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So what's the consensus on Castles&Crusaders

reelo

Explorer
As the title suggests, I was wondering what everybody thought of C&C.
I've been reading a bit about it lately (during my quest for a system with a retro feel, but simple mechanics). Don't get me wrong, I really like 5E. But I also like the simplicity older editions had. Minus Thac0. ;) But I've also read C&C isn't without issues. So, those of you having first-hand experience of the game, what's your verdict?

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GameOgre

Adventurer
C&C is a grade A+ RPG that I don't play. I have played it, a lot in past years but it has joined a small list of games that I loved but stopped playing for one reason or another.

No rpg is perfect or even close to perfect. 5E has as many or more warts than C&C so it isn't that C&C had too many issues.

I think it's just a case of too many great rpg's so you have to my a choice regardless of how much you like a game and sometimes that choice boils down to "it isn't new, or it isn't the cool latest version of the game or I would have to hunt down players willing to try it.

So there ya go! As far as the game itself, it's so house rules friendly that you can easily shape it into whatever old school game you love best.
 

Pawndream

Explorer
Here's my take on Castles and Crusades (C&C)...

I discovered C&C in late 2010 after growing increasingly frustrated with how complicated it was to run 4th edition D&D, and looking for a game that had the simplicity of 1st/2nd edition AD&D, without all tacked-on subsystems., i.e., roll high for this, low for that, d6 here, d100 there, etc.

C&C fit the bill nicely and I ran that pretty much exclusive for the next 6 years. On forums, you will see a lot of criticism about how saving throws work, etc. but honestly, I have never encountered any of the issues other people discuss. Granted, I primarily run lower powered games (levels 1-7), but in actual play, there have been no issues.

It's a real easy game to teach, play and GM. It's also easy to house rule, though I didn't do much of this when I ran it.

For what it's worth, I started playing 5th edition this past year and moved away from C&C. I didn't stop playing C&C altogether, I just migrated over to 5th edition because it is an equally fun game with a deep community...whereas the C&C community is a small niche within a small niche. Still a great game though!

All this to say, if you're looking for a game with an AD&D feel without THAC0 and a universal task resolution mechanic, C&C fits that bill.

Oh yeah, you only need two books to play the game...Players Handbook and Monsters & Treasure. The Castle Keepers Guide is largely just a book of optional rules and entirely unnecessary.
 

Lwaxy

Cute but dangerous
I play it every now and then as one of my GMs likes it. It is as fun as any game and we never encountered any imbalance issues, although we usually don't go beyond level 7 before we switch.
 


Jack Daniel

Adventurer
I got C&C right away when it first came out (2004, I think?) because I was very dissatisfied with how complicated 3rd edition was. I played it for a while, and it's a fine game that works well enough in the 1st to 10th level range, but in the end I decided to switch over to Basic/Expert D&D instead because I prefer the flavor of basic, and C&C leans strongly into the 1st edition AD&D flavor.

Without a doubt, C&C inspired me to streamline my basic D&D games in much the same way that it feels like a streamlined and simplified AD&D, so I have no way of quantifying how influential it's been on my gaming sensibilities. But if you play C&C, you'll pretty much wind up adjudicating every. single. action. with d20 rolls. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, YMMV. It's good if you like a unified mechanic and bad if you like a little variety in your sub-systems.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
C&C is like a simplified 3e in some ways, but more adaptable. I find that C&C played as is actually mashes even better with 5e modules and games than it does 3e or earlier versions. However, C&C is simple enough that you can easily adapt it to just about every version of D&D (though 4e is a pretty big stretch, that's probably the hardest one to convert it to run in) you wish. I like to pick and choose to a degree. For example, if you like the basic combat ideas of C&C and characters/races/classes they are easy to port over to 5e. At the same time you might not like the saves system for C&C (I use a modified Save vs. spell system, where the save DC the spell level rather than the casters level) and so use the saves in 5e instead. The numbers are slightly different (so fighters will have a higher to hit, but will have less attacks, while Rogues and others may be near the right advancement rate for skills and combat in regards to the Monster AC in 5e), but overall I find it can be decently balanced to run 5e modules for a quick thinking DM that can adapt to necessary changes on the fly and react on their feet to it.

If you go C&C, by all means try to see how a 5e module runs with it if you already have some 5e adventures, you could be pleasantly surprised at how the crossflow works and be able to run both games with the same materials if you want!

The same could probably be said of 3e and 3.5 though a little bit more work would be needed to adapt them, it is still pretty easy (I'd say far easier than adapting 3e or 3.5 to 5e or reverse by several factors of 10 even). You can also do the same if adapting to AD&D or D&D (BX/BECMI).

4e on the otherhand, that's going to be a lot tougher to adapt. I think it is doable, but it's not one I've really wanted to spend the work doing myself.
 

I jumped onto C&C right when it came out. It’s definitely a response to the increasing complexity of 3e at the time. For me, it was a breath of fresh air, and was so liberating to run. It’s still my favorite of the OSR games.

The one thing I don’t like about Troll Lord Ggames is their Kickstarter model – you can trust them to get a product to you, but you can also trust that it will be hella late. And that they will be hyping their next Kickstarter when you haven't even gotten the last one yet.
 

C&C is great, although the editing complaints about their supplements are legitimate -- the Book of Familiars is basically unusable in many parts and you have to create the rules for those sections yourself, and they have two different versions of the same monster (with art!) in two different monster books.

Multiclassing is more fiddly than it needs to be.

They're basically just two guys, so I'm pretty forgiving, but it's definitely much more of a small outfit punching way above their weight than it is a big operation like WotC.

That said, it's insanely easy to use with anything from OD&D through 3E with their products, to the point that I don't even bother to pre-convert any of the material.

If a streamlined 3E that feels like 1E sounds like it'd appeal to you, it's a great game.
 

Netwatcher

Villager
the Book of Familiars is basically unusable in many parts and you have to create the rules for those sections yourself
This, definitely! I would have been happier had that book just been a set of ideas for familiars, instead of buying a book I thought had been vetted and was ready for use. BoF cannot be used as written.

That said, I've had very few issues with their other products and just LOVE the ease of play that is C&C. Compared to most OSRs I would put them at 'high powered' for your level of experience. Running a group of level one C&C characters through any of the old first level AD&D modules shouldn't challenge them too much, nor stress the DM in converting the material on the fly. It has been my go-to system for years and will continue to be so, despite some meddling with AS&SH of late...
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I liked it, though I was never a big fan of the primes and saving throws, though 5e adapted pretty much the same system and it worked OK. Ease of adaption from older editions was a huge plus for me.
 

This, definitely! I would have been happier had that book just been a set of ideas for familiars, instead of buying a book I thought had been vetted and was ready for use. BoF cannot be used as written.

That said, I've had very few issues with their other products and just LOVE the ease of play that is C&C. Compared to most OSRs I would put them at 'high powered' for your level of experience. Running a group of level one C&C characters through any of the old first level AD&D modules shouldn't challenge them too much, nor stress the DM in converting the material on the fly. It has been my go-to system for years and will continue to be so, despite some meddling with AS&SH of late...
Yeah, my problems with BoF aside -- and I have several non-wizard characters in my campaign who use the options in the book -- C&C is a really great option to merge 1E sensibilities with 3E math and design.
 

I liked it, though I was never a big fan of the primes and saving throws, though 5e adapted pretty much the same system and it worked OK. Ease of adaption from older editions was a huge plus for me.
I would love a detailed head to head comparison of the two systems. Since I already have C&C, I was never tempted to pick up 5E early on. (If I was going to use a different system, it would be Dungeon Crawl Classics, since it captures the vibe of the games I played early on so well.) But 5E seems to be the real deal and I like what I've heard about it.

(Not saying you need to be responsible for such a comparison -- just putting it out into the universe.)
 


I think that there’s debatably less “need” for C&C as a D&D alternate these days. Not only does it have its own legs at this point, but the state of D&D at the time it was created is not what it is now. It’s not as rules-heavy as 3e was, that’s for sure. Though, C&C still feels closer to AD&D for me.

I would love a detailed head to head comparison of the two systems. Since I already have C&C, I was never tempted to pick up 5E early on. (If I was going to use a different system, it would be Dungeon Crawl Classics, since it captures the vibe of the games I played early on so well.) But 5E seems to be the real deal and I like what I've heard about it.
 

Netwatcher

Villager
C&C definitely has it's own legs these days, with multiple campaign settings and tons of source books. I can think of three massive city books/adventures alone, not to mention numerous modules, most set in Aihrde (their home grown setting). Most of the big supplement books have alternate/extra classes and new spells, magic items and critters for challenging the adventurers...Yeah, there isn't a lot of reason to have to adapt old material to new rules.

I think C&C captures the essence of what AD&D was before the 2E rules. Getting characters ready is a breeze and dead simple for new players, while allowing the 'vets' some customization without getting out of control (I'm looking at you 3.xE!) I like the way the primes are handled, for me that makes the classes useful for role playing as well as allowing a player to push their character into a certain direction to support it. Want a fighter who is an intellectual? Strength and Intelligence prime. A Wizard that works out a lot? Int and Con prime. I even like their encumbrance rules, simple, not too game-y, not overly realistic, no, but they do keep the players from hauling around a ton of equipment.

I've introduced the rules to my old AD&D gaming buddies who stopped playing years ago and they 'got it' right away and liked the flavor of them too. C&C has a tendency to support the militant types of characters best. More of this comes out in their earlier adventures (and at the convention games the Trolls run) where the focus is fighting and having a rogue is handy, but not necessary and other classes can be done without. A perfect game for a low magic, gritty setting. Newer settings and adventures do have more for the spell casters to do and account better for the fact that one or more of your players are going to be playing such classes.

I have copies of the 5e books and I have played in some games of it, though I have not run any campaigns using those rules. I do steal what I like from them mercilessly; I love the 'advantage'/'disadvantage' mechanic and several magic items using those rules have appeared in my C&C games. Bolting a home rule onto C&C is as easy as putting a bumper sticker onto a car.
 
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Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I'd rather play C&C since its not as "easy" as 5e, which to me is D&D on easy mode. YMMV, IME, etc. But the saves tied to each ability and having proficiency in 2 stats for saves is pretty much out of C&C. Skills are just ability checks, though with primes you get the bonus on all checks tied to that ability where in 5e you have certain skills you can use your proficiency bonus on.

I just wish they would reprint the PH with all the errata in it, I think they are on the 7th printing and they still use the text from the original I've been told. I've only got books from the first two runs so I haven't verified this.
 

R

RevTurkey

Guest
I like it. As many have said...old school AD&D feel. It's one of my favourites.
 

amethal

Explorer
I just wish they would reprint the PH with all the errata in it, I think they are on the 7th printing and they still use the text from the original I've been told. I've only got books from the first two runs so I haven't verified this.
I have the 7th printing, and there is a (very minor) typo on the contents page that has been there since the first printing.

It looks like a straightforward and streamlined game, but unfortunately I have never had an opportunity to play it. I do have a lot of issues with the "tone" of the players handbook, but I've never really seen it discussed anywhere so it's probably just me.

For example, there are half a dozen or so player character races, but if someone wants to play a half orc then no one can play a dwarf as dwarves will not adventure with half orcs. Half orcs don't like other half orcs, because they have first hand knowledge of how half orcs are not to be trusted. The few races which give half orcs the benefit of the doubt (goblins and kobolds) are said to do so only because they are too dumb to realise you should never give a half orc an even break.

Ability scores are supposed to be generated in the "old school, let the dice fall where they may" manner, but some of the example characters in the book have 18s and 19s in some of their scores and below average scores are very much the exception (and certainly no 3s and 4s).

One of the examples of play has two rangers wanting to cross a river. The GM rules that one of them can't swim, since before he became an adventurer he grew up in a desert. I don't know how you are supposed to tell if the average C&C character can swim. However, being able to swim is actually in the ranger class description as a class ability. If an actual GM used something as general as "grew up in the desert" in my character's backstory to delete one of his class abilities I would not be happy.

Obviously, in my own game I'd be free to not have half orcs be treated as pariahs (or just remove them altogether as a PC race), and I'd allow all rangers to be able to swim. However, it would be nice if I didn't have to.
 

Netwatcher

Villager
Obviously, in my own game I'd be free to not have half orcs be treated as pariahs (or just remove them altogether as a PC race), and I'd allow all rangers to be able to swim. However, it would be nice if I didn't have to.
This. Exactly this.

Rangers who can't swim? Half orcs who can't be part of the party with dwarves? Nah, where I come from Rangers are consummate outdoors people and half orc rangers thrive in any wilderness situation. I suppose if the DM wanted extra role playing he could tell players his expectations and give warning that some characters could not swim or read (or hated other racial types) before play started.

Having your half-orc ranger, fleeing from their angry dwarven party member (who just discovered they were half-orc after months of travel), jump into the river and then discovering they couldn't swim seems like 'surprise' evidence in a court room trial...
 

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