I ran my first microlite74 game this weekend and it was a blast. I ran it as a one on one with my wife as the player. My adventure/dungeon was the sample dungeon in the back of the Holmes Blue Book, with modifications for m74 rules/monsters.
My preparations were minimal, convert the monsters, make sure nothing mechanical conflicted or needed some houserules. It went very well, as my familiarity with m20 prior to m74 helped me to know what to expect. What I really liked was that it was simplicity personified and since I wasn’t doing a full world plan prior to playing (we’re going to do it one hex at a time), I could just jump in.

I assigned DCs to poison, paralysis and other things needing a saving throw, most of them are 12 or 13. I used the Holmes saving throw chart and eyeballed an average. I noted those DCs on my monster page from m74 so I could use them later.

I rolled up a bunch of pregen characters, both for NPCs and for my wife to choose from (and use should her character die) as well as some hirelings. Since the m74 rules state that bonuses for the 3 status are (value-10)/2 – I houseruled that anything under 8 would be -1. That might change, but it made it easier for most of my pregens. I rolled up a natural 18 for one of the fighting men, so I made it a dwarf.

I also used my idea for introducing Vancian magic into microlite74/microlite20. In my campaign, you can do the m20/m74 approach of using HP as “spell points”, except that I removed the “favorite spell” rule. You can also use a “Vancian” approach, where you memorize spells, similar to Holmes with the number of spells available. There’s also a chance you can “keep” the spell in memory by attempting to control it, but there’s a price to be paid. I discuss this on the microlite74 forum.

With those preparations in hand, I sat down and played about a 2 hour stretch with my wife. We had alot of fun! The only glitch was my unpreparedness at naming NPCs/hirelings, so “Joe” and “Bob” were born. 🙂

I minimized the “hook” part of the game, basically setting up the scenario that the PC found a group in a bar bemoaning the fate of a companion who had died horribly to a trap. The PC, being rather destitute and needing gold, listened in and volunteered to adventure with them. The NPC and hirelings agreed, although the PC would pay all costs of hirelings until she proved “her mettle”.

To make it easy on my wife, I assigned her elements from the “pregen” equipment packs from the m74 rules as hand me downs from the deceased NPC. This also sets the precedence of how things will get passed on should characters die. And off they went.

Now I set the atmosphere and mood as that entering this wizard’s destroyed tower would be very deadly! The NPC/hireling’s description of how the floor opened up and the party member was impaled by spikes, as well as some bloody holes still on the equipment that my wife inherited made her a bit nervous. The description of claustrophic 10′ wide corridors and echoing wind, dripping water and various strange noises helped to set the mood.

The first room they went into, they found several humanoid creatures, grey with yellow eyes, fangs and claws and the stench of death upon them. Two ghouls were dragging coffins from a nearby graveyard into the room and eating the contents. A battle ensued and my wife declined to run into the room by herself, so a doorway battle ensued. One of the hirelings was paralyzed, one of the ghouls was killed and the other ran off, not wanting to be killed. My wife seemed really relieved, although not knowing what happened to “Bob”. Searching the room, they found treasure, and that was really the only thing I had to look up during the game, the conversion of platinum to gold. When “Bob” suddenly sat up screaming from recovery from paralysis, she looked fairly surprised, but they pushed on.

I rolled 1 for wandering monsters and decided to make them bandits to fit some of the other denizens of the dungeon. I told her that as they turned the corridor, they “heard voice” in the darkness. She immediately backtracked around the corner and waited. “The voices are now gone.” I said and she *had* to look. I had rolled for surprise, so the bandits jumped out around the corner and got in a free round of attacks, which they both missed. My wife killed one of the bandits (“I smash his head in!” she said with some amount of satisfaction) and the NPC mage put the other one to sleep. (I set the tone for Vancian wizards by describing him in robes similar to what Arabs would wear. We’ll see what fruit that bears.) After a quick search revealed only fairly cheap daggers, it was late and the NPCs/underlings wanted to return with some amount of treasure and heal/recover spells. NOBODY wanted to spend the night in the dungeon, so all returned.

I awarded XP, although that did bring up a question in my head – although the idea of encounters and combat allow for monsters to run off, if they run off due to loss of morale, does that monster count towards the XP total? Microlite74 says “Characters get (XP) when their party ‘defeats’ monsters.” Holmes says “(XP) are awarded on the basis of treasure obtained and monsters killed or subdued. … Monsters killed or overcome by magic or wits are worthy experience points to be divided among the entire party.”

So in this instance, I awarded the party for one ghoul, and for two bandits for a total of 4XP (per m74 rules, 1XP per HD). The other question that came up in my head about m74 was the division, or rather *lack* of division of XP – the m74 rules examples seem to imply that the XP total does not get divided, but awarded to each character as a whole. So if 22XP are gained by monsters, then each character is awarded 22XP. I’m going to ask for clarification of that on the m74 forum, but for now, I awarded the PC the full 4XP rather than dividing it up between her and the NPC.

I really enjoyed this game and so did my wife. I concentrated on the “Indiana Jones” rather than the “Fellowship of the Rings” approach – dive into a dangerous area, get some scratch, make it out to celebrate and plan/plot for getting more. Setting the tone that this was a really creepy, potentially dangerous area helped to set the mood and her approach. We’re both learning to play this way, but the minimalist approach of microlite helped to focus the attention on the game and not on the mechanics. Using the d6/d20 99% of the time helped to minimize the need for “which dice do I need” question. And removing the incessant rolls for everything helped to concentrate on what was possible, not what the dice said was reality.

I’m looking forward to the next installment! There are several really nasty moments my wife has to face, and I have a very fun ‘miniquest’ in the hopper should she need the services of the Church…