Thursday, March 30, 2017

Microlite 20 Character Generators

One of the reasons I don't play games like Pathfinder or Rifts often is because they're very statistics-heavy. There's lots of numbers, lots of names, and stuff you have to look up in several different places. Spells, for example: a character sheet may list the names of spells, but (for space reasons as much as copyright ones) there's no description of the spell's effects there. Players have to turn to an entirely different piece of paper — or more often, a book. Kind of reduces the effect of having the entire character on one page.

Microlite 20 doesn't avoid that problem, as spell-casting characters can use any spell, as long as they have the hit points to pay for it. A character could just list signature spells with a brief, Microlite 20-style spell description. That's also why there's pre-generated spell lists (page 25 of Ultimate Microlite Fantasy) and the starter spells (on pages 26 and 27).

It's also why I created the character generator templates, simple Excel spreadsheets that calculate most of the numbers you need to get your character ready to play. There's one for Fantasy and Modern-Day games, and another for Costumes, which calculates the number of Power Points you have to spend.

As the instructions state, you type in the numbers in the purple and blue boxes, and write down the final results listed in the purple and red boxes. Just add description (race, class, equipment, etc.), and you're ready to go. It saves time on the math and makes sure you have all the bonuses and advantages your character should have, which of course can be unwieldy in a d20 System-based game.

Let's walk through character creation in my most popular game, Microlite 20 Costumes. Here's our hero, Remarkable Man, who is not unlike another well-known superhero, the first one ever.

Remarkable Man is Superman, okay?
I don't want to violate copyright law, so I'll just "suggest" who I mean.

1. Level and Power Points: As noted in the Microlite 20 Costumes rules, Remarkable Man's inspiration is a level 15 (superior) hero. That goes in cell B1 and results in 225 Power Points.

2. Races and Classes: Remarkable Man is an ordinary Earth human, who gained his powers in, oh, let's say a lab accident. No aliens here.

3. Stats: Remember, stats above 19 count as powers, so we'll plug that in here and also note it as powers in step 4. He's super-strong. Also remember that stats cost Power Points, unlike other Microlite 20 games.

4. Powers: We already have Super-Strength accounted for. Let's see, our role model has Flight, Energy Blast (two kinds: heat and freezing), Invulnerability (multiple forms), Super-Speed, Tunnel (probably) and X-Ray Vision. And that's the normal list, not even considering all the variations from space rocks or Silver Age comics! Remarkable Man has the big ones, like Flight at rank 15, Energy Blast (heat) at rank 10, Invulnerability (ordinary weapons) at rank 15, and X-Ray Vision at rank 10.

5. Gadgets, Limits and Magic: None for Remarkable Man! He's powerful enough.

6. Skills: In his day job as a mild-mannered... well, no one pays reporters any more, so we'll say he does social media marketing. A skill has a maximum rank of level +5 (20 for our hero). We'll split his 3 Free Bonus as 1 in Knowledge and 2 in Communication. We'll add a little bit in Physical, Knowledge and Communication. Other heroes handle the stealthy stuff.

7. Combat: We're getting to the end of our character generator, with just a few points left to spend (remember, financial status is still out there). He already has the Invulnerability power, but we'll boost his Armor Class to about the same as his Melee/Hand-To-Hand attack bonus, and we'll push up his woeful Initiative bonus.

8. Financial Status and Equipment: A red, blue and yellow costume comes at no cost, and we'll pretend social media marketing pays well enough for a Comfortable status (no points).

9. Flaws: Our inspiration has his weakness to cosmic rocks, usually green, but Remarkable Man doesn't need more Power Points. No flaws for him; plenty while playing the character, but none on the character sheet.

All that leaves us with 8 Power Points, which are dropped into Hit Points. So here's Remarkable Man, as determined using the character calculator:

Level 15
STR 25 (+7), DEX 18 (+4), MIND 16 (+3)
Physical 17, Subterfuge 15, Knowledge 17, Communication 18
Flight 15, Energy Blast (heat) 10, Invulnerability (ordinary weapons) 15, X-Ray Vision 10
Hit Points 97, Initiative +7, Melee/Hand-To-Hand +22, Missile/Ranged +19, Magic/Supernatural +18, Armor Class 27
Heroism Points 10, Financial Status Comfortable

Voila! A superhero character ready to play, without too much cross-referencing and confusion.

(image: Robert Linder)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

M20: Indiana Jones

This past weekend, I was at a convention (covering it for a magazine: two interests at once!), where the main activity was the local chapter of the Pathfinder Society, some two dozen games or so. There's also plenty of d20 activity happening, like Paizo's upcoming "Starfinder" and a steady stream of 5e books. So, let's revisit our version of the d20 system, Microlite.
I'm not changing anything; the newest and best versions of each rules set (except for Purest Essence itself) are on my website. Instead, I plan to continue to update options, adding more character classes and races, creating more rules, and bringing what I call "famous" characters to the Microlite 20 experience. For example, let's take another look at an old classic:

Indiana Jones (Henry Jones, Jr.)
As of: End of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”
Uses Microlite 20: Modern-Day (late historical era)
Level: 13
Species, Focus and Special Abilities: Human, Intellect Focus, Research, Quick Draw, Combat Style (Melee/Hand-To-Hand) +2, Combat Style (Missile/Ranged) +2, Connections (6 times per day), Lucky (3 times per day)
STR: 15 (+2)
DEX: 13 (+1)
MIND: 18 (+4)
Physical: 16
Subterfuge: 10
Knowledge: 21 
Communication: 12
Technology: 9
Hit Points: 67
Armor Class: 20
Initiative: +7
Melee/Hand-to-Hand Attack Bonus: +15
Missile/Ranged Attack Bonus: +14
Magic/Supernatural Attack Bonus: +17
Financial Status: Comfortable
Equipment: Leather Armor, Whip, Machine Pistol, Fedora

This is a straightforward translation of a well-known hero, perfectly ready to play, or inspire the creation of similar heroes. Does seeing classic characters in game terms help your game night, or do simple stats not work for you? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Revisiting VSGMR

For the first time in about four years, I took a look at VSGMR (Very Simple Generic Miniatures Rules). There are other good simple miniatures games available (One Page, Two Hour, Brikwars, even Age of Sigmar), but I like the option of using all the standard roleplaying dice and different scales of figures. I'm going to revisit it, as there are still people in the Yahoo group.

Some of those other games are even simpler than VSGMR, and as I have less and less time to set up and play games (jobs, family, the same issues as everyone else), I lean more and more in that direction. I also want to make use of the figures I already have: 28 mm fantasy characters, 10 mm characters from wargames, and standees, the cardboard flats with a small plastic base.

These are standees.
I don't think the rules need a revision, since they're pretty smooth right now (move 6 inches, roll 4 or 5 to hit, roll 4 or 6 for defense if there's armor). There are a few special abilities, and options for using figures of different scales. I'd like to add more custom-made armies, since there are new miniature games available since 2013, with new options. So look for that soon (really!).