Castles & Crusades is a fantasy table top role playing game (#ttrpg) that is quick to learn, easy to play, and allows you a wide range of customization. With our simple yet diverse attribute-based rules system, players choose among 13 archetypal character classes and 7 races with which to create their characters. Spells, equipment, fast-paced combat rules, and all essential information needed to play a game of Castles & Crusades are in the Players Handbook.
What you Find In the PHB:
The RPG: In the opening pages, we explain the tools you will need and how to play a game of Castles & Crusades. We explain the basics of the attribute check system, the Siege Engine, and touch on attribute modifiers and attribute checks.
The Classes: In this second section, the PHB delves into the classes. From the Fighter to the Wizard, it presents 13 classes to choose from, as well as various customizable options, such as multi-classing, or class-and-a-half. Each class description includes all the relevant info from skills to weapons they use. Artists Peter Bradley and Zoe DeVos bring each class alive depicting both male and female versions of the class. (Check out the Adventurers Backpack for even more classes!)
The Races: Expand your character with one of seven races. You can choose from seven different races: human, elf, dwarf, halfling, half-elf, gnome, and half-orc. Each unique race includes different mechanics, their strengths and weaknesses, and a wealth of background information that any character or player could make brilliant use of. As with the classes above, our art team depicts both male and female versions!
Completing the Character: Here the Players Handbook delves into names, how to create background and personality, alignment, equipment, and other necessary details to help you bring the character you want to play to the table.
Magic: Magic unleashes a whole new dimension of play at the table top and C&C has plenty of it. Here we explore the four major spellcasters, Cleric, Druid, Wizard, and Illusionist, how they cast spells, and the spells they cast. From the Cleric’s spiritual weapon to the Illusionists’ healing ability, it is all here.
Spell Descriptions: Hundreds of spells put into simple words with all the required information for your table to run smoothly; range, saving throws, casting time, duration, and anything else can be answered in this segment of the Player’s Handbook.
The Castle Keeper & the Game: This section expands upon the Siege Engine and how to play using attribute checks. It is simple, extremely versatile, and allows for immediate resolution of conflict for expanded story development. All of this is covered as well as how to role play, what you need, expectations and a plethora of examples on how to use the attribute check system. (Don’t miss the Castle Keepers Guide for more optional rules and a mountain of material on how to play!)
Combat: Here the book explores the painless to learn combat system. It includes how to begin and run fights, the necessary stats and rolls, surprise, initiative, non-lethal combat, melee and ranged, unarmed, situational modifiers, armor class, maneuvers, hit points, and damage.
Turning Undead: The cleric and paladin both have special abilities when it comes to controlling or destroying the undead. All that is covered here.
Rewards: How to award treasure and experience points, allowing the characters and the game to advance, literally to the next level.
Movement, Spell Resistance, Languages, Vision & Time: All of these sections discuss the various aspects of the game that come into play. Each is dealt with and explained, making deployment at the table fast and easy.
Example of Play: The book is wrapped up by an example of play. Learn how to do it from the creators!
Plunge into worlds of fantastic adventure where dragons lie and the undead stalk the shades of your mind’s imaginings, where creatures of legend plunder wealth through the horror of their passage. Monsters grim and foul taunt with the ecstasy of gold and glory. Upon the heels of these foes stalk heroes of great might; those who take up sword and shield, who harness eldritch might, those who traverse the narrow corridors in search of sport, and those who serve a purpose greater than all the others: Heroes, Freebooters, Mercenaries, and Adventurers.
The C&C Players Handbook
debuted in January 2005 – technically 2004 – but its origins lie in the deep history of the previous millennium.
Note: for cover images, please refer to the TLG pinterest page
The first rules of the players handbook materialized in the backs of three adventure modules in the rule set for Swords and Sorcery, a game Mac created back in 1999. The adventures were written with the then soon to come 3rd
edition release of D&D in mind and were made vaguely compatible with that rules set. The OGL (Open Gaming License) had not yet been released, but Mac Golden, our CEO at the time, knew what was coming. So, our releases for Swords and Sorcery, Mortality of Green
, Vakhund Descent into the Unknown
and the Fantastic Adventure
, all came with a little set of rules in the back. The rules were limited, three pages or thereabouts, but had familiar items, attributes, hit points, and armor class, though there were some subtle differences, such as disposition in place of alignment. We launched these books and other items at Gen Con 2000.
The three modules sold well, and launched Troll Lord Games as we were picked up in distribution. Sales were strong, such that in short order, TLG dropped Swords and Sorcery and launched a full line of 3rd
edition books under the d20 banner, using the OGL and SRD (System Reference Document).
Fast forward a few years, and things had changed quite a bit. Mac had stepped down as CEO and Steve Chenault took the helm, no longer called CEO, but in those days, going by General Manager. Under his general management, TLG published a world setting and some small modules, also working with Gary Gygax to publish a host of Gygax’s material.
There were three driving factors that went into the creation of the Players Handbook. A D&D fatigue had set in the offices of TLG, as the game was too unwieldly for our more narrative story-based adventures, bloated with mechanics that complicated storytelling instead of complimenting it. The game did not really fit Gary’s style either and he kept writing for his own system with a heavy tint of AD&D to it. The second factor appeared on the radar in a café somewhere at the GAMA Trade Show, when Steve was informed of the building glut in the d20 market, and was advised that TLG should do something different, make its own stamp, to shield the company from the coming collapse. The third factor that drove TLG was Gary Gygax. Gygax was finally ready to move on his famed dungeons project and needed a vehicle for it. He didn’t want to create his own game, and so left it to us to make one that he could approve for the dungeons.
All these ingredients made up the stew which fed the creation of C&C and the Players Handbook.
The rules for C&C were crafted on the front porch and dens of Davis Chenault and Mac Golden’s homes. They lived across the street from one another, and after young’uns were tucked in, they gathered over coffee (and smokes in the case of Davis) and began hashing out the rules that eventually led to the publication of the Players Handbook
. The two of them developed the Siege Engine gaming system with a great deal of input from the people on the message board, such as Casey Cannfield and Mike Stewart, with final approval for the rules given by Gary Gygax. When it was all done, the bulk was cleaned and edited and sent to Steve Chenault. He stepped in at that point and wrote flavor text for the classes, races, and sections of the CK Guide that constituted the latter half of the book, most notable the Tyranny of Rules pages. It’s a good rule of thumb that any mechanics or rules were written and created by Mac and Davis and textually flavored by Stephen.
They did have a rather curious rules procedure, each rule had to be simple to read and understand, and so Mac and Davis sent each write up to Steve as sort of a dummy test. If he couldn’t understand it in one read, it had to be rewritten.
The Players Handbook
first appeared in a small white box set at Gen Con in August 2004. It was a softcover book, saddle stitched, printed in black and white and comprising some 36 pages. It included all the rules to get started, with four character classes (fighter, cleric, wizard and rogue), equipment and spells. There were 1,000 of these box sets created, however, they were not going to be ready for Gen Con, and so TLG contracted the box maker to produce 100 for the show. They agreed to do so, but could not get a wrap on them. Last minute scrambling produced stickers for the tops of the boxes., therefore the first 100 released were actually boxes with stickers on them. These stickers were hurriedly put on the boxes at Gen Con, and that Thursday morning the show was opened by Peter, Steve, Mark Sandy and Peter’s mom. It was a crazy Troll Lordish day. The following 1,000 were full wraps, and of these the first 300 were signed and numbered.
This, of course, was but a prelude to the real release of a full 128 page hardcover book, replete with 13 classes and the full bevy of rules and spells. The 1st printing of the Players Handbook
arrived in late November, coming in two large pallets, piled to the brim. It sported a great cover by Peter Bradley, depicting a knight fighting a small flight of dragons. When asked about their arrival, Steve Chenault remarked, “I remember when they dropped them off. It was a clear, cool afternoon and I jumped at the boxes to have a look see. They were MUCH more yellow than I anticipated. The tea-stained sepia tone, had not played out, but the books inside had all the promise I had hoped for.” This 1st printing
released in December of 2004 to direct orders that Christmas but was fully released into distribution channels in January of 2005. Pre-orders from stores were low, and TLG had to argue the case to push more into distribution, but once it dropped, they sold like mad and restocks were immediately in order.
Work turned toward the Monster book, so that when the 1st printing
of the PHB
sold out the next year, 2006, the Players Handbook 2nd printing
was rolled out, and was in many respects an exact replica of the First. The Players Handbook 3rd printing
followed the pattern set by the 2nd
and released in 2007, remaining largely the same as the first two but for a few changes.
By 2008 the game had a real life of its own, enjoying a growing player base, and it seemed at last time to address some of the issues plaguing the first printings. Editing was an issue, but art and some branding were long overdue. The 4th printing
rolled out with the famed green bands and half page covers, sporting a new cover design, title, and cover art. The logo remained the same as in the first 3 printings, but the cover itself showed a knight fighting a wild shimmering cat beast. It included the first round of major changes to the Players Handbook
, for instance the illusionist gained the ability to heal through spells (an act that still causes controversy to this day), a host of new spells entered the book, the monk enjoyed some minor changes and the barbarian some pretty major ones. This Players Handbook 4th printing
released in 2009 to a market deeply depressed from a massive contraction of the economy, and which affected RPG sales as it did many other markets.
This was a dark time for TLG. Gary Gygax passed, and his passing hit hard. The economy was in a slump. New competing games were popping up everywhere, and the market became a crowded mess.
Despite this, the game continued to grow, and by 2011 everyone at TLG knew they were in for another printing. This time around Stephen Chenault decided it would be in full color, with a new look, logo, and cover. Peter Bradley affected all this, and the Players Handbook 5th printing
launched in 2012. This was the first PHB funded on Kickstarter and TLG’s second Kickstarter campaign. It sported a dragon on the cover blasting a party in the ruins of some dungeon. The book’s sepia tone reflected the aging game, but the art remained largely the same, with the text unchanged. The biggest change was the new logo, which launched from the shelves solid and large, orange and loud.
The 5th printing
followed the sale patterns of the others and sold out in about 18-24 months, so that work soon began on the next printing, also relying upon crowd funding. The 6th printing
is especially dear to Steve Chenault’s heart, as it sports his favorite Peter Bradley painting. Here a knight in red battles an aghul demon from the Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde
in the shadows of trees. The Players Handbook 6th printing
released in 2014.
A deeper print run of the 6th printing
allowed TLG time to develop other products, most notably the Castle Keepers Guide
. However, the sales growth continued, and the deeper print run, though it extended the shelf life of the 6th printing
, did not completely solve the issue. TLG’s attempt to stretch out the print run partially succeeded but found them suddenly sold out. The 7th printing
was hurried forward, through another Kickstarter campaign. The book’s absence was noticeable throughout TLG’s offices but echoed ferociously at the Origins Game Show. Despite these issues, the Players Handbook 7th printing
released in 2017, sporting the first true alternate cover, one painted by Jason Walton, a stunning piece of bravery with a set of adventurers looting a very alive red dragon’s treasure horde.
At last, it seemed time for another overhaul. As the 7th printing
began winding down, work on the 8th printing
began. This proved the first real departure from the earlier books, sporting a new set of alternate covers, a new title logo (designed by Tom Tullis at Fat Dragon Games), and all new interior art, layout, and design. The book remained true to its origins, but completely departed from its earlier look, sporting a much easier to read and navigate book block. The 8th printing
welcomed new art from artists such as Zoe DeVos, whose wonderful character depictions dot over half the pages. The Players Handbook 8th printing
marked the 3rd
decade that C&C breached and released in 2021.
The alternate cover for the 8th printing
proved one of the most popular pieces of art published by TLG. Painted by Jason Walton, it is a tip of the hat to the original AD&D Players Handbook, an homage that both says thank you and stands apart as its own creation.
The 8th printing
proved so ridiculously popular that the Players Handbook 9th printing
released later in 2021.