Unknown to a lot of you, most weeks I play an ongoing campaign of Blades in the Dark. We’ve been playing for well over a year with an established set of characters that have grown into their roles as we have gone from quest to quest. Our games master is nothing short of incredible, keeping us on the path where we need to be, pushing us in the right direction when required and being incredibly quick at ad libbing situations when we have quite clearly pitched when we should have yawed. It makes for a nice bit of escape. They have notes and even record audio logs to keep themselves right. They put up with absences and delays and me being an absolute arse. So Kris, if you ever read this, let it be known that you are a complete legend.
It is because of the level of professionalism required from a RPG runner, that I’ve never felt comfortable just diving in and trying to run a scenario myself. I would be afraid that I wouldn’t remember everything I was meant to say or forget an important rule or that my party would simply get bored. I need direction and guidance with the combined freedom of knowing I can add my own flair if the need is required. This brings us to Tiny in the Tower, one of the series of Adventure Presents from Rebellion Unplugged, a short and sweet adventure which aims to get you up and running and adventuring extremely quickly. While I haven’t ran it myself, I thought there might be some of you out there that might and it would be interesting to share a bit of how the game and system works.
Tiny in the Tower is based around a very straight forward system which requires players to use three six sided dice when making checks when faced with challenges and encounters. The game comes with a scenario for both a prologue and a main adventure and is designed to take no more that about three sessions in total. So you can expect around six to nine hours of the solid adventuring.
Tiny in the Tower’s story is fairly simple and trying to avoid spoilers here, you set off as a set of adventurers who end up on the case of finding a missing wizard, exploring a tower and facing a couple of unusual antagonists on the way. The entire package you’ll get within the magazine contains twelve different pullouts with everything from character sheets to maps and contains everything you need to start your journey. The main system revolves around different ability checks in relation to the results rolled on die. So if you are at ability level one, you’ll remove the value of the highest rolled dice, while once you are at ability level four, you’ll keep the results of all the dice. It means that characters that are just starting out have a chance to succeed at most but the most difficult tests. With each character specialising in different areas, you’ll need to make sure that the right character is facing the right challenge. The guide for the difficulty is provided for each encounter, but as with any system, the Games Runner will have the ultimate choice to lower or increase the difficulty involved.
For those Games Runners who are worried about having a good framework for running a story in, pretty much everything is provided for each of the three sessions, with ideas for what to read out to provide flavour for that particular session, as well as guides on the various hazards and potential treasure that can be found. The idea here is to help keep the adventure at a set pace and under a certain level of time control and help keep the adventure moving forward. The main aim of the Adventure Presents series is that you manage to complete a full series of mini sessions and complete the story before moving on to another tale.
Inviting and extremely practical. Tiny in the Tower has been designed to work in both a practical and visual sense, with time being spent on making sure that each of the sections contains all the information required, but is lovely to look at when you dive in. There are so many little extras here that have been added to simply make the adventure look very charming which makes me wonder if this wouldn’t be a great fit for those who have played Mice and Mystics from Plaid Hat Games, as it has strikingly similar illustration style. Each of the individual pull out sections contains relevant reminders for the main rules with a view to keep the game flowing as required. Everything has some kind of visual reference, from the environments to the allies you might meet on the way. Each of the character sheets has a wonderful illustration included. I also completely adore the cheese dice.
Tiny in the Tower is designed to be fully completed in around three sessions, with the prologue probably taking another one of two sessions to complete.
Tiny in the Tower strikes me as the kind of ready bake adventure that is going to suit those who are either looking to dip their toes into the world of role play gaming, or are in the middle of a lengthy campaign and are looking for something a little bit lighter to cleanse the pallet for a couple of sessions. Duncan Molloy has nailed what makes running a session less daunting and tricky by bringing in an ability system that seems to be incredibly easy to grasp, but also has that level of customisation so it can be easily refined for less experienced players. As I was reading through the materials, I got hints of Grant Howitt and I’m not surprised to see his name mentioned in the credits. (He is responsible for Honey Heist, an amazing one shot that you should take the time to play). As someone who needs a comfort blanket to even consider running a roleplay gaming session, it’s great to see that there seems to be both visual and written materials that are going to help these sessions run as easily as possible. The pull out nature of the booklets are inspired, as there is nothing worse than a Games Runner having to frantically scrabble through a book in order to find out if a particular player request can even work. Rebellion could have taken the easy option and had a magazine printed with the sections as a standard RPG book, but instead I can envisage the Games Runner easily taking a sideways glance in the special rules as the occasion requires it. Also, there is no character creation and the Ability mechanic helps to define the different strengths and weaknesses without the players needing to spend a preparation session just to define the ins and outs of how their character holds a spoon. As someone who is on the fence about running a small session, Tiny in the Tower shows that your rolls don’t have to be critical, you can do just as well if they’re tiny and cheese shaped.
As the Games Runner, you’ll need to do some preparation work to understand how the story will run. It does say the players won’t but I think it might be an idea to allow everyone to have some time with their character before you start the main event.
This overview and introduction is based on the retail version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid for this overview. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.
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