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Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual 1st printing
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/02/2012 06:15:08

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/04/02/tabletop-review-classic-monsters-the-manual-castles-crusades/

I love the Castles & Crusades system, but I tend to have to problems with it. The first is that their releases tend to be overpriced compared to competitive products, especially in the PDF realm. The second is that their published adventures tend to be…lacking. In the past few months I’ve reviewed Dwarven Glory and The Forsaken Mountain and found myself unimpressed with either. However the system an core campaign books are what I love and so I was quite pleased that Troll Lord Games added a Classis Monsters book to supplement the original Tome of Horrors and then converted from the OGL rules to the ones that Castles and Crusades uses. It may sound or feel a biz lazy when you realize that much of the book is lifted, but then, most of Tome of Horrors was lifted from the original; Monster Manual and Fiend Folio, so longtime ardent old school D&D fans won’t care; they’ll just be happy to have these monsters.

Speaking of the monsters, the phrase “Classic Monsters” might have you thinking of things like vampires, werewolves, zombies and the like. Well, you won’t actually find too much of that here actually. Again, Classic Monsters is about classic Dungeons & Dragons monsters – so that’s what you’ll see here. Oddly enough, you’ll notice the monster on the gorgeous cover, a chimera, is not actually in the book. That’s a bit odd isn’t it? You would think the cover would highlight monsters actually contained within.

I’m pretty happy with the collection on creatures in Classic Monsters. I loved seeing old favorites like the tarrasque, death knights, skeleton warriors, demiliches hook fiends and even flumphs make their Castle and Crusades debut. There were also some creatures I didn’t expect to see, like Yellow Musk based monsters or the Vargouille. In truth, all of these monsters are ones you’ll recognize if you’ve played a lot of Gygaxian inspired games over the years, but otherwise these things will be weird, obscure or nonsensical to you. This is especially true of newcomers to tabletop gaming but then, how many people choose Castles & Crusades as their first RPG?

It’s especially interesting to note that three types of monsters were really given focus here: lycanthropes (were-creatures), elementals and Mephits. The book contains ELEVEN “lesser elementals” and then four evil elemental princes. It has five lycanthropes (fox, shark, snake, spider, and hound) and then four particular mephit spec ies in addition to generic ones. That seems odd to me, especially with the lycanthropes. I would have pictures werebats or wereravens needing stat blocks before snakes, spiders or hounds. Some odd choices here, but at least they are interesting ones you can pull out to freak out your PCs. “Whoever heard of a weresnake???”

All, in all I’m pretty happy with the book. Sure, it’s only going to reach its maximum potential in the hands of a long time old school Dungeons & Dragons fans, but at least with everyone else they’ll now have over 200 new monsters to throw at their players. Classic Monsters really does give the gave more threats to face down and it sorely needed that. I am a bit bothered by the price. Compare Classic Monsters‘s price tag with that of Tome of Horrors. Classic Monsters is $14.99 for the e-version while Tome of Horrors is only $11.98 and twice the monsters and thus twice the page length. So a fraction of the monsters from the source material for roughly twenty-five percent more in cost? That’s not cool at all. Again we see that Castles & Crusades likes to overprice itself to its own peril. I guess they justify the cost increase as the “conversion process?”

For fans of Castles & Crusades, Classic Monsters: The Manual is almost a no-brainer. You get a ton of new enemies for a decent price and it saves you from having to do any conversion work to the system. Most of the monsters are pretty niche and you probably won’t use them more than once or twice, but the rest of them will see regular use, either as cannon fodder or a recurring big bad. I’m glad I picked this up and I’ll make use of it, but your mileage really will vary with this book. It all depends on how badly you need more monsters in your campaign and/or it Monsters & Treasure just isn’t cutting it for you anymore.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual 1st printing
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Castles & Crusades Players Handbook (4th)
by jason l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2012 03:07:30

In truth, this is a grudge purchase for me. I didn't want to buy the book as I'm not a fan of the genre and yet my group has elected to play it. So I bought a discounted used copy of 2e from Amazon, but it wasn't complete enough to satisfy me so I after much perusing through the intertubes I found it here at a decent price.

It's actually not a bad system, just missing guns. At least it's not D&D. Truth is, I'm enjoying the game so far. Book is put together nicely as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook (4th)
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Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual 1st printing
by 2 G. 1 M. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/27/2012 18:03:11

In the beginning of the book is a very short article on running monsters with their own motivations and it succeeds rather well in a fairly short amount of space. In fact, I’d say that this primer is very much the heart and soul of the work. The monsters are meant to be a little different, and most certainly meant to be generally intelligent opposition. There’s a repeat of the “how to read the monster stat blocks” section in the Monsters and Treasure book, and then the monsters!

The Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters Manual has over 200 monsters, all of them with C&C statistics. About half of the monsters come from the Tome of Horrors by Necromancer Games, which in turn contains a bunch of monsters that had only shown up previously in modules (Vegepygmies, for example). I happen to own Tome of Horrors, and so I can tell you that this book is not a reprint of it. Not every monster in Tome of Horrors is in Classic Monsters, and many (at least half) of the monsters are original creations, or at least original to this book. Of course, the utility of this book is pretty much restricted to people who use Castles and Crusades.

However, if you are like me and enjoy seeing all sorts of monsters, and mining ideas of them for yourself, you’re in for a treat. Assuming you are not interested in the creatures that have appeared previously let me illuminate some of the cooler original monsters for you. The Bendith y Mamau is a fae type creature that resides in a house to protect it from evil. They are easily insulted and wreak havoc on people and places which do insult them, often require greater offerings to appease them. That is one hell of an adventure seed right there.

Another example is the Chawl Witch, a creature that is really entertaining to a polyglot like me. They are basically language masters, able to understand and comprehend languages after only a few hours with them. They are always female, but reproduce with a male of any humanoid species. They lay eggs, and the eggs and young are coveted by wizards who want a servant/slave. Once again, an adventure seed that is not to be sneered at.

There are some really cool werecreatures in the book: werefoxes, werespiders, and werehounds. Each is given a description which includes a solid adventure seed like in the previous examples. Having devoured this book, I can say with authority that every single creature listed has an adventure seed in the description in which an entire night’s play can be thought up by a competent GM. There are some really fantastic ideas in here for using unusual creatures in unusual adventuring circumstances, as well as just some cool stuff to fight.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual 1st printing
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Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual 1st printing
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/27/2012 10:45:56

Classic Monsters is a compilation of some of the classic monsters of old school gaming, taken from the open content of the first Tome of Horrors and converted to the C&C system. This book greatly expands the amount of monster available from the Monsters & Treasure book, and would be a boon to anyone running a game of Castles & Crusades. The art is up to the usual high standards of a Castles and Crusades book, and the layout follows the crisp and clean standards of the other C&C books.

Unfortunately, among the weird and wacky monsters from the early days of the first edition of the Advanced Game, the one glaring absence would be the demons and devils. Yes, it would be easy enough to convert these...but they just seems to be much too noticeable in their absence, particularly in comparison to other much more thorough old school monster manuals that are on the market. Does this render Classic Monsters useless, or make it a less attractive purchase? Well, no to either of those questions. Classic Monsters is definitely much more affordable (and likely easier to find) than those other monster manuals, and there are still plenty of other monsters that are available in this book. With a couple of hundred new monsters, there is still a lot of meat for a Castle Keeper in this volume.

One of the strong points of the write-ups for these monsters is the combat section. For those less experienced Castle Keepers, or those who were not around in the hobby when many of these creatures were first published, having that brief outline of how each monster acts in combat can be very useful. There is also enough ecology information to be able to place these monsters into an adventure in a way that makes some logical sense.

Yes, this is a volume that adapts material that is already available, but sometimes not having to do the conversion work is worth the price of admission, and not everyone still has copies of the original MM2 or the Fiend Folio around to use for their Castles & Crusades games. Because of that, this book is useful and a good addition to anyone's Castles & Crusades library.

[A more fleshed out version of this review can be found at my blog at http://dorkland.blogspot.com/2012/03/castles-and-crusades-classic-monsters.html]



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades They Call Him Guff
by William W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/08/2012 21:16:45

A great pick-up adventure for a night when you don't have anything prepared, or as a side trek for the party on the road, this is a great module for C&C or any old-school fantasy RPG. It's quick to read and prepare, and even includes a new monster.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades They Call Him Guff
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Castles & Crusades Fields of Battle
by Tristan Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2012 19:37:06

Fields of Battle is an excellent rules set for mass combat. It's rules-light without sacrificing complexity or interest, just like you would expect from a Troll Lord Games product. It's based on the Castles & Crusades rules set. It's very scalable, letting you fight battles with dozens of combatants just as easily as with thousands. In my experience, combat with fields of battle is very fun, and manages to be fast without feeling like you're giving up tactical thinking. It includes quick, compelling rules for pitched battle, skirmishes, siege warfare, aerial warfare, and naval warfare. It includes cool and reasonable rules that keep your PCs in the fight without making them useless or overpowered. It also comes with three battle scenarios and a 'monster manual' of troop type stats. I'd definitely recommend purchasing this.

However, there are two flaws that keep this product from five stars. The first is that you have to be familiar with Castles & Crusades to use it. Now, don't worry – C&C is very quick to learn, and almost all the rules you'll need are in the FREE quick start guide. However, there are some important rules that are not present in the quickstart guide. What's the range category on a longbow? How long does a druid's Entangle spell last? These things aren't in the quickstart guide. You can pretty easily handwave this stuff, but its absence is obnoxious, and frankly, you shouldn't even have to delve into a second pdf to look up these answers.

The second flaw is the absence of any system to determine how fair a battle will be. This is all well and good if you want to re-enact the battle of Crécy (totally doable with this rules set), but from my perspective, this is a gross oversight. I'm a GM, and I use this system as part of my ongoing campaign. When my PCs march to war, I want to be able to throw a battle at them that will be challenging enough to make them feel heroic, and maybe even kill them if they make poor decisions, but ultimately be winnable if they act smart. Fields of Battle lacks any sort of system to help me plan that. If you want to use this at your table, you'd better have a friend who will enjoy playing a few rounds of Fields of Battle with you so you can develop a feel for difficulty levels before you break it out for your regular group.

All in all, an excellent product, and one I definitely recommend purchasing. Only a few faults keep it from being truly stellar.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Fields of Battle
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Castles & Crusades Castle Keepers Guide
by Chet C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2012 23:29:53

Someone has to say it: this is the game that D&D should always have been. If Monte Cooke and associates want a blueprint to follow, they could do no better than look at what C&C has been doing to solve various problems of rolegaming's past.

This book isn't the rules for Castles & Crusades, nor should it be thought similar to a DM Guide. This is, instead, many pieces of advice, alternate rules, and words of experience for tba GM. And every page is of value, nothing is wasted.

The art is beautiful, and there's not nearly enough. This book is a book that you want to never end.

Highly recommended, with three thumbs up!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Castle Keepers Guide
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Castles & Crusades DB1B Haunted Highlands Deities
by Jason E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/04/2012 21:32:59

It's not very long but it is an excellent shortcut for the GM looking to populate far northern clime with their own pantheon.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades DB1B Haunted Highlands Deities
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Castles & Crusades DA1 Dark Journey
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2011 19:48:35

Sometimes going back to the basics is fun. With Dark Journey, the Troll Lords do what they do best - a classic dungeon crawl.

It is kinda classic: 3 levels, a maze, traps (no save vs die shit that I noticed), classic low level adversaries, level appropriate rewards - the stuff you want in a low level or introductory adventure. In this case, for levels 1-4. You'll need to supply your own hook,

There is enough adventure here to last 2 or 3 sessions worth of gameplay, which is pretty good value for your money IMO.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades DA1 Dark Journey
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Dwarven Glory III The Winding Stair
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2011 08:20:53

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/12/05/tabletop-review-castles-crusades-dwarven-glory/

The third and final adventure in Dwarven Glory is ” The Winding Stair” and it is for three to five players at either third or fourth level. This is my favorite of all the adventures as it features a really awesome magic axe as the center piece of the adventure, along with the ghost of a fallen dwarven hero who will attempt to possess a player character, albeit it more or less benevolently. This dungeon crawl takes place in an underground remains of a castle. It contains fourteen rooms and offers a nice amount of diverisity. There are fourteen rooms, but there’s not a lot of combat. You’ll encounter a shadow mastiff, a succubus and some green slime, but that’s it. As well, there is no final battle per say. There is a “big bad” so to speak, but the climax can be as simple as just walking away from it. There are a lot of magic items to be found in this small adventure, but because the adventure revolves around a specific magical weapon and it takes place in the remains of a once great dwarven citadel, I’m fine with it. There are thousands of gold pieces worth of loot to be found, which due to the location make sense, but that’s a LOT of money to be throwing at fourth level characters. Overall, I really liked the adventure. The lack of monsters made everything seem more suspenseful and ominous and it helped to prove that a dungeon crawl doesn’t need to be littered with creatures to be fun or effective.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dwarven Glory III The Winding Stair
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C&C Dwarven Glory II Wyrm Well
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2011 08:19:55

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/12/05/tabletop-review-castles-crusades-dwarven-glory/

The Second Dwarven Glory Adventure is “Wyrm Well” and instead of investigating a bath house, you are investigating a Dwarven dungeon. The adventure is supposedly designed for three to five Level 2 characters, but considering the amount of combat in this adventure and the fact some of the monsters include a Ghost Naga and an 8 HD Wyrm, that’s pretty optimistic of the design team. In the adventure’s defense, the thing IS littered with healing potions, but to me that only makes it worse as some adventuring teams might not find them, either because they are killed before hand or they didn’t search hard enough. The adventure also contains a lot of magic items and the final battle has your players getting hit with a double bless spell (which it is implied that they stack, but that doesn’t seem right to me) so players will be helped, but because of all the items put in to help low level characters survive this, “Wyrm Well” feels more like a Monty Haul adventure than anything else. In this short little dungeon crawl, you’ll find over six magic weapons, several pieces of armour, some scrolls and the aforementioned collection of healing spells. I’d have preferred to see the character levels a little higher and a lot less magic items, but that’s just me. Aside from the plethora of items, the adventure is your standard dungeon crawl and it offers a nice amount of challenge for players.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
C&C Dwarven Glory II Wyrm Well
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Castles & Crusades Dwarven Glory: Looking Stones
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2011 08:19:00

Originally Posted at http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/12/05/tabletop-review-castles-crusades-dwarven-glory/

The first Dwarven Glory adventure is “The Looking Stone” and it is for a party of characters whose levels are between four and six. The adventure revolves around a feliul stone, which is basically a animated boulder possessed by the spirit of an insane bloodthirsty dwarf. Much of the adventure pits your characters either against the feliul stone or investigating a long abandoned bath house. The feliul stone makes for a great opponent and due to the unusual nature of this antagonist, players will not only be caught off guard, but have to come up with some interesting tactics to defeat it. After all, how do you fight a giant spherical animated piece of rock? The bath house contains nine different locations to explore and it surprisingly has a lot of different encounters which keeps things interesting. Nine rooms may sound a bit small, but this is meant to be an adventure that can be played in one shot. My only problem with “The Looking Stone” is that there is no real resolution or setup. Characters are just thrown into the exploration of the area without any real reason why and there is no conclusion for the adventure given. This is a problem with all three adventures in Dwarven Glory which is odd, especially for a Castles & Crusades adventure as they often contain an overwhelming amount of back story and set up.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Dwarven Glory: Looking Stones
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Castles & Crusades S2 Dwarven Glory
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2011 08:17:26

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/12/05/tabletop-review-castles-crusades-dwarven-glory/

I’m a big fan of the Castles and Crusades roleplaying line. I love how the system is a nice blend of second edition AD&D, OD&D and some modern ideas. Unfortunately I haven’t been a big fan of the published adventures. As we saw in my review of The Forsaken Mountain, the content of the published adventures not only tends to be a bit dry, but player characters often come off as secondary to the NPCs in them. Still, I’ve not given up hope, and that’s why when I had the chance to pick up the Dwarven Glory collection, I did so happily. Just flipping through this collection of three adventures reminded me of the old Dungeon magazine in both tone and layout.

Each of the adventures is your basic short dungeon hack. There isn’t much of a story or even a setup for any of the adventures. As such these are definitely for gamers who prefer hack and slash or exploring to political intrigue or intense role-playing sessions. Each adventure also has the same four paragraph introduction for players, which feels a bit sloppy. Surely something could have been done here to make each adventure stand out more.

The first adventure is “The Looking Stone” and it is for a party of characters whose levels are between four and six. The adventure revolves around a feliul stone, which is basically a animated boulder possessed by the spirit of an insane bloodthirsty dwarf. Much of the adventure pits your characters either against the feliul stone or investigating a long abandoned bath house. The feliul stone makes for a great opponent and due to the unusual nature of this antagonist, players will not only be caught off guard, but have to come up with some interesting tactics to defeat it. After all, how do you fight a giant spherical animated piece of rock? The bath house contains nine different locations to explore and it surprisingly has a lot of different encounters which keeps things interesting. Nine rooms may sound a bit small, but this is meant to be an adventure that can be played in one shot. My only problem with “The Looking Stone” is that there is no real resolution or setup. Characters are just thrown into the exploration of the area without any real reason why and there is no conclusion for the adventure given. This is a problem with all three adventures in Dwarven Glory which is odd, especially for a Castles & Crusades adventure as they often contain an overwhelming amount of back story and set up.

The Second Adventure is “Wyrm Well” and instead of investigating a bath house, you are investigating a Dwarven dungeon. The adventure is supposedly designed for three to five Level 2 characters, but considering the amount of combat in this adventure and the fact some of the monsters include a Ghost Naga and an 8 HD Wyrm, that’s pretty optimistic of the design team. In the adventure’s defense, the thing IS littered with healing potions, but to me that only makes it worse as some adventuring teams might not find them, either because they are killed before hand or they didn’t search hard enough. The adventure also contains a lot of magic items and the final battle has your players getting hit with a double bless spell (which it is implied that they stack, but that doesn’t seem right to me) so players will be helped, but because of all the items put in to help low level characters survive this, “Wyrm Well” feels more like a Monty Haul adventure than anything else. In this short little dungeon crawl, you’ll find over six magic weapons, several pieces of armour, some scrolls and the aforementioned collection of healing spells. I’d have preferred to see the character levels a little higher and a lot less magic items, but that’s just me. Aside from the plethora of items, the adventure is your standard dungeon crawl and it offers a nice amount of challenge for players.

The third and final adventure in Dwarven Glory is ” The Winding Stair” and it is for three to five players at either third or fourth level. This is my favorite of all the adventures as it features a really awesome magic axe as the center piece of the adventure, along with the ghost of a fallen dwarven hero who will attempt to possess a player character, albeit it more or less benevolently. This dungeon crawl takes place in an underground remains of a castle. It contains fourteen rooms and offers a nice amount of diverisity. There are fourteen rooms, but there’s not a lot of combat. You’ll encounter a shadow mastiff, a succubus and some green slime, but that’s it. As well, there is no final battle per say. There is a “big bad” so to speak, but the climax can be as simple as just walking away from it. There are a lot of magic items to be found in this small adventure, but because the adventure revolves around a specific magical weapon and it takes place in the remains of a once great dwarven citadel, I’m fine with it. There are thousands of gold pieces worth of loot to be found, which due to the location make sense, but that’s a LOT of money to be throwing at fourth level characters. Overall, I really liked the adventure. The lack of monsters made everything seem more suspenseful and ominous and it helped to prove that a dungeon crawl doesn’t need to be littered with creatures to be fun or effective.

So overall, I’m pretty happy with the collection. Again, I’m disappointed with the lack of any real setup or conclusion for the adventures, but a good DM can do this themselves. I also find there’s a little too much magic being thrown around as loot, but this is a consistent problem with every Castles & Crusades adventure I’ve ever read through, so this is more a personal taste thing than anything else.

Unfortunately I can’t outright recommend the collection for a small reason that isn’t readily apparent when you pick it up. It’s the price tag. As mentioned in the header, Dwarven Glory costs $4.99 or $3.99 if you purchase it from Drivethrurpg.com. However if you look through the Castles & Crusades lineup on DrivethruRPG.com, you can see that older versions of these adventures can be purchased separately and for roughly a dollar each. So it’s $3.52 to purchase these adventures separately, but $3.99 to purchase them in a bundle. A bundle or collection should always be priced cheaper than buying things individually and because of this snafu, I’d recommend buying each adventure individually if money is tight. However, if you would rather have one PDF instead of three, the collection is the way to go.

So overall, the adventures in Dwarven Glory are fun short little hack and slash dungeon crawls that will entertain gamers who don’t have much time to play or are new to the Castles & Crusades system. They’re a bit dry and there’s not much in the way of story for each adventure, but they are still entertaining in their own right. For four bucks, this isn’t a bad deal – especially if you’re a longtime C&C fan.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades S2 Dwarven Glory
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Castles & Crusades Condensed
by Steven M W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2011 12:38:51

Let me begin by saying that I am definitely an Old School Gamer having GMed AD&D since 1979! I lost my old gaming books recently in a move and was going to replace them but decided to give C&C a try first. I'm glad I did. I absolutely love what they've done with this product. They've taken most of the issues I had with 1st edition AD&D and fixed them, yet managed to retain the flavor.

This product has a couple of negative aspects, but they are minor: 1) The actual prose style is, at times, painfully over dramatic. The writer really should have checked his usage of certain words and phrases before going to press. (One does not "don themselves in the accouterments of battle." One can dress themselves in the accouterments of battle or one can don the accouterments of battle...) 2) The core classes for the system are not all included in the light version. Though I can understand this, the exclusion of the Ranger struck me as rather odd. It didn't end up spoiling my enjoyment of the product as I purchased the full set within a few days of reading the condensed version!

Good product which I highly recommend!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Condensed
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Castles & Crusades U1 Shadows of the Halfling Hall
by Michael B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2011 13:29:20

Vital Statistics: Shadows of The Halfling Hall is an adventure written for the Castles & Crusades RPG by Mike Stewart for characters of Level 1-3 with a challenge level of 0-1. This last part means it’s right in line with what Level 1-3 characters should be able to do. Not too hard but not too easy. I downloaded it as part of a larger C&C module bundle. It is 24 pages long, includes 5 keyed maps (although based on my reading, one may be missing from the PDF that I think may have been present on the inside cover) and 3 very interesting new monster types. The adventure is well written in clear and concise narrative format (meaning you can read it from cover to cover and get the gist of the story). While simple, it’s still an enjoyable read. Modules written in this voice are always nice to prep for because you don’t have to jump around so much for it to make sense. There are a few typos, but not as many as most TLG products. There is also one possible mathematical error where a lockbox is said to have a lock set by a 3rd level rogue, which it decrees as CL18 when I think it should be CL3, meaning there is an additional 3 added to the Challenge Base of either 12 or 18 for a total of Challenge Class 15 or 21. Other than those, the adventure reads nice and smooth.

If you’ve ever read any of the first edition AD&D modules or even the early basic D&D modules, you’ll be immediately familiar with how the adventure is laid out. It starts with a basic plot outline and then goes into nice detail on the NPCs. Their motivations and concerns are given as well as how they may react to certain actions by the PCs. It is all written with the assumption that NPCs encountered will be involved in significant roleplay scenes. There are actually quite a few NPCs. Lots of people for the group to talk to and ask questions. The storyline is a bit of a mystery that needs solving (see below for a spoiler free explanation) and so I would expect much of this adventure to be investigation. If your group isn’t into investigation, this module will still work nicely but you’ll lose a fair bit of the content that it includes, which for the price, is still a good value.

The keyed maps I mentioned are not strictly the graph paper style of old but would work fine drawn on a grid or not. They are not designed for minis but rather as a point of reference for description via both exploration or combat. They are simple enough that hand drawing them in a larger format will be quite easily accomplished. One of the beauties of C&C combat is that it doesn’t require minis or a battle mat, but will work fine with both if that’s what you choose.

Spoiler Free Story summary:

In Shadows of The Halfling Hall, the party finds themselves in the halfling canton of New Briar. One of the more prominent residents of the town, Willic Brambletoe, recently threw a party to celebrate the completion of his new home (a hobbit hole of course). However, after the party, no one was seen again. Now, it is up to the group of adventurers to find out what happened to the revelers. This will involve investigation with townspeople, family members, and even friends (and enemies) of the missing halflings. There’s a lot to learn in this little town and every inhabitant has some small piece of the story. Quite pleasingly, the author does a great job of naming the halflings according to Tolkeinian norms. Some names include Merin Fireheel, Josephus Longbottom, Gwynnd Knucklefoot, and most interestingly, Kyann Scarytoe. (Note to DM: If you don’t do something interesting with Kyann Scarytoe, you’re simply not doing this module justice)

Eventually, the party will work their way to the newly finished home of Willic Brambletoe. What they find there and what they’ve learned in their investigation will lead to some pretty interesting adventures as they start to put all the pieces together.

Start of slight spoiler….

As they investigate the scene of the “event” they’ll learn lots of interesting things about people in the village as well as how the new home was constructed. It will end in a relatively short dungeon crawl as they get to the bottom of things (pun intended). The final showdown is pretty interesting and should have low level players on the edge of their seats. Death is a risk in this adventure as it is in most old-school games.

End of slight spoiler…

Ultimately, I’d qualify this short adventure as a success on multiple levels. I think it does a good job of introducing new gamers to how the C&C ruleset treats the world, including the interactions between the residents of the world and the PCs. Secondly, I think it does a good job of offering an interesting story that is of an appropriate scale for new players and dungeon masters. One thing that I like about more classic systems and adventures is the scale. Everything feels more personal. Perhaps you’re not saving the world, or an entire nation, but instead you’re saving a village, or a friend, or someones loved one. The scale is smaller and more palpable. Shadows of The Halfling Hall does a great job of capturing this spirit. If you have a group ready to play C&C, this would be as good a place to start as any. With a small amount of work, it could also be a very good Halloween adventure. By adding a bit more strangeness and suspicion to the NPCs and a little more spider webs and fog toward the end of the adventure, it could really work great as a Halloween special.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades U1 Shadows of the Halfling Hall
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