Plunge into worlds of fantastic adventure where dragons lie and the undead stalk the shades of your mind’s imagines, where creatures of legend plunder wealth through the horror of their passage. Monsters grim and foul hold the ecstasy of gold and the renown of glory.
"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" . . . .Timothy B. RPGNow
What is Castles & Crusades?
Castles & Crusades is a fantasy role playing game with countless possibilities. The Players Handbook allows you take up the sword and shield, the staff or bow; to arm yourself as you desires and wander upon planes of your own imagining and plunder the wealth of adventure.
Designed for use with multiple players, Castles & Crusades puts you in charge of the adventure path. Included within are all the rules of play, how to get started in your very own role playing game, how to run the game and play in it.
It’s easy to learn attribute-based rules system allows players to choose among 13 archetypal character classes and 7 races to create their characters. Spells, equipment, fast-paced combat rules, and all essential information needed to play a game of Castles & Crusades is in this book.
"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" . . . . Zachory H Amazon
A Note From Stephen Chenault, CEO of TLG
A rules-light, adaptable game naturally engenders a gaming environment where one is bound only by imagination. When so unleashed, one can act without restraint to create a gaming environment that is fun for all. That is the core philosophy of this game just as it is the core philosophy of the original game. At its heart, it was intended to be a gun game to play and this game adheres to the same philosophy. Castles & Crusades is neither a realistic game nor a simulation but a fantasy game where imagination rules.
Why Play Castles & Crusades?
Hopefully many people have heard of Castles and Crusades. But do you know what Castles and Crusades (C&C) is? Do you know what it is about? Do you know if it is something you would like or dislike? 23 Castles and Crusades Castle Keepers, or Game Masters if you prefer, got together on the C&C forum and compiled a "Why play Castles and Crusades?" document. So this document is kind of a testimonial of 23 CK's representing over 100 players as to why Castles and Crusades may be just the RPG you are looking for. This is not going to be an explanation of the mechanics or how to play the game. This is essentially just a compilation of the general reasons why we play C&C. So if you are always interested in different RPG's, or are tired of playing the system you are using now, and want something simpler, but very versatile, that makes running the game much easier, but allows player characters to attempt to accomplish just about anything, then read on. C&C just may be perfect for you.
First the CK, or Dungeon Masters, perspective. The game is easier to run. It has low prep time and is easy to house rule. C&C is compatible with all other editions of Dungeons and Dragons. It has old school feel, without THACO, negative AC, or weird saves. The combat is fast, yet exciting. Easy to teach, easy to learn. Much more emphasis on the story is possible. It may use Archetype classes but the SIEGE engine allows greater player/character versatility. It gives power back to the DM! Great company support! Visit our online store today to get started on your next adventure!
If this sounds like it appeals to you read actual quotes from the actual DM/CK’s:
CK’s who contributed:
jman5000, Jyrdan Fairblade, ZeornWarlock, scadgrad, Rhuvein, Arioch, Omote, Dangerdwarf, Sieg, Serleran, Meepo, Traveller, vestinious, Dragonhelm, Philotomy Jurament, Emryys, miller6, Rigon, Combat_Kyle, Ghul, Maliki, PeelSeel2, Treebore.
So we ask the 23 -Why play Castles & Crusades?
- A DM's dream to run.
- Bigger player base. If anyone has played any version of D&D, it is old hat to them. It is easier to get older players and younger players together with C&C. Where trying to bring younger players to an older D&D or vise versa can be difficult.
- Faster game play.
- Less prep time.
- Easy to house rule.
- Backwards compatible with earlier editions of D&D
- Fast and exciting combat.
- Affordable books.
- Steady supply of published modules.
- Old school feel, without THAC0.
- A company run by friendly gamers and not business people.
My first love was Classic D&D. When I grew disillusioned with 3.X D&D (as so many of us did), I went back to my gaming roots, to my first RPG ever.
When I heard about C&C being made, I thought it was a great idea - at least good enough for me to buy modules for and convert to the Rules Cyclopedia. After all, if it was based on the OGL of a game that let me down, so how good could it be?
Well, the more I read about it, the more it began to catch up with the RC in terms of my personal favoritism. When the boxed set was finally released, I eagerly snapped one up to see how it played (read: to dismiss it). I loved it.
- The unified mechanic. I never cared about unified anything until now. After all, different mechanics need different rules to work optimally, right? C&C and the SIEGE engine handled things so well, I started to wonder why Thieves needed d100 to use their skills, Clerics needed 2d6 to Turn Undead, Saving Throws went up while Ability Checks went down, doors opened on high rolls of d6, and Elves found secret doors on low rolls of d6. The SIEGE engine, while strange to hear about the first time, plays out so smoothly, you've mastered the idea of it within 5 minutes.
- Simplicity in play. I was one of the rare ones who never thought THAC0/To-Hit or Saving Throw charts were so bad. Sure, they took up two and a half pages on my DM screen, but they were vital after all. What's that? You say with AC flipped, you can use a single number (the monsters HD) as a bonus to all to hit and saving throw rolls? SOLD. Combats have never felt so fluid and natural, with the rulebook only being cracked maybe once or twice per game. This of course benefits prep time, which I'm proud to say is at an all time low...
- And finally, compatibility with all of my D&D stuff. ALL of it, even the 3.X stuff. Wow. Even WotC couldn't do that, and they're a multi-million dollar company!
Pat yourself on the back Trolls, you did good. While Classic D&D will always hold a special place in my heart, C&C has become my game of choice and the one I hope to introduce my kids to someday.
- It's the closest thing to Gygaxian D&D since OAD&D.
- Gary Gygax approves.
- It is the rules system that Gary Gygax is using to publish his long awaited Castle Greyhawk adventure, under the name Castle Zagyg.
- Castle Zagyg is being developed with Gary by his old Greyhawk Co-DM, Robert Kuntz.
- Great support by the publishers.
- They really take interest in fan opinions.
- A storyteller's RPG system. - If you don't like storytelling don't play C&C.
- It gives the power back to the DM!
- It emphasizes the archetypes of classical fantasy. Because of this stories created in C&C tend to be more of a universal nature that everyone can relate to.
What Meepo said; I'd just add:
- Customization. With the Primes system, you can develop a vast array of characters (dexterous fighters, Intelligent Barbarians, Strong Wizards) with a plethora of abilities without the headache of either a skills or feat system. Want a fighter but very Dexterous? Give 'em a Dex prime...done. Want a Wizard who benches 200+ lbs? Give 'e a Strength Prime. Easy, and virtually no paperwork!
- I freely credit this theory to Serleran, but in C&C any character can *try* anything. As opposed to OOP A/D&D where a Fighter can never attempt to Hide in Shadows, or a Mu to break open a door, or such; in C&C you can try anything and have a chance (though some albeit small) of doing it. Not like D20 either, where if you don't have the skill or feat you can't do it. If it makes sense for your character, roll the check with the CK's appropriately determined modifier and there you go!
- C&C is the culmination of what made old-school D&D so great during the formidable years of the gaming hobby and the fantastic, streamlined rules of modern fantasy RPG players.
- C&C is relevant because of it's homage to classic and modern versions of the greatest game on earth.
- C&C is the resurrection of 1st Edition AD&D only with some brilliant improvements that avoid the necessity of referencing to hit, saving throw and thieving skills charts, thereby reducing the amount of time required to play through battles. The Troll Lords have done themselves proud in producing a game that once again makes it easy for new RPG gamers to pick up the game, take it home and begin playing in no time at all. And for the game master, known as a "CK" in C&C, the system works like a charm and is a true pleasure to run. In 25 years, I haven't seen a game that can rekindle the spark in an avid gamer's eye quite like C&C does. For these reasons and others, C&C is without a doubt the most entertaining RPG the industry has to offer.
- Usually, when people ask me why I play C&C instead of 3rd Edition, I just say, "Pull up a chair and grab a character," then four hours later, they ask where to buy the books.
- C&C borrows the best approaches from all the various D&D editions and combines them, along with a few new twists, into an awesome game.
- Classes are strong archetypes, like classic D&D.
- Classes have different experience advancement points, like all pre-3E versions of D&D. I like this approach. I think it's easier (and works better) than trying to carefully balance every class so that each one is equally powerful at every level.
- Races are separate from classes, like AD&D and 3E.
- High AC is better, and you have an attack bonus and a target AC, like 3E.
- Characters are not restricted by lists of skills and feats, and can attempt just about any action they like, like classic D&D without general skills, or like AD&D without non-weapon proficiencies. More on this, below.
- Prime Attributes and the SIEGE engine make it easy to tweak an archetype (dexterous fighter, intelligent fighter, etc.) in a way that has a real game impact, but doesn't require a lot of overhead.
- C&C is great for the GM who has old D&D and AD&D material lying around. It can be used with ease, with the trivial conversion of AC and movement being done on the fly. 3E material can also be used, although the conversion can be a bit more involved.
- C&C is great for the GM who wants to run some of the "old classics" like the Giant modules, the D-series, the Temple of Elemental Evil, et cetera. Part of the charm of the classics is their old school feel; C&C will capture that effortlessly, because you can use the PDFs or old modules without any in-depth conversion, and without changing their "old school" nature at all.
- C&C is great for GM preparation. Like older D&D editions, stat blocks are short and sweet. When creating NPCs and monsters, there's no need to spend time on calculations of skills, feats, templates, prestige classes, level-appropriate equipment, etc.
- C&C combat is fast, but can be as tactical as you want to get. The system will work equally well with or without miniatures and a battle mat.
- C&C is easy to customize. It starts out on a fairly basic level, and it's easy to add to. For example, if you must have a defined skill system, use the one you like -- it will import into the system with ease. Want a feat system? Import it directly, or maybe add a custom one where the feat costs XP to "buy" (that fits in well with the idea of different costs to advance a level, actually). Adding is generally easier than taking away. That's not just because of mechanics and balance, but also because of player perceptions.
- The great thing about the SIEGE engine is that your PC is free to attempt just about anything he can think of. You aren't limited by the list of skills (or feats) you could pick/buy. That means that if the player and the GM agree that a certain action is something your PC could do, you can try it. You don't have to worry that, despite your character concept, your knight didn't have enough points to buy knowledge of heraldry (which can't be used untrained). Of course, as with any system, the GM can always rule that something is beyond your capabilities (e.g. a mountain barbarian who has traveled to the Emperor's court may have no chance at a "knowledge of local politics" check). That same barbarian might have no chance to use his Int to engineer a stone cathedral with flying buttresses, but an average chance to use his Int to engineer a wooden palisade. The system is flexible that way.
- Certain skills being better than others, and continuing improvement, are handled by the use of primes, and by the application of a level bonus. So if your knight has Int as a prime stat, he's going to be better at Int-oriented skills (like heraldry). If the action or "skill" is central to his character, the GM can also allow him to add his level as a bonus.
- Feat-like actions can be handled in a similar fashion. If the knight says he wants to swing really hard, sacrificing accuracy for power, the GM can say "OK" and give a bonus to damage while penalizing the attack roll. You don't need to have "power attack" written down on your sheet to do this. If the wizard tries the same thing, the GM could let him do it, or he might decide to have the wizard make an ability check to see if he can perform that maneuver. Or he could rule that the wizard can't do it. The SIEGE engine empowers the GM by making his judgment and creativity matter.
- The SIEGE engine empowers players by avoiding the sometimes artificial limitations that a skill and feat system can impose. It broadens what you can attempt: your character's class and concept/background becomes the important factor, rather than which skills and feats you could "afford."
- Old School feel with modern mechanics that melt into the background and allow the game to be played, instead of results being arbitrated.
- The flexibility of the SIEGE engine and its use rocks. It is a basic mechanic that allows for quick resolution for even the nuttiest tings your players might throw at you.
- I Like Pie. C&C = Pie.
- Therefore, C&C = good.
- The system is modular. Subsystems can be imported, altered, or wholly created and added, removed, or whatever else with little impact on the remainder of the game. It advocates adoption and manipulation, begging every CK who plays to have the game they enjoy, but using the same underlying concepts so, even if a tourney were played, everyone would be on the same page.
- The ease of conversion from other games, even ones that don't use the same die types (for example, a percentage game like Rolemaster) really allows a huge amount of "stuff." In my opinion, C&C is a bridge, or a gateway drug, giving those who play a way to take everything they like from any source and use it, in most cases, exactly as it was originally. To me, this is C&Cs greatest strength. Sure, you can convert AD&D or d20, but when you start using stuff from Chill, Call of Cthulhu, Witchcraft, and even Vampire: The Masquerade material in your games... you really see the total flexibility and adaptability that C&C offers.
- I helped design the system, so, I am both proud and biased about it.
- Adaptability. C&C can be used with all editions of D&D. Likewise, it is very basic, so the CK can run it as-is, or import materials from other systems as he sees fit. From AD&D's non-weapon proficiencies to D&D's skills and feats, both can be used with C&C.
- I haven't had the time to read much of the 1st edition and am waiting for my 2nd edition to arrive. So as I’m not up with the game mechanics I will say that after gaming now for 21 years I wanted nothing more than to go back in time and play like I used to.
Peoples reviews and comments about C&C were saying just that, old school, so I have gone and bought the game to see if it has the correct feel about it.
Also In all of my gaming years it comes down to ease of use and fun, that’s AD&D for me so to have it brought back in a way that is just perfect.
And as for fun the best setting I have ever played, it is Greyhawk, not much more to add to that one.
- Why C&C? Fewer rules allow for more variety in game play by encouraging players to not limit themselves to what is in the rule book. The lack of rules make the game more fun for the referee by allowing the referee to do more than just be an "entertainer". Far less preparation time is needed to play a game, and the things that tend to slow down other games do not slow down Castles & Crusades.
- Why C&C? While Castles & Crusades focuses on the archetypes, it does not limit the archetypes to only using class abilities. In Castles & Crusades, a character can attempt to do just about anything, even if it isn't a class ability. The game's central mechanic allows for such mixing and matching.
- Why C&C? You can add anything to the game system you desire and will not "break" the game by doing so. If you want to add certain feats and skills to your game, you can. Many of our referees have done so, and their games are humming along just fine. It's always easier to add things to a system than it is to remove them.
- Why C&C? Because if you don't like a particular rule in the book, you can replace it with something more in tune with your tastes, and your game will not suffer for it. The rules are not graven on stone tablets, but a mutable, organic structure, easily modified as desired.
- Why C&C? It's a better bargain. It costs less to buy, and any of the gaming material owned prior to Castles & Crusades can be used with a minimum of conversion. Even d20 material can be used with Castles & Crusades.
- I play C&C because it brings back all the good times and fun of AD&D with out the mess, muss and fuss, of 3.X
- Fast, easy & right out of the box/book gaming.
- Powerful, yet easy to use SIEGE engine gaming mechanic to handle in game character situations and class or non-class abilities.
- Open, adaptable & modular. Other worlds, modules, rules can be re-worked, converted or dropped in with very little or no work.
- As a Castle Keeper/Dungeon Master, I am free to develop the creative and fun aspect of D&D without being bogged down with too many rules and stats!
- Why C&C? I've argued and debated passionately for going on 2 years now, but here's why my group switched. The game is easier for the DM and is more of a narrative-based game rather than the crunch, grid, and uber builds of "tetsnbn". C&C is elegant and feels much more like AD&D, or at least the game that I played prior to the arrival of d20.
- Now, I realize that "no one was buying and playing AD&D 2nd ed" before Monte and the happy crew at WotC came along and "saved Dungeons & Dragons," but at that time I had 2 groups of 5 and 7 players. Since '78, I've always had a group or two and we enjoyed both earlier versions of D&D just fine (though I greatly prefer 1st ed).
- The things is, at some point you have to admit that 3.X doesn't have the same feel as the game you played in the 70s, 80s, or 90s. It just doesn't. That's not to say that there are no improvements, but the beauty of C&C is that it embraces these upgrades while maintaining backward compatibility w/ earlier editions. I feel like I'm playing AD&D when I play C&C. It just does a much better job of capturing that feel than tetsnbn (3.x).
- The most important factor for me is the siege system and the quickness of character creation. As a Game's Master I can concentrate my efforts on story telling/making rather than hundreds of time consuming rules which in my mind takes away the spirit of role-play. Oh and the books are far more affordable than most other RPGs.
- All character classes are fun to play; the races have some old features and new twists. And mostly, I can say that all of C&C and Zagyg modules I have played so far are great! And it has one of the best communities that I have ever seen online!
- To me, C&C represents the best of the Classic, AD&D, and 3e D&D. We've got the unified mechanics of 3e, the simplicity of Classic, and the feel of AD&D.
- In C&C, if a PC surprises me with a course of action, I don't have to look to see what rule or rules would cover it. All I need do is determine how difficult it would be, roll the dice, and play out the consequences.
- And finally, no Attacks of Opportunity!
- less intimidating for new gamers
- MUCH less intimidating for new ck's
Some real world in play examples:
- I've had rangers trying to pick locks
- I've had fighters trying to track people on darkened city street
- I've had wizards trying to make called shots with their weapons
- I've had a knight and his heavy war horse fight back to back and triumph over more than a dozen gnolls
- I've had a rogue jump from a 2nd floor window onto and into the midst of monsters below, just to distract them
- I've had clerics trying to sneak (and making the roll - beauty!)
These are just some of the things that players have tried to do in the 15 or so sessions that I've run, which I think would be hard to do, or impossible in 3rd edition. The funny thing - I don't think any of them realized what they were trying to do until afterward.
- What everyone else said. Its all true.
If Castles & Crusades sounds like fun to you - heed the advice of the 23 and let your adventure begin anew.