Sunday, May 15, 2016

Modifying Four Against Darkness

After last week's session of Four Against Darkness (4AD), my wife said that she liked the game and wanted to play again. One aspect of our game that made it enjoyable to her was that our party was made up of our cats. For some reason, she enjoys dungeon-crawling so much more when it involves cuddly, furry creatures (which is why she also likes Mice & Mystics).

This week's session was less successful. Toward the end she was visibly bored and ready for the game to end. As I see it, there were 2 issues:

  • Too Long - Admittedly, 4AD is a fast playing game. A single combat can be over in a couple of minutes at most, Still, I haven't totally gotten used to the charts, slowing down play. I have gotten better. By adding an index to the PDF, Ganesha Games made it so much easier to find stuff in the book. They also provided cheat sheets but I haven't been using them. Previously, I made my own cheat sheet in Excel and I find it quicker to use that. Even with these improvements, we spent nearly 2 hours playing (although I probably spent half an hour redoing the character sheet). I have a couple of ideas to speed the game:
    • Pre-mapping the dungeon - I could do the mapping and rolling for encounters prior to us playing. But that won't be as much fun for me; the surprise of the randomness certainly makes things interesting. Still, it may be a good idea for my wife's sake.
    • Impose a time limit - an idea in the 4AD rulebook. I could say that after an hour of exploring we find the main boss. Alternatively, I could limit the dungeon to a certain number of rooms.
  • Too Much Combat - My wife complained that this session had too much fighting. We fought 5 combats vs. 3 in the previous session. However, in this session we fought 3 bosses vs. 0 in the first session. I think it was too many bosses for my wife. Solutions?
    • Modify the encounter charts to create more non-combat encounters
    • Increase the odds of a boss being the final boss (which should also reduce the time spent playing)
Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy this game immensely. I also love that my wife is willing to play. The core rules are fine but I just want to streamline the game a little more. I think I may try a combination of the ideas above.


  1. I do agree this the game can get long winded but Andrea pointed out that you would us the options not to fight. Try the reactions this will change the game.

  2. We did, but the monsters' dice did not cooperate. I may try to modify the charts a bit to add more neutral monsters with which we can negotiate.