skaldicpoet9, I had a similar weird problem with sound, maybe this may be of help.
I was running the game on Mandriva Power Pack 2008, and my game also always started with no sound.
The way I got round it, seemed to be a problem with KDE hogging the sound system too long before releasing it back to the system.
If I left my computer idle for a long time, after startup, the game would usually start with sound. Looking in KDE`s control centre, I found an option to change the amount of time that KDE waited before releasing the sound. I dropped this time back considerably, and found that most times, Eschalon would then start with sound working, although it still appears best to wait a minute or two after Linux loaded, to guarantee this.
Hope this helps, I don`t know whether this was peculiar to a particular release of KDE, or a more general problem, but this cured it for me.