Dinky Dungeons is a simple role-playing game (RPG)
published in 1985 by "Doc's Games - an Uncle Morty Production." The
format is unique for an RPG: the original (complete) game was sold in a
ziplock bag measuring 3" by 5" - and the actual rulebook is only 2.5"
by 3.25"! (~60 x 85 mm.)
The ziplock bag includes a 32-page rulebook, an errata sheet, a
GM-screen, some character sheets, an adventure, an adventure map, and
2d6 - two 5mm dice (3/16").
The game is a wonder of conciseness. The rulebook includes character
creation, character classes and races, weapons, armor, and items
to buy, two different systems of magic spells, action resolution,
saving throws, combat, "skill rolls", experience rules, and a
monster list containing 37 creatures with stats, over half of them
also having some note or other. The errata sheet includes the
missing notes for some of the monsters, some detail about combat
that was overlooked, rules for healing, alternate experience rules,
and a picture of a Fuzzy Winker whining.
There are only two attributes, Physical and Mental. Character
creation is random (roll 2d6, assign one to Physical and the other
to Mental), but easily adapted to a point-based system (distribute
seven points [eight from generous GMs] between your Physical and Mental
attributes, max score in a single attribute = 6).
There are three character classes:
Four races are available:
- Fighters (high Physical stat),
- Wizards (high Mental stat), and
- Bards (roughly equal stats).
- Humans (no bonuses or restrictions),
- Elves (+1 to Mental, other racial characteristics, can't be Fighters),
- Dwarves (+1 to Physical, other racial characteristics, can't be
- Fuzzy Winkers (-1 to Mental and Physical, large cowardly
rodents who can't use magic, weapons, or armor - my kind of character!).
The combat system uses 2d6 - compare the attacker's skill (Physical
Attribute if using weapons, Mental if using magic) with the
defender's, and check the Combat table (7 or less succeeds if
attributes are identical; other ratios have proportionaly higher
or lower success thresholds). Doubles are either critical success
or failure, depending on if you succeed or fail with the roll -
double ones and double sixes more extreme than double threes or
fours. Weapons do damage by their type - there are light, medium,
and heavy weapons. Armor makes you harder to hit.
There are seven magic spells for Wizards and another six (mostly
different) for Bards. If your character is of one of these classes,
you start with a number of magic spells equal to half your Mental
attribute, and have Spell Points (to cast the spells) equal to your
Mental attribute - Spell Points regenerate daily. Spells range
from Create Light, Open (or Lock) Door, Detect Magic, etc., to the
more potent Deathspell and Shadow-walk. It's easy to add your own
spells as characters develop - steal them from any other game you
want, or legend, fiction, etc. The game is so simple this is very
easy to implement.
Skill rolls (other than combat or magic) are either Idea rolls
(based on your Mental trait) or Muscle rolls (based on your
Physical trait). Oddly enough, they actually blew it here - everyone
has the same chance of success on a skill roll, no matter what your
attributes are. Instead, the smarter characters can try more
Idea rolls during a day, and the stronger ones can try more Muscle
rolls during a day. We changed this to making it more likely to
succeed at a roll the higher your relevant stat - a trivial change.
The Idea and Muscle roll problem was addressed in a related
game, Small Space - which is basically Dinky Dungeons
for an SF setting. In Small Space, you have Physical skill
Points (PP) and Mental Points (MP) equal to your Physical and Mental
scores, respectively. You can then buy certain skills with those
PP and MP - some skills require one or more MP, some require one
or more PP, some require both, some require either. There are no
skill levels - you either have a skill or you don't - not having
it means you have a penalty on the Idea or Muscle
roll - or in some cases, can't even try the skill at all. This
idea could be easily ported to Dinky Dungeons with minimal
effort - especially since Small Space only has nine skills
to choose from ...
Dinky Dungeons works. It's so simple, so natural,
that it actually works well, especially with some tiny tweaking to
make it more to your tastes. There are actually very few RPG rules
systems I would run a game in today - Fudge has
spoiled me, and I translate every setting into that game. But
Dinky Dungeons is one of the few systems I would
still use. It's actually simpler than my own game, Sherpa,
and I sometimes wistfully wonder if I blew it by making it so
However, Small Space goes a bit too far in other rules
- it loses the basic simplicity of Dinky Dungeons. Had they
stopped with the skill introduction - loosely based on TFT's
Talents - it would have been near perfect. In case you're wondering
what else they include: lots! Too much! Space ship generation
and combat rules, futuristic weapons, invention rules, alien races,
planet generation, initiative rules, etc., etc.
People ask me, when I mention this game, if I know TWERPS.
Of course I do - but TWERPS just doesn't make it for
me. The one-attribute system is humorous - but Dinky
Dungeons actually works, which TWERPS
doesn't quite - at least for me. The one attribute in the latter
isn't really Strength, as they claim, but Class (or
perhaps Competence) - the game makes no sense otherwise.
Since I've never liked class-based games, and since I don't really
care for a flat action resolution (as opposed to a curve of some
sort - TWERPS uses a d10, while Dinky
Dungeons uses 2d6), TWERPS just doesn't appeal
to me, and I'd never actually run a game in it - though I enjoy
reading the source books!
Anyway, Dinky Dungeons is hard to find these days,
but worth a look if you like simple games.
In addition to Small Space mentioned above, Uncle Morty
I don't have any others, though their "catalog" lists Hoaky
Heroes, a superhero game - was it ever released? - and
Moxie Tuff-Guy Wrestling. There are also POW
Cards, which I'd love to get hold of. If you know of any
other Dinky Dungeons related material, or have any
to sell, please let me know!
- Dinky Kingdom: a fantasy world in which to play
Dinky Dungeons. It includes six maps, description
of the city Dink and surrounding kingdom, some new creatures, and an
adventure in the Creepy Caverns.
- Berzerko Tower/Doc's Maze: two fantasy adventures. (If you
have a copy for sale, please let me know!)
- Lost Tomb of Antigorne/Sacrifice to the Blood Deity: two
- Blades of Boardum: fantasy adventure - introduces the
fantasy race, Boar-Men.
- Siegewheel of the Blue Goblins: fantasy adventure.
- Troll Canyon: solo fantasy adventure.
- Freaks and Friendlies: post-apocalypse RPG, which has
some interesting Psi powers (as well as more magic, for some reason).
More creatures and weapons, of course.
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