M20 Research Questions

Discussion and Reviews of rules-lite tabeletop RPGs (games like Microlite20, The Black Hack, etc.)


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pug
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M20 Research Questions

Post by pug » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:42 am

I'm producing notes for myself as I learn more about D&D system offspring and cousins with Microlite material consuming the bulk of my attention ATM. My hope here is to start a Q&A so we can collaborate, clarify and build community.

I'll start with a quote from the beginning of the standard M20 documentation:

This is a trimmed-down, sub-miniature version of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules (see license for more info) that has been designed to be quick and easy to play. The goal was to create a simpler game, but one where all of the resources of Primary Fantasy SRD (monsters, spells, adventures and equipment) could be used without conversion.

I already have some things catching my attention in the first couple sentences... like, what is "The Primary Fantasy SRD" and is there anywhere people can find a copy?

After following all the leads I can, It appears "The Primary Fantasy SRD" is an indirect reference to the 3.5e d20 SRD. As such I assume it's safe to say M20 is “a trimmed-down, sub-miniature version” of the d20 mechanics, that is “a simpler game… one where all the resources could be used without conversion."

Would anyone care to confirm?

Also, does this seem like a good idea to anyone else? I love learning this way and am a former academic researcher so this sort of thing is my bag. I expect questions to range from incredibly basic to highly specialized but that shouldn't be a problem until we amass a considerable number of posts which we can deal with in due course if it becomes an issue... the real challenge will be sustained engagement. :)

Thanks in advance for any participation. I certainly appreciate it.

-Ray

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Re: M20 Research Questions

Post by randalls » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:45 pm

pug wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:42 am

I already have some things catching my attention in the first couple sentences... like, what is "The Primary Fantasy SRD" and is there anywhere people can find a copy?

After following all the leads I can, It appears "The Primary Fantasy SRD" is an indirect reference to the 3.5e d20 SRD. As such I assume it's safe to say M20 is “a trimmed-down, sub-miniature version” of the d20 mechanics, that is “a simpler game… one where all the resources could be used without conversion."

Would anyone care to confirm?

That's exactly correct. The indirect wording is due to the trademark reference restrictions of the OGL.

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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: Microlite20 Nexus


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Re: M20 Research Questions

Post by pug » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:59 pm

Oh nice! I was just writing some additional remarks as you replied, randalls. Thanks very much.

I'll respond to my own question a little more with further comments from researching references to "Primary Fantasy SRD" and variations on that phrase.

Consistent with randalls' statement: It doesn't appear to be used regularly anywhere outside of Microlite and related content. When it does get mentioned it's often in close proximity to OGL licensing information. If there is a distinct Primary Fantasy System there doesn't appear to be any directly available material for it apart from Microlite documents -- physical or digital. Lastly, I can't find an explanation of where the phrase comes from originally or what the purpose of it is other than to avoid referring to d20 or D&D directly.

I'm fascinated by little details like this. Not sure who else gets hung up on such stuff but I'm here to share in case anybody else is interested. :)

The next thing I'll be focusing on is the Stats breakdown and how it varies across Microlite iterations... wondering if there are any rule sets with Two stats or if anyone attempts to eliminate that layer entirely. On the other end, considering the possibility of building out the ability stats and focusing on them for character creation, and so on. I've looked into it some but haven't devoted any real attention to it yet. Soon though.

Free time is precious like that, I suppose.

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Re: M20 Research Questions

Post by Snorb » Sat Sep 21, 2019 5:27 pm

To be fair, I've always seen "Compatible with the 3.5e edition of the world's oldest fantasy roleplaying game" when it comes to supplements dancing around the Dungeons & Dragons name (in addition to "You know the game. That game. The one that rhymes with 'Truncheons & Flagons' that we can't say because we'll get sued.")

As for the stats, I've never seen an m20 game with two stats, but most of the ones I've seen either use the base three (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence) or add in Charisma from the Expert Rules.

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I wrote stuff:
The ArrrPG - A game about pirates.
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Intervigilum - A PbtA-ish game about being knights against the Dark.


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Re: M20 Research Questions

Post by pug » Sat Sep 21, 2019 6:26 pm

Snorb wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 5:27 pm

I've always seen "Compatible with the 3.5e edition of the world's oldest fantasy roleplaying game" when it comes to supplements dancing around the Dungeons & Dragons name...

Sure, yeah. I'm confident a fair number of folks, maybe even the majority of readers, have no trouble making the implied connection and I assume that's what you mean. I figure there are some folks who will be confused or wonder, as I did, if there's some other material out there being referenced. People might be confused out of a lack of experience or even simply overthinking it by being a bit too literal. I like laying all doubts to rest with things like this so we can help a few avoid potential confusion and make it clear there's no actual Primary Fantasy SRD to go questing for.

I think of it as covering all my bases. :)

Also, I appreciate your thoughts on stats. I haven't finished pouring through the breadth of available material yet but I suspect it's largely as you say if not entirely the case. I may find some more extreme variation in the direction of Searchers of the Unknown derivatives... I can't be sure yet. I'm sure there are some noteworthy exceptions to consider in any case and that's really all I'm looking to draw attention to.

Should be a good time.

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Re: M20 Research Questions

Post by Vanya » Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:36 am

The first time I read those words I was only slightly confused in that I wasn't sure if it referred to 3e or 3.5e.

I'll say this though, while pouring through the pdfs I usually first look for that part because it usually has a general description of the particular suppliment or variant I'm looking at. So it's often a bit of a text based landmark of sorts.

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