Review: Microlite20  

Posted by Spenser Isdahl in ,

I realize Greywulf's Microlite20 has been around for years now, but I only became aware of its existence a few days ago when Greywulf announced that he's selling the rights to the game off. Being a fan of simplicity (and things that are free), I was instantly interested in the game.

Microlite20 is exactly what you'd expect from the name: It's the d20 system stripped to the barest essentials. There are three ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Mind), four races (humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings), and four classes (fighters, rogues, magi, and clerics). While the rules are very simple, they should also be very familiar to any D&D player. The rules do require a bit of reference to the SRD, but anyone who's familiar with D&D 3.X should be able to pick up the Microlite20 rules in a matter of seconds.

My first thought was that Microlite20 would be a great way to introduce non-gamers to roleplaying. In the past, I've had mixed results trying to teach people not used to complicated games how to play D&D, but the great thing about Microlite20 is that, while the rules are few and easy to understand, they are also all easily recognizable parts of D&D 3.5. Thus, the Microlite20 rules could provide a good stepping stone to more complex gaming.

However, it must be noted that the Microlite20 rules aren't just for noobs. An experienced group could easily find a use for these rules for a quick one-shot if the regular DM needs a break.

The only issue I see with these rules are from the DM's side of the screen. Since the rules themselves are so simple, it might seem like running a game would be simpler as well. In a way, it is; the monsters are just hit points, an AC, and attacks, and there are only a few simplified hazards. However, because of this, gameplay could very quickly become stale, where combat is a long stream of mechanically identical monsters and bland traps. Because of this, I'd recommend the game to at least moderately experienced DMs.

I'd give Microlite20 a 6 on a d10; it's very successful at its stated goal, that being simplicity, and it's easy to learn and play, even if it's not exactly exciting or new. But at a price point of free, how can you pass it up?

This entry was posted on January 8, 2010 at Friday, January 08, 2010 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Many thanks for the fair review :D

You're right - Microlite20 is well-suited both as a system for introducing new players, as well as one that's brilliantly hackable by more experienced GMs. I'm continually amazed at the creations the elves in the microlite20 forums produce.

I wish my own group were as sold on it as I would like them to be. Unfortunately they much prefer crunchier systems that are available in hardback form. Go figure :D

Thanks again!

January 8, 2010 at 6:30 PM

No, thank you, I'm hoping to use Microlite20 to pull a couple new players into the fold :)

January 8, 2010 at 10:35 PM

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