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Castles & Crusades S4 Dwarven Glory
by wade [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2024 01:31:00

Nice adventure and floor plans are good. Very odd that the cover and pages inside have absolutely no art of dwarves.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades S4 Dwarven Glory
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Castles & Crusades The Undying War
by Michael [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/10/2024 01:42:40

Missing the detailed star blocks that existed in the original modules and for one the adventures even a basic stat block is missing for the four main monsters. However the maps are much improved



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades The Undying War
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Castles & Crusades C1 Mortality of Green
by ROB [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/27/2023 03:48:55

This adventure needs a single page option, the 2 page spread is too small to read when printed.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades C1 Mortality of Green
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Castles & Crusades Aihrde Fantasy Campaign Setting
by Al F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2023 11:40:44

At first I was expecting some kind of weird flowery language due to the review that claimed the writing was filled with "purple prose". That's not true at all and I think the writing is perfectly appropriate. After a read-through of Castles & Crusades Aihrde Fantasy Campaign Setting, I can tell this is exactly the type of fantasy setting I like. Aside from a few OSR titles, it's almost impossible to find RPG games and settings that are not trying to dismantle the norms that make fantasy fiction and gaming so wonderful to experience in the first place. There seems to be a constant push to put a twist on the tried and true formulas. The result is usually not a twist, but more of a perversion. I detect no perversion here, nor any heresy (lol), just good wholesome fantasy. With this title, Chenault's fantasy world-building paints an epic picture of a world that is complete with creation myths, the history of many civilizations and a vast multi-species political tug-of-war across the lands of Aihrde. In short, it's super cool and I give it 5 stars!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Aihrde Fantasy Campaign Setting
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5th edition -- The Undying War
by Craig E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2023 07:21:44

Not as good as Castles and Crusades, but the story is still well written



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5th edition -- The Undying War
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Castles & Crusades U1 Shadows of the Halfling Hall
by Bob V. G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2022 15:00:22

Recently, I soloed my way through Mighty Scout Leaders (22 pages, free/pay what you want at DriveThruRPG). I did use four of the characters that are in this set of rules as my PCs. To solo this I used Magic the Gathering cards with a yes/no/maybe oracle. So, the adventure started out with the four camp counselors and their campers trying to earn a cooking badge out at their campfires. It suddenly started to rain, and the event was washed out. No badges for anyone. When the campers got into their sleeping bags that evening, my four PCs went to the dining hall to play poker. Unfortunately, an alien ship came down, put the PCs asleep with a sleep gas, and the four cat sized aliens attached themselves to the heads of the PCs. This put them into a dream state. If the PCs survive the dream they can reject the alien’s influence. If the PC dies during the dream, he/she becomes a drone. For the dream sequence I used Shadows of the Halfling Hall (26 pages at DriveThruRPG, a fantasy adventure).

The dream starts with the PCs listening to the quest instructions from Redd at his inn. They start their investigation and question several people who are scattered throughout the town. They also go back to the inn and recruit a goblin wizard. The clues lead them to the Brambletoe estate. In The Hall, and down beneath it, they battle different kinds of zombies and skeletons. The PCs do take damage and things get nasty when they run into the DreamKeeper. Roger goes down, but they do kill this Big Bad.

As soon as the monster is dead, Cleo, George, and Tag wake up. The aliens that were clinging to their faces, make a run for it. Roger is now a drone and heads towards the alien ship floating outside. Cleo tries to stop Roger, but Roger knocks her out. George tries to get inside the alien ship, but he is hit with a paralyzing ray. Tag chases an alien in the kitchen, but slips on a greasy spot. He catches up to it out in the grass outside and kills it. Roger the Drone and the other aliens make it to the alien ship and it takes off. Maybe you will have better luck.

Give this fun adventure a try!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades U1 Shadows of the Halfling Hall
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Victorious Night of the Jackals
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2022 18:48:32

A new drug is finding its way into pubs and Apothecary shops throughout the East End of London.

"This drug, called “M” causes rioting, murder, and worse things. Can your heroes find the source of

this maleficent chemical before the city is overrun with carnage?"

"A Gilded Adventure for levels 2-4

Gaslight street lamps pour fitful illumination through the fog-shrouded streets of Victorian cities. Menacing figures lurk in darkened alleyways. Desperate men with nothing to lose and the determination to take what they can from others plot.

This is an RPG where masked vigilantes pit their fantastic powers against all the evil that settled in the darkened streets of a Victorian past that both was and was not!"

So riding hard on the heels of Victorious rpg's 'Hide & Seek' comes A Night For Jackals by Mike Stewart For The Victorious Rpg. And I'm going to assume the author is a fan of the classic Sixties Wild,Wild, West television show hence the name of this adventure. There's a lot going on here in twenty four pages and some of it solid rpg setting contiuum work by Mike Stewart. We've got adventure plots within adventure plots within 'A Night for Jackals.' The writing is crisp and the implied world of the Superhumankind.And 'A Night For Jackals' centers itself on London; "This adventure is centered predominantly within the city of London, with emphasis on the poorer regions of the city such as Bethnel Green, Whitechapel, Limehouse, and other parts of the East End as well as certain points of interest in and around the British capitol that might factor into the players investigations"

Within twenty four pages Stewart lays down the adventure plot, the NPC villain, and brings the PC's down the rabbit hole of 'A Night For Jackals '. Professor Morierty is center stage and he's really ramped up as an NPC villain. He's not someone that the player's PC are going to want to cross.

'A Night For Jackals' does an excellent job on two levels, one it establishes the world of Victorious as an alternative Earth where superheroes from the 21 century have shown up. And two it brings the PC's right into the middle of the events with a stake in the action. Make no mistake the PC's are in big trouble and level heads with solid investigative skills are going to reign big time in 'A Night For Jackals'. Within the twenty four pages of 'A Night For Jackals' we get everything we want in a 1-4 level adventure. And the learning curve here for players of other super hero style games is going to be interesting 'A Night For Jackals' takes full advantage of the Victorious rpg's system in spades. Could ' A Night For Jackels' be used with other OSR supers games!?! This is a tricky one in someways let me explain. The world of Victorious is closely associated with the rpg setting and the two in many ways are indivisible. With that being said ' A Night For Jackals' could be run with the Wretched Époque rpg. But a word of caution, the OSR systems here are exclusive to each game. So there maybe balance issues that could crop up in running 'A Night For Jackals' with the Wretched Epoque rpg. It might work but there might be interesting issues. Something to explore in a future blog post to be sure.

Back to 'A Night For Jackals' , as I said this adventure expands on the timeline of the Victorious rpg. And I do feel that this is a key adventure for the foundations of a campaign of supermankind's Victorious rpg. I wish there could have been a bit more after adventure hooks in 'A Night For Jackals'. Thanks for reading our review Eric Fabiaschi Swords & Stitchery Want more Victoriana content? Please subscribe to https://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Victorious Night of the Jackals
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Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure
by Cassiano C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/14/2022 18:07:28

Fantastic source. Some typos here and there, but the amount of monsters and the description of treasure and magic items make the book well worth it. It contains stuff not found all the time in similar OSR books. Anyone intending to be a Castle Keeper should have this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure
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Amazing Adventures 5E
by Joseph C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/19/2022 18:26:01

I found Amazing Adventures 5e when I wanted to run a Pulp Adventures campaign, inspired by the old polyhedron magazine versions of Pulp Heroes (both D&D 3.5 and d20 modern hacks). This is an all-in-one-solution--you don't need any 5e books to play, just this one.

It supports adventures anywhere from turn-of-the-century to sci-fi and I've used it as the platform for my streamed Actual Play campaign that bends genres. That game's been running for over a year now. Many of the classes are recognizable (Pugilist is the Monk with some changes and different flavor text), some have been overhauled (the Hooligan is the Rogue but with more changes, and the Socialite isn't a bard but has several things in common), and some are unique to this ruleset (the Gadgeteer and the Mentalist).

Aside from modern/pulp/futuristic equipment and vehicles (and the rules for running them), the book also includes a more realistic/simulationist set of rules for firearms that are more deadly and exacting, which will be a welcome plus for any fans of more sophisticated mechanics.

I've greatly enjoyed this book, importing other 5e material into it is not difficult, and it is all you need to run amazing 5e adventures for any modern time period.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amazing Adventures 5E
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Castles & Crusades Gods & Legends
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/30/2022 12:51:08

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/06/one-mans-god-castles-crusades-gods.html

Gods & Legends

For the purposes of this review, I am considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

PDF. 144 pages. Color covers, black & white interior art. Bookmarked and hyperlinked. Written by Davis Chenault with contributions by Steven Chenault, Brian Young, Jason Vey, and Todd Gray.

This book largely replaces the Of Gods & Monsters book from a few years back, though it is smaller in size, 144 pages vs 162. I say replaces, but this is a new set of work. The original Of Gods and Monsters was written by James Ward of Deities & Demigods fame. There are similar gods in both books but this new version is a rewrite of the older work with new entires to work better with the Codex series.

This book is divided into three(ish) large sections.

The Anvil of the Gods

This section covers how gods work in a Castles & Crusades game, how the Castle Keeper can play them, and how the characters can relate to them. This section also gives advice on designing a pantheon. Unlike the original Deities & Demigods that seemed to want to shy away from religion, this book acknowledges it and all the myriad combinations (within the space of this book) religions can take. The focus here though is not a religious academic text (and Troll Lords has at least two people, Young and Vey, on staff with graduate degrees in religious studies, literature, and history) but more on how these manifest and work in an RPG, and in Castles & Crusades in particular. To this end there is advice on how to run and play gods and how they should interact with the PCs.

Common deific abilities are defined with Greater, Lesser, and Demi-god statuses. Details are given to how the gods relate to the clerics and paladin classes, alignments, and other archetypes. Holy symbols and characters with divine traits are also covered. Divine traits include the healing touch.

Of the Gods

This is the largest section of the book, detail-wise. This covers what could properly be called the Gods of Aihrde, the Castles & Crusades campaign world. A brief overview of the basic deity characteristics is first. Up first are the human gods of Aihrde. This is the section that is most like the older Of Gods and Monsters book.

Some sections are the same as in the older book, many do look to be rewritten. The art is used from the older text but I do not see an issue with that. Many gods here get more text as well. Many of the Aihrde gods take cues and ideas from Earth gods. This is also not a big deal and in fact no different than the gods of the Forgotten Realms. In fact I am going to go out on a limb here and say the process to create these gods (from the Chenault home games no doubt) was very similar to what Ed himself did when he created the Forgotten Realms Gods. Maybe one day I need to go through this pantheon and the Forgotten Realms ones and see what gods they have in common. The obvious "Earth" gods are the All Father (Odin), The moon sisters (Diana, Artemis), Frafnog (Fáfnir, Midgard Serpent), Tefnut, Toth, Unklar (Chernbog), and Wenafar (Titania). Again, I like seeing this stuff. It immediately gives me a hook. If Frafnog is the god of dragons and there is a Fáfnir connection beyond the surface then there is a great reason why dwarves hate dragons more than just the Hobbit connection (which is of course drawn from the story of Fáfnir and The Ring of the Nibelung). There is deep religious animosity here. Is this what the Chenaults do in their home game? No idea, but this is what is happening in mine.

Following humans, we get the gods of the Dwarves, Elves, Halflings (LOVE the art of the halfling gods!), Gnomes, and then the humanoids (bugbears, gnolls, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, lizardmen, giants, ogres, and trolls) there are even dragon deities, fey deities, and gods of mermen and sahuagin. It is a wide variety and shows some original ideas beyond what we typically think of in the Deities and Demigods, but not quite the level of detail as found in the very focused Forgotten Realms Demihuman Deities book.

All the Other Gods

This "section" is actually many sections, but they are mostly the same format. They cover the various gods and pantheons found in our world and are covered in detail by the Codex series. Where the Codecies give us a lot of details on the myths and stories of those pantheons, this section just covers game based stats. No stats as in hp and AC, but alignments, worshipers, granted attributes, preferred weapons and the like. No details on the gods themselves, for that you will need the Codies.

Covered are the gods of the Celts, Greeks, Egyptians, Germans, Norse, and Slavs.

Who should buy this book? Anyone playing Castles & Crusades and wants to go deep into the mythologies of Aihrde. Also, anyone that owns the Codies and wants more game content.

I also say this is a good book for the AD&D (first or second eds.) player/game master that wants a bit more detail on the gods in their Deities & Demigods/Legends & Lore books. Or who just want a different set of or more gods than they currently have. Indeed the title of the book, Gods & Legends, seems to state that it is a book with the AD&D books in mind.

One Man's God - The Demons of Aihrde

As I mentioned the Demons of Aihrde are already the Demons of AD&D. But what about the monsters and gods here in Gods & Legends? Let's see what we have here.

The obvious choices will be the Lesser Gods and the Demigods in terms of the power level near that of the Demon Princes. But I am not going to ignore the odd Greater God if they fit.

For the Aihrde human gods, Frafnog might fit the bill, though he is really powerful. Onduhl is the god of evil beings and has a strong Lucifer or Loki vibe to him. Unklar looks like a demon and has the Chernobog connection I mentioned above, but he seems more devil-like than demon-like.

The gods of the Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes do not have anyone. The Elves have Talahnatilia but that is something other than a demon or devil really.

It is not really to we get to the gods of the humanoids that we find good candidates.

Jarga the Bloodless is worshiped by many humanoid types (gnolls, kobolds, orcs). He is a lesser god and chaotic evil. He is a god of blood and battle. He might or might not be a demon, but he will certainly has their hatred of life. His plane is listed as The Wretched Plains, one of only three gods to claim this plane.

Bugbear gods here are Chaotic Evil. Hobgoblin gods are mostly Lawful Evil. This detail tracks with my own personal use of them. Bugbears are goblins with demonic ancestry and Hobgoblins are goblins with diabolic ancestry. So. If I am searching for demons I am going to look towards the Bugbears first. The bugbear gods are both greater gods and don't really fit the AD&D notion of demons. Same is true for the hobgoblins.

Gnolls have been long associated with demons in AD&D through Yeenoghu. Most of these gods are either too powerful (Greater) and/or Lawful Evil. Here is one of the issues of trying to apply the "rules" of one game on to another. They don't have to follow the same logic or premises.

Among the Goblins, Beerkzurd could be a demon, a powerful on to be sure. He is Lawful Evil, but he feels more Chaotic Evil really. He is also one of those gods people pray to not so much to get boons from him, but in order for him to leave you alone.

The Orc gods are quite war-like and many are Lawful Evil. They mostly seem like larger, more powerful versions of orcs. Which I guess can be said about most gods. They are just larger more powerful versions of the people that worship them.

Vasser of Lizardmen is another good choice. Lesser God, chaotic evil, looks like a demon. The same is all true for Grudznar of the Kobolds and Barg of the Trolls. In fact, all three do feel very demon-like. The lack of proper stats are really the only thing keeping me from deciding a definitive yes or no. Barg though is such an interesting being in a demented sort of way. I wish I had knew of him during my Troll Week a while back.

I am not considering the Dragon gods. They are really their own thing and many listed here do not fit the idea of a demon well. Yeah...I know I have both Tiâmat and Leviathan as eodemons. Plus I mentioned Frafnog above as a potential demon.

Same with the Fey. They are really their own thing. Though in my personal campaign the Fey do war against the demons. So it could be possible a "fallen fey" is a demon (fits what history did to them in our world). Not an evil fey. A "good" faerie still has more in common with an evil faerie than they do a demon.

Flathin of the Sahuagin also is a good choice as a demon. If we take the myths of Flathin and his sister Trimon it could be that Flathin was "cast down" as the patron of mermen and now is the patron of their evil counterparts, the Sahuagin. He is a chaotic evil lesser god and looks like a giant octopus with 10 tentacles (a decapus?). He grants little to his followers, save for what they get at their religious/war ceremonies.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Gods & Legends
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Castles & Crusades Player Archive
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/29/2022 11:47:27

Originally posted here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/06/class-struggles-castles-crusades-core.html

The logical extension of the Castles & Crusades class discussion is to go through the Castles & Crusades Player Archive.

I will give a brief review of this book so people will know what I am talking about. For this review, I am only considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG. I thought I had the hardcover version of this as well, but I guess I don't. Will need to remedy this.

PDF, 128 pages. Hyperlinked and bookmarked. Color cover art and black & white interior art.

This book collects most of the classes published in various Castles & Crusades books including the core and the Adventure's Backpack. What is not here are some of the classes from the various Brian Young Codex books. There are some here, but I would have to go through all the books to know how many are here and how many are not. I do not see this a miss. Many of the Codex classes are very specific to their time and place and to remove them from that context they would loose something special.

This book covers the basic (levels 1 to 13) and advanced (expanded) information (levels 13 to 24) for all the classes. The classes are:

Arcane Thief, Archer, Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Chromatic Mage, Cleric, Divine Knight, Druid, Duelist, Dwarf (Heisen Fodt), Elf, High (Oraalau), Ethereal Knight, Fighter, Foresworn, Gnome (Hugrin Dun), Goblin, Eldritch (Ieragon), Halfling (Felon Noch), Illusionist, Knight, Luminary, Magic-User, Monk, Oathsworn, Pacer, Paladin, Pirate, Primal Druid, Ranger, Rogue, Rune Mark, Seeker, Skald, Thief, Warrior Priest, and Wizard.

There is a split between the classes "Basic" entry which covers levels 1 to 12 or 13, and the Expanded entry later in the book for levels up to 24. This has some immediate consequences. While I am not a fan of my class information getting split up like this, many games only go to about levels 12-14 anyway. So this would cover the majority of all games played. It does give us a nice split today port these classes over to any OSR game based on B/X D&D (max level 14) or something Hyborea (max level 12). Then you can pull in the expanded information as it is needed if it is ever needed.

The Core/Players Handbook classes are here as are some classes that only appeared in limited-run products. It is really nice to have them all in one place. Great for anyone playing a C&C game, you just need to make sure that your Castle Keeper agrees on them.

Old School Games based on D&D usually do not handle multi- and dual-classes as well as say more modern versions of D&D. Castles & Crusades makes some vast improvements here with rules on this. They also add options of "Class Plus" or add some features from another class, Dual classing and Reclassing. What is missing here is the Class and Half from the Core Players Handbook. While anyone with this book will have the Players Handbook, it might have been nice to see here.

I mentioned in my coverage of the Adventurers Spellbook that the spells can be ported over to other D&D and D&D-like RPGs. In particular, I mentioned the Chromatic Mage being used in the OSR clone Chromatic Dungeons. The class is presented here in the Player's Archive. Yes, this class can be moved over rather easily, maybe even easier than moving it over to AD&D. Likewise nearly any class here can be used in AD&D or OSR clone. Want to play a Primal Druid in Old-School Essentials? No problem, they can be added with ease.

Note: Speaking of which the layout here aims to give each class a two- or four-page spread to keep referencing the classes easy to read and view at the table. The PDF then allows for ease printing of these classes. Playing a Warrior Priest and don't want to cart your hardcover around? Print pages 90 and 91 back to back and staple them to your character sheet. Everything you need. This does mean there is some unused white space after each class, but for me, this is well worth it.

With this book and the option within I could spend an entire month creating and posting characters and no two would even be remotely the same. A must-have for any Castles & Crusades fan.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Player Archive
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Castles & Crusades Adventurers Spellbook
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/28/2022 12:42:00

Originally posted here (with pictures and more details): https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/06/plays-well-with-others-castles-crusades.html

For the purposes of this review, I am considering both the PDF from DriveThruRPG and the hardcover I purchased from Troll Lords.

256 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.

This book covers (mostly) the spells of the four major spell-casting classes in C&C; Cleric, Wizard, Druid, and Illusionist. There are also two new types of spell-casters in this book, Runic Magic and Chromatic Magic.

The vast bulk of this book is given over to the spells of four classes (170+ pages). The spells are listed by class and then the alphabetic description follows. Many of these are going to be familiar since they are pulled from various C&C books and the Player's Handbook in particular. This is not a bug, but a feature. I wanted a book that had all of these spells in one place and this is what they advertise it as.

There are minor typos here and there and the art is recycled, but none of that matters to me. I am here for the spells. Honestly, I have no idea how many spells are here but it has to be upwards of 1,000. For example, there are 379 Cleric spells (0 to 9th level), 366 Druid spells, 437 Wizard spells, 305 Illusionist spells, and over 200 rune magic spells. That's a lot of magic.

I mentioned Runic Magic a couple of times. Rune Magic. Anyone can use runic magic, but the character has to master the runes first via an attribute check, this also assumes they have the necessary codices needed in order to learn the runes.

The spells of the Chromatic Mage is also presented here. This class is detailed more in the Castles & Crusades Player Archive, which I will cover on that review.

If you are a fan of magic, spells or just have a desire to have a complete set then I would say pick this up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Adventurers Spellbook
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Castles & Crusades -- Mystical Companions
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/27/2022 12:31:24

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/06/monstrous-mondays-mystical-companions.html

I have never hidden my love of Castles & Crusades and I would play a lot more of it if I could. It really does capture the feel of older D&D, maybe something of a Basic-era mixed with Advanced, through the lens of 3rd Edition. One really could consider it the evolution of AD&D2 into the new millennia.

This week I want to do more with Castles & Crusades, but I am going to do it from the point of view of some of my regular blog features. Today is Monday and that means Monstrous Mondays. So I am going to review and discuss the Castles & Crusades Mystical Companions book.

I can't believe that it has been three years (almost to the day) since I reviewed the 5th Edition version of this book. I had meant to do much sooner than this.

The Troll Lord's Mystical Companions is the update to their fantastic Book of Familiars. It comes in two flavors, A Castles & Crusades version, and a D&D 5th Edition version. I have both in digital and PDF formats, today I am going to focus solely on the Castles & Crusades version. Yes, they are in fact different enough that two separate reviews are really needed.

I was always going to use this book in my Magic School games, whether that game used an Old-School ruleset (like Castles & Crusades or OSE) or (now) D&D 5th Edition. I think that highly of it. Now it is something I am using as part of my War of the Witch Queens campaign where every character has an animal companion, pet, or familiar. My oldest kid has taken my 5th edition version and made it his own.

Mystical Companions for Castles & Crusades

For this review, I am considering both the PDF version from DriveThruRPG and the hardcover version I purchased from Troll Lord Games.

Hardcover book and PDF. 192 pages, full-color art by Jason Walton and Peter Bradley. PDF is bookmarked. This book is divided up into 12 chapters and 5 appendcies. Largely focusing on the various Castles & Crusades classes and their respective animal companions.

Chapter 1: Familiars and Companions

This gives us our basic overview of the book and the concepts of an animal companion in the Castles & Crusades game. Pro-tip. Even a casual read of the chapter titles should clue you in that if you wanted to use this with AD&D 1st ed you very easily could. There is also the notion that Animal Companions and Familiars, while similar and can perform similar roles and tasks are very different from each other.

On Animal Companion vs. Familiar. While rules in the book cover book and treat them somewhat interchangeably an Animal Companion is more like a loyal pet or friend. A Familiar is a creature summoned to work with the PC. Animal Companions are free-willed, familiars are not.

For ease, I am going to use"animal companion" for all cases unless a distinction needs to be made.

There is the concept here of Advantages, this allows the character to summon an animal companion. In truth, I think this works better in 5e than it does here, but I will explore this a bit more. Additionally, there are various Powers and Tricks animal companions can have or impart to their player characters.

Animal companions are all treated as other creatures from the beginning. They have HD, hp, AC and more scores.

Advantages are a new mechanic for C&C to allow them to take on various "powers" or "features." It was introduced in the Castle Keepers Guide as an optional rule, here it is required. It is, very simply put, a "Feat" system for C&C. That does not really describe it well enough, but it is close.

Different classes get new Advantages at different levels. Various abilities and powers of the animal companions are detailed here. Including what sort of special powers you can get by taking another animal companion/familar at higher levels.

If you are playing AD&D 1st Ed and really want to do familiars correctly then I highly recommend this book.

The following chapters each deal with the various C&C classes (and their AD&D counterparts in my readings) and their respective animal companions.

Chapter 2: Barbarian Familiars & Special Mounts

I don't recall Conan having a pet, but Cú Chulainn is known to have had some pet dogs. Since Barbarians feel closer to nature they have totem animals; an animal or creatures revered by their culture. This chapter covered these, and all the expected animals are here, but there are also totems for mammoths, displacer beasts, dire creatures of all sorts, and even small dragons.

Chapter 3: The Bard’s Familiar

Bards typically have familiars that aid in their singing or musical magics. Providing a number of powers to aid their abilities.

Chapter 4: The Cleric’s Familiar

These are not so much as animals and more attendant spirits. The least of the messengers of the cleric's god(s). Often they are here to provide the cleric guidance or omens. These creatures can, and often do, take on animal shapes. What that shape is depends largely on the cleric's domain.

Chapter 5:The Druid’s Familiar

Similar to both the Barbarian's and the Cleric's familiar. Here the deciding factor is the terrain/environment the druid is native to. There is a large sidebar/section on Druid Familiars vs Druid Animal Companions.

Chapter 6: The Fighter’s Familiar

This one seems a bit odd, but they do make a case for it. A good historical example might be the Mongolian fighters and their horses, or the hunting dogs of Celtic cultures.

Chapter 7: Monk Familiars

Again not one you normally think about. These seem to follow the same logic of the barbarian, but in stead of totem spirits they are manifestations of ancestor spirits. Think Mu-Shu from the animated Mulan.

Chapter 8: Paladin Special Mounts & Familiars

Paladins already get mounts. This extends that logic a bit more.

Chapter 9: The Ranger’s Familiar

Honestly, all Rangers should have an animal companion of some sort. This codifies it.

Besides. Every ranger needs a red panda familiar.

Chapter 10: The Rogue’s Familiar

Like the fighter, one does not normally associate Rogues/Thieves with animals, but honestly, it would be good. Think of Laurence Fishburne's character "The Bowery King" and his pigeons or D&D's own history of associating thieves with cats (the Grey Mouser from Lankhmar or Gord the Rogue).

Chapter 11: The Illusionist’s Familiar and Chapter 12: The Wizard’s Familiar

Putting these two together since they follow similar ideas. This is as close as we can get to the classic idea of a familiar. The natures of their familiars are different, which is great, it provides more distance between these two classes.

Appendix A: Animals

"Monster stats" for various (51) mundane animals.

Appendix B: New Monsters

Likewise, these are new monsters (36). Many are either familiars or creatures that feed on familiars.

Appendix C: New Spells

A bunch of new familiar summoning and related spells for all spell casting classes.

Appendix D: New Magic Items and Artifacts

Magic items to summon, control, or aid familiars and animal companions.

Appendix E: Dragon Riders

This last section covers a new class/path, the Dragon Riders, and how these rules are used for that class. While many of the same rules are used here as for familiars this takes them to a new place and should be considered optional.

This is the Appendix/Chapter that my son grabbed this book from me for, BUT he opted not use their Dragon Riders but kept the book anyway for everything else.

A Dragon Rider is a Path that can be added to any class, but some have more use for it than others. If the idea of PC Dragon Riders concerns you, then keep in mind it is being sold as "optional". And also Dragon Riders of some form or another have been around since the dawn of the game. If it is something you want, then there is plenty here for you to use.

If I ever ran a Magic School game with this then Dragon Riders would be included.

Index

We end with a robust index and the OGL section.

Final Thoughts

A note about art. There is not as much in this book as other Troll Lord books, but what is here is from the fabulous Peter Bradley and Jason Walton, who also gives us the cover art.

Your results may vary, but this book has quickly gone from a neat oddity to one of our must-have books for my Old-school games. My son uses it in the 5e games he has run so much that I have not seen my 5e version of this book in months since it is now in with all of his books.

Do you need this book? I say yes, but only if you are adding animals of any sort to your game, be they pets, familiars, mounts, companions, or all the way up to Dragon Riders.

Use in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

I am going to limit my thoughts here to AD&D 1st Ed. The only reason I am not considering 2nd Ed is that 2nd Edition has a skill system that should be incorporated with these rules a little more explicitly. For 1st Ed, I can see a craft DM using this book more or less as-is.

I know Troll Lords does not sell this book as an AD&D book. But anyone who is a fan of C&C is likely a fan of AD&D. (Although I should point out I talked to a couple of real hardcore C&C fans at Gary Con who had never played AD&D First Edition.) But in any case, this is a fantastic reference for the 1st edition all the same.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades -- Mystical Companions
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Castles & Crusades -- Tome of the Unclean
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/22/2022 12:58:08

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/03/review-tome-of-unclean-castles-crusades.html

I spent a lot of time with the Castles & Codex series and it was great fun. But there is another book that also works well with my universe building and it is not about the gods. Rather quite the opposite.

Tome of the Unclean

Back in October of 2017 Troll Lords launched their Tome of the Unclean Kickstarter. With the idea to bring demons, devils, and other fiends to the Castles & Crusades game. It would also work with Amazing Adventures (which is what I would end up doing later). I was immediately hooked and knew I needed this book.

Fast forward to 2019 I got my book in the mail and I had been picking up the PDFs (they released as they were completed starting in Jan 2018) all throughout.

I have just been really slow at getting my review up.

For this review, I am considering both the hardcover print version from the Kickstarter and the now final PDF from DriveThruRPG.

144 pages. Color covers, black & white interior art.

The book follows a format that is now common to many books about fiends. A part that deals with Demons and Lords of the Abyss. Another that covers Devils and the Legions of Hell. And a third, which often differs from book to book, covers other fiends of Gehenna and the Undead. Adding in the undead is a nice touch in my mind and a value add for the book.

Demons & Devils

This covers the basic differences and how these creatures fit into the World of Aihrde, the game world of Castles & Crusades. It also covers the basics of the monster stat block.

Lords of the Abyss

This is our section about Demons and the Abyss. It cleaves pretty close to the AD&D standard with what I often refer to as "the Usual Suspects," so all the "Type" demons and succubi. The new material here includes Abyssal Oases which are areas that are habitable by mortal-kind that seem to come up at random.

Covered here are also traits about the Abyss and powers and traits common to all demons.

The monsters are all alphabetical, so common demons are not separated from the lords. There are a few lords present. Demogorgon and Orcus return. But also Oozemandius (as a Juiblex stand-in) and Buer. Graz'zt is mentioned a few times, but no stats are given. There are 32 total demons with four as lords.

Legions of Hell

This section follows a pattern similar to the Demons one. The Hells are described, including the nine layers. They have some new names and some differences, but if you are wed to the Ed Greenwood Dragon articles about Hell then there is not a lot to convert here.

There are 53 devils, with 16 of these listed as unique Arch-Devils. There are more new devils here than there are new demons.

Gehenna

This is our "Neutral Evil" plane in the Great Wheel cosmology of the world of Aihrde, taking the place of Hades or the Grey Wastes from AD&D. This is home to the daemons. Like the previous chapters, this covers the features of the land and it's inhabitants. Reading through it is feels like equal parts of the Greek Hades and the Underworld of Kur in the Babylonian myths where Ereshkigal rules.

Only four deamons are detailed here, with one, Charon the Boatman, as the only unique member.

Undead

The name of the book is the Tome of the Unclean. While demons and devils take up the vast majority of the book there is still some space for the Undead.

18 undead creatures are detailed here, most of favorites (but creatures Vampires are missing) and some new ones.

Denizens. Fauna, & Flora

Covers various types of evil, non-fiendish, non-undead, monsters that can also be found.

We end with Aihrde specific information and our OGL page.

Tome of the Damned is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting more information on demons, devils, and their ilk for anyone playing Castles & Crusades. In fact, if you are playing C&C and want demons then this is a must-have book.

The advantage of Castles & Crusades is that it can be adapted to AD&D or any OSR game easily. So if you want more than what the Monster Manuals I & II can give you, then this book is also a good choice. I f you are playing AD&D 2nd ed then this book will fill in many of the gaps left by that game.

Now, I have an entire library of books dedicated to demons, devils, and all sorts of evil monsters. There were only a few things here actually new to me. But I still rather enjoyed this book quite a lot. It is a good addition to my Castles & Crusades library.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades -- Tome of the Unclean
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Castles & Crusades Codex Egyptium
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/18/2022 10:03:34

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/03/review-castles-crusades-codex-egyptium.html

Today I present the last (so far) of the Castles & Crusades mythological Codices. This one takes away from Europe and back further in time to antiquity. It was also one I was really, really looking forward to and I am not disappointed.

Castles & Crusades Codex Egyptium

Nothing gets people excited quite like Egypt. A kingdom that began at least in 3,100 BC to the time of the Romans, it has missing time where "nothing really happened" (according to one Prof. used to joke) that lasts longer than the entire history of the United States. It is an impressively long amount of time and even one that seems incalculable. There is the old saying. "Man fears time, but Time fears the Pyramids."

This codex takes on the "newer" Codex format. This is one makes the new format a little clearer. The "Chapters" covers history and mythology with some game material while the "Appendicies" are game material proper.

For this review I am considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG and the hardcover edition. Again our author and designer is Brian Young. Color covers, and black and white interior art.

Chapter 1 The Black Land Arose (Geography and Worlds)

This chapter begins with a basic map of the lands around the Nile and even up to the Mediterranean Sea and out East to the Fertile Crescent. This chapter covers the geography of these lands and a bit on the people. To call it brief is a massive understatement. We are talking about nearly 3,500 years of history and people and change. While the Egyptians were notoriously resistant to change and very xenophobic, there is still a glossing over of history here. Of course, this is again a gamebook and not a history text. No problem then, there is more to come.

Chapter 2 From Early Darkness (History and Mythic Background)

This covers the history, real and mythical, of the lands. This covers the stone age (Paleolithic) to all the Dynasties up to the Fall of Rome in terms of real-world history. The remaining covers the mythical history of Egyptian creation and gods.

Chapter 3 Presided over by the Divine (Gods, Goddesses and Supernatural Figures)

This chapter opens up with some spiritual concepts like priests, mummification, souls, and the afterlife. For the Egyptians, the afterlife WAS life. Everything they worked for the afterlife. The gods and their place in the afterlife is also discussed.

Chapter 4 Rife with Charms and Spells ( Magic in Egypt)

As with many ancient societies, magic was not "Supernatural" but a part of nature and that has never been more true than with Egypt. Various words of power are discussed and listed. Descriptions of the Egyptian "wizards."

Chapter 5 Neter and Netert - The Divine

Egypt is the land of Gods. Lots and lots of Gods. Here only some of the Gods are detailed. Since Egyptian history is so long that even the gods changed. There are 40 pages of gods here. Some are listed more than once as their roles changed over the centuries. Young has a Sisyphean task here, trying to catalog all the gods that Egpyt has had. Even if it not complete it is the most complete one I have seen in a game.

Chapter 6 Using Egyptian Mythology In Airhde

For the first time the Codex covers the Troll Lords' homeworld of Aihrde. Parallels are drawn between the gods of Aihrde and the gods of Egyptian. The advantage here, beyond the page, gives a nice mixing pot (Aihrde) that all the other Codices can be mixed.

Appendix A Names This covers names for all sorts of people, PCs, NPCs, Gods and more.

Appendix B Social Classes The various classes in ancient Egypt. Note that social class was ironclad; you didn't move around between them.

Appendix C Defended by Fierce Warriors (The Military and Soldiers) Covers the different sort of warriors. None are different from the Fighter game-wise, but there are a lot roleplaying ideas here.

Appendix D Chariots The high tech of the ancient world. It could not be understated that this was the implementate of war for the time.

Appendix E The Sphynx A little bit of background on the creature.

Appendix F Where Monsters And Demons Dwell The creatures of ancient Egypt. 25+ creatures here and each one is more interesting than the last to be honest. I am hesitant to say this is the best chapter, but it is really fun.

At the end is a really nice bonus map. The map is included with the PDF.

While there is a lot of information in this book, it still makes me want more. I have a feeling that to do this topic justice we would need a 500+ page book. I can't even begin to imagine what Young had to do to pare it down this much.

Eygpt is just so damn interesting. There is so much here to play with that my cup runneth over with ideas. I honestly don't even know where to even start to be honest.

With all of these Codecies, one would be tempted to combine them all. Build something akin to Lands of Adventure or Man, Myth, & Magic. While I could see this working somehow in Aihrde or a homebrew campaign, I would avoid it for a purely mythic Earth where I feel this would work best.

For my money and time, play these various codices in their own times and their own places. For me, that would be the best way to really get the feel for them. Nicely they are written in such a way to allow pretty much anything.

I understand that Dr. Young is working more of these. I am really looking forward to them!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Codex Egyptium
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