Our second full session of our Castles & Crusades game took place Friday night at Saltire Games. Before the game, I picked up a copy of the 4th printing of the Castles & Crusades PHB. It looks like most of the changes are to the Illusionist and Barbarian classes--we have neither in our party, so I don't know what tweaks, if any, we'll be making yet.
We were 2 players down, but Llewellyn, our resident rogue, was on hand. If you remember from the last play recap, the players made it ashore a strange, unknown land after the three ships of their expedition were destroyed by a storm. If it is the land they were seeking, legend has it the the last Prince of the West, Elechor II, there are rumored to be 13 cities--each one where some class or sect of refugees fr0m the Kingdom of Man settled.
The group had stopped the burning of a fortified farmstead. It is here that Llewellyn, seeing the smoke after a miserable day wandering from where he washed up, encountered the group. Llewellyn was of a class of explorers who able to volunteer to go--or face the noose for some indiscretions. Not everyone sails for gold and glory because they want to.
The farmers who they rescued did speak the Westron tongue, albeit strangely accented. They were able to discern that only a few miles away was Sidon, the City of Sails!
The party (excepting the (absent-player) Friar and Druid, who stayed to assist the farmers), journeyed towards Sidon. They attempted to tell the gate guard they were from the east, which was met either with frowns or chuckles of disbelief.
The party asked for an inn recommendation, and ended up at the Inn of Sargent Street. Llewellyn and the mercurial Leyton (seriously, he suffers violent mood swings as quirk) deigned to perhaps see to their welfare in this new land by possibly gained some information (and coin) from the wealthy merchants that were frequenting the downstairs tavern. However, both of them had a bad night socially, apparently being as desirable to the other patrons as a dead bird found in your rain gutter. Vas, our Sorcerer/Wikd Mage, however, charmed a nice crowd with some prestidigitation and sleight of hand. Over the course of the night at the tavern, the party did quite well at picking up a few details about the area, such as:
-Orcish Pirates are fairly common at sea, and are a tremendous nuisance.
-Much of the trade of Sidon is with Ciplos, a city far to the north that doesn't care for elves.
-The shipwrights are seeing a slowdown in work thanks to a strange blight in the woods near town.
-There's a town called Brial somewhere to the southwest. Lot of churchy types there, it sounds like.
I was very proud of our 1-HP dwarven cleric, Nalgan. He discovered the cathedral in town, and after ascertaining the religion of this land was actually still close to that of the High Church, managed to convince a young priest to listen to his tale. The priest was skeptical, but gave him a room for the night and drew him a crude map(!) of the surrounding area. Good effort to get what he could!
As Nalgan was leaving, the priest gave Nalgan some advice: going around saying they were from the mystic east wasn't smart. Sailors for centuries had tried to sail back, and eventually so many ships were lost the city's rulers put a ban on that sort of discussion. No, before Nalgan and Co. talked to the city church's Prelate or the Admiral's Council (the ruling body), they needed to find a position of strength. He mentioned the problems with the blighted forest, as well as the Troublesome Tunnels. a ratling maze outside of town that was used by bandits and outlaws. Nalgan pitched to the group the idea that if they cleared out the Tunnels, perhaps the city rulers would respect their story a bit more. And so it was decided the group would set out for its first potential dungeon crawl (sniff).
Vas and Leyton ended up half-conning (long story) a stable out of a swaybacked nag to carry the group's equipment. They set off, towards one of the potential entrances, near the woods about 10 miles from town. It had been filled in by the city guard, but they hoped another entrance would be nearby.
Random Encounter Time! As Leyton stood on the filled-in hole, he was about 2 seconds away from being devoured by a Bullete (Landshark), which burst out of the hole, nasty maw a-snappin'. At this point, the group fled into the woods, discretion being the better part of valor. Thankfully, Nalgan and Leyton discovered another entrance soon after, and into the Troublesome Tunnels they went.
The group only got through a small portion of the tunnels, but enough to see a few humanoid skeletons and signs of an earlier struggle, and also took down some nasty ratlings. The found an entrance out, but it was manned by what appear to be a lowly bandit gang. The bandits looked prepared to deal (or fight), but the group left. At this point, before exploring any further, they decided to go grab the Friar and Druid for reinforcement.
Llewellyn got his first kill against a ratling! For a non-combat character, I imagine that's somewhat jarring. Llewellyn seems very urbane and displeased towards most forms of wilderness travel, but I think he realizes he doesn't have much of a choice just now. He also seems to be hitting it off with Vas to some degree, who is the most garrulous of the party by far.
Supercharging one roll to a d30 was a mixed bag. We had 2 early attempts on a Charisma roll that fell flat, but there was some awesome usage in combat later on.
For the record, I know 1000+ years would have produced more linguistic difference in language than what we're seeing in-game, but that's one of those things where I'm going to shove realism aside. Until the ghost of Professor Tolkien shows up at my table to help, I'm not going to go there.
Again, the staff at Saltire Games was friendly, helpful, and knew their stuff. I think we all love playing there in one of the private rooms in the back.
So far, I'm so pleased with how the group is doing and interacting. As a GM, this is the least amount of work I've had to do at the table in a couple of years now--then again, it was a lot more work upfront. It's also great having some really good players. Again, it's a great group, and I feel lucky to have this campaign.
The session (Friday, November 13), we should have a full table for the first time in a couple of weeks...