A Look At The Fluff Of Castles & Crusades
What makes a character? Is it their attributes? Their skills? Their lists of special abilities? No. What makes a good character is how a player plays them. The role-playing is what makes a good character. For most gamers, this is obvious, but all those other things help this along. You use your choice of attributes, skills, and abilities to help solidify in your mind just who your character is and how you should play them. In Castles & Crusades, the idea that a good character comes not from what is on the sheet is taken to the next level.
In Castles & Crusades, the only thing on your sheet that might give you an idea about how you should play your character is your character’s alignment and choice of primary attributes. Sure, things like your choice of race and class can play into this as well, but without falling into stereotypes it can be hard to define your character simply by things like “elf wizard” or “dwarf barbarian.” What this means is that you, as a player, are free to define your character however you want. If you want your character to be a socialite, despite what class you play, all you need to do mechanically is to select Charisma as one of your primary attributes. All the rest must be done in game.
I have very mixed feelings about this style of game. While on one hand, I like the freedom that games like this and the Dresden Files RPG give you in making your character your own, I also like having a few more guidelines for what my character is able to do and what they know. In terms of knowledge, in games like Pathfinder you have a variety of knowledge skills that range from arcana to dungeoneering to religion to nobility, and others. A character, even a very intelligent character is not likely to have skill ranks in every knowledge skill, as most players choose to specialize rather than be more general in their selections of skills or abilities. Sure, this is not always the case, but in Castles & Crusades all knowledge is simply an Intelligence attribute checks. What this means is that every character who has Intelligence as a primary attribute is able to know just about everything. Sure, story can trump this. A character born and raised in a city who has never had any interest in farming or forestry likely will not be able to identify a specific plant from memory, but that is up to the player to say “No, my character would not know that,” when most are much more likely to roll the dice to see if they might, as no player wants to be deprived of information that might save their character’s lives or grant them more money or treasure.
As for the game as a whole, there is not a great deal to say about the fluff of the game. There are numerous splat books and adventure modules for Castles & Crusades, but all I have access to is the core rulebook and bestiary, and these present the game as a rather generic fantasy setting. The Gamemaster is free to create their own campaigns, their own worlds, in their Castles & Crusades game, making them as fantastic or as mundane as they like.
There is no such thing as a perfect game, and Castles & Crusades is far from perfect in my opinion, but it is still a wonderful game. It is quick and easy to both learn and play, making it great for one-shot sessions or short-term campaigns. If given a chance, I would encourage you to take up your dice and give the game a roll.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and, as always, good gaming.
Image Credit: Troll Lord Games