The Castle Guide (1990)

The Castle Guide (1990) is the second in the DMGR series of reference books. This one is a bit more grounded than the philosophical Campaign Guide, but the name is a bit of a fib. There are some castle details here, but if you’re looking for a book truly dedicated to castles, this isn’t really it. This is more of a broad sourcebook of medieval life for D&D. Up to this point, there wasn’t really any attempt at historical accuracy in D&D — that was the domain of games like Chivalry & Sorcery, Harn and even Pendragon to a degree. The Castle Guide is an attempt to harness D&D into something similarly realistic.

It is quite good and thorough. There’s jousting and chivalry and lots of information on building castles. There’s Battlesystem (ugh) rules for mass combat and sieges. There’s politics and customs and all sorts of curious job descriptions.  Though that isn’t really what I’ve ever wanted out of my D&D games (I was here for the castle plans, and I was disappointed). It serves as a pivot point to the Historical Reference series of campaign sourcebooks — the green leatherette books dedicated to historical eras like the Celts, Vikings and Charlemagne’s paladins that began to appear in 1991. The Castle Guide feels of a kind with them.

Big fan to Jean Elizabeth Martin’s bold lines in the illustrations.

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