Second Adventure In 4AD
After playing a good chunk of my first Four Against Darkness adventure on vacation with a die-rolling app, a notebook and a pen (it works!) I got home and started to expand things out in a more visually appealing way.
The first change I made was to break out my old Tomb Delver Cards to generate the dungeon. Using these cards makes for a different experience than using the room and corridor system from the core rulebook, but it does work! Basically what I did was, if a card only had corridors on it, I treated it as a corridor, but if there was any kind of room on it, I treated the whole card as a room.
I painted up my crew of intrepid adventurers! From the right (front) we have Vestra the Rogue, Senna the Dwarf, Stella the Cleric and Kaela the Elf. If I remember correctly, all of these models are from BriteMinis.
The green index cards to the right are my "character sheets" for each of my adventurers, and I started using a pencil instead of just a pen (getting fancy!)
All in all, I'm finding the game to be really RNG heavy in the mechanics and it's already starting to wear me out. A typical game is supposed to take 45 minutes, but I found that this game (and the last) were more like three hours. Don't get me wrong, I had fun, but constantly hunting for the final boss and having to backtrack a lot to explore new areas of the dungeon got a little old after a while. Finally facing a mummified boss in an opera hall was a neat twist at the end, but half of that was the Tomb Delver Cards and half of that was the 4AD system itself.
I'm still going to play at least one more adventure with this system (I bought like 7 or 8 books, so I gotta get my money's worth, right?) but it really made me hanker for the BELLONA Dungeon Crawling system again. It's up on Itch.io as part of the deluxe edition here. There's also a free-to-try version of the system on that page if this is the first time you're hearing about it.
Where Four Against Darkness is a wonderful system for playing on the run with minimal supplies (like a crossword puzzle), there are other systems that work better with visual elements, and that's where BELLONA's dungeon crawling system really shines. BELLONA requires miniatures, map tiles and some creativity when stocking a dungeon, but that's a system where you can genuinely play an entire dungeon in less than forty minutes if you want to.
To give you an idea of how Four Against Darkness is played, I've photographed by transcript of play below.