The players start the game on board a Roman corbita, making their way across the Sea of Atlante to Ys, the chief city in the Duchy of Gwaelodd. The ship is slow and heavy with cargo destined for the markets of Hybras; a ripe target for the Irish coastal raiders that hunt these waters. When two black sails are spotted off the starboard, the ship’s master turns west to run for deeper waters, but unfortunately heads directly into a storm. The ship flounders and breaks its back on some rocks off the coast of Lyonesse. The players are washed ashore with nothing on them except one precious item they managed to retain in their scramble to safety.
On the cliffs above them, silhouetted against the stormy skies, is a watchtower. Lying on the beach amongst the flotsam of the storm are the bodies of two soldiers, their throats cut and their swords still in their scabbards. These were not men from the ship.
The players must solve the mystery of the two corpses and find a way off the island, recovering some equipment in the process. They must fight their way through a number of challenges, including goblins, giant spiders and undead legionaries, and warn the local authorities about the happenings at the watchtower.
We played two sessions during the Christmas/New Year break and managed to: clear the tower of enemies, uncover an insidious plan and re-equip the party (enough to give them a feeling of security at least). Some fabulous moments came from our newest player, Sam (age 12), who sneaked around behind some goblins and back-stabbed two of them, then went on to wake up our Druid (who had been caught in the blast area of a sleep spell and drifted off into dreamland). Heroic moves all around and the game might have turned a bit sour otherwise.
This was our first session using the 5.0 rules and it proved to be a fun, fast flowing game that provided enough structure without being too burdensome. The players were able to grasp the concept well enough and I didn’t have to hunt through the rulebook too often (but when I did, the relevant rule was easy to find and clearly defined). One big success was the laminated spell cards I had made up prior to the game – all of the Level 0 Cantrips and Level 1 Spells, printed out and then laminated and cut apart – enabling the players to have the spell descriptions readily to hand without having to continually look them up in my Players Handbook.
All in all, a great, fun couple of nights was had by everyone.