Wednesday, 6 July 2016

4aD: First Adventure - Life Can Be Random

Earlier this year Ganesha games brought out their core rules for "4 Against Darkness", a dungeon crawl rule set to harken back to "the good old days". It was inevitable that I was going to pick them up. Simple rules, solo game play and random dungeon (and encounter) generation - what's not to like? With no miniatures required either, just the rules, a dice app on the phone and a pencil,  those lunch breaks suddenly seemed to have a new avenue to explore.

So here is the report of my first game. For those who have already bought and played the game some of the narrative may seem slightly out of step as I made a few errors, forgetting some paragraphs, backtracking sometimes to correct, sometimes not! But a tale was woven none the less...

Click to read.
For my titular 4 characters I chose a Fighter (front line combat), Cleric (for healing),  Elf (ranged combat and magic item use) and a Dwarf (combat again). I usually avoid magic users when playing a game for the first time until I get the hang of the basic mechanics. All characters start with a minimum of cash which would allow the purchase of some basic equipment (such as bandages) but they were in too much of a hurry to go down to the market - There was gold to be found. By default, the aim of the mission is to kill the Final Dungeon Boss. As per the random discovery nature of the game, they wouldn't know what it is until they found it!

The explored sections of the dungeon.
The Party entered into an empty hall (#E) and followed the corridor straight ahead of them. At the other end the room (#1) was empty. Through the door to the west the dungeoneers stumble upon a group of 3 Trolls (#2). Not waiting to see their reaction the party attack first. Tatharon the Elf kills one with his bow then the Marcus the Warrior and Geddi the Dwarf charge in attacking and killing the other 2 before any reprisals. A solitary gem was discovered as treasure.

With the route a dead end the group head back to the entrance hall and move through the door alongside the corridor (Room #3). First through the door is the warrior, who springs a trap. He manages to leap out of harms way as the floor beneath his feet disappears. The party start to turn back the their starting point when they are ambushed by a horde of 12 minor goblinoids. Caught unawares the Heinrich takes a wound, but the heroes group round and the vermin flee once their number has been dropped by more than half, although the Tatharon did pick up an injury.

"I'm not sure you should touch that."
Through the eastern door a forked corridor is found, empty apart from a statue in the corner (#4). The Marcus inspects it and in crumbles into a pile of rubble, revealing 120 gold coins that were hidden inside.

Taking the most southerly route, the group move through a couple of empty corridors before turning north. They continue north at a crossroads to the end of the corridor (#5) where they are "greeted" by 5 hobgoblins. The Elf quickly fires off an arrow then the Fighter and Dwarf charge in. All 3 attacks miss however. The Hobgoblins are obviously in a state of shock as they cannot land any blows before the Fighter and Dwarf whittle their number down to 2. This brace however are not worried by their comrades falling and try to attack on, but they make no impression and the Marcus finishes them both off next attack. A gem is prised from the hilt of one of the weapons as payment for the bother caused.

The small room at the corridor end is empty, so the party open the door on the other side into a long dog leg corridor. Ignoring the door in the north wall they continue along and round the corner (#6), where they are faced with the Final Boss of this dungeon - a Small Dragon! Being in the corridor unfortunately means that only the front two members (Marcus and Geddi) can attack. Their initial attempts miss however. The Dragon responds to this threat with it's fiery breath, burning all 4 of the party. The 2 frontmen make their next attacks count but the Boss fills the area with fire once more burning all but the dwarf, who ducks under the flow. The heroes attack again, with only Geddi striking home, but he is bitten in retaliation. Another round of attacks and the Dwarf hits again. The Dragon is starting to look worse for wear now and it misses with it's attacks. A couple more attacks from the group eventually sees the Warrior deal a killing blow. The experience of defeating the Dragon boss lets Marcus and Geddi level up. And party scoop some treasure. Amongst the loot is a magic sword, taken by The Warrior and a magic wand of sleep (3 charges), which can only be used by the Elf. The Cleric uses the lull in action as an opportunity to heal the wounds of the Tatharon and himself.

With the boss defeated the group start to head back where they came from, but upon entering the long North\South corridor are surprised by a Minotaur (#7), who immediately hits the Heinrich but misses the Elf (as they are at the rear of the corridor marching order). The holy man makes the only telling strike back, but when hit again is force to retreat, badly wounded, whilst deflecting a parting swipe from the monster with his shield . The Warrior steps into the gap and hits, but is similarly injured as the fierce beast lashes out. The brute is bleeding, but does not flee.The Elf is busy ducking and diving making little impression but also not being hit. The fight sits at  stalemate for a couple of round before the Tatharon receives another blow. The Elf ducks back as the eager Dwarf pushes forward. He parries the first attack but is injured by  the Minotaur clawed hand at the second time of asking. With a roar the furious Geddi hits home and Marcus manages to follow up, again with the killing blow. A roll of parchment is found tucked into the Minotaur's belt - a Fireball spell that Elf takes. After the Minotaur experience the Cleric levels up.

The Adventure Party continue out of the dungeon without incident, with the main mission accomplished and slightly richer for the experience.

Final Treasure:

  • Gems Worth 132 Gold (inc 20% bonus for the Dwarven bargaining skill)
  • Jewellery worth 60 gold
  • Magic Sword (+1 Attack)
  • Wand of Sleep (3 Charges)
  • Fire Ball Spell Scroll


  1. This looks like a fun little game Sam, perfect for an hour or two of dungeon crawling ;-)

    1. It is indeed fun. The random tables are quite well done to give a decent variety as well, which is nice. I'll probably continue with a second outing and then get one of the set adventures for comparison.