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.

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.