Celts - from those powerful barbarians who ruled Europe for centuries and challenged the might of Rome came the Druids, bards, and even the original legend of King Arthur. They ranged from Scotland to Greece and from Spain to Asia Minor, trading, raiding, and establishing a culture that is still alive today. Join mighty heros like the legendary Cu Chulainn or the woman-warrior Boudicca in wars against the Romans or the giant Fomorians, compete in feats of skill like chariot-jumping and spear-catching, or wander the half-world of the elflike sidhe.
The battle frenzy is strong and the call to war rings clear!
HR3: Celts Campaign Sourcebook (1992), by Graeme Davis, is the third in the Historical Reference series for AD&D. It was published in November 1992.
About the Historicals. The later Historical Reference books generally follow in the footsteps of HR1: Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1992). They were a brand-new leatherette line that covered brand-new ground for TSR: historical settings. One of their most important elements was a tight integration of systems and settings that was atypical for TSR - though the deepness of this integration would vary from book to book and was never as strong as in the first release, Vikings. The Historical line ran for a short time, from 1992 to 1994.
Paired Releases. The first two Historical releases - covering Vikings and Charlemagne's Paladins - featured overlapping time periods and thus could be used together. TSR repeated the same trick here by linking the Celts Campaign Sourcebook with HR5: The Glory of Rome Campaign Sourcebook (1993): That is, the same adversarial relationship and overlapping timeline appear here as were found in those first two books.
Celts in D&D. D&D is a hodge-podge of different historical and fantastic influences; the Celts entered that melting pot primarily thanks to B. Dennis Sustare, who provided the basics of the druid class that were fleshed out in Eldritch Wizardry (1976). Granted, the AD&D druid moved somewhat distant from its Celtic roots, but every once in a while an article in Dragon would remind D&D players of those origins, with Bill Fawcett's "The Druid in Fact and Fantasy" from The Dragon #32 (December 1979) being one of the best.
Some point to the bard as another Celtic influence on D&D, but from the moment the bard first appeared in The Strategic Review v2 #1 (February 1976), he was already a conglomerate of "the norse 'skald', the celtic 'bard', and the southern european 'minstrel'." If anything, the bard in D&D has moved closer to its minstrel origin over the years.
Nonetheless, some of the basics of a Celtic campaign have long existed in the D&D game. TSR even had at least one heavily Celtic-influenced society, the islands described in FR2: Moonshae (1987), while a pair of competition modules, C4: To Find a King (1985) and C5: The Bane of Llywelyn (1985) were based in a generic Celtic-flavored setting.
With that said, Celts still offers a somewhat innovative D&D experience. The biggest change is probably its lower tech level, something it would share with HR6: Age of Heroes Campaign Sourcebook (1994). (It also cuts out the paladin, cleric, and wizard classes and rewrites both the bard and the druid to better match their Celtic origins.)
Celts in Other Gaming. Most of the other Celtic RPG books followed sometime after Celts, including GURPS Celtic Myth (1995), Avalanche Press's Celtic Age (2002) for d20, and Mongoose Publishing's Slaine (2002) for d20 and Slaine (2007) for RuneQuest.
RuneQuest (1978+) may be the RPG that offered the most Celtic flavor prior to the release of Celts, as it focuses on primitive cultures more than most FRPGs, which instead tend to concentrate on Middle Ages technology.
Future History. "Bazaar of the Bizarre" in Dragon #207 (July 1994) offers a number of magic items that can be used with Celts. "Seeds of Evil" in Dragon #249 (July 1998) describes how to use the Masques of the Red Death (1994) campaign with all seven of the Historical Reference campaigns.
TSR also presented yet another take on druids the next year in The Complete Druid's Handbook (1994), which offered its own thoughts on druidic society, sacred groves, and more.
About the Creators. Graeme Davis got his start in RPG publishing with Games Workshop where he coauthored the famous Enemy Within campaign (1986-1989). After GW spun off Flame Publication for its RPG production, Davis starting doing freelance work, much of it either for White Wolf's World of Darkness, or else focused on history. After writing GURPS Vikings (1991) and GURPS Middle Ages I (1992), HR3: Celts fit right in with Davis' skill set. It was just one of two works he published with TSR, the other being The Goblin's Lair (1992) for the D&D Black Box (1991).
Graeme Davis shouldn't be confused with Graeme Morris, who worked with some of the same crew from The Enemy Within while they were at TSR UK.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.