Apr 282011

I mentioned earlier that I was thinking about some old school stuff and looked at the major contenders. The one that just seemed to hit my sweet spot for old school feel, crunchiness of the rules and general over all mechanics was Castles & Crusades. I got my copies of Castle & Crusades Players Handbook and Monsters & Treasure last week and I’ve digesting them over the past week. And, damn, this is better than I thought.
Here’s what I like about it. Simplified rules that still familiar. Our group has been running Pathfinder since the beta rules came out and we’ve been pretty satisfied with it. But hell. I’m never satisfied. But the rules just like in 3.5 have gotten tedious to me. Yes, before any one asks, yes we did look at 4th Edition but this ain’t about the Edition Wars.
Castles & Crusades is at it’s simplest is the 3.0 rules rolled back with an earlier edition feel. No skills. No feats. No pile of rules for every possible no matter how unlikely occurrence. Race, class, monsters, loot. It’s more involved than that but you get the idea. Here’s what I really like. Back in the old days, you had a bunch of saving throws against all sorts of things. In C&C, you got six. Hey, that’s a neat coincidence, you’ve got six attributes. That means no dump stat, kids. Oh I suppose you could but you just might really end up paying for it. Yeah. Save or Die, bucko. Like I said, there’s influence of the old school and 3.x versions are there. The rules are flexible enough to easily house rule or bring in some the mounds of 3.x stuff that is piled up in the back of closet. So in summary, the rules are easy if you’re used to the rules of pretty much any edition. They’re easy to tweak, house rule and import stuff from other sources.
Here’s basically how stuff works. You’ve got prime attributes and secondary attributes. For saving throws and skill like checks on primary attributes the DC is 12 + challenge level vs 1d20+attribute modifier+level. For secondary attributes, the DC starts at 18. Combat pretty much works the same as we’re used to with 3.x. Determining, all that stuff is obviously explained in much more detail in the book but you get the idea.
Now for some advice or at least less positive things. I decided to save some bucks and picked up the digest versions of the PHB and Monsters & Treasure. My advice, shell out for the other versions. Really, I’ve seen EULA’s that don’t have print that fine. It’s danged near impossible to read with my aged grognard eyes. Also, I do some searching on C&C, you’ll see lots of comments about poor editing. Yeah, there is a mistake here and there but it’s no biggie.
And then there’s the PDF’s. The good news is that I think just all of the C&C stuff is available as PDF’s unlike that other major RPG publisher (Sorry, I just had to throw that dig in there.) The bad news is that some of them are priced just about as much as the hard copies. Ouch. But never fear. Just stalk Troll Lord Games on Facebook or Twitter. They have regular sales. I picked up the Haunted Highlands And Black Tooth Ridge bundles for just under $10 a piece. That’s a total of 13 adventures plus some extras. I got enough there to run one even two campaigns. Plus I got a good discount on their first installment of the new adventure series: Dark Journey.
So if you’re still on the fence about this there’s plenty of support and fan created material available plus the quick start rules. So go ahead and check out the Troll Lords site. I’ll let you know what I’m planning doing with this later.