I’ve said before that my typical go to system for fantasy gaming was AD&D 2nd Edition, and it’s definitely no secret just how much I love me a good retro clone. So, scrolling through DriveThruRpg a few weeks ago I came across an interesting find in the pay what you want section, and though I easily could have snatched it up for nothing, what drew my attention most was the affordability of the black and white softcover. I had never ordered an actual physical copy of anything from DriveThru before, but seeing such a reasonable price point and that it promised to do justice to maybe my favorite system, I just couldn’t help myself. So, let me tell you about the little gem I found called For Gold and Glory, because if you’re looking for anything to do with 2nd Edition, this one’s for you.
As always, I’ll start with the overall look and feel of the book, and I’ll be jumping back to the quality of it a bit later on. For myself, I opted for the barebones black and white softcover edition, mostly because of budget reasons and not wanting to spend a whole lot. I have to say that it’s not too bad at all, but since I have a lot of other games like this in my collection, I pretty much knew what to expect. The font is very readable and easy on the eyes, with the text presented in a two-column formatting with the occasional chart to break things up. It’s an easy readthrough and pretty well written to boot, with some of the vaguer rules from the original it’s based on clarified for simplicity’s sake, which is always a good thing.
For the artwork, the creators went with pieces that are all public domain, but instead of using stock sketches or subpar illustrations, they instead chose old renaissance style paintings. As I flipped through the pages, I have to admit, that it was a fantastic idea, as the chosen art definitely inspires a very distinctive feeling for the game. There are no orcs, dragons, or fantastic creatures of the like that are anywhere to be found, which really sets it apart from other D&D clones in terms of vibe. What the art does do is bring to mind a very Arthurian atmosphere rather than anything Tolkienesque, which gives the book a very romantic air to the genre of fantasy that it conjures. I could easily see someone running a campaign inspired by the once and future king using this system, as I think something like that would fit the mood of it perfectly
Moving into the actual game mechanics next, I’m not going to spend a lot of time here, as It’s for all intents and purposes AD&D 2nd Edition. If you like that version of the game, you’ll be very happy. If not, then stop reading now and pass this one by. You start off by rolling up your attributes the same way as always, with 3D6 right down the line. You record your values and sub-values, pick a race and class, and you’re off adventuring, making everything pretty easy-peasy no matter what edition you’ve played before. I have to say that it’s refreshing to me that they’ve stuck so close to the Player’s Handbook here, with only the basic classes and races available and no extra fancy fluff being wedged in. It’s just like the old AD&D that I’m so fond of, which rates really high on the nostalgia scale and makes me feel all fuzzy inside. But this can also be a double-edged sword sometimes, though, as in a few spots they perhaps stuck too close to the original rules. I wish they would have a taken a cue from a few of the other old school systems out there and tweaked a few things, namely adding an ascending armor class and base attack system so we could give Thaco the old heave hoe. But really this issue is a minor grip in and otherwise stellar offering, so I can easily overlook it and enjoy the game.
Now, for the real reason I bought his book, the print copy that I mentioned earlier. I’ll put it out there again straight away, you can pay what you want for this title or you can just download it for free, so if you don’t feel like spending any money then please don’t. I wasn’t going to buy it at first, but I’ve always been curious about the quality of DriveThruRpg’s printed copies. When I saw the price, I thought the heck with it and pulled the trigger, mostly to satisfy my own interest and see what they could do. At a little over ten bucks I was more than pleased with what I received, as I’ve paid more for similar books along the same line that turned out to be far inferior to this one. The authors have taken the Player’s Handbook, DMG, and Monstrous Manual, altogether clocking in at nearly nine-hundred pages, and condensed them down to a single four-hundred page offering. I’ve stated before that I tend to favor thin and sleek books, but not having to lug around the weight of three hardcovers makes this one a welcome exception. Seriously, it’s a fantastic product in terms of quality and convenience, and the fact that you get essentially three books in one and a complete system at that price left me very impressed. The printing is great, the text well bound, and the stock a hefty paper, so it should hold up pretty well as long as it’s not banged around too much. In the future, I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for more deals like this on DriveThruRpg, and I wouldn’t hesitate to order again if I found something I like.
So, there you have it folks, a review of a rehash of a classic system and a quality reprint of it at that, so what more can you ask for? If you’re into 2nd Edition at all, or want to give it a try for the first time, I would highly recommend For Gold and Glory, as it’s a superb game that’s very light on the wallet no matter what route you go. It’s a great way to get started with something new or rediscover an old favorite, and from what I can tell it’s fully compatible with all the old expansion products that are out there. As I mentioned I was wary about spending any money for this at all, but again, I was more than pleased with what DriveThru did with the softcover and I’m looking forward to seeing what else might out there at a reasonable price. I might just have my eye on a few color hardcovers in the future if I ever feel saucy, but then again, the cash needs to be in the old pocket first. Anyway, give it a look for yourselves, gang, and I hope you enjoy this one if you decide to give it a try, as it’s well worth it. Later, and happy dice rolling everybody.