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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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Castles & Crusades Bluffside City on the Edge
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/22/2015 00:31:06

I was surprised by the amount of information packed inside this supplement. Bluffside, the surrounding area, and the underworld beneath it are each detailed, along with history, power structures, and religion -- I expected that. Seven black and white maps are provided, thanks to a recent update to the PDF from the publisher. Beyond that, however, you will find monsters, NPCs, items, magic items, spells, races, and classes. While I haven't played in Bluffside yet, the races and classes look like they would work well in any fantasy setting, and could easily expand a Castles & Crusades player's options. The information is really packed into these 178 pages, with few illustrations. While I would have appreciated more art to break up the text, I still appreciate the detail that this supplement goes into.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Bluffside City on the Edge
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Castles & Crusades Rune Lore
by Casey L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/16/2015 19:36:22

Rune Magic in games has always appealed to me and I don't know if it's my Germanic roots coming out or what but if something has runes in it I'll probably buy it. Sadly this item doesn't hold up.


Well it has good art and background for the runes it fails with the simple fact that it feels unfinished and/or rushed. I say this because when it gets to the meat of this new magic system and tells as their are 9 tomes that hold this ancient lore and we get their names and a short description and the pages after that explain the runes but only for three of the tomes and then it switches gears to a little gazetteer of an area with out gods (It's words not mine) then gives us some adventures.


Now well gazetteers and adventures are always nice I bought this for rune magic and i feel like I have the first third to a half of that book and then some one just through some random stuff in there and called it a day.


All in all I give 3/5 because I want to like it but they just seemed to lose focus.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Rune Lore
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Castles & Crusades Nine Worlds Saga Volume III: Crises in Alfheimer
by Ben S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/03/2015 06:19:51

Not only do I like the concept behind the Saga, but the story itself is a new take on such an adventure and the cost has been very reasonable. Keep up the good work!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Nine Worlds Saga Volume III: Crises in Alfheimer
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Castles & Crusades PDF1 Encounters: Bands of Orcs
by Tomàs R. C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/20/2015 09:55:49

This is what I was looking for: useful NPC stats of some groups of orcs ready tu use in my game. The player characters enetred orc wastelands and I have no time to personalize every encounter, so this suplement is perfect. Also, in every group described in this suplement, there are described their possible motivations to enhance the encounter.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades PDF1 Encounters: Bands of Orcs
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Castles & Crusades Castle Keepers Guide
by Johnathan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/20/2015 00:04:22

Excellent game, just the right feel. Easy to play and quick to learn.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Castle Keepers Guide
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Amazing Adventures Companion
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/05/2015 12:01:55

The Amazing Adventures Companion is now out. If you enjoy the Amazing Adventures game (and I do) then this is great news. The book is 162 pages with covers and OGL statement. Beyond that it is packed with all sorts great things.


Book One covers Astounding Action Heroes, or ways to improve your characters or make them closer to your vision. Abilities above 18 are covered and even how to get them there.
Each class is also presented and tips on how to play "other classes" with them. For example The Gadgeteer can be refocused into a street-level, Pulp Age Superhero. Think Batman in his early days. OR take the Gadgeteer and make his gadgets into potions and you have The Alchemist. The Gumshoe can give you an Ace Reporter (something I have really wanted) or the Consulting Detective. Play that aging Sherlock Holmes if you like. No new rules are needed for these since the rules are largely flexible enough. But....if you really want new characters then you are covered here as well. The Companion introduces The Acrobat, The Archer, The Duelist, The Gunslinger, The Pirate and The Soldier. What they do should be fairly self-explanatory.
The next section is one I was really looking forward to reading. This discusses porting over the classes in AA over to a Fantasy game like Castles & Crusades. While there is nothing shocking here it is a good set of guidelines. With the new classes, say like the Alchemist, Archer and Gunslinger it is nice to have so guidelines.

Next we have AA multiclassing, which is a port of the C&C "Class and a half".

We dive into equipment next which includes an expanded firearm list and how to use "classical" armor in an AA game.


Book Two covers Advanced Action Heroes. New rules for your Pulp Character. This includes some new generic class abilities. My new favorites are Occult Library and Wild Talent.


Book Three is Mysteries of Magic, Mentalism and Gadgets. It's like it was written just for me!

More information is given on Magic and Sanity; with caveats of what sort of game are wanting to run. A game where magic is dark can include Sanity and then some spells are removed, others added. We get a few pages of new spells, some tips on adapting C&C spells and then some revised Spell Lists.
For Mentalists we get some new Psionic Powers. For Gadgeteers we get some new gadgets and powers.


Book Four is Astonishing Stories. This covers some basic and advanced rules including contested rolls, Fate points, "Movie Physics", and various issues regarding damage and healing. It's kind of a catch-all chapter, but the overall theme is making your game more cinematic when you want to.


Book Five is Spinning Strange Tales. While it does feature a kickass Snake-headed monk get ready for some kung-fu fighting there is more to this chapter than that. This chapter covers different types of games you can play with AA and what alterations are needed. Most times this is about which classes to include and what equipment to use or not. My favorite might be the "Science Fantasy" section. I mean really, what is more "Pulp Adventures" than Edgar Rice Burroughs? Seriously. Reading this section suddenly I want to give up all my current games and play a Barsoom game using AA/C&C.

Of course I have to mention the section on "Tales of Swords and Sorcery". The author, Jason Vey, has honestly forgotten more about Conan and Robert E. Howard than I'll ever know. He makes some great points about using AA to emulate a Conan style game. Ok. Conan on Mars. That's what I want to play now.


Book Six is our Rouges Gallery. NPCs and Groups. This includes the historical (Harry Houdini) the semi-historical (Robert Locksley) and the comics.


All in all if you are a fan of Amazing Adventures or the Pulp Era in general then this is a must buy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures Companion
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Magnificent Miscellaneum Vol. 4
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2015 16:32:52

These books are a collection of various items for use in C&C by James Michler. Vol 4. has to offer five new artifacts/magic items and 10 new White Box style monsters.
Again not bad for the money.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Magnificent Miscellaneum Vol. 4
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Magnificent Miscellaneum Vol. 3
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2015 16:30:10

These books are a collection of various items for use in C&C. Vol. 3 includes a couple of new artifacts, about a dozen new "White Box" menaces (monsters) and finally (and why I bought it) 3 new druid spells.
Not bad for the price.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Magnificent Miscellaneum Vol. 3
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Castles & Crusades The Giants Wrath
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2015 16:25:17

Another Celtic-themed adventure featuring some classic Irish and Welsh monsters and situations. Giants used to populate the lands but now men do. Some of those giants are not happy about it.
This adventure is 26 pages and can be played in a couple of sessions. Be warned though, it is a tough one given that there are a large number of giants to fight. Characters should be strong and the party should include a fair number of fighters and rangers. A wizard would help too.
This adventure also makes for a good bridge (somewhat literally) between the normal fantasy of C&C to the Celtic-fueled darker fantasy of the Codex Celtarum.
Also a good way to introduce the lands of faerie to new players.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades The Giants Wrath
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Castles & Crusades A Druid's Lament
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2015 16:15:21

A nice little adventure that can be played in a single session. While not specifically tied to the Celtic world of Codex Celtarum, it does work well with it. It is an introduction adventure so there are many of the tropes of that, but that is fine. It works here.
If you have an afternoon and couple of bucks then this is a great choice.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades A Druid's Lament
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Castles & Crusades The Goblins of Mount Shadow
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2015 15:22:17

Another Celtic/Fey themed adventure for characters 1st to 5th level. This time they have to deal with the rise of the Grey King (who I really, really want to call Jareth). The book is 26 pages with the artwork you come to expect from Troll Lords. Also written by Brian Young this adventure feels like someone should be playing uilleann pipes in the background. I love that C&C can effortless emulate old-school D&D, but these adventures take to someplace new...or rather someplace old. Someplace that is a little darker.

This adventure is simple enough (as it should be) but it also might be more difficult in terms of the challenges faced. Granted life in Celtic, even pseudo-Celtic, times was supposed to be harsh. I would say have the characters start at 2nd level instead.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades The Goblins of Mount Shadow
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Castles & Crusades Night of the Sprits
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2015 14:26:51

I LOVE Halloween themed adventures. This one comes from Brian Young who also gave us Codex Nordica and Codex Celtarum. The adventure takes place in the Codex Celtarum version of the world over three days of Samhain, or Halloween to you heathens.
The veils between the worlds are thin and there is every chance that fae lords and lady or even th Lord of the Dead himself will make an appearance.
Personally I am a little jealous of this one. It features the machinations of a Dark Druid. I ran something similar myself many years before. I am jealous because this one just oozes style and creepy atmosphere. The adventure is not long. It could be played in a couple of sessions or a longish one on Halloween night. Start at 6:00 or so and you can be hitting the end of Act 3 at Midnight.
Honestly. There is so much I love about this adventure I kinda want to blame Brian Young for hiring clairvoyants to get exactly what I wanted out of my head and on to print.

It is that good and I hate him forever for it.
(not really...but maybe a little bit)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Night of the Sprits
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Castles & Crusades Book Of Familiars
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2015 13:48:11

I love playing magic using classes. I also love having familiars. Nothing it more iconic that a witch and her cat or a wizard with his owl. Or a necromancer and a floating skull!

This book covers the basics; what is a familiar? How is it different than an animal companion? What does it do for a wizard?

We move into a number of familiar "abilities" that a caster can use. Now these look an awful lot like feats from 3.x. That is no shock, this book began as a d20 supplement and this is the new C&C version. That is fine, they have been reworked and it works well here. Don't think of them as feats really. Familiars also get a few special abilities themselves. A lot of these are true special abilities and set the familiar off from the rest of animal kind.

We get a list of "standard" familiars and the benefits they grant. We also get "Greater" and "Supreme" Familiars. Pretty much anything can now be a familiar.
If we wanted to just talk about basic familiars we could stop here. But we don't. Next chapter deals with the familiars Assassins can get. This is followed by a chapter on Barbarian familiars and special mounts. This is includes an awesome bit on Totem Spirits. Buy it for the wizards, keep it for the barbarians! (and we are only 1/4 of the way through!) This is followed by chapters for Bards, Clerics, Druids, Fighters, Monks, Paladins and Knights, Rangers, Rogues, and finally special ones for Wizards.
We get 12 pages of new animals and 25 pages of new monsters.
We get 2 pages of new spells and 4 of new magic items. All in all 210 pages. Pretty nice really.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Book Of Familiars
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