Four Against Darkness (Book 1)
Have you ever found yourself jonesing to play a roleplaying but lack the players or even a gamemaster? Ever thought to yourself while traveling, I’m bored? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you may find that Four Against Darkness scratches that solo gaming itch you get from time to time.
WHAT IS FOUR AGAINST DARKNESS?
Four Against Darkness is a solitaire dungeon-delving game that may also be played cooperatively. No miniatures are needed. All you need is this book, a pencil, two dice, and grid paper. Choose four characters from a list of classic types (warrior, wizard, rogue, halfling, dwarf, barbarian, cleric, elf), equip them, and venture into dungeons created by dice rolls and your own choices. You will fight monsters, manage resources, grab treasure, dodge traps, find clues, and even accept quests from the monsters themselves. Your characters will level up, becoming more powerful with each game… IF THEY SURVIVE. (back cover)
That explanation of Four Against Darkness is rather straight forward. A little hack and slash action for your alone time!
GAME MECHANICS OVERVIEW
From the ground up the game was designed to be a solo experience that could be played collaboratively with a friend or two. The mechanical engine of the game revolves around the exclusive use of a simple D6 to resolve all actions, questions and dungeon design elements. For example to determine the look of the entrance to your dungeon and its shape, roll a d6 and refer to page 25 to the find entrance that corresponds to your die roll. When you enter a hallway or room, you will use a D6 result to find out what, if anything, is in that location. Taking that information, you will then go to the appropriate table and roll another D6 to see what the situation is. Is there a monster? Is there treasure? Is there a special event? These and many other questions get answered with a single D6 roll.
Combat resolution is just as easy. There are vermin, minions, and bosses; each a little more challenging than the last. Vermins are annoying and easy to kill, they have one life point and you attack the “mass” with one attack, not individually. Unfortunately, there is no XP awarded for vermin. Minions are a little tougher, while they each have one life point, they must be attacked individually. Bosses are the strongest and take more time to wear down and beat.
Here’s an example of a minion fight – If you’re facing a 3rd level goblin, you would simply need a result of 3 or higher on a D6 roll plus/minus any applicable modifiers. Let’s assume you rolled a 1 and added your applicable modifiers for an end result of 4, you have successfully dealt one damage to the goblin (you exceeded 3, its level) and killed it.
As I mentioned, your die roll can be modified up or down, these changes are based on a variety of things like class, weapon type, creature type, and a few other factors.
Don’t let this overly simplified rules summary fool you. The game has other rules like monster reactions; does the monster fight, flee, help, etc? Monster will attack back! This is not a one-sided murder-hobo dungeon run. You can and will get your party members wounded or worse yet, killed from time to time. Fear not, all these other rules are just as simple to understand and equally as easy to execute in the game.
BUILDING YOUR CHARACTER ROSTER
Filling your character roster is very important and your team composition does matter. You are limited to four party members and they are chosen from the classes available in the book. It’s super simple to set up your adventurers. Choose your four, roll for starting gold, buy some gear above and beyond your starting gear (totally optional), maybe pick a spell and away you go! Go slay some monsters and find your riches.
I own the physical book from Amazon and the overall quality of the book is good. The text is larger and easy to read, but the off-white pages give a muted tone that some readers will not like. The art style is black and white line art and is consistent with the theme and tone of the book. The overall construction of the book is very solid. I have been reading, using, and toting the book around in a backpack and it has held up excruciating well! My only complaint regarding the production is the cover art. At first blush, the art is decent, but on closer inspection, you’ll see some oddities. For example, the four figures seem to be disconnected from the background. In addition to that, there are photo-realistic elements, such as the gold coins, incorporated that further make the image odd. That said, the image does give a good representation of the game.
I haven’t played around with Four Against Darkness all that much yet, but I have enjoyed every minute of the game so far! I like the tables and some of the randomness of the dungeon building, monster reactions, and all the other charts that bring this game to life. As a solo game, this is well written and equally as well executed. One of our trusted Patreon supporters spoke very highly of this game and gifted it to me. I have not been let down yet! The cost of the book is low and I would recommend that if you enjoy solo gaming or find that you have a need for such a game, get it. Give it a try and maybe you’ll find a new favorite.
I’m getting ready for a work-related trip. Guess what one book I will be sure to have in my bag? You’re correct. This little sucker and some graph paper are coming with me. It’s just what I need to entertain myself while on the airplane. With any luck, I can convince the person next to me to join the party. If not I’ll play it solo.
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