Showing posts with label Castles and Crusades. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Castles and Crusades. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

More Aihrde Kickstarter From Troll Lord Games

Now in the last few days, Troll Lord Games is having a Kickstarter for their Codex of Aihrde, the long running setting that has appeared in many of the Troll Lord Games supplements and modules over the years. I spoke with Stephen Chenault about the book and what people can expect from it.

Dorkland: Congratulations on the success of another Kickstarter. To what is the secret to success for Troll Lord Games and their Kickstarters?

Stephen Chenault: There are two sides to this coin. First, and foremost, we owe it to the community. It’s quite extraordinary. I think many people have played Castles & Crusades for years and enjoyed the game, but also they’ve enjoyed watching it grow, expand and become ever better. The other side is our online presence. Troll Lord Games has a very large online presence, from Instagram to Facebook, from a our Troll Dens Blog to Twitter; even our homepage is a portal where you can go and watch movie clips, view funny memes, heck you can even find out what movie’s are playing in your neighborhood…and also find out what Troll Lord Games is up to. These two together make it possible to get the word out to a large number of people about the game and what is coming. Throw in a nice helping of boons and stretch rewards and we have a remarkable record.

DL: What is it about Kickstarter that works for you as a publisher, and as a creator?

SC: At its heart Kickstarter is a funding program, and that’s where it gives TLG the real edge. It essentially allows us to test products, to see if they are well received or will be well received. That in turn allows us prioritize projects we are working on, or would like to.

DL: What are the origins of the setting of Aihrde? Is this the world that you have gamed in yourself, and others can now journey through themselves?

SC: Yeah, we started gaming along time ago and in the midst of all that there was one adventuring party we kept returning to. Level progression was very, very slow, and this allowed us to really explore the setting that slowly evolved around it: Aihrde. Back in 2000 when we launched the company we needed a fourth book to get a discount from the printer, having nothing readily on hand, I compiled all my notes on Aihrde, hashed em out, finalized the map of the central areas (the Lands of Ursal), and before long I had a 24 page setting book, The After Winter’s Dark Fantasy Campaign Setting. From there it just kept expanding.

DL: What has inspired the creation and development of Aihrde? What would be the “Appendix N” for the setting?

SC: J.R.R. Tokien’s The Silmarillian. I always loved this work, the Lord of the Rings is an epic tale, but the Silmarillian is more so. It relates the story of all things in Middle Earth, the tale behind the tale. That’s what I always thought made the Lord of the Rings so tangible. It was a story in a world that was complete…not just some names and places…but tales and stories that stretched from the beginning to the end. The first 120,000 words of the Codex of Aihrde follows a similar track. It is actually a stand alone book called the Andanuth. The Andanuth is the creation mythos from the beginning of Aihrde to the present.

DL: What sets Aihrde apart from other fantasy worlds and fantasy game settings? Why should people pick up The Codex of Aihrde and support the Kickstarter in its last days?
Aihrde offers the best of all worlds, so to speak.

SC: As mentioned above it has an extraordinary amount of depth to the setting, the mythos are covered from the beginning to the present, allowing both player and game master to really dig into the setting and its characters. In Aihrde there is true context. An ancient artifact can be placed in “time” so that what they are and were weaves with any ongoing adventure or story. The background is loaded with adventure hooks, an almost limitless supply of them.

Also, the peoples that occupy the setting aren’t unusual, they are giants and trolls, dwarves, humans and elves . . . creatures we are all very comfortable with. This allows one to pick up the setting, move any game they want to it and keep playing. No need to worry over shoe-horning a strange fantasy element to it.

The setting itself is placed 90 years after the world was conquered and controlled by the Winter Dark and the dark god Unklar. It is a world reborn on the foundations of the old. This allows anyone playing in Aihrde to guide the direction of the setting as best fits them. It is very open, much like Castles & Crusades.

But in the end, I think Aihrde offers a world rich in texture, one you can enter and become lost in. The stories range from the epic to the mundane, from the Red God’s war with the Val Eahrakun, to the dwarf maid Mette’s rage at her husband’s death (and the magic of his blue hat).

Plus, did I mention those giant, spring-roller mounted maps?

DL: For you, what is the coolest element to this Kickstarter? What are you most looking forward to getting so that you can play with it?

SC: Me personally?, it has to be the giant spring roller mounted map. This is something you can mount to the ceiling or wall, or place in a tripod and set up while you are gaming. This map will be one giant,  39 inch wide and some 30 inches tall map that you can raise or lower from the mounting assembly (like the  ones you see in schools). That’s a must have for my game room.

DL: What is on the Troll Lord Games Agenda for the upcoming year?

We have a very exciting year. We will fulfill the last few Kickstarters in the first quarter, then launch the Victorious RPG, work with Brimstone Comics to adapt their comics to the Castles & Crusades Siege Engine, as well as work with the folks over at Abyss Walker to explore his fantastic fiction in a C&C environment, and we’ll wrap up the year with the long awaited Adventurers Backpack, a kind of Unearthed Arcana for C&C and of course Gods and Monsters of Aihrde. It is going to be a great year.

Thank you to Stephen for talking with us today. The Codex of Aihrde Kickstarter ends on January 5th, 2015.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Aihrde Kickstarter From Troll Lord Games

The folks at Troll Lord Games have another Kickstarter running, this time to get out their Aihrde setting out. For those who have followed the work of the Troll Lords, this setting has been a part of their games (d20 and Castles & Crusades) for a number of years.

From their Kickstarter page:
Aihrde is a complete campaign and world setting for your favorite RPG. Whether your playing Castles & Crusades, Dungeon Crawl Classics or any other RPG, you can find a home in Aihrde.  There is an in-depth history, mythology, descriptions of all the races of the world, from dwarves to giants and elves to orcs, a case by case study of all the relevant kingdoms and peoples and the geographical regions they live. It also includes deities and all the relevant info needed to run them: guilds, orders, significant terrain features and so very much more.  Aihrde is the most complete campaign setting on the market today.
 Now, at this point the book is funded, and that is left in the last couple of weeks is to reach a few of the stretch goals. Troll Lord Games is really good about getting their Kickstartered stuff together and out the door. Even if you don't play Castles & Crusades, you should be able to find plenty of interesting material for your fantasy campaigns, old or new school. If you haven't already, you should check this project out.

Why do I think that you should do this? Well, if having a world built for you isn't enough, I'll boil it down to one simple word: maps. The maps for this are just incredible looking and are suitable for framing as well. As a GM who can be lazy at times, I can say that it does always help to have premade worlds and cities and locations at your fingertips.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Dorkland Interview -- Amazing Adventures RPG with Jason Vey

The Amazing Adventures RPG Kickstarter is entering its last week of funding. Troll Lord Games' SIEGE engine-powered pulpy RPG has already met and surpassed its funding goal and is starring down another stretch goal. During this busy period, we here at Dorkland! got a chance to sit down with Jason Vey, author of Amazing Adventures, for an interview.

Dorkland!: You're no stranger to Kickstarter -- what have you done differently, if anything, this time around? What do you feel has really been key to your quick funding?

Jason Vey: Honestly, this is the second Kickstarter I personally have been involved with, but the last one was for a different company which pretty much handled everything. On this one, the Trolls are keeping me very involved, asking for ideas to help push it, having me help with the marketing, answering comments from supporters, and the like.

DL: Apart from the hardcover edition of the book(s), what else is the Kickstarter aiming to do for Amazing Adventures? What all might be of interest to current owners of the softcover edition?

JV: Well, this isn't just getting the book in hardcover. We're doing a complete cover-to-cover edit of the core rules. That means incorporating errata, expanding and clarifying things, adding a few additional options, giving a character class or two a facelift, and re-expressing the rules so that they read more in line with Castles & Crusades, to increase compatibility between the two games.

DL: What are some of the inspirations behind Amazing Adventures? What kind of pulp can potential players expect?

JV: What I wanted to do with this game was provide a framework to model ANY sort of pulp. If you want to do an Indiana Jones type game, the rules are there. If the Rocketeer or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow are more your bag, you can do it. If you dig The Shadow, there's rules for that type of character. If H.P. Lovecraft is more your thing, we've got Lovecraftian horrors and a madness system in there. If you're into Philip Marlowe hardboiled detective noir, go for it. My inspiration for this was not pulp in the strict, two-fisted way many games portray it, but pulp in terms of every sub-genre that appeared from the Dime Novels of the 1880s all the way through the sci-fi of the 50s and into the movies and stories that were inspired by them today.

DL: What seperates Amazing Adventures from other pulpy RPGs?

JV: Like I said, I think it's the breadth of possibilities. Most pulp games focus on high-flying, two-fisted adventure and neglect the horror, noir and sci-fi elements of pulp to a certain degree. This isn't true in all cases, but certainly there's a lean towards two-gun heroes in pulp RPGs. I wanted AA to be more broad in scope than that.

DL: What might interest fans of pulp stories that are not currently avid gamers? How easily might they be brought into Amazing Adventures?

JV: The SIEGE engine that powers Amazing Adventures and Castles & Crusades is so easy to use that it's an ideal engine for new gamers. The system is easy to grasp, fast and fun to play, and gets out of the way to let you focus on the game. I think most fans of pulp dream of telling their own stories of horror, weirdness, adventure, noir, sci-fi, or whatever their preferred sub-genre is. Role playing allows them to do exactly that, and Amazing Adventures is a perfect means by which they can get into the hobby and give it a try.

DL: Amazing Adventures has guidelines on how to run a pulp game -- how in-depth are they? How much background does a potential player need to run or play, if they have little to no experience with pulp?

JV: The book contains everything you need to get up and running, and in the second printing, I'm expanding the Game Master section even further for extra detail in structuring and running a pulp game. With the core book alone you have everything you need. The Manual of Monsters and Companion books, however, will blow the doors off the system and take it to unbelievable levels by greatly expanding what's already there and giving you new rules for everything from sub-genre emulation to expanded vehicle rules to mystic locations and even live action rules. I'm really excited to get the second printing and sourcebooks out there and see what people think!

DL: Lastly, what are some of the most 'amazing' moments you have had with Amazing Adventures? The kind of moments that really highlight why people should buy and play this game.

JV: Man, it's the players and characters that make the game. Some of my favorite moments have actually been con adventures I've run. I'll never forget a group I ran that had a vampire trying to get an ancient bible of an evil cult away from the PCs, and one of the players was playing Marie Laveau. Her strategy was to start stabbing the book and running around in circles while the vampire chased her and everyone else took pot shots at it! That probably doesn't read quite as funny as it played out, but trust me: there were tears of laughter in the eyes of everyone at the table.

We also, in the same group, had Bucky Newson, the Gadgeteer, try on a lie detector he'd designed, only to have it fail spectacularly to the amusement of everyone present.

There were moments of great heroism as well, like when a group's raider, Tennessee O'Malley, went toe to toe alone against an angry Succubus...and not only survived, but sent her on the run.

Some of these things are actually made possible by the character customization rules in Amazing Adventures. Unlike most class-and-level systems, we incorporate the ability to customize your character class with things like backgrounds, knowledge skills, and Generic Class Abilities, which you swap out with standard class abilities to make your character different and unique from other characters of the same class. In addition, Fate Points are a mechanic that's fairly well known, which we incorporate to allow for turning failure into success, or success into wild heroics.

I could gush about the game for pages and pages. I'm really proud of this game, probably moreso than anything I've done in my 15 years in the industry. But my hope is that people will take a look and fall in love with it for themselves. Even if you're not a fan of class-and-level systems, I think Amazing Adventures may be an exception, due to the incremental way the SIEGE engine scales.


We here at Dorkland! would like to thank Jason for his time in answering our questions. For more book-stabbing and lie detector mishaps, be sure to check out the Amazing Adventures RPG Kickstarter page and Troll Lord Games' website!

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Castles & Crusades Black Box

I love getting mail. Really, who doesn't? I particularly love getting mail when it contains some cool gaming stuff like this little boxed set from the fine people at Troll Lord Games. I saw this box while I was at Gen Con, but I was more focused on other releases from the company (as well as talking about their then-upcoming Amazing Adventures Kickstarter with them) to give this a look.

I wish that I had given it more of a look. The Castles & Crusades Black Box is a limited edition supplement for Castles & Crusades to commemorate the game's 10th Anniversary. The black box is only being released in a run of 1,000 copies, with the first 300 being numbered (inside of the lid of the box) and containing a signed plate.

What's in the box? Well, that is where it gets interesting. For me the most interesting of the three booklets in the box would be the Adventurer's Backpack. Why? Because it contains four new classes for your Castles & Crusades game, based on the familiar fantasy gaming archetypes but taking them into new directions.

These new classes are Archer, Avatar, Thief and Magic-User. Yes, a couple of the names are familiar, but these classes take things into different directions with them.

The Archer is like a fighter, but obviously based around the bow. I have to admit that the first thing that I thought about when I read through this class was Horsewoman from the DC Comic Demon Knights. Anyone who thinks that archers are going to be wimps have obviously never read that comic (and if you haven't I am sorely disappointed in you).

The Avatar is the cleric analog in the rules. Rather than giving a worshiper access to spell and abilities, like with the standard Cleric, an Avatar is a physical manifestation of a deity. This means that the Avatar is there for a specific purpose, to fulfill some goal or action of the deity manifesting in them. Obviously something big and bad is happening if an Avatar is getting involved in the story.

Knowledge can be just as much of a special ability as being able to climb walls and sneak attack. This Thief represents that, from the noble with a larcenous heart to the pilfering servant. Anyone can pick a pocket, but not everyone can plan and pull off a heist...and know how to get rid of the ill-gotten goods.

Finally is this new spin on the Magic-User. While they can cast spells like their brethren, this class is focused on detecting and identifying magic, as well as using and empowering magic items. A true "magic user." One thing that I have never liked about Magic-Users in the D&D-esque games (and one of the first things that I houserule in a campaign) is to turn "Read Magic" and "Detect Magic" into class abilities for the Magic-User. I've felt that these should be things that Magic-Users do from their nature and training. It is good to see that someone else feels that way too.

The Adventurer's Backpack seems to hint at something new for Castles & Crusades in the future. Could it be time that the game is getting its own version of Unearthed Arcana? If these new classes are any indication of that I hope so. While I like the iconic in games, I also like being able to embrace the weird, and any supplement that will allow for that gets my approval.

The Of Gods & Monsters Of Aihrde booklet is pretty much what you get on the tin. This talks about unique versions of some iconic monsters for the Aihrde setting of Castles & Crusades. There aren't actual game stats for anything in this booklet, just interesting discussions of gods and monsters, and a few tables. We get plenty of game stats for monsters, so it is good to see some character being investing in them as well.

Rounding out the box is The Golden Familiar, an adventure for your C&C games.

All of this for just $29.99. This seems to be available only through the Troll Lord Games webstore, so if you are interested in picking up one of the Castles & Crusades Black Boxes you will have to go to the link at the beginning of this post.

Plus, there's dice. What gamer doesn't like dice? Get your copy before they are gone.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Amazing Adventures RPG Kickstarter

If you are into pulpy gaming adventures, there's a Kickstarter going that may help you realize your Rocketeer dreams. Amazing Adventures is an RPG by Troll Lord Games that utilizes the SIEGE engine (as seen in Castles & Crusades). The game has been out in softcover for a couple of years but this Kickstarter project aims to bring it a hardcover edition (and, with stretch goals, its supplemental books). And bringing that hardcover, it will, as the project has already surpassed its initial funding goal and the first set of stretch goals. It's now working its way through the next sets which include hardcover editions of the supplementary books, an adventure, and something secret.
How is the Kickstarter project, in-general, though? I thought you'd never ask!

Clearly, it has more than funded and that means the project has done what it needed to do. The information present is pretty condensed, which is fine, and it does give a general overview of Amazing Adventures and the project. I would have liked to see a bit more detailed information on the SIEGE engine rules or even a play-test/demo to check out -- that would be especially useful for new, potential players. The imagery on the page is only used for stretch goals, add ons, and shipping prices. While I am fine with having all of those (especially the stretch goal 'dungeon', complete with 'secret doors' -- that's creative), there really should be, at the least, more art showing off the pulpy aspects of the game. Something to really grab the attention and entice pledgers.

The pledge tiers are done a bit differently than most projects, as the US$1 tier is used as a means to get the digital copies via add ons -- there isn't a purely digital tier. The first 'real' tier is at US$25 for the core book in print and digital. Then US$45 for the core book and the Manual of Monsters -- both print and digital. US$50 for the core book and the companion book -- print and digital. And, if you want all three, US$99 for the core, Manual of Monsters, and companion -- print and digital. That does not include international shipping, of which there is a chart to reference on the page. For the digital lovers out there, all three PDFs together are around US$49.

If you would like to get your hands on this pulpyness, be sure to check out the Kickstarter page, and, for more information, be sure to check out Troll Lord Games' website.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The New Castles & Crusades Printing Arrived Today

Convention season also means review season. Between here at the blog and my writing for Bleeding Cool, that can mean a lot of stuff filtering through the Dorkland! offices this time of year. I already have a considerable slush pile of games to review and so much more good stuff keeps coming out from publishers.

With the craziness of Comic Con International going on over at Bleeding Cool, that leaves me with a little gap in gaming coverage to talk about over here. Plus I can write out incomplete thoughts and ideas about games over here that I can't address over there.

Today a review copy of the new 6th printing of Castles & Crusades came in the mail. I've always enjoyed Castles & Crusades and the work of Troll Lord Games. Well, except for Star Siege. That was a bit of a disappointment. If you think that C&C is just another old school retroclone, you really need to think again. This is a dynamic and streamlined fantasy gaming system powered by what they call The Siege Engine, which is basically a refinement of the core D20 mechanic from the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons. While it is close in spirit to older editions, it is really its own beast as well. If you're looking for a robust fantasy role-playing game that is streamlined in execution of its rules, you should check out Castles & Crusades. With new art and full color printing funded by a recent Kickstarter, this printing is the best version of the game to date.

Once I read and digest, my plan is to run an after hours game while at Gen Con and talk about it online here and there.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Castles and Crusades Classic Monsters: The Manual

Classic Monsters is a compilation of some of the classic monsters of old school gaming, taken from the open content of the first Tome of Horrors and converted to the C&C system. This book greatly expands the amount of monster available from the Monsters & Treasure book, and would be a boon to anyone running a game of Castles & Crusades. The art is up to the usual high standards of a Castles & Crusades book, and the layout follows the crisp and clean standards of the other C&C books.

Unfortunately, among the weird and wacky monsters from the early days of the first edition of the Advanced Game, the one glaring absence would be the demons and devils. Yes, it would be easy enough to convert these...but they just seems to be much too noticeable in their absence, particularly in comparison to other much more thorough old school monster manuals that are on the market. Does this render Classic Monsters useless, or make it a less attractive purchase? Well, no to either of those questions. Classic Monsters is definitely much more affordable (and likely easier to find) than those other monster manuals, and there are still plenty of other monsters that are available in this book. With a couple of hundred new monsters, there is still a lot of meat for a Castle Keeper in this volume.

Comparing this book to the recent edition of the Tome of Horrors Complete (ToHC) for Swords & Wizardry, would not be a fair comparison for Classic Monsters only because ToHC has five times the page count of Classic Monsters. It does, however, not shy away from the conversion of Devils and Demons. You can almost call these infernal creatures the Great Schism of AD&D, as it was their removal from AD&D 2e that upset a good number of gamers who felt that the new edition was overly sanitized after the "Satanic" scares over D&D of the 80s. I am certainly not accusing Castles & Crusades or Classic Monsters of being sanitized, but for me this is a glaring omission. I like the existence of the infernal to test the goodness of characters, and as a fan of writers like Michael Moorcock I like to emulate his fiction with demonic characters. Not that I would not be able to adapt or convert this material myself, if I wanted. I don't want people thinking that Classic Monsters is a bad book, because it certainly isn't. I just feel that it could have been a better book with the addition of more material. Who knows, maybe someone at Troll Lord Games will want to do something along the lines of the great old Demons series for AD&D that Mayfair Games put out all those years ago.

One of the strong points of the write-ups for these monsters is the combat section. For those less experienced Castle Keepers, or those who were not around in the hobby when many of these creatures were first published, having that brief outline of how each monster acts in combat can be very useful. There is also enough ecology information to be able to place these monsters into an adventure in a way that makes some logical sense.

Yes, this is a volume that adapts material that is already available, but sometimes not having to do the conversion work is worth the price of admission, and not everyone still has copies of the original MM2 or the Fiend Folio around to use for their Castles & Crusades games. Because of that, this book is useful and a good addition to anyone's Castles & Crusades library.

You can purchase the PDF of this book here, and if you keep the affiliate code, a portion of the sale will benefit this blog and allow for more things to be reviewed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Skills in Castles & Crusades: Take 2

Readers of this blog and my Twitter stream know that I've become a fan of Troll Lord Games' Castles & Crusades. Just today on Twitter I mentioned wanting to see GammaSIEGE, a Castles & Crusades take on post-apocalyptic gaming that would combine the best elements of things like Gamma World and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and bring it together under the mechanics of Castles & Crusades. That tweet got me thinking about the game and tweaks to it I would like. I know I am in a minority, it seems, but I would like a skill system for Castles & Crusades. It's just the way that I role.

This is actually my second attempt at a skill system. My first (found here) was based off of the StarSIEGE game and hewed closer to the Siege Engine. This version is (to me) a bit simpler and is influenced by skill systems in more old school games.

I've uploaded a PDF to Google Docs that you can find here. I'm curious to hear comments and feedback, either in the comments for this post or in my Twitter or Facebook feeds.


Monday, February 28, 2011

For Your Consideration: Simple Skills Option for Castles & Crusades

The rules in this post are cribbed from StarSIEGE, and as such are not considered Open Content. I'm sure Troll Lord Games would probably prefer I not do this, and if they would rather I will take this post down.

For me, a major flaw with Castles & Crusades is the lack of a skill system. Ironically, this wasn't an issue for me with D&D or AD&D back in the day, at least until I got the old D&D Rules Cyclopedia and they included Weapon Proficiencies and skills. I don't know if I necessarily want that level of detail, but I know I want more than just the SIEGE Engine to handle skills. The abstraction is a bit too much for what I'm looking for currently. Yes, I've been told by fans that it is bad of me to want this, after mentioning it at places like RPGnet. I rarely let something being bad for me stop me.