Saturday, March 7, 2009

Microlite 74 2.0 released

Taking a page from Chgowiz, I am happy to report that Microlite 74 2.0 has been released. This is a derivative of Microlite 20, an elegantly reduced-to-its-essentials version of the D20 system. Microlite 74 is a version that happily recreates much of the "flavor" of older games, such as Original D&D and B/X D&D, using mechanics familiar to anyone who has played a D20 game.

I have to admit to being mightily intrigued by Microlite 74; I almost chose it over Labyrinth Lord for my once-a-week-at-my-FLGS drop-in campaign. A great deal of my interest is centered on just how minimal a system Microlite 74 really is, creating a lot of room for referee adjudication while still keeping a set of simple core mechanics. Matthew Finch has noted that "old school" gaming is less about rules than rulings - I agree with that, and I think that Microlite 74 gets at that issue quite successfully by being as brief and spare as it is.

It is worth noting that Microlite 74 is not "just another retro-clone" game; it, along with Microlite 20, are part of a somewhat different movement about minimalist rules and settings for games. Some of the other examples of this that impress me include Spylite 20, Scions of a Primordial Planet, and Microlite 20 itself. I think there are some interesting implications of such a design philosophy above and beyond "quick and free" - not the least of which is a structural aversion to "railroading" through a minimalist scale and maintaining a focus on material being necessary only as needed. I also think it could allow for truly different campaigns - Scions being a good example - precisely because the focus of creation is away from rules and more on setting. (There's a project I have in mind related to all of this, but I'll be writing about that in a different post.)

Now I can't say I was totally pleased with the release of Microlite 74. The only quibble I have is that I was just getting ready to put together my minimalist campaign using the Microlite 74 1.1 rules, and I just wish the designers could have read my mind and either waited to release 2.0 or done it sooner. :)

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