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Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual $9.95
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Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual
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Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual
Publisher: BRW Games
by Neil P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/08/2016 18:09:29

I like this. While I don't play old school rules anymore (though I run old school campaigns) this was curious to me. It does what other OSR games do not: present something orginal instead of rewriting the same rules for the umpteenth time. Is it what Gygax would have done. Who knows, but probably not, though some seem like good guesses based on what he was writing otherwise. If you want to tun old school rules that have a different take, give it a try.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual
Publisher: BRW Games
by Steve K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/04/2016 08:54:08

This is a great expansion on Gygax's AD&D. I love the additions of the mystic and mountebank specifically and incorporated them into my game.

My only real gripes are:

1) lack of a gutter for printing the pdf. A hole punch hits text. so unless you plan to stick it in a binder with plastic sheet protectors (big and bulky), you're kind of stuck with holes or using it only on your computer.

2) saving throw information being buried in the spell description. Not sure why the author didn't include it with the other data information at the start.

All in all a great product that has helped enhance my game.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual
Publisher: BRW Games
by James S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/05/2015 16:55:18

Originally from my blog, Halfling's Luck:

I already have entirely too many old school and OSR fantasy RPGs: Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox, Swords & Wizardry Complete, OSRIC, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Adventures in the Eastmark, Basic Fantasy Roleplaying, Iron Falcon, Dark Dungeons, Deeper Delving, Dungeon Crawl Classics, as well as original classics like the Rules Cyclopedia and AD&D 1st Edition premium reprints. I'm never going to play all of them - not even if I didn't have a full time job, a toddler, freelance writing and my own publishing company to juggle. So why in the Seven Hells would I buy another? Especially one that stepped away from my Basic/Expert wheel house that I love so dearly into the much less used "advanced edition" likes the aforementioned OSRIC?

Well, that's because Adventures Dark & Deep isn't quite a retro-clone. Almost, but not quite. Adventures Dark & Deep (abbreviated ADD) bills itself as being "based on Gary Gygax's plans for expanding the game." So it's claims to be a clone of neither 1st or 2nd edition AD&D. Instead it is a spiritual successor to AD&D 1st edition, with a distinctly Gygaxian design. Constructed by +Joseph Bloch from notes, articles and blog posts by Gary Gygax it claims to be written as what the author believes AD&D 2nd edition might have been if the game's original creator had not parted ways with TSR some time before the release of second edition.

The original incarnation of AD&D is direct, but grew as it became more and more popular. Initially we had no skills, and few ancillary rules beyond what was necessary to plunder dungeons and slay dragons - and it was a helluva a lot of fun. But it always felt a bit... thin. Something was missing. We got expansions in snippets and pieces through magazine articles which added to and expanded the game. Then came Unearthed Arcana, Dungeoneer's Survival Guide and the Wilderness Survival Guide. The game suddenly had new (often horribly imbalanced) classes and races, non-weapon proficiencies, weapon specializations, and tons of extra rules that, though they were billed as options, seemed to be taken as unbreakable canon by everyone I played with back in the day. The bloat had begun.

AD&D 2nd edition came around in 1989 and while things like proficiencies were technically optional, there seemed to be an implication that they were meant to be utilized from the ground floor. Soon after we got hugely expanded campaigns settings and the brown book series of class and race supplements. Towards there came the now infamous Player's Option series. Suddenly there were countless "options" that seemed to be anything but optional and the power creep had been ratcheted up to eleven.

ADD takes a step back, starting from the roots of AD&D 1st edition and begins an organic progression that feels right. Yes, it has barbarians, cavaliers and a skill system - but its all implemented in an even manner that feels appropriate - not as slapshot and untested as the original Unearthed Arcana options. In short, the rules feel unified and consistent. No longer is there a question of "Why should I bother to play a fighter when I can play a ranger or even a cavalier." God help the DM if someone brings the issue of Dragon magazine to the table which features the Arch-Ranger class or any other of the horribly balanced "NPC Classes."

In going beyond first edition, there comes a collection of several classes that either found their origins in Dragon magazine or other supplements - but they're included here from the get-go, which gives them both a validity and a natural sense of presence. Jesters and mountebanks didn't just appear because the latest issue hit your gamin table, they're integrated from the beginning. Because of that integration, they don't feel shoe-horned in or unbalanced. Extra classes like this give a greater sense of player option while avoiding the glut of "splat books" that many believe ruined AD&D second edition.

But more than its unification is its presentation. It holds close to the simple black and white presentation of first edition, keeping things crisp and easily presented. But Bloch doesn't rely on obtuse rule descriptons and a vocabulary rooted in High Gygaxian. He speaks clearly and directly to the reader, while not seeming boring. Because of this concise verbage, ADD packs a lot into its pages. Damn near every concievable situation is covered in Players Manual and Game Masters Tool Kit - and its done so in an approachable, easy to digest fashion.

ADD doesn't try to distract its reader with dazzling layout or full color art. The art is present and it's evocative and fitting - but it doesn't feel like its trying to steal attention away from the text. The author focuses on the game and making the most of it. The majority of the necessary rules are found in the Players Manual because players are going to need to have quick access to a variety of rules. The Game Masters Tool Kit isn't bloated by "secret rules" that players shouldn't know. Instead it talks to the reader about social encounters, unique environments, magic items, adventure design, divine pantheons and other necessary tools and rules for running the game. The Bestiary is jam-packed with almost 450 pages of adversaries and offers a few brief appendicies for unique features and designing your own creatures - not that you'd need to with the plethora of predators found in these pages.

Even while covering every nook and cranny of gaming, ADD never feels oppressed by detail. But because the game is so complete there is a subtle professional presence that breeds confidence in the reader. If someone isn't covered in these pages, a reader will be able to find a similar rule or get a sense of how they should handle a ruling in any given situation. The game breeds confidence in both player and game master. With that confidence comes a sense of excitement.

In short, Adventures Dark & Deep has replaced AD&D as my go-to "advanced edition" fantasy roleplaying game. I'm already in talks with some of my old gaming buddies to run Temple of Elemental Evil using it, and they're excited to play. Now we don't have to decide between the clean but confined rules of first edition or the bloated infinite options of second. A perfect balance is found in ADD.

Adventures Dark & Deep is available in PDF, softcover, and hardcover print on demand through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. It was written by Joseph Bloch and is published by BRW Games. There's even a bundle which includes all three hardcover books along with PDFs for around $100. A friend of mine called that a big buy in, and he's not wrong. It's a lot of faith to put in a game to blindly drop that much cash on any game - but I can say that Adventures Dark and Deep is unequivocally, bar none, the best incarnation of "advanced" fantasy roleplaying on the market - including those published by larger, more mainstream presses. I'll be running and playing it soon - and for years to come.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual
Publisher: BRW Games
by Ben F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/02/2015 22:27:11

I started off my tabletop RPG experience like many other gamers, with AD&D 1e. Since then, I have played a multitude of systems ranging from rules heavy (HERO) all the way to super rules light (PDQ), but something was always missing from my RPG experience. My gaming group has been with me for years, with me as their GM, and we have been trying for some time now to truly get the old school feeling back to our games. Then I stumbled across Adventures Dark and Deep, which perfectly recreates the feeling of 1e with a menagerie of new content such as new classes and sub-races. After character creation alone, it is apparent the similarities with AD&D 1e, and from there it is an amazing game. I absolutely love it!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual
Publisher: BRW Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/16/2013 14:16:36

Originally Posted here:

Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual is the first major release from BRW Games and the first major release of what is the Adventures Dark & Deep game. Again, a lot of what I have said about A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore is true here. Including how this was the result of a particularly successful Kickstarter that shipped early.

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. Unlike the previous book, the Player Manual makes no assumptions that you have AD&D1 or OSRIC. There are some obvious roots in those games, but this is now it's own thing.

Like most Player's books this one concentrates much of it's text on creating characters. There is the obligatory sections on how to use the dice and then how to generate ability scores. In a difference from this game and it's spiritual cousin AD&D 2nd ed, we still have exceptional strength. Also all the ability score tables go to 25. Humans (and most PCs) still rank 3-18. The same six ability scores are here. Interestingly enough, not Comeliness. I thought that would have made the cut.

Races are covered. Again the same ones we have seen before. But thats the point isn't it? This a AD&D2 as if Gary had created it. So there are a lot of elements in common here with AD&D 1 and 2 plus older versions. We do get a Dark Elf (not a Drow) and Half-Orc. It would take a critical eye to see the differences here between Adventures Dark & Deep and say OSRIC.

Classes include the new and the old. From A Curious Volume we have: the Bard, Jester, Mystic, Savant, Thief-Acrobat, Mountebank From the classic sources we have: the Paladin, Cleric, Druid (topping out at 15th level), Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger, Mage, Illusionist, Thief And new to this volume we have: the Cavalier, Vates (Druids of 15th level and higher). The Assassin is listed in the Appendix. Classes are grouped into Class and Sub-class like AD&D1/2 but not like OSRIC. So all in all 17 (18) classes. Not bad really.

The Alignment system is the same as *D&D.

Secondary Skills is pretty much the same as what is found in A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore. Same with the Monthly Expenses which is now part of Social Class.

The next big section is Combat which includes the standard D&D style combat we all know and the additional material from A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore. Morale is back in this edition, sort of like it was in Basic and AD&D2. There is a nice section on item saving throws. I have seen similar ones over the years, but this one seems fairly complete.

The next section is Magic. It includes the making of magic items, learning spells and even an optional rule on sacrifice. The bulk though is devoted to spells. The Spells are listed by class and level, but all the spells are alphabetical. There are 118 pages of spells, so roughly what you would expect from OSRIC and A Curious Volume. I see about 6-7 spells per page, so maybe close to 650 spells. There could also be more, but I did not check every single one. The spells are are written in a way that makes them compatible with pretty much every other OSR-style book out there.

Appendix A covers the Assassin class. Appendix B covers weapons vs. various Armor types. A very Gygaxian holdover. As opposed to vs. AC, this is actually the type of armor. I like it and it makes sense. I am thinking of using this in my own old school game to be honest. Appendix C covers combat tables.

The book does capture the feel of old D&D with some interesting twists. None that would trip you up, but still enough to make you go "huh, that is kind of neat".

The art is nice and still invokes that Old-School feel without looking dated.

The PDF is copy/paste restricted, but not print restricted. Which is good because I want to print that Appendix B. The physical book is nice and sturdy and at 257 pages it is a decent sized book. It compares well to the AD&D 2nd Ed Player's Handbook to be honest.

It is a nice book.

So who should get this book? Well if you like the OSR or enjoy AD&D then this is a good choice. It is a better "game" than OSRIC is. I say "game" because OSRIC isn't a game as much as a reference to a game you already know how to play.

If you have A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore and OSRIC then yes you could re-create this book on your own. But part of the utility of this book is that all of that information is in one volume.

It is worth it for the new classes and spells too.

I like it because it is a well researched "What If" experiment, much like Spellcraft & Swordplay (what if D&D continued using the default combat roll) and B/X Companion (what if the Companion rules had come out for B/X and not BECMI). We will never know what Gygax's 2nd Ed would have been like. In a way, really we don't need to know. 2e was fine and Adventures Dark & Deep is here now. It is perfectly playable and fun.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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