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Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure 2nd Printing
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/29/2008 16:39:17
The true successor to Dungeons and Dragons continues!

THE DETAILS

Monsters and Treasure is the second of two core books for the Castles & Crusades fantasy rpg, and it too features C&C's defining gameplay ethic of old-school feel, combined with modern, streamlined rules.

The monsters in Monsters and Treasure will be familiar to anyone who's played earlier editions of Dungeons and Dragons. Most of the fiendish faces from the original Monster Manual are here, as well as a few creatures recognizeable from later works, such as the Monster Manual II and the original Fiend Folio. All in all, though, the monsters in this volume will be very familiar to anyone who's played D&D before. A number of the monsters are subtly changed from what one might expect but, by and large, the faces remain the same.

Be advised that most of the creatures here are "terrestrial" in nature. Those looking for lists of demons and devils and other so-called "outsiders" will not find them in this volume. Elementals make an appearance, but angels, devils and djinni are absent from this book. The Quasit shows up, but his bigger infernal brothers are nowhere to be seen.

Also, those looking for a collection of monsters unique to Castles &Crusades' Aihrde setting are advised to wait for the upcoming Monsters and Treasures II, which Troll Lord Games is presently hard at work finishing.

Those who simply can't wait for new monsters, should check out the short Monsters of Aihrde PDFs available here on RPGNow -- and those who want to challenge their players with the smaller flying dragons seen swarming on the cover of the C&C Player's Handbook, might also want to check out the Miasmal Dragons PDF. Personally, I was grateful to have these "lower level" dragons with which to harass players all the sooner.

The second half of the Monsters and Treasures book presents the Castles and Crusades OGL version of the treasure and magic-item section of the classic Dungeon Master's Guide.. There are some changes here; certain new things, and certain old things left out, but most of these changes are subtle, and aren't likely to leap off the page and punch you in the eye on a quick read-through.

As with C&C in general, Monsters and Treasure is not about remaking classic rpg gaming from the ground up, recasting it in an entirely new form; rather it's all about streamlining and simplifying while preserving the fun factor -- cutting down the rules clutter so that the rules serve the story of your game, instead of getting in your way.

So, a lot of the Treasure section will seem familiar to owners of past editions of the DMG: treasure charts; magic item charts and descriptions; special weapon property charts; notes on how to create (and destroy) magic items; notes on how and when to award treasure. If you've played fantasy rpgs before, you know this stuff. And if you haven't played before, author Robert Doyel breaks it all down for you in clear, uncluttered prose.

Doyel's writing is solid throughout; he manages to communicate ideas well, and seems constantly aware that certain readers will be new to what he's describing. While he does not pander to the new reader, nor "dumb down" the content in any way -- wisely remembering that rpg games are largely for adults, and for smart kids with an interest in the material -- Doyel still keeps his writing lucid and focused at every opportunity. He's there to communicate concepts, and he does it well.

The art inside Monsters and Treasures is all black and white, but chief Castles and Crusades artist, Peter "Twenty Dollar" Bradley contributes some high quality, evocative monster illustrations. However old-school C&C may seem in certain ways, Bradley's art is definitely modern, and definitely professional.

SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

I'd say yes. While it doesn't bring much new to the party, in terms of monsters or magic items which long-time gamers haven't seen before, the book itself is still an excellent practical example of just how Castles & Crusades consciously streamlines OGL fantasy material into something far more user-friendly.

The book should also prove a great resource by example for those Castle Keepers (Game Masters) with a lot of pre-fourth-edition D&D material they'd like to convert to C&C.

FINAL VERDICT?

Four out of five stars. It's a solid, professional product in all respects, but it would've been nice to see a few wholly new monsters, and few more new treasures (there are a couple) among all the usual suspects. As above, I guess we'll have to keep waiting for the upcoming Monsters and Treasures II for the truly new stuff.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure 2nd Printing
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Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
by andrew t. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/08/2008 03:24:10
Castles and Crusades seems to be a very simple game system, geared more towards ease of play and the interaction it represents than tons of charts and tables. This is an introduction to the game, and looks like it conveys the basics very well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
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Castles & Crusades DB1B Haunted Highlands Deities
by andrew t. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/08/2008 03:21:15
I've always been a fan of the Celtic Mythos. I've heard nothing but good things about the Castles and Crusades game, so I look forward to implementing this aid and tossing some different dieties in the mix.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades DB1B Haunted Highlands Deities
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Castles & Crusades Monsters of Aihrde II
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/17/2008 10:59:40
Nice package of useful &C monsters at a good price. Easily adapted to other retro clones, too.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Monsters of Aihrde II
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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!]
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!]
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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