The PC Creature Crucible series came at the end of the Gazeteer line for Basic D&D. AD&D 2nd ed was my game of choice then, but reviewing this now I think I missed out on something fun. The author of this book, John Nephew, who would later go on to found Atlas Games. While reading this I was looking for any clues to what would be Ars Magica, but I think I was just projecting.
The book is 96 pages with color covers and black, white and green interior colors. The PDF is 102 pages (for maps and covers). It is divided into a 64-page DM's section and a 32-page Adventures section. This book is something I would have loved back then, and really enjoy now.
The book covers playing several woodlands or faerie races. The new race-classes you can play are Brownie, Centaur, Dryad, Faun, Hsiao, Leprechaun, Pixie, Pooka, Sidhe, Sprite, Treant, Wood Imp, and Woodrake. One of the features of Basic-era D&D is Race-as-Class, so a Sprite and Halfling can feel like different things with similar levels of progression.
As per Basic D&D each creature gets it's own advancement table and ability minimums and maximums. All, save the Sidhe, have level limits. All of these creatures have a 0 level and in some cases, negative levels, they need to meet the XP requirements for. It all works rather well for Basic D&D really. We know it can work since we used to do the same thing in Holmes D&D, only not with this much guidance. It would not be difficult with these guidlines to adapt this to any other version of D&D in fact. You can look to the 4th Edition Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild as an example. Like PC1 Creature Crucible, you can play a dryad, satyr, or pixie. They even have a similar spell-casting class (more on that later).
The book has a solid Lands of Faerie or even a Feywild feel to it. A nice green character sheet (which is cool and all, but prints and copies poorly) only adds to that feeling. The conceit of the book is to present the information as if given to us from the mouths of four different woodland folk of renown; Olyrrhoe, a centaur prophetess (years before a centaur would teach divination at Hogwarts) tells us about centaurs, wood imps, , Lotis, the dryad, speaks for dryads and hamadryads as well as fauns, hsiao, and treants, Robin Goodfellow (yes, THAT Robin) for pixies, sprites and others, and finally Oberon (also THAT Oberon) for Pooka, Sidhe and wood drakes.
This book also deals with three different kinds of spell casters. Shamans (like druids or clerics, but no turn undead ability), wicca (which you know has my attention! magic-users) and fairy spell casters. There are some new spells here that very much feel like woodland/wicca/witchy/druid spells.
We get some new equipment, some woodland realms, some organizations and of course our NPCs and a few more besides. Though no Titania, which is odd given the obvious (and necessary) borrowing from Mid-Summer's Night Dream.
That gives us the first 64 pages.
The adventure book makes up the next 32 pages. We also get an AD&D 2nd Edition conversion guide. Using these guidelines would help in converting to other versions of D&D, in particular, 5e.
The adventures are short and all share a woodland theme. They can all be run in a few sessions, usually one per session.
There is also a fun woodlands/faerie themed character sheet.
This is one of those products that I never gave enough attention too back when it came out, but I really wish I had.
[5 of 5 Stars!]