Welcome back to the RPG Backlog. Last week I wrote about the ongoing Kickstarter campaign for Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters, an expansion that I backed without ever reading through the original game! Now I have rectified that situation.
What is Tiny Frontiers?
Tiny Frontiers is a minimalist science fiction game created by Alan Bahr and published by Gallant Knight Games. It uses the rules from Smoking Salamander’s Tiny Dungeon RPG. Gallant Knight Games used Kickstarter to successfully fund the game back in May of this year. They were able to raise more than $12,000 against a $5,000 goal. This allowed for the expansion of the rulebook to include art and more micro-settings.
How Did I Get Tiny Frontiers?
Although I usually jump on every RPG Kickstarter there is, I missed out on the original campaign for Tiny Frontiers. So, I bought a PDF copy of the game through DriveThruRPG instead. The game normally retails there for $15.00, but until September 30th it can be purchased for only $5.00. Gallant Knight Games offers two other Tiny Frontiers products on DriveThruRPG. Tiny Frontiers character sheets and a 5-page rules expansion are both available to download for free.
What’s In the Book?
Even though the main Tiny Frontiers book contains 138 pages, the rules for the game make up less than forty of those pages. The rules included in the book are very simple. The main mechanic for the game revolves around rolling two d6’s. If either of the die roll as a 5 or a 6 you succeed. If not you fail. When you have advantage on a roll you get to roll an extra d6. When you have disadvantage you only roll a single d6. The rulebook covers all of the different scenarios where dice will be rolled including combat and skill tests.
Character creation also runs along very simple rules. Players choose a race from those presented in the book. This choice determines the amount of hit points you start with as well as any racial traits your character possesses. Next up, the player chooses three additional pregenerated traits for their character. Then they choose a weapon proficiency and mastery and gear for their character. Finally, the player picks a profession for their character and creates a simple statement that describes your character’s guiding force. This is called their Drive.
The rulebook contains detailed information about the different races available as well as information about the traits you can choose from. There are rules describing how all of the gear and weaponry work as well. However, the only variables for weapon types are range, ammunition and how many hands you need to hold the weapon. All weapons in Tiny Frontiers deal 1 point of damage unless the GM feels the need to expand on that.
The remaining pages of the Tiny Frontiers rulebook contain sixteen micro-settings that GMs can use as inspiration when running the game. Each micro-setting includes a broad concept for that game world as well as more specific details about the particular setting. The authors of these micro-settings have included sample adventure hooks so that GMs and players can jump right in and play. These settings range from space-based Wild West themes to science fiction survival horror. There’s even one that involves space pirates! Obviously that is my favorite.
What’s The Verdict?
I bought Tiny Frontiers because I love science fiction games. After reading through the rulebook I am more fond of its simplicity. All in one book you get all of the rules that you need to play and a huge amount of inspirational material for running games. The only thing that you’ll need to bring is d6’s. Custom d6’s were actually offered as rewards with the original Kickstarter campaign, but I didn’t back it!
Even though Tiny Frontiers sells for only $15.00 this is not a cheap game by any means. The rules are simple, but they are still clearly and concisely explained within the text of this book. As well, the art and graphical design of Tiny Frontiers really pop. Even the page margins and text boxes sell the sci-fi aspect of the game.
The quick character creation and simple rule-set make this an ideal game to bust out for a one-shot or at a con. It’s a PDF copy so I have the book on my tablet at all times. I also believe that the simplicity of the rules make Tiny Frontiers a fun gateway game for new players. So, obviously I like Tiny Frontiers, and, I think you will, too.