Monday, October 15, 2007 10:25 AM
While waiting for one friend to start his Expedition to Castle Greyhawk campaign, I have begun playing in another friend’s Savage Tide campaign. I will share my spoiler-ridden observations here.
The first session did not, from my perspective go well at all. Our DM had stressed how our live sessions were going to be strictly for adventuring and we were to do our role-playing on his messageboard. I understood from this that the campaign would then start with the standard dungeon crawl, so I brought my seven-year old son along to play, who always enjoys killing monsters, but few of the subtleties of gaming.
Instead, we were presented with a mystery to solve. All the guys loved seeing the handout, a hot portrait of our sponsor, Lady Vanderborne. The harbormaster, or rather, his right-hand man Vark, would not let her onto her own ship, the Blue Nixie, and she wanted to find out why. If it had been the ghost of Captain Redbeard keeping her off the ship, this could have been a Scooby-Doo mystery. We all split up to look for clues, with the plan of meeting back up two mornings later to compare notes. My character planned to pass himself off as one of Vanderborne’s creditors and interview the harbormaster about repossessing the ship, or at least touring it for an evaluation. To do this, my bard found employment with one of Sasserine’s moneylenders and gained a tabard and seal that identified himself as an employee, bought fancier clothes to complete a disguise, and filled out the required paperwork to see the harbormaster, but was dismissed with a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” comment. Meanwhile, my son was entertained with a barroom brawl where he got to kill someone. Almost more disturbing was how much he enjoyed having his character drink beer.
The real trouble for me started on the next player’s turn. Our DM was using home rules for social class, and one of the PCs was of unusually high birth. Where I had a long-term plan for getting on board the Blue Nixie, he just walked in with the other party members, bullied his way past the harbormaster, and got right onboard the ship. I had refused to come, believing their plan would fail and my plan would be needed as back-up. After all, our DM had given us an investigation. The direct approach seemed the wrong way to go about it. Turns out I was wrong – you really are meant to rush onto the ship and kill everyone aboard it as if the ship was a mini-dungeon. I missed out on everything. My son’s character hopped onboard a rowboat and made it out to the battle just in time to participate in the very end of it. The battles on the ship were laughably easy, with the one on deck against the crew taking five rounds and the one with the monster below deck taking only one round. My son and I had missed that the battle was over and were waiting for round two!
This is “Savage” Tide? More like Anemic Tide, I thought. We did not even stay for the last half-hour.