11 January 2017

Minimal D&D

This is a collection of Dungeons & Dragons-like role-playing games that are 1, 4, or 5 pages.

None of these games claim to be D&D. Legally, of course, they cannot. But they are all attempts at boiling D&D down to its essence. To provide a minimal RPG that still—to some extent—looks and feels like D&D.


Microlite20 is a minimalist role-playing game designed to be usable with the majority of the OGL/d20 supplements, rules and adventures with little or no advance preparation. The basic rules for character generation, combat, magic and level advancement take up a single sheet of paper, meaning it is perfect for introducing role-playing to new players, gaming oneshot adventures or tailoring into your own game system.

Microlite20 has a ton of spin-offs including some that seek to appeal more to old school gamers than the original may have.

Searchers of the Unknown:

Searchers of the Unknown is a one-page roleplaying game where player characters are entirely defined by a minimalist old school Dungeons & Dragons one line stat block (e.g. “AC 7, MV 9, HD 2, hp 9, #AT 1, D 1d8 mace”) something like monster stat blocks in early editions of D&D.

Searchers likewise has a bunch of spin-offs. Including...

1974 Style:

1974 Style™ is a set of free, familiar, and easily modifiable role-playing game rules suitable for Fantasy, Pulp, Horror, Western and Sci-Fi Adventures.

A typical old-school RPG module stats list for a monster looks like this: AC6, MV9’, HD 1, hp 4, #AT1, D1-10 by halberd. The 1974 Style rules use these same stats for player characters (PCs).

Character stats can fit on a 3×5 or 4×6 card, and all the rules for a given game and setting can fit on a single sheet of paper.

Swords & Wizardry Light:

You remember, don’t you? The sounds of battle heard through the clatter of dice? The shuffling of character sheets? The war stories shared with your fellow campaigners? There is a longing in the soul of every adventurer and though it sometimes fades to a whisper, you still hear it. Swords & Wizardry Light marks your return to fantasy roleplaying—or if you’re curious what fantasy gaming is all about, this is the perfect introduction. This folio, a twenty-sided die, and a few six-sided dice are all you need to return to the gaming table, recall those halycon days of heroism, and forge brand new legend. Welcome back to Swords & Wizardry Light!

I greatly appreciate that they actually spelled in “light” instead of “lite”.

Honorable mention—Original Edition Delta: OED is really just some house rules for original D&D. But it isn’t far from being everything you need. Lists of spells, equipment, monsters, and treasure are missing; although there are plenty of sources for such things. The XP per level tables are also missing, though you could certainly get by with the S&WL rule there.

Honorable mention—Risus: Risus is in no way D&D. Though it can certainly do a good spoof of D&D. But it may be the best minimal RPG ever written.

Others? Please leave a comment about any other minimal D&D-like games I missed.


Zenopus Archives said...
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Zenopus Archives said...

My slightly different approach to minimalism is to simplify the rules to single-page reference sheets for each topic - Character Creation, Spells, Monster, Treasure etc. Holmes Ref currently has ten sheets covering most of the game:
Holmes Ref 1.0