Update: A New (Tiny) Setting

I’ve been reading the original Tarzan series aloud to the kids these days. With the aid of my friendly local used bookstore, we’re slowly amassing the whole 24-book collection, having recently purchased The Son of Tarzan and already eyeing Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar.

So it’s no surprise that jungles and mountains and ruined kingdoms peopled by forgotten races have filled my mind of late and inspired me to create just such a place: The Island of the Apemen, featuring — among others — the apemen found in Fantasy Monsters.

Following is just a very brief excerpt of this setting. As you read (and review the map), consider setting the mood with this.

The ocean is congenial and blue; the sand soft and white; the thick jungle that borders the shore green and sultry, and from its depths sound the varied calls of tropical birds. Huge mountains mass in the distance, the verdure clinging to their daunting heights in desultory clumps.

Visible from the beach, one peak in particular catches the eye: amongst a dense copse of green appears a small clearing, and huge stones – geometric and prominent – stand in sharp relief to the rugged mountain at their backs.

Just one or two more playtests before it’s released. Expect to see it in the next few weeks, with several adventures to follow! Note to GMs: If you’re interested in running an adventure in this setting, I could not more highly recommend both Burroughs’ Tarzan (linked above) and Pellucidar series to really get yourself in that headspace.

Rule: Monster Size

To improve the granularity and realism of combat, the optional “monster size” rule may be used. This rule increases or decreases an attacker’s odds of striking his or her target based on the size of the monster.

Extra small (XS) – -1 to melee and ranged attacks against extra small monsters (e.g. pixies, fairies, imps, etc.).

Small (S) – -1 to ranged attacks against small monsters (e.g. giant rats, blackscale leeches, cave nymphs, etc.).

Medium (M) – no effect (e.g. werewolves, humans, hobgoblins, etc.).

Large (L) – +1 to ranged attacks against large monsters (ogres, giants, basilisks, etc.).

Extra large (XL) – +1 to melee and ranged attacks against extra large monsters (dragons, bathemoths, tyrannosaurs, etc.).

Race: Stoke

Stokes are a race of intelligent, bipedal weasels. They are short, lithe, and sinuous, dwelling in dense canopies and thick hedges, and living for 30+ years. Like most sentient beasts, they are imbued with natural magic. They gain: the charm skill; the listen skill; the sneak skill; and -1 to melee attacks against the stoke.

They have a toughness of 6 (T6); use middleweight weapons & below; use lightweight armor & below; and gain +1 power point and +2 magic points. Stokes begin with the following abilities:

Cat-like – your movement speed is fast; gain +1 to all reflex-based checks (not including attack rolls).

Spell-casting (natural) – start with 2 spells and cast natural spells for their cost in magic points; may not use any other type of spell.

Wild fury – on an attack roll of 10, inflict double the amount of damage.

Note: When playing a stoke, unlike when playing other races, the player does not select a class — stokes are both a race and a class.

Class Ability: Guardian Angel (Cleric)

A cleric may, during character creation or at any time while praying in a temple, forgo one spell to obtain a guardian angel who will intercede on his or her behalf, proffering the following benefits:

  • If the cleric rolls a 1, he or she may reroll (once);
  • If the cleric receives a death-dealing blow, he or she may roll 1d10: if the result is 5 or higher, the blow misses;
  • If the cleric is attacking an evil entity, he or she inflicts +1 damage each successful attack.

Note: “The Broken Light”

I wrote “The Broken Light” years ago based on a poem I just read last night… which is out there, right?

There is a cavern in the deep
Beyond the sea-winds brawl;
Where the hills of the sea slope high and steep,
And dragons sleep
And serpents creep
There is a cavern in the deep
Where strange sea-creatures crawl.

Robert E. Howard, “Deeps”

Update: 2021

A rough outline of my goals for Tiny d10 in 2021 include:

1. Publish At Least Two Fantasy Rules Supplements

2020 saw the publication of Mounts & Mammoths, a fantasy rules supplement that introduced rules for mounts and mounted combat, as well as several new monsters. Currently, there are two additional fantasy rules supplements waiting in the wings: Hedges & Hollows and Swamps & Slimes. Publication of these two supplements will be my first (and likely easiest) goal.

H&H adds gnomes as both a monster and a playable race, as well as several other deep-forest monsters (e.g. natural beasts), and rules for generating a hedge-maze dungeon on the fly (in the manner of the AD&D DMG).

S&S adds warts as a playable race, as well as several other swamp/marshland monsters (e.g. natural beasts, ghosts, slimes, etc.), and other related content.

2. Publish an Adventure Supplement for Indy

This is where things get a little more challenging. I’ve previously discussed the difficulty of developing (good) adventure modules for a genre that exists in a largely storytelling form. TSR attempted it in 1984 with their Adventures of Indiana Jones Role-playing Game, which amounted to a clumsy, restrictive set of rules that “played” more like a movie script than an actual game. This is, of course, through no fault of their own – they clearly understood that creating a pulp-style system using conventional (i.e. D&D-type) game design methods would be a non-starter. Ultimately, their fatal flaw was that the system was wrapped up in someone else’s intellectual property – it was selling a branded experience, and as a result, was forced to adhere to that experience’s native (and limited) format.

In this way, I owe TSR a debt of gratitude – in demonstrating (and painstakingly) what not to do, they’ve inspired in me many ideas on the right way to achieve an Indiana Jones-style adventure consistent with Tiny d10 adventure principles (open, easy, and limitless). As a major fan of pulp fiction, I could go on (and on and on), but I won’t. I’ll leave this here: in 2021, I intend to publish not an adventure module, but an adventure supplement that provides GMs the resources and tools necessary to run pulpy, swashbuckling adventures from New York City to Lima.

3. Publish Western Core

This will probably require the most effort of all my goals so far, though it is by no means the most difficult (more on that in #4). Western Core will be the newest addition to the Tiny d10 “core” family (which, for the sake of being thorough, is defined as a document containing a set of core rules, a monster manual, and an adventure module). I expect that developing Western Core Rules and Western Monsters (working title, by the way) will be the simpler tasks, but I look most forward to working on the adventure: Killers of Cutface Creek, which introduces a southwestern town beset by all manner of troubles, from outlaw bands kicking over stage coaches to werewolves prowling the endless desert by the light of the full moon.

Once finished (a rough estimation for that being the latter half of this year), Western Core will, like Fantasy Core, be available in print – another (albeit unofficial) quality of core books.

4. Recapture Tiny d10’s Creative Momentum

I’ve saved the most difficult for last. In years past, Tiny d10 had a lot of creative momentum – both from myself, and from other great contributors who gave freely their time and effort to grow the body of work into what it is today. I failed to capitalize on that, and as a result, it died out. Contributions have been stagnant for a couple years now, though there are some promising things in the vague and misty distance. I blame myself for that, of course – like most creative types (which I begrudgingly admit that I am), I’m not always easy to work with. I’ll try to do better going forward, being more supportive, responsive, and giving in every way possible.

Here’s to hoping there are still some embers in that fire that can be rekindled.

Stretch Goal #1: Publish the Fort in the Hinterlands Adventure Module

This ended up taking a backseat to other 2020 projects, mostly due to time constraints. I like to do extensive playtesting of adventures before releasing them in any official capacity, and I wasn’t able to do much of that. That said, the module is about 1/3 of the way done, so at the moment, I feel confident that this is something I can achieve (though I won’t commit myself to it just yet).

Stretch Goal #2: Collaborate

Related to goal #4, I’d like to collaborate with another game designer on their implemention of the Tiny d10 system – even if it only amounts to providing creative advice and acting as a resource for development. If you’re thinking about adapting the system to your campaigns, genres, settings, etc., let me know! Leave a comment below, or shoot me a message here.

Table: 1d10 Spooky Events

Strange Happenings

Something foul is afoot. There is an unrest in folks around here, an unseasonable current in the air.

These sinister portents can occur at any time, and can be used to add atmosphere and suspense to a party’s investigation. At your discretion, roll 1d10, and use the table below to determine what event occurs.

1d10 Spooky Events

  1. Every mirror in town suddenly ceases to show the viewer’s reflection, and instead depicts a nearby, forgotten location shrouded in fog and mystery. This effect lasts for mere minutes, and ends as abruptly as it began.
  2. Grey storm clouds rapidly form over the town, thick and heavy, and unleash a torrent of dead, rotting fish. The deluge lasts for 1d10 minutes.
  3. A shadowy figure is spotted lurking just around a nearby corner. If pursued, nothing is found.
  4. The disembodied voices of missing villagers ring out in the silence.
  5. A murder of ravens descends upon the town. They are silent as death, and watch every passerby through ominous, empty eyes.
  6. Though the air is still, the trees surrounding the village rustle impatiently.
  7. Every door knob in the village twists and turns, as though it were being opened – yet no one is found on the other side.
  8. A sudden, powerful gust of wind tears at any caught within its gale. Those within hear the unsettling sound of human screams.
  9. Any form of illumination – torch or candle light, magical glow, etc – is suddenly extinguished. If this event occurs at night, even the stars seem to flicker in dark unison, though only for a moment – during which anyone outside will see a dim, red orb glowing ominously in the distance.
  10. A volley of rocks strikes a nearby building, breaking windows, damaging the exterior, and alarming its inhabitants, though the assailants are nowhere to be found, and leave no evidence of their attack – save for the rocks.

Table: d20-to-TD10 Conversion


The conversion table uses the ‘d20 System’ concept of the challenge rating (CR) and the OSR-style concept of hit dice (HD) to scale monsters down to Tiny d10 toughness levels, producing creatures of equivalent difficulty to their d20-based counterparts. It’s a flexible tool, and provides a general framework for well-balanced conversions while allowing game masters the freedom to adapt, adjust, or eliminate components to make as simple or complex monsters as needed.

For example, a wolf (CR1), as found in the ‘d20 System’ System Reference Document and presented in abbreviated format:

Wolf (Medium animal; 2d8 + 4 HD; Init: +2; SPD: 50ft; AC: 14; Base attack: +1; Attack: Bite (+3 melee; 1d6+1); Special attacks: Trip; Saves: FORT +5, REF +5, WILL +1; Abilities: STR 13, DEX 15, CON 15, INT 2, WIS 12, CHA 6; Skills: Hide +2, Listen +3, Move silently +3, Spot +3, Survival +1; Feats: Track, Weapon Focus; CR1).

Next, the same wolf, adapted to TD10 using the conversion table:

Wolf (T5; 5-6 HP; +1 P [10% chance]; +1 perception; fast speed; abilities: Crushing bite [inflict double damage on a natural 10]; skills: Hide).

This conversion table should serve as a functional starting-point for expanding the range of mobs and monsters that your players encounter along their journeys.

All ‘d20 System’ content used in compliance with the terms of the ‘d20 System’ Open Gaming License (OGL) v1.0a.