Dungeons & Dragons: Tiny Adventures introduces social hack’n’slash

A character sheet for Tiny Adventures. My character's portrait appears to the left; vital stats appear to the right.
A screenshot of my character sheet in Tiny Adventures. Credit: Wizards of the Coast.

Dungeons & Dragons: Tiny Adventures is that rarest of WotC digital products: one that actually delivers.

Wizards of the Coast’s litany of digital failure is long. D&D Master Tools. D&D eTools. D&D Insider. Gleemax. AllĀ  overhyped, and under delivered. Yet here’s Tiny Adventures for Facebook, a simple but surprisingly addictive little app that no one saw coming.

The app embraces D&D 4th Edition’s “Points of Light” philosophy. You create an avatar based on one of the core 4th edition classes, such as fighter, cleric, warlord, etc. Your options are limited to certain race/class combinations (e.g. dwarven warlord) and stats are pre-rolled. Once you make your pick, you head out into the vast wilderness to combat threats including royal usurpers, scheming witches, and goblin raiders.

Each quest is essentially a 4E-style skill challenge. It’s broken up into 9-12 stages, each of which involves some sort of maneuver to defeat. Sometimes its a Dexterity check to sneak past some guards, other times it’s a Constitution check to shake off the effects of poisoned food, still others its an Armor Class check to avoid a hit.

Yes, an Armor Class check; while inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, Tiny Adventures uses its own take on those rules; everything (including normally static defensive values like Armor Class) consists of d20 roll plus some modifier. The result is compared to a target number; meet or beat the number and you succeed, get less than the number and you fail. It’s a simple mechanic, but the game makes it interesting by weaving in a narrative explaining exactly how you succeed or fail. There’s not much you can do to alter these encounters, which occur every ten minutes in real time, except for consume the occasional potion to recover lost health or bolster an attribute

Encounters yield gold, weapons, armor, potions and other pieces of equipment that you can equip or sell for gold. Gold can be used to buy new, better equipment.

The game incorporates a limited social aspect; you can heal and provide skill buffs to Facebook friends who playing the game. Unfortunately it doesn’t allow you to trade magical items or gold, and you can’t adventure together as a party. The app also had some serious uptime issues when it was first launched (and proved surprisingly popular with the Facebook crowd) but those have since been resolved, and the game now runs smoothly.

If you come into the game looking for a highly customizable character, group adventuring, or puzzle-solving, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you’re looking for a momentary fantastical diversion, you’ll find this app doesn’t disappoint.

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