Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game
So, I'm in the local bookstore when a box in the RPG section calls out to me; "Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Game". The slim box beckons me for two reasons. 1: It hearkened me back to the day when I bought the D&D basic set back in 1980 and my brother and I ran through the Caves of Chaos about thirty times and had the most fun we'd had playing a game. So sue me cuz I'm nostalgic. And 2: The price tag of 9.99. When was the last time you bought anything from TSR that came in a box for under ten bucks? So I bought it and figured, if it sucked, at least I was only down ten bucks.
Now the straight poop. The nicely illustrated box contains: Two black and white booklets: the Rules Book and the Adventures Book, 8 pre-generated character sheets, a cardstock DM's screen and (here's the amazing part) a set of nice polyhydra dice and brightly colored vinyl dice bag. Much nicer dice than the ones I got in 1980.
The good side of this little set is that it provides an excellent introduction to RPG's, explaining the basics of movement, combat, spellcasting and general adventuring. The DM's section of the Rules Book also has great pointers for the beginning DM, stats for 34 different creatures your characters can meet in dungeons, and a random dungeon and treasure generator to help construct more adventures for your players. The Adventures Book contains three small adventures to start out with, including the town of Haven that acts as an excellent base of operations for the characters. The three adventures pit the players against at tribe of Bugbears, a Vampire lord and a Dragon to keep the name of the game making sense.
The character sheets provided give the player all the information they could ever need during the game session and seem well thought out and the DM screen is as complete as needs be for the beginning DM.
Now, the bad side of the coin. While the set does provide an excellent introduction to gaming, it also has been edited down to near uselessness for long term use in a campaign. This is the first RPG I've ever bought that lacks character generation rules. The players must use the pregenerated characters included in the set and while it helps to get the players moving, it does remove fun of creating your own character in the fantasy world, which is a major part of the roleplaying experience. Also, there is no guide for the DM to create their own monsters for the characters to fight, which is also a large part of the fun of being the DM. There is also a sad return to using random tables for creating adventures, sending players on journeys through meaningless mazes of 10' by 10' corridors, with emphasis on mapping, marching orders and door listening. Considering the marvelous SAGA rules that TSR produces that emphasize role-playing and thinking over combat and treasure accumulation, this product seems like a great leap backwards in gaming design.
In summation, the D&D Adventure Game is a good cheap box set to give to a young person you know who is interested in RPGs, but don't expect it to fuel their imaginitive fires for very long. Despite it's disguise of a box with some dice, this is a glorified "Quick Play" adventure intended to launch players into the more complex world of AD&D, and not a relaunch of the Basic Dungeons and Dragons line. Or you might save your ten bucks, spend five on a set of dice for your young friend and loan him or her your old D&D Basic set. Trust me, they'll get more out of that and the original Keep on the Borderlands than this set.
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)