Crudely Drawn Swords - where to start?
Wondering which Crudely Drawn Swords episode to start with? On their Twitter account they suggest that you start with season two. That’s where I started. After numerous exclamations of, “What happens on the wall stays on the wall,” I eventually decided to go back and listen to season one in a quest for more background knowledge.
I discovered that season one contained a very small amount of knowledge that season two built on. I didn’t mind listening to season one (there are some very amusing bits) but I would happily have read this article instead, which is why I have written it.
There are three sections below. Each one reveals more than the one before.
Types of play by episode - few, if any, real spoilers
Episodes 1 & 2 : One fight per episode. Each fight takes up a lot of its episode. The players are learning the mechanics of combat. The fights felt drawn out to me.
Episodes 3 & 4: Both episodes contain a lot of discussion. I don’t think the players are comfortable with pushing the story on at the start. It feels like they are trying to make sure they don’t mess up (very different from the brash approach in season two) and I think they might also be striving for consensus. Towards the end of episode 4, I started to notice the flavour of character interactions I was familiar with from season 2.
At this point I started paying more attention.
Episodes 5 & 6: One fight per episode. Each fight takes up a lot of its episode. Slicker than the first two fights. Starting to see some show-boating by characters and rivalry for coolness.
From now on, I think that entities and events that are referred to in season 2 appear more frequently.
Episode 7: Horror is mixed in with the comedy in this journey episode. My favourite episode of the season.
Episodes 8 to 12: Bloody, small unit combat with party members as unit leaders. Despite the ever present humour I found it a bit harrowing.
Season one context - information mostly from episode one
Caris and Sudek are neighbouring countries. Until recently they shared a common religion. The church of the Seven Sisters is the principal religious institution in the region, but an ice cult has swept up the citizens of Sudek. The religious revolution has triggered political tension. Both Sudek and Caris have mobilised armies.
In this fraught situation, the church of the Seven Sisters has sent one of its knights, Percival Cleft, into Sudek. His mission is to retrieve an artefact that may be of great importance.
Season one events - proper spoilers
Episode 1: The party retrieve the sword of the long dead general Aylana Sarista from her tomb beneath a church of the Seven Sisters. Tristan the bard has a vision of general Sarista fighting, and being overwhelmed by, a horde of half human creatures. (Tentacles are mentioned.)
Episodes 2 - 4: The party discover a Sudek army led by ice priests making its way to the border crossing that the party came from. The army seems to contain a company of mercenaries called the Sunder. The party sneak past the army and get back to the walled-border with Caris.
Episodes 5 & 6: Percy wields Aylana Sarista’s sword and finds that it is imbued with ice magic. The party finds that the small Sudek garrison at the border are no fans of the ice cult. They say that the ice cult has ways of forcing people to convert to their cause. The two groups agree to defend the wall while they wait for reinforcements from Caris.
Episode 7: Enigma the sneaky and Bambari the adolescent wizard go for reinforcements. They encounter a murderous and powerful fae called Ambiforax who they escape but do not defeat. Ambiforax is strengthened by blood spilt on the ground.
Episodes 8 - 12: Percy and Tristan each lead a small unit in defense of the wall. Their leadership styles are very different. Of particular note are Tristan’s macabre psychological warfare tactics. Percy uses the power of the sword to drop a big chunk of mountain on the Sudek army. After surprisingly few casualties among the defenders, they are relieved by a significant force brought by Enigma and Bambari.
Edit: One of the casualties is a soldier called Boots. In their brief acquaintance as comrades-in-arms, Tristan develops amorous feelings for Boots and is particularly affected by her death.
Edit: I split Episodes 2-6 in this section into 2-4 + 5&6 in case anyone wants to start at episode 5. I also added bigger gaps between episode notes in case that helps anyone to stop reading and start listening part way through.