I recently wrote a review about the Four Against Darkness core rulebook, which I invite you to read before continuing this article, especially if you don’t know exactly what type of product it is.
In summary: Four Against Darkness is a solitary or cooperative dungeon crawling game based on randomly generated maps, encounters and situations, easy to use and extremely speedy to prepare..
In this review I give you a brief overview of some products that the Italian counterpart of Ganesha Games, the site that deals with the online sale of Four Against Darkness, kindly sent us for evaluation purposes.
Common traits of Four Against Darkness volumes
The products I read were digital format, therefore it is not possible to judge the physical materials. Aside from a couple of sparse thirty-page adventures, the other manuals consist of about 75 pages. The illustrations, covers aside, are in black and white. The style is simple, almost amateurish, like the designs that a (talented) role player might come up during a session. However, they have an old school flavor that helps provide the right frame of mind. They reek of teen nerds.
The layout is standard two column format, with clear text and very easy to read tables. It is simple but effective. Neither in cost nor in content is it a product that will attract readers with refinement or visual impact. It was designed to be pleasant, immediate and immediate to use.
Supplement: Four Against the Abyss
Let’s have a loot at an expansion that figuratively continues the basic manual. Four Against the Abyss is a set of rules and options to expand the game and raise the adventurers to the ninth level. The dice evolve from d6 to d8 (and explode with 7 or 8, so very volatile). It starts with casually generating Four Against Darkness dungeon but what is inside it is determined by new tables.
The game experience can be rather deadly. There is also a sadistic saving throw vs. immediate death (“save or die”) mechanic. Leaders have been added to guide the monsters, there are six new spells and over 40 specific advanced skills for certain classes. Allies have been added, divided into mercenaries and artisans, with new secrets and various other optional rules. For example training, the plot for the campaign or madness.
For those who have had fun with Four Against Darkness but feel they have exhausted all of its content, there are many new elements in Four Against the Abyss to deepen and renew the game.
The cost of the digital version is 8$.
Adventure: Caves of the Kobold Slave-Masters
Caves of the Kobold Slave-Masters is an adventure for 1st-2nd level characters divided into three parts lasting a couple of hours. It starts with a pre-generated dungeon, to continue instead with one to be generated randomly and ends with a decisive battle.
It is a perfect introductory adventure to the game. The player goes from the pre-generated scenario to building the map, thus learning one of the fundamental bases of the game. He discovers how Four Against Darkness can be varied and that it is not just about cleaning rooms by fighting monsters butthe game can be adapted to create interesting situations, even narratively.
The cost of the digital version is 5,99$.
Adventure: Dark Waters
Dark Waters is an adventure in two chapters lasting a couple of hours, divided into a pre-generated and a randomly generated dungeon. It has a pirate setting with a whole series of tables for generating traps, monsters, treasures and aquatic events. In line with this setting, a new class is also presented: the swashbuckler.
The manual offers a full-bodied adventure, probably providing more than two hours of play.
The cost of the digital version is 2,5$.
Supplement: Four Against the Netherworld
Four Against the Netherworld is a level 6-9 character campaign set in the Netherworld. It cannot be classified as a simple adventure but as a real supplement for the abundant presence of new content.
First of all, specific rules for setting your adventures in the Netherworld, including problems related to food, mental health and relating to souls. It introduces new classes, including the demonologist and the cambion, with six new spells oftheir own.
Obviously, the Netherworld is not a dungeon, so there are rules for creating the hex-mapped territoryEach hex is characterizable with one of 10 possible types of terrain. The rest of the manual is a succession of customizations of the Four Against Darkness elements, including new monsters, discoveries, places, events, relationships and so on.
Four Against the Netherworld is the demonstration of how varied Four Against Darkness can be. It is not a classic role-playing game and does not pretend to be, but it has its own intrinsic value that distinguishs it from other simple solitaire games.
The cost of the digital version is 8$.
Adventure: Knight of Destiny
Speaking of variety, last but not least Knight of Destiny adventure is the latest product, published in Italy a few days ago. It is an adventure for a 3rd level wandering knight in search of the holy Grail.
Here, we face a completely different setting. It is an outdoor adventure, so we have inns and encounters instead of corridors and dungeons.
As typical of Arthurian fiction, the knight sets out on a journey that leads to clashes with treacherous knights, overcoming challenges, accumulating devotion points and listening to rumors, all in order to get to the Grail before Morgana and Mordred raise the rebellion against Arthur.
Knight of Destiny loses the chance of cooperative play, but gives the solitary player new challenges and new situations that can certainly entertain him for more than one game.
The cost of the digital version is 2$.
Considering the Four Against Darkness supplements
Four Against Darkness must be tried and discovered. It is a game with a precise identity and important strengths. It does NOT offer a fast and immediate version of role-play in the old way. To be precise, it is not even a real role-playing game. It does its job, however: it does allow you to spend time in joy lost in corridors infested with monsters or lands in danger.
Because the original product was already so nice, improving it was hard. With common sense and imagination, though, they succeeded. There are very varied situations, balanced and innovative additional content. For fans of the game, the material presented so far can truly offer a lot. In the future the company’s imagination for produce even more will hardly be lacking.