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Dungeons & Delvers - Black Book

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This extensively playtested, profusely illustrated, lightweight-yet-complete roleplaying game is an homage to the "Easy-to-Master" black box of the first role-playing game (and the first version or edition that I ever played) that does everything I wish the original did (which might also include some stuff you wish it did, too).

Like the black box, the Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book contains four races (which function as races do in later editions: they’re not racial classes), four classes, and five levels, though each class has far more talents than you can possibly choose from in a five-level spread, and there are guidelines if you want to go beyond 5th-level (there are also guidelines for making and converting monsters if you want more variety).

Fresh Take, Familiar Feel: Overall the game has a similar feel to the original roleplaying game, but there are a number of differences.

For example, kobolds and chimeras are more inline with their mythological counterparts, everyone gets to choose something at almost every level (and you can for the most part control how complex your character gets), fighters have build in scaling damage, armor both ups your Armor Class and reduces the damage you take (usually, some things mitigate it’s DR or even ignore it), clerics and wizards don’t share the same pseudo-Vancian magic system (cleric magic is safe but more limited in scope), and magical healing (and magic in general) isn’t assumed

Flexible Characters: You get to make a choice every level, sometimes more than one. You can control not only how your character develops, but even how complicated your character gets: you can have a fighter that just hits things, or you can learn various maneuvers. A wizard can focus on blowing things up or branch out into the more complicated illusion school. Even better, you aren't locked into a set path at any point, so if you decide that you want to pick up maneuvers later you can, and if you decide that your illusionist wants to learn some offensive magic you can also do that.

Unpredictable, Dangerous Magic (For Wizards): Aside from cantrips, spells drain random amounts of Mana with each use. If you don’t have enough Mana, they drain your Vitality and Wounds Points next, which means you could knock yourself out or even die if you’re too reckless!

Dependable, Safe Magic (For Clerics): Clerics pray to their god for Favor, which they spend to work divine magic. It’s safe--you always know how much you’re going to spend--but limited in scope, plus some cleric abilities require that you have at least 1 Favor left over.

Simple, Effective Crafting Rules: You spend time and money to learn craft skills, and when you want to make something you just need to spend more time and money. No rolls required, and the more you invest the better stuff you can make. Given enough time (and money) you can make better stuff than you could buy at the market!

Magical Healing Isn't Required or Assumed: What you’d normally call Hit Points are split into two uneven pools: Vitality Points and Wound Points. VP is the smaller pool and replenishes fairly quickly, giving adventurers a buffer to work with. WP takes longer, more so if you try camping in the dungeon or wilderness.

Since clerics don’t have access to healing magic by default and magic items aren’t assumed, the only readily available alternative are mending potions. The downside is that they take a bit to kick in, and if you drink too many in too short a time frame you can effectively die from blood poisoning.

Waste Not, Want Not: Not all treasure is gold and gems, and not every beast happens to have a hoard, but if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty many monsters have something someone wants. 


This product contains:

  • A full-color PDF of the Black Book.
  • A B&W PDF of the Black Book, in case you prefer black-and-white and/or want to save ink printing it out.
  • A color and B&W version of the character sheet.
  • A character sheet with notations to make it easier to find information.
  • Three PDFs with alpha drafts of the cambion and tarchon races, the cambion and dwarf racial classes, the monk, ranger, warlock, and vancomancer classes (the vancomancer has its own magic system), a necromancer talent tree for the core wizard, rules for multiclassing, examples of what to do with various monster bits, more magic items, and some new demons and undead.
  • A primer for the A Sundered World campaign setting (with more races, items, and monsters, all converted of course).
 
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Reviews (5)
Discussions (13)
Customer avatar
Shannon L October 14, 2017 5:47 am UTC
PURCHASER
I love everything about the book...BUT FOR THE PARTCHMENT PAPER EFFECT. I ordered a print copy of the book and lm so dispointed in the ugly partchment effect on the pages. I'd have far preferred a print version of the b&w PDF or better yet a print version in colour with no "partchment paper effect" ... the partchment paper effect is _not_ evocative or in any way good.
Is it possible for me to pay for a print copy of the book with the partchment paper effect removed? If I could get that I'd be very very happy.
Customer avatar
Shannon L October 14, 2017 5:55 am UTC
PURCHASER
Ok I bit the bullet and reordered the book in B&W. based off the PDF the hideous faux partchment should _not_ be present ... I did not see that option originally (see it new? Or I might just be blind). I do think a colour art option of the book would be a good print option. The faux partchment really isn't attractive in my printed copy.
Customer avatar
David G October 14, 2017 6:17 am UTC
PUBLISHER
@Shannon,

If you can/if you don't really want the B&W print book and are willing to wait (the B&W book does NOT have a parchment background though), get in touch with Drivethru and see if they can cancel your B&W print copy. Tomorrow I'll upload a color PDF without the background, and then start the process for color-no-parchment-background for soft- and hardcover books (probably take a week or two). Once that's ready I can send you a print-at-cost discount link for both options, saving you some cash.

We're really sorry about that, and from now on we'll make sure to include color-no-parchment PDFs. Glad you otherwise like the book!
Customer avatar
Shannon L October 14, 2017 6:58 am UTC
PURCHASER
Like it so much I'll keep the B&W order AND get the coloured art once it goes up! Btw it's not just me, it's the group. That's a solid five regulars and a sixth drop in that love the way it's playing. The sixth guy is a massive SW fan and he made the comparison that it's just like SW only better because you can see it's D&D ... I sort of see what he means too. So David, I think you might have a hit OSR property. It's really nicely done ✅.
Customer avatar
David G October 14, 2017 8:16 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Shannon,

Uploaded a color-no-parchment PDF a bit ago (should appear as dungeonsAndDelvers_blackBook_v1.5_printBook_noBg.pdf), and uploaded print files for the physical book. Again it could take a week or two. I'm using the exact same cover file, which means it should only take one try (fingers crossed anyway). When that's done I'll send you a print-at-cost discount link so you pay the bare minimum DriveThru requires to print and ship it.

Very glad you and your group are loving it (enough to keep the B&W print anyway, but again we're VERY sorry about the whole parchment background thing)! Got any play reports? Suggestions for more content? If you want to publish any homebrew stuff (for sale, even) we're cool with that! By SW do you mean Savage Worlds? I wasn't sure if it fit into the OSR category: lotta people with a lot of different definitions/requirements. :-P

Regardless, we've got plenty of additional content on the way (including more free stuff)!
Customer avatar
Shannon L October 15, 2017 7:08 am UTC
PURCHASER
Well Dragonsfoot has focus on Savage Worlds as OSR. It's not a "retro clone" clearly, but it fits under, OSR from the approach perspective. Our sixth guy Ian is a Savage Worlds nut, so I know he was being very complementary in his view. There are things about SW I can't get behind which make it not my cup of tea for most things. We have been adherents to Lamentations of the flame princes, Delving deeper and Exemplars And Eidolons, Crimson Blades. Our regular game world has no "Cleric class" just three classes, fighter, specialist, and Magic user - and is inclusive of healing type magic too. So you can be a Priest with magic, a vodooun, a warlock, a Mage, etc all via that one casting class. Anyone class can summon or use theurgy ( think stormbringer and divine magic from Rune Quest) these have stat costs attached and in general are risky. It's been a nice change of pace to not have to manage our fankenfantasy cross OSR kitchen sink house rules and just use Black Book for everything ... as GM...See more
Customer avatar
David G October 15, 2017 10:35 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I'm VERY pleased to have been able to make something that you group likes so much it can default to! That was the idea: make something d20 that just did everything I wanted it to do, and hopefully what other people wanted it to do as well.

I wanted anyone to be able to use ritual effects (albeit with more risk/difficulty), so I put in rules for allowing non-wizards to read off of scrolls and reference spellbooks in one of the Appendix Ds: have you checked that out? And if so what did you think? For proper ritual effects I was going to just go with how it worked in 3rd Edition's Unearthed Arcana or even 4th Edition where anyone with a ritual scroll could give it a shot (and the scrolls don't disintegrate after use).

I'd considered giving wizards access to Transmutation talents that would allow healing, but since Mana is more easily recovered I think that would throw the healing stuff out of whack (especially since I didn't want magical healing to be effectively necessary). Though, while...See more
Customer avatar
Shannon L October 16, 2017 5:33 am UTC
PURCHASER
My second ever character was a Cleric... I was a Cleric of a good death good - you know the death is the flip side of life thing and very Egyptian Gods inspired in theology but not look. Anyway ... that character just became a walking human potion ... it was really conflicting... every time I wanted to play my character my way the party - these are my mates and good friends mind you ... would get all shirty and panicked if I used non healing spells. I took all the fun out of the role to be forced into playing a mechanic vs playing a character role like you can do with any other class. It's a weakness in the games design imho. We have been using Wonders and Wickedness as our main spell system since it came out and that reduces any need to have traditional clerics. I'm also a big fan of the bandage wounds apply herbal poultices rule from Judges guilds wonderful "Judges ready reference " book. So our bandaging comes in two types the regular 1-3 hit points* ( silly auto corrector) restored or EMT where you...See more
Customer avatar
David G October 18, 2017 5:32 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Your cleric experience (unfortunately) mirrors, well, not mine, but that of a lot of cleric players I’ve played with. In my older group cleric was almost like the class someone played because they got the short straw (usually one player would just shrug and be like “fine, I guess I’ll roll up a cleric”). I guess I lucked out and never had to deal with it.

My interpretation of the cleric is that you’re supposed to be a kind of envoy of a god, and since not all gods are about healing why should ALL clerics be able to heal at all?

Aaand that’s why clerics, healing, and WP/VP works the way it does: you can roll up a heal-less cleric and players SHOULDN’T complain, because everyone can get a bit of HP back anyway and also alchemical potions (both mending and vigor) are a thing.
Customer avatar
Shannon L October 18, 2017 5:57 am UTC
PURCHASER
Yeah _totally_ with that conception. You've really done a fine job on the Black Book. Is the most "gamest" of the OSRs thus far I think... maybe next to Radiance, but I actually really see a niche for it. Is a great blend of old-school play with some modern innovations which remove rule ambiguity. I think ambiguity in OSR works is fine and where it adds to the fun that's great. When you can have stuff like conditions/status effects detailed, that's a good thing for gameplay. I hope your work gets a solid audience and continues to grow.
Customer avatar
David G November 01, 2017 12:57 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Shannon!

Just got the color hardcover proof in for the no-parchment edition: I'm going to send out discount links to everyone, but in case you don't get the email let me know!
Customer avatar
James H October 06, 2017 3:58 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I'm probably going to purchase this, but I notice that the preview only shows character advancement up to level 5. Are there rules for character advancement past this level as there were in OD&D (1974)?
Customer avatar
David G October 06, 2017 7:27 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
@James: There's an XP formula in the core book, but we also added a PDF that has tables up to 10th-level (with more talent choices for classes, especially the rogue which wouldn't have much to choose from by then).

Everything follows a pretty predictable pattern, so it wouldn't be difficult to let players go as high a level as you want. We regularly add free PDFs with more content (races, classes, and entire setting, magic items, monsters, etc): I was looking for material for that, and I can put level 20 tables in there!
Customer avatar
James H October 07, 2017 12:42 am UTC
PURCHASER
Awesome! I'll probably pick this up at the end of the month, then (I was primed to buy it today, but life got in the way). :)
Customer avatar
James H October 09, 2017 4:42 am UTC
PURCHASER
Just bought it and WOW. This is an amazing amount of high quality content for the asking price! I mean, the zines alone are worth the price of entry. :)
Customer avatar
Michael H October 09, 2017 6:24 am UTC
PURCHASER
What are these "zines" of which you speak?
Customer avatar
James H October 09, 2017 6:45 am UTC
PURCHASER
Four issues of a 'zine called "Appendix D" that offers previews of upcoming content, as well as house rules - new classes, new races, new monsters. Issue 4 is of note because it contains rules for advancement to level 10 for all of the core classes (the core book only covers levels 1-5). I think you have to get the electronic version (PDF) to obtain these goodies.
Customer avatar
Michael H October 09, 2017 6:55 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks James, do you have a link? I can see reference to them on the company website but can't see how to access them?
Customer avatar
Michael H October 09, 2017 7:00 am UTC
PURCHASER
Apologies James, now that I've purchased the game it makes sense. :D
Customer avatar
David G October 10, 2017 6:41 am UTC
PUBLISHER
@James: That's some high praise!

You're not the first person to comment on the price: I figured nearly seven bucks for a 140-page, full-color and B&W PDF (some people just like B&W better and/or want to print it out themselves) was almost pushing it. If you don't mind me asking, and not that I intend to raise the price, but what's the most you'd have paid for it?
Customer avatar
David G October 10, 2017 6:44 am UTC
PUBLISHER
@Michael: Sorry about that. Was thinking of making them separate, free downloads (here and elsewhere), because I don't think they're worth charging for (maybe I'll do a proper 'zine and charge for it down the line), but you also need the core game to use them anyway so I just keep adding them to the Black Book product.
Customer avatar
James H October 10, 2017 7:36 am UTC
PURCHASER
With all of that sweet, sweet, extra content? I'd probably be happy paying $10 for the digital download. I mean, it's really a bundle as is, not a single PDF. Your current prices are VERY competitive.
Customer avatar
Daniel C September 28, 2017 4:15 am UTC
PURCHASER
Sooooo..... I bought the black book and I kinda need a character sheet. Was this only the pdf buyers that got this? If anyone could share one, that would be much appreciated. I purchased the black book soft cover. oops....
Customer avatar
David G September 28, 2017 4:31 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Daniel:

Email me at antiochcow@gmail.com and I'll send you a complimentary PDF copy, which has character sheets and some other stuff.

In case you don't want that and also to tide you over, here's the color character sheet:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9it4ynveVn4bFowU1kxZG1xNE0/view?usp=sharing

And here's the B&W character sheet:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9it4ynveVn4ZWI5eUp4OU5TQlU/view?usp=sharing

Sorry about the inconvenience!
Customer avatar
Kary Realm Master K W September 26, 2017 12:32 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hi David. I hope this finds you well. I received a discount code for the softcover book today; however, I get the following error when I try to use it.

INVALID DISCOUNT URL: PLEASE CHECK NOTIFICATION FOR EXPIRATION DATE AND CUSTOMER

Could you check into it and let me know what you find out?

Thanks, I appreciate it.
Kary
Customer avatar
David G September 26, 2017 1:14 am UTC
PUBLISHER
I just sent out a replacement link: I thought I sent the first one to everyone that ever bought anything from us (like I did with the color softcover link), so I deleted it and tried sending another batch. There was an error before, but this time it seemed to work. Try the new link and let me know if you still run into problems. Sorry about the confusion and trouble with this!
Customer avatar
Michal Z September 15, 2017 9:37 am UTC
PURCHASER
Any idea when the hardcover version will be available?
Customer avatar
David G September 15, 2017 5:32 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
All of the other book formats (B&W softcover, B&W hardcover, and color hardcover) JUST became approved for production, which means I have to order proofs of them to make sure it looks right. Just did that, but it will take a week or two for them to get here. So, assuming the covers look fine, they should be good to go in a week or two!
Customer avatar
Michal Z September 15, 2017 11:00 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Great to hear! I will wait until then. On a slightly different note - any chance for a supplement that adds another 5 levels up to level 10?
Customer avatar
David G September 15, 2017 11:29 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Yep! The next issue of Appendix D will up the level cap for the core classes to 10, including more talents for each class (including the Enchanter tree for wizards), higher level monsters, and magic items.
Customer avatar
Robert H September 13, 2017 2:37 am UTC
PURCHASER
The print-at-cost discount link you sent by email gives an "Invalid discount" error when I try and use it.
Customer avatar
David G September 13, 2017 2:53 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Yeah I accidentally sent the first one to everyone that ever bought something from us.

I sent out another to only people that actually bought the Black Book PDF: check your email for a second one.
Customer avatar
Robert H September 13, 2017 1:08 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Got it! Book is already ordered.

Thanks for the quick response.
Customer avatar
David G September 14, 2017 9:19 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hoorays! :-D
Customer avatar
Colin T September 05, 2017 8:38 am UTC
FYI, typo on p. 19: "Because they are typically reclusive, many elves that take up the life of adventuring
simply to see what’s out there."
Customer avatar
David G September 06, 2017 9:49 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Damn. Fixed it, but now it's gonna take a bit longer to get those prints out!
Customer avatar
William M August 24, 2017 12:17 am UTC
PURCHASER
Any ETA of the POD?
Customer avatar
David G August 24, 2017 4:48 am UTC
PUBLISHER
@William: Just got an alert for this. I'm sorry for not responding to your previous comment: for some reason it didn't show up in my email!

The second proof took a LONG time to go through (we're talking weeks, they weren't kidding that GenCon would make things take longer), but it did last week, maybe the week before, and it's been on its way for awhile now. Not sure exactly when, but SHOULD be this week or the next. Assuming the margins are good then it'll be good to go!

Customer avatar
William M July 15, 2017 11:25 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I'd be down for separate books...a main book and a collected D book...I don't NEED to have it in one book, was just asking out of curiosity. My main frustration come from printing the pdf and having it bound then days later the pdf gets updated/added to (which is not your fault)...don't mind me, I REALLY like the product and when I REALLY like something I get impatient...and I almost NEVER post comments unless i dig your stuff...
Customer avatar
William M July 15, 2017 7:42 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Will those Appendix D's be included in the POD?

When will POD be available?

All due respect, but I cannot keep killing my printer every time something comes out or main book is updated.....
Customer avatar
David G July 15, 2017 10:18 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
@William:

I hadn't planned on adding Appendix D content to the main book, because that stuff is the most likely to be changed at this point, and I don't want to keep having people buy another Black Book just to get the new stuff in there.

(Main book changes at this point would only be correcting typos).

Here's how I'll handle the printed Appendix D stuff:

1. Add what I have to the main book and let you order a print of the core book + all that. This would be in addition to a print version of JUST the core book so you can choose which you'd prefer.

2. Bundle all the Appendix D stuff into its own print book, so people can order it separately if they really want. I would basically bundle up Appendix D issues once the page count is high enough to make it worthwhile and make them as separate books. Appendix D physical books would always be done "at-cost" so we wouldn't make any money off of them (just as we don't with the PDFs).

Going...See more
Customer avatar
Andrew S June 02, 2017 5:23 am UTC
PURCHASER
Will POD be available?
Customer avatar
David G June 02, 2017 5:30 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
@Andrew: Definitey. Gonna give it a bit, see if anyone spots any typos/things that need clarification, first. Everyone that buys the PDF will get a "print-at-cost" link for every print option we offer so they don't have to pay anything extra.
Customer avatar
Michael H June 01, 2017 2:15 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Is there a printer-friendly version?
Customer avatar
David G June 01, 2017 7:10 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
@Michael: I'd intended on waiting a few days to see if anyone noticed any errors before doing the B&W thing, and since it's been a few days I guess that's on my to-do list today!
Customer avatar
Gilbert I May 31, 2017 3:35 am UTC
How many pages is the document? Do you provide a setting?
Customer avatar
David G May 31, 2017 6:17 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
@Gilbert:

135 pages (130 if you don't count the cover, credits, and table of contents).

No built-in/example setting, though I suppose I could make a quick conversion document for A Sundered World since that's already a thing.
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Product Information
Silver seller
Rule System(s)
Pages
141
Publisher Stock #
AGG0072
File Size:
236.44 MB
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File Last Updated:
November 13, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on May 29, 2017.