There are two real updates today. The first is that the Castles and Crusades Solo Handbook is now called Crusaders Solo Handbook and the book is finished, the content at least. The other nice thing is that I have an update to the playtest, Hancock the Paladin.
I am preparing solo rules for this game. If you would like to know when they are ready and get a discount on DriveThruRPG, there is a link at the end of this post.
Castles and Crusades Solo
The Solo Handbook is going to be both PDF and print on demand. The text runs to about 38 pages, not a massive tome by any measure, but my rules are always on the rules-light side because that is the style of play I like.
The only hold up is waiting on the Castles & Crusades 3rd Party Publishers Guidelines and a cover. I need the guidelines just to check that everything is above board and legal. I would really like to reference Castles & Crusades on the front cover, just so people know what they are buying, but you have to be careful that you are not breaking their trademark or copyright.
The solo rules try and emulate the SIEGEengine. It is a roll high for a Yes mechanic, You can do nearly all base oracle questions without needing the rules open. I have kept tables to an absolute minimum. I had a choice over how to handle open questions, those that cannot be answered with a yes-no. These are your ‘What are they saying?’, ‘What are the books about?’ type questions. I could either go down a d20 roll route or a diceless ‘narrative’ approach.
In the end, I decided to include both. Both work really well. I have tried to make so that the solo rules do not get in the way, and I think I have achieved that. Having both options means that you can dip in and out of both systems depending on the situation. My games tend to be more character interaction lead and that means that the d20 table gets a lot of use as it works well for motivations and conversations. When I am asking about environmental factors, what things look like, game lore and culture, the alternative word prompt, narrative method works nicely.
There is no disadvantage to having both, and if it makes rules more appealing to more players of different play styles, then everyone wins.
Hancock the Paladin
If you are not familiar with Hancock, you can catch up with his adventure here.
We left Hancock at the gold mine, now occupied by the ageing warlord and his followers. As he got to learn more about what was happening at the mine, it turns out that they could not or would not move the ore because of the goblin threat but they are sat on quite a bit of raw gold ore. The smelting should be happening back at the town. This is another reason for the town’s poverty, those that worked the ore are unemployed without the shipments being taken to town.
The underlying problem was most definitely the goblins pressing in from the north. Hancock decided to find the cause of the goblins coming south. Unknown to him, a couple of days out from the mine, as Hancock moved north, his trail was picked up by a hungry polar bear. (random encounter). I created a progress clock with 8 segments. Every time that Hancock was delayed or rested, the clock ticked down one segment. When the eight segments are complete the bear catches up with Hancock. So there is now a bear inexorably catching up with our intrepid paladin
Struggling north through a blizzard Hancock has a couple of short and bloody encounters with goblins and then a more unexpected one. He meets a group of goblins that are protecting goblin infants. These are the females of the goblin tribe and Hancock manages to get them to talk.
The goblins live in a semi natural cave complex in the mountains. Different tribes control different areas of these caves. Their tribe had recently excavated and explored some natural caves that went west towards the sea. They have unwittingly disturbed what they called Sea Wraiths, the restless spirits of sailors who has lost their lives on the rocks of those cliffs.
It was this undead threat that has driven the goblins from their homes. The other tribes have shut their doors to them and the wraiths were drifting through the caves and slaying any goblin they found.
With this information Hancock set out for the goblin caves. The females had told him how to find the entrance and avoid the other tribes. Having passed through the goblin lines he didn’t meet any more hostile goblins but the journey took a further two days. By this time the bear clock had ticked down by five of the 8 segments!
Hancocks adventure may continue in another post!
If you are not familiar with Progress Clocks they are introduced in the solo rules. I first encountered them in Blades in the Dark, but they are a fantastic way of tracking events that are happening ‘off camera’. They are literally a quickly sketched circle divided into segments. You ‘tick’ the clock down either by time or by events. When the clock has run down the attached event happens. In this case the bear tracking Hancock will catch him. Some clocks never run down, the adventure moves on and the attached event is no longer relevant. Other clocks run down quickly. There is no real limit to how many clocks a campaign can have running. They are great for tracking campaign story arcs!
Crusaders Solo Handbook Discount
I am hoping to have my Crusaders Solo Handbook live on DriveThruRPG in May (2020). If you are interested, there is an offer below.