Update: Fantasy Core Print Edition

The second version of Fantasy Core showed up a couple days ago! This version includes a handful of minor changes to the text, some small layout improvements, and a couple or three other new things.

It’s just slightly heftier than the previous version, but feels even better in the hand for it. Beyond that, little else has changed – same art, same content (for the most part).

Which leads me to one insignificant (but notable) change: poems struck me as necessary, for some reason, though exactly why still isn’t clear. All the same, R.E. Howard’s “Adventure” prefaces Book I, and his “Deeps” Book III. There was a gap that needed filling for Book II, and due to a lack of relevant stanzas, I was forced to fill it with “Ages”.

The book lays opened nicely, owing to its 71 letter-sized pages, making it functional as a manual.

Thicker, slightly, but not by much.

And now featuring a barcode (and ISBN), which I think is all it really needs to be sold in bookstores. As it happens, I’m friendly with my local independent bookstore proprietor, so I might see if he’d be interested in selling a few of these for me. Not that I expect too many people in my town of 2,000 to be interested in it, but every now and then an out-of-towner comes through (don’t worry, we chase them all out in due time).

Anyway, this print copy here was a final proof. I’ve sat on this thing long enough that my eyes are fresh again, and if I know my work, it could probably stand one last edit. In the meantime, if you want to take a chance, this very version is available for sale right now. If you don’t want to end up with a “Tiny d10: Fantasy Core (rare typo edition)” that 20 years from now will assuredly retail on eBay for far more than you originally purchased it, then standby another week or two and I’ll have the final final product up.

If I owe you one, let me know. After this is finalized, I’ll do a print run and get copies out to all the system’s contributors, whose work I am more grateful for than words (and free books) can express.

In the meantime, take care, my friends!

A Note About “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”

The print edition has been updated to reflect this; the digital edition is soon to follow.

Roadmap 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.

Fantasy Core Print Edition: Available for Purchase!

Very excited to announce that the print edition of Tiny d10: Fantasy Core is available for purchase here, and for a mere $10! If you’ve been wanting to get your hands on a physical copy, the wait is over! And let me say, I’m very happy with the end-product – it translated to paper very well, and looks quite handsome overall. 🙂

More updates later, but for the time being, consider getting one today!

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.

Spell: Summon Beast (Natural)

[Note: This spell and associated elements (monsters, abilities, etc.) are deprecated, and are preserved here solely for use/adaptation by game masters]

Summon beast is an advanced natural spell for caster’s level 3 and above. It materializes a beast (T6-T8 [GM’s discretion]; 7-9 HP [GM’s discretion]; +1 to relevant attribute) to the summoner’s service. Unless otherwise noted, summoned beasts will de-materialize after 24 in-game hours. Cost: 6 magic points.

Summoner’s Table (Beasts)

Giant bat – glittering onyx-eyes and the frenzied beating of gnarled, leathery wings announce the giant bat’s summoning. It is cunning as a wolf, and vicious as one too, as it follows dutifully the commands of its summoner. On a natural 10, the giant bat inflicts an additional +2 damage, and transfers the target’s lost hit points to the summoner (must make physical contact with the summoner to complete).

Stygian serpent – from the black depths of antediluvian forests, fog-choked and memory-shrouded, hails the stygian serpent. Dark as the deepest night, it is a massive knot of rippling muscle poised to strike like an arrow at the summoner’s command, and is capable of effortlessly ensnaring and constricting human-sized prey. The stygian serpent has the following abilities:

Constrict – conduct a power challenge after each successful attack. If the target fails, it becomes constricted. Each round, the target must conduct a power challenge; if the target fails, it suffers 1 damage, and a -1 penalty (per failure) to its challenge roll.

Stygian lullaby – After three combat rounds of constriction, the victim will fall under the serpent’s spell, and if released, its actions may be controlled by the summoner for 1d10 + the summoner’s level amount of rounds.

Wolf spider – standing tall as a large house cat and grey as the misty, benighted jungles from whence it comes, the wolf spider is like to lurk in the dark shadows, or skulk through the dense, low-hanging branches, lying in wait for its target. As such, it will not directly attack enemies, but instead acts as a trap (skills: +1 hide, +1 sneak); however, once it has engaged its target, it will attack until it or the target is slain. The wolf spider has a 50% chance of envenoming its target on a successful attack (target is paralyzed for 1d10 rounds).

Widow-vine – a red-streaked, thickly-corded vine that, when summoned, rapidly blooms broad, black-petaled flowers. From these flowers, darts containing a potent toxin are fired at the summoner’s command. Targets struck by the darts suffer -1 aspect and -1 intellect, and a -1 attack penalty for 1d10 + the summoner’s level amount of rounds. The widow-vine will follow the summoner wherever he or she goes, moving like mass of swift, writhing snakes.

Black leopard – Ink-black and silent as the starless night sky, the black leopard is a faithful and cunning beast. Only seen when it wishes to be (skills: +1 hide, +1 sneak), the black leopard will accept even complex commands from the summoner. Once per summoning, the black leopard will revive itself if slain in combat; however, it will flee before being slain a second time. The black leopard has the following ability:

Creature of the night – when attacking under the cover of low or no-light, deal double damage and knock prone the target if you successfully surprise it (perception check vs. sneak check).

Great-hawk – wise of mind and sharp of eye, the great-hawk prefers to perch resplendently on the arm or shoulder of its summoner when not scouting for danger, or surveying the surrounding lands far and wide. Its keen body and wide wings carry it through the skies faster than a gale, and it uses them to cover distances at an almost supernatural rate. If the summoner uses 1 hit point during the summoning, he or she will be able to see through the great-hawk’s eyes; 2 hit points, and the summoner can control the great-hawk’s actions.

Storm cloud – thick and sullen, the storm cloud hangs like a dam fit to burst. It is 10 feet x the summoner’s level in diameter, though it can be divided into the summoner’s level – 1 amount of separate clouds. The storm cloud(s) can be guided by the summoner’s gesture to anywhere within sight, unleashing torrential rain, booming thunder, and crackling lightning. For every round that an entity is within the storm cloud, they must save 8, or be struck by lighting (1 damage).

Elemental – the living embodiment of the classical elements: air, earth, fire, and water. To summon an elemental, the corresponding element must be within the summoner’s sight. When summoned, the elemental seizes control of the “body” of the existing element, and use it to carry out the summoner’s commands: a campfire may swell into a blazing inferno; a trickling stream could explode into a rushing river; the earth might rise like a humanoid titan; the wind may tear at enemies like a thousand daggers. The elemental behaves as a standard beast, with any capabilities granted to it by its respective element.

Myconid – also known as “mushroom-men”, myconids are a primitive race of living mushrooms and proud, stoic warriors. The myconid’s allegiance lies with the soil and the seeds, and as such, it will follow the summoner’s commands so long as his or her directives align with those goals. Though primitive, myconids are intelligent, and will share with the summoner their preternatural insights of the natural world around it. If killed, the myconid drops 1d10 + the summoner’s level spores, which after 1 round, grow into myconites (T4; 1HP). The myconites will ceaselessly attack the entity (and its allies) that slew their parent myconid.

Ephemeral ranger (4 PP; skills: +1 heal) – a luminous, humanoid spirit of forest-green, the ephemeral ranger’s ghostly features are human, with soft elven suggestions, and a vague implication of something… else. The spirits of rangers throughout the epochs who died in heroic valor, the ephemeral ranger has chosen to continue its service in the after-life, and can be summoned to aid in the defense of the weak, oppressed, and righteous. The ephemeral ranger is equipped with a standard ranged weapon (mediumweight and below), and a standard melee weapon (lightweight and below). The same ephemeral ranger is never summoned twice, is incapable of direct speech, and will not accept commands, but instead works as an intelligent teammate to the party for the duration of its summoning. The ephemeral ranger has the following abilities:

Fight and flight – if you have not moved during a combat round, you may strike a target and quickly flee from their melee/movement attack range.

Natural healing – at the beginning of each combat round, roll 1d10; on a roll of 8 or higher, regain 1 HP. Outside of combat, heal at twice the standard rate.

Preemptive strike – gain a free ranged attack against any opponent moving toward you. Cost: 2 power points.

Game masters might consider lowering the cost of the summon beast spell to 4 magic points in exchange for the summoner randomly rolling the beast that is summoned; this may include the beasts introduced here, as well as any other natural beasts. Alternatively, consider using spell components (like the sacrificing of hit points when summoning the great-hawk) to lower the cost of casting, should GMs or players find summon beast requires too many magic points to cast.

Spell: Summon Monster (Magical)

[Note: This spell and associated elements (monsters, abilities, etc.) are deprecated, and are preserved here solely for use/adaptation by game masters]

Summon monster is an advanced magical spell for caster’s level 3 and above. It materializes a monster (T5-T7 [GM’s discretion]; 8-10 HP [GM’s discretion]; +1 to relevant attribute) to the summoner’s service. Unless otherwise noted, summoned monsters will de-materialize after 24 in-game hours. Cost: 6 magic points.

Summoner’s Table (Monsters)

Homunculi – a grotesque amalgam of flesh, sinew, and bone, the homunculi is deaf, blind, and exceedingly vicious. The homunculi locates its target using its acute sense of smell and ability to detect body heat. It cannot be commanded or controlled, but will not attack the summoner, or his or her allies. If the summoner uses an eyeball during the summoning of the homunculi, there is a 50% chance it will possess the power of sight (+2 attack bonus); on a natural 10, the homunculi attacks twice.

Undead skeleton – a humanoid skeleton, still glistening wet with blood, with a standard melee weapon of the summoner’s choice in hand. The undead skeleton will follow basic commands. If the summoner uses a a small weapon (dagger, short sword, etc) during the summoning of the undead skeleton, there is a 50% chance that it will materialize with chainmail, and 20% chance it will possess a weapon with a +2 damage bonus.

Black cloud – a wispy, cloud-like form of 5 feet x the summoner’s level in diameter, thick and dark as a shadow. The black cloud can be guided by the summoner’s gesture to any location within sight, obscuring the vision of any caught within its shroud; at the summoner’s command, the black cloud will emit a toxic gas, rendering all living entities within its shroud unconscious for 1d10 x the summoner’s level hours (may be used once per summon, or at the cost of 2 magic points). 

Dire vermin – a large (or swarm of small) aggressive vermin (rat, weasel, carrion bird, etc). Depending on the creature’s intelligence, it may follow basic commands; the vermin will not attack the summoner, or his or her allies. Dire vermin have a 50% chance of infecting their target on a successful attack (-1 toughness, -1 attack penalty for 1d5 rounds).

Faceless horror – a tall, featureless humanoid with moon-pale flesh and abnormally long limbs. The faceless horror strikes mortal terror into the hearts of all living creatures before it (save 12 or become paralyzed by fear for 1d10 + the summoner’s level amount of rounds). The faceless horror will not attack enemies, but will retaliate if attacked (+2 attack bonus, +3 damage bonus); it will accept a single command from the summoner, and pursue it until the command is fulfilled, or the horror is slain.

Oculoid – a single, bloodshot eye, roughly the size of a human head. The oculoid hovers in mid-air, and fires red beams of burning light at the command of the summoner.

Watcher – a hideous, rotting corpse of ghostly composition that is visible only to the summoner. The watcher will observe undetected anything it is commanded to by the summoner for 1d10 + the summoner’s level amount of hours, and report back in detail to the summoner.

Devil dog – a large, black dog with glimmering red eyes, the devil dog will ceaselessly stalk one target (+1 reflex; skills: +1 sneak, +1 hide) of the summoner’s bidding, striking when the target is alone and vulnerable. The devil dog will hunt until it or the target is slain.

Were-ape – dense, matted black fur covers the were-ape’s hulking frame, and ugly yellow fangs protrude from beneath its thick lips. Despite its abominable appearance, the were-ape remains calm as a well-trained dog until directed into action by its summoner. If not allowed to complete its commanded task, the were-ape can become enraged (+2 aspect, +2 power), and turn on its summoner, or his or her allies (the summoner must succeed an aspect challenge against it to regain control).

Warbird – standing tall as a man, the warbird’s feathers are black as night, and its eyes are dull and empty as coal. The warbird will not attack the summoner’s enemies, but will accept other commands from the summoner. To materialize the warbird, the summoner must use something iron and something leather during  the spell-casting, thus summoning the creature with light chainmail armor and a leather saddle-rigging.

Game masters might consider lowering the cost of the summon monster spell to 4 magic points in exchange for the summoner randomly rolling the monster that is summoned; this may include the monsters introduced here, as well as any other non-natural monsters. Alternatively, consider using spell components (like the homunculi’s eyeball, the undead skeleton’s dagger, or the warbird’s iron and leather items) to lower the cost of casting, should GMs or players find summon monster requires too many magic points to cast.

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.