Looking for a rules lite, quick to learn, and easy to use role-playing game? I know I am, I have children with short attention spans and I do not have a lot of time to run role-playing games now. Tiny Dungeon by Smoking Salamader could be called minimalist role-playing. Tiny Dungeon is not a 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons clone. Tiny Dungeon is its own game.
The book is small, I cannot stress this, the size complements the title in a good way. The writing is good. The art appropriate. The layout standard for role-playing games. Even though Tiny Dungeon is tiny (ha) a Table of Contents and/or index would be nice for future printings to make finding information easier.
Character generation is quick.
- Pick a race from human, fey (elf), dwarf, goblin, and salamander. Attributes are non-existent, only Hit Points. Each race has at least one ability, such as choose an additional trait.
- Choose three traits. Traits are abilities such as Charismatic, Quick Draw, or Spell-Touched. Other games would call them feats. Traits have a quote that describes what the trait does and rules.
- Choose a weapon group from Light Melee, Heavy Melee, and Ranged. Then pick one weapon-players are encouraged to be creative. The type of weapon chosen does not matter other than for descriptive purposes and combat rules. All weapons do 1-point of damage.
- Last, name your character, give your character some background information, 10 gold, an adventure’s kit, and assume your character has armor. The type of armor is for descriptive purposes as armor has no gameplay effect. Yes, you read that right.
Those four steps is all.
Tiny Dungeon is easy to play. Roll two 6-sided dice, if a 5 or 6 is rolled on either die the action was successful. Players should have three dice because from time to time they will have an advantage which allows them to roll three 6-sided dice. With a disadvantage the player rolls one 6-sided die.
There are other minor rules to round out the core mechanic such as initiative, hiding, and magic. Using the core mechanic should get players through most situations.
The Rest of the Book
Keeping with the tiny and minimalistic theme there are no equipment, weapon, or spell lists. Equipment, armor, and weapons are up to the gamemaster with a small chart of costs as a guideline. Depending on your thoughts on endless lists of things this could be a positive or a negative. Having played other role-playing games I know what equipment and weapons are commonly expected, but other people may need a list to jump start the process. Something I would have like to see is some specific equipment or weapons as examples of how far the creator took his ideas.
Magic is not a list of spells and items. Magic uses traits to determine what the character can do. The magic mechanics fit with the core mechanic, but feel off to me. I am glad that there are not pages devoted to spells, but I would have liked to see more examples of magic.
Tiny Dungeon comes with a sample section of enemies and an adventure, along with some advice on how to run an adventure using Tiny Dungeon. There is a print and play bundle on the website (see link above) that comes with additional material. Overall, I like what I read. I plan on putting Tiny Dungeon to use in the next week or so. I want to see more and am looking forward to seeing what is done with Tiny Dungeon and the system.