Saturday, December 3, 2016

Dark Folk Role Aids By by Paul Karczag , Steve Morrison, & Robert Lynn Asprin From Mayfair Games For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons & Your Old School Campaigns

Sunday was always a weird day when it came to table top rpg's, first of all it was a double weekend dose of Hanna Barabara with Space Ghost reruns out of New York Channel Eleven here in Connecticut. But it was also a time to catch up on weekly reading because in the afternoon kids would get together to play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. Because in the afternoon all bets were off, & the tribes of the evil humanoid races -- orcs, trolls, goblins, gnolls, and kobolds all came out to play.

Mayfair really pulled out the stops for Dark Races book; "Meet the dark races, the foul races, the evil races; the Orcs, Kobolds, Goblins, Gnolls and Trolls. Learn how they live, hate, and terrorize. Each dark race is described in detail with complete towns, villages, fortresses, dungeons and featuring Orcish Culture a special article written by Robert Lynn Aspirin. Also included are adventures involving each of the dark folk that are suitable for use with all popular role playing systems including Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Bring depth to the villains in your world."
There were important reasons why the The Dark Folk worked as a supplement to the world's most popular fantasy role playing game;each race was got its own chapter, complete with overviews of history, culture, physiology, religion, magic items, & more. What Dark Folk did was to flesh out the background parts & pieces of each monster race & do it in such a way to add substance & style so that each adventure at the end of the chapter could be dragged & dropped into the dungeon master's campaign world. 

Basically one of the things that Role- Aids Dark Folk does is allow the DM to drag and drop the various monsters into their campaign world where and when they want them in the hex crawl or a wilderness style adventure. But there are ways to insert them in a campaign setting to A. Deal with the entry on each humanoid race on its own terms as the DM sees fit and to B. take the machinery as well as adventure mechanism as a whole or use it as piece meal as they need it. This is very important because you can use slices of Dark  Races for what you need in your campaigns its very modular in this regard.

This book fleshes out the evil humanoids of the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual  in such a way as to give them depth & over arching motives for their actions, attitudes, & monstrous characteristics. Dark Folk was a great read pulling from both original ideas & mythology. The chapter on trolls is gold. No longer were these merely an a monstrous aberration these were fleshed out NPC creatures with motives, drives, & hidden cultures. They were all of the more dangerous for their backgrounds. Each race had an adventure to go with the monsters presented and there were some infamous 'in house' jokes sewn into the background of Dark Folk. I loved this book and my own copy is very well worn from constant thumbing through for adventure design.  Dark Folk is another reasonable priced May Fair Role - Aids products that sells for a around eight dollars for a used copy on Amazon.
There are some solid reasons for using this book including an article featuring Orcish Culture many consider a classic written by Robert Lynn Aspirin of Thieves world fame. I don't think that there was any real prejudice or racial labeling using the title Dark Folk, this is a reference to the pseudo Tolkein background of the product.  All in all Dark Folk is an excellent product & worth getting for any DM whose interested setting up underworld adventures with a source other then the usual Under Dark material .These monsters have opportunity, motives, & solidly done adventures which is why Dark Folk is on so many people's lips as a by word in quality when Mayfair games was doing some very bold & daring product ideas. All in all I think that Dark Folk is a solid addition to the library  of any OSR dungeon master! Four out of five on this great blast from the past!

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