Thursday, March 15, 2012

Two Rosetta Stones?

I think it should be apparent to anyone who's been reading my blog that I have a deep love of Castles & Crusades. Some may even know that I have been developing a deeper appreciation for Labyrinth Lord. In studying both systems for some time now, I came across an interesting tidbit: both games claim to be "Rosetta Stones." Want proof?

Look here (where it says "The Rosetta Stone of Roleplaying Games") on the Troll Lord page for C&C, and here (where it says "The Rosetta Stone of Old-School Fantasy Role-Playing Games!") on the Goblinoid Games page for LL. In light of this, one might say it's no coincidence that I am so attracted to both games. ;-)

Now, looking deeper, one notices that Troll Lord claims that C&C is the Rosetta Stone of Roleplaying Games. That statement seems to include ALL roleplaying games. Whether or not the Trolls wanted to make as grand a statement as that seems, I'm not sure (though the Trolls are so in touch with their fans that it wouldn't be hard to ask them!).

Whereas Goblinoid claims that LL is the Rosetta Stone of Old-School Fantasy Role-Playing Games, a much more focused and distinct segment of the roleplaying pantheon. Goblinoid has firmly placed their game in the ranks of the old-school, "D&D-esque" fantasy gaming realm.

But upon reading Troll Lords' game, one realizes that Castles & Crusades also seeks to promote an old-school style of play. Indeed, the game seems to combine a bit of 1E AD&D and a bit of 3E D&D as well. Many consider the game to be as much of a retroclone as Labyrinth Lord. I'm not so sure I agree with that, as there are deviations from the AD&D classes to consider (C&C rangers do not cast spells, which I totally agree with...that's just one example of many) and the C&C SIEGE Engine attribute check mechanic is not exactly like the 3E d20 roll versus DC mechanic.

This might all be "duh" stuff and me just thinking too much about this. I'm not really trying to get too analytical about this or foster a debate as to what these two companies intended to state when they wrote those words. I'm not sure how much thought was put into these Rosetta Stone statements. I'm not trying to get too deep into this, I really just thought it was a fun tidbit of information.

However, as lighthearted as I am about the whole thing, I would love to hear what others have to say. Please chime in if you are at all interested. Thanks!


  1. Having witnessed the release of both statements all I can say is the timing of the C&C announcement was either quite deliberate or incredibly coincidental.

  2. I immediately switched my 3.5 game to C&C when it came out and loved how everything in my gaming library was readily adaptable to C&C, then LL came out and for some reason I found it even easier for me to do stuff with it, whether it was fantasy, or sci fi or whatever. While I still give C&C its props and am even currently running a C&C Campaign, LL really hits a certain sweet spot for me. LL seems easier for me to tweak and work with, maybe more "Rosetta Stoneish". LOL IMHO

  3. Hey Drance, awesome post. And quite up my alley as both are games I fequently return to in my gaming system quest. In fact, given my choice right now I'd choose C&C hands down. And in my opinion C&C is a lighter, faster game than LL--though I really like it too. I ran a LL game recently for my own children and their cousin which went quite well. But I think it was intuitive because it was so "like" D&D. Not at all a bad thing of course--that's what the game set out to be.

    But C&C is a new vision built on top of the old. It's more of a retro variant than a clone really. The more I give PF a whirl the more I have come to really appreciate the quickness of the d20 system--which is decidedly not like D&D. And the elegance of the seige engine allowa for just about any mechanic to be ported into a C&C style game. Which is shown quite well in their various Seige Games.

    LL is a Rosetta Stone in much the same way the D&D engine was. It's what gave rise to Boot Hill, gamma World, Star Frontiers and the like--all essentially chart based systems similar to if not identical to the D&D model.

    C&C is a little more elegant in this regard. however, I believe C&C works under a different ethos than the earlier games did. They have managed to capture something that 0e inspired--ultimate role playing creativity. They have taken that principle and based it on a very fast, lite and flexible mechanic. IMO more deserving of the title: Rosetta Stone of gaming.

    1. I can, and will, take credit for C&C being called "The Rosetta Stone of Role-Playing Games". Here's how it happened.

      I was reading TLG's Facebook page one day, and I made the comment there. I said it because I feel it's true--all of my other D&D stuff can be easily ported to C&C, as we all know.

      Well, either Steven or Davis Chenault read the comment and responded immediately (he was online at the time) and said, "That's great! Can I use that?" or words to that effect. I agreed.

      Later that day, I came back to the page and he had said that he had just used that slogan on a podcast, and so he REALLY owed me credit on that. To this I replied, "Free CKG when it comes out?" He said, "Sure!"

      True to his word, he sent me one.

      None of this is to say that LL is not just as welcoming to other materials. It's just that I feel that C&C definitely is, and a fun story besides.

    2. Hey Doc! Ok, I am going to trust you and take this story at face value! That's pretty cool! How long ago was this exchange of ideas with the Chenaults? They are some great guys over there, I've met some of them at TrollCon East and had a great time talking to Steve.

  4. Thanks all for chiming in! @ Chris: glad you liked the post!