Saturday, August 31, 2019

Adventures Great & Glorious Review — Three Things Wrong with the Title

Adventures Great and Glorious is a sourcebook for Adventures Dark and Deep (an AD&D 1e variant) meant for domain and high level play. Domain level play basically means when PCs run strongholds and such. This was sort of something Dave Arneson's D&D game seems to revolved around more so than Gary Gygax's and you never really had proper rules for domains in AD&D.  Later they were added in the Companion Set for the D&D line, along with a mass combat system.

I had somewhat high hopes for this, as AD&D has lacked a good domain system, and sadly, I can say that still is the case, as AG&G mostly rehashes what was in the 1e DMG on strongholds and followers. This does have a mass combat system, but it's somehow remarkably cumbersome and yet still vague.

It starts off with a rehash of the AD&D follower section from the DMG, with added additions for the Adventures Dark & Deep classes, like the mountebank (basically a thief-illusionist), mystic, and savant. Next is somewhat more interesting, detailing what happens if the PC decides to settle down in a civilized region and not the wilderlands. This is much more interesting for some of the classes, particularly the bard who builds a theater and attracts a troupe. Also tantalizing is the mention of a fighter starting a free (mercenary) company, but this almost entirely consists of recruiting soldiers (not unlike the 1e DMG), rather than rules for a Battle Brothers style campaign.

Next are rules for becoming part of a kingdom's court and indulging in intrigue. I'm not sure how interested players in a D&D game would be in this, nor do I imagine it would be much fun for the DM in having to flesh out the entire court of the country they happen to be located in.

However, it then steps back towards running a domain in the wilderness, with seven pages of rules for doing so. It's pretty basic, basically you can tax the peasants anywhere from 1 to 10 sp per month and the more you tax, the more likely it is they revolt. There's also a table for prospecting, though it seems unlikely a domain would have one worth bothering with. Even taxes is probably not worth the effort if you are 9th level, since your character likely has a couple hundred thousand gp in treasure. Even if you have a 1000 peasants and tax them at 10 sp a month, that's a whopping 500 gold.

And then there is mass combat. At first glance, it looks like something akin to the system found in the Companion set for D&D. Basically figure out a numerical value of an army's strength, then roll dice and compare results to a chart to see if won.  There is some of that there, but the core of the system is to isolate a small part of each army (using the army strength rules and charts), have them fight it out using the normal combat rules of your game, then apply those results to the armies using more charts.
This is rather arcane and seems to combine the worst aspects. Basically you'll have to run a fight with probably close to 100 combatants total, then have to use a calculator to crunch the results.

Lastly, there's some rules for secondary skills (prety much unique to Adventures Dark & Deep, though not too far from AD&D's non-weapon proficiencies or D&D's skills) that are related to ruling, then a selection of new spells (some borrowed from Pathfinder). Nothing particularly exciting, though high level mages might like the plane creation spells borrowed from Pathfinder (they only make very, very tiny planes though).

The presentation is like all the other Adventures Dark & Deep products, somewhat mimicking the look of 1st Edition, but with (mostly) awful artwork. I guess it's original, but I think maybe it would have been better to use higher quality stock art than awful original art.

Ultimately, Adventures Great & Glorious is an another disappointing entry in the long list of disappointing entries for running domains and high level play for D&D (honestly, I think Birthright for 2E was probably the best).  If you are big into Adventures Dark & Deep, you'll probably want it just to fill out the followers for the specific classes it adds.

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