An OSR Gem
Though Dungeons Deeper: A Survival Guide for Dungeoneers As Written By A Survivor, henceforth known in this review as TDD is something truly unexpected and unique. Written as an "in-universe" survival guide by an experienced adventurer, it mixes both applicable wisdom and quick wits to create a truly engaging read that both educates and entertains. While it implicitly billed as an OSR product, it is system agnostic and applicable to any classic fantasy RPG.
While certainly written with tongue firmly in cheek, there is genuinely good advice in TDD that is seemlessly woven into the text by the author. This book is just plain fun to read. Along the way, the guidance provided by the roguish halfling narrator and survivor Maximillian Sparfoot is genuinely useful - and not just for new players. As someone who's been playing fantasy RPGs for thirty years, I was surprised at how much of this book had me saying "Yeah, that's solid advice!"
Along the way, almost every single page is packed with black and white line art, maps, and in-setting notes written by Sparfoot. This keeps the tone of the book light and the pace brisk. The visual appeal of TDD is so much so, that I truly think it will shine as a physical product and can't wait for the physical release.
The singular word to describe TDD is "fun." This is a fantastic love letter to fantasy gaming, its tropes, and the shared experiences of players. It never bogs down in detail and reminds the reader just how thrilling (and dangerous) dungeoneering is - both as a gamer and as a player. It made me smile, chuckle, nod in agreement, and most of all it made me want to roll up a character and play.
It clocks in at 150 pages, and while I was initially reluctant to plunk down more than $10 for a PDF (because I'm cheap like that), after reading TDD, I think it's well worth the price and will most definitely be grabbing the physical product when it's released. One of the tiny joys I look forward to is handing TDD to one of my players and saying "You find an old, tattered leatherbound book..." or having some shifty merchant sell the book to them. The book is so well written it can easily serve as a physical prop at the table.
In the end, RPGs require a rulebook. TDD is not a rulebook, but it is most definitely, how you play the game -- and more importantly it reminds us why we play the game.
[5 of 5 Stars!]