Is there any chance we could get a PDF of the game in Printer's Spread format, instead of Reader's Spread format? Printer's Spread format would allow us to print out the game like a booklet.
Escape from Dino Island
A downloadable game
Welcome to Dino Island
Escape from Dino Island is a thrilling adventure game about intrepid heroes trapped on an island overrun with creatures from a lost age—dinosaurs!
Players take on the role of everyday people who are brave and competent, but also in over their head. The game is designed to help you create the kind of stories that are full of action and suspense, but in which fighting is rarely a good option.
Will you escape with your life? And what kind of person will you become in your quest to survive? There’s only one way to find out…
3-6 players. 1-2 sessions, 3-4 hours each.
Powered by the Apocalypse.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please download the playsheets even if you purchase the game — they're important for actually playing Escape from Dino Island and contain additional information and tools that aren't in the game book!
We're Sam Tung and Sam Roberts, two similarly named friends who've been collaborating and gaming together for years. Coming out of the film and television industry, we're suckers for adventure stories that blend survival, mystery, and intrepid heroes — like Jurassic Park, Lost, and Half-life — and we're excited to bring them to our — and your — gaming tables.
In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $10 USD. You will get access to the following files:
Support this game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.
We want everyone to be able to play Escape from Dino Island, which is why we're offering community copies for those who cannot afford to pay the full price for the game. Please don't hesitate to grab one of these copies for whatever price feels right (even, and especially, free) — no questions asked — and enjoy the game!
We'll be adding more community copies periodically, so if you don't see any available, check back soon or just shoot us an email.
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Thank you for the community copy. I really really appreciate it.
I'm gearing up to run this for the next month or so of my weekly game (we typically only get in about 2 hour sessions). I'm running it using the generic PbtA system for Foundry VTT, which means I've been going through and creating the moves (both basic and playbook) as well as the Dino types as assets to use within that system for my personal game.
Since this game is under copyright rather than CC, I wanted to ask if you would be open to this content being shared as a module for the Foundry platform. This would allow other groups interested in playing online get started much more easily, but it is also sharing your copyrighted material and I would totally understand if that's not something you'd want.
Thanks either way!
I’m beyond curious, I’ve been looking for a system to start my first ever campaign as a DM. I wanted to run a campaign set in Jurassic park and I was curious- could this system be used for campaigns and not just one shots? Either way though and I’m definitely grabbing a copy - the system looks amazing! Thank you guys for making a game for the Jurassic park lovers!!
Thanks for asking — we love hearing about people using Escape from Dino Island for the first game they run!
Out of the “box,” Escape from Dino Island is calibrated for a one-shot or maybe a couple of sessions. Sam and I are working on some material for longer-form play, but I would definitely not wait on us — this is a side project for us so it's a slow process.
That said, I think it wouldn't be hard to do some DIY tweaks to run a short campaign and I have some thoughts!
For starters, without changing anything, there’s a lot of built-in flexibility to make the game longer as DM (by making travel more perilous, adding more encounters and challenges, etc.). The places where you may need to make some changes are:
- managing obstacles (adding new ones, reupping them)
- advances (when to dole them out, what to do when they run out)
- stories (you'll probably run out)
- The endgame (the mechanics assume a one-shot's worth of stories)
- MAYBE dino damage/recovery
You might also find yourself wanting to make some additional moves as situations come up.
I don't want this to sound daunting, though! Most of those rules are there to help keep the adventure-movie pace/structure, so it shouldn't break anything to mess with them. It's actually really hard to break this game, so don't stress it. Also you know the source material well, so if your instincts probably won't lead you astray — trust your gut and do what feels fun!
Another option is to reimagine your campaigns as a film series, and run several one-shots set in the same world/featuring the same characters. Basically, run the first game as normal and then write a new questionnaire (or just come up with answers) for each sequel as you go. You could have people come back to the same island a la Jurassic World or explore a new island with the same characters a la Lost World.
Basically — go for it! And then let us know how it goes. :-)
thanks so much for the advice and feedback! I was planning on having the campaign set after JP2 and then changing up the story line. But this helps out a lot knowing about the additional info!!! I’ll let you know how the campaign goes after it’s started!
Dear both Sams, I wanted to thank you for "Escape from Dino Island"! It is short, fun and remarkably straight to the point in its premises. It synthetizes all the thrill, fun and mystery of Crichton's novels, Spielberg's movies and many other books or stories (by Doyle, Brabdury and others) I enjoyed very much as a scifi and dinosaur lover. Thank you so much!
As you may already know, people on Itch.io have published additional material for the game and for free.
Nill Radford published three additional playbooks (The Lawyer, The Spiritualist and The Baby Dino).
As for me, I recently published a sort of companion : the "Auxiliary Generator", which contains additional tables, places, animals and ideas. It is available for free, both in French (my native language - I discovered the game thanks to Gulix's French translation) and now in English as I translated it as best I could. I hope you will find it fun to read and play!
EDIT : Also, Gulix published an additional playbook in French, Le Milliardaire (The Billionaire) :
More and more, when people ask me about my favorite PbtA games, I include Escape from Dino Island in my list. It's just such a slick engine for one-shot or two-shot games, with a compelling hook (Dinosaurs! Mystery! Survival!) and great mechanics to back it up ("Tell a Story" always makes for great moments at the table). This is a really great game to bring to indie game meetups, local conventions, or wedding rehearsal dinners... any setting where a spontaneous RPG might be called for!
I'm only just playing my first D&D game as a player, and have long had an interest in DMing a game myself. Would this game be good to play with 2 of my friends?
I'm biased, so maybe somebody who didn't make the game can weigh in, but I'd say yes, definitely! I played a game of Escape from Dino Island with someone who'd only ever played D&D 5e and never DMed anything before and it was a blast. I think it makes a great first game because you and your friends probably know a lot about how these stories are supposed to look/feel (and that's half the battle) and also because it's a short game, so the stakes are pretty low. A couple best practices that might be helpful:
- Don't sweat the small stuff. The game has a lot of rules about mysteries, locations, the Extinction Event, etc. These are there to help you as DM, not overwhelm you. I've run games of EfDI where I almost completely forgot about the Extinction Event because there were plenty of other things going on and the game went great.
- Don't feel the need to call for a roll all the time. This is a big one coming from D&D. If someone's a doctor, they can probably look at an injury and assess it. If someone's a kid, they can probably sneak through a small hole (unless they're being chased by a hungry dinosaur). If the Heroes see a helipad in the distance and want to hike to it, you, as DM, can decide whether they're going to have encounters along the way or whether it's just "You hike for 2 hours through jungle and arrive sweaty and exhausted at the helipad." Trust your sense of pacing and what feels exciting!
If you do end up running the game, let us know how it goes!
Thank you for the detailed reply.
I've been long-obsessed with dinos and the obsession has never gone away, so I think I will absolutely run an Escape from Dino Island game next. The initial idea had a great reception from my friends, too. Gonna try my hand at DMing with One Shot World first (mostly because that's free and I don't want to impulsively buy things before I know I can do them), but EfDI will be the next thing I tackle -- should things go well.
In the meantime, thank you for the excellent work you've done on the game. <3
Haha if this was a subtle suggestion to add some more community copies, mission accomplished. I'm going to add some now — feel free to grab one!
Either way, good luck with running your first game! You're gonna crush it.
I can say with complete honesty that it wasn't. I just have ADHD and a bad habit of impulsive purchases, which I'm trying to curb.
But hey, if it worked put that you added some community copies, I won't deny myself one. Thank you!
I do want to ask and make sure once again: is this game viable with 1 DM + 2 players?
Definitely! It would be weird with a single player because a lot of the mechanics key off interacting with a buddy but 2 is great. You’ll probably want to be ready to introduce some NPCs if they end up with skill gaps, though. Like if neither one plays a doctor, they may well need to find one on the island.
Escape from Dino Island is one of my favorite one shots, and an easy one to get to the table as the theme grabs gets so many people excited to play. The playbooks are simple but strongly effective, and the GM structure helps ensure you’ll have tension and an epic ending.
A wonderful game. It utilizes the genre conventions to perfection and is nothing but fun to play.
So excited to play this! Just have to wrangle some friends into it.
Really great game! It was the perfect oneshot and we had a blast.
I've submitted a character sheet to the roll20 github for it. Should be available for use sometime next week.
Also - I just saw the expansion with 3 more playsheets. I do plan on adding them to the roll20 sheet, but probably in a few weeks.
Hey! I claimed one of the community copies to run a campaign with kids at the summer camp I work at - I tried to pay 5$ for it, but it wouldn't let me. Do you have any sort of donation info? I want to pay you at least that, even if I can't justify paying that much for a game I'm going to use at work.
Hey Ginger, Sam here! Honestly, please don't feel obligated. Community copies are there for a reason, and the idea of you using Escape from Dino Island at camp with kids makes us smile. (We'd also love to hear how it went with younger players — one of our goals was making the game something we would've loved when we were Jurassic Park-obsessed 12-year-olds.)
If you truly insist, though, shoot us an email at our gmail (EscapeFromDinoIsland) and we can sort it out.
But mostly, thanks for playing and sharing our game!
I ran EFDI for four players in my group last month and had a great time!
We ended up splitting the game into 3 sessions of around 2-3 hours and even then we rushed the ending a bit to finish it up. There really is a lot of potential for storytelling with all the content provided for the GM.
Our story was a classic 'experiments gone wrong' cover up where the dinos were being bred as weapons under the cover of a theme park - and the company was trying to wipe out the evidence. Even using the tropes we had a unique and memorable adventure.
I used a free Miro board to run the game - the map in the middle, player sheets on the right and resources such as the list of dinos on the left. Then all the GM stuff far below.
I did a video review of this awesome game on YouTube. Check it out:
I hadn't yet uploaded the sheet to Roll20; however, if you are a a PRO member I can give you the html and css files so that you can play.
Hi there, are these files available to the public? I'd really like to have the playbooks available in Roll20.
Our first game using the PBTA (Apocalypse World) system. It was an awesome adventure, full of fun and improvisation!
- Character sheets well designed with extra informations very helpful to play your character
- Lot of good ideas for the GM
- System of characters actions helping the narrative
- Too many sheets maybe with too many informations or maybe not well organized, really hard to avoid being lost during the game
Ran this in July for the podcast (so be on the lookout coming out in October!). This game is gonzo and really allows to tons of creative freedom. The map is a fantastic feature to use and I enjoyed doodling all over with my friends (we used a Google Draw) as we created our story.
Would love to run this again!
Just ran this game and we all had a blast :). It was my first time running a prep-less improv heavy game, the locations and dinosaurs in the rulebook made it really easy! I wish more games would provide a such a good framework for creating adventures.
Definitely going to be running it again soon :).
Thanks for the kind words!
And also: Wow! I haven't had a chance to read the whole recap yet, but I'm 20 pages in and it is great so far. Highly recommend it to others, both from a "This is how Escape from Dino Island can play" POV and from a more general "This is what good play looks like" POV.
Love the way you used the prompts as inspirations rather than IRONCLAD REQUIREMENTS — it always makes us happy to see players making the game their own.
Selfishly, I'd be curious to know what ideas you're pinching for other games and how they work out!
The mechanic that I use the most is the group action one--the character with the lowest stat (or riskiest position) rolls, everyone else automatically succeeds unless they choose to fail. Really elegant and quick and great, especially since PbtA often falters a bit when it comes to multiple characters doing the same thing. I've also used 'tell a story' a few times when things are quiet but I don't want to introduce anything heavy, so I'll just give players the option of telling a quick story and give them +1 forward or let them mark XP depending on how it goes. The other mechanic that I liked but haven't had a chance to use elsewhere is dividing a one-shot into distinct sections, which is very smart and dramatic and good. I also greatly appreciated having a pic of each dinosaur, with a human for scale, along with instincts and moves and so on. That combined with the locations + prompts made running it a breeze.
I'm busily setting up a Roll20 game to play Escape from Dinosaur Island and I've run into a few questions. I thought that I'd throw it out to everyone here as before long I'll want to have players to test out the game play. :-)
So far I've got the character sheets, map, doomsday clock and rumors implemented. I'm planning on a mix of pop up handouts and 'cards' for the remaining things.
1) is it intended that the players always travel as a group, or should tokens be ready for the players to split off on their own?
2) Should the doomsday clock be hidden until it is running, or is it okay to show it off before hand?
3) should I have a set of tokens ready to be brought in so that the players can make up new places on the map?
Thanks for for your input! Feel free to message me at senjak <a> comcast dot net if you want to look at my current progress.
Assuming there aren't any physical copies still available?
Actually, there are! If you're interested, email us at escapefromdinoisland [a] gmail dot com!
This looks very cool. I was introduced to the game by a friend who wanted to play it on Roll20 and was showing off the game to me. So I purchased a copy and dived into HTML and CSS.
8 hours later I have a Roll20 compatible character sheet based upon the Powered by the Apocalypse character sheet. All the bits (other than equipment) get swapped in and out depending upon which character you choose.
Please let me know if you want to add a community sheet for Escape from Dino Island to the Roll20 collection. You are welcome to the changes I made. Let me know.
Hey dude! I like the whole idea of a HTML/CSS made sheet. Is it open to public? I am probably making some sessions soon, so it would be great to have it.
Here you are! These were the most up to date version I came up with. It is aimed at Roll20, so there is likely to be some weirdness from their stuff. Please note that I don't really know HTML and CSS, but I can fake it with Google! Also, I didn't drop all of the translations from the HTML, so you'll likely need to either incorporate the translations or edit them out.
Hey there! Sorry I missed this.
Neither Sam nor I really use Roll20, so we don't know much about what it means to add a community sheet to the Roll20 collection, but if it helps people play online, then we are absolutely in favor of it.
If you wanna chat more about it, also feel free to email us at escapefromdinoisland [a] gmail.com.
I was just looking to set up a game on roll20 and was disappointed not to find a sheet for this. If you could add yours/have it added (no idea how that works), that'd be sweet!
Had two wonderful sessions playing The Docto. Great fun, no GREAT FUN!!! Planning to play this again and again and more than worth the price tag.
A very well made game. I am amazed by it.
Excellently written, wonderfully illustrated and very replayable. Forgive me for indulging in crass commercialism, but this game is well worth the $1o price tag.
I only downloaded the free playsheets and I'm looking through them, but I must say I'm impressed with the move The Best-Laid Plans. It's an ancient roleplaying tradition and it makes me happy to see it officialized and put so succintly.
Just had to say I'm incredibly impressed with this game. Dino Island is now in my PbtA, one-shot quiver alongside Zombie World & Bluebeard's Bride. The structures and tools you provide to tell a satisfying story are top notch. Looking forward to running this a couple times over the holiday season.
I particularly love the "tell a story" mechanic. Such a brilliant way to introduce backstory / character development into the natural flow of the game. Already thinking about how I can hack this into other games.
Also, I'm recommending this game to players in my group who want to try out GM/MCing (Dino Mastering) for the first time. I think the game does such a good job setting the MC up for success.
Thanks for the kind words! Definitely let us know how your holiday games go, and if you end up hacking the story mechanics.
I just purchased the pdf yesterday and realized that Escape from Dino Island was not yet listed on RPGGeek.com. I submitted the entries to the database, maybe you would like to add some images over there :)
Entries can be found at https://rpggeek.com/rpgitem/284647/escape-dino-island (item entry for the pdf, could use a cover image) and https://rpggeek.com/rpg/56910/escape-dino-island (RPGGeek usually uses Logos as representative images, so maybe the "Escape from Dino Island" lettering could be added there?).
Really looking forward to trying your game soon. I was searching for a dino themed game forever, and I already like PbtA games like Dungeon World. Your game seems like a match made in heaven ;)
Cool — thanks for submitting them! We'll definitely give 'em a nice polish with some art.
Hope you enjoy the game when you give it a shot. Thanks for purchasing!
This is possibly the best example of short form theme first pbta I've ever seen. Love it. Will be playing at the nearest opportunity!