Adventures In Random Roleplay: Tiny Dungeon Edition — Part 1 — Mechanics In Miniature

Welcome back, dice fondlers! After a beastly absence (and holiday shenanigans), I have returned. It’s been a LARGER span of time than I had really intended, so let’s shrink things down this week. Let’s talk about simple systems. Let’s talk Tiny Dungeon (2nd Edition). As an aside, Bundle of Holding has a package with Tiny Dungeon in it on offer right now for incredible discounts, with proceeds going to benefit Doctors Without Borders. If you like what you read, I’d suggest taking a look. You can find the details here.

Small But Mighty Mechanics

Tiny Dungeon clocks in at a minuscule 36 pages, making it an easy read. It is also the flagship of the rest of the “Tiny” series, including Tiny Frontiers (their space game), and Tiny Wastelands (their post apocalyptic game.)

The core mechanic of the game is simple – when performing a Test (dice roll) to overcome an Obstacle, you roll 2d6. If you get either a 5 or 6 on either die, you succeed. If your character has a Trait that would give them an advantage in overcoming that kind of Obstacle, you roll 3d6 instead. If circumstances (like weather) influence your obstacle negatively, you only roll a single 1d6. That’s basically it!

Simple Save Tests

Now, there are variations on this mechanic where instead of Testing against an Obstacle, you make what Tiny Dungeon refers to as a Save Test. Save Tests are do-or-die moments where your characters are attempting to dodge a trap, getting off of a rope before it snaps, hold up a falling gate, et al. If you succeed, the adventure continues! If you fail, your character dies. 

Combat: A Slightly Different Creature

At the beginning of combat, all combatants roll 2d6 and add the dice together. The highest values go first and then follow in descending order. Characters get two actions per round— they can either move twice, move and attack, or attack twice. Any combination is acceptable.

Characters may also make take one of two Special Actions: Focus or Evade. If a character chooses Focus, if their next action would be an attack, their Test is successful on a 4, 5, or 6. If a character chooses Evade, when an enemy attacks, they make a Test with a 1d6. If successful, the enemy attack misses.

Baby Steps

Movement is assumed to be roughly 25 feet with Game Masters adjudicating for any terrain that is difficult to pass. If using a grid, this assumes that each square or hex is 5 feet, with melee combat requiring characters to be adjacent if using a light melee weapon or 10 feet if using a heavy melee weapon. Characters deal one damage by default per successful attack.

As far as character survival is concerned, each character has Hit Points determined by their race/ancestry. Getting 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep restores all of a character’s Hit Points to them. Otherwise, they regain 1 Hit Point per hour slept. Should a character be reduced to 0 Hit Points, they fall unconscious. On their next Turn, they must make a Save Test. Success means they regain a single Hit Point and are still alive. If they fail, on their next Turn they get to make one Save Test— this time with Disadvantage. Should they fail this Test, their character dies.

Actions that Cost

Outside of combat actions, both Hiding, Sneaking, and Casting Magic are resolved with the same 2d6 system. Characters can both choose to hide or to look for hidden enemies. The ability of characters that are Beastmasters to speak with animals is considered magical, but it isn’t something that needs to be rolled for. The same goes for spellcasters summoning familiars. To summon or un-summon a familiar, it counts as a Free Action.

Believe it or not, that’s really all there is to the conflict resolution in Tiny Dungeon. Next week, we’ll take a look at character creation, gaining experience, and how to run an adventure. Between now and then though, make sure to…



Written by: Jason A. Clark

Writer, Salesman, Cartographer of The Weird Realms In My Head

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