Tabletop RPG Review: Four Against the Darkness

Four Against Darkness cover

With Tabletop RPGs coming back into their own, there’s been a sizable increase in options available for gamers of all sorts.  The so called OSR or Old School Renaissance (or Revival, depending on who you talk to), new media tie-ins, and wonderfully experimental games are hitting game store shelves, DriveThruRPG, and other places.  Gaming online through sites like Roll 20 or services like Skype have helped when local groups of players are harder to come by. Now, with games like Four Against Darkness, players also have solo options.  More involved and free-formed than a “Pick Your Path” book, but allowing the freedom to game even when nobody’s around.

The rules here are fairly simple, requiring only two six sided dice and some graph paper.  Various tables and charts let you procedurally generate a dungeon, its critters, their reactions, and your rewards.  Obviously, with only charts and dice, there’s not a lot of chance for roleplaying, but with some imagination, you can create stories.  There are expansions that add in more complexity, deeper issues, different dice, etc. But I imagine with this book you’ll be able to have many hours of fun.  And if you run the kind of game where there are a lot of dungeons to be explored and cleared out, you’ll end up creating a bunch of fairly detailed maps with this game.

Some of the organization is a bit wonky, and I can imagine when you’re first playing it might be tough to find all the rules and examples you need.  That said, the book isn’t that big and the rules aren’t that complex, so with some experience, things are likely going to be easier. There are also some online resources (including 3rd party stuff) to help you better play the game.

So, if you’re looking for a bit of solo game-play with an Old School RPG vibe, this one is worth checking out, especially since it’s not expensive.  There’s a fair amount of material for the game available either as downloads or in print, too. 


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