RPGNow.com
Close
New Account
 
  
 
 
You will lose your chance to get the free product of the week.
One-click unsubscribe later if you don't enjoy the newsletter.
Close
Log In
 
 Forgot password?
 

     or     Log In with your Facebook Account
Browse
 Publisher Info









Back
Other comments left for this publisher:
StarSiege Introductory Manual
by Ronald W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/28/2009 08:55:41
This is an interesting adaptation of the C&C game system. I plan on getting the full product asap.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
StarSiege Introductory Manual
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
by Ronald W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/27/2009 16:26:44
Castles and Crusades is on my top 5 rpg list. The designers of the game have really done a great job in capturing that old school feel in a modern day package.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Castles & Crusades: 100 Exciting Encounters — 1st Level Encounters
by Zachary H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2009 22:42:41
Look, if you spend your time looting ancient dungeons for magic items and pissing off evil wizards, chances are as an adventurer, you're going to end up with a curse bestowed upon you at some point.

As a Game Master, it can often be difficult to come up with different or original curses. James Mishler's and Adventure Games Publishing's 100 Calamitous Curses solves that problem by delivering precisely what the title suggests: 100 curses to entertain, hinder, and cause mayhem for your campaign.

The curses are ostensibly designed to be used with Castles & Crusades, but like other AGP products, they are easily usable with any number of both d20-related, older D&D versions, and retro-clone titles. Mishler's characteristic entertaining writing style (with a decided swords n' sorcery bent) shines through, and he does an excellent job of making each curse unique and engaging. Here's just one example:

"64. Curse of the Life Leech: Whenever the accursed one heals damage, the nearest friend, ally, or neutral being suffers a like amount of damage. If cured by a spell, usually the friendly caster suffers the damage; if healing through bed rest, the nearest person loses a similar number of hit points regardless of distance!"

Ouch! Most curses are appropriate for a general-audience sort of group, but there are a few that have to do with childbirth and sexuality that GMs who run younger folks through their games want to specifically consider before using. Still, I believe the product will be quite helpful to a wide range of gaming groups.

Coming in at 12 pages, this pdf normally retails for $2.50, but at the time I write this, It is on sale for only $2. Either way, if, like me, you have a GM's Binder or use a laptop for some of your pdfs, you'll want to make sure this great value finds its way into your collection. It's the sort of short, handy pdf I love as a GM, and so long as James Mishler keeps making 'em like this, I'll keep buying 'em.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: 100 Exciting Encounters — 1st Level Encounters
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Castles & Crusades Monsters of Aihrde IV
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/31/2009 09:36:18
There is a lot of potential when it comes to creating monsters. Not only can you create something that will thrill in combat, but you can also create something that can have a real impact out of combat. A monster's ecology, behaviour or society can often play an important role in the grander setting and can be pivotal in any campaign world. I'm a firm believer that monsters should be something more than just statistics on a page, and that there should be some sort of ecological balance which they form an integral part of. Every monster should have a purpose and a reason beyond what is dictated by its statistics, but at the same time its behaviour and ecology should be reflected in its combat behaviour.

Monsters of Aihrde IV is a short 7 page pdf containing 5 monsters for the legendary world of Aihrde (as first publishing by Troll Lord Games in their Codex of Erde). This product is the fourth in a series of four which aims to revise and update the creatures from Aihrde and provide several new ones. In the light of what I wrote above, this product does a grand job of providing creatures that fit the bill in terms of ecology, setting and behaviour. Monsters of Aihrde IV is designed for the Castles and Crusades system, although can be modified for other rule systems by modifying the mechanics.

This product comes as a single pdf file. The presentation standard is very high and professionally done, with some gorgeous artwork by artists Mark Allen, Jason Walton and Peter Bradley. The cover art of the mogrl is particularly impressive. The product contains an excellent cover, informative credits and information page, and 5 pages of content. There are no bookmarks, but that doesn't really matter for such a short pdf. Writing and layout is excellent, with some really descriptive text and excellent details on each of the monsters contained in the product. Overall, a top quality presentation from Troll Lord Games.

Monster of Aihrde IV contains five monsters from the world of Aihrde - the eshchl (realistic demi humans), the io-topek (apemen), the mogrl (a powerful demonic creature), the sarab pool (magical, living pools), and the ceeana olgdonberg (powerful horse-like steeds). Each creature is presented with complete statistics for Castles and Crusades, detailed descriptive information on ecology, society and role in combat, and lastly a section on the creature's history and place in the world of Aihrde. The details are fascinating in places, and really give you a sense of the creature's role and place in Aihrde, and the descriptions do a good job of providing a vivid image of what the creature looks like beyond the artwork in the product.

I found this product presented these five creatures really well. I think the level of detail is just right, and allows room for creativity while at the same time giving the creatures a firm footing in one's imagination. At the same time, however, while the details are excellent, I'm not sure that the uniqueness of the creatures is the best. In the product we have a typical demi human, a humanoid creature based on an animal, a demonic/devilish creature, a sentient pool and a stronger breed of horse. Despite the concepts perhaps not being the best, the details themselves, and particularly how they fit into the campaign setting, make up for the somewhat weaker creature ideas. In a way, these are more creatures re-imagined for the world of Aihrde, than unique creatures in their own right.

Overall, I found this to be a good product. I loved the details provided on each of the monsters, and the thought that had gone into making them slot into the campaign setting. The presentation is top notch, both the writing and the artwork. While perhaps the concepts of each of the creatures weren't the best, I think the way in which these concepts are used in the setting makes up for this slight weakness in the pdf. Good product that one can get a good amount of use of, irrespective of setting or rule system.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Monsters of Aihrde IV
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Castles & Crusades PDF1 Encounters: Bands of Orcs
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/04/2009 05:54:25
One of the beautiful things about the 3.5e OGL system is that publishers and fans were allowed to modify and change the system to spawn a variety of variants. And the majority of these variants are fantastic games, such as Mutants and Masterminds, True20, Iron Heroes, Arcana Evolved and Castles and Crusades. The latter presents a simple and elegant system of resolution that streamlined gameplay for those that wanted to escape from the complexities of the OGL. This product, Encounters: Bands of Orcs, is a short supplement for Castles and Crusades, presenting a series of versatile and adaptable orc encounters to throw at your party of characters.

Encounters: Bands of Orcs is a short 7 page pdf file written by Davis Chenault for the Castles and Crusades system. The presentation and layout of the product is fantastic, particularly for such a short product, and a high standard of professionalism is evident in the product design. A great piece of artwork by artist Peter Bradley is included, and the cover features and neat design to kick off what will presumably be a series of products. Interior writing and design is good, with clear written descriptions and concise summaries of the various encounters in the product. Overall, an excellently presented product with high quality standards from Troll Lord Games.

This product presents 7 different orc encounters that can easily be inserted into any campaign or adventure. The product is aimed at those Castle Keepers that require an on the fly encounter or perhaps those that are too busy to make the required preparations. The encounters come with complete descriptions of the nature of the encounter, the mechanical details and statistics of the creatures involved, detailed treasure and equipment listings, and lastly a series of useful plot hooks to expand the encounter and give it more meaning, motivation and purpose. The encounters are suitable for a variety of different levels, using encounter levels from 1 to 6, but very easily scalable individually beyond what they're designed for.

The product starts with a brief introduction to the product and its aim and purpose. This is followed by a useful introduction to orcs, orc behaviour, orc combat tactics and other useful bits of information on orcs. The background introduction provides a better sense of direction and purpose to the combat encounters presented. The seven combat encounters presented are: orc raiders, orc hunters, orc warriors, orc miners, war party, orc shamans, and lastly a complete war band encampment.

Along with all the details on each encounter, the product provides adventure hooks to guide you in using these encounters and particularly in thinking beyond the combat encounters. These adventure hooks are phrased as a series of questions to get you thinking about motivation, background, and purpose for each of these encounters. In a way, the encounters are more like mechanical encounter templates, and the Castle Keeper needs to fill in the meaty story and plot details to flesh things out. This is both a good and a bad thing, depending on the requirements of the Castle Keeper at the time. The pdf concludes with some useful suggestions for orc names in the event, for example, that an orc gets captured.

Like many similar products for various systems on the market, the utility of this product largely depends on the needs of the individual GMs. Band of Orcs provides enough flexibility to cater for the majority of those, but not really for those GMs that require an out of the box encounter, complete with plot, motivation and story. Sure, that can be gained by working through the adventure plot hook questions, but that naturally requires extra work. Overall, the mechanical details of the product are logical and neatly organised, but I wish the adventure hooks had gone slightly beyond the norm. Asking a question such as 'Why is the raiding party here?' does not necessarily lead one in any useful directions. Perhaps if the product had actually answered some of those questions in the adventure plot sections with creative and inspiring suggestions, this product would've impressed more. As it is, it's impeccably presented, well written and certainly useful, but I expected perhaps a little more in creating interesting, fantastical, and memorable encounters.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades PDF1 Encounters: Bands of Orcs
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Castles & Crusades: 100 Calamitous Curses
by Dominique C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/03/2009 10:17:16
A very useful DM's help, with lots of ideas that could be used as they are, or altered on the spot as the DM sees fit. Just note that although it is a Castle & Crusades supplement, you can use it witth any other "old school" game, such as AD&D, OSRIC, BFRPG, Labyrinth Lords, and even others.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: 100 Calamitous Curses
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Castles & Crusades: Martial Artist Class
by Dominique C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/28/2009 09:48:06
A very good product, especially when it costs but one dollar! An excellent addition to the C&C regular character classes, it will fit well along the C&C monk.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: Martial Artist Class
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Castles & Crusades: 100 Treasure Troves — Treasure Type 1
by Zachary H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2009 22:49:21
A nice, short, useful pdf that I am hoping gets turned into an entire series. This went right into my GM's binder. If you GM Castles & Crusades, you'll want to look at picking this up--having these treasure troves already detailed saves time, and allows for getting the characters their swag without bogging down the game. For only $1, it was well worth it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades: 100 Treasure Troves — Treasure Type 1
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
by Zachary H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2008 02:35:40
I've given the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook a 5/5, but have to downgrade the Quick Start Rules just a but. Despite being the same system I love for its modularity, ease of running/playing/learning, the Quick Start rules aren't as easy on the eye as I'd have liked for an introductory product. Still it does a nice job, and provides a sample encounter (too brief to be called an adventure), and the SIEGE Engine remains ridiculously easy to learn and utilize. I recommend the Player's Handbook (non-condensed) for people interested further after this freebie.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Quick Start Rules
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 3rd Printing
by Zachary H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2008 01:30:05
I'm a vagabond, a wanderer of tabletop gaming. From my early forays in Palladium Fantasy and hideously houseruled 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games to my appreciation of Risus, Two-Fisted Tales, Epic Roleplaying, Rolemaster, Traveller, Rifts, and everything in-between, I have played and ran a tremendously large number of roleplaying games.

I've tried Troll Lord Games' Castles & Crusades before, had my Castle Keeper Screen signed by Gary Gygax himself in 2007. And though the sessions and demos I ran were fun, there was always something else to try. And several projects in 2008 also ensured my free time to dedicate to any single game was severely lacking.

But in now coming back to it, and in loving both the exciting modern products out there and the original and homages to an earlier time in gaming, I have found Castles & Crusades to be so much of what I've been looking for. Very few times (I can count them on one hand) has a game purely "clicked" for me. As in I got it--I got the feel, the system, the direction. And that's what happened when I took my C&C Players Handbook in hand (and screen) once more. What did it? I don't know--a desired refinement of how I run my games, an re-examination for what I want out of my hobby, whatever. But I did want to share just a little of why I am so absolutely, genuinely, enthusiastically pleased with Castles & Crusades:

Bridging A Gap: I have friends who were weaned on the older editions of D&D, and those who have played nothing but 3rd Edition. Castles & Crusades allows me to sell elements of both those experiences, giving us a common meeting ground and a larger player base from which to draw. Its familiar to veterans, and easily picked up by novices.

Time: Plain and simple. Look, I have a wife, 2 kids and 1 on the way, and a lot more responsibility than Young Zack ever did. C&C's system, the SIEGE Engine, is so simple that it usually takes all of 3-5 minutes for gamers to get the gist of it. I want to be able to use all the resources I've built up over the years, run a game that encourages active, fast, inspiring GM (CK) rulings, not pace-killing rules lookup. I want low prep time, employing notes and material I already have. I'm ready to get back to the basics, and get down to gaming in a faster and leaner fashion.

A Place To Build Upon: Castles & Crusades is a framework. It isn't a toolbox so much as a sturdy workbench. This is seriously one of the most easily-houseruled games I have ever seen. You want skills, feats, some new magic system? Want to use THAC0? Have some insane d20 rule you plug into every game you play? Castles & Crusades not only allows you to plug those items in, its modularity will make it easy to do so. We are talking compatibility not only with the various prior editions and the d20 crowd, but efforts like Basic Fantasy, Labyrinth Lord, Mazes & Minotaurs, Fight On!, True 20, Paizo's and Adventure Games Publishing's docket of releases, and more. Hey, I have something from Iron Gauntlets I might throw in there. Or I can do nothing, and be just fine that way. There's just too much goodness out there that I may wish to look to for inspiration, and Castles & Crusades promises the integration of that goodness, easy-like. It's a baseline for it all.

A Style I Want: I don't want hours spent on hair-splitting character builds. I don't want reams of special powers for each player. I don't want skills and rigid, multiple modifiers to get in the way of player initiative and creativity. I want me as a GM (CK) and my players to remember when we made rulings, not remained bogged down in rules. This ties into time constraints, but I want a fast-play, unified mechanic. I want the standard tropes and hallmarks of our shared hobby heritage there, unwarped. I want strong character archetypes. I want player backgrounds to matter in the course of play. I want so much of what has made the Old School Renaissance of gaming so inspiring to me and others. Of course, many of these lie at the feet of each Game Master/Castle Keeper, and can happen in any game. But its still good to have an RPG that's on your side about it.

I've never been a one-game, one-system guy. There are too many great games out there I want to run--Epic, Rifts, Traveller, we aren't through yet. One day, I will again get to run In Harm's Way. And Castles & Crusades is ok with that. I know its there, willing to undertake any sort of tweaks or mods I might find in my travels. But I do know what game I'm coming home to for now. Castles & Crusades is my choice going forward to take advantage of the Old School Renaissance (heck, its my staging area for it), to keep that link going to a wider pool of players, and to maximize the time I have for quality, generation-spanning fun. That's why I'm on board with Castles & Crusades as my fantasy D&D cousin of choice. And together I see us, my friends, and eventually perhaps our kids having great adventures...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 3rd Printing
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

zzz-10th Day of Christmas Sale [BUNDLE]
by Marc G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/25/2008 17:04:32
They say that nothing is free, but it in this case it's true!

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
zzz-10th Day of Christmas Sale [BUNDLE]
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

StarSiege Introductory Manual
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/18/2008 18:41:36
A valiant effort with one fatal flaw.

WHAT IS IT?

StarSiege is intended to be an all-in-one science-fiction rpg from Troll Lord Games, the makers of the justly-praised Castles & Crusades fantasy game. As the name implies, StarSiege incorporates the same simple-yet-clever "Siege Engine" dice mechanic which lies at the heart of Castles & Crusades.

The problem is, in the well-intentioned attempt to create an all-in-one science-fiction toolkit, the very simplicity and modularity which makes the Siege Engine mechanic so useful to players and Game Masters in C&C here gets buried under an avalanche of new game systems, sub-systems, acronyms, and terminology.

The resulting game is a good game, to be sure. The problem is, it's also ends up functionally indistinguishable from the dozens of other medium-complex SF game systems inhabiting the rpg landscape: d20 Future; GURPS Space; 2320 AD; Reign of Discordia; Mongoose Traveller, Alternity, and all the rest.

Author Josh Chewning has done a valiant job here; l have to wonder, though, if the failure of StarSiege to carry forward the defining adaptability and ease-of-use traditionally associated with Siege Engine games like Castles & Crusades has to rest with Troll Lord Games editorial.

At some point, someone in the company should've noticed that StarSiege -- while a perfectly serviceable SF rpg -- doesn't actually adhere to the _design spirit_ of the Castles & Crusades Siege system.

It's always easier for players and Game Masters to add on to simple game system, as needed, rather than to subtract elements from a complex one. This philosophy rests at the heart of Castles & Crusades' design.

In his well-intentioned desire to give players and GMs a fully-detailed SF toolkit, author Chewning has accidentally lost the defining difference (ease-of-use and core simplicity) which sets Siege Engine games like Castles & Crusades apart from the pack.

Again, I find Chewning absolutely guiltless -- he's done good work here -- the loss of the spirit of Siege has to fall at the feet of Troll Lord Games. Siege is their baby, in the end, and it falls to them to make sure its properly treated.

An author buried eyeball-deep in manuscript revision can't always see the big picture. That's what editorial is there for ...

FINAL VERDICT?

As above, StarSiege is a good medium-complexity all-in-one SF rpg. If that's what you want, it stands solid among the many other similar SF game systems out there.

If, like me, you were hoping for a game which would do for science-fiction gaming what Castles & Crusades has done for fantasy gaming, then StarSiege is not the game for you.

My disappointment at StarSiege's failure to be "Castles & Crusades In Spaaaace" in any sort of practical, game-table way originally had me leaning toward a 3 out of 5 score -- but, thankfully, I realized in time that, while the game does not carry on the Siege Engine legacy in any strong fashion, if taken as a stand-alone SF game it's certainly worth a 4 out of 5 to those who neither know nor care what game engine it incorporates.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
StarSiege Introductory Manual
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 3rd Printing
by John S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2008 21:32:51
Super clean system that is loads of fun to play and run. Highly modular so one can bolt on any desired complexity. I use this game with young children with limited reading skills; that is not to say that it is only for kids. A great game !

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 3rd Printing
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

zzz-Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names
by Christopher H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/08/2008 13:48:38
Okay ... it's a book of names. A big book full of lots of names. What else do you need to know?

Seriously, this book does have a few features that set it apart from other name books (like the Judges Guild Book of Archaic Names, for example). The first 20 pages, more or less, present an interesting and often useful discussion of names and naming. It's not perfect; some of the phonemic associations suggested on p. 20 are over-the-top and have no actual linguistic validity, while some of the claims made are just plain sexist ("A blunt or forceful name like Darg or Rathek should belong to a male," pp. 19-20) and others reflect the author Malcolm Bowers's (no, not Gary Gygax, despite the series title) own sense of aesthetics, which may not match the GM's. Indeed, some of the aesthetics proposed here are inconsistent on the same page; p. 20 tells us that a final /k/ sound "help vicious invective" but also convey "beauty, peace, and grace"--which should have clued Bowers in that his phonemics are mostly impressionistic nonsense. On the other hand, the brief discussion of onomancy and "true names" (pp. 21-24) could give GMs lots of interesting ideas to work into their campaigns, regardless of the rules set.

The bulk of this book really is a big list of personal names, arranged chiefly by geography and culture: Britain, Africa, America, Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean, and Oceania each get major sections with multiple subsections. Within each subsection, readers get a brief orientation to the geo-cultural group in focus, pronunciation guides, and lists of personal and family names, with other types of names (bynames or surnames, for example) also provided where appropriate. According to the publisher, readers ultimately get over 100,000 specific names in this format, making the book a good resource for GMs who need lots of NPC names, even on the fly.

The aforementioned name lists take up a little over half of the entire book, but there's more. A colorful epithet can add a lot to a name ("Richard the Lionheart" sounds so much more buff than "Richard I"), so Bowers gives readers a whole section devoted to generating colorful epithets. As befits a "Gygaxian" product, Bowers supplies a random table for generating the form of an epithet (d20 roll: 01-06 yields "description," 07-09 yields "thing," 10-12 yields "description + thing," and so on), but then the source lists that follow the random table aren't organized according to these categories! Not that GMs will have a hard time using these lists, but it would have been more convenient to have lists of "descriptions," "things," "actions," and so on labeled as such. The tables of titles are very Eurocentric, and while Bowers does offer some titles from non-European cultures to offset this, a strong bias remains evident ("Usually generic titles are enough. 'Chief' applies equally well to the head of any clan or tribe, for instance.) Book 3 also includes some suggestions for deriving names of organizations, military squads, and so on, which a GM can quite easily put to good use.

Book 4 deals with place names, and I was very pleased to find this section. Europe still dominates, but plenty of non-English words and word-fragments are given to fire a GM's imagination. Yet here the book fails to provide a service that would have been invaluable: the theoretical discussion of place-names stresses the meanings of names, but Bowers does not tell his presumably English-speaking readers what all of the various words mean! Thus, for example, Bowers gives readers a list of Arabic colors--aswad, azrak, asmar, akhdar, sinjabi, ahmar, abyad, and asfar--but he provides no guidance as to which color is which! For Bowers, "place names" includes names for taverns and inns--quite commonly needed in fantasy RPGs--and this section comes in quite handy.

In book 5, Bowers discusses the construction of completely fantastic names. Some of this discussion is very helpful ("One [thing] that stops most people is the dreaded 'unpronounceable' … This sort of thing is pretty much pointless in a game where you have to speak the name out loud"), while other parts devolve into purely arbitrary pedantry ("One [apostrophe] in a made-up name might be considered debatable; more than one is unforgivable"). If you're stuck for a fantasy name, try choosing one from Bowers's lists on pp. 172-182. There's even a random syllable table on p. 183 if you want to throw caution completely to the winds, and this table is followed by a whole series of tables broken down by creature type (for goblins, trolls, orcs, fairies, etc.).

If you're in a silly mood, grab one of the names from Appendix A - Spoof Names, and throw your PCs into an encounter with the wizard Levy Tate or sic on them the unshakable bard Oliver de Plaice.

Although published in the "Gygaxian Fantasy Worlds" line, this book is not just for fantasy RPGs. Since most of the names presented are real-life names from real-world cultures, modern games can benefit from the book almost as much as fantasy games. Indeed, Appendix B - Name Distribution seems more useful for a modern game than a fantasy one. In this appendix, Bowers presents a country-by-country breakdown of naming proportions (based on a d% scheme). Yet the usefulness of this appendix is hampered by its use of categories that don't appear elsewhere in the book. For example, the entry for Denmark reads "Danish (01-99), Turkish (00)." "Turkish" is also an entry in for Germany, the Netherlands, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Iraq, and of course, Turkey. However, if you pull out your d%, roll a Turkish name, and then go looking elsewhere in this volume for appropriate Turkish names, you won't find any (save for four titles on p. 140), so you'll probably have to fall back on Arabic, though Arabic and Turkish are not the same language. So what's the point of listing Turkish and such in the name distribution tables if no Turkish names are provided in the book? (And what's up with the d30 tables? No, really, d30?)

The content of the Book of Extraordinary Names is quite helpful. I've used it to good effect as a GM, and expect to get a lot more use out of it. However, as a PDF product, the Book of Extraordinary Names falls terribly flat in one important regard: it's neither bookmarked nor hyperlinked, making navigation through the 210-page beast an annoying and time-consuming proposition. And since the book is sold as a secured PDF, one must either crack the security to add one's own bookmarks, or live without bookmarks and spend precious time scrolling through to find the right page. That's got to cost the product at least one star in the ratings.

Some players and GMs might be put off by the $20 price tag on the PDF download, even though this represents an enormous savings off the $35 printed edition. Compared to other name lists, though, it's by no means out of line. Some other "name generator" products give you c. 200 names for $5--that's about 2.5¢ per name--but the PDF version of Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names gives you over 100,000 names (or so says the publisher) for $20--that's more like .02¢ per name, plus you get all of the value-adds that I've mentioned above. So yes, $20 is a significant outlay, but if you accumulate several smaller products for $5 each, you'll soon find yourself at $20 with only 800 names in your pocket. I wouldn't necessarily recommend the product for players, who just need to generate names for a few PCs, but for a GM looking to fill a world with memorable NPCs, this book comes in very handy and beats the price curve on similar products (even in its printed version, actually).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
zzz-Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure 2nd Printing
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/29/2008 16:39:17
The true successor to Dungeons and Dragons continues!

THE DETAILS

Monsters and Treasure is the second of two core books for the Castles & Crusades fantasy rpg, and it too features C&C's defining gameplay ethic of old-school feel, combined with modern, streamlined rules.

The monsters in Monsters and Treasure will be familiar to anyone who's played earlier editions of Dungeons and Dragons. Most of the fiendish faces from the original Monster Manual are here, as well as a few creatures recognizeable from later works, such as the Monster Manual II and the original Fiend Folio. All in all, though, the monsters in this volume will be very familiar to anyone who's played D&D before. A number of the monsters are subtly changed from what one might expect but, by and large, the faces remain the same.

Be advised that most of the creatures here are "terrestrial" in nature. Those looking for lists of demons and devils and other so-called "outsiders" will not find them in this volume. Elementals make an appearance, but angels, devils and djinni are absent from this book. The Quasit shows up, but his bigger infernal brothers are nowhere to be seen.

Also, those looking for a collection of monsters unique to Castles &Crusades' Aihrde setting are advised to wait for the upcoming Monsters and Treasures II, which Troll Lord Games is presently hard at work finishing.

Those who simply can't wait for new monsters, should check out the short Monsters of Aihrde PDFs available here on RPGNow -- and those who want to challenge their players with the smaller flying dragons seen swarming on the cover of the C&C Player's Handbook, might also want to check out the Miasmal Dragons PDF. Personally, I was grateful to have these "lower level" dragons with which to harass players all the sooner.

The second half of the Monsters and Treasures book presents the Castles and Crusades OGL version of the treasure and magic-item section of the classic Dungeon Master's Guide.. There are some changes here; certain new things, and certain old things left out, but most of these changes are subtle, and aren't likely to leap off the page and punch you in the eye on a quick read-through.

As with C&C in general, Monsters and Treasure is not about remaking classic rpg gaming from the ground up, recasting it in an entirely new form; rather it's all about streamlining and simplifying while preserving the fun factor -- cutting down the rules clutter so that the rules serve the story of your game, instead of getting in your way.

So, a lot of the Treasure section will seem familiar to owners of past editions of the DMG: treasure charts; magic item charts and descriptions; special weapon property charts; notes on how to create (and destroy) magic items; notes on how and when to award treasure. If you've played fantasy rpgs before, you know this stuff. And if you haven't played before, author Robert Doyel breaks it all down for you in clear, uncluttered prose.

Doyel's writing is solid throughout; he manages to communicate ideas well, and seems constantly aware that certain readers will be new to what he's describing. While he does not pander to the new reader, nor "dumb down" the content in any way -- wisely remembering that rpg games are largely for adults, and for smart kids with an interest in the material -- Doyel still keeps his writing lucid and focused at every opportunity. He's there to communicate concepts, and he does it well.

The art inside Monsters and Treasures is all black and white, but chief Castles and Crusades artist, Peter "Twenty Dollar" Bradley contributes some high quality, evocative monster illustrations. However old-school C&C may seem in certain ways, Bradley's art is definitely modern, and definitely professional.

SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

I'd say yes. While it doesn't bring much new to the party, in terms of monsters or magic items which long-time gamers haven't seen before, the book itself is still an excellent practical example of just how Castles & Crusades consciously streamlines OGL fantasy material into something far more user-friendly.

The book should also prove a great resource by example for those Castle Keepers (Game Masters) with a lot of pre-fourth-edition D&D material they'd like to convert to C&C.

FINAL VERDICT?

Four out of five stars. It's a solid, professional product in all respects, but it would've been nice to see a few wholly new monsters, and few more new treasures (there are a couple) among all the usual suspects. As above, I guess we'll have to keep waiting for the upcoming Monsters and Treasures II for the truly new stuff.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure 2nd Printing
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Displaying 121 to 135 (of 206 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
0 items
 Hottest Titles
 Gift Certificates
Powered by DrivethruRPG