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.


  1. Right, that's it. I'll give it a go on your recommendation!

  2. Thanks for your review. Also thanks for not spoiling it for potential players.