Spell List (Divine, 7 levels), Ascetic Spell List (Arcane, 6 levels), Thaumaturge Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Witch Spell List (Arcane, 7 levels), Additional Monsters, and Traps, Natural Hazards, and Diseases.

    Download Microlite74 Companion III: More Optional Rules (1.2M PDF)

Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters — This volume contains descriptions of a large number of 0e and 1e monsters, including demons and devils. These descriptions are somewhat more detailed than those included in the Microlite74 rules. These monsters are usable with any version of Microlite74 3.0 including Microlite74: Basic, Standard, or Extended and the Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Edition.

    Download Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters (2.05M PDF)

Microlite74 Companion V: First Edition Spells — This volume provides more detailed descriptions of spells and provides many new spells similar to those in the first edition of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG. Using the spells in this companion volume instead of the ones in the Microlite74 Standard or Extended rules will make your game more similar the First Edition (1e) than the Original Edition (0e), especially when combined with monsters from Microlite74 Companion IV: Bestiary of Monsters. Most of these spells are suitable for use with either the Standard, or Extended versions of Microlite74. With care some can be used with the Basic version of Microlite74. Healing spells list alternative effects for the Basic/Standard HP system and for the Extended HP/BP system..

    Download Microlite74 Companion V: First Edition Spells (1.5M PDF)

Microlite74 Light vs Dark

This version of Microlite74 (formerly known as Microlite74 Special Version I) is designed for a campaign world with only two deities (a Lord of Light (order) and a Lord of Darkness (chaos) who oppose each other. Magic is both common and rare in this campaign world in that about 25% of the population have the ability to use Minor Magic at will (including all characters and NPCs with a class level), but arcane magic is otherwise limited to long, complex, and costly rituals. Clerics have limited spell-like abilities called prayers. True magic Items are almost non-existent. What true magic items do exist are created by the GM as needed and are always one-of-a-kind. Magic items created by binding spirits to material items are more common.

The campaign these rules were designed for was centered around a large decadent empire which which was starting to fall apart at the seams while its borderlands were breaking away or were being overrun by subhumans and monsters. The central portions of the empire were ignoring the problems. The Church of Light was aware of the problems but its influence on the imperial government had been reduced by scandal after scandal. In the borderlands, however, the Church of Light was often the only institution able to see beyond local issues. The campaign world was early renaissance, at least in the central parts of the empire, but hand guns and long guns were never invented..

    Download Microlite74 Light vs Dark

Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery Edition

This 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.

    Download Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery

Microlite74 Previous Edition Information

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.

Microlite Version 2.0 Standard
(10 pages, no covers or interior art, standard M20 small print, 170K PDF)

Microlite Version 2.0 Booklet
(20 pages including covers, interior art, larger type, 2.2 meg PDF)

The previous edition of Microlite74 is Version 1.1 which was released in two different formats on October 6, 2008.

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.

Microlite74 Release 1.1 Digest is a special version of Microlite74 formatted to print as a digest-sized booklet something like those of 0e using the booklet printing feature of Adobe Acrobat. The type size is larger and there is B&W fantasy artwork, courtesy of Håkan Ackegård. This file is much larger than the standard file (2.25M compared to 112K) so the art will print with high quality. Because of the file size, the file is stored at Rapidshare.

Microlite74 Previous Edition Downloads

* Also available for free download at RetroRoleplaying: The Store on Lulu. Note that the standard edition on Lulu comes with a spiffy cover to bulk up the file by 2 pages and the download by 100K or so.