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m20: Pick-up/One-Off Games, or General Purpose/Campaigns?

Description: Thoughts/experiences on whether m20 is better suited for specific games/purposes, or whether it's suitable for long-term/campaign play.

A place to share your rules-lite RPG ideas and designs.


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quaffeine
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m20: Pick-up/One-Off Games, or General Purpose/Campaigns?

Post by quaffeine »

Ahoy, question for the panel:

I've been reading through the original and continued EN World threads where m20 was originally announced and developed. Yes, all of them. DON'T JUDGE ME!!!

Anyway, there seemed to be a prevailing thought at the time, even by its original author, that m20 was better suited for "one-off" or "pick-up" games, as character creation and refereeing were both quick and easy. On the other hand, if players wanted something with more depth, they should look to a more "full-fledged" system like D&D or Pathfinder.

I'm interested to hear anyones thoughts/experience either way on this. Part of me agrees that Purest Essence alone doesn't lend itself to in-depth/long-term/campaign-style play. On the other hand, there was a time where that's what the rulesets looked like, and I'm sure some of those folks were involved in longer campaigns.

I feel like the compact m20 base, with some judicious additions inspired by newer editions, could still produce a general-use system that provides enough "variety" to be compelling while retaining the compact playability it started with.

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Re: m20: Pick-up/One-Off Games, or General Purpose/Campaigns?

Post by randalls »

quaffeine wrote:
Mon Nov 08, 2021 11:30 am

Anyway, there seemed to be a prevailing thought at the time, even by its original author, that m20 was better suited for "one-off" or "pick-up" games, as character creation and refereeing were both quick and easy. On the other hand, if players wanted something with more depth, they should look to a more "full-fledged" system like D&D or Pathfinder.

In my opinion it depends on what your players are looking for. If they want a game where success is measured by how much mechanical (that is "game rules") power their character has, most M20-based games aren't that good for long-time play as their really isn't enough "character-oriented rules gadgets" players can manipulate to keep players looking for them happy. On the other hand, if the players measure success by what their characters "do in the campaign world during play" campaigns can last years. For example, I know of one Microlite74 Standart campaign that has ran in Central Texas for over 10 years of mostly weekly or bi-weekly play.

I feel like the compact m20 base, with some judicious additions inspired by newer editions, could still produce a general-use system that provides enough "variety" to be compelling while retaining the compact playability it started with.

I100% agreement here.

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RandallS
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Re: m20: Pick-up/One-Off Games, or General Purpose/Campaigns?

Post by quaffeine »

In my opinion it depends on what your players are looking for. If they want a game where success is measured by how much mechanical (that is "game rules") power their character has, most M20-based games aren't that good for long-time play as their really isn't enough "character-oriented rules gadgets" players can manipulate to keep players looking for them happy.

Gamers these days seem to want/expect some level of "rules gadgets," and even I will certainly cop to a love of 2E *books. I guess this is my real question: is there a niche for something with something that balances the character-diversity options of splatbooks through 5E with Microlite 20 sensibilities.

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Re: m20: Pick-up/One-Off Games, or General Purpose/Campaigns?

Post by randalls »

quaffeine wrote:
Fri Nov 19, 2021 10:21 pm

Gamers these days seem to want/expect some level of "rules gadgets," and even I will certainly cop to a love of 2E *books. I guess this is my real question: is there a niche for something with something that balances the character-diversity options of splatbooks through 5E with Microlite 20 sensibilities.

Not that I'm aware of. However, since I try to avoid games with complex character design options, I'm not the person to ask. However, as no one else has come in on this with suggestions in the past couple of weeks, there just may not be many games like this.

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RandallS
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Re: m20: Pick-up/One-Off Games, or General Purpose/Campaigns?

Post by quaffeine »

So to provide a quick update on this topic... we just finished a campaign (or first chapter thereof, we'll see if the group wants to continue) based in a low-fantasy 1790s New Orleans. It started last July (dang!), once weekly for around 2 hours, and saw the party reach 6th level (this probably should have been higher for 9 months, due at least in part to lack of prep on my part).

It used an extended m20 ruleset, particularly where character classes/options were concerned. I did, however, keep these options pretty lean, testing the theory that closer to Purest Essence would be better.

I've come to the conclusion that the base m20 rules provide an excellent base for a ruleset, but pretty much beg to be extended in so.e way. I think the players agreed as, while they seem to have generally enjoyed the campaign, one commented that they "needed to get me on a crunchier system." These are all veteran players with experience going back to (I believe) the B/X and 1E days.

So to answer my own original question, I feel a need to put together something more "advanced" together, while being extremely conservative about what's added and making sure it all has value.

Thank you for attending my m20 TED talk :lol:

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Re: m20: Pick-up/One-Off Games, or General Purpose/Campaigns?

Post by squirewaldo »

I enjoyed the game. It was a great balance of investigation and adventure.

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Re: m20: Pick-up/One-Off Games, or General Purpose/Campaigns?

Post by randalls »

quaffeine wrote:
Wed Apr 20, 2022 1:18 pm

I've come to the conclusion that the base m20 rules provide an excellent base for a ruleset, but pretty much beg to be extended in so.e way. I think the players agreed as, while they seem to have generally enjoyed the campaign, one commented that they "needed to get me on a crunchier system." These are all veteran players with experience going back to (I believe) the B/X and 1E days.

So to answer my own original question, I feel a need to put together something more "advanced" together, while being extremely conservative about what's added and making sure it all has value.

It's easy to add stuff/crunch to M20. While this is probably obvious, you probably want to find out exactly where your players would like to see more crunch, that way you can some crunch they want where they want it -- thereby focusing the additions to things that really add value for the players.

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RandallS
Playing and Gamemastering Tabletop RPGs Since 1975
Designer: Microlite74, Microlite75, Microlite78, Microlite81, Microlite20 OSS, and others
Compiler: The Microlite20 RPG Collection
Administrator: Rules Light RPGs

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