Saturday, April 23, 2016

My review and play of the Four Against Darkness adventure: Caves of the Kobold Slave-Masters

I've been playing Ganesha Games' solitaire dungeon-delving pen-and-paper game Four Against Darkness (4AD for short) for a bit now.  They have just released their first adventure, titled:  Caves of the Kobold Slave-Masters (found here:  I have completed my first run through this adventure, so now I'll give my opinion and a little spoiler-free action that occurred.
Cute little kobold.
The adventure is designed for beginning characters, so I went ahead and generated an all new party.  I chose the classic and more well-rounded team, in my opinion; Warrior, Rogue, Cleric, and Wizard (in that order and position).  I made sure to buy bandages for everyone, just in case.

This adventure is split into three sessions.  The first is a programmed dungeon, with map included.  The second is the standard random dungeon using the tables found in 4AD but using room contents from this adventure.  And the third is an abstract, climactic show-down.

Chapter one comes with a nice map.  Rooms, tunnels, etc. are already drawn out and numbered.  As you move to a numbered room, you go to the entry for that number and read the directions there.  There might be traps, monsters, treasures, and so forth.  I like some of the entries, brings an old-school choose-your-adventure vibe.  And the chance of dying is surprisingly high.  Nearly lost two characters, one of them almost twice!  I felt this chapter was geared more towards new players and characters, almost a linear approach to introduce different aspects of how 4AD plays.  Which isn't a bad thing.  I can see how this approach to dungeon design for 4AD could be used to expand future adventures.

Chapter two is the standard random dungeon creation from 4AD, but using contents of this adventure.  I fought 4 Vermin, 3 Minions, 1 Weird Monster, 5 Wandering Monsters, 2 Bosses, and the Final Boss.  Thank goodness for explosive 6 rolls and spells and holy water.  It took me 21 rooms to finally fight the Final Boss, and he was brutal.  There wasn't a single character that escaped with more than half their life points by the end.  Since dungeon creation is not new for this chapter, the only thing I can comment on are the monsters (minions, vermin, bosses) that are included.  A couple of the vermin and minions are only marginally different from the basic ones in 4AD, but some have surprising additions which ought to make things more difficult for your party.  The bosses, however, are very nasty and all play different from those in 4AD.  I had the joy of fighting 2, 3, and 6.
Final dungeon map for Chapter Two.  I fought the Final Boss in room 21.  Look at all the rooms I had to escape back through.  Lots of wandering monsters, yay!
Chapter three is an abstract final battle.  I'm not sure I can talk much about this one without ruining the whole premise behind it.  Lets just say, your party and some allies are playing host to some uninvited guests.  It was interesting being put in a position to control more people and planning a strategy around them.  Unfortunately, all planning went out the window once the opposition arrived.  Once again my party survived, along with one ally (a returning character from chapter one), but all of them were severely wounded.  This battle was brutal.  It was pretty tense there for a while with lots of crummy rolls by the defenders and I was barely killing one, thank goodness for holy water once again.  And a Sleep spell.  Man that Sleep spell works wonders sometimes.  But in the end I was victorious.  I took a picture of this battle, but I think it would reveal too much.
The party, having survived the entire adventure.
As for the production values of the entire adventure, you are getting quite a bit of content for only $2.  The illustrations are nice, themed perfect for the adventure.  Even if you only play through the adventure just once, you'll still be able to use the included tables and ideas for your home games and as creative fuel to generate your own adventures.

Overall Caves of the Kobold Slave-Masters is a decent first adventure.  I'm looking forward to how future adventures might expand 4AD.  Already some ideas are churning in my imagination on how to create my own adventure.  If you like Four Against Darkness, or solitaire dungeon-delving with only paper-and-pencils, then this adventure might work for you.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

New Adventure in 4AD - in the city of Verania

In the city of Verania, death lurks beneath the streets.  As merchants and peddlers sell their wares in the market and peasants wander in shambling mobs, evil stalks from the depths to snare unsuspecting stragglers and drag them below. 

A particular merchant, a wealthy jewel dealer named Honsul, has gone missing.  The trail of Honsul’s apparent kidnapping led constables to an abandoned temple in the outskirts of Verania.  This temple to some forgotten god reflected the slums and ramshackle buildings that comprised this section of the city, from an era lost in decay and ruin.  In the belly of this temple they found doors into dark catacombs.  The constables went in, but only one returned.  The survivor raved about monsters and death around every corner. 

Now a reward has gone out, a call for adventurers and heroes; to venture forth into that dungeon, to save the merchant Honsul, and to lay waste to the denizens of those black warrens.

Answering the call are four daring travelers.  Asril Ervang is a born warrior; she is a tattooed giant skilled with an archaic great-sword.  Sertan Vesray is a roguish swashbuckler, keen with his rapier and a set of lockpicks.  Durn Ummos is a cleric of Luura the Shining One, bringing healing and light to the darkness.  Issendath is a deadly wizard who has stepped from the shadows of his mentor to prove his worth.  Together they entered the temple and found the doors to the dungeons.

1). The entrance was a room filled with rotten furniture and the dust of time.  Further in, a path split to the west and to the east.  Sertan’s sharp eyes and with the help of his lantern saw footprints more focused to the east.  Brave Asril clutched her great-sword and led the group to the east to a simple wooden door.  She pushed it open.  (Entrance)

2).  A corridor beckons them, with a tunnel that splits to the north with paths east and west, and a door ahead facing east.  There is nothing visible within these halls, so Asril approached the door to the east and opened it.  (Empty, Search empty)

3).  A narrow short corridor headed north to a door.  Yet in front of the door are seven short goblin swarmlings.  These diminutive goblins were kneeling, like in prayer, as they faced the door to the north.  Asril led the charge with Sertan beside her.  Her great-sword cut two of the swarmlings down before they realized they were not alone.  They desperately drew weapons and tried to attack back, but for naught.  Asril cleaved through the remaining small monsters, scything through their limbs and bodies like chaff.  Sertan spied 4 gold among the little bodies.  Durn held a brief prayer, clutching his holy symbol to the Shining One, and the group opened the door to the north.  (Vermin, Warrior exploding 6)

4).  The room before them was a square with no other exits.  A worn white carpet led to a gilded wood throne on a short dais.  A cloaked figure, feminine in form, sat upon this throne.  She stood as the party entered the room and pulled back her hood.  A Medusa!  Her snake-like hair hissed and a pulse of vile energy lanced towards the heroes.  Asril took one step and suddenly her body froze, her entire form petrified into stone.  Sertan had tried a somersaulting roll but the Medusa’s gaze latched onto him and he became stone as well.  Durn placed his hand on Asril’s frozen shoulder and called forth to Luura, bathing the statue in a brilliant light, which freed the warrior.  Issendath pointed to the Medusa and called forth the winds of magic, and a bolt of lightning struck the monstrous figure.  She reared back, fearing for her life.  Asril, now not bound by the Medusa’s petrifying gaze, leapt upon the dais and hacked the fiend down.  Durn blessed Sertan, freeing him as well from a stone form.  Asril found a scroll with a protection spell which she handed to the wizard.  Issendath felt invigorated by this stretching of his arcane talent.  The group headed back out to take the first corridor, heading north and to the east.  (Boss, Wizard leveled up)

5).  There was another corridor before them heading east, with a door on the northern wall.  Although appearing empty, Sertan found a discolored stone along the wall.  As he tried to pry it open, a horde of twelve rats scurried from the shadows behind the group, to leap upon the cleric and wizard.  Durn used his mace the best he could, smashing aside the vermin, but tiny teeth were able to get through his armor.  Issendath recited a deadly incantation and unleashed a fireball, incinerating scores of the rats.  With the rats destroyed, Sertan pulled out the stone and found a pouch containing 96 gold.  Now the heroes chose the door to the north.  (Empty, Search, Hidden Treasure, Alarm, Vermin)

6).  A narrow short corridor goes north to a door.  Sertan spots a clue in the dust along the floor.  It appears to be a piece of cloth, a rich fabric and not yet covered by grime.  This must be from the kidnapped merchant.  Determined the adventurers open the door to the north.  (Empty, Clue)

7).  This room has a path heading east and west.  Sarcophagi line the northern wall.  An ancient dread feeling occupies the room.  As the group heads to the eastern door, one of the sarcophagi explodes open.  Out shambled a mummy!  The cadaverous form, wrapped in funereal linen, swings rotted limbs at the cleric, a hated beacon of light in its evil eyes.  Asril and Sertan both cut at the mummy, but Durn is able to channel divine wrath, felling the undead monster.  The cleric spent a moment to pray to the Shining One, to free the evil spirit that had dwelled in the ancient carcass.  Sertan found a healing potion hidden among funeral shrouds.  The team took the door to the east.  (Special Event, Wandering Monster, Boss, Cleric leveled up)

8).  This was a square room, unoccupied except for chains and shackles along the walls.  A couple skeletal remains were still held fast in these restraints.  Sertan found another clue.  It appeared the merchant had been held captive in this room at some point.  They were closer to finding him!  Back to the west they went.  (Empty, Clue)

9).  A round room held a door to the west.  A circle of columns surround the room, with the wreckage of stone benches littering the floor.  Two giant centipedes scurry over the rubble.  Asril cut the large insects down before the group took the western door.  (Vermin)

10).  Another small corridor lies before them, with a door to the north and one to the west.  Strangely a handful of gold coins are scattered on the floor, 8 of them.  They take the north door.  (Treasure)

11).  A corridor goes north with a hall branching off west, with a junction at the end of the western path.  Asril started along the corridor when abruptly the floor gave way beneath her.  A trapdoor!  The warrior hit the bottom with a cursed shout.  As she brushed herself off she spotted 7 gold lying in the hole with her.  Sertan lowered his rope so Asril could climb out.  They decided to head back and take the door to the west.  (Treasure Protected by a Trap, Trapdoor)

12).  The corridor before them curls around to the south and east and has a door to the west.  But two trolls were there.  The warrior and rogue advance, cutting one of the monsters down.  Sertan is hit back, dropping to one knee.  Asril quickly kills the second one.  Together they chop the trolls to pieces to prevent them regenerating.  In a pouch carried by a troll they find jewelry valued at 130 gold; possibly belonging to the kidnapped merchant.  They take the western door.  (Minions)

13).  A small corridor has a door to the west.  Nothing of interest was seen.  They take the door to the west.  (Empty, Search empty)

14).  The large room has a door to the north and to the south.  Shattered stone coffins are haphazardly placed throughout the room.  Four zombies shamble out of their ancient caskets.  Asril beheaded one of the undead.  Then Durn brought forth divine energy into his mace and with righteous fury destroyed the remaining zombies.  The heroes chose the door to the south.  (Minions, Cleric exploding 6)

15).  Another small corridor it has a door to the east.  It was empty.  They take the eastern door.  (Empty, Search empty)

16).  A room has a long corridor stretching to the east to a door.  Six skeletal rats greet them.  Asril accounted for three of the undead.  Durn smashed two of them and Sertan handled the last one.  To the east they go.  (Vermin)

17).  A corridor leads to a large room with a door to the east.  Four goblins sprang up as the team entered the room.  Asril attacked, claiming one of the creatures.  Sertan sprang into action; impaling one goblin, disemboweling the next, before decapitating the last.  They find 5 gold on the corpses.  Through the east door they go.  (Minions, Rogue exploding 6)

18).  This room was similar to the one they found earlier, with chained skeletons along the walls.  Sertan found another clue.  The merchant was most definitely in this dungeon and had been in this room very recently.  They were closer.  Back the way they came!  (Empty, Search, final Clue, Someone Imprisoned)

* 16 * In the room they had killed the skeletal rats they were ambushed by nine hungry rats.  Issendath and Durn were both bitten by the rabid pests.  Asril retaliated in frenzy, killing four.  Sertan claimed three with his rapier and Durn finished off the last two.  (Wandering Monster, Vermin)

* 15 * As they cross into the corridor just south of the room they found the zombies, a bellowing beast bull-rushed the party from behind.  A Minotaur!  Issendath was slammed against the wall.  Durn hit the monster.  The Minotaur hit the wizard again and Issendath was on the precipice of death, his body mangled and bleeding.  Durn used his divine energies to heal all of the wizard’s wounds.  Issendath conjured forth a bolt of arcane lightning onto the monster and Durn hit the beast one final time to finish him off.  Asril was enraged by these monsters constantly surprising them, she vowed to get the team out of this dungeon in one piece.  Sertan found a potion of healing on the Minotaur.  They crossed the room they fought the zombies and took the door to the north.  (Wandering Monster, Weird Monster, Warrior leveled up)

19).  This room had a door to the north and east.  But the party did not need to go any further.  The target of their quest was before them.  Honsul, the kidnapped merchant, was shackled along the western wall.  But standing over him was the largest ogre they had ever seen.  This massive monstrosity was a towering brute of muscle and carnivorous appetite.  Asril swore vengeance, cutting the giant ogre across its large belly.  Durn scored a minor wound on the monster.  Sertan used his lockpicks and began trying to free Honsul from his shackles.  The ogre hit Asril, ripping apart her armor.  The warrior spit blood and dove forward, driving her great-sword deep into the chest of the ogre.  The ogre fell.  Honsul was freed.  Asril searched the ogre to find a pouch with 100 gold.  Issendath sought to focus his arcane energies in preparation for their return trek through the dungeon, but he still felt weak from his near death experience by the Minotaur.  The group made their way back to the catacomb entrance.  (Boss, Final Boss, freed Prisoner, Wizard failed level up)

* 5 * The team was only three areas away from the doors out of the dungeon when a strange croaking sound came at them from behind.  A vampire frog pounced on Issendath, biting him in the arm.  Durn was able to swiftly kill the frog.  From its bloated remains the cleric found a scroll with the sleep spell, which he handed to the wizard.  They only had one corridor more to go before they would reach the entrance area.  (Wandering Monster, Vermin)

* 2 * The long corridor abruptly echoed with a familiar bellowing sound.  A Minotaur charged into the rear of the group, knocking aside Durn.  Issendath hastily brought forth the scroll he had just received, casting a sleep spell on the Minotaur.  As the beast collapsed, Asril moved forward to finish it off.  She found a magic bow hung from its belt.  On to the entrance area they went.  (Wandering Monster, Weird Monster)

* 1 * The entrance area was unexpectedly filled with flying darting figures.  Seven vampire bats descended from the ceiling.  Durn and Issendath were both bit.  Sertan cut down two of the bats.  The cleric swiftly cast healing energy on the wizard, saving Issendath from death once more.  The wizard gathered his power and released a fireball, scorching four of the bats.  Sertan was bit as the last vampire bat decided to fight to the death.  Asril swung and tore through the last bat.  Bloodied and very weary, the party and the rescued merchant exited the dungeon.  (Wandering Monster, Vermin)

The heroes led Honsul to safety.  The merchant gladly gave his rescuers jewelry, a pile worth 140 gold, and a magical ring of teleportation.  Together the adventurers made their way to an inn, to recuperate and to plan how they would spend all the treasures they had accumulated.  They would have scars and memories to remind them of the day they braved danger to save an innocent man.  Meanwhile, they had gold to spare and the city of Verania had plenty to sell to those with wealth to share.

Final party sheet after the dungeon.

Final dungeon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Adventuring in 4AD - part 2

Once again heroes have answered the call for help in the town of Silverpines.  The four adventurers have recuperated from their last trek into darkness, coming back with lost treasures and stories of lurking dangers.  Now they have steeled themselves to journey once more into the unknown.

Ulrik, brave barbarian from the Ten Bear Tribe; Vondal Frostheim, stalwart dwarf of the Silver Citadel; Sariel Moonpetal, she-elf of the distant Starlight Forest; and Cailie Reedgage, female Halfling from the Emerald Hills; have gathered their gear and approached the depths of the dungeon they had only recently escaped.
  • The entrance to the dungeon once again looms ahead, with paths heading north-east and north-west.  They had already ventured eastward, so to the north-west they travel.
  1. A long corridor stretches into the distance before turning west.  A door lies along the eastern wall of the corridor.  Sariel motions the party to follow the corridor first.  Her sharp ears and eyes detect nothing amiss in this seemingly vacant tunnel.  (Empty, Search empty)
  2. They enter a room with a door on the western wall.  Immediately they hear odd croaking sounds.  Five bloated vampire frogs are squatting over the remains of some past victim, blood staining the floor and their hungry mouths.  Sariel fires her bow in quick succession, felling two of the demonic toads.  Vondal and Ulrik launch into the fray finishing off the remaining three.  Cailie dug through the gory ruin and found 5 gold.  Sariel suggests they should back-track to the door in the previous corridor.  (Vermin)
  3. In this room the party was surprised to see it was empty.  Sariel searched in vain, but it was Ulrik who found a loose stone on the wall.  He pulled it and was struck as a spring-loaded blade sliced his hand.  With the trap disengaged the barbarian found a small pouch containing 72 gold.  As there were no doors in this room, the team headed back to the room where they killed the vampire frogs and through the door on its western wall.  (Empty, Hidden Treasure, Trapped)
  4. The short narrow corridor headed west and branched north.  Sariel could not detect anything awry at this juncture, but she thought she heard sounds from the north.  Ulrik and Vondal readied their weapons and headed north.  (Empty, Search empty)
  5. A room opens up before them with a door to the north.  However, they have other concerns.  Three drooling trolls have heard the heroes and turn to them in anticipation.  Sariel’s bow claims one of the monsters, as does Ulrik with his large war-hammer.  But then both trolls stand back up, their wounds regenerating swiftly.  The trolls attack, knocking back Cailie and Vondal, despite their racial familiarity in avoiding larger monsters.  Ulrik smashes aside another troll.  Cailie uses her dexterity to bash the knee-cap of one troll, cave in the skull of the next, before burying her mace in the initial one she clipped.  Sariel and Vondal chop up the trolls to prevent them from recovering.  The elf finds a mysterious wand kept by the trolls; she senses it to be a Wand of Sleep.  The group opens the door to the north.  (Minions, Halfling exploding 6 attack)
  6. A narrow corridor ends in a large room with another door to the north.  To the side is a treasure chest.  Greedily the Halfling tries to pry open the chest.  Instantly a cloud of poisonous gas is ejected, filling the area.  Ulrik, Vondal, and Sariel were far enough back to avoid the venomous trap, but Cailie fell back, coughing and vomiting as she breathed in the full force of the toxins.  With the trap released they find a measly 12 gold inside the chest.  To the north they go once more.  (Treasure protected by a Trap, Poison Gas)
  7. This room has a door heading north and a door to the east.  The party is confronted by eight fungi folk, moldy and rotten like the ones they had fought in their first dungeon run.  With so many, Sariel did not want to risk these monsters’ toxic touch.  She used her Wand of Sleep.  Amazingly seven of the fungi folk collapsed!  Cailie used her sling to drop the last one.  Ulrik and Vondal finish off the sleeping forms to be sure and find a magical scroll, which they hand off to Sariel.  The elf now had another Scroll of Lightning Bolt.  The group chose the door to the east.  (Minions)
  8. A corridor stretches to the east, with a branching path heading north and south.  A gang of eight goblins just reached the intersection.  They were completely surprised to see a group of adventurers entering this far into the dungeon.  Sariel conjured forth the winds of magic, feeling arcane energies swell within her, and she unleashed a mighty fireball.  The resulting explosion rocked the dungeon walls and floor, threatening to knock over the heroes.  But as the smoke cleared, there were no goblins remaining.  They sifted through the ashes and charred remains.  Vondal’s dwarven sense of smell found only 5 gold.  This time they went south.  (Minions, Elf exploding 6 twice with Fireball)
  9. The southern corridor ended in a room with a door to the south.  Ten rats with gleaming red eyes scurry from the darkness.  Cailie smiled with glee and began a macabre dance, a grisly ballet punctuated by stomping on the rats with each of her Halfling-sized feet as she hopped about the room.  The Halfling had squished eight of the rats before Sariel kicked aside the last two.  Vondal looked at the surprising Halfling before opening the southern door.  (Vermin, Halfling exploding 6 attack)
  10. A short narrow corridor headed south with a branch to the east.  Sariel detected nothing in the squat intersection.  So they head south.  (Empty, Search empty)
  11. The path turns to the east into a dead-end room.  But a large form was lounging in this room.  A giant ogre stands up from his pallet of skins and furs.  Sariel uses one of her Scrolls of Lightning Bolt, striking the behemoth in a flash of blue-white.  Vondal rolls between the ogre’s legs, hacking both knees from behind, dropping the ogre lower.  Ulrik immediately follows behind the dwarf to slam his war-hammer up into the jaw of the monster, shattering teeth and the jaw into shrapnel of bone.  The ogre toppled over with a loud thump.  Among the ogre’s possessions Vondal was able to sniff out jewelry worth 60 gold.  The dwarf smiled avariciously, feeling excited about a wealthy future.  The group headed back north out of the ogre’s lair and headed east.  (Boss, Dwarf exploding 6, Barbarian exploding 6, Dwarf leveled up)
  12. The room before them has a door to the east and a tunnel further north.  Except, all eyes are drawn to the massive beast dwelling in this chamber.  This chamber was home to a monstrous wyrm, a crimson dragon.  Its reptilian head rose up to stare menacingly down on these mortals that would dare enter its lair as smoke began to billow from its cavernous maw.  Sariel quickly read the arcane words of her last Scroll of Lightning Bolt, striking the mighty drake with an instance of brilliant energy.  Vondal leapt in with his two-handed battle-axe, carving a couple scales from the dragon.  This grand red drake struck at the heroes in quick succession, smashing aside Ulrik and the dwarf.  Sariel danced in to stab the dragon, scoring only a minor cut.  Then Ulrik, powerful barbarian of the northern tundra, let forth a raging howl of fury and caved in the skull of the once proud dragon.  The dragon collapsed, shaking the chamber with his death throes.  Cailie had not been idle, as she leapt to avoid the wings and tail of such a gargantuan creature, she fell upon the treasure belonging to the dragon.  The Halfling had found gems worth 35 gold, jewelry worth 170 gold, and a magical sword!  Cailie gladly handed the sword over to Sariel.  Vondal hacked off the head of the dragon to keep as a trophy and proof of their exploits.  With the death of this epic beast, the adventurers headed back the way they came to leave the dungeon.  (Boss, Final, Barbarian Rage exploding 6, Barbarian leveled up, Halfling leveled up)
  • The final corridor to the dungeon entrance stretched before them.  Suddenly a diabolic monstrosity flew into the trailing members of the group.  A Chimera!  Sariel shot the beast, burying an arrow deep into its chest.  But the Chimera braced itself and spewed flames, scorching Ulrik and narrowly missing the others.  Cailie desperately hacked at the beast as the dwarf and barbarian could only watch in horror from behind.  The Chimera swiped its deadly talons, slicing the Halfling.  Sariel had a magic sword now and once more channeled the Goddess of War, carving the beast into chunks of seared meat.  Cailie was able to spot 8 gold from the opened entrails of the Chimera.  With this last encounter, the group exited the dungeon.  (Wandering Monster, Weird Monster)

They were bloodied, sweaty, tired, but also victorious and considerably wealthy.  Now they could present themselves to the mayor of Silverpines and receive the accolades they deserved.  Vondal plopped the head of the dragon at the feet of the mayor.  Cailie climbed atop the draconic skull and began the tale of the four adventurers that dared the depths below.  

Final dungeon, having taken the north-west road this time around.

Final party sheet after completion of the dungeon.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Adventuring in 4AD - barbarian, dwarf, elf, halfling

In the town of Silverpines, the local mayor is seeking brave heroes.  A dungeon exists nearby where dangerous monsters lurk, with the treasures they have stolen.  If the heroes can clear the monsters from their underground domain they may keep the treasures they recover.

Answering the call are four adventurers.  Ulrik is a barbarian from the Ten Bear Tribe, wielding a two-handed warhammer and wearing hide armor and furs (light armor).  Vondal Frostheim is a heavily armored dwarf warrior using a two-handed axe.  Sariel Moonpetal is an elf; she carries a bow and sword but keeps a fireball spell prepared.  Cailie Reedgage is a Halfling, she bears the important lantern and uses a sling and light mace.

Our heroes by the end of the adventure.

The map of the dungeon by the end of the adventure.
  1. The heroes find the entrance to the dungeon.  A rank musty odor emanates from further in.  The entrance branches to the west and east.  They take the eastern path to a simple door with rusted hinges.
  2. The first room they enter, the heroes surprise four orcs gnawing on bones.  Sariel the elf’s bow drops an orc quickly as Ulrik the barbarian and Vondal the dwarf wade into combat, felling two greenskins.  One orc drops his weapon and flees the room.  The adventurers find 6 gold on the corpses before they head north to another door.  (Minions)
  3. Behind the door they find a long twisting corridor that appears empty.  Sariel’s keen senses detect a loose stone on the floor.  As she moved the stone a trap was triggered, but she dodged the sprung poisoned needle.  Underneath the stone they find a cache of 224 gold.  (Search, Hidden Treasure, Trapped)
  4. Following the corridor around and to the north, they reach a small room with another door.  As they cross the threshold into the room a giant stone block falls on Cailie the Halfling.  With lucky reflexes she avoids the dangerous trap.  (Special Event, Trap, Giant Stone Block, Halfling Luck re-roll to escape) 
  5. They move into a small narrow corridor with a door to the east.  But then a bellowing and stomping behemoth plows into the group from behind.  A massive ogre has found them!  His giant club slams Cailie and Sariel.  The heroes recover, desperately trying to slay the monster, striking where they can.  Cailie ducked the ogre’s wild swings, climbed his back and buried her mace into the beast’s face.  The ogre toppled.  The Halfling felt invigorated from the battle, despite being wounded.  Cailie and Sariel took a moment to apply bandages to their wounds.  (Empty, Search, Wandering Monster, Boss, Halfling exploding 6 attack, Halfling level up)
  6. They enter a large room with a door to the north and south.  In the center of the room on a rickety table was a pile of jewelry.  Vondal the dwarf gathered the precious jewelry; appraising them as they went into his pouch, smiling as he valued them to be worth 120 gold.  Ulrik kicks the door to the south open.  (Treasure, Jewelry)
  7. Down a corridor they move, into a room with another door to the south.  But this room is occupied.  Seven fungi folk, their caps and limbs rotten and moldy, are standing over a human corpse.  A pungent odor of their toxic spores fills the room.  Sariel’s sling accounts for one of the strange creatures as does Cailie’s bow before the fungi attack back.  The Halfling and elf are hit in return, but luckily the poisonous attacks take no effect.  Vondal and Ulrik are able to hack down three more.  The last two fungi folk flee.  The dwarf searched the corpse, finding gems easily worth 50 gold.  Ulrik chooses the door to the south again, knocking it open.  (Minions)
  8. The group finds a narrow short corridor, with a path to the east and a door south.  Taking a moment they search the small area, but uncover nothing.  Ulrik hammers aside the door to the south.  (Empty, Search empty)
  9. This room is filled with webs, but they see a door on the southern wall.  As they try to hack their way through the thick sticky strands, a large bloated body falls upon them.  It’s a giant spider!  Cailie is able to get a sling shot on the beast before it lands.  It bites Ulrik, but his constitution is too strong to be affected by poison.  Then it stings the Halfling, who also shrugs off the venomous attack.  Vondal and Ulrik respond, defeating the giant spider with their heavy weapons.  Sariel searches the room, finding a magical scroll with a Lightning Bolt spell and some gems, which the dwarf appraises to be worth 55 gold.  The elf is feeling more confident in their journey; she pushes open the door to the south.  (Special Event, Wandering Monster, Weird Monster, Elf level up)
  10. A narrow corridor ends in a room, occupied by three trolls!  The heroes attack.  Only Vondal is able to defeat one.  But to his surprise the troll regenerates, standing back up.  They were going to need some luck in this battle if they were hoping to survive.  Sariel the elf drew her sword, and in a brief moment she was touched by the Goddess of War.  With dazzling unparalleled skill she cut down the three trolls with contemptuous fury, a righteous blade dancer.  Vondal used his axe to hack the troll corpses into pieces to prevent them regenerating.  Amongst the carnage they found gems valued at 35 gold.  (Minions, Elf rolled THREE 6’s consecutively)

Although the barbarian and dwarf were relatively unharmed, the elf and Halfling were wounded.  The group decided to escape the dungeon, back through the rooms and corridors they had fought and bled through.  Luck was with them once again, as no monsters appeared to contest their flight. 

There would always be another time to brave the dungeons below, to slay monsters and gather treasure.  But they had jewelry and gems and gold to spend, and a tale to tell.  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Four Against Darkness (4AD) - second session

The same intrepid heroes were sent to investigate another dungeon.

This is the adventuring group by the end of this session.  Kord the Warrior is Level 2 with a Magic Hand Weapon and Shield of Warning.  Simkin the Rogue is Level 2 with a Magic Bow.  Cuthbert the Cleric is a Level 3.  Mordnekainen the Wizard is a Level 3 with three Fireball spells, Sleep, and Lightning Bolt.
This is the dungeon at game end.

Combined with last game session these are all the monsters the heroes have slain.
Game Highlights

  1.  A total of 5 Bosses were slain, including the Final Boss and couple wandering ones (Mummy, Orc Brute, Ogre, Mummy, and final was a Medusa)
  2.  Found Hidden Treasure that was Trapped worth 176 gp
  3.  6 different Minions/Vermin types were defeated (rats, goblins, vampire frogs, skeletons, skeletal rats, goblin swamlings)
  4.  Defeated a Weird Monster, a Minotaur
  5.  Found a Blessed Temple, a Statue that awakened and attacked, a Wandering Healer, the Lady in White with a Quest (which I completed to get a Shield of Warning)
  6.  Found a Secret Door and rolled a 6, so a convenient Safe Shortcut out of the dungeon, right next door to the Final Boss (yay!)
This session was more enjoyable, lots of stuff going on.  With 5 Bosses and a Weird Monster I thought I would have been soundly beaten somewhere along the journey, but I guess luck was with the heroes this time around.  Having a Cleric and Wizard on the team seems practically mandatory from what I've seen so far.  Although the Warrior is obviously the perfect front-line candidate, I like having the Rogue up front as well for the possible Traps that might appear and his Defense is capable enough against most attacks.

Four Against Darkness (4AD) - first play

In my first game I made an adventuring party using the classic group of Warrior, Rogue, Cleric, and Wizard.

There is Kord the Warrior, Simkin the Rogue, Cuthbert the Cleric, and Mordenkainen the Wizard.

Lots of paper.

The random dungeon generation went really awkwardly for this session.

  1. Entrance
  2. Went East, completely empty
  3. Went East, Special Event.  Ghost!  Injured Rogue and Wizard
  4. Went back West then South, Treasure.  Magic Item:  Fool's Gold
  5. Back to the Entrance then West.  Empty completely 
  6. Westernmost room, Vermin.  2 Vampire Frogs.  Got a gem worth 50 gp
  7. North, Vermin.  8 Rats.  Wizard's Fireball handled most of them.
  8. North, Special Feature.  Cursed Altar.  Cleric Blessing takes care of that.
  9. North, Special Feature.  Fountain.  Everyone healed back up.
  10. North, completely empty (Again!  Bad Search rolls).  
  11. East, FINAL BOSS.  Chaos Lord (no powers).  With Wizard's Lightning Bolt and great rolling (for combat at least), the adventurers succeed.  They get a Magic Bow (for the Rogue), Ring of Teleportation (sold), and 120 gp.  The Wizard levels up. 
  12. They head back out of the dungeon with ZERO wandering monsters.  Easiest dungeon I've ever dealt with in ANY game EVER.
This was a very odd session.  The dungeon was mostly linear, and I had to fit some of the rooms to the paper.  But for my first game I was still learning game mechanics and such, so a simple beginning eased me into things before a proper dungeon delving.

Four Against Darkness (4AD) by Ganesha Games

Ganesha Games is well known for Song of Blades and Heroes and other rules for tabletop miniature games.  But now they have released a new type of game, a rules-lite solo dungeon-crawling adventure.  All you need is a pencil, two six-sided dice, grid paper, and the rules.  It is called Four Against Darkness (or 4AD for short).

The player will choose four adventurers from the typical stable of fantasy tropes (Warrior, Cleric, Rogue, Wizard, Barbarian, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling).  Then you can equip them how you want and off to the dungeon you go.

The game is run by a multitude of tables.  You start out with the dungeon entrance (1 of 6), and then you will roll off to see what the next room or corridor will be.  In each room or corridor you will roll to see what inhabits it (vermins, minions, bosses, weird monsters, treasure, traps, special events, etc.) and from there will be even more options or possibilities for each encounter; attack, bribe, quest, flee, etc.  Combat is real simple; roll d6 add/subtract modifier and compare to level of monster/encounter.  Subtract life points until you or enemy dies.

The goal of each dungeon run is to reach a final boss, slay him, and escape the dungeon (yes, back through all those rooms checking for wandering monsters as you go).  Don't get too attached to your adventurers, their survival is not guaranteed.

The rules are simple enough, and once you get the hang of the tables a game session goes by fairly quickly.  Included in the zip folder I downloaded were a couple pocketmods with all the tables, which helped quite a bit.  However, most of the encounter tables have only six options, so you may run into the same minions or bosses or treasures.  But there is nothing stopping you from creating your own tables once you have played a couple games and understand the game mechanics.  I hear there are supplements in the works which may expand the game even further, which I look forward to.

You may find Four Against Darkness at