Continuing on from Lasers and Feelings, I’m gonna do another simple to play game: Tiny Universal by Sophia Brandt. In a shocking twist, Tiny Universal is an Engine RPG, much like Tiny Solitary Soldiers or Oculus. I didn’t even realize that TSS can be played as an RPG. Tiny Universal follows a bit of an Apocalypse World style where two six-sided dice are rolled instead of one.
The other difference between TU and TSS is that TU has a slightly deeper character creation. You use three sentences, and of those three sentences, that’s your character. Hey, I actually have something just for this situation: Three Line NPCs. As it turns out, the generator already has 450 premade NPCs for me to use. Though, I’m gonna edit a bit of the NPC I’m about to use…
- Blaice is a sellsword mercenary with strong military training.
- Although she is very agitated, she is also very controlled
- Doesn’t trust either elves or half-elves due to a previous encounter with them.
And from that, a list of strength of strengths and weaknesses.
- She is good with a sword
- Has tons of military training experience
- She is racist
- Has anger issues
And that’s Blaice. She also has something called a gimmick, which she can only use once per Session, but it helps her out in some way. I’ll borrow from 5E’s Great Weapon Fighting style, where if you roll a 1 or a 2 on any die, you can reroll but keep the new number. She has three tokens with her, which represents both her physical and mental health. So I guess we’re doing a fantasy setting. Very well. Let’s figure out the plot with another Driver making its debut in SRV: The Chapter System. It asks us to introduce an element.
Tangent Zero: I… don’t know what this is.
While the image search says they’re pearls, their unknown nature has me think of them more as an eldritch abomination. Ah, we’re getting a bit of Conan in the mix I see.
These monsters will henceforth be known as:
Sagarcs: Floating disk monsters, able to shoot laser beams, but are big targets due to their disk size. Tokens: 10
So… Does the scene begin with Blaice fighting them in medias res?
Yes, but she has taken out half of them. So I only need to deal with 5 of them. So now we have a conflict. The GM’s job in this situation is to see if anyone has a significant advantage. I’ll be cool and say that both parties have a pretty even match.
[Roll: 4, using my Great Weapon Fighting Gimmick to reroll that 1. I rolled a 5 and it makes 8.]
With one cleave of her sword, she easily bisects one of the Sagarcs, but she is left vulnerable for a counter attack from the others.
So now they have advantage, which is rolling three dice and keeping the two highest. The reverse is true for disadvantage, rolling three and keeping the two lowest.
They fire upon Blaice and shoot her in the shoulder, hurting her majorly.
Crap. Down to one token. Alright, Blaice, kick their ass! Wait, do I have disadvantage since my arm got hurt?
No, I don’t. But I’ll be injured enough for the Sagarcs to take another advantage at me. So I gotta defeat them.
Well, she may not have been able to hurt them, but they are scared enough to lose their advantage.
And they miss Blaice, however, they wind up putting Blaice in a less than optimal situation where she will get disadvantage.
And she takes out another one. However, they planned this and are ready to strike with full advantage.
They take her out, but it’s not a killing blow. They just knock her out.
[Q: Would they try to take the effort to kill her? A: 7]
Yes, they would, but someone stops them. Introducing our next character!
- Garret is decked out in hard steel armor that makes it heavy to walk.
- He repaired a construct that he uses for combat.
- He is an eccentric, yet competent inventor.
- Heavy Steel Armor
- Inventor that knows how to repair robotics
- Heavy armor impedes movement.
- He is a bit on the kooky side.
- Gimmick: Once per session, he can negate any damage with his tough armor.
So Garret comes in and saves her. Once they get away from the Sagarcs, Blaice will ask what those monsters were. Because of their strange nature, I’ll ask the Oracle with disadvantage.
No they don’t know what they are, but they have a good idea where they came from. Now I’ll do the next phase of the Chapter System: bringing in a hostile threat/obstacle.
Tangent Zero: A Feather
So they go to the aviarium where a cult is performing a ritual. Since it’s a pretty big hunch they have, I’ll roll at advantage.
[Q: Are they summoning Sagarcs? A: 12]
Alright, boxcars! I think now will be a good time to consider adding a random event system. I’ll borrow from TSS.
[Twist: Item alters the location]
Yes, they’re summoning the monsters, not only that, but they’re aware that they will get caught, and so they have created an item that sends both Garrett and Blaice away to a random location.
And they are taken to the plains where they encounter a guard who immediately fights them.
Guard: A random dude assigned to protect the cultists and attack any who dare intrude on their studies. Not that bright though. Tokens: 5
I’m guessing that initiative goes to the players. Advantage goes to no one, as both are evenly matched. Blaice goes first.
While she barely hits him, Garrett has a fair shot, which means he’s at an advantage.
He ends up taking two tokens from the guard. The guard now attacks, this time hitting Garrett. Garrett’s heavy armor may make it hard for him to hit, so he’s at a disadvantage.
Not only does he fail to land a blow, but he does it in a way that makes him vulnerable to a double advantage, something I sort of doctored up. Roll 4d6 and take the higher two. Both Blaice and Garrett have this.
[Roll: 11 and 11]
And with that, they easily overwhelm the guard. Now they need to figure out how to get back.
[Q: Is the place far from when they last saw the cult? A: 10]
Yes, it is. Which means a lot of walking.
[Q: Do they encounter Sagarcs along the way? A: 6]
Not yet. Not until… Now, the GM has to say what will happen for us to ensure that Sagarc ambush happens. But what? [Rolls Zero Dice] I guess when they get into a poppy field? Wait, I can work this.
Turns out the Poppy Field is actually their home, and that the Sagarcs are actually taken from their home and brainwashed by Cultists to do their bidding.
[Q: Do the two heroes realize this? A: 9]
Yes, they do, but not until after they got a little bloody. So I’ll do one round of combat. Heroes first, then Sagarcs. The Sagarcs are at a full 10. Blaice goes first.
And she winds up missing so hard that the enemies will have advantage. Garrett’s next.
He manages to take out one token, but the Sagarcs are able to attack them at once because of how he is positioned to Blaice. Now they have full advantage.
And both Blaice and Garrett take a token off, but it’s at this point that the Sagarcs begin to explain their case to them, speaking to them in a cipher that another Sagarc translates into basic Common.
I was gonna ask the game if Blaice and Garrett buy it, but I realized I’m the one playing them, so I’ll say that, yes, they do. Also, Blaice rolled Snake Eyes, so twist time.
[Twist: Item alters the location]
As it turns out, the Sagarcs also have an item that teleports them right back to the Cultists. So Blaice and Garrett actively take it. They get zapped back to the Cultists place and the final battle begins.
Cultist: Very good at magic, horrific in melee. Tokens: 3
Alright, so Initiative goes in the same way. Blaice first. She and Garrett will probably have advantage over this due to them being good in melee.
And she cuts one of the cultists. Now it’s Garrett’s turn.
And he slugs the rest of them. The Cultists are no more, but a TWIST had been laid!
[Twist: Item changes the goal]
[What is the item? Zero Roll: Hexagram]
As it turns out, the Hexagram was actually a device used to brainwash the Sagarcs.
[Q: Do they know this? A: 7]
Yes, obviously, but they only know that. They don’t know about another feature it can do. And with that, we return to I Ching (because hexagram).
[Hexagram: 29, Dangerously Deep]
Or… in translation… the Abysmal. The Abyss.
Crapbaskets. The Abyssal Fleet. IT CAN SUMMON THE ABYSSAL FLEET! Well, now we know what caused that apocalypse.
[Q: Has it been activated?]
Knowing the crazy prepared cultists, I’m gonna say that they get advantage on this.
Yes, it is, but it has an unfortunate side effect which is why the Sagarcs are connected to this Hexagram in the first place. See, they may have released the Abyssal Fleet onto the world, but they haven’t realized that they also unleashed the Sagarcs natural prey. The Hexagram was meant to help Sagarcs live long and prosper, not make them into living weapons. The Hexagram summoning hellish ships from under the sea is essentially Eldritch for “Dinner’s here!”.
And so, the Sagarcs easily clean up the apocalypse and Blaice and Garrett head off on another whirlwind adventure.
I actually like this system. It’s pretty easy and fun to play and master. It’s really solid for something that the author even admits hasn’t been playtested. I enjoyed character creation and how there’s an advantage/disadvantage system. Now, I’m pretty sure I took a few liberties with the game, such as how the NPCs actually don’t roll to attack and that any damage done onto the players would be inflicted on the No/No And results or how I was using the Advantage/Disadvantage system to simulate odds in an oracle question, but in the end, I still had fun using the system.
I definitely recommend this for people who are starting out on solo RPGs. With that, I bid you bon voyage, gamers.