For over 20 years, a small game publisher based in Little Rock Arkansas has been making what has become one of the most well liked and respected RPGs on the market, Castles & Crusades.
They recently released their 8th printing (the TLG crew are quick to remind folks, one edition, many printings) of their bestselling C&C line of products, and with it, I was able to take a closer look at the game, how it has evolved over the various print runs and what might be next for the Trolls.
So let’s take a deeper dive into what makes Castles & Crusades such a fan favorite
For years as I worked the TLG booth at GenCon, I would get the same question often, tell me about Castles & Crusades. After getting the same inquiry repeately, I finally landed on this single tag line response:
Castles & Crusades is a rules lite, attribute based fantasy RPG where players and GMs alike are given more freedom to do what they want ultimately, than other rules heavy games might not allow.
To expand, the core of C&C is what is called the Siege Engine. Any time a player looks to do anything that requires a roll in the game (attribute check or combat), players will look to at which of the six attributes is to be used, and then determine the Challenge Class. This is done first by figuring out what the Challenge Base is (12 or 18), then determining what the Challenge Level will be.
Once all those factors are determined, the Castle Keeper has the number needed for the player to either succeed or fail at whatever they are attempting. The player rolls a d20, and after adding any applicable modifiers, if the number matches or excess the target number, they succeed. If not, failure.
And that is pretty much the Siege engine. Granted, this is a simplification as there are other possible things that could come into play when running through combat, but at it’s core, the game makes figuring out those need to hit numbers pretty straight forward.
The first iterations of Castles & Crusades only had a Players Handbook, as the creators contended that they wanted to make a game that was simple enough that players and CKs alike wouldn’t need but the single book.
Over the years, the Trolls finally relented and gave it’s players a Castle Keeper’s Guide (C&C calls their DM a Castle Keeper) to go along with the PHB. Add to that the Monster’s & Treasures book and C&C finally had it’s core trinity of books to support the line.
The one thing the team at TLG will never give in to is multiple editions. As other games on the market have gone through many “editions” over time, Castles & Crusades will always be a single edition, with print runs either expanding on the game, cleaning up particular things, errata and generally improving layouts, stat blocks and whatever other housekeeping items are needed.
Castles & Crusades has been labeled many things over the years; OSR clone, rules lite system, AD&D 1st/2nd edition “like.” While all those might ring true on certain levels, for me C&C is more of a “OSR inspired fantasy RPG, modernized for todays players.”
When the game was first released back in 2003, there were a lot of comparisons to other games/editions that had come before. Since that time, C&C and TLG has carved out a very strong position in the RPG market, with continued releases that add to what is already a large catalog of products in support the game. Growth has been steady and upward trending in the 19 years since the game first came to market.
If you’re looking for a new RPG, or maybe something different to try with your group, Castles & Crusades is solid game, with a large library of products to help support it and a great community helping to drive the game forward.
Castles & Crusades can be purchased in print and digital forms directly through their website. Or you can look for it at your FLGS or through other online retailers.
So if you’ve never heard of C&C, now might be a time to take a look. Troll Lord Games is working hard to make the game the best it can be, for players and CKs alike.
As always, leave a comment with your thoughts. Until next time, LLAP!