This year, I was asked to demo the Castles & Crusades game once more at my FLGS, and fortunately I was in a good enough mood to oblige. After a long day of work yesterday as well as a quick bite out and a bit of necessary shopping (needed some new shirts for work), I came home to a message on the machine. It was from the store manager who was asking if I was interested in participating and running a game. I took down the number and called the store back to inquire what kind of time slots they were looking at and ultimately agreed. I went by yesterday evening to pick up a copy of the C&C Freebie in order to prep and run the game. Since I was kind enough to accept the request made of me at the very last minute, they were also very accommodating and gave me a DCC RPG Freebie. Probably just as well that I got one that way since I didn't see any other of the freebies being busy setting up and running a C&C game. I did find out why I was contacted by the store at such a late date prior to the event itself -- the store hadn't received their Free RPG bundle from the distributor before yesterday afternoon. It looked like it was held up at the border. I hope that other stores in Canada didn't have similar problems and that they all received theirs in time for the event.
I suppose I should be please that the store did contact me though... while true that it's not the first time I do this sort of thing for them, it's always nice to know that they want me to come back to do it again. Last year, when I ran it, I have to say I got a really nice compliment when one of my players at the demo had compared me to Gygax with the manner I ran my game. I didn't ask what he exactly meant by the comment since I am certain he never played in one of those games I have heard and read about over the years but it was clear the person had a good time. I can only assume I had struck a good 'old school vibe' when I ran the game.
He came back and played in my game demo again this year. Another player who played last year came back as well and, on top of it all, still had the copy of the pre-gen he used last year. I was a bit taken aback when I saw that and was happy to allow him to play the same character again. I had five players this year... I started early enough that I didn't have to contend with running a game with a larger group (a had a couple more players the previous year).
What was also nice was some of the people looking at C&C and also having participated in some of the D&D Next playtests. They liked the direction that the new D&D was going but were more aware of what was going on with various OSR efforts. They also liked what they saw with C&C. Who knows, if D&D Next isn't quite the thing for them, maybe a couple of them will look towards C&C or even other games within the OSR.
As for the game itself -- it was a success again this year. My session ran a tad longer than anticipated but no one seemed to mind. We also didn't do all of it. I modified the beginning and allowed the players to do some investigating to find out more about where they needed to go and provided some interesting role playing opportunities. I had the encounter with the bandits and did the whole Halfling village arc with the Hanna's Grace objectives. Since I kept the pre-gens as-is (4th level when the adventure actually called for characters of 1st or 2nd level), I scaled up the adventure by increasing the number of opponents and padding the hitpoints a bit more. Since the final encounter consisted of an Ogre, I decided to have some fun and added a second one -- the Ogre's mate. It was a brutally satisfying combat. No characters died this session, though about half of them lost 2/3's of their hitpoints with the Rogue and Cleric almost perishing during the final battle.