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Castles & Crusades The Goblins of Mount Shadow
by kenneth r. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2013 07:18:49
very nice prodcut, and the artwork is pretty good as well

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades The Goblins of Mount Shadow
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Magnificent Miscellaneum Vol. 2
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/15/2013 07:15:10
Origially posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/01/15/tabletop-review-magnifi-
cent-miscellaneum-volume-ii-castles-crusades/

I haven’t had the chance to review any Castles & Crusades products for a while, due to the end of the year glut and the Tabletop Gaming Awards write-up. However, with a new year I happened to find several new C&C products awaiting me, Magnificent Miscellaneum included. Magnificent Miscellaneum is a very short new periodical from Troll Lord games, covering only a few pages of content, but keeping the price between seventy-five cents and a dollar twenty-five, based on any sales going on. Out of the seven pages, only five are content, with one page being the cover and the second being the wordy OGL license and credits for the publication.

Now you’re probably wondering what all someone can pack into a mere five pages, unless it’s a short one shot adventure. Well, there is a surprising amount of content in this little pamphlet. Three pages are devoted to “White Box Menaces.” Of course, some people might not know what the White Box is. That’s the 1974 original edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I’m not sure why they call this section that, as I pulled out my own copy of the set and couldn’t find any of the creatures in this volume of MM betwixt the pages of the three D&D books that made up the White Box. That said, this section contains ten monsters with names that look like your cat walked across the computer keyboard . The effort to pronounce these alone will keep a decent portion of DMs away from using them. Still, there are ten brand new monsters to inflict upon your C&C gaming troupe here, with each one getting paragraph that describes them, and some very brief stats to let you use them. My personal favorite are the Gloedfoers, which are infernal sheep, and I know I’ve encountered them before now (albeit it under a different name) – I just can’t remember when and that’s driving me nuts. If you can get by tongue twisters like thûtuszlaks and mwizikili, you’ll find some really fun creatures to use in your homebrew adventures.

The next section is Potent Priestcraft, and it introduces four new spells for your cleric. There are two Level One and two Level Two spells, all of which are pretty powerful for what they do. Bonumcanis lets you summon a ghost dog to watch your back, while Choreamortis lets a Level One Priest animate a corpse as long as they concentrate on mentally commanding it. Luxbeata is a Level Two Cleric spell where you can do 2d8 damage to undead via holy searing light, while Good aligned creatures heal a point of damage and evil aligned non-undead must make a saving throw to keep from running in fear. This one’s definitely a bit overpowered. It’s neat, but probably should be a level higher. Malumcaligo is another overpowered spell, giving the caster an armour class bonus AND an bonus to his or her attack roll. One or the other is probably fine for a Level Two spell, but both? Ouch. There’s also a surprise penalty to anyone who tries to enter the fog to attack the caster. All of this shows the spell should be probably Level Four rather than Level Two. Basically ALL of the spells in this section needed either nerfing or having their spell levels raised.

Wondrous Wizardry is a similar section, but for mages instead of priests. Here you have four spells that are classified as “Eyebites.” This is NOT the same as the AD&D version of Eyebite, but rather a classification of spells, “that can potentially be cast out of initiative order and out of the caster’s normal turn in that order.” That alone is a powerful ability. However, like the Priest spells, these Eyebites are overpowered on their own, and when you factor in their bonus ability, means they are just too much for their Casting Level. Celeritous Sidestep is a Level Zero (!) spell where the caster can sidestep any one non-magical attack of any kind. A Level Zero spell? Seriously? That’s insanely powerful, and shouldn’t be the equivalent of a cantrip. Somnuscent Interjection is a Level Three spell that is a more powerful version of Sleep. This is the most balanced spell in the lot. Malefic Stuttering is a Level One spell, except it’s misspelled as Malific, and basically a lower leveled version of Tasha’s Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter. Eh. The final spell is Toxic Revelator and it’s a Level Two spell that feels like it should be a Priest spell instead. Basically every poisonous item within a fifty foot radius of the caster flies out, dances around the mage and begins to speak (it’s magic people) stating the type of poison it is and who applied it, or at least last touched the vial it is in. Again, a divination of this nature feels more clerical in nature, and probably should be Level Three due to the power of it. A low level mage should NOT be able to cast a spell like this that easily; otherwise there’d be no need for police or detectives. So yeah, both magic sections are neat, but the spells really needed to be retooled before being made canon by Troll Lord. They’re just way too unbalanced.

Finally we have “Mystic Magic Items and Amazing Artifacts,” which introduces four new items for players to find and use in their dungeon crawling adventures. You have such items as The Claw of the Lich (think rabbit’s foot, but humanoid), Eye of Gorgon, a necklace to petrify enemies, Ear of the Fish, a pearl earring to let the wielder communicate with fish, and Jar of Light, which feels like a candle based version of the Decanter of Endless Water, but not as flexible. All in all, not bad magic items.

So, a thumbs in the middle for this issue. It’s cheap and short and whether you’ll get your money’s worth or not is up to you. The monsters and magical items are nicely done, but the spells needed a lot of work before becoming official. They’re just too unbalanced and ill thought out. Still, I really enjoyed flipping through this piece, and I hope the Magnificent Miscellaneum becomes a regular release. It reminds me of a very short and unrefined old school TSR style magazine, and that’s a good thing.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Magnificent Miscellaneum Vol. 2
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Castles & Crusades Engineering Dungeons
by Rick K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/07/2013 23:55:54
Random generation tables!
But, I did not purchase this for the tables. Sometimes I get a brain-fart and need something to spur on the next adventure idea for my gaming group.
And this book does fit the bill.
Its a little laskluster with the illustrations, but it is a wealth of ideas.
Useful for more than C&C users, any Dungeon delving ruleset can benefit from this.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Engineering Dungeons
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Amazing Adventures!
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/28/2012 20:26:19
If you like the pulps, and I know I do, then this just might be the role-playing game that you have been looking for. I'm going to get this out of the way right from the get-go, Jason Vey is an (dare I say it?) amazing designer. If you haven't seen his work on the Unisystem stuff from Eden Studios, or his own retroclone Spellcraft & Swordplay, you are surely missing out.

If you're not familiar with the heroic pulps of the 30s and 40s, they were a precursor to comic books that featured crime-fighting men and women who became embroiled in global whirlwind adventures. Some of the best known of the characters from the heroic pulps would be Doc Savage, The Avenger, The Spider and The Shadow. Other famous literary precursors to the pulp traditions could be characters like Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Nick Carter or the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu. More modern neo-pulp characters could be ones like Indiana Jones, Buckaroo Banzai or even someone like Jack Burton. Big, bold, larger than life characters against a backdrop that is just as large, and as dangerous, as they are.

Amazing Adventures is from Troll Lord Games, publishers of Castles & Crusades, and features a modified version of the SIEGE Engine d20 variant that powers that game. Vey has taken a number of variants that take the SIEGE Engine out of traditional fantasy play and move it towards heroic fantasy characters and adventures. He also mixes in some bits from the d20 Modern SRD, as well. Even if you are not a fan of the pulps (or aren't one yet), this game can still hold an interest for you because of the fact that it can also serve as a streamlining and updating of WotC's old d20 Modern stuff for you. One of the things that I never liked about d20 Modern was the sort of attribute-based classes. That is gone in this game, with a more traditional take on character classes. A variety of the pulp archetypes are represented in these rules, classes that could easily be modified backwards for those looking for a more Steampunk style of gaming, or modified forwards for contemporary era role-playing. Actually, this game impressed me a lot more than Castles & Crusades did, and it I were to run a fantasy-based SIEGE Engine game, I would reverse engineer it out of Amazing Adventures rather than play Castles & Crusades. Maybe there will be a special edition (or supplement) featuring the rebuilt iconic fantasy classes for play in Amazing Adventures some day. I would like something like that.

It was also nice to see some Lovecraft seep into this game. Amazing Adventures has a nice little sanity mechanic, for those who want those sorts of things in their games, and a few Lovecraftian monsters managed to sneak their way into an already ample bestiary. For those who have wondered if Pulp Cthulhu was ever going to come out from Chaosium, this is the substitute that you have been waiting for.

[You can read this review in its entirety at http://dorkland.blogspot.com/2012/12/troll-lord-games-amazin-
g-adventures.html]

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures!
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Amazing Adventures Day of the Worm
by Chet C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2012 14:03:34
Fast-paced like a good old pulp thriller should run, this is excitement in 14 pages (counting cover and title page) - and has a lot more to it than you'd expect.

First, the cover pays homage to the Indiana Jones type of hero. (Though he looks more like Brigham Young with Indy's hat-with-a-funny-hatband.) Nothing wrong with that type of play, and - save for the last one - the Indy movies gave plenty of value for admission price. But you're not limited in the types of characters you can play. I could easily see the Shadow, Doc Savage, or any number of lesser pulp characters (Most pulp stories were, at best, mediocre.) involved in this adventure.

Sure, it's easy to say "Everyone belongs to an anti-Nazi spy agency" but it can be even more exciting to have disparate characters pulled into this evil world-dominating plot.

It has Nazis, chase scenes, the supernatural, traps, a teriffic cover, and a plot so thick you can cut it with your Crocodile Dundee knife. What's not to like?

Troll Lord Games and Jason Vey have given a very good example of what can be done with their Siege Engine rules and the Amazing Adventures game in particular.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures Day of the Worm
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Bluffside: Right Under our Noses
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/18/2012 06:51:22
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/12/18/tabletop-review-castles-
-crusades-right-under-our-noses/#undefined

I’m a big fan of Castles & Crusades, and for Troll Lord Games to put out a free adventure for the system is a wonderful thing, especially so close to the holidays. It’s a great way to try the system and see why it’s a favorite OSR system. Of course, there’s a bit of a catch. In order to truly make use of this adventure, you’ll need the Bluffside: City on the Edge campaign setting, in addition to the core Castles & Crusades rulebooks; otherwise, much of the adventure will read like gobblygook. The problem is that Bluffside isn’t out yet, so you can’t really do anything with the adventure save for reading it and putting together the nuances and changes inherent with the setting. Gnomes having blue skin is just one such example. I do remember Bluffside: City on the Edge being a 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons/OGL setting back in the early 00s, but I’m not sure what’s changed in the past decade, nor how compatible the original would be with C&C. So this is just odd all around, and Right Under Our Noses acts more as a preview of the setting or an attempt to whet your appetite for Bluffside. It’s just unfortunate that the entire adventure is written as if you already own and have taken in every aspect of the setting. Again, until Bluffside: City on the Edge actually comes out, it’s hard to say how good this adventure really is, but at least it’s a free Castles & Crusades adventure, right? A positive is a positive and you can’t go wrong with free C&C.

Right Under Our Noses is designed for a party of fourth level characters, but as there is very little combat to be had, lower level characters could pull a victory off without much of a problem. Most of the adventure is solved by diplomacy or some other form of mouth movement. The emphasis here is on role-playing over dice rolling. Don’t worry hack and slash fans: combat is still in the adventure. The problem is that nearly all of the monsters in the book are specific to the Bluffside campaign setting, so neither players nor GMs will know what the heck a Chiroptera or Balden looks, acts or fights like. You’re flying blind big time here, although once the campaign setting is released the adventure will make a lot more sense. Until then though, a smart GM will just switch out creatures with something more generic that makes sense in the context of the adventure. Perhaps Goblins or the like for the Chiroptera.

Right Under Our Noses is an odd but intriguing little adventure about politics, ecological polluting and the dangers of sanitation and sewers in a low tech, high fantasy world. The characters are called in (how exactly is up to the person running the adventure, as the text gives a few possible hooks) to find the source of a hideous smell emanating from the sewers that causes people to get sick and possibly die. Whether they are doing it for money, glory, or because it is the right thing to do depends on the party makeup. From there, the adventure is basically a showcase of what makes Bluffside unique. You’ll encounter races and situations specific to this setting that might not work anywhere else (ala, say, Planescape or Ravenloft). Characters will be crawling around in sewers, trying to parlay with steam gnomes (a new race for the setting; not sure if they can be player characters or not) and doing battle with creature hitherto unseen. Again, a lot of the adventure, from blackened lanterns to all the creatures in the adventure, require the Bluffside: City on the Edge campaign setting, so you’ll have to really tweak things to make this work without it. It’s nice to have a free adventure, but it would be nicer if all it requires were the core rulebooks and not another $20+ investment.

In the end the party may be uniting two sides (the steam gnomes and the Chiroptera) against a common enemy. The final threat is a bit underwhelming and easy if you’re more concerned about the combat side of things, but as I’ve stated earlier, this adventure is far more about talking and diplomacy that sticking sharp things through soft things that scream and bleed. There are many different ways for the adventure to end and several plot hooks to continue the storyline within Bluffside are given as well, in case the group of players are interested in sticking with this campaign setting. The last few pages of the adventure are appendixes for the DM, including stats for NPCs, a new location for Bluffside, stats for two beetle monsters and two new magic items.

All in all, this adventure is an odd one. Obviously, as it is free, it’s worth picking up, but it’s strange that Troll Lord Games would release this before the Bluffside setting comes out, especially as it can really only be played in conjunction with it. I can understand wanting to release a preview of some sort to get people excited, but in this case, it would have made more sense to release Bluffside first or at the same time as Right Under Our Noses. As of right now, people will just basically be sitting on this to see if Bluffside is a setting they actually want to use. Still, free is free and the adventure is well written (although the writer and editors alike should have said, “Hey, if this is coming out first, we should probably be a little more explanatory…”) which means anyone can and should download this. It’s a nice look at how well laid out Castles & Crusades adventures are, and it gives you an idea of what playing the system would be like.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bluffside: Right Under our Noses
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Castles & Crusades Engineering Castles
by Matthew A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/14/2012 12:21:54
When I read the blurb about the book I thought it would be a worthwhile purchase that could give some interesting fantasy gaming based information and advice about castles and the engineering there in. Something along the lines of "Don't make these stupid mistakes when design and presenting your castle to your players." Something that would help. "The structure of a castle directly effects it's ability to withstand siege but before 30 ft deep walls it's kinda a waste. Don't go overboard." Something interesting and useful.

However, instead what I find is a random castle generator. There is no engineering at all. Nothing but a random castle society and structure generator. Nothing about engineering at all.

It might be useful to someone... but I wouldn't say it's as advertised. Again, it might be something you find useful and it could possibly incite new ideas for castles that you haven't already thought up... But not what I was looking for.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Engineering Castles
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Amazing Adventures Day of the Worm
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/06/2012 11:43:33
It was can only be called expert timing, the first adventure for Amazing Adventures comes out the same week I am dedicating a week to playing around with and reviewing AA.

From the Core Rules book author, Jason Vey, this adventure is a delightful little romp with everything you would expect in an Pulp Adventure. Or at least everything I expect; square jawed heroes, Nazis, secret cults, ancient forgotten beings, exotic locales in far away lands (Egypt no less!), a femme fatale, and a mysterious treasure. Really what more could you want?

The 4 Act Adventure process detailed in the core book is brought to life here with plenty of guideline on how to alter it to suit your's or your player's needs. It is also a good guide on how to create your own adventures.

14 total pages, 12+2 covers.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures Day of the Worm
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Amazing Adventures Day of the Worm
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2012 03:29:40
This is an absolute classic of a pulp adventure, with all the elements that you'd expect rolled into one neat package and presented ready to run, yet complete with notes to facilitate customisation by the GM if desired!

It's the first adventure custom-written for Amazing Adventures, the pulp-style RPG written using Siege Engine game mechanics, with promises of more to come... if they are as well-done as this I shall be on the lookout for them. The core assumption is that you have already played the adventure 'Heart of Ythill' in the corebook - and makes copious references to it throughout - yet if you have not, it will still work although you may have a bit more explaining to do.

World War II is in full flight, but our adventurers - and their enemies - have other things in mind, so all-out warfare serves as a background to the events of the scenario which involves a classic pulp scramble to get one's hands on an ancient mysterious artefact in a race against Nazis (of course), extraterrestials and even a few zombies chucked in for good measure...

Despite its mere 12 pages, there's a lot here. Of particular note are hints and tips provided for the GM to facilitate troubleshooting should the characters try and wander off (or prove less adept in combat than they ought to be), copious amounts of background flavour to regale your group with as you set the scene and impressive complexity of plot with opportunities for stealth, investigation, intrigue and trickery as well as red-blooded fisticuffs! All culminating in a climactic scrap in the bowels of an ancient Egyptian tomb (in the Valley of the Kings, of course) and plenty of suggestions for future adventure, whatever the outcome of this one.

A merry romp, well worth the acquiring!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Amazing Adventures!
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/04/2012 13:26:14
I am woefully behind on reviews. So I want to do one I picked up at Gen Con and it has been sitting on my desk, taunting me to review it.

First off some disclaimers.
* I do know the author Jason Vey and we have worked on projects together before. This is not one of those projects.
* I did read a playtest version of this game some time ago. This review is on the published version of the book.
* I did not get a free copy of this. I pledged in Troll Lords pre-order program and picked it up at Gen Con.

Ok. All of that is out of the way.

Amazing Adventures (hereafter AA) is a new Pulp Action RPG based on the same SIEGE Engine that runs Castles & Crusades. Unlike other SIEGE games, this one is 100% compatible with C&C. So much so that I plan on using them together, but I'll get to that. Right now let's talk about what the book has.

Upfront we get our OGL declaration including a lot of Open content. This will make it easy to make "Pulp d20" supplements or use this for other sorts of games.

We move right into an introduction to what Pulp Roleplaying is. I know Jason, I know he knows Pulp quite well. Reading this then is like reading Steven Kenson on Supers Roleplaying; I know he gets it at a level above me. In this case yes, but Jason still brings it down to the peasants like myself to understand. For me I am constantly defining Pulp by old movies or, more to the point, what it isn't. It isn't Victorian, it isn't 50's Atomic Sci-Fi (yet) or Ultra Modern.
There is a brief introduction on the use of magic. Something I'll get to again in a bit.

Book One deals with Characters. Note, there are not multiple books, but divided withing the physical book.
If you have played, oh, ANYTHING in the last 40 years then you know what this is. The same 6 attributes of all d20 games and C&C. They are described with a little more information given to languages.

There are Classes. This is based on Castles & Crusades afterall. The Arcanist (who reminds of the Harry Dresden covers), are our magic users. What I like about them is that they choose how their magic works. So a "wizard" may memorize spells and choose Intelligence as their Spell-casting Attribute. Or Wisdom if it is deep understanding or Charisma if it is force of character. I like this. A lot. The Arcanist is a bit tougher than your d20 wizard with d6 HD. More emphasis is given to cantrips/0-level spells and less on really high level ones. Makes sense really.
The Gadgeteer is used to make all sorts of high tech gadgets. Your Howard Hughes-like characters. You hard-boiled detectives are well represented by the Gumshoe. The Hooligan is your all purpose neer-do-well, from street urchins to thieves and generally all purpose bad guys. But that doesn't mean your character is bad, no he/she could have a heart of gold and be down on their luck. ;) The Mentalist is a great addition given the fascination that the time had with Mentalism/Spiritualism. If the Arcanist is a "magical" character then the Mentalist is the "pyschic" one. I also want to point out here that the Mentalist is a PERFECT class to port over to C&C if you want to do psychic/psionic powers there. The Pugilist is your bare knucks fighter. We have these chaps in the Victorian era games too, but these have some nice features. There is the Raider for your big game hunters or Indiana Jones types. Finally the Socialite.
There are some good rules on multiclassing as well, which is great for this Socialite/Hooligan I want to make.

The same Alignment system is in play as C&C. Personally I would have liked something different. The nice thing is that it is completely optional. I think for anything other than a D&D/C&C game I would drop it.

Next up are Fate Points. These work like Drama or Hero Points. The characters gain them at a level increase, but chances are they will spend them faster. I have ported this over to C&C and other d20 games and they work great. There is a lot you can do with these above and beyond normal "points" and they really add to the Pulpy feel of the game in my mind. The main character doesn't die in Chapter 1 or Reel 1, and he doesn't die at Level 1 either. Fate points are the "To Be Continued!" of the game.

The book on Characters ends with some equipment from the Pulp age including when they were introduced (good) and pricing for the times.

Book 2 is Advanced Character Customization
AA is not just about leveling up characters, there are other ways to advnace and customize your Pulp Hero.
Characters can have Abilities (like Ace), Backgrounds (like Scientist), Skills, and Traits. Traits are bit like Feats and a bit like Qualities and Drawbacks in other games.

Since there is Arcana and this Pulp there is a chance the characters will run into something that will break their little minds. So we have a section on Sanity. These rules are simple and solid really. There is not too much detail to read like the latest DSM but enough for a game.

There is also a section on Wealth which is dealt with not as money, but rating based on class.

Book 3 deals with the Paranormal
In particular this chapter details the differences between psionics and magic. Again, this would be great to port over to C&C. The basic mechanics behind using psionics and magic are also detailed. Frankly I am really, really glad that Psionics are different from Magic. They should be and they should feel different. One of my disapointments with D&D3x (and 4e) was Psionics were treated just like another form of magic and they shouldn't be.

Spellcasting is based on Mana points which is a good change really, and fits with the Pulp period more in my mind. Spells are largely treated the same way as other d20 products so adding new spells is actually pretty easy.

What is interesting about both the magic spells and psionic powers is they both have associated Ability scores. So a spell might require Intelligence or Charisma.

Book 4: Rules of the Game is next.
It is what you would expect it to be. Maybe a little more information on non-lethal and unarmed and two-fisted fighting. There are some more gadgets here, in particular modes of transportation.

Book 5 covers the Bestiary
In pulp literature there were still unknown lands to discover and many of those lands had never been seen by man before so who knows what sorts of beasts would dwell there? Well not really dinosaurs or giant apes, but in your game you can. We get a nice mix of classical monsters, atomic-horror giants, undead creatures and aliens. It's crazy. But crazy in a good way. Since the monsters are standard format you can even pull out any monster book for C&C (or d20) and use those monsters too.

Book 6 Running a Pulp Game is next.
Details the pulp 4-act adventure (for contrast I typically run 3-act adventures for Buffy and 5-act ones for Ghosts of Albion). For your benefit a sample adventure is included.

We end the book with a Character Sheet.

There are plenty of support files from the author:

This is the errata for the first printing (dark cover): http://www.grey-elf.com/candc/aaerrata.pdf

A Character sheet: http://www.grey-elf.com/candc/aacharactersheet.pdf
And expanded Firearms. These are in addition to what is found in the books: http://www.grey-elf.com/candc/aafirearms.pdf

Ok. Judgement time.

Science Fiction Double Feature
I like this book a lot. I am not sure I would ever play in a pulp setting, but I think it is a great update/replacement for Modern d20. Truthfully while reading this what I REALLY want to do with this is something along the lines of 50's and 60's monster movies. So aliens attacking the earth, giant insects and kaiju. "This Island Earth", "Forbidden Planet", "Them", "Day of the Triffids" and the like. I know this is not what the book was designed to do. But it sure works great for it to be honest. Actually better than great.

I have a lot of Pulpish, 2-fisted adventure, games. This one is great for Pulp, but to ignore the flexibility in this game would be a crime. Plus the 50s are an under-represented time in RPG games.

Stand and Deliver!
Another thing that this game is PERFECT for is as a supplement to Castles & Crusades. Not only do you get an updated Arcane class, you get a perfectly workable Psionic class with powers. Even if you don't use that try using the Fate Point system with C&C.

One of the nice features of this game is the use of just using a +5 for Primes. Instead of a TN or 12 or 18 like C&C, AA gives you a plus to your roll. We housed ruled this for C&C a while back and I understand it is fairly common. I like it better than the core C&C rules and will use this instead.

There is something else that this game would be perfect for. I have had this desire to do a game based in 16th to 17th Century England where I could cover such topics as Queen Elizabeth, The Stuart Kings and Queens, Shakespeare, Sir Francis Drake, Guy Fawkes, John Dee, Highway Men, sail and conquest. This plus C&C minus many of the D&D trappings would be perfect.

I am thinking of modding the vehicle combat rules for Highwaymen on horse back and coaches-in-four. Stand and deliver indeed!

Missing
What is missing from the book that I think would have been nice are some Archetypes/1st level NPCs.
Also a supporting cast might also be good. What level and class is Police Officer O'Hara at Precinct 9 where you get all your good tips?

A couple of adventures from the publisher would also be nice. You could put a few of them into one book.

Also missing, but something that I can easily find, is a map of the World circa 1930 with so travel times and costs. I would have liked some more information on the world too. I guess that is the one thing that this book lacks. Granted, these things are typically covered in a Game Masters' book or a Campaign book. I ignored it up to this point because I was so drawn in by all the things I want to do with this that I never considered missing. I am hesitant to count off for it since a.) I only noticed it now despite having had and played around with this game for a while and b.) I was not then and am not now likely to even use it.

So where do end this?
Well I really like this book. Even if I never play it as intended there is just too much good stuff in it to ignore.

Buy this if
...you like Jason's other books. This is his style through and through.
...you like two-fisted pulp action adventure.
...you like Castles & Crusades and are looking to turn it up a notch or add Psionics or a Fate Point system.
...you want a flexible modern system built on a system that is tried and tested for years.
...you want easy to use vehicle combat rules.

My imagination is really grabbed by this system. I think there is a lot of potential here and a lot I want to do with this game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures!
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Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
by Steven C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/23/2012 19:01:23
This city is fun. Full of possibilities and a great sandbox for almost any style of adventure

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
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Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/09/2012 11:35:55
My players have been wandering around the wilderness for ages and complaining about a decent place where they can unload some of the coins and treasure they have been lugging around. I've been dragging my feet about giving them a place to do this as I want to make the location special for them, you know, filled with memorable characters and scenes, and some adventure hooks with perhaps a tad of danger. Unfortunately I do not have a lot of time to design a decent city so when the "Town of Kalas" popped up on my social network I immediately snagged a copy.

First, the town is a little more light hearted than most of the Castles and Crusades supplements are, it is more magical and the otherworldliness is thrown in your face from the get go. This is not a low magic, gritty medieval city; it is a robust town that embraces the things that are in the world and uses them in ways that make sense. Be warned, there are some grammar/spelling issues with this supplement, nothing that set me off and in fact one had me laughing a bit in regards to a master work quarterstaff, something I am certain will be corrected promptly.

Now to the meat of it; the city is dissected into various locations that we have all come to expect with Inns, merchants, ships, nobles, and other nefarious NPCs around every corner and under every street. I like this, it gives the place a great feel and the brief descriptions of each of the major players is not overly done and not too sparse, it is just right. The writer has a sense of humor and isn't afraid to let it show through in the area descriptions, if you like your supplements to read like banks statements you may want to steer clear of Kalas.

In addition to the usual descriptions of areas and NPCs, there is some attention given to what the locals do for fun. The Axe Beak races are brilliant, people love or hate sports and this one little detail around which most of the populace has an opinion is well done. Most of the areas where social interaction occur also have a variety of random tables to generate on the fly encounters that bring the setting to life. I'm particularly fond of the unique menus and drinks (and their possible affects) of each of the inns and the "Celebrating to Excess" table, where you can roll to find out where/what condition the character is in the next morning. ("These are not my pants!", classic!)

There is some mature type content here too, (brothels, prostitution, drinking, drugs), but it is easily left out if you're playing with younger players and the supplement as a whole deserves the highest rating. It seems geared towards 1st to 7th level player characters, but could easily be scaled up if your PCs like to make trouble.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/19/2012 07:05:05
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/09/19/tabeltop-review-castles-
-crusades-players-handbook-fifth-edition/

I give a lot of love to Castles & Crusades. In the past year alone I’ve reviewed eight products from this line with the newest edition of the Player’s Handbook being the ninth. I love the system and have since I purchased the first edition hardcover Player’s Handbook back in 2004. I even picked up the Kindle version of Fourth Edition to support the line. However, when Troll Lords ran a Kickstarter for Fifth Edition, I decided to pass. I didn’t really need a third copy of the book and I knew I’d be getting a review copy of the PDF. I have to admit though, the Kickstarter offered some amazing deals and the 223 people who partook in it got more than their money’s worth.

The biggest change to the book is that it is now in full colour with some great new artwork by Peter Bradley and others. Other than that, the game is almost exactly the same as it has been since first edition. Even the layout and flow of the book is almost exactly the same. There are 146 pages in 5e compared to 128 in 1e, but most of the extra pages are in spell descriptions and then little bits and pieces added here and there like the new optional rules. Basically if you already have an earlier version of the book, you don’t need to get this unless you just want the new snazzy colour artwork.

If you’ve never played Castles & Crusades, it’s one of the oldest “Old School Renaissance” style Dungeons & Dragons clone. It’s a mix of first, second and third edition rules with some unique twists all its own. Still, if you’ve played a TSR version of D&D, you’ll probably be able to jump into C&C with nary a hiccup. Troll Lord calls it their “Siege Engine,” but really it’s the same Gygaxian product you’ve known and loved most of your life. It’s my personal favorite OSR game and honestly, I embraced it all the harder when Wizards released…ick, Fourth Edition D&D.

You have seven races (Human, Halfling, Half-Orc, Half-Elf, Dwarf, Gnome and Elf) and thirteen classes (Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Knight, Ranger, Wizard, Illusionist, Cleric, Druid, Thief, Assassin, Bard & Monk). All are your basic D&D classes except for Knight which similar to the Cavalier from Unearthed Arcana. I do tend to play the Knight or Assassin in C&C. They’re a lot of fun.

The biggest difference between C&C and OD&D is probably the concept of primary and secondary attributes. In D&D attributes picked what class you could be and whether you got bonus experience or not. In C&C primary attributes give you a modifier to any skill checks (straight out of third edition D&D) that you have to make. Humans get three primary attributes while all other races get two. It’s not a huge difference, but as many gamers will tell you, a 1 or even a 2 can make all the difference in an important roll.

The book is primarily about making characters as you would guess from the name.116 pages of the book are devoted to character creation, along with an explanation if stats, races, classes, spells and weapons. The rest of the book is primarily for the Castle Keeper or DM, although any C&C fan can (and should!) read it. There’s a lot of information about combat here. For those that are interested, C&C does use Third Edition D&D style combat rolls rather than the old school THACO. Honestly, C&C is very much a D&D clone, so if you’ve played first, second or third edition from that series, you should be able to pick up the mechanics of C&C without missing a beat.

Appendix A in this Fifth Edition has some new things that weren’t in the original game. These includes multi-classing (taking two different classes like say, Cleric and Paladin) or “Class and a Half.” Multi-classing rules aren’t new to D&D gamers, but it was something that wasn’t in the first few editions of C&C. Multi-classing actually does its own thing rather than following any previous D&D or AD&D rules. Here when a C&C character levels up he gains a level in both classes. However to gain a level, the character has to have all the experience needed from both classes plus a little extra. So things are slow going here if you want to multi-classing. There’s no 5th Level Fighter/2nd Level Wizard things going on here. As well, demi-humans can only take up to two classes and humans up to three. These are some interesting choices and I’m not sure how many people would choose to multi-class in this situation unless the ENTIRE PARTY is multiclassing. Otherwise you’ll be left behind big time.

Class and a Half is the really weird one though. A player picks a primary class and then a supporting class. Basically it is the same as multi-classing, but the secondary class only goes up every two levels. So a Fighter/Mage in this case would start off as a Level 1 Fighter. Then when he has enough experience, he would become a Level 2 Fighter/Level 1 Wizard. Then it would be a Level 3 Fighter/Level 1 Wizard and then a Level 4 Fighter/Level 2 Wizard, It’s not very complicated, but you do have to pay VERY close attention to your experience points to make this work. Again, I’d stick to a single class, especially since C&C is very hack and slash combat oriented.

Overall, this is the same exact Castles & Crusades its fans have always loved, albeit it with some minor tweaks here and there and so new gorgeous full color art. I’m a huge fan of the system and can definitely recommend it to any fantasy gaming fan (although not necessarily the published adventures). If you already own a previous version of the Player’s Handbook, it’s probably not worth getting this unless you just want the art. As well, $21 for the PDF is a bit pricey compared to other games, especially when you realize that you could get a physical copy of the book for only ten dollars more (or roughly the same price if you purchased the hardcover book via the Kickstarter campaign!) If you don’ have a Player’s Handbook though, this Fifth Edition is definitely the way to go. Castles & Crusades has never looked better (or more colourful!) and it’s hands down the best version so far. That said, you can find older versions for a lot less, but no matter what edition of the PH you pick up, you should definitely pick up SOME version of Castles and Crusades if you’re an old school D&D fan, or a fan of fantasy RPGs in general.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing
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Castles & Crusades Crimson Pact
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/19/2012 07:04:30
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/09/19/tabletop-review-the-cri-
mson-pact-castles-crusades/

The Crimson Pact is a continuation of the Castles and Crusades adventure line that began with The Goblins of Mount Shadow. These adventures take place in a quasi-Celtic world. In fact, it’s meant to be a direct continuation but Cthulhu knows you’d never get that from reading it. After all The Goblins of Mount Shadow is supposedly meant for Level 1 characters while The Crimson Pact is for Levels 3-8. Of course, C&C adventures always have this insane level range that is nowhere realistic. The Goblins of Mount Shadow would wipe out any first level party, which is why in my review I suggested PCs be AT LEAST Level 3. The Crimson Pact is similar as third level characters should not be routinely dealing with hags and formorians. Definitely err on the higher side of the level suggestion unless you want to see a TPK (Total Party Kill) early on.

Perhaps the oddest thing about the two adventures is that The Goblins of Mount Shadow directly ends with the start of the The Crimson Pact with the whole “To Be Continued” vibe. Meanwhile, The Crimson Pact doesn’t make a single reference to The Goblins of Mount Shadow and while it sets up the adventure storyline, this particular publications lacks all of the WORLD setup that was in the previous adventure. This means if someone picks up The Crimson Pact blindly, they’d have no idea it was part of an adventure path or that it is outside the default generic C&C world. I’m guessing the staff at Troll Lords assumed people would just know this but you know what happens when you assume… On the other hand, The Crimson Pact is able to stand on its own without your gaming troupe having had even the slightest bit of exposure to The Goblins of Mount Shadow, which is a nice change of pace from the Adventures of the Powder River series Troll Lord has been putting out over the past few months. Basically, people that own and/or have played The Goblins of Mount Shadow will get more out of The Crimson Pact, but it is no way a necessary experience.

This adventure puts PCs into quite a predicament from the get-go, but by the time the adventure is done, the start will seem like a Caribbean holiday by comparison. A chance encounter with a snooty elf leaves the PCs with a shard of an ancient sword. Unfortunately, the elf has stolen said shard (and its two brethren) from three local tribes of barbarians. The tribes accuse each other of stealing the shards and all out war amongst them is about to begin unless the PCs can figure out what exactly happened. From there characters will have to use a portal to the Otherworld (Feywild) where they must attempt to get the other two shards back from the elf…who wants the PCs’ shard equally as bad. Throw in a ton of encounters with the Gwiddonod (think Drow but more Amazonian) a lot of hags and then a spectacular battle between the light and dark fey where the PCs will have to escape by the seat of their pants (armour?) while earning the eternal rue or the dark fey and this one adventure should keep your PCs busy for multiple sessions – if they are able to survive that long.




The Crimson Pact is only twenty-seven pages, but it feels a lot longer. This is probably because there is so much combat and dungeon crawling that you can easily get about four to six play sessions out of this one adventure unless the Keeper streamlines things. That’s a great deal when you think about it. I’ll admit I prefer my adventures to be more story oriented than dice hucking combat, but the battles here are pretty neat (although the climactic one will be a headache for even the most experienced Keeper if they want to fully run it) and there’s a lot of great storytelling opportunities here as well. You’ve got to placate the warring tribes, deal with the Gwiddonod, try and make friends with some of the light fey so you don’t have even more enemies coming after the party and more. There are a lot of difference ways the adventure can turn out (admittedly, most are bad for the PCs), but if the PCs can get through it, it’ll be an adventure that they will be talking about for a long time to come. Even better, this adventure sets up so many potential other plot hooks, than an enterprising Keeper will be able to come up with his own adventures based on them. Unlike The Goblins of Mount Shadow , there wasn’t any hints of further adventures for this path to be forthcoming, which is a shame as this is one of the best series Troll Lord has put out for Castles & Crusades is some time. However, with the aforementioned dangling plot threads, the Keeper shouldn’t need any more. Saves money and paper I suppose!

The adventure also gives you the stats of six new monsters for your C&C game: Alder Tree Hag, Baobhan Síth, Fomori, Athach, Gwiddon and Pixie. These should be a wonderful addition to any Keeper’s libram of antagonists, especially since C&C is a bit lacking in the monster area. There is also a page of maps, but honestly, these are the weakest part of the adventure as they just looking graph paper that someone scanned in. Maybe I’m spoiled by the ones in Dungeon Crawl Classics, but I do feel they could have done a LOT better here.

All in all this new quasi-Celtic setting has been a great move for Castles & Crusades and really seems to have revitalized the system. Troll Lord has now put out two excellent adventures and I hope the streak of high quality continues for some time to come. Will there be more? Only time will tell, but I truly hope so.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Crimson Pact
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Castles & Crusades The Goblins of Mount Shadow
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/30/2012 06:30:19
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/08/30/tabletop-review-castles-
-crusades-the-goblins-of-mount-shadow/

The Goblins of Mount Shadow is the first full length adventure we’ve seen for Castles and Crusades in some time. For the past few months, they’ve just been working on the lackluster episodic content Adventures on the Powder River. What makes this latest release all the more interesting isn’t that Goblins of Mount Shadow is the start of a brand new adventure path, but because it’s outside the usual Castles & Crusades default world. The adventure is heavily steeped in Celtic lord and Dark Ages folklore, making the adventure really stand out. The adventure does claim it can be dropped into any fantasy setting with ease, but considering just how Celt-oriented this is, I beg to differ. That said, the adventure is very well written and a lot of fun. I found it to be the best Castles & Crusades adventure in a very long time and anyone using the system will definitely be able to make a campaign out of this and have fun doing so.

The Goblins of Mount Shadow is designed for two to five characters ranging between levels 1 and 5. That’s a pretty big spread so DMs will want to really read over the adventure and see where they want the PCs to be at level and power wise before running this. I have to admit I strongly disagree with the notion of playing this adventure with Level 1 characters. There are night hags, an undead giant and treants in this which can kill a low level character in a single hit. You’re definitely better off doing this adventure with Level 3 to Level 5 characters unless you want a Total Party Kill.

The Grey King has risen. This mysterious being has united the tribes of the Dark Fey and, under his command, they are completely wiping out human villages. The player characters will come across ghost town after ghost town, completely bereft of life. Only after an exhaustive search will they find the Grey King’s keep and then the real challenge begins: sneaking in to the castle and slaying the lord of the dark fey. Of course, The Grey King has a super secret evil plan under way and unfortunately PCs won’t be able to stop it.

Like most Castles & Crusades adventures, the emphasis here is on roll-playing instead of roleplaying. This means there is very little narrative and a crapload of fighting. I honestly don’t think the people that write adventures for this system playtest them before hand, because players will have to kill at least a hundred creatures before the adventure is through, many of which are far too powerful for the low levels this adventure is supposedly designed for. First level character should not be dealing with undead giants, a legion or sorcerers, night hags, or hellhounds. There simply is no way for them to survive the sheer numbers or the fact the monsters out power them in every way. Combined, the adventure is guaranteed to slaughter low-level characters, which again, is why is strongly suggest the team be at least third level before undertaking this adventure. It’s exceptionally well done but the level range for what can get through this is so off, it’s shocking. The adventure tries to balance things out by providing a lot of opportunities for extremely powerful magical items, but to me this makes things worse, not better. Characters should face challenges appropriate to their levels, not high level monsters while earning items you normally don’t see until 9th+ level. 3 swords at first level just seems insane to me. If you’re giving Level 1 characters scrolls of fireballs, wands of lighting bolts, and cloaks of invisibility, then where do you go as they get higher? Fighting gods and arming them all with vorpal swords by the time they are Level 5? I know Castles & Crusades adventures tend to be Monty Haul hack and slash affairs, but as I keep saying, this is a wonderful adventure, but not for first level characters. It’s insane what you are fighting and how much loot you get while doing so.

Now with that paragraph of negativity out of the way, let me reinforce that this is one of the better Castles & Crusades published adventures out there. You have a wide range of enemies, a nice high fantasy storyline, and bits where the players have to think things through instead of charge in with spells and weapons going every which way. As well, there is a positive to many of the enemies being far too powerful for the suggested character level, and that’s the PCs will have to learn that discretion is sometimes the better part of valor – almost like encountering something in a Call of Cthulhu adventure. Playing through The Goblins of Mount Shadow should take multiple sessions just because of all the combat, making this a great value for the amount you purchase it for. By the time the adventure comes to a close, you and your friends with have dispatched one of the more memorable enemies to come out of Castles & Crusades and yet somehow….this is just the beginning.

The Goblins of Mount Shadow seems to be a wonderful start for The Crimson Pact adventure path (although I’m sure that name will change), but Adventures on the Powder River started off nicely too and the last few pieces have been lackluster at best. Still, I have hope that this is the start of a really well done adventure path. With some great art, a rich setting and some memorable foes, Goblins of Mount Shadow will be a great way to introduce your friends (or even yourself!) to the Castles & Crusades system. Just remember not to start off at Level 1.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades The Goblins of Mount Shadow
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