Castles and Crusades is it any good?

sureshot

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Being thinking of getting a more modern take on some old school gaming.

I enjoyed 1E D&D when it came out and recently enjoyed a game I was in recently though found it lacking.

PF 1E I’m burnt out and got the moment don’t want to invest in 2E. Word of advice don’t allow dedicated grapple builds in 1E it’s a nightmare.

i was already not a fan of Wotc before they tryout atrocious behaviour towards the fans so was looking for a replacement

yes I know I’m the guy in another thread not wanting to spend money on more rpgs it’s in the planning stages.
 

A Fiery Flying Roll

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How do you feel about D20? That's pretty much what it comes down to. It's a mix of that and old school style OSR stuff. If that sounds good you'll enjoy it, but for a more traditional old school feel you probably want something like DCC.
 

Sharrow

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My experience with it dates from back when it was first published, and I wasn't particularly impressed. To me it felt like someone had taken BD&D, added a few things from 3e and their own saves and skills houserules.

There are a lot of OSR and retroclones I'd go with before C&C. Worlds Without Number is my current first choice, and the free version is very comprehensive, being the paid version less the later chapters of optional classes, random stuff generation, high-level play, etc.
 

Moonglum

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I think C&C is the best take on D&D, rules-wise, that I've come across. And I've pretty much played them all. The main new strength is the generalization of skill/task/saving rolls, so it all makes sense and it is totally obvious how it should be applied to new circumstances. And they left put all the things that needed to be left as is: no HP bloat; classes all focus on their intended areas of excellence; no extra layers of over-cooked feats, etc.
 

Johndesmarais

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I like it. It maintains the unified mechanic that D20 introduced presented in a game that has a very “AD&D v1” feel. It also serves as something of a D&D Rosetta stone it easy to covert old D&D material to C&C and new D&D material to C&C.
 

Akrasia

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I was a big fan of C&C when it was first released (I even wrote a positive review of the PHB at RPGnet almost twenty years ago). I was especially excited (at the time) that Gygax's mythical "Castle Greyhawk" (renamed "Castle Zagyg") would be released for the system.

In practice, though, I eventually realized that I didn't like the way the SIEGE mechanic and "Prime" system worked very much. And Gygax passed away shortly after the first box set for CZ was released, thus ending one reason why I became interested in the game in the first place.

I also found the C&C books to be horribly edited and poorly written. I'm fine with the occasional typo. But whole blocks of ungrammatical, rambling sentences caused me too much anguish to stick with the game. Obviously other people might not be bothered as much by such things.

Once OSRIC and S&W came out I moved away from C&C.

That said, if you like the d20 core mechanic, well, C&C has it, and it's relatively easy to convert TSR era material to it (as others have said above). And I remember liking their take on the bard class.
 

Tulpa Girl

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My main complaint (besides the endless typos that they don't seem inclined to ever fix) is that Saving Throws don't really improve as you level up, since the difficulty you have to overcome increases by a similar amount, usually based on the HD of whatever creature you're facing.

Which is a shame, because I otherwise like what I've seen of the game line.
 

Toadmaster

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I've not played it, but C&C seems to be a pretty solid substitute for a cleaned up AD&D like game.

I can't speak to C&C specifically, but two threads from this past summer that might help in checking out other D&D variants. Just additional information, not a passive aggressive use the search feature. :wink:

I'm not a huge fan of level / class and I still found several OSR games that impressed me with their creative use of the core D&D bits.


Pimp your favorite OSR clone

Tell me of the best B/X clone
 

Moonglum

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I've transitioned to other editions for my OSR fix - I'm currently playing, and delighted with, OSE. But my OSE house rules, particularly for Thief skills and general perception rolls, draw heavily from C&C.
 

finarvyn

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I like C&C a lot as a blend of AD&D and d20. Sort of what AD&D 3E might have been in an alternate universe. Rules are pretty easy to follow, as they are a lot like games you've probably played already. Easy to house rule or build onto as desired. I have a whole box of rulebooks and adventures for the game, including Amazing Adventures (a pulpy C&C, now being rebuilt into a universal C&C).

Also, the guys who wrote and published C&C are really nice and approachable. They love to talk about gaming, are friendly at game conventions, and honestly want to make a product that fans can get behind. I'm not sure how much that counts in a gamer's decision, but I like supporting the product because of the people who make it.

I will admit that I was really bummed when the "Castle Zagyg" project got killed by Gary's widow, however. That was a huge blow to the product line.
 

Moonglum

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The murder of Castle Zagyg is possibly the most heinous crime in the history of the OSR, and arguably sucked all the air out of the room for the Troll Lords just when they had things humming along nicely. I'm just glad I got my boxed set when it could be had for sticker price!
 

TristramEvans

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It really comes down to how you feel about AD&D (primarily 2e).

When it came out, which was slightly before the OSR became a thing, it was the middle of the D20 era and it was like: "hey do you want your D&D to be more like TSR and less like 3rd edition?" and if your answer to that question at the time was yes, then it was a great option for that.

And as one of the first games after OSRIC to attempt a D&D retroclone (not including Hackmaster, which was a different beast), I think it did what it set out to do admirably. Most retroclones I've seen since have focused on earlier TSR, so having a 2e option is nice, if that's what one wants.

I haven't heard anything about their adventures, would be interested to know if they are good.
 

David Johansen

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Just to speak to my issues since my post was a bit terse and flippant.

1. The Siege Engine makes a 3 as good as an 18 if you have a prime. I know you can alter the spread and that levels change the scope of that but I really don't like the Siege Engine.

2. Weapons aren't balanced. Unlike 2e, the crossbow is too good and the longbow is not so good. I'd have to dig back into it to fully state the issue but the reality is that the 1e weapon tables spawned the 2e weapon tables with their super long bow and long sword but the weapon verses armour table was intended to represent the variations between things like Ranseurs and Glaives. C&C largely drew on the 2e tables and I really don't care for the weapon stats.

3. Encumbrance was brutal in first edition. I'm told they toned it down a bit but it really made equipping a character painful.

4. Lots of little issues in the character classes. Be aware that at first level a fighter is pretty much guaranteed to dominate combat with around a +4 to hit (class BAB, specialization, 16 Strength and +4 damage (specialization, Strength), leaving Paladins, Rangers, and Knights in the dust. I do like fighters being the best at fighting but it really shows in play.
 

T. Foster

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It made sense at the time it was released (2004) as a compromise between the style of AD&D and the rules of d20, when (pre-OSRIC) we were assured this was the closest thing to an old-school-style game you could legally get. But I can’t really see why anybody would want to get into it now. The “Siege engine” mechanic (that 2 stats get a +6 bonus, a sort of rules-liter replacement for the d20 skill system) is clunky and poorly explained and doesn’t capture the feel of AD&D. The writing is overwrought and the editing is remarkably poor even after multiple printings. There are surely multiple other OSR games that do everything C&C does better.

But hey, the PHB is free in pdf. Check it out and decide for yourself.
 

UnplayedRanger

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I like how they easily break down the spells by class and level. Makes it super easy to see what you have access to, but I haven’t gotten to play the game yet. It seems fun.
 

Akrasia

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And as one of the first games after OSRIC to attempt a D&D retroclone ...

Just a nitpick: C&C predates OSRIC by a few years.

As T Foster points out, at the time many thought that C&C was about as close as you could get to AD&D without incurring the wrath of WotC. (Hence the choice of it for EGG's CZ project.)

OSRIC dared to get much, much closer and opened the door for the other retro-clones.
 

migo

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My main complaint (besides the endless typos that they don't seem inclined to ever fix) is that Saving Throws don't really improve as you level up, since the difficulty you have to overcome increases by a similar amount, usually based on the HD of whatever creature you're facing.

Which is a shame, because I otherwise like what I've seen of the game line.
Yeah, fortunately it can be tweaked with (unlike 3e or later) without bringing everything crashing down. Making the save based on HD/2 or spell level is a decent solution to the save problem. But rules as written, the save issue means it isn't the Rosetta Stone they claimed it to be.
 

Sosthenes

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It's okay-ish. Back when I read it years ago, I wasn't quite sure where it wanted to go, modern 3E-ish or "old-school". I'm still not quite sure. The layout is decent enough, typos are already mentioned.

I guess it comes down to the SIEGE mechanic as a central unified resolution mechanism that isn't as finicky as 3Es, but provides a stronger core than the duct tape, paper clips and spackle of the Gygaxian age. It did succeed at that for me, at least in my test games back then (I was fine enough with 3E, and players liked the additional options back then, so we didn't switch in the end).

These days, I'd say that 5E pretty much ate its lunch. Abilities for everything, a proficiency mechanic, advantages on rolls if you're good, more support. Sure, 5E goes totally bonkers in a way that C&C certainly doesn't, but sticking to the PHB or even the starter box, and you've got comparable games.

I often wondered about how a heavily house-ruled game with lots of the legacy stuff stripped and more options from the DMG used would play out. But I guess I'd have about as many people interested than that as I've got for the GURPS 3E Uplift-Riverworld-ReignOfSteel campaign that I always wanted to run.
 

Moonglum

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There are certain ways in which the big hitters of the OSR that followed C&C were too conservative, perhaps out of an effort to stay as close as possible to 1E or B/X rules, and C&C changes seem like the right move. Most obvious is the treatment of Thief skills, which I consider to be a jumble of nonsense in the original editions and their simulators. How many essays and blog posts and discussion threads have been dedicated to the house rules that are needed to make these satisfying at the table?

And I don't think it's true that in the SEIGE engine a stat of 3 is as good as an 18 because of primes. Perhaps an 18 in a non prime is as good as a 3 in a prime, but that's not saying the same thing.
 

migo

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There are certain ways in which the big hitters of the OSR that followed C&C were too conservative, perhaps out of an effort to stay as close as possible to 1E or B/X rules, and C&C changes seem like the right move. Most obvious is the treatment of Thief skills, which I consider to be a jumble of nonsense in the original editions and their simulators. How many essays and blog posts and discussion threads have been dedicated to the house rules that are needed to make these satisfying at the table?

And I don't think it's true that in the SEIGE engine a stat of 3 is as good as an 18 because of primes. Perhaps an 18 in a non prime is as good as a 3 in a prime, but that's not saying the same thing.

It depends on the action and the stat. Where combat is concerned, the stat matters, not prime/non-prime. But because of prime and non-prime attributes, C&C is the only system I would be willing to play with 3d6 in order. I've rolled up a Half-Orc Mage that way with an Int of 7, and it is still viable, without having the stats be meaningless. Learning spells takes longer because of the -1 Int modifier, and you don't get any bonus spells, but once you have learned the spells, you can cast them as well as anyone else.

That gives you some really interesting character options that wouldn't be viable (or even possible) in other OSR systems. Hell, I can't think of non-OSR systems where a low-Int mage is both viable and the low intelligence is mechanically reflected in a meaningful way.

So prime/non-prime is definitely one of the star aspects of the system.
 

Akrasia

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I've rolled up a Half-Orc Mage that way with an Int of 7, and it is still viable, without having the stats be meaningless. Learning spells takes longer because of the -1 Int modifier, and you don't get any bonus spells, but once you have learned the spells, you can cast them as well as anyone else.

That gives you some really interesting character options that wouldn't be viable (or even possible) in other OSR systems. Hell, I can't think of non-OSR systems where a low-Int mage is both viable and the low intelligence is mechanically reflected in a meaningful way.

So prime/non-prime is definitely one of the star aspects of the system.

Eh, the fact that C&C makes it feasible for a mage to have INT 7 is a mark against it IMO. It's one reason why I dislike the SIEGE system.

This might be an idiosyncratic preference, but I think that all mages (spellcasters for whom INT is the relevant ability score) should have to have very high Intelligence. (I'm kind of a "Vancian" in that respect, I guess.)

That aside, I agree with Moonglum about Thieves. (One of the few places where 2e AD&D improves upon 1e AD&D is that 2e gives players a "pool" of points to distribute among thief abilities. So even low level thieves can be reasonably good at a couple of things.)
 

migo

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Eh, the fact that C&C makes it feasible for a mage to have INT 7 mages is a mark against it IMO. It's one reason why I dislike the SIEGE system.

That would be fair if you're using point buy or an array. But given how entrenched 3d6 in order is into the OSR spirit, the fact that C&C lets you do that and have a character that isn't hot garbage, the way the Funnel-masochists like, is a strength.

The SIEGE Engine lets you do 3d6 in order, and have it be fun for everyone.
 

Savage Schemer

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I like the system, as far as D20 systems go. But the organization in the book is a mess (I have the latest printing). An example is that, while the game uses AC like most/all D20 games do, there's no mention of it in the character creation sections at all. It is instead buried in the rules and combat sections of the book, which was downright odd.
 

SJB

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Eh, the fact that C&C makes it feasible for a mage to have INT 7 is a mark against it IMO. It's one reason why I dislike the SIEGE system.

This might be an idiosyncratic preference, but I think that all mages (spellcasters for whom INT is the relevant ability score) should have to have very high Intelligence. (I'm kind of a "Vancian" in that respect, I guess.)

That aside, I agree with Moonglum about Thieves. (One of the few places where 2e AD&D improves upon 1e AD&D is that 2e gives players a "pool" of points to distribute among thief abilities. So even low level thieves can be reasonably good at a couple of things.)
I wonder why we have to have intelligent mages? I can think of some professors powered by feral cunning and a lust for worldly glory rather than intellectual mastery of a discipline!!
 

Gabriel

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I think the low Int Wizard is a White Room problem. Generally speaking, someone with a genuine desire to play is probably not going to make their 3d6 straight down with low Int character a Wizard. If they're arranging to preference, they're not going to make a Wizard with an Int dumpstat. And I can easily think of a concept for a low Int Wizard.

Something interesting about AD&D1e was that Magic Users are the easiest class to qualify for. There are various "hidden" ability requirements on the ability charts, and Magic Users have the fewest of these hidden requirements. Unlike other classes which may require a 6 in an additional ability or two, Magic Users mostly just have to meet their Int 9 or higher requirement. This makes Magic Users the most common potential class in AD&D.

So it must be other factors than sheer ability which determine if someone becomes a Magic User. The most obvious is schooling and the ability to finance that schooling. We see in the real world all the time that wealthy families with incompetent children who receive finest paid education and then get the best grades money can buy.

Computer programmers are oftentimes perceived as smart. The definition of the duty is to solve problems, implying a certain level of ability to think through things. That said, I've met some "low Int programmers." I may even be one myself.

The thing about a Ability 3 Prime against an Ability 18 Non-Prime may be a bit irritating, but the nature of the game is definitely for the GM to make rulings. My experience is that as the game goes along a character will become more and more defined and a known quantity, and knowledge of the character's areas of talent as well as their weaknesses starts affecting when and where the level bonus adds to SIEGE Checks.

Someone mentioned saving throws. For attribute checks you add the character's level to the d20 roll when making the check, and saving throws are just attribute checks. You are only supposed to add character level to checks which are part of the character class's wheelhouse of abilities, but honestly, for saving throws, I just always allowed character level to add in. Saving throws tend to be rolled against general adventurer things and all the classes are adventurer classes, so I figure saving throws are within all their areas of expertise.
 

migo

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I think the low Int Wizard is a White Room problem
It's not a problem at all though. Since it works fine. You have some mechanical drawbacks, and if you're willing to accept them, the character is playable, and isn't gimped ruining the fun for the other players.

Incidentally, the low strength fighter doesn't work. So it's not across the board, but I thought it was a neat example of the flexibility of the system. It's not necessarily that you want to make the potentially least optimised concept, as much as if you're doing 3d6 in order, you'll very rarely be so screwed to not have a viable character of any sort.
 

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Being thinking of getting a more modern take on some old school gaming.
I suggest Into the Unknown. It marries the modern game design of 5e to B/X playstyle and sensibilities. My wife has a strong preference for the pulp survival-horror tone of earlier editions but bounces hard off the early edition systems for a variety of reasons.

If you want a good retroclone then I suggest Hyperborea. It's basically an improved version of AD&D attached to an excellent setting.
 
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migo

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I suggest Into the Unknown. It marries the modern game design of 5e to B/X playstyle and sensibilities. My wife has a strong preference for the pulp survival-horror tone of earlier editions but bounces hard off the early edition systems for a variety of reasons.

If you want a good retroclone then I suggest Hyperborea. It's basically an improved version of AD&D attached to an excellent setting.
If you want ItU, get it now. If WotC goes ahead with de-authorizing OGL 1.0a and tells DTRPG to take down everything using it, you'll lose your chance. Anders Honoré has Lyme disease, so it will be some time before he is able to edit the whole thing and re-release it without 5e SRD content.
 

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I really respect the Chenault bros. for their genial attitude, love of the hobby, and their forthright efforts to rescue the Marmoreal Tomb Kickstarter fiasco, and C&C was one of the first non-D&D games I looked at seriously back in the early 4e days, when I soured on what WotC was putting out, but my god, the lack of editing and even basic proof-reading in their products is enough to make your eyes bleed!

So If that sort of thing doesn't bother you and you are looking for a sort of hybrid of AD&D and 3e, you could do worse. There's plenty of support material for the game and they keep iterating on it (apparently), but if I was in the market for a D&D-alike there's way too many other choices out there I would reach for these days that are better organized, better edited, or more "unique" -- things like Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (just Hyperborea now?), Five Torches Deep, OSE, DCC RPG, etc.
 
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