Friday, April 27, 2012

Classic Monsters, Castles and Crusades

(Im going to do this in 2 parts, Part1 is me rambling as I do, Part2 is my review)

Part 1.
I have said many times on this blog that I'm totally immune to nostalgia. I would never play a game out of nostalgia. My only interest in OSR games are out of my interest in simple fun systems.

 That being said, classic monsters just delivered a one two punch of nostalgia. I started gaming with a single 1E advanced Dungeons and Dragons players handbook. My collection grew over time to include five to six 1E books and a hand full of 2E books.

My taste in monsters has always been of the undead variety. my first flip through I stopped on a few of my old favorites. Apparition, Crypt thing, Dark creeper, Dark stalker, Huecuva, and so many more. My mind flashed back to games I ran so many years ago. We would start playing right after school on a Friday night, And we didn't stop till the sun was up the next day. This is the first product to date to truly make me feel nostalgia.

Part 2.
First off the MSRP of the book is $24.99. Its a hardbound and 144 pages. Also available on Kindle for $9.99. Written by Kim Hartsfield. Cover by Sarah Walker. With art from Peter Bradly, Sarah Walker, and Jason Walton. Edited by Tim Burns.

The cover is full color with black and white interior. The first seven pages are an explanation of what monsters are and how to read the stat blocks. There is a chart for figuring experience. And a page with simple and easy guidelines for creating monsters.

The individual monster art is very reminiscent of 1E AD&D. Some are very simple line sketches and others are small portraits. None of the small art attacked to a write-ups are overly exiting. But none of them are bad either. All of them look like good examples of the attached write-up. On the other hand all of the full page art is very nice.

Where classic monsters really shines to me is the individual monster write ups. Each has plenty of ecology, giving the CK plenty of ideas on how to add and where to add these monsters. Classic monsters adds a "combat" entry, explaining how the monster will act in combat. This is great, especially for first time CKs.
This is a page right out of the 4E monster manual (making the 4E MM one of the best books for the 4E system.). And combat entries is what makes this product for me. It makes classic monsters stand out among all the retro clone, nostalgia, and OSR monster books.

It has been pointed out to me that there was some popular monsters among its omissions like devils and demons. For me personally this is not an issue, in 20 years of gaming I have never used them.

Over all I would recommend Classic monsters. While it has that classic feel. It also has a touch of innovation. Taking the best of the past and adding more utility to it. That to me is what Castles and Crusades in all about.

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