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Monday, December 7, 2009

Sourcing from the "World's Most Popular FRPG"

These days, I'm going through much of my gaming collection and while I've settled on Castles & Crusades a couple years ago as my fantasy RPG of choice, I am reminded of my tendency to use material from various editions of Dungeons & Dragons. 

When I started AD&D, my first PHB and DMG were 2nd Edition books.  I picked up 1st Edition material but it was all used within a 2nd Edition game and didn't really pick up the little differences since there was almost no work involved to use older material with my 2nd Edition game.  While I loved AD&D, I got burnt out on it around the mid-90s.  Little did I know then that TSR's days were numbered.  It was with excitement that I picked up 3rd Edition when it was released in 2000 and I loved many features of the new game.  The reliance on miniatures was a bit off-putting since I never really bothered with them in my AD&D games to begin with but overall, a lot of good stuff.  As time wore on, I became increasingly dissatisfied with certain elements.

C&C gave me a couple of the refinements I liked from the newer edition of the games yet had it's design firmly set in the past.  Because it seemed to bridge the editions as well as it did, I began to use material to supplement my C&C games from AD&D, classic D&D, and 3rd Edition.  However, depending on what I used tended to indicate where I would look first.

For instance, I don't tend to bother looking for monsters in anything from 3rd Edition or afterward.  I do appreciate certain books that have come out for 3.x that exist to create and modify creatures as well as the thought out concept of templates.  I believe this is a reflection of a 'free form' sense of design versus a structured and systematic one that fans of the later editions demanded.  The monsters seemed tougher in 3rd Edition than they were in previous editions and older versions seems to be a better match to a C&C campaign.  That's not to say that they were impossible to use -- they were very easy to use if you simply ignored certain things like the detailed attributes and Feats.

Of course, when it came to adventures and campaign material, it didn't matter what edition it might have been written for.  A good story remains a good story and the systems were all closely related enough to run them with very little effort.  In my current C&C campaign, I have probably run more of the Dungeon Crawl Classics from Goodman Games written for 3.x than any other edition -- they were just that good and that much fun.

If I was looking for ideas for rules, options or variants, I found that I looked more towards 3rd Edition for guidance more than anything that predated it.  Once again, this was probably because it seemed there was a more concentrated attempt to design and balance the mechanics in this edition more so than other previous ones.

When I look at what some others do, I know some that prefer sourcing from the Metzer D&D sets or 1st Edition AD&D to supplement their C&C games and others who know little of D&D before 3rd Edition and use what they are most familiar and comfortable with.  In that way, some C&C games have Feats where as others adopted the old Weapon Mastery system.  The great thing about all of this is that no one who plays C&C seems to mind what various people are doing with it.  It's all done in an attempt to make the game their own -- even if it becomes reminiscent of just another edition of the "World's Most Popular Fantasy RPG".

The question you have to ask yourself is if this is a strength of Castles & Crusades or a weakness?


1 comment:

  1. Definitely a strength. We have short gaming sessions and we keep the combat rules very stripped down--which works well for the group I GM/DM/CK/Ref via Skype as well. So it is very simple 1e style.

    On the flip side, I have messed around quite a bit with the character classes, using lots of stuff from 3.5e. I am not using them as prestige classes but as either regular PC or NPC classes. My swashbucklers are very similar to duelists, archers have more than a passing resemblance to arcane archers, and so on. C&C made it very easy to do both. I know that TLG is struggling with some things, but I think they did an outstanding job with the 4th printing of the PHB. Much better than the 3rd. The nice thing about C&C is it is (1) very easy to explain to new players and (2) it works very well at the game table (which is really what matters to me).