I had two players show up to invade the Warren of the Murder Diggers. I gave them a crash-course on the rules, and they made a stonish (blended with a stone elemental) and a blooded (tiefling). I made a floish (blended with a water elemental.)
I was concerned our whole session would crash and burn; the very first chamber we poked our noses into had five massive spiders that totally outclassed our party. We tried to run, and they denied our movement. My character was killed straightaway, the stonish escaped, and the blooded provided a spicy snack.
No experience. No treasure. One survivor. Odds were not looking good that my “strip D&D” efforts had made a less lethal game. But they gamely cowboyed up and tried again; we erased the names on the top of the dead characters’ sheets and put on new ones, and headed out again, in the finest first level tradition.
The story began to grow around the random results in the second adventure, as it is supposed to do. We found a corpse that died in a brutal battle, surrounded by silver dust; put up enough of a fight the badgerclaws did not disturb it, even in death. It was the corpse of a heroic adventurer, with magic armor and sword, along with a chest of gold!
We ran across that more than once (treasure options 19 and 20 should not roll together often!) We decided the queen sent her templar to hide some of the treasury, and the murder diggers sorted them out. Our treasury now…
I was the only one whose character died twice in the session, which was fine with me. The second guy died when we charged an anthropomorphic badger man with a bunch of big wicker baskets; everyone evaded the pit trap but me, and a 40 foot deep shaft is a killer. That left only two of them to deal with the badger claw and 5 huge rattlesnakes! They totally kicked his butt.
We found a couple sacks that you can put on your head that allow you to see 30 feet in the dark–that was handy. And two swords that were +1 and glowed like a torch, so we didn’t have to track light as a resource.
In an early burrow, we ran into a special, with a knot of murder diggers guarding prisoners. We were not even close to tough enough to tackle that, so we threw flaming oil down in the burrow entry to deter pursuit, and ran to another part of the burrow. They didn’t follow.
We found a deep hog skull with a map scrimshawed on it, and a collector’s coin collection, chests of gold stuffed into shallow alcoves in the wall, a nugget of platinum, an adventurer’s corpse with a snake coiled up on it (gear intact), a dead wizard stuffed into the wall with his body used to hide the light of a continual light torch…
I delegated the dice rolling room generation responsibilities. Even though this sort of adventure is really not what my wife enjoys playing, she joined in to be sociable.
Michael did the mapping. Kristy rolled 2d6 to determine room dimensions for him. Scott rolled for how many exits. I rolled for treasure and monsters, and roughly interpreted and decided what the bad guys did.
You can turn the mapping into an artistic endeavor of winding burrows and fanciful embroidery–but you don’t have to. Michael drew the map as a series of rectangles, and that worked just fine for connecting doorways and generally navigating the burrow.
Carousing was a hit! The group can carouse individually, or as a group, and they partied as a group, accepting the expense and sharing out the little experience bonus. That’s also how they recruited more adventurers; Kristy’s shaedish (blended with element of shadow) and my fighter, Pubert, who was a real ass-kicker (you can call him “Bert” if his name makes you uncomfortable.)
By the end of 4 hours (including the orientation and character generation) we had 2 characters about 1 successful raid away from 3rd level, and 1 who was 2nd level, and poor Pubert, who was still first.
The system needs sanding, smoothing. It will likely ALWAYS need sanding and smoothing. Regrettably, this is only the second time I’ve played it in its current form, so stuff comes up I have not thought of. This does not reflect poorly on me unless I refuse to tinker to address these questions. Maybe a Q&A is the best way, rather than filling out the rules with interpretations.
Anyway, I got to play Crumbling Epoch on Father’s Day weekend. That is wonderful.