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Amazing Adventures Day of the Worm
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/06/2012 11:43:33
It was can only be called expert timing, the first adventure for Amazing Adventures comes out the same week I am dedicating a week to playing around with and reviewing AA.

From the Core Rules book author, Jason Vey, this adventure is a delightful little romp with everything you would expect in an Pulp Adventure. Or at least everything I expect; square jawed heroes, Nazis, secret cults, ancient forgotten beings, exotic locales in far away lands (Egypt no less!), a femme fatale, and a mysterious treasure. Really what more could you want?

The 4 Act Adventure process detailed in the core book is brought to life here with plenty of guideline on how to alter it to suit your's or your player's needs. It is also a good guide on how to create your own adventures.

14 total pages, 12+2 covers.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures Day of the Worm
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Amazing Adventures Day of the Worm
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2012 03:29:40
This is an absolute classic of a pulp adventure, with all the elements that you'd expect rolled into one neat package and presented ready to run, yet complete with notes to facilitate customisation by the GM if desired!

It's the first adventure custom-written for Amazing Adventures, the pulp-style RPG written using Siege Engine game mechanics, with promises of more to come... if they are as well-done as this I shall be on the lookout for them. The core assumption is that you have already played the adventure 'Heart of Ythill' in the corebook - and makes copious references to it throughout - yet if you have not, it will still work although you may have a bit more explaining to do.

World War II is in full flight, but our adventurers - and their enemies - have other things in mind, so all-out warfare serves as a background to the events of the scenario which involves a classic pulp scramble to get one's hands on an ancient mysterious artefact in a race against Nazis (of course), extraterrestials and even a few zombies chucked in for good measure...

Despite its mere 12 pages, there's a lot here. Of particular note are hints and tips provided for the GM to facilitate troubleshooting should the characters try and wander off (or prove less adept in combat than they ought to be), copious amounts of background flavour to regale your group with as you set the scene and impressive complexity of plot with opportunities for stealth, investigation, intrigue and trickery as well as red-blooded fisticuffs! All culminating in a climactic scrap in the bowels of an ancient Egyptian tomb (in the Valley of the Kings, of course) and plenty of suggestions for future adventure, whatever the outcome of this one.

A merry romp, well worth the acquiring!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures!
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/04/2012 13:26:14
I am woefully behind on reviews. So I want to do one I picked up at Gen Con and it has been sitting on my desk, taunting me to review it.

First off some disclaimers.
* I do know the author Jason Vey and we have worked on projects together before. This is not one of those projects.
* I did read a playtest version of this game some time ago. This review is on the published version of the book.
* I did not get a free copy of this. I pledged in Troll Lords pre-order program and picked it up at Gen Con.

Ok. All of that is out of the way.

Amazing Adventures (hereafter AA) is a new Pulp Action RPG based on the same SIEGE Engine that runs Castles & Crusades. Unlike other SIEGE games, this one is 100% compatible with C&C. So much so that I plan on using them together, but I'll get to that. Right now let's talk about what the book has.

Upfront we get our OGL declaration including a lot of Open content. This will make it easy to make "Pulp d20" supplements or use this for other sorts of games.

We move right into an introduction to what Pulp Roleplaying is. I know Jason, I know he knows Pulp quite well. Reading this then is like reading Steven Kenson on Supers Roleplaying; I know he gets it at a level above me. In this case yes, but Jason still brings it down to the peasants like myself to understand. For me I am constantly defining Pulp by old movies or, more to the point, what it isn't. It isn't Victorian, it isn't 50's Atomic Sci-Fi (yet) or Ultra Modern.
There is a brief introduction on the use of magic. Something I'll get to again in a bit.

Book One deals with Characters. Note, there are not multiple books, but divided withing the physical book.
If you have played, oh, ANYTHING in the last 40 years then you know what this is. The same 6 attributes of all d20 games and C&C. They are described with a little more information given to languages.

There are Classes. This is based on Castles & Crusades afterall. The Arcanist (who reminds of the Harry Dresden covers), are our magic users. What I like about them is that they choose how their magic works. So a "wizard" may memorize spells and choose Intelligence as their Spell-casting Attribute. Or Wisdom if it is deep understanding or Charisma if it is force of character. I like this. A lot. The Arcanist is a bit tougher than your d20 wizard with d6 HD. More emphasis is given to cantrips/0-level spells and less on really high level ones. Makes sense really.
The Gadgeteer is used to make all sorts of high tech gadgets. Your Howard Hughes-like characters. You hard-boiled detectives are well represented by the Gumshoe. The Hooligan is your all purpose neer-do-well, from street urchins to thieves and generally all purpose bad guys. But that doesn't mean your character is bad, no he/she could have a heart of gold and be down on their luck. ;) The Mentalist is a great addition given the fascination that the time had with Mentalism/Spiritualism. If the Arcanist is a "magical" character then the Mentalist is the "pyschic" one. I also want to point out here that the Mentalist is a PERFECT class to port over to C&C if you want to do psychic/psionic powers there. The Pugilist is your bare knucks fighter. We have these chaps in the Victorian era games too, but these have some nice features. There is the Raider for your big game hunters or Indiana Jones types. Finally the Socialite.
There are some good rules on multiclassing as well, which is great for this Socialite/Hooligan I want to make.

The same Alignment system is in play as C&C. Personally I would have liked something different. The nice thing is that it is completely optional. I think for anything other than a D&D/C&C game I would drop it.

Next up are Fate Points. These work like Drama or Hero Points. The characters gain them at a level increase, but chances are they will spend them faster. I have ported this over to C&C and other d20 games and they work great. There is a lot you can do with these above and beyond normal "points" and they really add to the Pulpy feel of the game in my mind. The main character doesn't die in Chapter 1 or Reel 1, and he doesn't die at Level 1 either. Fate points are the "To Be Continued!" of the game.

The book on Characters ends with some equipment from the Pulp age including when they were introduced (good) and pricing for the times.

Book 2 is Advanced Character Customization
AA is not just about leveling up characters, there are other ways to advnace and customize your Pulp Hero.
Characters can have Abilities (like Ace), Backgrounds (like Scientist), Skills, and Traits. Traits are bit like Feats and a bit like Qualities and Drawbacks in other games.

Since there is Arcana and this Pulp there is a chance the characters will run into something that will break their little minds. So we have a section on Sanity. These rules are simple and solid really. There is not too much detail to read like the latest DSM but enough for a game.

There is also a section on Wealth which is dealt with not as money, but rating based on class.

Book 3 deals with the Paranormal
In particular this chapter details the differences between psionics and magic. Again, this would be great to port over to C&C. The basic mechanics behind using psionics and magic are also detailed. Frankly I am really, really glad that Psionics are different from Magic. They should be and they should feel different. One of my disapointments with D&D3x (and 4e) was Psionics were treated just like another form of magic and they shouldn't be.

Spellcasting is based on Mana points which is a good change really, and fits with the Pulp period more in my mind. Spells are largely treated the same way as other d20 products so adding new spells is actually pretty easy.

What is interesting about both the magic spells and psionic powers is they both have associated Ability scores. So a spell might require Intelligence or Charisma.

Book 4: Rules of the Game is next.
It is what you would expect it to be. Maybe a little more information on non-lethal and unarmed and two-fisted fighting. There are some more gadgets here, in particular modes of transportation.

Book 5 covers the Bestiary
In pulp literature there were still unknown lands to discover and many of those lands had never been seen by man before so who knows what sorts of beasts would dwell there? Well not really dinosaurs or giant apes, but in your game you can. We get a nice mix of classical monsters, atomic-horror giants, undead creatures and aliens. It's crazy. But crazy in a good way. Since the monsters are standard format you can even pull out any monster book for C&C (or d20) and use those monsters too.

Book 6 Running a Pulp Game is next.
Details the pulp 4-act adventure (for contrast I typically run 3-act adventures for Buffy and 5-act ones for Ghosts of Albion). For your benefit a sample adventure is included.

We end the book with a Character Sheet.

There are plenty of support files from the author:

This is the errata for the first printing (dark cover): http://www.grey-elf.com/candc/aaerrata.pdf

A Character sheet: http://www.grey-elf.com/candc/aacharactersheet.pdf
And expanded Firearms. These are in addition to what is found in the books: http://www.grey-elf.com/candc/aafirearms.pdf

Ok. Judgement time.

Science Fiction Double Feature
I like this book a lot. I am not sure I would ever play in a pulp setting, but I think it is a great update/replacement for Modern d20. Truthfully while reading this what I REALLY want to do with this is something along the lines of 50's and 60's monster movies. So aliens attacking the earth, giant insects and kaiju. "This Island Earth", "Forbidden Planet", "Them", "Day of the Triffids" and the like. I know this is not what the book was designed to do. But it sure works great for it to be honest. Actually better than great.

I have a lot of Pulpish, 2-fisted adventure, games. This one is great for Pulp, but to ignore the flexibility in this game would be a crime. Plus the 50s are an under-represented time in RPG games.

Stand and Deliver!
Another thing that this game is PERFECT for is as a supplement to Castles & Crusades. Not only do you get an updated Arcane class, you get a perfectly workable Psionic class with powers. Even if you don't use that try using the Fate Point system with C&C.

One of the nice features of this game is the use of just using a +5 for Primes. Instead of a TN or 12 or 18 like C&C, AA gives you a plus to your roll. We housed ruled this for C&C a while back and I understand it is fairly common. I like it better than the core C&C rules and will use this instead.

There is something else that this game would be perfect for. I have had this desire to do a game based in 16th to 17th Century England where I could cover such topics as Queen Elizabeth, The Stuart Kings and Queens, Shakespeare, Sir Francis Drake, Guy Fawkes, John Dee, Highway Men, sail and conquest. This plus C&C minus many of the D&D trappings would be perfect.

I am thinking of modding the vehicle combat rules for Highwaymen on horse back and coaches-in-four. Stand and deliver indeed!

Missing
What is missing from the book that I think would have been nice are some Archetypes/1st level NPCs.
Also a supporting cast might also be good. What level and class is Police Officer O'Hara at Precinct 9 where you get all your good tips?

A couple of adventures from the publisher would also be nice. You could put a few of them into one book.

Also missing, but something that I can easily find, is a map of the World circa 1930 with so travel times and costs. I would have liked some more information on the world too. I guess that is the one thing that this book lacks. Granted, these things are typically covered in a Game Masters' book or a Campaign book. I ignored it up to this point because I was so drawn in by all the things I want to do with this that I never considered missing. I am hesitant to count off for it since a.) I only noticed it now despite having had and played around with this game for a while and b.) I was not then and am not now likely to even use it.

So where do end this?
Well I really like this book. Even if I never play it as intended there is just too much good stuff in it to ignore.

Buy this if
...you like Jason's other books. This is his style through and through.
...you like two-fisted pulp action adventure.
...you like Castles & Crusades and are looking to turn it up a notch or add Psionics or a Fate Point system.
...you want a flexible modern system built on a system that is tried and tested for years.
...you want easy to use vehicle combat rules.

My imagination is really grabbed by this system. I think there is a lot of potential here and a lot I want to do with this game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures!
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Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
by Steven C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/23/2012 19:01:23
This city is fun. Full of possibilities and a great sandbox for almost any style of adventure

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
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Castles & Crusades Town of Kalas
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/09/2012 11:35:55
My players have been wandering around the wilderness for ages and complaining about a decent place where they can unload some of the coins and treasure they have been lugging around. I've been dragging my feet about giving them a place to do this as I want to make the location special for them, you know, filled with memorable characters and scenes, and some adventure hooks with perhaps a tad of danger. Unfortunately I do not have a lot of time to design a decent city so when the "Town of Kalas" popped up on my social network I immediately snagged a copy.

First, the town is a little more light hearted than most of the Castles and Crusades supplements are, it is more magical and the otherworldliness is thrown in your face from the get go. This is not a low magic, gritty medieval city; it is a robust town that embraces the things that are in the world and uses them in ways that make sense. Be warned, there are some grammar/spelling issues with this supplement, nothing that set me off and in fact one had me laughing a bit in regards to a master work quarterstaff, something I am certain will be corrected promptly.

Now to the meat of it; the city is dissected into various locations that we have all come to expect with Inns, merchants, ships, nobles, and other nefarious NPCs around every corner and under every street. I like this, it gives the place a great feel and the brief descriptions of each of the major players is not overly done and not too sparse, it is just right. The writer has a sense of humor and isn't afraid to let it show through in the area descriptions, if you like your supplements to read like banks statements you may want to steer clear of Kalas.

In addition to the usual descriptions of areas and NPCs, there is some attention given to what the locals do for fun. The Axe Beak races are brilliant, people love or hate sports and this one little detail around which most of the populace has an opinion is well done. Most of the areas where social interaction occur also have a variety of random tables to generate on the fly encounters that bring the setting to life. I'm particularly fond of the unique menus and drinks (and their possible affects) of each of the inns and the "Celebrating to Excess" table, where you can roll to find out where/what condition the character is in the next morning. ("These are not my pants!", classic!)

There is some mature type content here too, (brothels, prostitution, drinking, drugs), but it is easily left out if you're playing with younger players and the supplement as a whole deserves the highest rating. It seems geared towards 1st to 7th level player characters, but could easily be scaled up if your PCs like to make trouble.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/19/2012 07:05:05
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/09/19/tabeltop-review-castles-
-crusades-players-handbook-fifth-edition/

I give a lot of love to Castles & Crusades. In the past year alone I’ve reviewed eight products from this line with the newest edition of the Player’s Handbook being the ninth. I love the system and have since I purchased the first edition hardcover Player’s Handbook back in 2004. I even picked up the Kindle version of Fourth Edition to support the line. However, when Troll Lords ran a Kickstarter for Fifth Edition, I decided to pass. I didn’t really need a third copy of the book and I knew I’d be getting a review copy of the PDF. I have to admit though, the Kickstarter offered some amazing deals and the 223 people who partook in it got more than their money’s worth.

The biggest change to the book is that it is now in full colour with some great new artwork by Peter Bradley and others. Other than that, the game is almost exactly the same as it has been since first edition. Even the layout and flow of the book is almost exactly the same. There are 146 pages in 5e compared to 128 in 1e, but most of the extra pages are in spell descriptions and then little bits and pieces added here and there like the new optional rules. Basically if you already have an earlier version of the book, you don’t need to get this unless you just want the new snazzy colour artwork.

If you’ve never played Castles & Crusades, it’s one of the oldest “Old School Renaissance” style Dungeons & Dragons clone. It’s a mix of first, second and third edition rules with some unique twists all its own. Still, if you’ve played a TSR version of D&D, you’ll probably be able to jump into C&C with nary a hiccup. Troll Lord calls it their “Siege Engine,” but really it’s the same Gygaxian product you’ve known and loved most of your life. It’s my personal favorite OSR game and honestly, I embraced it all the harder when Wizards released…ick, Fourth Edition D&D.

You have seven races (Human, Halfling, Half-Orc, Half-Elf, Dwarf, Gnome and Elf) and thirteen classes (Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Knight, Ranger, Wizard, Illusionist, Cleric, Druid, Thief, Assassin, Bard & Monk). All are your basic D&D classes except for Knight which similar to the Cavalier from Unearthed Arcana. I do tend to play the Knight or Assassin in C&C. They’re a lot of fun.

The biggest difference between C&C and OD&D is probably the concept of primary and secondary attributes. In D&D attributes picked what class you could be and whether you got bonus experience or not. In C&C primary attributes give you a modifier to any skill checks (straight out of third edition D&D) that you have to make. Humans get three primary attributes while all other races get two. It’s not a huge difference, but as many gamers will tell you, a 1 or even a 2 can make all the difference in an important roll.

The book is primarily about making characters as you would guess from the name.116 pages of the book are devoted to character creation, along with an explanation if stats, races, classes, spells and weapons. The rest of the book is primarily for the Castle Keeper or DM, although any C&C fan can (and should!) read it. There’s a lot of information about combat here. For those that are interested, C&C does use Third Edition D&D style combat rolls rather than the old school THACO. Honestly, C&C is very much a D&D clone, so if you’ve played first, second or third edition from that series, you should be able to pick up the mechanics of C&C without missing a beat.

Appendix A in this Fifth Edition has some new things that weren’t in the original game. These includes multi-classing (taking two different classes like say, Cleric and Paladin) or “Class and a Half.” Multi-classing rules aren’t new to D&D gamers, but it was something that wasn’t in the first few editions of C&C. Multi-classing actually does its own thing rather than following any previous D&D or AD&D rules. Here when a C&C character levels up he gains a level in both classes. However to gain a level, the character has to have all the experience needed from both classes plus a little extra. So things are slow going here if you want to multi-classing. There’s no 5th Level Fighter/2nd Level Wizard things going on here. As well, demi-humans can only take up to two classes and humans up to three. These are some interesting choices and I’m not sure how many people would choose to multi-class in this situation unless the ENTIRE PARTY is multiclassing. Otherwise you’ll be left behind big time.

Class and a Half is the really weird one though. A player picks a primary class and then a supporting class. Basically it is the same as multi-classing, but the secondary class only goes up every two levels. So a Fighter/Mage in this case would start off as a Level 1 Fighter. Then when he has enough experience, he would become a Level 2 Fighter/Level 1 Wizard. Then it would be a Level 3 Fighter/Level 1 Wizard and then a Level 4 Fighter/Level 2 Wizard, It’s not very complicated, but you do have to pay VERY close attention to your experience points to make this work. Again, I’d stick to a single class, especially since C&C is very hack and slash combat oriented.

Overall, this is the same exact Castles & Crusades its fans have always loved, albeit it with some minor tweaks here and there and so new gorgeous full color art. I’m a huge fan of the system and can definitely recommend it to any fantasy gaming fan (although not necessarily the published adventures). If you already own a previous version of the Player’s Handbook, it’s probably not worth getting this unless you just want the art. As well, $21 for the PDF is a bit pricey compared to other games, especially when you realize that you could get a physical copy of the book for only ten dollars more (or roughly the same price if you purchased the hardcover book via the Kickstarter campaign!) If you don’ have a Player’s Handbook though, this Fifth Edition is definitely the way to go. Castles & Crusades has never looked better (or more colourful!) and it’s hands down the best version so far. That said, you can find older versions for a lot less, but no matter what edition of the PH you pick up, you should definitely pick up SOME version of Castles and Crusades if you’re an old school D&D fan, or a fan of fantasy RPGs in general.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing
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Castles & Crusades Crimson Pact
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/19/2012 07:04:30
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/09/19/tabletop-review-the-cri-
mson-pact-castles-crusades/

The Crimson Pact is a continuation of the Castles and Crusades adventure line that began with The Goblins of Mount Shadow. These adventures take place in a quasi-Celtic world. In fact, it’s meant to be a direct continuation but Cthulhu knows you’d never get that from reading it. After all The Goblins of Mount Shadow is supposedly meant for Level 1 characters while The Crimson Pact is for Levels 3-8. Of course, C&C adventures always have this insane level range that is nowhere realistic. The Goblins of Mount Shadow would wipe out any first level party, which is why in my review I suggested PCs be AT LEAST Level 3. The Crimson Pact is similar as third level characters should not be routinely dealing with hags and formorians. Definitely err on the higher side of the level suggestion unless you want to see a TPK (Total Party Kill) early on.

Perhaps the oddest thing about the two adventures is that The Goblins of Mount Shadow directly ends with the start of the The Crimson Pact with the whole “To Be Continued” vibe. Meanwhile, The Crimson Pact doesn’t make a single reference to The Goblins of Mount Shadow and while it sets up the adventure storyline, this particular publications lacks all of the WORLD setup that was in the previous adventure. This means if someone picks up The Crimson Pact blindly, they’d have no idea it was part of an adventure path or that it is outside the default generic C&C world. I’m guessing the staff at Troll Lords assumed people would just know this but you know what happens when you assume… On the other hand, The Crimson Pact is able to stand on its own without your gaming troupe having had even the slightest bit of exposure to The Goblins of Mount Shadow, which is a nice change of pace from the Adventures of the Powder River series Troll Lord has been putting out over the past few months. Basically, people that own and/or have played The Goblins of Mount Shadow will get more out of The Crimson Pact, but it is no way a necessary experience.

This adventure puts PCs into quite a predicament from the get-go, but by the time the adventure is done, the start will seem like a Caribbean holiday by comparison. A chance encounter with a snooty elf leaves the PCs with a shard of an ancient sword. Unfortunately, the elf has stolen said shard (and its two brethren) from three local tribes of barbarians. The tribes accuse each other of stealing the shards and all out war amongst them is about to begin unless the PCs can figure out what exactly happened. From there characters will have to use a portal to the Otherworld (Feywild) where they must attempt to get the other two shards back from the elf…who wants the PCs’ shard equally as bad. Throw in a ton of encounters with the Gwiddonod (think Drow but more Amazonian) a lot of hags and then a spectacular battle between the light and dark fey where the PCs will have to escape by the seat of their pants (armour?) while earning the eternal rue or the dark fey and this one adventure should keep your PCs busy for multiple sessions – if they are able to survive that long.




The Crimson Pact is only twenty-seven pages, but it feels a lot longer. This is probably because there is so much combat and dungeon crawling that you can easily get about four to six play sessions out of this one adventure unless the Keeper streamlines things. That’s a great deal when you think about it. I’ll admit I prefer my adventures to be more story oriented than dice hucking combat, but the battles here are pretty neat (although the climactic one will be a headache for even the most experienced Keeper if they want to fully run it) and there’s a lot of great storytelling opportunities here as well. You’ve got to placate the warring tribes, deal with the Gwiddonod, try and make friends with some of the light fey so you don’t have even more enemies coming after the party and more. There are a lot of difference ways the adventure can turn out (admittedly, most are bad for the PCs), but if the PCs can get through it, it’ll be an adventure that they will be talking about for a long time to come. Even better, this adventure sets up so many potential other plot hooks, than an enterprising Keeper will be able to come up with his own adventures based on them. Unlike The Goblins of Mount Shadow , there wasn’t any hints of further adventures for this path to be forthcoming, which is a shame as this is one of the best series Troll Lord has put out for Castles & Crusades is some time. However, with the aforementioned dangling plot threads, the Keeper shouldn’t need any more. Saves money and paper I suppose!

The adventure also gives you the stats of six new monsters for your C&C game: Alder Tree Hag, Baobhan Síth, Fomori, Athach, Gwiddon and Pixie. These should be a wonderful addition to any Keeper’s libram of antagonists, especially since C&C is a bit lacking in the monster area. There is also a page of maps, but honestly, these are the weakest part of the adventure as they just looking graph paper that someone scanned in. Maybe I’m spoiled by the ones in Dungeon Crawl Classics, but I do feel they could have done a LOT better here.

All in all this new quasi-Celtic setting has been a great move for Castles & Crusades and really seems to have revitalized the system. Troll Lord has now put out two excellent adventures and I hope the streak of high quality continues for some time to come. Will there be more? Only time will tell, but I truly hope so.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Crimson Pact
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Castles & Crusades The Goblins of Mount Shadow
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/30/2012 06:30:19
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/08/30/tabletop-review-castles-
-crusades-the-goblins-of-mount-shadow/

The Goblins of Mount Shadow is the first full length adventure we’ve seen for Castles and Crusades in some time. For the past few months, they’ve just been working on the lackluster episodic content Adventures on the Powder River. What makes this latest release all the more interesting isn’t that Goblins of Mount Shadow is the start of a brand new adventure path, but because it’s outside the usual Castles & Crusades default world. The adventure is heavily steeped in Celtic lord and Dark Ages folklore, making the adventure really stand out. The adventure does claim it can be dropped into any fantasy setting with ease, but considering just how Celt-oriented this is, I beg to differ. That said, the adventure is very well written and a lot of fun. I found it to be the best Castles & Crusades adventure in a very long time and anyone using the system will definitely be able to make a campaign out of this and have fun doing so.

The Goblins of Mount Shadow is designed for two to five characters ranging between levels 1 and 5. That’s a pretty big spread so DMs will want to really read over the adventure and see where they want the PCs to be at level and power wise before running this. I have to admit I strongly disagree with the notion of playing this adventure with Level 1 characters. There are night hags, an undead giant and treants in this which can kill a low level character in a single hit. You’re definitely better off doing this adventure with Level 3 to Level 5 characters unless you want a Total Party Kill.

The Grey King has risen. This mysterious being has united the tribes of the Dark Fey and, under his command, they are completely wiping out human villages. The player characters will come across ghost town after ghost town, completely bereft of life. Only after an exhaustive search will they find the Grey King’s keep and then the real challenge begins: sneaking in to the castle and slaying the lord of the dark fey. Of course, The Grey King has a super secret evil plan under way and unfortunately PCs won’t be able to stop it.

Like most Castles & Crusades adventures, the emphasis here is on roll-playing instead of roleplaying. This means there is very little narrative and a crapload of fighting. I honestly don’t think the people that write adventures for this system playtest them before hand, because players will have to kill at least a hundred creatures before the adventure is through, many of which are far too powerful for the low levels this adventure is supposedly designed for. First level character should not be dealing with undead giants, a legion or sorcerers, night hags, or hellhounds. There simply is no way for them to survive the sheer numbers or the fact the monsters out power them in every way. Combined, the adventure is guaranteed to slaughter low-level characters, which again, is why is strongly suggest the team be at least third level before undertaking this adventure. It’s exceptionally well done but the level range for what can get through this is so off, it’s shocking. The adventure tries to balance things out by providing a lot of opportunities for extremely powerful magical items, but to me this makes things worse, not better. Characters should face challenges appropriate to their levels, not high level monsters while earning items you normally don’t see until 9th+ level. 3 swords at first level just seems insane to me. If you’re giving Level 1 characters scrolls of fireballs, wands of lighting bolts, and cloaks of invisibility, then where do you go as they get higher? Fighting gods and arming them all with vorpal swords by the time they are Level 5? I know Castles & Crusades adventures tend to be Monty Haul hack and slash affairs, but as I keep saying, this is a wonderful adventure, but not for first level characters. It’s insane what you are fighting and how much loot you get while doing so.

Now with that paragraph of negativity out of the way, let me reinforce that this is one of the better Castles & Crusades published adventures out there. You have a wide range of enemies, a nice high fantasy storyline, and bits where the players have to think things through instead of charge in with spells and weapons going every which way. As well, there is a positive to many of the enemies being far too powerful for the suggested character level, and that’s the PCs will have to learn that discretion is sometimes the better part of valor – almost like encountering something in a Call of Cthulhu adventure. Playing through The Goblins of Mount Shadow should take multiple sessions just because of all the combat, making this a great value for the amount you purchase it for. By the time the adventure comes to a close, you and your friends with have dispatched one of the more memorable enemies to come out of Castles & Crusades and yet somehow….this is just the beginning.

The Goblins of Mount Shadow seems to be a wonderful start for The Crimson Pact adventure path (although I’m sure that name will change), but Adventures on the Powder River started off nicely too and the last few pieces have been lackluster at best. Still, I have hope that this is the start of a really well done adventure path. With some great art, a rich setting and some memorable foes, Goblins of Mount Shadow will be a great way to introduce your friends (or even yourself!) to the Castles & Crusades system. Just remember not to start off at Level 1.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades The Goblins of Mount Shadow
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Castles & Crusades River Walk
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/23/2012 12:13:21
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/07/23/tabletop-review-castles-
-and-crusades-river-walk/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades To the Damenheit Bridge
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