This extensively playtested, profusely illustrated, lightweight-yet-complete roleplaying game is an homage to the “Easy-to-Master” black box of the first role-playing game (and the first version or edition that I ever played) that does everything I wish the original did (which might also include some stuff you wish it did, too).
Like the black box, the Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book contains four races (which function as races do in later editions: they’re not racial classes), four classes, and five levels, though each class has far more talents than you can possibly choose from in a five-level spread, and there are guidelines if you want to go beyond 5th-level (there are also guidelines for making and converting monsters if you want more variety).
Fresh Take, Familiar Feel: Overall the game has a similar feel to the original roleplaying game, but there are a number of differences.
For example, kobolds and chimeras are more inline with their mythological counterparts, everyone gets to choose something at almost every level (and you can for the most part control how complex your character gets), fighters have build in scaling damage, armor both ups your Armor Class and reduces the damage you take (usually, some things mitigate it’s DR or even ignore it), clerics and wizards don’t share the same pseudo-Vancian magic system (cleric magic is safe but more limited in scope), and magical healing (and magic in general) isn’t assumed
Flexible Characters: You get to make a choice every level, sometimes more than one. You can control not only how your character develops, but even how complicated your character gets: you can have a fighter that just hits things, or you can learn various maneuvers. A wizard can focus on blowing things up or branch out into the more complicated illusion school. Even better, you aren’t locked into a set path at any point, so if you decide that you want to pick up maneuvers later you can, and if you decide that your illusionist wants to learn some offensive magic you can also do that.
Unpredictable, Dangerous Magic (For Wizards): Aside from cantrips, spells drain random amounts of Mana with each use. If you don’t have enough Mana, they drain your Vitality and Wounds Points next, which means you could knock yourself out or even die if you’re too reckless!
Dependable, Safe Magic (For Clerics): Clerics pray to their god for Favor, which they spend to work divine magic. It’s safe–you always know how much you’re going to spend–but limited in scope, plus some cleric abilities require that you have at least 1 Favor left over.
Simple, Effective Crafting Rules: You spend time and money to learn craft skills, and when you want to make something you just need to spend more time and money. No rolls required, and the more you invest the better stuff you can make. Given enough time (and money) you can make better stuff than you could buy at the market!
Magical Healing Isn’t Required or Assumed: What you’d normally call Hit Points are split into two uneven pools: Vitality Points and Wound Points. VP is the smaller pool and replenishes fairly quickly, giving adventurers a buffer to work with. WP takes longer, more so if you try camping in the dungeon or wilderness.
Since clerics don’t have access to healing magic by default and magic items aren’t assumed, the only readily available alternative are mending potions. The downside is that they take a bit to kick in, and if you drink too many in too short a time frame you can effectively die from blood poisoning.
Waste Not, Want Not: Not all treasure is gold and gems, and not every beast happens to have a hoard, but if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty many monsters have something someone wants.
This product contains:
- A full-color PDF of the Black Book.
- A B&W PDF of the Black Book, in case you prefer black-and-white and/or want to save ink printing it out.
- A color and B&W version of the character sheet.
- A character sheet with notations to make it easier to find information.