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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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Castles & Crusades River Walk
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/23/2012 12:13:21
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/07/23/tabletop-review-castles-
-and-crusades-river-walk/

River Walk is the third episode of Troll Lord Games “weekly” adventure series known as “Adventures on the Powder River.” I put weekly in quotations because, although it is supposed to be a weekly release, it’s been more like a fortnight. To the Damenheit Bridge was released on June 15th and Thorns for Beer was released on June 28th. Three weeks and a day later, River Walk has finally been released. Let’s hope that the time between episodes starts to shorten up instead of spreading out even further. Otherwise, it’ll be September before we get the next installment, entitled Shingles of Gold.

If you’re new to the “Adventures on the Powder River” series, these are short, six to eleven page mini-adventures, meant to be played in a single session. They can be played separately or as one big adventure. At only ninety-nine cents per section, that’s not a bad price, especially as the content has been pretty decent so far. River Walk is written as if the DM and players have just finished up Thorns For Beer, however, so if you HAVEN’T, the DM will have to do a bit of restructuring of both the events and flow. Of course, you can always pick up Thorns for Beer as well, since it’s less than a dollar. I don’t know about you, but generally, when I see a “#3″ on a cover, it makes me want to start with (or at least read) the first adventure in the series.

When Thorns For Beer ended, the characters might have been given a task by a Fey that involves getting a small frog statue from a giant. In River Walk, you’re actually given the stats for the giant (actually a Cyclops), along with a second quest that has you charged with dispatched with the one-eyed menace – this one coming from the townspeople of Willowbreak shortly after the events of Thorns For Beer. On one hand, I’m glad they provided a second hook for this quest, but there are three big problems. The first is that the second hook assumes you have accomplished most of the main goal of Thorns For Beer but haven’t reached the ending. This makes no sense to me, as by the time that adventure is done, you’ll have left the village and confronted the fey, who then sends you to attack the Cyclops in this adventure. To get this second quest, characters would have to have backtracked to Willowbrook or had their DM tie the pieces together before encountering the fey. This second option is an impossibility because it ignores the fact that the “Powder River” series is meant to be episodic. The second problem is that most gaming troupes will have already had their DM make up stats for the giant and run the battle against it because River Walk is a month late. Even the most ardent C&C fan isn’t going to want to wait that long for their next gaming fix. Finally, River Walk doesn’t feel like it works as a standalone piece at all, mainly because it ties in so heavily to Thorns For Beer. Although the content here is good, the point of this series is that these short adventures work as one-shots as well as a concurrent series, and River Walk fails big time in that regard.

As a sequel to Thorns For Beer though, River Walk does a decent job. You get to continue the previous story, including a very detailed encounter with the Cyclops on the Powder River in some rapids. It’s a neat idea for a battle, and it’s a lot of fun to see players try to figure out how to navigate both unfamiliar terrain and fight a giant at the same time. The entire conflict takes up two pages of the seven page adventure, so expect this to be the bulk of the experience here. Aside from random encounters, you can probably play through River Walk in an hour – maybe two tops. That might sound exceedingly short, but remember, this is meant to be a very quick one shot.

So with two pages devoted to the Cyclops encounter, one page for the cover art and another for legal mumbo jumbo text, that still leaves us with three pages of content. In those three pages you get setup for the battle with the Cyclops, a map of the area, a nice amount of background information on the Powder River, two random encounter tables (one for on the water itself and one for when you’re on the banks/forest of the river) and a third of a page talking about the different ways to traverse the Powder River and the difficulties that can come with each. As always, I’m impressed with the sheer amount of DM-only content Troll Lord Games is able to pack into these mini-adventures, as you get everything you need to successfully run the adventure… and then some.

All in all, I give this a tentative thumb’s up. River Walk really doesn’t work as a stand-alone, but it’s a nice addition to Thorns For Beer. I can’t recommend purchasing this unless you have Thorns For Beer, but that ends up only being a two dollar purchase, so it’s not like it will break someone’s wallet to pick up both. River Walk is definitely the shortest in the “Powder River” series in terms of playable content, and it’s also the shallowest so far. The fact that two of the five pages of content are taken up by random encounter tables lets you know that Troll Lord really had to pad this particular episode. Definitely pick this up if you’re planning on playing or reading the full “Powder River” series, but so far, the only must get for any Castles & Crusades fan is the Thorns For Beer chapter.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades River Walk
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Castles & Crusades Players Handbook (4th)
by Chet C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/11/2012 22:49:17
Currently my favorite RPG, fantasy or otherwise, this is the game that D&D should have been from the start. (If only Gygax and Arneson had had a couple of decades to playtest and iron out everything, of course.)

There is hardly a thing to dislike about this game, which seems to get everything right the first time. However, if you play it long enough, drive it around and kick the tires, you'll find there are times when you might just make up some house rules. Or use options in the Castle Keeper's Guide. (Sidebar Hint: A Castle Keeper is what you call yourself when you want to sound game-specific and not "just" a gamesmaster, and you don't want to call yourself a Dungeon Master because people will think you're a little Yoda lookalike on a Saturday morning cartoon.)

Fortunately, C&C (Yes, we're getting lazy and using acronyms!) adapts awfully well to plug-&-play. Its compartmentalized nature permits pulling out parts and replacing parts until you find something which works best for you. If you like to tinker, C&C is great fun! If you want to leave the rules alone, they work fine without tinkering.

Trolllord Games has a reputation of spelling or grammatical errors, and even some interesting floophs. This will probably be the nature of the beast until they either hire a full-time proofreader (Not easy when you're a little bitty Arkansas game company.) or beat each writer until the errors stop. I don't let this bother me, and neither should you. Unless you want to help beat up the writers.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook (4th)
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Castles & Crusades Of Gods & Monsters
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/09/2012 16:19:54
A collection of gods and monsters from various myths and legends. It immediately reminds you of the of Deities and Demigods, but it is closer in format to the earlier Gods, Demigods and Heroes.

The myths are well represented, though there are a few oddities. The Greek and Roman myths are separate and the demi-human myths could have been left out.

I did like all the new spells for clerics of the various gods. That was a good touch.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Of Gods & Monsters
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Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/09/2012 16:16:11
A fantastic collection of monsters from the original Fiend Folio, Monster Manual 2 and various publications. All revised to be used in in Castles & Crusades. Not a "must have" book, but certainly a "you will really, really want it and kick yourself if you don't get it" book.
It is a fantastic edition to my C&C collection and I Am very glad I bought it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual
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Castles & Crusades Thorns for Beer
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/02/2012 08:11:09
Originally Published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/07/02/tabletop-review-castles-
-crusades-thorns-for-beer/

Thorns for Beer is the second part of Troll Lord Games’ new series of inter-connected episodic adventures. It’s meant to be released weekly, although Thorns For Beer came out thirteen days after To the Damenheit Bridge, so perhaps it’s going to be bi-monthly now or even more spread out considering they changed the end from “The Overland Adventures Continues Next Week” to “The Overland Adventure Continues in the next Adventures on the Powder River…” Release dates can be pretty hard to ensure, be it tabletop OR video game, so perhaps TLG realized they bit off more than they can chew with a promise of weekly episodes.

The biggest change is that Troll Lord Games has added given these adventures an umbrella title of Adventures On the Powder River. This was completely absent from To the Damenheit Bridge so if/when people start searching for that collective title, they might not find the first part of the adventure. Odd that Troll Lord would give this a new “series” name after It has already started.

Thorns For Beer can be played as a stand-alone one shot or occurring immediately after To the Damenheit Bridge. Unlike the first adventure there isn’t a direct tie-in to a piece of Fat Dragons Game’s terrain for miniatures. FDG does get a quick plug on the DriveThruRPG ad RPGNow websites where Thorns for Beer is listed though.

Thorns For Beer may be only seven pages long, but it is entirely crammed full of content. This is all the more impressive when you realize the first two pages are a cover and a bunch of legal text. So a little under a dollar for five pages of content might seem a little much (Imagine how much a core rulebook would cost at that rate!), but you will DEFINITELY get your money’s worth here as Thorns For Bridge is well written, quite clever and sure to entertain your Castles & Crusades players when you run it for them. Also, it’s a page more than To the Damenheit Bridge so you’re getting slightly more bang for you not-quite-a-buck.

Thorns For Beer is designed for three to five mid-level characters. I thought that was a bit high in To the Damenheit Bridge, but it works here as you’ll need one or two spellcasters to accomplish your primary goal. You are given far more information about the sleepy little hamlet of Willowbrook (Population: Slightly over 300). It might seem odd that you are given a ton of demographics about the town (and that it has an 8th level Ranger in it!), but if the DM/GM/Keeper/Storyteller really likes the local, he has enough information to place several more adventures in the area. This foresight by Troll Lord lets C&C fans get even more use out of Thorns for Beer and I really appreciate that.

The crux of Thorns for Beer is that WIllowbrook’s only tavern has been cursed. It seems the proprietor of the local watering hole smarted off to someone (or something) that he shouldn’t have and now the tavern is shuttered. Mr. Greely and his sisters are nowhere to be found and the tavern itself is impossible to get into. Players will have to figure out how to get into the pub, find the Greely family and the cause of all this fuss, all of which will have players needing to use their heads instead of weapons and come up with creative solutions to save the day.

There isn’t any real combat in the adventure, although there are one optional place where you can slaughter something and a story seed that can pit players against a giant, but other than that, this is an adventure that puts aside dungeon crawling and hack and slash combat in favour of a pit of a puzzle and clever thinking. I really liked that. It’s an especially nice change of pace for Castles and Crusades whose published adventures tend to have a lot of battles and an overflow of magic items to where a NPC loaded up with magic weapons and armour is commonplace. Thorns For Beer is SO different from what Troll Lord Games puts out adventure-wise, that I couldn’t help but love it. I thought the story crux was quite innovative and this would be a blast to spring on players as a one night one shot or as a brief respite between larger and longer adventures.

If you’re a fan of Castles and Crusades at all, definitely pick up Thorns for Beer. It’s less than a dollar and you get an excellent short little adventure that can be played on its own or as a step in a much larger one. This is so much better than To the Damenheit Bridge and I can’t wait to see where this series goes from here. I was a bit pit out by the use of the same cover art as To the Damenheit Bridge and a few typos and grammatical errors that could be found (It’s only five pages of content!), but Thorns For Beer is still the best short adventure I’ve ever seen Troll Lord Games put out, and I’ve been a Castles and Crusades fan since first edition.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Thorns for Beer
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #2: Blade Dancer, Goblin, and Tharghûl
by Bill D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/23/2012 07:35:18
BUY THIS!

Buy everything James Mishler has written, it's all GOLD.

The Tharghul kicks ass, and this detailed take on goblins is very extensive and outstanding. The blade dancer is a great construct to add to your game also.

Easy to convert to d20, pathfinder or any OGL game, also.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #2: Blade Dancer, Goblin, and Tharghûl
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Castles & Crusades To the Damenheit Bridge
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/20/2012 08:05:46
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/06/20/tabletop-review-castles-
-crusades-to-the-damenheit-bridge/

To the Damenheit Bridge is a two-fold experiment by Troll Lord Games. First, it’s the beginning of a set of ninety-nine cent weekly adventures (at least according to the product description) and second, it’s a crossover to be used with Fat Dragon Games’ Gargoyle Bridge, a print and play miniature location. Now you don’t NEED the Gargoyle Bridge to play this adventure or vice versa, but the two are meant to complement each other. If you prefer to use a different bridge or even to game without miniatures, the adventure will stay play out nicely.

To the Damenheit Bridge is a pretty versatile adventure. It can be played as a quick one shot encounter between adventures or as the start of the weekly mini adventures Troll Lord is putting out. It is designed for three to five mid-level characters and any good DM can scale things to the level of the players.

I should point out that two of the six pages aren’t content. The first page is a full color cover with some snazzy art (see above) and the second page is all legal mumbo jumbo and a plug for the game. So you get four pages of content at roughly a quarter per page. Not bad, but we’ve definitely seen better, although Castles and Crusades PDFs to tend to be on the pricey end compared to other OSRIC/D&D knock-offs.

There isn’t too much to the adventure honestly. It’s meant to only be a one night one-shot, but players should be able to get through this thing in under three hours, and that’s if the DM is padding the hell out of this. You have a few possible random encounters, a magical trap and two battles, one with a 4 HD creature and then one immediately after with an 8 HD creature. If that doesn’t sound like a challenge for mid-level characters, you’re right. Players should be able to finish off each of these battles in three rounds or less. The only real challenge is that the harder monster has a 3D8 Hit Point attack, but that still shouldn’t phase too many mid-level characters unless they are all mages.

The adventure doesn’t provide the DM with the impetus for why you are in the nearest town to the Damnenheit Bridge, nor why the players are going to WIllowbrook (the town they are trying to reach) from there. You’re just where players are staring and where they are going and it’s up to the DM to come up with reasons why. This makes To the Damenheit Bridge more of a story hook than an adventure and I was a little disappointed by this revelation. The good news is that the adventure does provide a ton of filler on the town on Elne and the nearby regions. The adventure even provides you a map of the area, but if you look at it, you’re not actually going from Point A to Point B in a straight line and taking the Damenheit Bridge is actually out of your way. That’s…weird.

All in all, for less than a buck, you’re getting a somewhat mediocre experience. The adventure has a few gaffes, such as saying “too short” when they mean “too low” in describing why the bridge sometimes floods and there’s not a lot of substance for an actual adventure here. What you’re paying for is mostly filler about the region around Elne and little else. Right now I’m going to be kind and give this a thumb’s in the middle as To the Damenheit Bridge is meant to be the first is a set of weekly adventures. Perhaps it will flow better when all the pieces have been released and then either collected or played/read consecutively. Right now it’s not got substance; it’s just the piece is lacking in the area where it truly needs it and has too much filler in areas few DMs or players will care about.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades To the Damenheit Bridge
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Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2012 14:37:33
Another fine book from the trolls. If you, like me, felt that the pinnacle of monster manuals from the 80's was the Fiend Folio, this is a book for you. Includes about 200 classic monsters from the era, as well as an extensive 1st edition DMG-style index of monsters from all three C&C monster books at the end. Great black & white illustrations, faithful recreations of many old classics of D&D that have been missing from C&C, and does a lot to bulk up the monsters of M&T.

Pros: 200 new monsters, well illustrated, very few typos/errata issues that I have found so far (i.e. cloaker seems to be missing from the index listing). Adds a lot of goodies for the CK to play with. A great tome if you loved the Fiend Folio. At $14.49 I felt I got my money's worth.

Cons: if you want new, this may not be the place to look; if you are fine with converting from other monster manuals of D&D to C&C, then this book may seem redundant to you. If you thought the Field Folio monsters were stupid, this book is not for you.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual
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Castles & Crusades S4 A Lion in the Ropes
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2012 06:24:30
This is a cracking little adventure that has, in various forms, been around for a long time... it first came out for D&D 3e in 2001 (and I still have a copy tucked away somewhere), yet it has grown and developed along with the setting for which it has been written.

The introduction is a short story of a retired knight being granted what he thinks is a peaceful castle in which to settle and see out his retirement. Naturally (for where would the adventure be?) it's not quite as quiet a backwater as he was hoping for, as a nasty spate of murders plague his village and, as the local lord, it's incumbent on him to do something about it. Enter the characters...

The background, and full details of what is really going on, is provided for the Castle Keeper (GM) and it is up to the characters to make head or tail of things and pick their way through numerous red herrings - some quite dangerous in themselves - and get to the root of the problem, then deal with it. Unusually, and helpfully, there is a good measure of advice for the Keeper to aid him in keeping track of everything whilst giving the characters a fighting chance of discovering the truth of the matter. Mysteries can be quite hard to handle, either the characters miss essential clues and never solve them, or the GM has to almost spoon-feed them to the correct conclusion. With care, and this good advice ringing in your ears, you ought to be able to avoid both pitfalls. There's a lot of detail to get your head around, though, and this adventure will repay careful preparation.

There are frequent nice touches, such as a travelling circus which has passed through Capendu, the main site of the adventure, and is performing on the characters' way there. Loads going on, almost an adventure in itself, and conveying the impression that life in this alternate reality progresses quite well irrespective of the characters, enhancing the feeling of this being a living, breathing world that they inhabit along with lots of other folk. Other things happen on their way there too, some may have significance as far as the adventure is concerned, others may not. Just why the characters are heading that way is left up to you, and them. The old knight, realising that he cannot cope with a major murder investigation or growing rumours of monsters and bandits in the area, might have sent for help, or they may be just passing this way about their own business and all this appears just to be you making the journey a bit more interesting...

Throughout there is a wealth of atmospheric description and well-developed NPCs to make the whole place come alive. Make the most of it. Nothing is quite what it seems, and there is ample opportunity to build a sense of suspense, of mystery, even of fear (remember, this is aimed at low-level characters).

This is what I would describe as a mature adventure: well-crafted and embedded solidly in the setting. There's scope to carry on with other activities here, and further adventures to be had connecting in other published material or your own - yet whilst rooted in the Aihrde setting it will transplant readily to a home-brew or other published campaign world if preferred. There's plenty of challenge, thought and combat skill will both be required to bring this to a resolution. The core story may have been around a while, but this latest incarnation is well worth incorporating into your game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades S4 A Lion in the Ropes
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Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/02/2012 06:15:08
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/04/02/tabletop-review-classic-
-monsters-the-manual-castles-crusades/

I love the Castles & Crusades system, but I tend to have to problems with it. The first is that their releases tend to be overpriced compared to competitive products, especially in the PDF realm. The second is that their published adventures tend to be…lacking. In the past few months I’ve reviewed Dwarven Glory and The Forsaken Mountain and found myself unimpressed with either. However the system an core campaign books are what I love and so I was quite pleased that Troll Lord Games added a Classis Monsters book to supplement the original Tome of Horrors and then converted from the OGL rules to the ones that Castles and Crusades uses. It may sound or feel a biz lazy when you realize that much of the book is lifted, but then, most of Tome of Horrors was lifted from the original; Monster Manual and Fiend Folio, so longtime ardent old school D&D fans won’t care; they’ll just be happy to have these monsters.

Speaking of the monsters, the phrase “Classic Monsters” might have you thinking of things like vampires, werewolves, zombies and the like. Well, you won’t actually find too much of that here actually. Again, Classic Monsters is about classic Dungeons & Dragons monsters – so that’s what you’ll see here. Oddly enough, you’ll notice the monster on the gorgeous cover, a chimera, is not actually in the book. That’s a bit odd isn’t it? You would think the cover would highlight monsters actually contained within.

I’m pretty happy with the collection on creatures in Classic Monsters. I loved seeing old favorites like the tarrasque, death knights, skeleton warriors, demiliches hook fiends and even flumphs make their Castle and Crusades debut. There were also some creatures I didn’t expect to see, like Yellow Musk based monsters or the Vargouille. In truth, all of these monsters are ones you’ll recognize if you’ve played a lot of Gygaxian inspired games over the years, but otherwise these things will be weird, obscure or nonsensical to you. This is especially true of newcomers to tabletop gaming but then, how many people choose Castles & Crusades as their first RPG?

It’s especially interesting to note that three types of monsters were really given focus here: lycanthropes (were-creatures), elementals and Mephits. The book contains ELEVEN “lesser elementals” and then four evil elemental princes. It has five lycanthropes (fox, shark, snake, spider, and hound) and then four particular mephit spec ies in addition to generic ones. That seems odd to me, especially with the lycanthropes. I would have pictures werebats or wereravens needing stat blocks before snakes, spiders or hounds. Some odd choices here, but at least they are interesting ones you can pull out to freak out your PCs. “Whoever heard of a weresnake???”

All, in all I’m pretty happy with the book. Sure, it’s only going to reach its maximum potential in the hands of a long time old school Dungeons & Dragons fans, but at least with everyone else they’ll now have over 200 new monsters to throw at their players. Classic Monsters really does give the gave more threats to face down and it sorely needed that. I am a bit bothered by the price. Compare Classic Monsters‘s price tag with that of Tome of Horrors. Classic Monsters is $14.99 for the e-version while Tome of Horrors is only $11.98 and twice the monsters and thus twice the page length. So a fraction of the monsters from the source material for roughly twenty-five percent more in cost? That’s not cool at all. Again we see that Castles & Crusades likes to overprice itself to its own peril. I guess they justify the cost increase as the “conversion process?”

For fans of Castles & Crusades, Classic Monsters: The Manual is almost a no-brainer. You get a ton of new enemies for a decent price and it saves you from having to do any conversion work to the system. Most of the monsters are pretty niche and you probably won’t use them more than once or twice, but the rest of them will see regular use, either as cannon fodder or a recurring big bad. I’m glad I picked this up and I’ll make use of it, but your mileage really will vary with this book. It all depends on how badly you need more monsters in your campaign and/or it Monsters & Treasure just isn’t cutting it for you anymore.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual
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Castles & Crusades Players Handbook (4th)
by jason l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2012 03:07:30
In truth, this is a grudge purchase for me. I didn't want to buy the book as I'm not a fan of the genre and yet my group has elected to play it. So I bought a discounted used copy of 2e from Amazon, but it wasn't complete enough to satisfy me so I after much perusing through the intertubes I found it here at a decent price.

It's actually not a bad system, just missing guns. At least it's not D&D. Truth is, I'm enjoying the game so far. Book is put together nicely as well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook (4th)
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Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual
by 2 G. 1 M. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/27/2012 18:03:11
In the beginning of the book is a very short article on running monsters with their own motivations and it succeeds rather well in a fairly short amount of space. In fact, I’d say that this primer is very much the heart and soul of the work. The monsters are meant to be a little different, and most certainly meant to be generally intelligent opposition. There’s a repeat of the “how to read the monster stat blocks” section in the Monsters and Treasure book, and then the monsters!

The Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters Manual has over 200 monsters, all of them with C&C statistics. About half of the monsters come from the Tome of Horrors by Necromancer Games, which in turn contains a bunch of monsters that had only shown up previously in modules (Vegepygmies, for example). I happen to own Tome of Horrors, and so I can tell you that this book is not a reprint of it. Not every monster in Tome of Horrors is in Classic Monsters, and many (at least half) of the monsters are original creations, or at least original to this book. Of course, the utility of this book is pretty much restricted to people who use Castles and Crusades.

However, if you are like me and enjoy seeing all sorts of monsters, and mining ideas of them for yourself, you’re in for a treat. Assuming you are not interested in the creatures that have appeared previously let me illuminate some of the cooler original monsters for you. The Bendith y Mamau is a fae type creature that resides in a house to protect it from evil. They are easily insulted and wreak havoc on people and places which do insult them, often require greater offerings to appease them. That is one hell of an adventure seed right there.

Another example is the Chawl Witch, a creature that is really entertaining to a polyglot like me. They are basically language masters, able to understand and comprehend languages after only a few hours with them. They are always female, but reproduce with a male of any humanoid species. They lay eggs, and the eggs and young are coveted by wizards who want a servant/slave. Once again, an adventure seed that is not to be sneered at.

There are some really cool werecreatures in the book: werefoxes, werespiders, and werehounds. Each is given a description which includes a solid adventure seed like in the previous examples. Having devoured this book, I can say with authority that every single creature listed has an adventure seed in the description in which an entire night’s play can be thought up by a competent GM. There are some really fantastic ideas in here for using unusual creatures in unusual adventuring circumstances, as well as just some cool stuff to fight.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual
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Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/27/2012 10:45:56
Classic Monsters is a compilation of some of the classic monsters of old school gaming, taken from the open content of the first Tome of Horrors and converted to the C&C system. This book greatly expands the amount of monster available from the Monsters & Treasure book, and would be a boon to anyone running a game of Castles & Crusades. The art is up to the usual high standards of a Castles and Crusades book, and the layout follows the crisp and clean standards of the other C&C books.

Unfortunately, among the weird and wacky monsters from the early days of the first edition of the Advanced Game, the one glaring absence would be the demons and devils. Yes, it would be easy enough to convert these...but they just seems to be much too noticeable in their absence, particularly in comparison to other much more thorough old school monster manuals that are on the market. Does this render Classic Monsters useless, or make it a less attractive purchase? Well, no to either of those questions. Classic Monsters is definitely much more affordable (and likely easier to find) than those other monster manuals, and there are still plenty of other monsters that are available in this book. With a couple of hundred new monsters, there is still a lot of meat for a Castle Keeper in this volume.

One of the strong points of the write-ups for these monsters is the combat section. For those less experienced Castle Keepers, or those who were not around in the hobby when many of these creatures were first published, having that brief outline of how each monster acts in combat can be very useful. There is also enough ecology information to be able to place these monsters into an adventure in a way that makes some logical sense.

Yes, this is a volume that adapts material that is already available, but sometimes not having to do the conversion work is worth the price of admission, and not everyone still has copies of the original MM2 or the Fiend Folio around to use for their Castles & Crusades games. Because of that, this book is useful and a good addition to anyone's Castles & Crusades library.

[A more fleshed out version of this review can be found at my blog at http://dorkland.blogspot.com/2012/03/castles-and-crusades-cl-
assic-monsters.html]

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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