Faithfully Flawed

Specifically, this is a review of Delving Deeper Reference Rules Compendium by Simon J. Bull, published via Immersive Ink. However, what I'm writing goes for pretty much every retro-clone that mimics the rule-set and various printings from 1974 - 1976.

In my view, the origins of D&D are interesting and were, of course, necessary for roleplaying games to advance... yet there's a reason why TSR came out with updated versions of the game between 1977 and 1983. Similarly, it's little wonder that practically every gaming group in the 70's had their own house-rules, either ones that came up through actual play or ones they read about in magazines and stories from gaming conventions. Some of is downright decrepit!

To be fair, Delving Deeper has integrated material from The Strategic Review and similar sources. There's an optional Thief character class and additional monsters like the Storm Giant.

Besides that, you have an evolution from Chainmail miniature battle rules with plenty of influence from sword & sorcery literature. Pretty much what you'd expect from the original fantasy RPG on day one. For instance, there's a section on page 77 titled "The Campaign". Within, you get more on constructing a stronghold than learning how to roleplay or successfully adjudicate the game.

Magic swords, on the other hand, is something I really like in the original booklets and Delving Deeper. I'm not a D&D historian and don't have my vintage manuals handy, so I don't know if intelligent swords with ego and special randomly rolled powers were carried over into Holmes or Moldvay, etc.

Each of the three parts of Delving Deeper begin with a nice piece of art. I wanted to see a lot more but I'm sure finances were a concern.

Reading through OSR roleplaying games, I usually feel nostalgic. Reading through Delving Deeper (like the D&D white box), I get a sense of primordial head-scratching. Wow, this stuff is archaic! At times, it even seems backwards and obsolete. For me, it's like wanting to go millions of years back in time when dinosaurs ruled the earth... but instead I go too far back and there's only single-celled amoebas and protozoa and whatever else existed billions of years ago. Lovecraftian entities, perhaps? Sadly, no.

Personally, I'd rather be sitting in front of the Commodore 64 in my parent's computer room playing the Bard's Tale. When I was a teenager, we had the red box and AD&D. Why would anyone want to go further back? Why would anyone want to read or play the white box version of D&D? Obviously, there are some who do. I don't pretend to understand their desire for playing the game when it originally came out. That's ok. This is not for me, it's for them. And from the looks of things over at the Delving Deeper G+ community, everyone's quite pleased.

And so, I shall shake my head in confusion elsewhere, trying my best to keep silent so that I do not rouse the ire of the dreaded purple worm amoeba and the dragon turtle protozoa.

Simon J. Bull was generous enough to send me a softcover book of his Reference Rules Compendium for the purposes of reviewing. It can be found here.

Game on!


Authored by Venger Satanis

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