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Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing $29.99 $20.98
Average Rating:4.8 / 5
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Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing
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Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by James L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/16/2013 16:29:53
A beautiful revision of the Players Handbook. I really like the new logo as well as the full-spread artwork on the cover. The interior is a mixed bag for me; some of the artwork in color is gorgeous, while others have very odd color choices. I like the goldenrod background of the page, but the brown text is not a very good complement and is hard to read on-screen (I have no idea if the hard-copy version is any better or not). Otherwise there aren't too many changes besides encumbrance. If you have the 4th printing, I don't think you'll be missing much. If you're new to C&C, then I would say either get this printing or go ahead and get a hard-copy version.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2013 11:34:50
It is often said that Castles & Crusades is the Rosetta Stone of Old School Gaming. It certainly is that, but there is a lot more going on here than just that. Castles & Crusades is very much a stripped down version of the basic 3.x SRD. As such there are lot of concepts that are modern including a one-roll mechanic for all sorts of situations. Though if that were all then there would be nothing separating this from say True20 or other "lite" d20 iterations. Castles & Crusades plays like good old fashioned D&D. The aesthetic here is 1st Ed. AD&D, with the simplicity of Basic era D&D. The concept is noble and one we see in many of the retro-clones. But where the clones attempt to use the OGL to make an older version of the rules, Castles & Crusades makes it's own rules and instead goes for the feel or nature of the game. So while you will see Thieve's abilities represented by percentage rolls in Basic Fantasy or OSRIC and as a skill in 3.x in C&C it will be a Dexterity check. Simple, elegant and easy. The Ability check, whether your abilities are Prime or Secondary, are a key element of C&C.

The Players Handbook is the first book you need for Castles & Crusades. At 140+ pages it is all about getting your character up and going. The abilities here are the same six you have always used and they are even generated by rolling 3d6 and assigning. If you have a different method that you liked back in the day OR if you have adopted some point by system from a new version I see no reason why it would not work here. I am a fan of 4d6, drop the lowest myself. The ability score modifications are a bit different than new OGL games, but are in fact much closer to older games. Bottom line is just pay attention to how many pluses that 18 gives you if you are used to playing newer games.

Next you will choose a class based on your abilities. Each class has a prime ability; one that is most associated with it. So fighters have strength, clerics wisdom, wizards intelligence and so on. Speaking of classes, all the "classics" are here and some new ones. So you have Assassins, Barbarians, Bards, Clerics, Druids, Fighters, Illusionists, Knights, Monks, Paladins, Rangers, Rogues and Wizards. There are some minor tweaks that make them different from other versions of the same class in another game, but nothing that made me scream "That's not right!" in fact in most cases I was more inclined to agree with what they did. For example I like the Barbarian for the first time ever. Each class has some special abilities and skills.
In C&C it is assumed that if a character wants to do something that instead of a skill roll an ability check is made. There is Target Number, 12 for Primes (something you are good at) or an 18 for Secondary. You add your mods, any class or race based modifications and there you go. Simple. Skills are no longer of a list of things you can or can't do, but now potential to do or at least try anything. This is something we did back in the old days, but the newer twist here is that this is just the same as any d20 based roll. Be it skills or attack. So Rangers and Barbarians are good at tracking, wizards at arcane lore and so on. makes things pretty easy. So improvement over 3.x games, no tracking skill points.
I have to add, that there is such a cool old-school vibe here that it is just like reading a book from the early 80s. Only with far better layout and art. As another aside, the art is fantastic. I love my old school games and wizards in pointy hats and all, but the wizard in C&C looks AWESOME. I would not mess with that guy, I don't care if he looks like a farmer or not.

Races are up next and all the usual suspects are here.
Races and Classes are built in such away that customization is REALLY easy. If I wanted to play a Goblin here I bet I could rather easy. Every race gets two Prime stats. Typically you want one of these to correspond with your class. Humans get three allowing for their flexibility. All other races also get modifiers to abilities and/or special traits. While the modularity of 3.x is obvious, the feel is still more 1st ed.
We end character creation on completing the character with persona, gods and alignment.
Up next are some lists of equipment and rules on encumbrance. The rules are some of the easiest encumbrance rules I have seen. So far so good? Well we have by this point gotten through roughly a third of the book. Not too bad for 50 pages.

Magic and Spells take up the remaining bulk (65 pages) of the book. Not a surprise given four spell casting classes. Spells are listed alphabetically and range from 0-level cantrips to 9th level spells for each of the four classes. That is a major break from their old-school roots when only wizards had access to 9th level spells.
The spell format itself is also closer to that of 3.x, though no XP penalties that I could see.
The nest 20 or so pages deal with the Castle Keep (GM) of the game. This includes all sorts of advice on how to handle conflict, award XP and even how to set up an adventuring party. Good advice all around to be honest and enough to keep most groups going for a long time.
There is also an appendix on multi-classing as an optional rule. I have not tried it yet, but it looks solid. Not as elegant as what you see in 3.x, but better than what we had in 1st or 2nd ed.

The Players Handbook is all most players will ever need and even some Castle Keepers.
I have the 4th ed version with the black and white interior art and the newer 5th ed with the full color art. Rule wise they are the same, but the full color version is really, really nice and the art is just fantastic.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Vance R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2013 12:41:53
This game is a great balance between old-school D&D and the new (3rd and 3.5). It is tremendous fun and gives you a lot of options without gobs of rules.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
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-

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.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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