Originally posted here: http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2013/10/review-adventures-dark-deep-curious.html
A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore is the first of Joseph Bloch's Adventures Dark & Deep books. It is presented as an add-on or supplement to OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord or any other "Old School" game. But its roots are obviously in AD&D 1st edition.
The book works under the premise of what would 2nd Edition have looked like if Gary Gygax had stayed at TSR. Joe has taken articles, interviews and discussions and something like an anthropologist pieced it all together to get something new and yet familiar.
At a modest 140 or so pages, this book packs in a lot.
We begin with some level limits of some newer races. By newer I mean ones that did not appear in the Player's Handbook/OSRIC.
We quickly move into classes. First up it should be noted is a usable Bard class. No more advancing as a thief, fighter and then druid to get to the bard, this is a straight out bard class. Already makes it worth it. The bard also has some nice powers too. I will be honest, when playing in my "old school" games this is the Bard I look to the most often now.
We also get a Jester class, which is nice because it is one of those classes I remember Gygax talking about wanting to use all the time. Same with the Mountebank.
The mystic class seems closer to the BECMI/RC version than it does to the monk. Which is fine by me really.
The last class is a savant, another one I recall reading about back in the day. This one is more of your occult investigator/sage with some magic type.
So far as a "class book" it is shaping up real nice. Lots of ones I'd like to try out and they fill niches that /could/ be filled by other classes, but they make it their own.
The next section is on Secondary Skills, which seems to refine the system in AD&D, but not quite a full blown skill system. Very much in the vein of "your class is what you do, but you have this extra thing" philosophy.
We end up the characters section with monthly expenses and starting ages.
The next section is on combat with an alternate combat system. Again I seem to recall talk of such a thing, but it is more vague in my memory that the classes.
The system is detailed and should appeal to anyone that like more flavor to their AD&D combat.
We get a page on Social Encounters.
Next is an expanded Treasure listing and a section on ships and waterborne adventures. Something I could have used at the close of my AF&F 1st ed games to be honest.
The next 25 pages are dedicated to magic including a number of new spells for the new spell casting classes.
The Game Master's section is next, though it is not specifically called that.
New dungeon hazards are covered and then we get to magic item descriptions.
We end with some new monsters which include various Angels, Demons and some dragons.
All in all this is a good addition to the AD&D/OSRIC/LL-Advanced game. Even if you don't use everything here there is enough to make it worth your while.