Now this is something interesting

Today while doing some reading online I came across a rather interesting OGL project called Microlite20. This is in essence a chopped down version of the D20 system to its most basic components, the whole thing is less than 30 pages long with several of those pages being the OGL that is included with each free PDF.

Lets go for a quick overview of what this game is and then I’ll give my opinion on it.

First Microlite20 streamlines the standard six ability scores into just three: Strength, Dexterity, and Mind.

Races provide adjustments to one of the 3 ability scores or a bonus to skill checks. Classes are Fighter, Rogue, Mage, and Cleric each with different weapon and armor abilities.

There are just 4 skills : Physical, Subterfuge, Knowledge and Communication. They boil down to a level + ability modifier + class/race bonus + 1d20. Saving throws are now skill checks.

Spells cost you hit points to cast rather than using the Vancian casting spells/level chart.

Everyone gets Strength + 1d6 hp per level, when hp goes to 0 take strength damage when strength goes to 0 you die. There is no BAB, though fighter does get a bonus to hit.

Advancing in level is pretty simple when you have fought Encounter Levels equal to 10x your current level you advance.

Now for my opinion.

We’ve got three ability scores instead of six, I do like the differentiation between intelligence and wisdom, but for simplicity MIND works just fine. I would have liked for them to change the name of strength since strength now represents general physical well-being as well as raw physical power. I’ve also favored Agility as label rather than Dexterity, but that’s just personal preference

The races are just mechanical adjustments and while not everything is represented there is no barrier to re-skinning and saying that your extra Dex comes from being a kobold rather than a halfling. I usually play humans so there is no loss by not including gnomes or half-elves in the list.

The reduction of classes is something I am very much for. I dislike the large number of only marginally different classes that plagued 3.5 and is now making its way into Pathfinder. Just be a fighter who uses a bastard sword if you want to play a samurai, the flavor is in the roleplaying not the nearly identical to fighter mechanics of the class. Only four classes is great, they fill the 4 core roles that a party needs. I feel that those classes do it best anyway so why do you need Bards, Paladins, or Monks?

Generic skill list is alright though I do like to see a bit of divergence in ability, having different skills keeps fighters from all being the same guy in plate armor with a sword and rogues from being just that leather clad dude who steals stuff. There are also no feats, forgot to mention that earlier, you are considered to have the feats that are usual for your class such as two weapon fighting and weapon finesse for fighters and rogues.

Spell casting requiring hp rather than spell levels is a pretty good idea, I like the act of casting draining the caster. Then again I really don’t like magic whatsoever so my opinion on the change is rather invalid.

Everyone gets the same hp is alright though I would not like to see a fighter who has fewer hp than a mage of the same level. I’ve become a fan of average or otherwise fixed hp/level progressions over rolling because of how much rolling a 1 sucks especially if you do it more than once before 5th level.

Finally advancing in level is alright for dungeon crawl type adventures but doesn’t leave a lot of room for quest based XP unless you assign completing a quest an EL in which case it fits in perfectly. It is very basic and perfectly functional.

Overall I really like Microlite20, it looks perfect for running one shot games and throwing down some adventures off the cuff. I’d like to replace hp with a toughness save, perhaps just use the Str+physical skill used for fortitude to represent general toughness as well, and replace rolled damage with a fixed quantity so that the game requires only 1 die to play as well. That would really simplify things.

The portion of the game that I reviewed here is just 1 page of it, the rest is equipment, spell, and monster lists as well as a provision for Microlite20 Modern, but I pretty much covered the whole system aspect of it here.

EDIT: I have been informed by the creator of Microlite20 that the game’s website is now located at


~ by katallos on July 29, 2010.

One Response to “Now this is something interesting”

  1. Hello,
    Thank you very much for the kind comments on my game. You pretty much covered everything nicely the only point I wanted to make is that the new main site is, I have just not gotten the chance to set the old site to mirror.
    Seth Drebitko

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