Before doing any serious reading on a gaming product I usually flip through the pages to see what stands out and catches my eye. Three things stood out in the Book of Adventure. First, there is no character sheet included in the book. Second, the ink on the pages is BLUE and can get somewhat irritating to your eyes. Third, this book has the player and game master rules together.
The Cover & Introduction
Both are fairly typical of similar products. The cover art depicts a dragon resting on a treasure hoard with a spellbook under paw. The creature's attention is focused on four adventurers standing in the cave entrance in the background. It's not quite up to the Holmes Basic D&D cover in quality but it conveys the same type of imagery. The introduction has no groundbreaking thoughts included within.
Table of Contents
A glance at the table of contents makes it clear that this book contains information for the player as well as the game master. It appears that the essential player information is contained on pages 1 to 19 while the remaining 38 pages are probably best suited for the game master.
The forward contains 3 interesting bits of information. First, the date is listed as "April, 1978"; neat information because it establishes historical context. Second, Arneson (I assume) shows his displeasure with further complexity in D&D by stating that after the release of the original system there was "added dozens of additional rules in a chaoticc jumble that buried the original structure under a garbage heap of contradictions and confusion". Third, it is made clear that AiF was intended as a introductory set because there is mention of additional rules volumes such as Dragon Lore & Legend, Ritual Magic, The Races of the Faerry, World of Fantasy, and "more". As far as I know, none of these titles ever saw print. It would be interesting to find out any concrete information about these titles.
The Player Character
The first chapter of the book stands at a sparse 7 pages and covers character generation. The definition and generation of the basic characteristics are the first two subjects covered. Generation of the characteristic scores is pretty straightforward. The rules state to roll 2 twenty-sided dice and generate a number from 01-100. If I remember correctly, the twenty-sided dice available at the time were numbered 0-9 twice instead of 1 - 20. Of course, one could just roll two d10's and do the same thing today. My point is generation of the characteristics is pretty simple and easy to follow. What isn't so clear to me is the list of characteristics.
Basic Game Player Characteristics
It would seem like a simple thing to list the characteristics that represent the physical and mental attributes of the player character. It should be and a character sheet would actually solve this issue. I can say after several readings that I am still not sure of the characteristics. The introductory paragraph in this section mentions "Strength, Intelligence, Charisma, Knowledge, Dexterity, Stamina..." while the list and explanations of the characteristics include Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Charisma, Stamina, and Health. Both lists are very similar but the second list omits Knowledge and adds Health. No problem, knowledge might just be a reference to the skills a character knows, right? Maybe, but then there is little bit that adds to the confusion. After the generation method of the characteristics is described the next sentence reads "Do this for each of the five basic player characteristics and for the two optional characteristics if they are used". That makes the total number of characteristics seven. Neither list has seven characteristics. Plus, the only characteristic I can see that is listed as "optional" is Stamina so what is the other optional one?
Is Knowledge a characteristic?
Was it an editing mistake?
Does Knowledge just refer to a characters skills?
Anybody with any experience with AiF that can answer these questions?
It seems like an odd spot to get confused. I hope the rest of the rules are clearer than this. I'm stopping for the night so I can try to make some sense of this.
Next: character creation continued.