Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Free OSR RPG List "Mini Review" - Adventures Dark & Deep

Adventures Dark & Deep is a "what if" retro rpg. What if Gary Gygax hand't been force out of TSR? Unearthed Arcana and some of the issues of Dragon magazine gave hints as to Gary's vision of AD&D 2e, but we never got to see the project published, let alone completed.

With Adventures Dark & Deep we are given a possible version of what that would be, thanks to Joseph from the Greyhawk Grognard's Blog. I'll borrow from one of his forum posts at Adventures Dark & Deep and let him give a better summary then I just did:

The concept behind Adventures Dark and Deep (ADD) is a "what if?" scenario. Specifically, what would a 2nd edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons have looked like if Gary Gygax had stayed with TSR, and the game was developed along the lines he had been planning? The broad concepts were printed in Dragon magazine, and we saw some of it in 1985's Unearthed Arcana, but the coherent re-writing of the system, and the inclusion of intended new material, never happened. Gygax left the company, went on to develop many other games, and AD&D was taken in a very different direction in its published 2nd edition.

Adventures Dark and Deep is an attempt to reconstruct what such a 2nd edition would have looked like if Gygax had remained at the helm. New classes, including the mountebank, jester, mystic, savant, and bard, are included. Psionics is gone, as are monks and half-ogres. Assassins are relegated to optional status. Mages get to specialize in types of spells, with bonuses and accompanying detriments. Combat is streamlined and rationalized. The various spells, races, magical items, and classes from UA are integrated into the Players and Game Masters books, and all the creatures from the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II are brought together into a single book, and more (and more variants) are added. Monsters have variable-type hit dice; larger, tougher creatures might use a d10 or d12 to determine hit dice, while physically weaker creatures might use a d4 or d6. In addition, the monsters are reorganized, making it easier to find a desired sort of creature by environment. A skills system is introduced, but one which doesn't undermine the coherence of the class-based system.

I don't have any special insight into Gygax's thought process regarding what a 2nd edition would have looked like, but I have studied what he's written about it, both in Dragon magazine and on various online fora over the years, and I think I've got a pretty good idea. It's a reconstruction, if you will, but it should make a ripping good game once its all set.

The presentation of the rules thus far is adequate (no bells or whistles), but it's the implementation of the rules where Joseph excels. This does feel more like a Gygaxian version of the 2e rules then the ones we were given. We'll never know exactly where EGG would have taken 2e, but this would have been a fine path.


  1. I play in Joe's play-test game. It really brings me back to my youth when I first started playing D&D and that vibe that I can't really explain, but it must be that feeling people get when they "know" what Old-School is. It's awesome and I look forward to the games every other week!

  2. Looks intriguing. 2e with a 1e feel. I'l have a deeper look :-)


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