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Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
by Matthew M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2010 22:40:03
This product is what D&D should be. It basically makes 3.5 D&D alot easier.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
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Tainted Lands
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/15/2009 10:18:08
Well, I just wrote a lengthy review that was devoured by rpgnow requiring me to sign in a second time (timed out I guess) and I lack the energy to rewrite this, so I'll just do a summary:

Style/Presentation: there are 5 books included but they are not indexed. The artwork is good, although the new artist's style took a bit of adjusting to get used to. As with all Troll Lords products it could have used a bit more editing. There is confusion on the extra prime rules introduced in the book.

Stand-Alone Usefulness: The book includes a C&C quickstart rules set but the game is clearly written for use with the main books, and so this is of limited usefulness. It works great as a specific campaign setting for C&C, but it is very high powered, and using much of this material in standard C&C games requires careful consideration.

Usefulness as a Horror Setting: This game is clearly inspired by Ravenloft, but it is much closer thematically to the movie Van Helsing or Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. I would also suggest this was a great resource for a Castlevania style game. Characters in this game are tough, very tough. They face slavering hordes of monsters that are just as tough, however; it's a strange mix that felt like a "fantasy heavy metal" take on horror to me.

Contents: Four new classes, a ton of new magic items, gear and spells, a detailed overview of the demiplane and a scenario for 4th level characters that will put them through the wringer of a haunted former keep turned inn turned bastion of EVIL. There is also a PDF with class-based character records and a quickstart rulebook that is more useful as a hand-out to players new to the whole RPG thing than to running the boxed set as is.

Overall: James Ward knows how to write a fun old-school sourcebook. It's not for people who find and crave balance, nor is it for people who learned everything they ever knew about role playing games within the last six years; if you were gaming in the 80's you will grokk what this set is about and appreciate what it's trying to accomplish. It;s very accessible and full of weird over-the-top ideas. Well worth the attention of old school and C&C fans alike. I could also see this being converted to a more modern game like Pathfinder with minor work involved. Fans of WoD games need not apply, this is a brand of heavy metal dark fantasy that has little to do with the precepts of the White Wolf brand names; likewise if you come to this expecting a Ravenloft supplement with the serial numbers filed off you will only be partially correct; the Tainted Lands is closer to James Ward's homebrew Ravenloft, I suspect, than anything else, and the higher overall power level of this game means it will most definitely play out like some sort of dark heroic fantasy than gothic horror.

Style: 4/5 -- good art, good layout, needs some errata and editing
Rules: 3/5 -- useful for its internal setting, harder to adapt a lot of it to a standard C&C game
Readability: 5/5 -- James Ward's relaxed and casual style of writing is a pleasure to read and made this more engaging than many existing C&C modules
Overall: 4/5 -- I'm using this for a Tainted Lands campaign "as is", the wacky concepts within make for a singularly unique over-the-top splatterfest campaign; if you like old-school and this sounds intriguing, grab it!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tainted Lands
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Castles & Crusades Of Gods & Monsters
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/03/2009 12:41:51
This is an "old school" approach to gods in fantasy gaming and C&C in particular, and a product I have been looking forward to for some time. If you were disappointed with the 3.0 edition of Dieties & Demigods as having far too few deities/pantheons and far too large a set of stat blocks, then this book will appeal to you.

Of Gods & Monsters includes fantasy pantheons for the various races (including goblinoids, gnomes, elves, dwarves, and halflings), the Airdhe pantheon (the default setting of many C&C modules) and a large sampling of real world mythologies, including Japanese, Indian, Roman, Greek, Celtic, Norse, Aztec, American Indian, and Egyptian. Each section provides a representative collection of the deities from each pantheon as well as statistics for their avatars (kind of like it was done in 2nd edition AD&D's Legends * Lore). A plethora of new monsters relevant to each pantheon are included, making this a good addition to C&C's Monsters & Treasures book, as well. A load of new spells are also included, and each deity entry includes suggested benefits clerics of the god might receive.

The plus side of this book is obvious: a convenient grouping of gods from real-world mythology as well as some ready made fictional pantheons, easily inserted in to whatever campaign world you desire. The book is gorgeously illustrated throughout, and has all of Troll Lord's signature artists involved, giving a nice range of variation. As always I enjoyed Bradley's art, but the new arist (who ilustrated the Norse pantheon) did some reall cool stuff here, and I really like his style; it's grown on me quite a bit since Tainted Lands.

The down side of this book isn't really a down side unless you're part of the newer generation of gamers who are accustomed to rigidly balanced mechanics. Many of the new clerical abilities, spells and even some monsters/avatars in this book have interesting stats and approaches. Some struck me as peculiar or potentially unbalanced (not many, just a few). From my perspective as an older gamer this is not an issue; C&C runs like older edition versions of D&D, and those did not arc everything along a specific line of balance. Likewise, C&C is famous for encouraging house rules and customization, so if something seems wonky, excluding or changing it does not cause problems. Personally, I've found nothing with which I had issue here, but then again I'm a more story-focused GM/CK so this book's range of diverse pantheons and ideas will greatly benefit my play style. If you are obsessed with balance, however, you might find some things odd or annoying.

Also, the book could have used a second edit. There were some typos that stood out in certain spots. That said, it's still orders of magnitude better than the 1st printing C&C Player's Handbook in terms of look and editing.

In the end, I would reccommend this book to all C&C players and also to OSRIC/Labyrinth Lord/older edition D&D gamers, as this book would prove equaly useful to such games, I feel. I actually plan to use it in reference to my Pathfinder games, as well.

Overall rating:
Usefulness 5/5
Mechanics 4/5
Presentation/Art: 5/5
Editing: 3/5
Value for the Dollar: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Of Gods & Monsters
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #1: Gharlidh, Grulnosc, and Rocktopus
by Zachary H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2009 22:15:41
Interesting baddies for my C&C game, but I can see how they could be easily ported to several different classic-feel fantasy RPGs. For a buck, totally worth it for the Castles & Crusades gamer.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #1: Gharlidh, Grulnosc, and Rocktopus
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Castles & Crusades: 100 Calamitous Curses
by Kenneth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/25/2009 20:35:10
While curses are typically a small part of most RPGs, even traditional fantasy RPGs, this product immediately forced me to think of ways to use it and use it often. Creative and useful, this book is a treat. Far from being a hindrance at the game table, these curses give the characters a problem to solve and provide the seeds for some unusual adventuring and role play.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: 100 Calamitous Curses
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #5: Chupacabra, Felpha, and Olgoi-Khorkhoi
by Kenneth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2009 12:16:31
The fifth in the series of Monstrous Menaces meets the same standards of quality and usefulness set by the previous four Monstrous Menaces. The author, James Mishler, provides interesting and unique characteristics for each monster that translates directly into actual game play. You get plenty of ecological information and tactical details that all add richness to the game without overworking the harried GM/DM/CK/Ref.

The three creatures in this particular set are very flexible and useful. The monsters are setting neutral--despite the detail provided, the GM/DM/CK/Ref will not have to "translate" anything to fit this critters into their campaign setting. And, despite the Castles & Crusades template, can fit right into any traditional fantasy role playing game with minimal work.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #5: Chupacabra, Felpha, and Olgoi-Khorkhoi
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #4: Hribixul, Memnech, and Quasi-Dragon
by Kenneth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2009 12:10:54
The fourth in the series of Monstrous Menaces maintains the quality of the previous three offerings. The author, James Mishler, provides interesting and unique characteristics for each monster that translates directly into actual game play. You get plenty of ecological information and tactical details that all add richness to the game without overworking the harried GM/DM/CK/Ref.

The hribixul is a great wilderness monster that will be a challenge for any party of adventurers. The memnech is less likely to be used as a random creature, but gives the GM/DM/CK/Ref a nice creature to when a campaign needs direct interaction by otherwise distant and removed deities. The quasi-dragon is similar to the pseudo-dragon in name only--the quasi-dragon being a large, primitive dragon-like creature (maybe the missing link between large reptiles and the dragon?).

The monsters are setting neutral--despite the detail provided, the GM/DM/CK/Ref will have a set of monsters that are usable in almost an campaign setting. And, despite the Castles & Crusades template, can fit right into any traditional fantasy role playing game with minimal work.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #4: Hribixul, Memnech, and Quasi-Dragon
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #3: Akhlat, Oogloog, and Woodwose
by Kenneth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/14/2009 10:39:15
The third is the series of Monstrous Menaces does not disappoint. The author, James Mishler, provides interesting and unique characteristics for each monster that translates directly into actual game play. You get plenty of ecological information and tactical details that all add richness to the game without overworking the harried GM/DM/CK/Ref.

The previous Monstrous Menaces monsters were setting neutral--despite the detail provided, the GM/DM/CK/Ref will have a set of monsters that are usable in almost an campaign setting. And, despite the Castles & Crusades template, can fit right into any traditional fantasy role playing game with minimal work. I'm not sure that I can say the same with these three creatures in Monstrous Menaces #3. We still get the same attention to detail as in the previous Monstrous Menaces releases, but I am not sure that any of the three of these creatures could be useful in every campaign. However, for those looking to add something unusual to their game, these creatures fit the bill.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #3: Akhlat, Oogloog, and Woodwose
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #2: Blade Dancer, Goblin, and Tharghûl
by Kenneth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/14/2009 10:07:22
The second is the series of Monstrous Menaces does not disappoint. The author, James Mishler, provides interesting and unique characteristics for each monster that translates directly into actual game play. You get plenty of ecological information and tactical details that all add richness to the game without overworking the harried GM/DM/CK/Ref.

My personal favorite was the recasting of the goblin. There is a lot of great information here that is directly useful at the gaming table and will help distinguish the goblin from otherwise similar creatures, such as the orc and kobold.

The monsters are setting neutral--despite the detail provided, the GM/DM/CK/Ref will have a set of monsters that are usable in almost an campaign setting. And, despite the Castles & Crusades template, can fit right into any traditional fantasy role playing game with minimal work.

Well done.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #2: Blade Dancer, Goblin, and Tharghûl
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #1: Gharlidh, Grulnosc, and Rocktopus
by Kenneth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/14/2009 10:01:02
It may seem a bit strange to pay a buck for three monsters, but Monstrous Menaces #1 is well worth its Extra Value Menu price. The author, James Mishler, provides interesting and unique characteristics for each monster that translates directly into actual game play. You get plenty of ecological information and tactical combat details, plus little extras like alchemy uses for body parts, all of which give the harried GM/DM/CK/Ref plenty to use without doing more work.

The monsters are setting neutral; despite the detail provided, the GM/DM/CK/Ref will have a set of monsters that are usable in almost an campaign setting. And despite the Castles & Crusades template, these creatures will fit right into any traditional fantasy role playing game with minimal effort.

Well done.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #1: Gharlidh, Grulnosc, and Rocktopus
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Towers of Adventure Wizard's Tower
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/06/2009 03:37:08
I could take issue with some of the editing (change shelf - a fearsome spell indeed), dimensions of the tower and exactly what breed of creature the villain is supposed to be, but for the price, it delivers very much what the description promised, with some degree of subtlety.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Towers of Adventure Wizard's Tower
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Towers of Adventure Wizard's Tower
by Mark S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2009 02:31:10
There's nothing here. The great map described is four circles on a piece of graph paper with a couple pages of text.

Things I liked: I think the cover looks interesting and it certainly promises something.

Things I Disliked: The absence of a Wizard's Tower described on the cover.

This should have been a free product, guys.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
StarSiege Introductory Manual
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/22/2009 09:36:28
This work, originally released for Free RPG Day 2008, begins with an Introduction which points out just how wide-ranging the definition of 'science fiction' can be, and announces that this is a ruleset that can be used to present whatever sort of science fiction you want - pulp, cinematic or grittily realistic. After briefly explaining what an RPG is, it goes on to explain the core mechanic of the system which is based on that used for Castles and Crusades. It's a quick and simple task resolution system based on comparing the character's skills with the task he is attempting, setting a target based on his appropriate skills and the difficulty of what he wants to do, making a single D20 roll and applying any modifiers as needed. Unlike many games, opposed rolls are rarely used as the difficulty of the task includes any opposition that the character may face!

It moves seamlessly on to describe the sorts of modifications you can make to the roll depending on such variables as how hard the task is, environmental factors, the equipment you have available and a whole load more. Naturally, it also looks at combat - including a range of actions that you can take during a brawl - and the inevitable aftermath of injury and healing. Next comes some fairly generic rules about equipment, including technological level, size, and reliability. Each item, whatever it is, will have certain properties including these over and above its actual functionality. This is followed by some basic listings of common science fiction kit, including weapons, armour, vehicles and other useful bits and pieces.

Next come characters themselves - how they are created and described in game terms. A nice touch for a science fiction game is that each character has a 'Tech Score' which reflects the level of technology with which he is most familiar - more primitive or more advanced technologies may prove hard or even impossible for him to use. There are also something called Nova Points, which can be used in several different ways to bend events in a character's favour - from ensuring an automatic success at a single task to keeping him alive when that last blow should have sent him for a dirt nap... or even to attempt something that would normally be impossible!

There are also some general remarks about the sort of skills a character might have, and how they can be used (with promises of more in the main rules...). It all rounds off with some NPCs, and sample characters laid out on character sheets.

While this gives a good introduction to how this game works, there is not enough here to actually sit down and try it out. At the very least, you'd have to come up with an adventure for the sample characters to play... This could be used to introduce prospective players to the ruleset, so that they can at least some idea of how the system works before the game begins.

Probably actually worth three and a half stars rather than four, due to the lack of a sample adventure, but as the rating system doesn't allow that I'll err on the side of generousity: after all the ruleset is good!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
StarSiege Introductory Manual
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Castles & Crusades: 100 More Calamitous Curses
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2009 17:55:15
This is grand fun, exactly as advertised, 100 curses that range from the goofy to the horrendous. No layout bells-and-whistles, nothing to distract, and quite well-written. Each curse has a full description, though some are quite simple. Good job for what it does.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: 100 More Calamitous Curses
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Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #3: Akhlat, Oogloog, and Woodwose
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2009 17:36:44
As advertised, this is a brief stat block and description of three Castles and Crusades monsters. Though there is little enough detail and no bookmarks, the brevity is right for the price and the monsters seem interesting. Certainly I know I'd be happy to stab them!

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Monstrous Menaces #3: Akhlat, Oogloog, and Woodwose
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