Your epic saga is about to begin!
The Darkmaster, an immensely powerful being of pure Evil, threatens the world once again. The last hope of the Free Kins lies in the hands of your heroes, they alone have the courage to stand up, and defy the Darkmaster.
Against the Darkmaster is a tabletop Epic Fantasy roleplaying game of high adventure, heroic action, and heavy metal combat.
This core rule book is a 570 plus page tome with a full-color cover with beautiful black and white line drawings inside. Art director Tomasso Galmacci is listed as one of the interior artists and he more than nailed the classic look of an 80’s rulebook. The layout of the book is kept to a simple two columns with scroll-like sidebars breaking in the text. It’s here where Against The Darkmaster starts to show its hand that this book is not a simple reprint of Rolemaster. Many of the sidebars scattered throughout the text offer rules hacks and tweaks with ideas that modernize the rules.
This game system starts out simple enough, but understand you will have to do some math. Rolling percentile dice is the name of the game, as you roll your dice add your roll total to a skill percentage and if you total is 100 or over, your character succeeds. Roll over 175, and that’s considered a critical success. The success chart in the game also suggests other modern elements, such as a success with a cost for a roll between 75-99 or a critical failure of 5 or below. Players can climb these heights (or fall into the mathematical pits of despair) because the percentile rolls are open ended. 95 or higher means the players roll again and add, while 05 or lower means the players roll again and subtract.
Combat rounds are structured so that magic and ranged attacks sandwich melee action in a round. That allows for some weapon strategy too, as the longer the melee weapon is, the earlier it goes during the melee section. Instead of the base 100 target number weapons are rolled on a chart determined by their type of damage with each of the four armor types on the chart. If the roll is high enough, a second roll occurs on a critical hit chart also determined by the type of weapon. This is where a short description of a nasty injury resides, along with some long term effects of the injury like a torn tendon or bleeding hit points each round. I would suggest for anyone playing to get a photocopy of the charts, or to pick up a PDF copy of the book so you can print out any relevant charts and have them quickly available for each player’s damage.
Magic’s complexity comes in its adaptability. The majority of the classes come with some level of innate magical talent, with each of the classes having access to some spell knowledge. This is granted by trading in skill levels on a two for one basis. However, the systems multiple rolls for a single action slow down game play, but it’s not any more different than having to separately roll to hit and deal damage. There are magic points and modifier charts, but the real cost of magic is revealed when a magic user does too well, they run the risk of revealing the heroes to the Darkmaster and getting some supernatural goons sent to take them out.
This creates a fun riff on the wandering monsters concept and for those who might not have a tyrannical villain set on destroying the world in mind at the start of your campaign, the book offers a few charts for inspiration, as well as some sample villains and minions. The Darkmaster is the main villain of the campaign created by you the GM. The Darkmaster creation is of the modern ideas incorporated into character creation, such as drives that come off as aspect-like ideas that encourage players to get into trouble to score advancement points.
Players also get background elements that work a little like feats while also tying into drives and shared world creation. A character that has an Assassin training background is encouraged to make their relationship with their guild as a drive and the GM is encouraged to build the details of that guild together. Which encourages both GM and players to further build upon and expand the world. Which supplies a co-op element to the roleplaying table not see in many games, which I love.
Imagine If had a magical blender of awesomeness and you threw in the works of J.R.R Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings, dropped in a bit of Robert Jordan’s ‘The Wheel of Time’ series, added a dash of Labyrinth and Dragonslayer, and sprinkled it with a healthy dose of roleplaying, you’ll end up with an amazing game session filled with high fives as you make your way towards your ultimate goal of defeating the Darkmaster.
So grab your dice, strap on your armor, grab your sword and get ready to join the fight Against the Darkmaster!
You can pick up your copy of the game here : https://www.vsdarkmaster.com/