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Castles & Crusades Monsters of Aihrde I
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/17/2008 10:57:45
Nice little package of monsters for use in C&C (and other rules-light D&D clones, I imagine). Set in the Airdhe universe but easily extracted! The price is great, too.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Monsters of Aihrde I
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Crusader Journal No. 1
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/17/2008 10:51:52
Fun 1st issue of the magazine from Troll Lord Games. More of an industry piece and less useful if you're looking for C&C content (later issues have a lot more to offer for C&C players, though).

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Crusader Journal No. 1
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zzz-Castles & Crusades Monsters and Treasure
by Christopher N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/17/2008 06:10:03
M&T is a great addition to C&C. It's well-illustrated, has small stat blocks (yeah!), a good selection of creatures and treasure, and has that great old-school feel that only C&C can provide. The only downside? The price! $19.95 for a PDF? The dead tree version costs the same!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
zzz-Castles & Crusades Monsters and Treasure
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Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 3rd Printing
by Christopher N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/17/2008 06:07:09
I'll admit it, I love C&C. It's old-school-meets-new-school philosophy just rocks. Make no mistake about it, this game will take you back to a time when RPGs seemed (and were!) a lot simpler than some of the bloated behemoths we have today. C&C isn't for everybody - I'm sure there are some 3.0/3.5/4.0 addicts out there who would never dream of playing C&C, but I'm not one of them. C&C is simple, quick, and fun. It is, IMHO, a far better successor to AD&D than 3.0 was. And on sale for $10? How could you go wrong? So, buy this little gem, strap on your chain mail, sharpen your sword, and pound those miserable little kobolds into the ground!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 3rd Printing
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Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 3rd Printing
by Klayton K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/08/2008 19:08:50
I've been using the supremely elegant C&C rules for six months now (along with all my old 1st Edition AD&D stuff, which is easily convertible), and my games have never been better. Castles & Crusades is brilliant. Add a smattering of 1st Edition stuff for creative inspiration, and you have an ideal combination for storyteller DMs who prefer fast, narrative-driven play.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 3rd Printing
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2008 15:33:01
Without a word of a lie, _this_ is the true, modern successor to original Dungeona and Dragonse.

Castles & Crusades isn't just another "retro clone" knock-off. Not even close. Rather, it evokes all the elements which made classic D&D so much fun, while marrying these to a slick, simple, flexible and _modern_ d20 dice mechanic.

No need to wade through pages and pages of skills and feats at character creation. The unified dice mechanic here (called the SIEGE engine) will also let you choose (and demonstrate in play) what makes your character noteworthy -- no skill lists or feat descriptions required.

Best of all, Castles Crusades is based on the WotC Open Game License, so (with a little simple adaptation) all of your old D&D stuff from 1e through 3.x can be used with Castles & Crusades.

I could write pages elaborating on why I think C&C is worth at least a look from interested gemers. Instead, I'll just say this -- having bought the two core C&C rulebooks, I'll never willingly play D&D again.

If any of what I've said resonates with you, drop the ten bucks and check it out while this full-edition PDF is available. You've spent more on less worthy game products, I can almost guarantee it.

5 out of 5 stars.

Forget the grognards. Forget the WotC phanbois. Forget anybody with a "brand loyalty" agenda. I wanted fantasy rpgs to be alll about imaginative fun again, and Castles & Crusades gave me that. It has my highest possible recommendation.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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zzz-Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names
by Christian S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2008 14:57:00
This extraordinary book is a must-have ressource for every GM.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
zzz-Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names
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zzz-C&C Castle Zagyg's Dark Chateau
by Brian B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2008 14:18:12
I found this work to be a good example of what is now termed "old school" D&D. It has the flavor of a module from the late 70s and early 80s. There are interesting encounters and a few nuggets of gold hidden throughout the adventure. Much better than the usual D20 drivel being marketed today. Would be a great introduction for novice players.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
zzz-C&C Castle Zagyg's Dark Chateau
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Castles & Crusades Aihrde Fantasy Campaign Setting
by James H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/12/2008 17:57:57
Though full of embarassingly purple prose (with many cringe-inducing passages) as well as a troublesome number of spelling errors, After Winter's Dark is not as bad as one might imagine it to be at first glance. Most importantly, the product fills a niche that few campaign settings do in this day and age -- that of the Third-Party Vanilla Fantasy Setting. Bear with me. . .

I looked at dozens of other third-party fantasy setting products over the past three weeks and this is the ONLY one I could find that didn't attempt to introduce some new race, new magic system, or new take on demi-human races that ran contrary to the core rules of the Dungeons & Dragons. I can use this setting, as-is, with ANY edition of Dungeons & Dragons (for the record, I do not play Castles & Crusdaes, though this isn't an issue as Aihrde is refreshingly devoid of mechanics).

While the aforementioned purple prose can certainly make reading this product difficult at times, it is a good system-neutral setting that is 100% vanilla in nature. For those of us who just want basic, old school, High Fantasy without new 'twists' or otherwise intrusive details that run contrary to system assumptions made in D&D, Aihrde is a winner.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Aihrde Fantasy Campaign Setting
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Castles & Crusades Engineering Dungeons
by Franck B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/15/2008 14:13:46
Well this is probably the toughest review I have ever written. Not because English is not my mother tongue, but because this product is far from easy to rate. When you review a RPG core book you can give the pros and cons of the game system, or the universe presented if there is one. When you present a module you can rant on the maps, or praise the NPCs, or just present the nice village that will become the base of operations of the characters of your fellow players.

No here, you just have 28 pages of tables, all with long paragraphs of explanations, some very nice drawings, and few dungeon maps (one complete, some partials, some rooms/passages) and that’s it. Some of you must remember the Appendix A of the GMG of the first edition of ADD. In a few pages, you could find the random dungeon generator of Mr Gygax. Just imagine that you have this, but with more flavor, the Troll way… in a way

So this small book propose you to create your personal dungeons, but not just the map, also its purpose, its origins, its content and lots of flavor bits to make it more ‘believable’. To give a better understanding of what this product has to offer, I’ll give you one example of what I’ve generated with it. This way you’ll know a little bit more of what you’ll get with it, and without a preview. Everything here is the result of the roll of the dice. I’ll present you the general description of the dungeon, and 2 rooms. You’ll see with the rooms, that sometimes, you’ll probably have to tweak the numbers… But bear in mind, that even if the book is published by TLG and has the C&C colors, this is completely generic material. Of course, the monsters in the tables are the one from M&T, but otherwise, it is good for every Hack’n Slash Fantasy Game.

So, here is the general characteristics of my dungeon. I won’t explain them all, you’ll have to buy it for more information.
Purpose: Economic and Shelter (I chose to roll 2 purposes as proposed in the book).
Builder: Natural conditions.
Location: Terrain, Hot desert.
Size: 1 level, with 2 entrances, both known (but one is hidden so very few must know of it). First entrance is a shaft, second is a door.
Age: 2 millennia.

What can I make out of that. I immediately thought about a desert smuggler cache (due to the purpose), probably in a rocky desert, in some natural caves. The entrances can be easily placed this way.

Then I rolled for the layout. My opinion, is that people should probably use their own dungeon design, but it can give some really nice ideas of layout. Lots of advices are given concerning the result of the table and how to interpret them and adapt them to your design. I will just give you two examples of room I got. Once again, all the information come from various tables.

Room 1:
This is a rectangular room, of 15ft x 30ft, built for medium sized creature/persons, with 1 other exit, no doors, not trap and no treasures. This is a unoccupied ramshackle Arboretum, where venomous snakes are hidden. There is a really softly glowing light, and some debris around (where are the snakes, in the debris or the trees, it’s up to the GM).

Room 2: This one is not usable as is, it will need some work, but the ideas are great, you’ll see. I’ve given some ideas in parenthesis (so they are not from rolling on tables)
This is a rectangular room of 10ft x 10ft, built for medium sized creature/persons, with 2 exits, with doors neither locked or trapped. The room looks like a cell. There is a tricky non-lethal trap in the room, it looks like a confusion one, but it is a movement trap that will take the character/party up to 50ft away. The difficulty level of the trap should be 3 below the average party level. There is a functional object in the room (the lever to disarm the trap?). The room also gives mild vertigo (maybe a side effect from the movement trap, teleport?). There is an NPC in the room, with a party of 6 other character. The NPC is a level 18 elf with a class (wouah!!! High level, probably a fighter in this place…) possessing a level 2 treasure (that one is cheap…)

OK, what is doing a high level elf, with 6 other persons in a 10 by 10 cell…? This is where the GM will have to do some work. The first room was quite good and would fit this place (with a small irrigation system for the trees), but for the second room, it will be harder. Let’s say that there are several 10 by 10 cells, where the elf and his party are trapped due to the movement trap. The characters may be able to help them, thank to the object in the guard area. You see even if the rolls were strange, the result can give nice stuff. And for the level of the NPC and his party, I’ll adjust it to the characters’ level.

Two last things to add to this book, two really great ‘tables’. One gives you 100 object to fill the chamber of torture. This is really great inspiration. The other, is in fact a set of tables giving lists of monsters depending of the location of the dungeon (swamp, desert, planar, etc.) and the monster commonality. 5 pages of list to keep your encounters consistent.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Engineering Dungeons
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Castles & Crusades Engineering Dungeons
by Ward M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/14/2008 20:26:06
An amazing value for the money. It reminds me of Appendix A from the first edition DMG. This book is essentially a collection of instructions and random tables which will allow you to construct an "old-school" dungeon from scratch. Requires use of the Castles & Crusades "Player's Handbook" and "Monsters & Treasures" books. (29 pages)

PDF Quality: Crystal Clear

Likes: Good for generating ideas when you have writer's block or are new to gaming.

Dislikes: Some of the tables could use a little more explanation as to their use.

Recommendation: RUN! Buy this book now. Why are you still reading the review? Pull out your credit card this instant!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Castles & Crusades Engineering Dungeons
by Ian O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2008 20:16:47
So far, I am very impressed with the quality of the C&C line of roleplaying games. The only issue I have with this particular book is its only 29 pages for $9.95. While this book is not an overly lofty in price, innovative people can find the same info free on the internet.

It is my opinion some of the charts and tables are a bit confusing. I had a hard time determining which chart to use while creating the hallway portion of the dungeon. With a bit of re-reading, I figured it out.

However, all and all this product is very well written and will be a useful addition to my library.

-Ian M. O’Connor

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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zzz-Map: Castle Zagyg Town of Yggsburgh
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2008 21:49:28
Gary Gygax's last fantasy home ...

After the late E. Gary Gygax parted ways with TSR -- the company he helped found to sell Dungeons and Dragons -- he eventually found a new publisher in Troll Lord Games.

Gary, a firm believer in holding on to his favorite ideas, created Yggsburgh as a sort of City of Greyhawk 2.0, -- and his mad-mage alter-ego in the World of Greyhawk, Xagyg, suddenly transmogrified into a mad-mage named ... wait for it ... Zagyg! If you still don't get the joke, read both names backwards. I'll wait ... Castle Zagyg also appeared as a kind of Castle Greyhawk 2.0.

Right, so in the wake of the Gary's death, the Troll Lord Games folk -- who were not just his publishers, but friends of Gygax as well -- are working to get the Castle Zagyg: Yggsburgh hardback out there more widely for those who want to see it. For those who want just a preliminary peek at what Yggsburgh is like, however, this city-overview map is a great place to start.

It has a map scale, and general neighborhood labelling. Not much beyond that, but there _are_ various "area close up" PDF maps of Yggsburgh already available for sale here on RPGNow, under the Castle Zagyg: Yggsburgh name.

If you want the full Yggsburgh experience, guided by Gary, you'll want to track down the hardback I mentioned above.

However, if you merely want a city to populate and detail your own way, what better starting point than a color map of the city from the mind of the Great Dungeon Master himself?

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
zzz-Map: Castle Zagyg Town of Yggsburgh
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zzz-Castle Zagyg Yggsburgh Expansion Moat Gate
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2008 16:29:32
This is a detailed description of a quarter of a particularly large city. It includes descriptions of every single building (albeit sometimes only a couple of short sentences long... but when there are 272 buildings to cover, that's not much of a flaw), encounter tables, and a more detailed description of one building in particular.

It's relatively easy to adapt to d20, although a bit tediously repetitive in places. Still, a lot of effort has gone into it, and it includes some usable ideas.

Surprising then, that the production quality is so low. There is no artwork, just a lot of small print text, and the maps are, quite simply, the worst I've seen in an RPG product since the 1980s. Astonishingly, there's quite a decent-looking map image on the cover, but it bears next to no resemblance to what's inside, either in style or street layout. The maps inside really do make the book look shoddy, and bring what would have been a 4/5 down a notch.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
zzz-Castle Zagyg Yggsburgh Expansion Moat Gate
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Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/07/2008 16:18:41
If you're curious about Castles & Crusades, this free PDF download is absolutely the best place to start.

There's a "Castles & Crusades Condensed" PDF edition of the C&C rules available here on RPGNow, but that edition is fatally crippled by having key information cut out (e.g. classes such as the ranger; certain races) in the name of condensation. Add to this, that the Condensed Edition material is all based on the game's first printing, while the print-edition Player's Guide is about to go into its third printing as of March 15th, 2008, and you're basically paying money for an incomplete and an obsolete version of Castles & Crusades with the Condensed version.

These Quick Start Rules are even more drastically cut down from the print books, of course, but then they don't promise to be anything more than an introduction to the game. Plus, they're free. Free helps a lot.

For those wondering, "Okay, but what IS Castles & Crusades?" Simply put, it's an intentional retro-clone of 1e D&D using the d20/OGL rules at core.

Unlike games like OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord, however, C&C is more than just a straight clone of what's gone before. There are rules mechanics (most notably, C&C's so-called SIEGE target-number dice-mechanic) designed to mirror character skills and ability usage, and to allow for character customization (even within the same class), without ever complicating the straightforward action of "classic D&D" play.

As another RPGNow reviewer put it, if you're tired of "swimming through skills and feats" every time you want to make up a D&D character, you might want to give the Castles & Crusades Quick Start rules a look.

The designers at Troll Lord Games are quite explicit in their intentions that Castles & Crusades is a game focused on action and roleplay and _imagination_ -- in the very best traditions of first-edition D&D. They make clear that this game is designed to be understood in fifteen minutes, and that you should be able to create a satisfying starting character in fifteen minutes more.

You won't require miniatures or battlemaps to play, either -- just some game dice, paper, and your imagination.

Where does Castles & Crusades fall short? Well, for all that it does a great job of introducing a clever all-in-one dice mechanic for handling skills, abilities, combat, traps, saves, and all the rest -- without ever bogging down the game flow in rules detail -- in other ways, C&C will seem _awfully_ familiar to those who've actually played D&D prior to 2nd edition, or even 3rd.

Castles & Crusades is more than a straight retro-clone game like OSRIC, as I said -- it _does_ streamline some of the clunkier, counter-intuitive bits of original/pre-3e D&D in admirable ways. The problem is, I found myself wishing they'd have made the system even a little more flexible and streamlined. For example, monster listings are almost verbatim the data-clutter you remember from classic D&D, and adventures are still tightly bound to a set number, and level-range, of player characters.

My other complaint, as above, is with the whole "Condensed Edition" rules idea. With the third paper printing of the core rules due within days of this writing, Troll Lord Games needs to make a command decision as to how they will treat their PDF rules editions from here on out.

They can either release the current, unabridged core rules X months after the print edition, as many companies do, and trust that everyone who would've automatically bought the game already has -- and that the PDF edition now becomes a "recruitment tool" to bring in new gamers who never would've otherwise bought Castles & Crusades ...

... or else they can do what companies like Mongoose Publishing do, and list the full PDF editions here for almost exactly the same price (and in some cases, more) than what one would pay for the actual print books at retail. Those like me, who prefer PDF, then get to make a choice of format, but Mongoose gets paid their full retail amount either way.

Things like the Condensed Edition stink of weaseldom -- the new buyer can't know specifically what they're _not_ getting until after they've paid their money, and it's too late. Troll Lord Games needs to stop doing things halfway, and either commit to a proper PDF sales strategy for their core game rules, or else acknowledge that they don't really want to sell their core rules as a PDF at all. Step up or step back, but somebody needs to make the command decision here.

Happily, the only decision curious gamers need to make about the free Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules download, is what sort of sandwich they want to eat while reading over the PDF for the first time. I would recommend egg salad, but I do know that's an acquired taste.

All in all, a 4 out of 5. The promised included "adventure" is so short as to be more properly a mere encounter. I do appreciate that it's a free product and all, but that bit of dodgy marketing hype kept me from loving the Quick Start Rules with my whole, nerdy heart.

Check it out!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
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