Four Against Darkness is a new game from Ganesha Games, producers of one of my favourite systems, Song of Blades and Heroes. Four Against Darkness (4AD) does not share any mechanics with Blades and Heroes, but it is similar in ethos, ie simple and old-school.
I am also simple and old-school so I was very excited to hear about this game. Especially since I have been looking at solo games recently. The premise of 4AD is that you take a party of four warriors on an old fashioned, randomised dungeon crawl.
Character creation involves picking four warriors from the options given, including all the old favourites; Barbarian, Dwarf, Halfling, Rogue etc, etc. A character is defined by their wounds, their attack dice, their defence dice, equipment and sometimes special skills. They are all off-the-peg except for equipment which can be personalised.
The dungeon crawl itself involves rolling up a random room which is then drawn on squared paper. A table is rolled to see the contents of the room, which may be monsters, or a trap, or an encounter, or possibly something else.
Fighting is very simple, you roll an attack dice for each of your warriors (which may get a bonus depending on what type they are and what they are armed with) if you beat the monsters level you have done caused wound. Then the monsters attack, you roll a defence dice for each of you warriors who is being attacked and have to beat the monster's level again or your warrior takes a wound.
So does it work as a game? Yes it does, but I can't help but feel it is missing something at the moment. The rules work well, they are streamlined and very easy to get your head around. There are 36 different room shapes, which is plenty enough. However the other tables are somewhat limited. There are 6 different traps, 6 different vermin (a type of monster) 6 different minions etc, etc. After playing through a few times these start to repeat. I know Ganesha have some expansions in the pipeline and I think they will make a great difference, this book feels like the Core Rules section of a larger game.
The last point to discuss is the book its self. The artwork is awesome and really gives an old-school feel. I have this as a PDF which I find slightly awkward, but that I suspect is just me. I prefer to have a physical book, especially when playing a game like this. I don't know if Ganesha do a print version, but I will be looking for one.
Coming Next Week...
More solo adventuring with
Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls