Castles & Crusades

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Castles & Crusades
The Castles & Crusades logo
Designer(s) Stephen Chenault, Davis Chenault, Mac Golden, Robert Doyel, Todd Sandy, Todd Gray, James M. Ward
Publisher(s) Troll Lord Games
Publication date 2004
Genre(s) Fantasy

Castles & Crusades (C&C) is a fantasy role-playing game published in 2004 by Troll Lord Games based upon a stripped-down variant of the d20 System by Wizards of the Coast. The game system is designed to emulate the play of earlier editions of the Dungeons & Dragons game while keeping the unified mechanics of the d20 System.


Box cover for Castles & Crusades Collectors Edition

The name of the game derives from the Castle & Crusade Society, founded in the pre-Dungeons & Dragons era by Gary Gygax. The title is in homage to the role-playing industry's birth.

The game was initially released in 2004 in a special boxed edition consisting of three digest-sized booklets, dice, and a crayon in a white box with artwork by artist Peter Bradley of a knight on horseback. The reason for the box set was to have something on hand for sale at Gen Con as the finished product was still several months away. A boxed set was chosen for its resemblance to the earliest versions of Dungeons & Dragons, which could be found, depending upon printing, in either a woodgrain box or a white one. As a promotion through the company's website, the first 300 copies were signed and numbered by the designers.

Later that year, the first printing of the Players Handbook was released. Since that time, the Players Handbook has seen additional reprints, in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2014. The companion volume, Monsters & Treasure, was released in 2005, with additional reprints published in 2007, 2009 and 2015. The Castle Keeper's Guide was published in 2010, with a second printing in 2015.


Castles & Crusades's game mechanics are based on the d20 system, designed by Wizards of the Coast. The system has been modified to create a simplified version of the game. All the core classes and races, the alignment system, attributes and hit points systems were retained with only slight adjustments in hit dice. The highly intricate system of skills and feats found in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition was discarded, replaced by what the designers call the "Siege Engine", intended as an extremely easy game mechanic with universal applications. The game is compliant with the terms of the Open Game License.

The Siege Engine works on an attribute check system. A character's attributes are divided into primary and secondary attributes. Checks made against primary attributes have a base TN of 12, while secondary attributes have a base TN of 18. The game's referee, the Castle Keeper, adds a challenge level to the base and the resulting number, the challenge class, is the target number required to succeed at a check. The player adds the character's level, any attribute bonuses and class bonuses to the roll of a twenty-sided die. If the result after bonuses equals or exceeds the challenge class, the player succeeds. Except for combat, the Siege Engine is used for anything that requires a check in the game.

While the first two printings of the Players Handbook were virtually identical with the exception of a change in font for the headers, the third printing introduced a replacement barbarian class. The 4th printing introduced an expansion to the illusionist written by James M. Ward that allowed the illusionist to heal others. The current printing introduces a streamlined replacement to the game's encumbrance rules for faster play.


The core books of the game are setting-agnostic. While players can set the adventure in any setting they wish, some settings have been published for the game.

Once named Erde, Aihrde is Troll Lord Games' home setting. Originally a setting for use with Dungeons & Dragons, a summary of the setting is available in the World of Aihrde Folio. Books like The Free City of Eskadia expand on the setting by covering sections in more detail.
Troll Lord Games' second setting for Castles & Crusades, Bluffside is a conversion and expansion of an earlier product released by Thunderhead Games. Bluffside is designed to be placed anywhere the player desires in their existing campaign, or it can be used as a campaign setting on its own.
Haunted Highlands
Troll Lord Games' third setting for Castles & Crusades, introduced with the "DB" series of adventures.
Troll Lord Games' gritty, realistic setting for Castles & Crusades, introduced with the "I" series of adventures.

External links

  • Troll Lord Games – the publisher of Castles & Crusades
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