I should probably lay my cards on the table and say that I’m a huge fan of C&C, which to me captures the feel and flow of play of the original game without the clunky, sometimes confused mechanics, so it was perhaps inevitable that I was going to like this.
The presentation here is not as lavish as the latest (6th) printing of the Players Handbook, but it’s decent enough, and the same goes for the artwork.
Since one of the appealing things about C&C is that all you need to play is the Players Handbook rather than a small library of rulebooks, you may be asking yourself; why would I want this book?
Well, what you get here is not exactly an expansion of the rules, but a sourcebook full of ideas and suggestions that you might want to pick some ideas from to customise your game or setting.
There’s far too much in this book to cover in a review, a huge range of ideas are presented, covering things like additional character abilities, stats for height, weight, age, languages, literacy, guidelines for adding new races such as monsters as player races, variants on the standard character races, different approaches to spells, spellbooks, material components and holy symbols, mana points, vehicles, lodgings, and hirelings. There’s a chapter on world design, including discussion of such elements as climate, geography, weather, calendars, government, alternatives to the usual high medieval cultural setting such as Greco-Roman, Iron Age, Renaissance, or even Meso-American or Stone Age (and a later section even discusses futuristic and horror settings). You get discussions of fortresses, cities and smaller settlements including types of buildings, occupations of citizens, etc. There’s a chapter on dungeons and underground adventures including different types of caves, different sorts of rooms you might expect in an inhabited complex, lighting, visibility, different kinds of traps, etc. There are sections on air and water adventures, a chapter on mass battles (a recurring theme in C&C, perhaps a homage to the genres roots in tabletop wargaming), an extensive section on monster ecology, plenty of advice on designing and running adventures and campaigns, incorporating things like luck/fate points, skills, racial advantages, etc, etc…..
All of this consists of detailed, high quality, well thought out ideas, that will work well with the rule system, and how much of it you will want to make use of is going to be very subjective. I don’t think the idea of the authors is that anybody should just graft all of these rules onto their game, it’s more of a sourcebook that you can pick anything from that appeals to you and suits your setting, or just use as inspiration for developing your own custom rules. In fact, the whole book is rather like a compendium of the “Best of” house rules for C&C.
My only real complaint is that there is no indexing of the PDF, and the file is not editable so you can’t add your own bookmarks. This makes navigating it much more difficult than it should be, and is a pretty major oversight that affects the usability of the book, especially for reference purposes during a game.
Overall though, it’s a great addition to the C&C rules which anybody running a game with this system is likely to find useful, and is very much of the same standard as the Players Handbook in terms of the amount of thought and work that’s clearly gone into it.
[5 of 5 Stars!]