Monday, June 7, 2010

Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout Dark Dungeons

Yeah, I know that everyone who has something to say on the matter has probably said it.

Still, with my raging love of the Rules Cyclopedia, (it's my "theoretical desert island" gaming book) I would feel odd not making a comment.

I like what the author has done by extending all the demihumans out to 36th level. I know there are rules for such in the Cyclopedia, but I like to see them fully integrated from the get go. Ditto for demihumans and Weapon Mastery. I'm not sure if the Weapons Feats of Dark Dungeon and Weapon Mastery from the RC are 100% identical, but I'll probably have a look one of these days. The skill system has been cleaned up a little bit, as well.

On the downside: I know you can download this for free, and I know it is a non-profit labor of love by the author, but that "found artwork" look is just awful. I would actually rather have a gaming book with no artwork than with that generic looking crap. Also, not quite as economical as OSRIC, but hey, I shouldn't be too tough on it... nowadays, $13 for a softcover and $26 for a hardcover is a steal.

There are a few idiosyncrasies that the author has introduced, for instance, the path to Immortal ascension is a little different, and he has added firearms (and the special "red powder" that makes them fire) as an implicit part of the setting.

I will probably not be buying this, as I still have a perfectly serviceable copy of the RC, but I am glad that "Mr. Blackball" took the time to put this together.I consider the Cyclopedia to be one of the top ten greatest gaming books ever released. However, it isn't always possible to find a good copy at a reasonable price; as I am typing this, the Cyclopedia's start at $59 on abebooks.com, which is where I bought my current copy around seven years ago for around twenty bucks. The release of Dark Dungeons makes it readily accessible to gamers who might never have had the pleasure of perusing the RC, or who need a "working copy" to save wear and tear to the original book. You know...maybe I'll get a physical copy of this after all; I'd like to have a backup around in case my copy of the RC starts to look a little threadbare.

The last thing I'll say about Dark Dungeons is this: bonus points for blowing the raspberry at Herr Chick.

6 comments:

  1. I have no nostalgia for RC, all of that is reserved for the LBB's and the original blue book.

    I am impressed by the amount of work that went into editing and creating DD. As I mentioned over on Akrasia's blog, i'd love to see some Chick panels appear in this, or even better, someone do a parody of them. I wonder if the author will sell enough copies to consider plowing some of the profits back into upgraded art?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the author set the prices so that they *just* cover the cost of printing... so I don't think there's a spare dime to put back into upgrading the art.

    The LBB's were before my time. The Cyclopedia was a birthday gift from my parents when I was young. Nostalgia aside, it is perhaps one of the most complete game books I've ever seen...monsters, magic, treasure, mass combat... everything you need. I may have some nostalgia, but mostly what I love about the RC is the sheer utility of it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. ""found artwork" look is just awful"

    Not a fan of Gustave Dore, eh? :D

    I'm a fan of Dore, so I rather like the art in DD. I'd rather have art from one of the greatest wood engravers in history than some amateur stuff by the author's friends (or Larry Elmore, for that matter). Obviously, tastes differ.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Akrasia-

    Never heard of 'im, and no, I don't see myself joining the fan club any time soon.

    I don't prostrate myself at the feet of Elmore and Otis (Otus?)and friends the way some folks in this corner of the internet do.

    I'd be perfectly fine with a rulebook that had no artwork in it. I don't buy gaming books for the pictures, after all.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Akrasia, that's all well and good, but I don't think i've seen a single post-'83 Gustave Dore illustration that I liked.

    If he ever decides to resurrect his career, he'll need to breath some new life into his craft.

    ;D

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Akrasia, that's all well and good, but I don't think i've seen a single post-'83 Gustave Dore illustration that I liked.

    If he ever decides to resurrect his career, he'll need to breath some new life into his craft.

    ;D"


    ;P

    ReplyDelete