Thursday, 7 July 2011

Castle Keepers Guide - Some Thoughts

I haven't posted on here for a while, RPG's have taken a back seat for me for a while - not because of lack of interest - but life has been kinda chaotic, and I've been focusing on miniatures and painting for a while (I find it calming).

I've had the Castle Keepers Guide for Castles and Crusades for a while, but haven't really had the time to sit and read it properly. Now I have, here are my thoughts (for what they are worth).

Ok – now everyone who knows me is aware what a huge Castles & Crusades fan I am, next to AD&D 1st Edition it’s my favourite RPG – so what I write here I really don’t do lightly, I'm just being as honest as I always try to be - so before you read on – it’s not all hearts and flowers. Sorry Troll Lords . . . . .
It is a hefty and great looking book – I do wonder however why the cover is matte not glossy like the other books – it looks kinda strange on my bookshelf tbh. A Shame that really.

It’s very VERY much like the original AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide in feel and tone – but rather than simply being a “copy” it’s much more like a show of respect, and a doff of the writers “cap” so to speak.

There is a wonderful section on fleshing out your characters, complete with different methods for attribute generation – height, weight and age charts and tables – and even ideas for using Monster Races as Characters (something very fashionable these days, but also something I am not too keen on.

The section on hirelings and henchmen, whilst interesting and somewhat useful – simply goes on too long for me. Droning on and on seemingly forever, I zoned out while I was reading it. My groups rarely use henchmen, and I personally as a player have never used them – so perhaps it’s just me and mine – but I don’t think the subject deserved the extensive coverage it got.

There is also a BIG section on dealing with world creation and management – great for new DM’s/CK’s – especially those who want to develop their world from scratch – there are even rules for handling large scale conflicts – wars between nations and peoples. Interesting stuff indeed, viable and playable whilst maintaining the “old skool” feel that Castles and Crusades is famous for.

There are even ideas and concepts for story development, which whilst I imagine they were put in there with all the good intentions in the world – they (in my humble opinion) are of little use to DM’s/CK’s – there is too much of this tendency to force DM’s/CK’s into a “mold” trying to make them all run games in the same way – I’ve seen it over and over again for such a long time, I think its kinda bad for creativity and can make individual DM’s/CK’s stagnate – thereby making it necessary that they buy Scenarios and World Books – or maybe that’s the point really (yes I know I am jaded and suspicious).

There are some great guidelines on Challenges and how to rate them properly and effectively, and a large amount of information on the Siege Engine and the mechanics of the system. Assigning appropriate treasure is covered in reasonable depth, as is how to extend and expand upon character abilities. Plus there are loads of good solid examples of how to make judgment calls, assign difficulty levels and such like. Pretty damn useful and a very interesting read.

There are even rules and ideas for Hi-Tech Weapons, so Sci-Fi crossover games and now more easily don (Expedition to the Barrier Peaks for C&C anyone?) – BUT even though Secondary Skills are covered (as in the AD&D 1st Edition rules) there are no real and tangible rules for Skills in C&C – so I am afraid all us DM’s/CK’s and Players who like such things are stuck with our own home-brew systems.

As an experienced DM/CK only around 50% of the Castle Keepers Guide was truly useful to me, newer DM’s/CK’s will find much more of it useful.

Some sections were a little too “in depth” others not so much, and some information that needed to be in there simply wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a good solid Tome; I just think it could have been better . . . . . . . . . .

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