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Amazing Adventures Book of Powers
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/20/2016 13:53:17

The Amazing Adventures Book of Powers for the Amazing Adventures RPG is really, really interesting book. Interesting in that it opens up the Amazing Adventures game, and thus Castles & Crusades and Victorious RPGs into new and interesting realms of play. It does in a sense to Castles and Crusades what the BESM d20 rules did (or could have done) to d20 rules.


Let's start with the basics and then move into specifics.


The Book of Powers (BoP) is a slim book, 48 pages. The covers are full color, the interior is black & white. The list price is $14.99 but as of this writing, the PDF is on sale for $10.99.
We get right away to my first gripe about the book. The cover. I love Peter Bradley's work and this cover is gorgeous. However, it is not really "pulp" to me at all. Sure if this were a modern supers game (which in fact you can use this book to turn AA into) this would be a great cover, but acrobatic girl with green hair, in skin tight lycra/spandex outfit with plunging cleavage isn't my idea of the 1930s. Sorry. I mention only because I fear that people might not grab it.

Moving on.
The premise of this book is pretty cool. Take AA's Gadgeteer class and turn gadgets into powers. These powers can be used along side gadgets and other powers to make some truly heroic characters. I did a few quick and dirty character creations this morning and I am pleased so far with what I was able to do.


Expanding on this idea Vey also presents a "Sorcerer" class, a magical power wielder that could fit in right next to the Arcanist class in AA OR even the Wizard in C&C. For my next character I want to create an AA style sorcerer for a Castles & Crusades game to see how well it works.


Expanding on these powers even further we are given rules on how to make Vampire, Demon and Angel characters. Now this is a REALLY cool option. I don't often pull this card, but today I will.
Jason knows his shit here. We worked together on WitchCraft, All Flesh Must Be Eaten and of course the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG. Jason is above and beyond qualified to give us these rules. And these rules are really fun. So much so that one idea I had for a supers game I want to now convert over to an AA game with powers, sorcerers, vampires, angels and demons. It's actually quite silly how well it work for me.


The book also has a host of new character options including a modified skill check system. I believe is the same as the one in Victorious. Though I am not 100% sure. It's a nice simple system. Though reading it I realize I almost never do skill checks in C&C/AA; just ability checks.

There is also a new advantage system or perks for each class. Totally optional, but allows for greater customization. Not enough here? They are similar enough to feats to allow importing from other d20 games. Add these to Castles & Crusades and you basically have D&D5.


Speaking of which there is also a section on "Amazing Crusades!" with guidelines on how to get Amazing Adventures Peanut Butter into your Castles & Crusades Chocolate. I would also add that you can add the sweet, sweet creamy caramel of Victorious to this.


I was going to like this book anyway since it does a lot of the things I tend to do in my games anyway. It also has a lot of things I love adding to my games. So how do I give an unbiased opinion?


Well, I will say this. If you love Amazing Adventures, then you should check this out.

If you want some more flexibility with powers and even races in Castles & Crusades, you check this out.
If you want more Steam Punk gadgety goodness of Victorious then definitely buy this.


I highly recommend this.


Disclaimer 1: I received of a copy of this book in the mail as thanks for being a playtester. No review was ever mentioned, promised or implied.
Disclaimer 2: I was a playtester for this book.
Disclaimer 3: I am good friends with the author, Jason Vey, and we have worked on many RPG projects together over the last 16-17 years.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures Book of Powers
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Victorious the Role Playing Game
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2016 03:52:33

When I saw this game on sale i knew i had to get it. Victorian, Pulp, Steampunk Superheroes. Every one of those genres is something I like in an RPG so this was right up my alley.


And to be fair it does deliver on what it promised. It has decent rules for building a superhero, giving them access to steampunk science, magic, inventions and superpowers with good list of power choices with straightforward effects that scale up in power when taken multiple times but still function well when only taken once.


Character creation itself is fairly solid, with a level system that let's you build your character from the ground up. amusingly this is a point build system disguised as a level system, all the presented classes are basically just example character archetypes, as the classes are all identical, with the same points allotted, and careful examination shows that the different hit dice between classes is just due to having taken the 'robust' power multiple times, increasing hit dice. this actually appealed to me as i enjoy leveling up in games as it gives more general increases of power rather than encouraged minmaxing and adds to a feeling of reward for success but i don't like feeling that my character is pidgeonholed by whatever class I'm using preventing me from taking my character in a new direction.

The example classes themselves are quite appealing bringing in ideas such as a badass normal batman-esque vigilante with a wrist invention that shoots darts and a grappling hook, to the sherlock holmes consulting investigator, a british themed captain america and the unusual and interesting suggestion of a hypnotist.

so overall this game looked like a very appealing work well worth my time and money


It's a shame then that it isn't very good


The major problem is one of formatting and layout. this is not a well organized, concise or well explained work and i gave myself a headache trying to figure out the rules that would actually make this game playable.

This game does not sort it's chapters well, immediately dropping it's reader into character creation without any introduction to the rules and barely more than lipservice to it's setting. from their the work goes on to make my head spin by citing off rules, not explaining them or giving them any reference and expecting me to understand what it's talking about.


A good example of this is in the way that skill checks are explained: the game tells you to make a d20 roll + attribute modifier + class level. the difficulty is based on whether you have specialized in a given attribute (making it considered 'prime'), having a lower difficulty for your prime attributes. this is somewhat convoluted as it means that on every given roll a GM has two different difficulties for characters within the party, and i imagine player's might feel somewhat annoyed when their fellow players succeed on lower rolls. odd but manageable. what makes this confusing is that in character creation it's stated that taking a skill allows you to add your class level to the roll, something that the rules section states you do all the time. this is not further clarified.

Another major headache is that the game seems to assume you already know the rules and feels little need to explain them to you. now, full disclosure, i do not own castles and crusades, this is my first product of that system and i have no desire to acquire any of the editions of the core rulebook. however this should hardly be necessary as the work states that it is a standalone work. as such while there may be expansions and further explanations to these rules i should not need them. so imagine my surprise when i see the term temporal damage under attack powers and weapon damage and at no point in the entire book is temporal damage explained. anywhere. at first i thought it had something to do with time travel considering the setting but i realized after checking it that this just referred to basic physical harm, however this is a best guess only and for all i know bullet damage may displace you in time and i have no intention of buying another corebook just for this rules clarification.

and speaking of bullet damage...


Complicating damage even more is the nature of saves. earlier it seemed that the game was using the armor class system however in the section on saving throws it shows a list of things that one would save against, upon which i noticed firearms. now i had previously assumed that when shooting someone it would be a roll against their AC, however it states that several attacks including magic blasts require saves (apparently there are multiple attack and damage types but again this isn't elaborated on well if at all), now while magic blasts require a dexterity save, firearms require constitution saving throw. this struck me as odd but there was a note on it so when i looked down much to my surprise i found that if one were to fail this saving throw, depending on their game's tone, that the shot individual is killed instantly. this explicitly includes PCs. this despite guns having a damage rating like every other attack. again there is no further clarification as to why firearms require Con saves, how these apply to damage, or why bullets are instantly fatal but all other forms of harm (including listed firearms) just do mundane temporal damage (whatever that is)

This complicated by innumerable small problems such as the odd math where when one raises the power of their blast attack they may raise their d6 of damage (an average amount) to a d8 (a slightly higher amount) or may choose to add an additional die (2d6, a much higher amount). now i don't have a math degree but one of those options seems clearly superior to the other. Adding onto this is a few relics from D&D that seem to conflict with the tone of that game, notably that one still rolls 4d6 and drops the lowest to determine attributes, this despite that everywhere else the game is a clear and straightforward point build system that rewards specialization in things your hero would be good at according to their archetype.


This honestly makes me wonder if there was some major writing miscommunication. Early parts of the book seem to be running on a different set of rules from the actual rules section and a number of really basic system features seem to be used in places but never explained or elaborated on (like the different types of damage and attacks, an explanation of which seems somewhat important for damage and resistance based powers). I have to wonder if there was a major rewrite for the book that didn't actually make it through every chapter, like the character creation got updated but the rules section is on an older version. Alternately it may have been intended as an expansion for castles and crusades intitially and made a standalone work later in the writing process. Either possibility would explain the organizational issues this book faces


This isn't to say the game is a total flop however.


While the core system is not well done the setting is quite strong. Equipment goes past just combat gear and also includes services and effects, listed in both american and british currency with an exchange rate at the start of the chapter.


London and New york are elaborated on, giving the game two different basic settings and giving explanations of daily life in the time period, helping to really get a feel for what your characters will be experiencing on a day to day basis between mad scientists and super villians. It also goes into detail about various social issues that are apart of everyday normal victorian life (such as racism and poverty) and how they can be addressed in game and a wonderful list of slang and terminology to make npcs stand out a bit more.

There is a good timeline set bringing the reader up to date on current events both in the time period normally and in the alternate universe of the setting that included steampunk and supermankind as they're called. This goes on to further flesh out the world and give a good feel for the setting.

There are also some rather wonderful random event tables in this game that throw the players against everything from natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, to sudden attacks by supernatural creatures to the spontaneous emergence of a riot that go wonderfully well along with some lovely rules for mobs in the appendices, that include different mob sizes, how much damage they can do and random events that can influence a mob.

It even has a nice adventure involving dr jekyll and mr hyde. Not being able to play this game I haven't run it but the scenario itself seems pretty solid.

So overall while the system may be a wash there are some very strong things in the setting


Unfortunately it loses some of this good will in the example characters section where it details a company of heroes in this wonderfully unique setting, how they got here, what they've been doing and how they can fit into the game. They make for a great pregenerated party of heroes. Who are all here due to time travel from modern times. Yeah. Really. They made a unique setting that puts a much needed and interesting twist on the superhero genre in gaming and the example characters are stock standard superheroes from stock superhero verse #1497 and then placed in this setting. This isn't even the first time playing a character from modern times is mentioned, the game really seems to push for it. While a fish out of temporal water story can be neat and maybe having one character like that in a group could be cool the game seems to really encourage you to play a party that literally doesn't fit into the setting and hails from a more generic game.

Also the game doesn't have an index. I hate that.


So in conclusion: this game has a neat setting, evocative character archetypes and a good explanation of how everything fits together, on top of some neat mechanical toys that can really make a party's day out more interesting. Unfortunately all of this is buried under a poorly organized, even more poorly explained, practically unplayable system. Seriously it's bad enough that on it's own the game is practically non-functional. I can safely say I will never play this game out of the book.


If you own castles and crusades, know the answers to all the missing or poorly clarified rules, and want something new this game might be worth your money. But make no mistake this is NOT a standalone game. It can't be played on it's own and I regret having bought a copy. I might at some point use an entirely different system and make use of the setting but quite frankly I’m annoyed enough by the apparent lack of investment into the work's creation that I’m not going to touch it for quite some time.

As it is, while there is good stuff here that could deserve a higher rating were it a supplement for another game, the work advertises itself as a standalone corebook for it's setting that does not require the 20$ corebook for castles and crusades. This game cannot stand on it's own, it is nigh unplayable and a below average rpg. So while there is a lot to like I can only give it 2 stars

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Victorious the Role Playing Game
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Castles & Crusades Beneath the Dome
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2016 16:49:18

Beneath the Dome is an adventure for the Castles & Crusades game by none other than James M. Ward. The current versions out in game stores and OneBookShelf are a combination of four smaller adventures. It is really like a small campaign or a longer adventure in four parts.


Each section challenges characters of progressively higher levels (1-5, 4-7, 10th and above) and deals with the invasion of a race of giant humanoids, the Amdromodon. Aside: While the new monsters here are interesting enough, I couldn't help but think it might be cooler if instead, I replaced them with Slaadi from the old Fiend Folio. But that was only a thought.


The adventures are interesting and I love the whole "invasion" and corruption vibe. It made it feel a little different than your typical adventure dealing with outer planar creatures. A little fleshing out with some other adventures the Castle Keeper could really make a nice campaign with this. The only thing really missing is a very high level adventure where the PCs go to the plane of the Amdromodons.


There is a lot going on in this adventure(s) and it is a lot of fun really. In addition to the new monsters there are also some new spells.


The book itself is 36 pages.


Now. I hate to be "that guy" but today I am going to be.
If your book needs so much editing that I notice it then you have some issues. There is more going on here than the odd typo or comma splice. Some sections are so awkward in their phrasing and the way they were written it really made it difficult to read. I know these complaints have been leveled against Troll Lords before and I have for the most part ignored them. But this book for whatever reason seemed to be really bad. Now the PDF might be updated, I don't know. But the physical copy I have needs a lot of help.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Beneath the Dome
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Castles & Crusades I3 Dogs of War: Felsentheim
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2016 12:23:56

22 pages, for 4-8 characters levels 3 to 5.
Felsentheim is the epic conclusion to the I series of adventures. As with the last adventure the GM should be knowledgeable on all the NPCs and factions in this adventure. Again it can be played on it's own, but works best as the conclusion to the I series. While the adventure is shorter there is quite a lot of combat in this one.


All together these three books are greater than their parts and make for an interesting set of adventures.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades I3 Dogs of War: Felsentheim
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Castles & Crusades I2 Under Dark & Mistry Ground: Dzeebagd
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2016 12:09:00

34 pages, for 4-8 characters levels 2 to 4.
Following up on the events of I1 Vakhund the party finds the missing girl but uncovers a larger plot involving many local factions. The conceit of the adventure is the party will be drawn in, but as far things go this is not a bad one.
This one is a bit longer than the last adventure and a bit more involved with all the factions. This adventure can stand alone, but it works best as part of the I trilogy. Interaction with the NPCs is really what makes this adventure so the game master should read up on all of them and their motivations ahead of time.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades I2 Under Dark & Mistry Ground: Dzeebagd
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Castles & Crusades I1 Into the Unknown: Vakhund
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2016 11:52:26

26 pages, for 4-6 characters levels 1 to 2
Vakhund, Into the Unkown is a short adventure that builds up to some epic events in the later I series from Troll Lords for Castles & Crusades. It starts out simple enough really. The party has been hired as guards for a caravan. Soon the wealthy merchant is dead and his daughter kidnapped.

Vakhund is interesting since for an adventure that has it's DNA in a game known as "Dungeons & Dragons" there are neither dragons nor dungeons (for the most part) in this adventure. Typically for low level adventures there is a dungeon to explore. In this one the PCs are thrown right to a plot and it is rather interesting to be honest.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades I1 Into the Unknown: Vakhund
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Castles & Crusades Fantastic Adventure
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2016 07:23:59

This is a short adventure, 16 pages, for 4 to 8 characters of 1st to 3rd level. Actually it is three very short adventures in a general area. One flows to the next easily and Tcan be run in a couple of sessions. The starting adventure revolves around finding a missing gem and this leads to the PCs saving a deranged golem. There is also a host of really weird and interesting NPCs that could, if needed, be used as characters. I know that C&C typically takes it's cues from AD&D1, but this adventure felt like something right out of D&D Basic to me. I mean that in the best way possible; I love D&D Basic. This would make for a good first adventure to anyone new to C&C, but familiar with other FRPGs.

I often gush at the nostalgia fuel that Castles & Crusades often is for me, but this adventure really does capture a lot of the fun of playing in the late 70s and early 80s. Particularly the early 80s. It is set in their larger, and somewhat more dangerous, World of Aihrde and can lead up to their other adventures. Or it can stand alone for a couple nights of rolling dice and having fun.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Fantastic Adventure
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Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
by Marco v. D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2016 03:55:37

I can't agree to those other very positive reviews.


"Town of Kalas" surely can be used, if you need a town for your players to stumble into. But on the other hand it can be done only with quite some work from the DM's side.


There are a lot of interesting personalities with a story of their own, but all "stories" come only as very simple hooks - hooks you can come up with yourself in a matter of moments - but that need a lot of work, should the player's decide to investigate after you brought them up.


On the other hand the book consists of plain text - sometimes dull and dry to read despite the "funny" parts - without any corresponding graphics.


Additionally the proof-reading on Kalas certainly leaves much to be desired, since there's not a single page without a lot of spelling and grammatical errors.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
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A3 Wicked Cauldron -- Adventures for 5th Edition Rules
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/06/2016 08:02:10

I am reviewing the print and pdf versions.


The premise is a fairly simple one. There is a ruined ziggurat in the Barren Woods that is the home to many foul things. It also has a long and evil history and currently is home to one of the fabled Witch Queens. The PCs must investigate and stop her.


The adventure itself is particularly original, but that doesn't make it less fun. There is a good balance of overland and dungeon exploring, plenty of new monsters to fight, a threat of an ancient evil. Given that this module is coded "A3" should give you an indication it is part of a larger series, and it is. It can be played as part of Troll Lords "A" series that began with "Assault on Blacktooth Ridge" and "Slag Heap" and continues in other Airhde products and adventures. But it can also be played as a stand-alone adventure.
The adventure is very reminiscent of the old Basic adventures of the early 80s, especially B2 and B4. In fact, it is almost a perfect mix of these two classic adventures. So in the nostalgia department, it gets a perfect score from me.


My biggest issue with the PDFs and the Print versions are the maps are fairly small. I can redo them on my own and larger, but having something I can print out or read easier would be nice.


The 5th edition conversion is good and really, C&C is so close to D&D5 as to almost make the conversion unnecessary, but still I did enjoy looking through both to find the subtle differences. The most interesting changes were to the Witch Queen herself.


The Witch Queen, Neb–Eprethat, is the central figure in this adventure and stopping her is the main goal. In the C&C version she is a Lawful Evil 5th level human cleric/wizard. In the D&D 5 version she is a Chaotic Evil 6th level human cleric.


All in all a really fun adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A3 Wicked Cauldron -- Adventures for 5th Edition Rules
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Castles & Crusades A3: Wicked Cauldron
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/06/2016 08:00:43

I am reviewing the print and pdf versions.


The premise is a fairly simple one. There is a ruined ziggurat in the Barren Woods that is the home to many foul things. It also has a long and evil history and currently is home to one of the fabled Witch Queens. The PCs must investigate and stop her.


The adventure itself is particularly original, but that doesn't make it less fun. There is a good balance of overland and dungeon exploring, plenty of new monsters to fight, a threat of an ancient evil. Given that this module is coded "A3" should give you an indication it is part of a larger series, and it is. It can be played as part of Troll Lords "A" series that began with "Assault on Blacktooth Ridge" and "Slag Heap" and continues in other Airhde products and adventures. But it can also be played as a stand-alone adventure.
The adventure is very reminiscent of the old Basic adventures of the early 80s, especially B2 and B4. In fact, it is almost a perfect mix of these two classic adventures. So in the nostalgia department, it gets a perfect score from me.


My biggest issue with the PDFs and the Print versions are the maps are fairly small. I can redo them on my own and larger, but having something I can print out or read easier would be nice.


All in all a really fun adventure and the start of something really fun for the players.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades A3: Wicked Cauldron
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Castles & Crusades Expanding Classes
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/15/2016 13:51:27

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.co-
m/2016/08/15/tabletop-review-castles-crusades-expanding-clas-
ses/


Expanding Classes is one of three new releases for Castles and CrusadesExpanding Classes is pure character creation/stats/crunch. This twenty-six page PDF (that count includes cover, title pages and the legal mumbo-jumbo) tackles something that, surprisingly, hasn’t been fully covered in Castles & Crusades after all this time. I’m talking about multiclassing and dual-classing. For a game so steeped in OD&D, one would think this would have been covered by now. In fact, it hasn’t. There is less than page on the topic in the Player’s Handbook Now, that isn’t to say people haven’t been doing these things in their game. They’ve just been using 1/2e AD&D rules to do so. Now though, we finally have a short (but expensive) supplement for these rules and more.


So let’s talk about the five options that you have here in Expanding Classes:


1) Multi-Classing. This is where, instead of having a single class, say Fighter or Cleric, you have two classes like Ranger/Druid or Assassin/Bard. There’s a nice little cross-reference chart so you can see which of the thirteen classes can multi-class together. This means you can’t do a Paladin/Assassin or Barbarian/Wizard, but there is always wiggle room if you have a good reason and a willing Castle Keeper. The downside to multi-classing if you advance a lot slower as you have two classes you are trying to level up, and some classes may have weapon/armor/spell restrictions that hinder your second class. Essentially this is the same as old school AD&D multi-classing


2) Enhanced Class. This is essentially an “enhanced” and deeper version of the “Class and a half” idea that is briefly mentioned in the PHB after multi-classing. Again, there is less than a page for this there. With Expanding Classes, you get a lot more detail and depth on the topic. An Enhanced class gives you a few aspects of a second class, but not all of them. This is great if you have a character who say, went to Wizard school but flunked out and has a little to show for his time spent there. There are over two dozen supporting class options, and again, a chart to cross reference so you can see if your idea is legal or not. Each of these supporting classes has its own XP chart to show you what you get at each level. Essentially your cost to level up your supporting class is only half of what a full class would cost, but you only get a fraction of the abilities and advance much slower.


3) Class Plus. This adds the zero level abilities from another class to your character for a permanent 5% tithe of all experienced earned. That may or may not be worth it to you, as at higher levels, that is a lot of experience to give up just to have access to cantrips or 1d3 unarmed Monk attacks but hey, more power to you if you want to go this route. Class Plus is the weakest of the options in Expanding Classes and I doubt many will make use of it. Hell, even Troll Lord Games doesn’t put much stock in it, giving the idea less than half a page in this supplement.


4) Dual Classing. This is very different from the AD&D version of Dual Classing. A character is a single class until some pivotal moment in their adventuring career and then they decide to switch completely to another class. Maybe they were a Barbarian who found God and became a cleric. Maybe they were a Ranger but went blind and decided to become a Diviner instead since they couldn’t track anymore. There are lots of reasons why a second class might be added later in life instead of starting off via multi-classing. Once the second class is chosen, XP is evenly divided between the two and you level up as usual. The catch is that the character only gets new Hit Points when it gains a level in its original class. This doesn’t sound or seem too bad unless you are really high level. After all, if you are a level 16 Fighter/Level 1 Bard, you will have a ways to go before you see an increase in your HP. At least you’ll get some spells and Legend Lore out of it!


5) Reclassing. This is where a character abandons their original class completely and takes up something new. OD&D fans will recognize that this is the TSR version of Dual Classing and Troll Lord is simply calling it “reclassing” for Castles & Crusades since they are using Dual Classing in a different fashion. It’s not an exact port from AD&D to C&C as you lose a level (and HD) for doing this but otherwise, it’s similar down to the 10% XP penalty for using skills/abilities from the previous class in an adventure. Although the name change may confuse or annoy older games, calling this Reclassing actually does make more sense than calling it Dual Classing., so I’m fine with it.


So these are the five options in Expanding Classes. It’s a bit pricey for a supplement, especially content than some might argue should be in the PHB, but hey this is still less than a Pathfinder supplement of the same size, so while a bit pricey to me, it’s still nowhere as bad as what some companies charge for their supplements. There is actually a little more content than these five options. There is an Appendix A which gives an update to the Rune Mark class originally found in the Rune Lore supplement. I have neither read nor own the Rune Lore supplement so I can’t actually comment on it. Essentially this appendix just applied all five options found in this Expanding Classes book to the Rune Mark class for players who might actually have made one of these characters. It’s a nice addition to include details for a character class only a fraction of C&C players know about or have much less played, which shows how much Troll Lord cares about its player base.


Overall, Expanding Classes is not a must-own supplement for Castles & Crusades by any means. It’s well written and was a long time coming, but much of what is contained in here is already common sense to older gamers, especially AD&D players and has no doubt been house ruled in by using the rules from TSR’s version(S) of D&D. Still, younger or newer gamers will find this helpful and Troll Lord Games did a fine job on this piece. I personally think seven dollars is a bit high for this type of supplement, but if you DO pick up Expanding Classes, and you are a C&C fan, you won’t be unhappy with what is presented here.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Expanding Classes
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Storyteller's Thesaurus
by Brian G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2016 20:00:47

Sounded good, but left me scratching my head. I understand that unlike other thesauruses this is organized by categories. After reading how some of the entries would be familiar I was disappointed to discover how all too common many of the entries were. The use of an online dictionary/thesaurus can easily be more expansive than this limited 500+ page PDF is. Sorry, but I do not find this worth the price and it is definitely NOT the book you’ve been waiting for!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Storyteller's Thesaurus
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Brimstone & The Borderhound -- A Cold Day in Hell
by Tom R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/21/2016 07:35:17

I found Brimstone & The Bordehound -- A Cold Say in Hell to be interesting and a good introduction to the game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Brimstone & The Borderhound -- A Cold Day in Hell
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Codex of Aihrde
by paul f. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/16/2016 16:58:22

This was a long time in coming, but the wait was worth it. The old d20 Codex of Aihrde has been completely reworked and reimagined for the freewheeling and fun C&C system. But more than that, Aihrde has been reinvigorated. This is a dynamic world with a rich history, but that history is written (it's called The Andanuth, and it takes up the first 82 pages of the book). But just because that history is safely in the past, don't skip it or think of it as non-essential reading or (I hate this term) "fluff."
Think of the Andanuth as a massive tapestry that you can appreciate as a finished work of art but also as individual stories that will inform character creation and storylines, both for players and GMs. How can your dwarven fighter not be heartened when thinking of the Battle of Clegerach, when Lorin King and his 40 troops fought a rearguard action against a hoard of goblins while backed against a cliff face? They sold their lives dearly so that a very few of their people could escape destruction. How can your party of adventurers not dream of uncovering great treasures or unimaginable knowledge from the submerged ruins of the cities built by the Sea-Kings of Alanti? Can your Fontenouq Elven knight prove her worth to her partners and show that not all of her kind willingly abandon a heavy fight? In the 82 pages of the Andanuth you'll find adventure hooks, inspiration and plot twists. Incidentally, you'll also find some beautifully written stories that are worth reading purely for entertainment. Stephen Chenault clearly establishes himself as an inventive and accomplished fiction writer -- if he has a novel in him, I'll be among the first to buy it.
The bulk of the Codex is an almanac of the gods, demigods, nations and wild places of Aihrde -- and here is inspiration as well. Whether you dream of pennanted knights (found in Kayomar), marcher kingdoms defending against hordes of monsters (Kleaves and its crumbling Great Wall), battle-hungry barbarians (the Northern Kingdoms), early medieval Germany (Aachen) or villages full of cutthroats and pirates (the towns that cling to the crumbling pillars that once crossed the Sea of Ursal), you can find satisfaction in Aihrde. More than 30 kingdoms are detailed in two- to three-page descriptions that delineate history, past rulers, economic status, the nature of its armed forces and the way its people live and worship. Most of it is in broad strokes, allowing you to place cities, villages, hamlets and outposts as needed, and to people it with your own NPCs and scenarios.
Those broad strokes do permit a few errors or contradictions to creep in. For example, in the entry for the nation of Brindisium you will find this sentence, "The Brindisi have begun constructing roads but have precious few resources to do so and so have no real cobbled roads yet" but will later read that Brindisium is "the most organized of the Young Kingdoms, Brindisium sports good roads." Of course, it's certainly easy enough to decide that the former is true and the latter is what people outside of the nation have heard, but it can cause confusion when you first read it. Just keep in mind the basic rule of Castles & Crusades -- "make it your own" -- and you'll be fine.
Aside from the beautiful writing and the wealth of useful information contained in it, the Codex of Aihrde does one other thing extremely well, and that is "encourage heroes to rise." The heroic ideal is threaded throughout this great tapestry. The past was shaped by heroes of all races, and a great evil was thrown down by a concentrated effort. But everywhere there are vestiges of that great evil, and there remains a need for heroes to continue and reinforce what was started. Your party of adventurers can further shape this world and guide it back into the light -- what they do can and will matter if they live long enough and stay true to the cause and their ideals. That is a gift from Stephen Chenault to every player who picks up the gauntlet he's thrown down. If you love the works of Mallory, Tolkien, Chretien de Troys, Wolfram von Eischenbach, Howard Pyle or Snorri Sturluson, this is the world you've been waiting for.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Codex of Aihrde
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Castles & Crusades Lost City of Gaxmoor
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/12/2015 15:25:20

Originally posted at: http://diehardgam-
efan.com/2015/06/05/tabletop-review-the-lost-city-of-gaxmoor-
-castles-crusades/


Most Kickstarters run for thirty days. Troll Lord Games however decided to run a very short campaign (only 17 days) for The Lost City of Gaxmoor. It worked out for them though, garnering 446 backers (the second most out of their ten campaigns) and netting nearly $22,000 – far more than the $4.500 they originally sought. What helped make Gaxmoor such a success considering it had such a short campaign life? Well, three things. The first is that simply put Castles & Crusades is awesome. You can check out the many reviews I’ve done of products for the game (most of them are positive) here. The second reason why this was a success is because The Lost City of Gaxmoor is actually a remake from when Troll Lord games published d20 products instead of using their own Siege Engine system. The third and final reason might be the biggest draw for many gamers. The writers of Gaxmoor are none other than Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. & Luke Gygax. If you don’t know who they are (or their father) than I guess this is your first time being exposed to the tabletop side of RPGs (perhaps you visit Diehard GameFAN for our video game coverage?) and you’ve picked a great piece to start you on your journey into pen and paper gaming.


As mentioned, Gaxmoor started out life around 2002 as a d20 product published by Troll Lord Games. You do not have to have experience with the original to enjoy this. The Castles & Crusades version is not a sequel, prequel or follow-up. It is its own beast. If you want to purchase the original, you can find it on Ebay or Amazon.com for under ten dollars. C&C is flexible enough that you can interchange it with d20 pretty easily, but it is closer to AD&D 1e/2e in feel. So even if you are beholden only to Pathfinder, you can still pick up the new version and use it with your game pretty easily.


The Lost City of Gaxmoor is both a setting and a campaign. The original d20 version was designed to take characters from Levels 1-10 over many play sessions. With the Castles & Crusades version, we have more of a city guide filled with specific encounters and plot hooks rather than one overarching adventure that you have to follow. In this regard Gaxmoor is more like a sandbox video game RPG akin to Skyrim or Fallout where you end up spending more time exploring and getting sidetracked by side-quests rather than being railroading on to a singular linear plot. This makes DM’ing The Lost City of Gaxmoor more work than the average published adventure, but it also means it can be a lot more memorable for the players. So Gaxmoor isn’t a piece I’d give someone new to running a tabletop game, but it’s a great choice for someone to first play as they won’t feel “on rails” and they’ll encounter a wide range of antagonists and NPCs while learning the mechanics of a game. You have a set story hook and four encounters before hitting the city, but after that – everything is wide open.


I should also add that unlike the original version of Gaxmoor which laid out the levels characters should start at and advance to by the time things are ended, the new C&C version does not. Encounter strength varies wildly, which can lead to a total party kill, but it should also teach the team to be cautious and not rush in, weapons a’ swingin’. I mean the second encounter in the game (and it’s fixed) it up against an Ogre-Ghoul! You usually don’t see 4d8 HD creatures as an early encounter in an adventure made for Level 1 characters. So expect a lot of PC death as your party combs Gaxmoor. This is balanced out nicely though as Gaxmoor has many places for new characters to pop in and join the party. I love how this was done and it prevents a player from sitting around twiddling his or her thumbs waiting to get back in the game.


The plot revolves around the city of Gaxmoor suddenly re-appearing in our dimension. It has been gone so long that most humanoids forgot it ever existed. Your party is chosen to help investigate the location and see who (or what) dwells within the walled city. There are over a dozen factions within Gaxmoor to suss out, wipe out or ally with. Even though much of your time will be spent in the confines of a single city, make no mistake, this will be a full length campaign and then some. The adventure requires as much detective work and verbal solutions as it does the hacking and slashing of foul beasties, which means there is something for every gamer with this piece. Remember this is an extremely open ended adventure/campaign, so there is no actual ending or sorts. It’s a very non-linear piece and it’s up to the Castle Keeper and the players to decide when and how the adventure ends. In addition to the campaign itself, you’ll also get a history of Gaxmoor overview, seven new monsters, fourteen new magic items and many, MANY maps. So players and Keepers alike will be able to take more than just the experience and memories of The Lost City of Gaxmoor with them.


The Lost City of Gaxmoor is a wonderful homage to the old school days of roleplaying. The Gygax brothers more than live up to the family name with this piece, giving you a campaign that will last you for a very long time and provide you with many subquests, dungeons to explore, allies to make, and monsters to slaughter. You can play through the campaign several times and discover new things, or even entire sections that you might have missed previously. You will definitely get your money’s worth with The Lost City of Gaxmoor and if you have yet to experience Castles & Crusades, then this might be the best way to get started. As soon as The Lost City of Gaxmoor becomes publicly available, order this from Troll Lord Games and/or DriveThruRPG.com. Even better, while you are waiting for this campaign to come out, you can pick up the Castles & Crusades starter pack giving you the Player’s Handbook, Monsters & Treasure a set of character sheets and three adventures. I know I sound like a shill, but it’s a great deal and I do think most fans of old school or fantasy RPGs will love Castles & Crusades when they give it a try.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Lost City of Gaxmoor
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