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Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum
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Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/14/2018 12:01:54

"The Codex Celtarum contains a veritable host of gaming material. Built around the complete mythological cosmos of the Celts, in it you'll find new spells for your druid, cleric, and illusionist. New monsters, including mountains of fey. New magic items. For the very bold, there are new powers for your characters, allowing your characters to become fey! 190 new spells 90 gods and monsters from the Celtic mythos 150 powers for the fey monsters & characters (optional) The Druids." For the last two years I've been looking at the cover for Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum & pretty much wrote it off as yet another "elf games" source book for Castles & Crusades. Every time a Troll Lords sale would come up I look & think maybe?? Two things have occurred that changed my mind. One I'm actually running a Seige Engine powered game. Two I've got players who are nuts about all things Celtic. So I contacted (stalked) Troll Lord Games about the Mythos Bundle for Castles & Crusades.

When they didn't contact me right away I went ahead & bought the entire line of physical books. I loath & hate pdfs but love books at the table. Over the years I've seen various hog pog incarnations of pieces of Celtic mythology in many editions of Original Dungeons & Dragons, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 3.0, OSR etc.

There is a lot of material to cover & this book tackles the subject head on & goes right into the meat & patatoes of the material. Is this a book for the player or the dungeon master? The answer is both. This book clocks in at about a hundred & seventy six pages of very well researched material. Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum came out about five years ago & Troll Lords has expanded the Mythos line quite a bit. This is a book for the serious dungeon This book is for the dungeon master who wants to run an entire Castles & Crusades game within a mythological Celtic Iron age setting with Fey & all that goes with it. In one book you get all of the tools for doing this because your going to be placing all of those elements into the realm of the Fairy. This book was written by an academic who knows, eats, breathes, & lives his material. Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum encompasses the entire experience of playing within & without in the realm of Fairy & Fey. This book boils down all of the classic elements of Celtic mythology & legend into an actual playable supplement for Castles & Crusades. It does with professionalism, class, & its very well written. Brain Young is an academic who really gets into his mythological gaming material with wit & solid writing. The layout is solid, the writing is easy to get through, the material sparks the dungeon master's imagination. But is Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum

good for other Siege Engine products? Could this book be useful for say Amazing Adventures?!

The answer to this is yes! Much of the material here is straight up fantastic to adapt to a pulp setting & it easily lends itself to whole cloth idea. The Fey are legendary & very alien their own right. These are not weird Elves & lets play them, this is straight up epic mythological C&C material. This makes it unexpected & straight out of the box a surprise to player in a pulp game campaign. If you are going to use Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum with Amazing Adventures what are you going to need?Much of this material has been filtered after a fashion & adapted to the Amazing Adventures Companion by its author Jason Vey. With 190 new spells 90 gods and monsters from the Celtic mythos 150 powers for the fey monsters & characters (optional) The Druids all of these C&C elements can be ported over easily into other Troll Lord products including Amazing Adventures! rpg. I can actually see using Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum with the Victorious Rpg. Using Victorious or Amazing Adventures I can see a pulp investigative or heroic campaign using the Celtic mythological material as adventure fodder. The adventure elements within the Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum are very fresh & well presented. The book packs a lot into its one hundred & seventy five pages. But is the book worth its price of admission into the Celtic world of the Fey & Fairy? In a word yes! I think that Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum is not only a high quality book for Castles & Crusades but for any OSR or old school dungeon master. I give the Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum a solid five out of five.

Eric Fabiaschi Swords & Stitcery Blog Want more original OSR & old school content? Subscribe to https://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2013 14:09:54

The Codex Celtarum is written by Brian Young. He is a gamer and an academic in Celtic history and languages and all around nice guy. Honestly he is the kind of guy I want writing this sort of thing. You talk to him and get the feeling that he could immediately tell you a story from the Mabinogion and it would roll off his tongue like the bards of old. This is the guy you want working on your Celtic game.

The first thing I noticed in his introduction was his acknowledgement of the differences in legend and in history and where he was putting his cards. For me, as someone that has had to have the same tug of war, the value of this book went up several degrees.
Before moving on to the book itself I spent a lot of time with Castles & Crusades again, this time from the point of view of a Celtic-themed game. Honestly I think it might be one of the better systems to do it with.

The book itself is divided into eight sections plus the forward. Now at this point it should be noted that the design of this book is to play in a Faery realm, so it is something you can drop into any game world. There are some game-based assumptions made, but nothing to keep you from making this your own.

Chapter 1: Once Upon A Time covers the creation of the Celtic universe including the various wars that happened at the dawn of time and various personalities. We are introduced to various gods. The Horned One and the Blue Hag take central stage. At this point I want to say that reading this is like reading a story of old as an adult; familiar yet nuanced in ways I didn't know then. For me the myths and tales this is based on are familiar, but this is new telling for a new world. We are treated to so many names that are familiar and new at the same time; The Tuatha Dé Dannan, Danu, Lir, Goíbhníu, it's like hearing the names of old friends. In a mere 6 pages we have the whole background of the world to the present day. Nothing extra, nothing left out.

Chapter 2: In Lands Far Away details the physical and metaphysical lands of Faery and mortal plane they touch. There are the Two Cauldrons, Night & Day (which have affects on the faery) and the Twelve Houses of the Gods (with a cool map). Given the subject the human lands are the British Ilses and Ireland and given the author we get a lot of Welsh names. The faery lands don't have the same rules of nature as the mortal realms. So there are some tables about the odd passage of time or the nature of the land. Normally I would balk at this sort of randomness, but here it not only works, it is part and parcel of the mythos. BTW if you don't quite recognize the map of the lands, hold it up to a mirror.

Chapter 3: There Lived a People has everything you want to know about the Faery races. This includes the major sub-races (Light, Darkness and Twilight) and traits faeries can have. Now the utility of this chapter should be obvious. I will also add that if you want to give your FRPG Elves a nice shot in the arm then adopt this part of book. We are given detail (in terms of monster stat blocks) of the Children of Light, Children of Twilight and Children of Darkness. Nearly every Celtic-fae type is here in one form or another. There are lot of new creatures here (unless you are very familiar with Celtic myths) and some that I don't believe have ever been featured in a game book before. There are also plenty of Faery beasts and supernatural animals. We also get some giants, but no stats since they are legendary.

Chapter 4: Great of Magic and Power details, what else, magic. If human wizards study magic and human priests pray for it then the Fae ARE magic. The distinction is not a subtle one. The magical powers here are listed as spells. So they can be used by the fae as if they were spells, but that robs them of what makes them so interesting. Instead go with the suggestion in the book that each member of the fae get a number of special powers based on their intelligence. And there are plenty of powers here! If you are anything like me and love magic, spells or powers for characters then this chapter alone is worth the price of the book. I have to admit I am pleased to see similar powers here as to what I have in Ghosts of Albion under Faerie Powers. It tells me that we were drawing from similar sources. There are plenty of differences though allowing for personal preference, but it shows that Brian and I were thinking along similar lines.

Chapter 5: Strong of Feats and Deeds handles what the Celts did best. Fighting. Well they did other things too, but this is what those stories were all about. If your fighting-type characters felt left out in the last chapter, then this is one help you out. Plenty of options. I particularly liked the Tattoo magic. There are feats as well. Before you panic these are feats in the traditional sense of the word and there are only a score of them. If you have read any of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, then these are the feats of Cú Chulainn. There are also some fighting orders detailed such as The War Sisters, the Fian (Fianna) and the Dragons of Prydain (of which the most famous is Arthur).

Chapter 6: With Great Gods and Heroes covers the gods, demigods and heroes of the lands. We have been introduced to a few already like The Horned One and his wild Hunt. Arthur is mentioned as well as my personal favorite Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn McCool). There are no stats for these gods or heroes. Why? That is easy. They are not meant to be killed or even interacted with. They are the legends of this land.

Chapter 7: Great of Name and Mighty of Deeds covers new rules. First up are changes to the various character classes. Not a lot needs to be altered here. Again as I mentioned above, the classes in C&C are based around concepts and skills rather than powers, these can translate better. There are some new classes too. The Woodwose is something like a wildman, a mix of barbarian and ranger. These are humans that have lived in Faery a little too long. The Wolf Charmer are something like a Beast Master. They charm animals to follow them. There are some adventure hooks from classical Celtic tales. A list of names for characters from Brythonic and Gaelic roots.

The last part, Chapter 8: Items Enchanted and Divine, are all the pieces that didn't fit above. But it still has a lot of good material. We get a nice discussion on Faery Metals and how they can be used. There is a list of divine items (artifacts in other games) listed by owner; that's right the Gáe Bulga is not just lying around waiting for you to find it. No this +8 spear (!) is well in the hands of Cú Chulainn.
Ogham is discussed and the various societies and cultures of the heroic age; the Picts, the Britons, the Anglo-Saxons and the Gaels. Holidays around the isles are also detailed. We end with a map.

Ok. So what can say here. First the book is absolutely excellent. I am insane with jealousy on how good it is really. At 176 pages it crams a lot into space. I love the feel of this book. There is something about that just feels right to me and it makes C&C the perfect system to play a Celtic-based Faery game. Now. Some points of clarification again. This isn't a book about playing in a Celtic society per se. There is no "day in the life of a Celtic warrior" bit. Only lip service is given to Bronze Age tech or what the larger Gaelic society was like. Also this book isn't about playing "weird elves". There is nothing here for example from the Germanic tradition of Faerie stories. The aim of this book is very specific. If you are looking for one of the above sorts of books then this might not fit your bill. But if you are looking for a book to play in that intersection of Celtic myth and Faery lore, then this is the book you want. As with all C&C books the layout is clean and easy to read. The art is fantastic. If you are a fan of Celtic myth, Faery lore, or Castles & Crusades then I highly recommend this book. Even if you don't play C&C, I would get this book.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2013 09:21:50

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/05/02/tabletop-review-codex-celtarum-castles-crusades/

I’m always happy to see new Castles & Crusades books come out, as it’s my favorite OSR system. I’ve also really been enjoying their Celt influenced line of products like The Goblins of Mount Shadow and The Crimson Pact, so I was really looking forward to the Codex Celtarum. especially after how successful the Kickstarter for this book was.

The Codex Celtarum contains a little bit of everything you could want for a Celtic-influenced campaign. I should point out that the Celtarum is not a source book for 100% accurate real world Celtic mythology, folklore and culture. It’s an adaptatiom of Celtic culture for the Castles & Crusades setting. There had to be some give and take which the author, who has a Masters in Arthurian Studies realized full well. The end result is one that should please fans of Celtic myth and role players used to generic high fantasy settings alike. The Codex Celtarum is something that every Castles & Crusades fan should be able to enjoy and appreciate, even if they don’t actually use it in their game.

There are eight sections in the book (Not counting the prologue). They are as follows:

  1. Once Upon a Time – this covers the World creation and general overall mythology of the setting. The author has done his best to strip away the Christian influence of these beliefs and stories, which is not an easy task mind you, considering how intertwined they have been for the last two thousand years. He does a great job though and you get a more “pure” look at the Celtic world for a purely high fantasy setting that doesn’t have the same religious trappings as our own. You get a nice look at various races, historical events like the Darkwars and so on, along with the snap shot of how the world is in present day. By that I mean the game world’s present day, not our own.

  2. In Lands Far Away – This is a general historical chapter. Here you see things like the Two Cauldrons (Night & Day), the Twelve Houses (families of Gods), information on Faerie portals and how time differs in their world, and locations that players will visit and/or travel to in their adventurers. This is the primary geographical explanation of the world and the races/people who inhabit the specific islands and regions talked about. It would have been nice to have a few maps (or even one!) in this chapter so that DMs could better visualize the locations, but since so much of it involved the Fae’s world, that is probably easier said than done.

  3. There Lived a People – this chapter gives you stats for various Faerie races and monsters you will encounter while playing in this setting. It also gives some charts of Fae weaknesses, traits and typical punishments they hand out. I’ll admit I was a little disappointed that this chapter didn’t include rules for playing some of these unique creatures as a PC, but it is what it is. The chapter ends with a history of Welsh Giants and gives out their specific locations, which is kind of neat but perhaps a wee bit too specific for the average DM.

  4. Great of Magic and Power – The world of Faerie is exceptionally magical, with everything from a blade of grass to a steel sword containing some measure of magic power. Now whether said items retains its magic outside of the land of Faerie is another story. This chapter explains the different between a Fae’s spell-like abilities ad actual spells themselves, along with the mechanics and rules for both. As Castles & Crusades is a rules-light system, you don’t have to worry about memorizing too much. You get lots of charts to help with making NPC Fae on the fly. You can choose from general charts, or ones geared towards a specific race. You also get lists of new Cleric, Druid and Illusionist spells. As you can probably surmise, the bulk of spells in this chapter are Druidic ones.

  5. Strong of Feats and Deeds – This chapter gives you information about Celtic warfare and reasons for it. I love that the book has an entire section on magical tattoos and body paint, for example. This thing is so highly detailed, you can’t help but be impressed. There is a list of twenty Feats that characters can learn. But these aren’t exactly what you think of from 3E D&D or Pathfinder. These Feats are learned in-game, by role-playing rather than leveling up. It’s a very interesting way of implementing them, and although I really like the idea of earning something through role-playing, some gamers might be too used to gaining things through leveling up to enjoy this.

  6. With Great Gods and Lords – This chapter is all about the deities of the Celtic world. You don’t get any stats here, which is a smart thing because otherwise you’d have some power gamers running around trying to kill gods. You are told the relationship between the Gods and both Clerics and Druids. There is a distinction, after all.

  7. Who have Mighty Names and Feats – this is the closest the Codex Celtarum comes to being mechanics heavy. This chapter is primarily for the Castle Keeper (DM), but PCs should read it too as it has some good role-playing commentary. The chapter primarily frames character classes in a Celtic lens. It points out the hardship of making a Monk, Cleric or Paladin work in a Celtic/Fairie world, which is interesting. You also get some new Classes, which is what I was most interested in. There is the Woodwose clan, which are the “savage” men of the wilderness, who are also known as Wildmen. Wildmen are a bit of a Ranger/Rogue/Druid mashup with abilities like Know Poisons, Forestwise and Sylvan Leap. These are some powerful abilities and with d8 Hit Points, the ability to use any weapons or armor and very low XP thresholds to level up, the Woodwose is a bit overpowered in my opinion.

Another class is the Wolf Charmer, which is kind of a Bard/Ranger hybrid. A Wolf Charmer is a dual class only profession and only of a neutral or evil alignment. Basically they can summon and control wolves and then at 5th level, lycanthropes as well. Holy crap, now that’s overpowered. My only real complaint about the book is that the two new classes are unbalanced, and that some tweaking should have been done here. The rest of the chapter is about adventure seeds and Celtic sounding naes so your character will better fit with the setting.

  1. Items, Enchanted and Divine – the last chapter in the Codex Celtarum is all about magical items, with special attention paid to the concept of Faerie metal. Forsome reason though, the chapter also includes the language and history of Druids as well as information of societies. I’m not sure why these bits got shoehorned here as they absolutely should have been in chapters two or three. Their inclusion at the end just really destroys the flow of the book. Last I checked, things like Holidays and Customs are not “Items, Enchanted and Divine,” you know?

Aside from a few minor quibbles, the Codex Celtarum is simply an amazing book. It’s not just one of the best Castles & Crusades sourcebooks ever, but it’s something that ANY fantasy game setting can pick up and use/adapt, especially if they are looking for a Celtic flair for their homebrew world and stories. There is so little in the way of mechanics, that you won’t ever have to do that much converting, especially if you already use an OSR system. As usual, the new Celtic content line for Castles & Crusades continues to impress.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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