|Art by Jez Gordon|
In brief, it was a large (7 members) and eclectic party, with two gnome spellcasters, a human cleric, a dragonborn fighter, a human fighter, a halfling thief, and a aquatic elf bard. They were drawn into the adventure by the promise of reward and the desire to save kidnapped children after a pirate assault on the coastal town of Raedel.
While overall, I intended to play the pirate's and their layer for a degree of horror, the broadly played miserliness and cowardice of Raedel's town fathers probably started things off on a humorous tone, as did the Rabelaisian portrayal of the alcoholic sea dog, Saltus Crimm, who took care of the sailing in the PC's borrowed pursuit ship.
|Pretty much what Saltus Crimm looked like|
Some of the player's were inclined to sympathy with the pirates, after hearing the legends regarding Ylantha and meeting the townsfolk. I had expected either a murderhobo indifference to morality but keen interest in treasure or a heroic desire to save innocents (or a mixture of the two) to motivate, but hadn't counted on the PC's possibly wanting to reach a settlement with the pirates. Of course, this sympathy didn't stop them from slaughtering pirates at every opportunity, so I don't know if an alliance was ever a real concern.
The crowd coming from mostly a non-D&D background had at least one interesting effect. There was no real dungeoncrawling-style investigation motivated by greed. They wisely avoided places where the danger to reward ratio seemed too high, but thorough searching for hidden treasure wasn't typically on their minds. I probably should have dangled some relatively easy to find items in front of them to condition them to look rather than assuming seeking out material reward would be a goal.
Something I noticed in my regular 5e game was well on display here: the 5e blaster cantrips make magic-using classes pretty tough in ranged combat. An encounter where the ranges were a hindrance to both the pirates and the fighters with light crossbows was like a shooting gallery for the warlock with an eldritch bolt. The large size of the party meant the opponents were never really able to concentrate their fire on the wizards, either. If I run the adventure again (or complete it with that crew), I thing a few more pirate spellcasters are in order to make it a more even fight.
Overall, I think the group enjoyed it and I know I did. It was both a fun session and a good test-drive of the scenario.