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Solo RPG review - Four Against Darkness

Posted: June 15th, 2020, 9:09 pm
by comchia
So with me being mildly obsessed with D&D, especially since COVID-19 has kept me at home, I've been getting into solo RPG'ing, and this dungeon crawler, Four Against Darkness, could be my favourite, though not without caveats.

4AD can be played by yourself, or DM'd with a group of friends, a flexibility that I like. The system throws back a lot to 70's/80's D&D, particularly the B/X era, requiring only a six sided die and graph paper, and with a lot of random dungeon and content generation tables that aren't hard to follow along. When I played it with some friends that I usually D&D with, it was fairly obvious to them that it was a randomly-generated dungeon, so your mileage may vary here. The book itself has some really cool vintage-style art that fits the theme nicely, though I constantly had to flip back and forth for stuff that I think should've been more organised. Some rules could also use clarification as well, though those I just picked the hardest logical route I could find for challenge purposes. :P. For a good comparison, this reminds me a lot of the first few Wizardry games, in the simple but challenging means of play, and in the monster variety as well.

Expanding the shelf life of the game are a TON of expansions, which range from ones for specific classes (Buried Secrets), to dungeon crawl/story hybrids set in a variety of locations (Lairs, Dens, and Burrows), even a romantic/adult adventure (Courtship of the Flower Demons), and a ton in between. The main game itself definitely serves as a good starting base for a lot of adventures, especially in terms of adding story and dungeon variety. I've tried the Dark Waters one, which me and my group of BFFs from back home greatly enjoyed, giving both an actual story with choices to make and a dungeon crawl with new monsters.

Overall, despite the flaws of the main game, I still enjoy this game immensely, and hope it gets followed up with an updated rulebook or second version. It's simple to play and teach, but fun and challenging in both respects. And as somebody who loves old-school D&D, it's a nice way to play something with a similar feel in between sessions. It's also relatively cheap as well; I got it from DriveThruRPG for eight bucks via print-on-demand, and the paperback is around $12.99 on Amazon (I know VGC will wanna know that :P ). Overall, highly recommended for those looking for a simple D&D-style adventure.

Grade: B (somewhat disorganised book layout, still easy to learn, fun to play)