First published by Brave Halfling after ceasing publication of Swords & Wizardry Whitebox, Delving Deeper is now under the care of Immersive Ink. While S&W: WB claimed to be a clone of the original 3 booklets for OD&D, it did have quite a number of differences, and for some those were too much to consider house-ruling out in order for a more “pure” OD&D experience. Delving Deeper attempts to remedy this by sticking to what has been used in OD&D: descending armor class, traditional save values, etc.
Originally sold by Brave Halfling in a nice actual white box, Delving Deeper is now available for free via PDF; you can find it on DriveThruRPG here. A single-volume hardback is in the works, and will contain the latest errata (the PDF is already on its 2nd revision). At an initial glance, it’s very easy to dive into these rules. Single-column, clean font and clearly labelled tables are the standard here, and it helps tremendously for those of us still new to the OD&D way of playing.
As “bare” as S&W: WB was, Delving Deeper will seem even more pared down. There’s no doubt, you WILL need to start adding house rules, and that’s exactly how the original game was played and intended to be. An interesting difference is how dice are notated; instead of the standard 1d6 or such, it will say 1-6. So if it says 4-14, most of us will need to think about it for a second to figure out what to roll. Some may not like this (I personally am on the fence), while others like it for the reason it leaves it open to the GM to customize exactly what dice to roll and add or subtract to reach that number range.
Unlike S&W: WB the thief class is available, and there’s an interesting twist: no skill table. A thief starts out with a 50% chance of sucess and that stays fixed. It’s an interesting take, but I’m not personally keen on the lack of advancement. The Referee’s Guide has more information on wilderness travel; it’s comparable to what’s in S&W: Complete, but simpler. Monsters are also an interesting take, as their stats are all listed in a table first, and then their descriptions follow. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked this, but it has grown on me. A few entries such as the dragons will have additional tables, otherwise everything is easy to reference on a few pages. I don’t agree with many of the “Number Appearing” values in the table, and some are way too high (20-100) to expect a party of players to encounter and not be completely wiped out. One thing I don’t see anywhere is the save values; I’ll need to ask around about that. Treasure is also simple and straightforward.
Like Sword & Wizardry: Whitebox, Delving Deeper is a nice, clean and simple foundation upon which to customize your fantasy RPG to be what you want. There’s a lot in DD that I like and prefer compared to S&W:WB, while S&W:WB also has a few things I prefer. I do like that DD seems to be actively supported rather than mostly “abandonware” that S&W: WB and Core seem to be. I look forward to the single-volume hardback!