What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook - 7th Print Edition

Friday, May 28, 2010

General Thoughts on C&C

This is largely inspired by Josh Sherrer's interesting posts over at the Grimmhaus the past couple of days.  The posts I am referring to can be found HERE and HERE.  I have been a solid supporter of the game and also come from an AD&D background that was largely influenced by TSR's 2nd Edition.  I understand where Josh and other fans and critics of the game and company that produces it.  I have my own thoughts on the issue and the direction where I would like to the see the game and company go.

The Player's Handbook

Josh believes that the PHB could be expanded and I agree.  The fact that the 4th printing was expanded brings about a different issue which I will touch on again further on.  I believe that explanations of the equipment listed would have been a great idea and a better explanation on the functionality of illusions for the game.  I do not think that the inclusion of 'spell schools' or additional spells are necessary.  What might have been great and almost a novel concept for this type of game is a guide to spell creation and balance.  I'm not saying that schools are a bad idea... in fact, the spell creation system could even go as far as discuss schools and the relation of spells to those of an 'opposing school'.

Part of the philosophy of these sorts of games is the idea of making the game 'your own'.  I say the game would be better served at providing us with some tools in order to better do this.

As far as the SIEGE mechanic is concerned... I think it's great.  Does it handle absolutely everything?  No... nor is it expected to.  People seem to want to use it for every single instance that a roll could be done.  If you look at the earliest editions of D&D, how were skills handled?  What if you played OD&D and didn't use any of the supplements?  How would you have your 'Fighting Man' climb a wall? I could be wrong, but I don't remember the 3 LBB's covering something like that.  I'm sure people playing the game figured something out though.  ;)  Granted the Siege Engine is just not really well written and lacks a lot more guidance in the text.  What it boils down to is this: It provides a system to handle task resolution without the need of a detailed skill system.  It uses that same framework for saving throws.  Two birds with one stone.  However a lot of people I have seen play the game tend to rely more on that system than they should.  Other approaches to how it could be effectively used should be suggested.  If you really want to make the game your own but would rather have an itemized skill system, the Siege system for task resolution still becomes a valuable too that your NPC's or critters can use if you need to put something in the game on the fly.

Keep the Siege Engine... but it's strengths need to be explained clearly and suggests on how to get around some of the system's weak spots would be fantastic.  As for the Save system... I briefly mentioned it and I think it can work.  However, as opposed to just arbitrarily assigning 'old school' save categories to various attributes, a clearer explanation and logic needs to be applied.  I 'get' why everything is assigned to the various stats and I like the fact that it helps eliminate the 'dump stat'.  I think a low attribute could create an interesting circumstance where the player could assign that attribute to be a prime to help 'compensate'.  Basically -- the character has actually worked to overcome his weakness.  I think this is cool.  However a better understanding of how the various attributes related to various parts of the game, the saves, and task-resolution is in need of a more detailed section.  This would serve a new player very well.  As an aside, the Charisma being assigned the Death saves is a hard one to explain.  I tend to explain it away as the force of the personality and strength of character -- very much tied in to the concept of the 'Will to Live'.  My players seem to have accepted this.  ;)

As for the inclusion and exclusion of certain characters, I suppose one needs to remember that the classes are supposed to be archetypal.  While an 'Assassin' is basically someone who is paid to kill a a specific target, there is also an archetype.  The "Assassin's Creed" games are an interesting look at that archetype.  Things like the Knight, the Monk, the Barbarian, and the Illusionist are just as valid.  The question one needs to ask is whether the present classes supplied (there are 13 of them) accurately do or is it just that they followed the model as brought about with 1st edition.  Personally, I didn't mind the class of the illusionist but the recent spell additions diminish the class and how one goes about in trying to define and differentiate it from the Wizard class.

As far as the book model is concerned... I think the 2 book model was a good one (mention of the CKG never should have come about).  In truth, there is no real reason for a player to ever need anything that's in the M&T book and I think a lot of people like that idea.  While I loved the D&D Cyclopedia and would love a Cyclopedia version of the C&C ruleset, I would much rather they 'tighten' up the material in the PHB and M&T.  Once the material is 'satisfactory', I can see a special edition (collector's edition with faux leather) do well among some of the fans.

The Monster & Treasure Book

I think expanding the book slightly would have been nice.  I don't want a 'zillion' critters but not including some basics like a Giant Centipede or Beetle seems shortsighted.  A few more basic staples would have been great.  That said, a few more utilitarian sections on the use and design of magic items and the creation of new critters might have been really handy to have.  Choosing to omit such things like Demons to put in a more specialized work is perfectly acceptable as long as it gets down properly.

The Company

Well, I have to agree that the choices made in some cases are not my own.  As a publishing partner to Brave Halfling Publishing, I can understand some of the delays and choices.  There are also many others which are examples of lost opportunities in my opinion.

Aside from product issues (which I won't go into), the question of an SRD specifically for C&C is an interesting one.  I do not believe it is needed since it is largely dderived from the d20 SRD already.  If a publisher wants to develop material for the system, then they need to approach TLG and ask permission since, C&C and the Siege Engine are trademarked terms regardless if everything else is 'open' or not.

As for the support for the C&CS is concerned... well... they meant well but clearly dropped the ball.  TLG's vision was a society of gamers and fans that would play and showcase the game.  This was to start and things are still at a starting phase.  I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt that things are just very slow.  On the upside, they have put together a box set which can be gotten for free if you are holding an event or doing a demo.  That's got to count for something right?

Now I'm not trying to over-simplify the issues but at the end of the day, TLG is just a very small company.  Unless there is significant growth, it is likely to remain so.  Such is the way with RPG publishers.  If they can release material that people will like and buy, then more power to them.  If they continue to have some mishaps, the company will simply stop to prosper and possibly fold.

I would have done things differently and the game would be different as well.  But I think any passionate gamer would think the same right?

My thanks to Josh for a thought provoking set of posts.