Inside Pulse 12

Tabletop Review: Castles & Crusades: Reaping Bones

Castles & Crusades: Reaping Bones
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
Page Count: 15
Cost: Free to Kickstarter Backers and ReaperCon Attendees
Release Date: 04/24/2014 (Physical ReaperCon Version)/05/31/2014 (Kickstarter Digital Version)
Get it Here: You Can’t

Reaping Bones was originally a convention exclusive to those that attended Reaper Miniatures ReaperCon 2014 earlier this year. However, Kickstarter backers for the extremely successful crowdfunding campaign Troll Lord Games did for their sixth printing received a digital copy as well. Now there are some differences between the two. Apparently the physical ReaperCon version came with pregenerated characters and some basic rules on how to play, while the Kickstarter digital copy was just the adventure. Not a big deal in the scheme of things, but I would definitely track down a physical copy of the ReaperCon version for all the bells and whistles if you really want to get a copy

The name Reaping Bones is a play on Reaper Miniatures Bones lines of Minis. Get it? Reaper Bones – Reaping Bones? Ho ho ho. Well, at least there are plenty of skeletons to fight in the adventure so the title isn’t just a play on words. A horde of the undead isn’t the core focus of the adventure, so the title may through off people who think this is where clerics and paladins will shine brightest.

Reaping Bones is designed for three to five players who have characters between Levels 4 and 6. The adventure advises that an elf, druid or ranger will be extremely useful here and I have to agree. Tracking and woodland knowledge will really help you get through this short but tough adventure. As a big fan of Druids, I always love how C&C has several adventures giving them the spotlight.

The core story has your players being hired to track down the kidnapped son of your leader, Lord Brian of Helliwell. In exchange for money, title and land, your party has to find the orcs that kidnapped the young boy and do away with them. Of course, since this is a convention adventure, you might expect Reaping Bones to stay that straightforward. It doesn’t. As players will discover a third party who wants the boy gets involved and so the party will have to figure out who actually has the child. There are also some subquests and potential NPC allies or enemies to be had. In the end you do have to face several dozen skeletons and a pretty unexpected end boss. Completing the adventure should only take a single session lasting a few hours (There are only eleven pages of content, after all) and it’s a nice blend of hack and slash combat with actual role-playing. There’s nothing here really out of the ordinary (although there are two new spells introduced here), and you’ll walk away with a nice understanding of how Castles & Crusades plays coupled with a nice look at some classic monsters and how different C&C adventures can be from the typical high fantasy tabletop RPG. Now some longtime C&C fans or veteran tabletop gamers might fight this piece a bit too simplistic, but you have to remember it was designed to introduce miniature painters and gamers to a tabletop RPG, so the target audience was a bit different with this one.

Overall, Reaping Bones is an excellent, if short, little freebie. Hey, I’ll take good and free over bad but long and pricey any day, wouldn’t you? GMs can definitely pad this out if needed with random encounters and even turn the piece into the start of a full campaign. After all, once you collect the child, there is still the core reason it was kidnapped in the first place. A clever GM can make several adventures out of the dangling plot threads in this one. Would I actively scour the third party market for a physical copy of this? No, I wouldn’t. Am I happy with it as a Kickstarter backer freebie? Most definitely. It’s certainly an adventure I would use with new and veteran C&C players alike. It’s well thought out, light enough to give new comers a taste of how the game works and it is fun. You don’t really need much more than that.