Four Against Darkness is a great game by veteran designer Andrea Sfiligoi, author and publisher of an enormous amount of RPGs and miniatures games such as the hugely popular Song of Blades and Heroes, or my personal favorite Battlesworn.
4AD is a pen and paper solo dungeon crawler, which can also optionally be played as a gmless group game. It is a WILDLY successful game (see that MITHRAL badge on drivethru? Now check those 242 ratings on Amazon...), and has received a rich line of supplements, and a few spin-offs into other genres and play styles.
What I like about it is that rules are simple and straightforward, with the level of crunch and detail that I find enjoyable for a solo game!
The core book contains all the basic rules which are needed in order to play, and a dungeon which, probably, is the weakest part of it, as it feels too generic to really be engaging. This very problem is fixed with the expansions, each of which offers a focused story or dungeon, with full flavor, and story events triggered while you play.
The spin-off games derive from 4AD, but include all the rules needed to play, and usually expand them to fit different themes, settings and narrative structures, and as such are stand-alone products. They include titles such as the atomic age sci-fi Four Against Mars, or the survival horror Alone Against Fear.
The latest spin-off, one that looks VERY interesting (and I'm definitely going to grab soon) is the stand-alone game Four Against the Great Old Ones. Designed by Marco Arnaudo, it is an adaptation of the 4AD "engine", turned into a Cthulhu themed game where investigators must find clues and foil the plans of insane cultists in the 1930s US before doom happens.
As I said, Four Against Darkness is an ever-growing line. I hit Andrea for some sneaky preview of the an upcoming supplement, and he passed me a succulent preview!
The next 4AD product is Labyrinth of the Lurking Lepidopterae, an adventure written by Erick Bouchard who's already authored Warlike Woes and Greedy Gitfts of the Guildmasters, with illustrations by Andrea Sfiligoi.
Here's the description Andrea gave me:
Labyrinth of the Lurking Lepidopterae
This adventure occurs on the western continent of An-Mòr, north of the fungi-infested land known as the Sun-Kissed Vale, and to the west of King Ven’s dwarf kingdom of Kestar Kell. A merchant family from the southern isle of Enotria, the Van Pontoretto, is trying to cut the grass under their Dorintian rivals by finding new trade routes between the realms of Man and the dreaded Sun-Kissed Vale, rich in fabulous alchemical ingredients and delicious edibles. The safest path goes through Kassar Du, the mythical Green Door to the underground kingdom of Kestar Kell, but unfortunately it is forbidden to you. Maestro Van Pontoretto (that’s his actual name) has run afoul of Lyonette of Midlands, king Ven’s Guildmistress of the Armorers Guild. Rumors speak of crookery and romantic entanglements. Whatever the cause, the miner dwarves will not let the Enotrians nor your agents enter their lands, nor will they tolerate armed soldiers at their frontier.
The Labile LabyrinthFortunately, there still lies a path the Dorintians dare not thread – the Labile Labyrinth, a shimmering canyon between harsh mountain fangs inhabited by the sinister moth people and their insane queen. Ever since the gods cursed the moth folk to lose their flight, they have become vicious, forcing captives to obsessively collect insect wings when they are not killing trespassers outright. If a safe path could be established for caravans, the lucrative trade with the fungi folk – for they are not all dangerous psychopaths – would drive a hard blow to the Dorintian traders, and especially the Orfeld Company which has been denying the Von Pontoretto for far too long. All that’s needed is to establish a beachhead by having a first convoy arriving safely at the Outpost, the only known passage from human lands to the Sun-Kissed Vale. In the name of profit, free trade and maybe Enotrian patriotism, your party has been tasked with escorting a caravan of four chariots, half a dozen workers and as many llamas across this wicked and treacherous land.
Will You Survive the Labile Labyrinth? Four hundred gold pieces for escorting a caravan across a valley populated by butterfly people. Who could refuse that? Of course, it won’t be that simple. The moth folk fiercely defend their valley with treacherous traps and bruising brigades. Not to mention the menacing mushroom men, weird temples, shape-changers and the ominous Tower of the Screaming Virgins. Things wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the quarrelsome, alcoholic, lustful and dishonest crew members who you will have to keep an eye on. Add the bad roads, broken wheels, stolen cargo, tactical ambushes… and the llamas. Oh dear. Requires only the core Four Against Darkness book. This book contains adult humor, flamingos and lecherous llamas.
And here's also a preview of the cover, with art still not finalized, but nice to see!