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Castles & Crusades Tome of the Unclean
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/17/2013 10:53:17
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/10/17/tabletop-review-tome-of-
-the-unclean-castles-crusades/

Tome of the Unclean is the latest release from Troll Lord Games for its Castles & Crusades system. This is the oddest release yet as it’s being made available even though the book is nowhere near finished. Instead, Troll Lord is trying out an installment plan option, something I’ve never seen a RPG publisher try before. It’s similar to episodic content for video games, in that you pay a lump sum up front and then will be given regular updates with new content. In this case the PDF will be automatically updated over at Drivethrurpg.com or RPGNow.com whenever new content is added. Updates should be every two to three weeks and there should be two to three monsters with each update. If you prefer to wait for the finished version, you can, but the PDF will cost five dollars more and the physical version of the book will be twice what you pay for the installment version of the PDF. I decided to go the installment route since it’s such an odd but intriguing concept and I wanted to see how things would go down. I have no idea what the eventual final page count (It is expected to be roughly 100 pages) will be or how the book will turn out quality-wise, but at least it will be an interesting journey, right?

Tome of the Unclean will be focusing on demons and devils. Yes there is a difference in most fantasy games. This first installment looks at three creatures: two demons and a devil and it clocks in at nine pages. Of course, two of those pages are the front and back cover and another two pages are devoted to the Open Game License and cover page. That means you get five pages of content for your ten dollars. Sounds crazy expensive, right? Well it is right now, but with each installment, you’ll more than likely start to get your money’s worth.

Tome of the Unclean currently provides a half page definition for devils and demons for Castles and Crusades. As a retro-clone, it is very similar to the old Dungeons & Dragons hierarchy for both. In this first installment you’ll get the classic Balor and a Glabrezu for the demons and Beelzebub for the devils. All three denizens of the Hells are written up nicely and are accompanied by an excellent illustration. This is a very nice start to what looks to be an incredible book and I’m really hoping that the remaining updates will be as great as the first impression. Speaking of art, though, the cover for Tome of the Unclean is just amazing. It’s one of the better fantasy pieces I’ve seen this year and Jason Walton deserves a special shout out for his work here (He also did the interior illustrations for this installment).

I definitely think that if you are a Castles & Crusades fan, you should go for the installment version of Tome of the Unclean. Not only will you get the book for far cheaper than you would otherwise, you’ll be privy to the editorial and writing process by seeing changes occur and new content being added with each update. Tome of the Unclean certainly is going to prove to be an entertaining and unique experience for tabletop gaming fans, even if the book doesn’t manage to stay as impressive as this first update. I know I’m excited to see this blend of classic D&D denizens of darkness with a new way of releasing a manual. Here’s hoping Troll Lord Games can keep the regular updates coming.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Tome of the Unclean
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Castles & Crusades Beneath the Dome
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/10/2013 11:01:25
This is a fascinating 'semi-campaign' of a dungeon crawl accomplished in four stages. There is an underlying backstory about what is actually going on, and at intervals the trouble flares up and the local leadership hire adventurers to deal with it. In between times, the party had better go off and do something else to pile on the levels, for they will surely need them as the adventures progresses!

The first section can be handled by smart and capable adventures of low level (1st-5th). The moon has gone a funny shade of green and the better part of a whole village's inhabitants were dragged off screaming in the middle of the night. Something must be done - and the characters are hired to do it. The trail leads to a cave at the foot of a mountain...

There's a neat trick here. The 'Bad Guys' do not just sit and wait for adventurers to come by, they are getting on with their own thing. So as the adventure requires the characters to return to the same dungeon over and over again, it will not be the same - for a start the damage they did the last time may have been repaired, and other developments will have taken place. To accommodate this, descriptions are coded so that the Castle Keeper can amend his account of what the characters find where depending on which stage they are in the overall adventure.

Phase 2 of the adventure is aimed at characters of 4th-7th level, and it is best if some time elapses after the first part of the adventure before you spring this on them. This time the moon has gone a reddish colour and the local ruler's castle is attacked by creatures coming through a magic portal. The adventures are tasked with finding out where they came from by braving the portal...

Assuming they survive this and get to about 10th level, they will be ready for the third part. The characters are sent to explore that complex under the mountain thoroughly and make sure nothing nasty remains. This time it is the mountain itself which has gone a funny colour, purple this time...

The final part is a tough combat-oriented 'crawl for characters over 10th level. That mountain is now a volcano, and the world is that a massive attack is to be mounting on the ruler's castle at the full moon. Given that they've barely survived the last couple of attacks it is up to the party to stop this invasion in its tracks.

Throughout, the dungeon is jam-packed with things to see, things to discover, things to fight... and things to take. It's an epic sequence that will leave those who survive feeling that they have accomplished something - and they will rightly be hailed as heroes!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Beneath the Dome
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Castles & Crusades Giant's Rapture
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/29/2013 12:19:48
A classic adventure in three parts - which can be run stand-alone or as a sequence - this involves a journey, danger, thrills and high emotions. And a princess. Gotta have a one of them!

The background is deep and intense, supplying not just a backdrop to this adventure but - should you so wish - a situation that you can mine for more adventure ideas if not whole campaigns. Advice is given on how to weave this into the start of the adventure, and how to have characters that are suitable for the mission as no pre-generated ones are provided (this was originally written as a convention adventure and probably had them).

Much of the adventure involves overland travel, and you can make as much or as little of it as you want, depending on player interest and the time available. Each portion of travel is well-resourced for those who want to make the actual journey itself an integral part of their adventure, and it is supported by some rather nice maps. One point to be emphasised is the 'ordinary' drovers who accompany the party on their journey - no adventurers these, but ordinary men and women who enjoy a song around the campfire and get scared when monsters attack! As well as contributing to the adventure itself, this highlights just how special the player-characters are within the world - a nice touch.

The challenges to be faced include keeping the mission secret from prying eyes, a fine set of puzzile-challenges to be completed, bandits, coping with accidents along the way and the weather as well as whatever wandering monsters you choose to include.. and rather a lot of giants! It's left pretty flexible as to how much of the journey apart from set-piece encounters you want to actually play out.

The whole sequence is full of neat twists and turns and builds into a coherent adventure: it's the sort of story you could well imagine as a movie. Those who complete it successfully will get a real feeling of achievement (as well as some more tangible rewards) and will likely have songs written about them. A classic adventure, well written and presented.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Giant's Rapture
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Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure
by James L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/16/2013 16:33:27
While some have criticized TLG for separating monters and treasure rather than combining it into the PH, I think it's fine to have this separate so that (mostly) CKs are the ones who will read this. Following the great traditions of AD&D 1E, the monster stat blocks are short and sweet. The descriptions are succinct but provide plenty of info, and the artwork is very nice. The treasure section offers a good selection while not being over-bearing. The editing in this printing leaves a little to desire (miss-spelling "laout" on the title page is unbelievable). I hope M&T eventually gets a nice reprint like the PH has, and some additional clean-up will result in one of the best monster books available.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure
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Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing
by James L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/16/2013 16:29:53
A beautiful revision of the Players Handbook. I really like the new logo as well as the full-spread artwork on the cover. The interior is a mixed bag for me; some of the artwork in color is gorgeous, while others have very odd color choices. I like the goldenrod background of the page, but the brown text is not a very good complement and is hard to read on-screen (I have no idea if the hard-copy version is any better or not). Otherwise there aren't too many changes besides encumbrance. If you have the 4th printing, I don't think you'll be missing much. If you're new to C&C, then I would say either get this printing or go ahead and get a hard-copy version.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing
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Castles & Crusades Universal Character Sheet
by James L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/16/2013 16:25:38
A great improvement over previous sheets from TLG, and I really like having the new C&C logo. I also like this sheet has a plain white background, rather than the goldenrod one from the PH 5th printing. I would only advise downloading this sheet directly from the TLG site as it won't have the watermark at the bottom.

http://www.trolllordgames.com/cnc/downloads/C&C%20Univer-
sal%20Character%20Sheet.pdf

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Universal Character Sheet
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Castles & Crusades To Kill a King
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/15/2013 06:37:26
Originally posted: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/07/15/tabletop-review-to-kill-
-a-king-castles-crusades/

To Kill a King is a follow-up adventure to The Goblins of Mount Shadow. Both adventures can be played stand alone from each other, though locations and characters do repeat. As such, you can play the two back to back as the start of a campaign, or you can play Mount Shadow, play a few more adventures, and then come back to To Kill a King and show how the landscape of the kingdom has changed in their absence.

To Kill a King, as you might have surmised, is all about regicide. Obviously, this is not an adventure designed for good-aligned characters, although it can be run as such by having the players tricked into murdering the king. The team’s rogue, or better yet, assassin takes center stage in this adventure, and I have to admit, I’m really pleased to see an adventure that puts the Assassin class in the spotlight. I have always had a soft spot for the class, going all the way back to First Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and so often, the class is treated as an afterthought or like it doesn’t exist. If you have an assassin amongst your players, it’s worth getting this adventure just for them, because let’s be honest – every other adventure for fantasy gaming systems tends to focus on warriors, clerics, thieves and magic-users.

Now, I’m not really a fan of wetworks adventures, as can be seen in my various Shadowrun reviews. Wetworks adventures are notoriously hard to pull off, because they are nothing but cold blooded murder, and while most players and their characters have no problems killing monsters or obviously evil horrors from another dimension, they tend to balk at outright killing a innocent or good aligned person simply for a payday. Most of these wetworks adventures are written in such a way that they are without any branching options or considerations for if/when one or more players refuse the mission, even though this is a well known and commonly occurring problem with these adventures. Thankfully, To Kill a King is not such an adventure. It provides many pages of alternate outcomes and what can happen if some or all of the party says no to the assassination attempt, including everything from a new party of NPCs hired to take the case on up to a rampaging dragon hellbent on destroying the kingdom. I was utterly impressed by the sheer level of detail this adventure has to it, and that every possible outcome has been thought of in advance, and so the Castle Keeper is given ways to plan accordingly and still run the adventure. To Kill a King is one of the most well thought out adventures I’ve ever encountered and I applaud the foresight by the author.

Besides diverging adventure paths based on how the players react to the assassination attempt offer, there is an amazing amount of detail in To Kill a King. NPCs are given a lot of back story and are fully fleshed out. The castle is described down to the smallest nuance. I’m just blown away by how much information, characterization, plot and content is crammed into these twenty-six pages. I’ve honestly seen adventures two or three times as long with less detail put into them. I also loved the sheer amount of political intrigue in this adventure. There are so many factions with shadowy goals and a willingness to let guile and cunning do the work instead of swords and sorcery. It’s so rare that you see an adventure for a fantasy RPG that is all about talking head and politics. I honestly love those types of adventures, because they are so rare and force players to do role-playing instead of roll-playing. Indeed, there is so much under the table backstabbing and doubledealing potential here that To Kill a King feels more like a Vampire: The Dark Ages adventure than your typical Castles & Crusades one.

Best of all, To Kill a King is far more than a single one-shot adventure. The ramifications of the assassination or not taking the job are wide-spread and can affect your C&C campaign for the remainder of its existence. After all, the players have just taken out a king or exposed a conspiracy against him. Are all the nearby kingdoms plunged into war? Will the heroes seek revenge? Will the players be labeled traitors to the realm or heroes? If the king is killed, will they betray their employer by helping someone else gain the throne, or will they themselves be betrayed? There are almost limitless outcomes that can occur from running To Kill a King, creating adventure paths and subplots of their own to ensure there will always be a story to be told or an adventure to be had in your Castles and Crusades campaign. This is simply brilliant, and I really hope To Kill a King gets the attention it deserves and also helps to bring in new players to the system.

To Kill a King is easily my favorite Castles & Crusades adventure of all time, and this is coming from someone who has been playing the system since first edition. Hell, it’s easily one of the best adventures I’ve encountered this entire year, and I’m sure it will be on our short list, if not the winner, for our Adventure of the Year (Solo) award here at Diehard GameFAN come that time of year. To Kill a King is simply an amazing adventure in all respects, and even if you don’t play Castles & Crusades, it’s worth picking up this adventure to try and make it fit in your own fantasy RPG or, at the very least, to see how well done and insightful this piece really is. It’s extremely detailed and yet “open world” enough that the Castle Keeper won’t feel like they are running a generic linear dungeon crawl. Indeed, To Kill a King is the exact opposite of that experience.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades To Kill a King
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Castles & Crusades To Kill a King
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2013 11:53:41
Ripe with high-level intrigue and capturing the feel of a semi-mythical Wales (although it would be possible to place this adventure in your own campaign world if preferred), this adventure draws the characters into the centre of court politics as a Queen wants her King dead... and wants them to attend to the matter!

Wth several 'hooks' to choose from - including those leading on form other adventures by the same author - the characters are swiftly dragged into the Queen's plots and will have to stay sharp if they are to survive, never mind complete their task and receive their reward. Never mind what they are there for, there is plenty going on in the royal castle this evening - a feast in progress with many notables in attendance, people to meet and events to become embroiled in as a full-bore mediaeval banquet plays out around them.

Now, I speak Welsh but if you do not you may find the names a bit of a challenge although attempts have been made to provide phonetic versions... just console yourself that your players will not see the written names so will only have what you say to go on! Otherwise, the scene is set magnificently. Although a detailed plan of the castle is provided you might want to go online and research a suitable Welsh castle for an impression of what the place is like (perhaps Harlech - it's ruined now but enough remains for you to get the feel of the place).

Consequences are covered well, although it is rather assumed that the characters will succeed at the assassination attempt, and while early parts of the adventure involve intrigue, interaction and stealth, there is no shortage of full-on combat later on (earlier, too, should the characters botch entry to the castle or get caught up to no good!). There are other options, of course, and notes are provided to help you deal with just about anything the characters decide to do.... and the political ramifications whether the King is killed or no bode well to be far-reaching - as indeed they should be.

This is a cracking adventure and I'm looking forwards to running it!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Beneath the Dome Subscription
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/09/2013 10:12:37
I ponied up for the subscription of this module so I will probably get a few words in on each piece as it becomes available. The pdf for this installment is 10 pages long, which for $2.50/2.99 might not hit people’s sense of value too well, especially when the first page is the cover and the second is the licensing information, so right there you’re down to 8 pages of content. I appreciate material for my favorite game system and I’m willing to pay to keep the content coming, but I was concerned with the low page count from the moment I opened the file and that nagging voice at the back of my mind never quite let up the entire time I was reading the content.

As for the content it is packed fairly tightly, for my group this would be an evening worth of fun…well fun if I enjoyed it, I’m not sure how well my players would respond to some of the viscous traps. There is very much the potential to kill characters here and at the very least you can expect some of them to be poisoned or gain a cursed item or two. So for all this negative potential, how does the treasure stack up? There is some good loot to be gained from the Beneath the Dome; a few +1 weapons, a +2 long sword, some protective gear and a smattering of scrolls with new spells. The magical items seem geared towards fighter types primarily.

What I don’t like:
• The length; a couple extra pages of content with a few more rooms would have tipped me towards the positive on this.
• The new spells. Honestly if I were playing a spell caster I wouldn’t consider using any of them except in incredibly limited circumstances; they seem underpowered for the level. As these appear on scrolls in a place where they could be useful this isn’t terrible, but the fact that there are limited rewards for spell casters makes them a form of treasure, one which is lacking for the wizard/cleric types that came along.
• Some of the text is confusing; there were a few minor grammatical things that threw me off.

What I like:
• The artwork is good, the cover especially. Also the art doesn’t intrude or dominate the pages as ‘filler’.
• Lots of descriptions for the various locations.
• The challenge is good for an appropriately leveled group. None of the monsters require magic or special weapons to hit and whacking zombies is always a good time.

‘Beneath the Dome’ will work for me and I will use it. This kind of adventure is something I would not throw at a general purpose group, it screams as a challenge for a group of Knights, Paladins and Fighters (good aligned) who need a challenge to clean out a den of definite, no gray areas, evil. 4-5 2nd level fighter types should be up to the challenge, swapping a fighter out for a 3rd level thief and another for a 3rd level cleric should work just fine too. Magic users can stay home for this installment.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Castles & Crusades Beneath the Dome, Pt. 1 Tombs of Green
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/08/2013 06:06:56
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/07/08/tabletop-review-beneath-
-the-dome-part-one-tombs-of-green-castles-crusades/

Beneath the Dome is Troll Lord Games’ second attempt to create an episodic adventure series for its Castles and Crusades line. The Adventures on the Powder River series consisted of five seven page short adventures, each for ninety-nine cents. I reviewed the first four adventures in the series (To the Damenheit Bridge, Thorns For Beer, River Walk and Golden Shingles) and found them to be all over the place in terms of quality, but I was happy to see a set of adventures for the system, or any system really, that were under a dollar and could more or less be played as stand alone or as one big story.

I have to admit, I was a bit surprised by the sticker price on this one. Sure, the Beneath the Dome series has a few more pages to the adventures, but is inflation so bad that the price for this concept of episodic adventures has tripled in just the past year? I can pick up full length Castles and Crusades adventures for the same price, and the subscription price merely knocks fifty cents off of each adventure. As well, for only a few cents more, you can get a full length adventure like The Goblins of Mount Shadow or the Dwarven Glory collection of adventures. I probably wouldn’t be heckling the price if we hadn’t just had a similar concept from Troll Lord last year for a fraction of the price, but it’s worth noting that the price is a bit exuberant compared to what has come before.

Tombs of Green is an interesting adventure designed for two to six characters between levels 1 and 5. This piece of information is in small print in the upper right hand corner of the legal text and credits page, so I’d forgive you for missing it. An entire town has been wiped out, and the PCs are called on to figure out what happened. Somehow, a nearby mountain appears to have been carved up without anyone noticing or hearing. The face of the mountain is now pale green, and a cave has opened up where once there was none. Approaching the cave causes PCs to be greeted by a calm rational orange person, who tries to get the characters to turn back. If they don’t… they are attacked by a horde of green zombies, who were once the villagers of the destroyed town! From there players investigate the cave, and things turn into a basic dungeon crawl. So you have a standard hook with some unusual creatures and a small dungeon. It’s an okay story to play through in a single night, but the adventure doesn’t have a set ending, or even a real climax, which is a disappointment. You just kind of go through the dungeon, kill things, and then leave. There’s no explanation as to why the town was attacked or even who the enemies are. My guess is that these bits have been saved for a later adventure, which is fine in terms of the collection, but as a standalone, there’s very little for the Castle Keeper to flesh this thing out with in terms of character development or motive.

Now, that’s not to say I only have negative things to say about Tombs of Green. I loved a lot of the encounters in the adventure. The zombie dragon was a lot of fun, as were the hilariously cursed magic items one can find in the dungeon. Living statues and an animated sword are also memorable encounters your players will have a blast with. Basically, if your friends are just looking for hack and slash goodness, Tombs of Green will be a lot of fun, but if you’re looking for story and depth, this probably shouldn’t be your first choice for a Castles & Crusades adventure.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the art by Peter Bradley in this adventure. The cover to Tombs of Green is exceptionally striking, and there’s something about it that made me want to pick up this adventure, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the adventure AT ALL. The interior art is quite nice too, and C&C fans will enjoy adding it to their collection just for that.

All in all, we’ll give Tombs of Green a thumbs in the middle. The combat is fun, but the plot is lacking. It’s shaping up to be a better quality affair than Adventures on the Powder River, but I think the large price increase from last year’s episodic adventures may turn away those hoping for a similar cost in this collection.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Beneath the Dome, Pt. 1 Tombs of Green
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Castles & Crusades Free City of Eskadia
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/10/2013 07:35:33
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/06/10/tabletop-review-free-ci-
ty-of-eskadia-jack-of-lies-castles-crusades/

As this is my fifteenth Castles and Crusades review, you can probably tell I’m a big fan of the franchise. It’s easily my favorite OSR style system, and I always enjoy seeing what Troll Lord Games and other publishers put out for it. Today we’re looking at a new massive campaign setting in Free City of Eskadia. This 138 page book contains everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, you could possibly want to know about a fantasy setting. The history of the area, guilds, stores, prices, important people, sewer system descriptions – you name it, it’s in there. Free City of Eskadia is a whopping thirty two chapters of information, which sounds crazy impressive and perhaps even a little intimidating. The good news is that many of those chapters could have easily been one really long chapter instead of broken down as minutely as things are. For example, the adventure in the book takes up five chapters, which is an odd way to do things, especially when the adventure is only twenty-eight pages. I personally think one chapter with five sections would have flown better, but really, it’s all semantics when it comes down to it.

The big problem with Free City of Eskadia is that, as impressive as all the information about the campaign setting is, it is one of the dullest, driest reads I have ever had with a tabletop product. I had to keep putting the book down as my eyes glazed over. We’re talking Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off dry. I understand that a campaign setting, or any book designed to set the stage, can sometimes read like a textbook, but this was exceptionally above and beyond hard to wade through – and this is coming from someone who is a big Castles & Crusades fan, and a professional non-fiction writer used to doing essays and papers with bibliographies, footnotes and the like. I was very impressed by the level of detail in Free City of Eskadia, but it was so hard to get through because of the writing style and narrative, and I can’t remember the last time I had to force myself to get through a book for review’s purposes. Even products I’ve hated were easier to read and get through than this. I hate saying this, but I guess you can’t win them all.

Free City of Eskadia is also riddled with typographical and grammatical errors, often times in unintentionally hilarious ways. Look at the following sentence, for example, from page 39: “The ghost is quite vengeful and needs to be exercised.” Obviously that should be EXORCISED, but it is quite funny to think of a malicious specter whose only weakness is a holy treadmill. This is just one example of the many I’ve found here. Although these issues can be corrected in the PDF version, I feel bad for the people who ordered the hard or softcover version of the book, because you CAN’T fix one of those once they’ve been printed.

The important thing is that, if you can wade through the writing style, there is so much to be had in this book. It may “only” be 138 pages, but it feels as in-depth as the 300+ page location books we’ve seen from other companies like White Wolf or TSR. There is a chapter devoted to just the guilds of the city, along with the major houses for political intrigue. Each of the nine wards of the city get their own chapter, and within each one are names, descriptions and stat blocks of major NPCs. Besides the multi-chapter adventure, there are five other chapters devoted to story seeds, short adventures and dungeon crawls (although most aren’t literally dungeons) that you can use for a full on campaign. It’s wonderful just how much content is here, and I feel bad that I just didn’t care for the writing style or the manner in which all the content was presented, because I was really excited for this book. There are new races, a new NPC class, a full chapter on new magic items, another chapter of gods to worship and two new monsters. Again, there is a shockingly large amount of content in this book for the size. Now, will I ever end up using this? Probably not, due to how dull I found the content, but that’s really a subjective thing, and what I find boring, you might find thrilling. I will say that if you check my Castles & Crusades review archive, I to tend like the majority of what comes out for the system, so you might want to read those reviews and see if our tastes match up. I will probably try in a year or so to come back to see if the book has aged well or if I’m more receptive to the writing style, but for now, let’s call Free City of Eskadia a thumbs in the middle. Yay for the sheer amount of content and level of detail, but boo for the errors and extremely dull writing style.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Free City of Eskadia
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Castles & Crusades Aihrde Human Migrations Map
by Matthew M. T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/31/2013 16:02:15
This is a color PDF document offered free of charge. To begin, I like maps and place names to help spur my own creativity in adventures and stories. "Aihrde" presumably relates to a fantasy universe given more depth and detail in a handbook. This then would be a supplement to that system. Several other maps of Aihrde are also offered for free. In my other reviews I stated that I was disappointed with maps of Aihrde. Sadly, this map of "human migration" from its title was very unhelpful. It's only use, in my opinion, would be for someone using the Aihrde system. It is provided free of charge, and that fact alone usually rates the product "Two Stars." Without offense to the author or design team, I can only in good faith give it "One Star"/Bad. I cannot suggest it be downloaded.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Aihrde Human Migrations Map
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Castles & Crusades Aihrde Political Map
by Matthew M. T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/31/2013 15:55:49
This is a color map PDF document offered free of charge. To begin, I enjoy maps and place names because that isn't my strong suit. Usually seeing the work of others helps spur my own creativity for adventures and stories. It's likely to assume "Aihrde" refers to a fantasy universe given more depth and detail in a handbook. This then would be a map supplement for that setting. There also are a small handful of other maps of Aihrde offered for free. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with this product since it wouldn't help me unless I was going to use the Aihrde setting; it's of little use otherwise. However, it is provided free of charge.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Aihrde Political Map
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Castles & Crusades Aihrde World Map
by Matthew M. T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/31/2013 15:49:58
This is a brief, color PDF document offered free of charge. If I recall, Aihrde is a fantasy universe probably detailed in more depth and detail through a handbook. This would therefore be a supplement to that system and a foretaste of what and how it is. Personally, I love maps and place names as it spurs my own creativity in adventures and stories. But I didn't find this map/document to be very useful. That being said, it may help someone using the Aihrde setting. I'd said I was disappointed and couldn't recommend it, other than the fact that it is provided free of charge.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Aihrde World Map
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Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
by Jake P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2013 12:37:48
I was surprised to like this as much as I do. As others have noted, this is a high magic setting, and I generally prefer lower levels of magic. The NPCs presented tend towards high stats and most have several levels of experience in some class or the other. Since I envision even a 1st level fighter (a "Veteran") to be a superior warrior to typical militiaman, having most shopkeepers be able to outfight lower level characters isn't something I care for. Worse, most of those same NPCs have one or (more often) several magic items, and most of them are stock items (lots of swords +1, etc.) without much color or "magic" to them, which I really dislike. Finally, the proofreading on Kalas certainly leaves a bit to be desired, and it gives the impression that it wasn't written for C&C, since the SEIGE engine makes nary an appearance (NPCs don't have prime attributes provided, etc.).

Most of those things are easily fixed. It's very easy to downgrade NPC stats and levels as needed. It's also easy to downgrade those +1 magic items to masterwork items, and it doesn't take too much work to provide additional color to the rest of the magic items, making the more "magical". Finally, assigning primes is dead simple, and the lack of SEIGE engine integration serves as a left handed boon to anyone not using Kalas with C&C.

So what's left is the meat of the book, which are the characterizations and hooks. And that's where Kalas is simply outstanding. There are many, many personalities that are distinct, interesting, and engaging, making the city of Kalas feel very alive. Furthermore, the city is so rife with adventure opportunities - many of them plainly laid out in lists that follow most of the building entries - that it makes the life of the referee nearly as easy as can be. The only problem in this regard is that the book was written more to be enjoyable to read than easily useable at the gaming table. The descriptions are more verbose than strictly utilitarian. Thus, Kalas is much more useful to referees that have time to read the whole book before use than to those winging it. For what it's worth, I found the author's writing to be quite enjoyable, so that problem is mitigated to a degree.

Overall, despite the upfront investment in time that Kalas will require for it to work well for me, the seemingly hundreds of quality adventure hooks, interesting characters, and useful tables have made this a very worthwhile purchase. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
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