I got these Castles & Crusades modules because once the Shadows of Keron campaign wraps up, I am thinking about doing a D&D-style sandbox for a while as a change of pace. After that, we’ll see what we want to do next.
I am not normally one to be swayed by illustrations, but the biggest draw to Castles & Crusades for me is Peter Bradley’s wonderful artwork, which exactly captures the feel of a good D&D session; it was an extremely sound decision by Troll Lord Games to use his pictures for the line. The second biggest draw is the game’s stated premise: Third edition rules, first edition feel, which is a promise it keeps.
You may or may not like the numerous NPCs called things like Ignorumus, Fubar, and so forth, but frankly that’s the way Old School D&D rolls, so no points lost for that.
There’s an assumption throughout the series that the characters are somewhere around 4th level. There’s nothing much to lead them from 1st to 3rd, and nothing to take them on to after 7th. Since everything is aimed at a narrow band of competence, and the monsters depend on numbers and cunning more than hit dice, I think this would actually work well as a Savage Worlds campaign, but the Castle Keeper of a C&C campaign would need to prepare some adventures for beginning characters to get them started.
I should also mention the freebies from the Troll Lord website, notably the hexgrid version of the campaign map, and the half-dozen pages of local deities. I particularly like the barbarian god Dirty Bowbe, who interprets the PCs’ cursing and blasphemy as prayers to him.
Totting up all the things to do and people to kill, I reckon there are about 40 sessions of play here, plus whatever else I inject into it; at least a year’s worth of weekly sessions. As this is a sandbox, and all components assume roughly the same PC level, there’s no real sequence of events; go where you like, when you like, it’s all there waiting for you.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5. It’s not going to drag me away from the Dread Sea Dominions, but it is good enough to be the next thing if nothing more shiny turns up by the end of Shadows of Keron.
As an added bonus, I think I could run it under SW or C&C, or possibly have different groups going through the same campaign at the same time, one under each system. Hah. I should have so many players…