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Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel #011 Dark Squad Glad-Handing Tour.


Dark Squad


So, hello again- this is yet another of my confounded story hour write ups, it’s lockdown and the tabletop game is verboten, and so it has come to this- back to Fantasy Grounds all smiles and apologies, does anyone want to play D&D?

And there are always takers, believe me- or better still go there and find out for yourself, that said these three schmoes are known to me…

So, here we go again (shrugs shoulders resignedly).




Cheers goonalan
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PCs in Game.

Scenario #1 The Sunless Citadel.
Sessions 1-11
Adventuring Party: Dark Squad.

Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue (Criminal- Smuggler).
Adventuring Party:
Dark Squad.

Ramshambo escaped a life of terror and servitude when he was bought out of slavery by the infamous dwarven pirate captain Ignatias Rockbeard. Ram, as he is sometimes known, served aboard a variety of vessels for the good captain. First gaining his sea legs and then, after years at the mast, gaining a place amongst Rockbeard’s select crew. Time’s were good, but also bloody and a more than a little terrifying, being a pirate isn’t all shits and giggles as it transpires. Which may have been the reason for Ram’s decision to quit the sea. So, with the blessing of captain Rockbeard, and after promising that he would pay the dwarf back for buying/saving his life, Ram made landfall in Neverwinter. Rockbeard provided him with the name of a friendly face in the city, as it happens- a dwarf called Gundren Rockseeker…

Adventure: The Sunless Citadel.
Session #04 Level 2 The Kobolds are befriended (sorta) and the Goblins are taking a kicking, the Dark Squad's Sunless Citadel adventure is underway- big time.
Session #07 Level 3 The Goblins- above and below, are mostly dead, certainly Durn & Grenl, the Dark Squad have beat their way through to the Twilight Grove, next stop- the climax.

Vincenzo Delvino (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid (Anthropologist).
Adventuring Party:
Dark Squad.

Vincenzo, appears to be a human, and yet if you look real close there’s undoubtedly something animalistic about his form and features. In truth the young would-be explorer is struggling with his identity, and to find a place, a path, or a role for himself in the world. Vince, or else, Vinnie, is devoted to preserving the land, and to ensuring that the ‘civilised’ world- with its strife’s and wars does not despoil the simple beauty that exists all around us. Vinnie has travelled far and wide, mostly working on the great caravan trains for, or with, a variety of merchants- heading north, returning south, only to turn tail and make north again. He has during his journeys seen, heard and tasted enough to know that standing on the edge of the action is not enough. His last job took him to Neverwinter, and eventually into the employ of a dwarf called Gundren Rockseeker…

Adventure: The Sunless Citadel.
Session #04 Level 2 The Kobolds are befriended (sorta) and the Goblins are taking a kicking, the Dark Squad's Sunless Citadel adventure is underway- big time.
Session #07 Level 3 The Goblins- above and below, are mostly dead, certainly Durn & Grenl, the Dark Squad have beat their way through to the Twilight Grove, next stop- the climax.

And the new guy-

New Tricks or "Newt" (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock (Entertainer).
Adventuring Party:
Dark Squad.

Always having a way with words, and preferring to perform for his meals rather than work for them Newt easily found his way into the life of an entertainer.

He has travelled throughout the Sword Coast (or so he would tell you), seen everything and knows everyone.

The acts that came easier to Newt tended toward the more magical, illusions, card tricks, simple attention displacement. However audiences easily bore of such puffery, ever eager to keep their attention Newt was sought out a tired old performer, deep in his cups. After much cajoling this bard taught Newt some magic words for a trick which have never worked for him.

They worked for Newt! - after he finished uttering them during his first performance on stage in the Nags Head Tavern - poof - he disappeared in to a fiery portal , transported into a realm of flame. The only distinguishing feature was a huge, burning, unblinking eye.



Adventure: The Sunless Citadel.
Session #04 Level 2 Newt joins the Dark Squad, he's in the Sunless Citadel to recover a magical apple- for profit.
Session #07 Level 3 The Goblins- above and below, are mostly dead, certainly Durn & Grenl, the Dark Squad have beat their way through to the Twilight Grove, next stop- the climax.

And the other new guy (who's not a new guy)-

Buggles (played by Stu) Male Wood Elf Fighter/Rogue (Outlander).
Adventuring Party:
Dark Squad.

I hail originally from a small village in the Neverwinter Wood. My parents were crafters and musicians, and we would regularly journey from the village to Luskan to sell our wares. When I was a child, on one such trip, our caravan was attacked by trolls. My people fought valiantly, but were outnumbered, and it wasn't going well. While the fighting raged, my mother bade me to run off into the woods and hide, and she would find me later. I ran and ran, the trolls chased me for hours. Finally, I collapsed and fell asleep in the moss under an ancient tree. When I awoke, there was no sign of the trolls, but I was freezing and hungry, and I had no supplies aside from my flute, which my father has crafted for me.

It was getting dark and I had no idea which way I had come from, so I collected some wood and managed to get a small fire going, played my flute, then fell asleep again hoping my parents would find me.

When I awoke in the morning, I found a basket with fruits and fresh bread laid on the moss nearby, which I hungrily ate. Whilst I ate and wondered where it had come from, a lady appeared to me out of the tree. She was a Dryad called Mother Willow, and she saved my life and looked after me for the next few years, along with her friends – Grayam the Gruff and the Sprites, Flit and Wit.

Mother Willow told me my parents has been killed by the trolls, but when I had my strength back I ventured back to the road to see for myself. Sure enough, the caravans were all smashed and looted, and there were still trolls there prowling about and searching the last of the supplies, so I crept back to the grove.

I was free to come and go as I pleased, and I went back to our village a few times afterwards, but it wasn’t the same without my family and their friends there. They were amazed to see me alive, and listened to my tale of what happened, but I never told them about Mother Willow and my new friends. After a few days, I left again and went back to the grove, but I visited from time to time afterwards.

As I got older, I ranged far and wide around the wood, scouting the terrain, learning the ways of the forest, and even slaying some foul beasts. I had learned the two weapon fighting technique favored by my father, and my trusty bow. There seemed to be a growing sickness in the forest - wolves bears attacking the villagers, swarms of biting insects, and Mother Willow and the others were very concerned about it. They could feel a disturbance in the Feywild which was affecting the forest.

Then, a month or so ago a ranger I’d had spoken to once or twice, a bit of a wild man called Karakas, mentioned two things - the Sunless Citadel, I knew where this was and... the Outcast.

That was the name my village gave to Belak the Druid, only I didn't make the connection until now.

So, I decided to set out alone and went to the Sunless Citadel to see what could be done. I crept most of the way through the caverns, and saw the bodies of many slain goblins and then below - into the Twilight Grove... I realised mighty heroes were just ahead of me, perhaps on the same path...

~ The Adventures of Buggles ~

Adventure: The Sunless Citadel.
Session #06 Level Ftr 1/Rog 1 Buggles joins the Dark Squad, he's in the Sunless Citadel to find and kill the Outcast, he's after revenge.
Session #07 Level Ftr 1/Rog 2 The Goblins- above and below, are mostly dead, certainly Durn & Grenl, the Dark Squad have beat their way through to the Twilight Grove, next stop- the climax.

PC turned NPC-

Garumn (no longer played by Stu) Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin (Guild Artisan- Jeweller).
Adventuring Party:
Dark Squad.

Garumn is a peaceable and convivial young dwarf (yeah, you read that right) with a massive greatsword (that’s better). He worked with his father at the forge, then eventually went his own way and trained and was employed as a jeweller, a gem cutter. His work held him in thrall for a time- the best part of a decade, then however Moradin came calling. Hard years of intense training and he was finally, at last- with a glad heart, ready to be unleashed on the world to do right, and right wrongs. The wanderlust bug had also bit him. Garumn has, over the last half-a-dozen-or-so years, worked his way down the Sword Coast to the balmy shores of Neverwinter, and there found employment working for the Rockseeker Mining Consortium. At some point during his employ the affable dwarf manged to worm his way into the thoughts of Gundren Rockseeker, the co-owner of the concern. So, when Gundren contacted him to set up a meeting, well… you’ll see.

Stu wrote-

"Me roots are in the FrostPeak Mountains but when me da got wind of what was going on down south back when Clan Battlehammer was besieged by Obould and his orc hoard, he joined a force sent south to help out. He fought against the orcs in that war, and settled in Mithral Hall afterwards, joining Clan Battlehammer. I'm named for the Treaty of Garumn's Gorge, signed by Bruenor Battlehammer himself, which ended the war, more or less. Me da always taught me there are better ways than fighting, but that sometimes its the only way. Me da was a blacksmith when he wasn't fighting and I was always hanging around the forges as a lad. Smithing came easy as a dwarf, but soon the gemstones caught me eye. Not for their value, but for their beauty, so I learned that too and now I'm as as good a gem-cutter and setter as anyone around. Soon after I joined the temple but me spell casting wasn't as strong as me sword arm, so instead of becoming a cleric I became a paladin of moradin. Me Da and Ma still live at Mithral Hall, but adventure called me and Moradin seems to approve of me life on the road. I've traveled a bit - over to Mirabar, Adbarr and even to Silvery Moon once. I like meeting different folks and seeing what they been doing with steel and gems. Some of me friends are orcs, which me Da always laughs about cos he spent half his life fighting em, but he was as glad as anyone when Bruenor signed the Treaty, so glad that he named me after it."

Adventure: The Sunless Citadel.
Session #04 Level 2 & alas Stu can no-longer play on a Tuesday- Garumn becomes an NPC.
Session #07 Level 3
The Goblins- above and below, are mostly dead, certainly Durn & Grenl, the Dark Squad have beat their way through to the Twilight Grove, next stop- the climax.
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Dark Squad

Scenario #1: The Sunless Citadel.

#000 Who? What? Why? Where? How? But mostly why?

#001a Flawless.
#001b In the Beginning.
#002a Snakebite.
#002b Ramshambo the Silent speaks.
#002c Meet the Kobolds.
#003 Dungeons & bloody hell... a Dragon!
#004 Kobolds vs Goblins vs Dark Squad.
#005 Durn Um Batty Whim-Wham!
#006 Monsieur Buggelz.
#007 New 'Dangerous' Tricks.
#008 Dark Squad versus The Outcast AKA Lockdown Combat.
#009 Apres le Outcast: Cherchez le big Dragon-feller.
#010 Ashardalon.
#011 Dark Squad Glad-Handing Tour.

This is, simply put, a list of all of the enemies that have been slaughtered by the Dark Squad, nuff said.

Adventure: The Sunless Citadel.
Sessions: 1-10 plus 11 for the after show party.

CR 0 (10 XP each)

Goblin, Commoner x 16

CR 1/8 (25 XP each)

Kobold x 8
Rat, Giant x 12 (including Rip & Fang)
Twig Blight x 25

CR 1/4 (50 XP each)

Frog, Giant x 1 (Kulket)
Goblin x 34
Rat, Diseased x 1 (Guthash)
Skeleton x 12 (not including Gwen)

CR 1/2 (100 XP each)

Goblin, Witch Doctor x 1 (Grenl)
Hobgoblin x 4
Mephit, Ice x 1
Shadow x 1

CR 1 (200 XP each)

Bugbear x 2 (including Ballsack)
Gulthias Tree, The x 1
Hobgoblin, Boss x 1 (Durn)
Kobold, Queen x 1 (Yusdrayl)

CR 2 (450 XP each)

Dragon, White- Wyrmling x 1 (Calcryx/Cornflakes)
Druid, Evil x 1 (The Outcast)

Intermission- Downtime in Neverwinter.

To follow.

Scenario #2: The Forge of Fury.

To follow.

This is, simply put, a list of all of the enemies that have been slaughtered by the Dark Squad, nuff said.

Adventures: The Sunless Citadel & The Forge of Fury.
Sessions: 1-11

CR 0 (10 XP each)

Goblin, Commoner x 16

CR 1/8 (25 XP each)

Kobold x 8
Rat, Giant x 12 (including Rip & Fang)
Twig Blight x 25

CR 1/4 (50 XP each)

Frog, Giant x 1 (Kulket)
Goblin x 34
Rat, Diseased x 1 (Guthash)
Skeleton x 12 (not including Gwen)

CR 1/2 (100 XP each)

Goblin, Witch Doctor x 1 (Grenl)
Hobgoblin x 4
Mephit, Ice x 1
Shadow x 1

CR 1 (200 XP each)

Bugbear x 2 (including Ballsack)
Gulthias Tree, The x 1
Hobgoblin, Boss x 1 (Durn)
Kobold, Queen x 1 (Yusdrayl)

CR 2 (450 XP each)

Dragon, White- Wyrmling x 1 (Calcryx/Cornflakes)
Druid, Evil x 1 (The Outcast)
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Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #000 Who? What? Why? Where? How? But mostly why?

So, here we go again, or else some more.

The Scenario.

I wanted to play the Sunless Citadel again, mainly because I remember enjoying it once or twice through, back in 2000 when it first came out, and 5e (to me) feels a lot like 3e, only without the excess baggage. Also I managed to TPK some poor saps right-royally back then, and the mood I’m in… well, a bit of a TPK would ease a few aches. Regardless, I’m calling the shots, this isn’t a democracy- there are no choices, so we’re playing it.

Oh, and this game is ongoing, so if this story hour comes to an abrupt end, well- I must have done bad thing, forgive me.

The Name.

I referred to the PCs in a random e-mail as the Dark Squad- the name stuck (maybe, so far). I was simply referencing the fact that all of the PCs (all three of ‘em) are blessed with darkvision, and thus in this game I would not have to suffer the interminable ‘do we keep the lights on’ debate. A sometimes heated chat beloved (it seems) of adventuring groups everywhere- “put the torch out I can’t sneak in these conditions”, swiftly countered by, “I’m a human- it’s dark, I can’t see in these conditions.” This conversation happens a lot in my games, and probably yours too.

The PCs and the Players.

So, the Dark Squad (for now), are-

Garumn (played by Stu) Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 1

Garumn is a peaceable and convivial young dwarf (yeah, you read that right) with a massive greatsword (that’s better). He worked with his father at the forge, then eventually went his own way and trained and was employed as a jeweller, a gem cutter. His work held him in thrall for a time- the best part of a decade, then however Moradin came calling. Hard years of intense training and he was finally, at last- with a glad heart, ready to be unleashed on the world to do right, and right wrongs. The wanderlust bug had also bit him. Garumn has, over the last half-a-dozen-or-so years, worked his way down the Sword Coast to the balmy shores of Neverwinter, and there found employment working for the Rockseeker Mining Consortium. At some point during his employ the affable dwarf manged to worm his way into the thoughts of Gundren Rockseeker, the co-owner of the concern. So, when Gundren contacted him to set up a meeting, well… you’ll see.

Stu, playing Garumn, is an equally peaceable and convivial fellow, although at approx. 6’3” likely not a dwarf. He does something in IT, I think it involves turning devices off and then on again.

Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1

Ramshambo escaped a life of terror and servitude when he was bought out of slavery by the infamous dwarven pirate captain Ignatias Rockbeard. Ram, as he is sometimes known, served aboard a variety of vessels for the good captain. First gaining his sea legs and then, after years at the mast, gaining a place amongst Rockbeard’s select crew. Time’s were good, but also bloody and a more than a little terrifying, being a pirate isn’t all shits and giggles as it transpires. Which may have been the reason for Ram’s decision to quit the sea. So, with the blessing of captain Rockbeard, and after promising that he would pay the dwarf back for buying/saving his life, Ram made landfall in Neverwinter. Rockbeard provided him with the name of a friendly face in the city, as it happens- a dwarf called Gundren Rockseeker…

Kev, playing Ramshambo, is my younger brother, alas there the similarity ends- a fact that has haunted him (no doubt) all of his life. He’s a clever bastard with a good job, although he has to wear a suit and say ‘yes’ a lot to the man- so, sucks to be him.

Love ya, bro.

Vincenzo Delvino (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 1

Vincenzo, appears to be a human, and yet if you look real close there’s undoubtedly something animalistic about his form and features. In truth the young would-be explorer is struggling with his identity, and to find a place, a path, or a role for himself in the world. Vince, or else, Vinnie, is devoted to preserving the land, and to ensuring that the ‘civilised’ world- with its strife’s and wars does not despoil the simple beauty that exists all around us. Vinnie has travelled far and wide, mostly working on the great caravan trains for, or with, a variety of merchants- heading north, returning south, only to turn tail and make north again. He has during his journeys seen, heard and tasted enough to know that standing on the edge of the action is not enough. His last job took him to Neverwinter, and eventually into the employ of a dwarf called Gundren Rockseeker…

Haggis, who plays Vincenzo, works in the same grey bar hotel as I do, he’s the guy there I can talk to about D&D, which still feels like a secret. I’m 52, I know the sport is semi-cool these days, but there are still people close to me that I have never told that I am a member of this strange gang. Odd, when you think about it.. But, back to Haggis- or rather back to me, forgive me but I only know Haggis’ story in conjunction with my own. Many moons ago, as Haggis sometimes reminds me, I used to be one of his tutors- is it really 20 years ago? Actually, now that I think about it, I believe that he said (often, probably) that I was the best tutor that he had ever had. He, of course, has no right of reply to this last statement, didn’t back then- doesn’t now, ah- the simple joys of the educator.

Unless he joins ENWorld, and makes his thoughts known in this forum, of course…

But remember James, I’m the DM…

Haggis was one of the cool kids in my class, clever- I always appreciate that, and with a mouth on him- so, better still. But, best of all, he was hardly ever there. Back then for a young Haggis, I surmise, there were drinks to be drunk, flavoured cigarettes to be smoked, and young ladies to be mooned over- all these prospects seemingly readily available elsewhere. Given the choice I would have skipped my classes too.

Are You Experienced?

It took just ten days from the first e-mail invitation sent- ‘do you wanna play D&D?’ for the game to get going, these three guys are pros.

Kev has played D&D for years, although not for the last decade- the last campaign/game he was in was back in 3e, and he’s never encountered Fantasy Grounds before.

Stu has played D&D four times for each new edition of the game since AD&D, when AD&D was out he didn’t do anything else- he played it morning, noon and night. I spent half-a-lifetime once (or twice) drinking with him in bars (back when I used to drink). We spent a lot of time in a bar on a boat, actually a barge, the floor and stairs were a little cantered, at an angle- people would often stumble down them. Stu would remark, every time this happened- “failed his/her Dex save.” D&D has bled into his life, this is just one example of the myriad D&D-isms that dot his language.

Haggis is the real pro, although his story is less well known to me- he’s played D&D since way back then, and every edition since he started (if you get me)- and a bunch of other RPGs, and he DMs, and has a regular game elsewhere, and- get this, he knows his way around Fantasy Grounds. Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for the Mrs, well… let’s just say Haggis is a keeper.

He’s also a young person, maybe in his mid 30’s- he probably listens to the Spice Girls, and all the other new music that the kids of today are into.

The Game.

So, Fantasy Grounds, D&D 5e- one session/week, Tuesday night- since you asked; so settle in- get a drink, light a cig, Oh, heads up this story hour may actually have a little bit more in the way of story.

Not much you understand, these posts are all once through with the (electronic) pen and then once more with the sword to check for obvious spelling mistakes- then post, there’s no literature to be found here.

Plaster a smile on, for it begins…
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Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #001a Flawless.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Garumn (played by Stu) Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 1
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 1

“Divil!” The old farmer screamed in Garumn’s face once more, and then staggered back flailing for an edge, any surface to grab hold of to save himself- to keep him on his feet. He failed and sat down hard on the spit and sawdust barroom floor, a moment later he clutched his head and started to weep.

“Eat zis.” Vincenzo offered, the jaundiced human-looking merchant, offered the fallen farmer a hunk of crusty bread. “Eat it! It may make you less dronk”, he stated loudly, and then leaning close to Ramshambo whispered- “quelle merde, what are we doing ‘ere my frend in zis… zis, ow you say it- sheet owle?”

The half-elf shrugged, kept his counsel, and quietly continued to sip at the bad ale before him. The rogue eventually looked up and over to Garumn, the dwarf’s eyes were screwed tight- he’d seen that before, the paladin was trying to sense the presence of creatures of the taint- devils and demons, the undead- all manner of fiends were revealed to Garumn’s inner-sight.

A moment later the dwarf blinked open his eyes and shook his head at his two companions- there was no corruption here. Garumn peered down at the tear-stained farmer-still scrabbling on the floor of the inn. An old man- for a human, perhaps- or else the fellow had had a very hard life. Vincenzo meantime kept up a steady one-way badinage, appraising Ramshambo moment by moment of his thoughts regarding their present situation. The rogue patiently listened to his exasperated companion and nodded along conspiratorially.

Garumn, at last, made his decision, lurched up from the bench and his beer, and then with the help of Bertram- owner of the Ol’ Boar, lifted the old farmer back onto his still unsteady feet. “His name’s Coley, Old Man Coley we calls ‘im, on account of… well, he’s old.” Bert added with a shrug.

“What do you want, old man?” Garumn asked, when the farmer was better situated- the reply came in gasps, through sobs and edged with strained whispers, and thirty seconds later even Vincenzo had stopped talking to listen Old Man Coley’s words, nay pleas.

“Princess Lucky- she’s the last of ‘em, the last of my beauties- every night the divil comes to my farm and lays claim to another of my prize ladies, my milkers- my moo-cows.” The farmer stutters to a halt again, but Garumn’s hand on his forearm urges him on.
“I calls ‘im the scratchy bastard- he tears my girls to shreds- six foot high he is, and with ‘ands and feet like claws- great… great… scythes! He cuts ‘em good, tears them up, tears them… to pieces. It’s a divil I tell you, a DIVIL!”

Two hours later, on the Coley farm, and with the last light of day hesitating between a smudge and a memory, the trio of adventurers harrumph to themselves and continue their watch- arranged in their hiding places, or else not- waiting for the ‘divil’, the so-called scratchy bastard to arrive.

In a small fenced paddock stands the doe-eyed Princess Lucky, Old Man Coley’s only remaining cow- every now and then she lows gently. In the byre close by Vincenzo sits and waits, hidden in the hay- the druid had previously- before their watch started, confirmed to his companions, somewhat to their dismay, the veracity of Old Man Coley’s claim.

“It iz not a divil, rather a de-mon… most likely a wood de-mon.” The information had met with blank looks from Garumn and Ramshambo- although the rogue had in fact to try really hard to maintain his nonchalance. It really was a demon, the farmer hadn’t lied- the half-elf suddenly had doubts, he was new to this- fighting demons. He wasn’t sure he’d signed up for it.

The druid had searched the Coley farm thoroughly on their arrival here, and soon after located… well, a clutch of what looked to his friends to be broken twigs. He’d then spent the next thirty minutes doggedly at his task- mostly sniffling and snuffling around the dirty and dishevelled place. Nodding along to some inner voice, before finally delivering his conclusion.

“A de-mon, I ‘ave no doubt.” The druid stated with a shrug, accompanied by a nervous grin.
“We watch and we wait.” With which, Garumn had brought the conversation to a close.

Ramshambo shivered a little, peering through the cracked door of the farmhouse, the rogue had found the best hiding place to be had. While his comrades were otherwise engaged, he had silently gained access to the sleeping farmer’s cottage, and well… made himself at home. Although, in truth, the old farmer had nothing worth taking. So poor were Ram’s surroundings that once or twice it had crossed his mind to perhaps leave a few coppers in plain sight somewhere for the miserable old fellow to find. Inventory taken the half-elf went back to his watch- a demon, he silently mouthed- this was bound to get interesting.

Garumn stood pretty much in the centre of the farmyard, the dwarf had taken an entirely different approach in his preparation for the scratchy bastard’s arrival. The paladin, it could be said, was not-hiding in plain sight. The hefty dwarf therefore described small circles- shuffling around on the spot- the beam of a lighthouse- his eyes, searching out the enemy. The scratchy bastard was going back to hell tonight he swore to Moradin, he was certain.

The first to sense the demon’s approach was Vincenzo, the druid had the foul beast’s scent- and very suddenly it was close, and yet he could see nothing from his present position. His sight blurred or blocked by the hay he was concealed in, the fence posts and railings, the tree stumps and sward… he was too low to the ground, too well concealed- and yet to move now would give away his position, and then what?

The first to see the enemy then was Garumn, the paladin stifled a yawn as over in the byre the druid wrestled with doubt and inaction. Then suddenly stepping out from behind a fence post, and directly before the holy dwarven warrior was a humanoid-shaped creature. Constructed around a woody central shaft, and with four twiggy, and most likely scratchy, limbs- in the usual places. Inscribed at the top of its woody core a face- of sorts, with a leering visage. The wood demon had arrived.

Old Man Coleys Farm.jpg

Alas the demon’s appearance would have been a little more frightening, although perhaps not for Garumn- for others, if the fiend had been a little, well… taller, or just… more substantial. On tiptoes, the wood demon measured a little under three feet. It looked, to the dwarf, like a strong breeze would blow the thing away. Garumn’s first thought was instantly followed by his second- and a moment later and with a swish of his greatsword the creature was gone. The grinning paladin watched the shattered wood demon disintegrate, or at least assume its dormant form- kindling, and then half-turned to declare victory to his friends and was caught in the blinding flash of light that followed.

Vincenzo had had enough of prevaricating, the druid rose to a standing position and unleashed a sudden glorious burst of nature’s fuel- sunlight, the blinding light scythed through the dark to engulf and illuminate a small portion of the farm. Then faded as suddenly as it had appeared, but in its going left its glowing trace on the creature now racing towards the druid. “Twig blight”, Vincenzo whispered, and then louder for his friends to hear- seeing now Garumn shielding his eyes, and then fast approaching. Then spotting the door of the farmhouse opening and closing, seemingly unaided, the druid failing to sight Ram swiftly and stealthily creeping towards the newly revealed enemy.

However, before the rogue could launch his silent attack the paladin barrelled in, reaching to his belt Garumn grabbed out a hand axe and in one smooth motion let it fly, a fraction of a second later and the second twig blight lay scattered and shattered. The gurning dwarf exhaled loudly and skidded to a halt, that was two wood demons he had defeated this night- Moradin be praised.

To emphasise this fact the young Dwarf stuck both thumbs into the belt of his mail britches, puffed out his chest- gurned some more, and said- “I am, as I said to you fellers earlier…

And was swiftly shushed into silence.

Ram, the shusher, suddenly dodged right and low- and then scurried behind a water-barrel on the shadow-side of the farmer’s cottage. From the other side of the butt the sound of scratching as the last of the twig blights cautiously peered around it to check that the coast was finally clear. The plant-fiend spied its quarry- a now nervously shuffling Princess Lucky.

The unflustered rogue meantime signalled once for his colleagues’ attention, and then deftly signed the new enemy’s location. Vincenzo and Garumn had already begun to move closer to Ram. The shifter druid suddenly morphing and shaping his sallow human face taking on a new formation- wild, cat-like in-part, but for the silent scream that framed his mouth, accentuated by the sudden growth of snake like fangs. The shifter… shifted and was down low and at the last twig blight in a rush. Alas his lunge was too swift and too sudden, the final enemy changed direction and cut inside Vincenzo’s headlong dive. It raced on- towards Princess Lucky.

The wood demon- as Garumn still believed, clawed the air- silently snarling, and sped towards the quivering and shaking, now loudly mooing and moaning Princess Lucky, and then ten feet short of its target was swept into oblivion by the swing, once again, of the paladin’s deft blade.

“…flawless.” Garumn declared with a grin, as Old Man Coley burst through the door of his cottage wearing nought but his breach-cloth and wielding a half-finished bottle of something fortifying but unforgiving and screaming several things that the young paladin would never be repeating.

And so, begins the adventures of the heroes that would later become known as the Dark Squad: Garumn the Flawless, Ramshambo the Silent, and Vincenzo the Face.

Next time.
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Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #001b In the Beginning.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Garumn (played by Stu) Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 1
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 1

So, this is what actually happened in the session…

It started with an hour long intro- the merits and benefits of being friendly and nice to the device that is called Fantasy Grounds, a paeon to Doug (I think that’s the guy’s name) who put this marvellous piece of software together. Also two of the players- Kev, and Stu are both new to it… so, watch and learn- repeat and… well, it’s an hour that no-one’s getting back- let’s call it draw and move on.

The first instalment is called Flawless because, well… next the players get around to introducing themselves, and their chosen crazy-legs personas- their PCs, to each other. Flawless, because when Stu (playing Garumn) got to talking about the dwarven paladin’s flaws… well, he’d thought it through and then simply written ‘flawless’ in the space provided. Haggis suggested another fine word- ‘hubris’, and so the game was on to find out who would be proven right. The ‘flawless’ statement became a talking point for the remaining two hours of the session, in which… and it pains me to say this- Garumn was… ah what the hell- say it, just… flawless. He said and did the right things, and at the right times- his dice were on fire, and when it came to the farmyard attack- he was three for three with the kills.

The story version of the above encounter can be found here- #001a Flawless.

But let’s go back a bit, back to the story with the… oh, hell- the backstory.

The three PCs all recently in the employ of Gundren Rockseeker are brought together by the aforementioned dwarf (I use him a lot in my games) and paid by their new patron to go to Thundertree. There to meet with Kerowyn Hucrele, an odd-ball member of the famous (merchant hauliers) Hucrele family (mostly of Waterdeep). It seems a pair of Hucrele younglings have gone adventuring in an old ruin close to the village of Thundertree, a place called the Sunless Citadel, and have failed to return from their wanderings.

So, it would be best for all concerned if another bunch of neophyte adventurers were sent to rescue the aforementioned posh/rich kids.

Hang on… no, let’s not start asking questions to soon.

After (and during) Gundren’s speech there are questions, followed by a number of History et al checks. Then, mere seconds later- two days on the road for the fledgling adventurers. The passage to Thundertree is all farmer’s field, this is Neverwinter’s breadbasket, and soon after (scant seconds) we’re at the village. I’m moving fast, although with plenty of scene setting along the way- farmer's carts, summer sun, the dusty road and all looks to be well with the world, but beneath the surface- hang on, isn’t that the start of a Lynch movie?

The Dark Squad arrive late in the day to Thundertree, get rooms in the Old Boar Inn, eat a late supper and then a farmer- Old Man Coley, with enough courage (booze) inside him starts shouting the odds. When that doesn’t work he takes to crying and pleading while the new newly arrived adventurers try to relax and chew their chicken dinner.

At the Coley Farm, the Combat Tutorial takes place, this after Vincenzo has made thirty two consecutive Guidance-enhanced skill checks to discover, well, lots of things (note the first check was a ‘20’). It is however far more relevant to the story that the last check the shifter druid made was a ‘1’. Note all of the PCs checks are made in the Fantasy Grounds dice tower, so the players are unaware of the results. It thus comes to pass that the PCs all think that they are genuinely awaiting the arrival of some six foot tall, scythes for claws, I-kill-cows-for-kicks, wood demon. Thanks to Vinnie, and his ‘1’.

Certainly not a trio of scrawny (four hit points apiece- or thereabouts) Twig Blights.

The fight is over quickly courtesy of the aforementioned flawless dwarf paladin, who doesn’t miss a roll.

Then back to the Old Boar Inn, and their beds- Bert waits up for them to return.

In the morning breakfast and then as arranged by Gundren in advance, an interview with the previously mentioned Kerowyn Hucrele. The stern-looking old lady is clearly upset, and out of her depth- she’s used to people doing what she says, and not working on their own schemes behind her back. The missing Hucrele younglings had planned there adventure well in advance, she believes, and certainly not shared this information with her.

It doesn’t help that the missing pair are the children of much wealthier members of the Hucrele family (from Waterdeep), and that there parents are going to be… well, will they blame Kerowyn? She fears, and suspects, as much.

Don’t worry about me telling you this, the players figured it all out for themselves at the VTT, Garumn was particularly suspicious- he employs his Divine Sense at every turn.

So, the missing adventurers, there were four in the party Kerowyn thinks, are-

1) Talgen Hucrele, a pretty boy warrior- with a slew of fencing instructors but no actual experience in the woolly wilds.
2) Sharwyn Hucrele, a beautiful to behold fair maiden- with a touch of wizardry about her.
3) Sir Bradford, a paladin of Tyr- co-opted to join the younglings for the venture way back in Waterdeep- it seems the young Hucrele’s have been planning this undertaking for a while.
4) Lastly, Karakas- a local guide, Kerowyn knows nothing about this fellow.

The reward for the young Hucrele’s return is substantial, however the younglings and their companions have been gone for 21 days, they left a dashed note before they departed- stating where they were going, and the fact that they would be back in a tenday. So, overdue about covers it.

002 Thundertree.jpg

Note, the above is an old map of Thundertree (brought to life by a very accomplished artist) from a previous game that started in the village- the Old Cow Inn, is now the Old Boar Inn. It was so... accomplished I had to use it in game, the players- naturally, we're very impressed.

Last bit, the PCs have divined much about the history of Thundertree- the explosion of Mount Hotenow, and follow up undead/zombie invasion (about eighty years past) causing the village to be abandoned, only for the place to be revived and resettled maybe thirty summers past by the old druid, Reidoth the Brown (and his friends*). There’s always a little flavour to be had in my games.

The Dark Squad also determine that the Sunless Citadel, some time in the distant past, was home to a bunch of Dragon Cultists.

Small world.

So, a little local colour.

The PCs, after signing contracts- Kerowyn owns the lands hereabouts, she therefore grants the PCs salvage rights, and then after talking through (and making crystal clear) the potential rewards for success in this venture. The trio head out into the village to see if there’s anybody else that has something- anything, to say about this matter, or any other matter of interest.

But that happens next week, I hope to see you there and then.

*Note the story of Reidoth the Brown, who with the help of the Blessed Avengers (actually, it was mostly just the Blessed Avengers) saved Thundertree from a young green dragon accompanied by a bunch of lackey dragon cultists et al, is played out in my main story hour, found here-

We D&D.
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Playa Playa

Garumn's personal journal, entry #1:

Meself an' me new friends, Elf and Snake, helped out a farmer whose prize cow was being attacked by nasty little twigmen. We killed 3 of the blighters, an' he seemed happy with that.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.


Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #002a Snakebite.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Garumn (played by Stu) Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 1
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 1

A dank corridor in the depths of the Sunless Citadel, Ram- ear pressed against the ridged and carved ancient stone of the door- listening to the tumblers in the lock roll and spin, easing- prodding with his picks, absolute silence, as he had earlier demanded- the concentration causing beads of sweat to prickle his brow.

A nudge here, a tickle… almost…

“If you can’t do it Elf, let Snake have a look?” Garumn purred for the second time, and then nodded his head towards Vincenzo, a sudden look of consternation on the druid’s visage.
“That right Snake?” The affable dwarf added, breaking Ram’s concentration once again.
“Snaaaaake! Snaaaaake! Enough is too much”, the druid’s tirade began.
“I am Vincenzo, some call me Vincent, or Vinnie, or Vin- I ‘ave in zer past even answered to Van. It is Garumn not zo difficult name to learn. Zis- snaaaake, zis is unacceptable- rass-ist. Merde, should I call you monsieur dwarf all of ze day long, and per’aps every now and zen- pat you on the ‘ead like a child. Iz zis what you want? Iz it?”

Ram straightened from his work at the lock, stretched his legs and groaned slightly, then took the time to admire the countenances of his two companions- how was this one going to play out?

Garumn said nothing, his look also neutral- although his eyes never left Vincenzo’s face. He’d learned this trick as a young dwarf, leave a healthy pause before you reply- it makes folk think that you have thought about your response, and/or considered their words.

Inside his head the paladin whistled a happy tune, and then took a moment more to think about the bath he was going to have back at the inn, after they had rescued the Hucrele younglings and got out of this dank place. He liked baths, something he was slightly embarrassed by, bathing did not sit well with many of his kin.

The silence continued to stretch until Vincenzo could wait no longer, which of course was the moment that Garumn chose to make his reply.
“I suppose your right, Sn… I mean no harm by it young ‘un- no offense to either of thee. I swear by Moradin. It’s jus…”
“Just what iz zit Garumn?” Vincenzo, peevishly enquired.
“Well… I can’t help but noticing- all of the time, that, well… you pair are not dwarves, and so- Elf, and well, Snake.” Garumn concluded with a shrug.
“A snack is a slithering thing, with itz belly on zer grownd, itz stum-uck in zer dirt- am I zis. Am I? Do you sink zis?”
“No, no- that’s not it all. It’s zer… sorry, it’s the fangs-thing, when your face goes all… creepy, it’s just that you look a lot like a… snake.” Garumn hesitantly replied.
“Do I look like a snack all zer time- Non! Merde, zis world is full of people that look different, ow you zey- CREE-PEE. You do not ‘av to call zem names. It iz wrong, unfrend-lee, it iz rude.”

The silence settled in again, eventually Ram got tired of waiting and bent to his task once more, the lock was possibly the most difficult he had ever encountered, and yet Garumn had insisted that they discover what lay beyond the strangely sculpted door. The stone had been crafted and etched to show an eastern water dragon at sport, most odd. The rogue however stuck to his task, while his now silent companions continued to stand guard, and take turns to glare at each other.

At least for another minute or so…

“If you can’t do it Elf, why not let Druid have a look?” Garumn, affably, offered.
“…petit connard!” Vinne hissed back, but the moment was lost as a tinny sound echoed down the dank passage- Ram straightened, and wearing a grin pushed the strange stone door open, “voila”, the rogue added with a flourish.

The small chamber revealed was bare, save for an odd-looking contraption secured in the far corner- the object a muddle of metal spars and struts supporting a barrel, also made of metal- from which several pipes entered and exited.

After receiving the ‘all clear’ nod from Ram, the adventurers wandered over to inspect the newly revealed object.

“Cooling unit.” Garumn muttered, and then louder- “same as the Thromberg 3000 Double Entry Forge. They ‘ave them in Adbar, although… no idea what good it does ‘ere?”
“What you zay?” Vinnie asked.
“Cooling- liquid enters here, gets cooled in here, and then exits… that-away, simple.” Garumn’s hands danced about the strange contraption as he explained.
“Owz it cooled- zer liquid?”
“Good question, druid. If yer give me a hand, I’ll show you.” Garumn grinned back, a moment later the dwarf and the shifter had, after a few tentative strains, removed the metal bung from the top of the metal barrel.


At which point their problems really started to coalesce, a tiny humanoid figure- maybe only ten inches tall, with sharp features and fluttering wings, soared up and out of the opening. The strange creature seemed to be made of shards of ice- the chill that suddenly swept over the three onlookers confirmed this.

003 Ice Mephit.jpg

“Mephit!” Vinnie yelped with surprise, and then equally rushed added, “do not harm it- I will communicate wiz ze creature.”
Garumn nodded, Ramshambo- his survival instincts suddenly pinging, silently backed out of the small room.
“We comez in peacez.” The druid offered, although in the deep garbled tongue of the primordial language.

The ice mephit fluttered above the strange barrel-device, the creature’s former home- for which read prison, and then answered- “screw you guys I’m outta here”, in its nails down the blackboard high-pitched version of auran, which Vinnie, of course, did not understand. In the same way that the ice mephit did not understand Vinnie’s primordial message.

A second later the creature bathed both the dwarf and the shifter in an icy blast of freezing-cold air, Garumn tottered and groaned, while Vinnie dodged- which made all the difference.

“You dirty ice-hole!” The enraged dwarf snapped and unlimbered his greatsword and in one mighty swing almost shattered the mephit as it attempted to fly free of the chamber. One wing of the now terrified elemental left sheered- it spiralled trying desperately to gain the height it needed to fly over its attackers, and out the door- to freedom. The druid however was much too quick and grabbed the struggling mephit from the air, clasping the creature in his hand- tight, Vinnie snarled- fangs extended, and then lurched in and bit the icy elemental’s head clean off.

Garumn took a step back, juggled his greatsword and then gulped- it would be Vinnie from here on, he’d make a real effort to remember the druid’s name, he swore to the all father, and then watched in disgust as the shifter spat the dead ice mephit’s head out into the dank corridor.
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Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #002b Ramshambo the Silent speaks.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Garumn (played by Stu) Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 1
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 1

“Majesty”, the rogue bowed low before the kobold queen, Yusdrayl- who tittered (or else yapped) quietly, perhaps coquettishly.
“As brave Dragonkeeper Meepo stated, we have been sent from the great dragon above to aid you in your present time of trouble, the dastardly goblins will be made to suffer for their incursion into your magnificent realm.”
“Oh, that’s nice.” The kobold queen replied, her eyes sparkled with delight.

Standing behind the kow-towing rogue, Garumn and Vinnie exchanged glances, and then shrugs.
“Keep yer hand on yer blade, druid.” The dwarf muttered sotto voce.
Vinnie nodded his agreement, and then carried on counting kobolds- there were eleven of the creatures now- before them, behind them- and several more glaring and staring at the unfolding scene from various now-open doorways.

004 Yusdrayl.jpg

The conversation between the charming rogue and the enthralled Yusdrayl trundled on, every now and then yet another kobold wandered into the pillared hall to marvel at the three adventurers, and the scene unfolding.

“Fourteen”, the druid muttered to Garumn.
“Fourteen what?” the dwarf snapped back.
“Koboldz… wait- wait, fifteen- zat’s quite a lot. He’d better know what he iz doing.” Vinnie nodded at Ram, still chirruping at Yusdrayl, mostly in draconic but every now and then the pair switched over to the common tongue.

A few minutes later, and the nervous pair are now standing in the middle of an ever expanding circle of kobolds- over two dozen of the little beasts dodging back and forth. The smaller specimens, the kids, scampering in every now and then to attempt to grasp at Vincenzo’s shirt sleeve, or else to lay a hand on Garumn’s mail.

A game of tig that could end in tears.

At last, Ramshambo sauntered over to his companions, in the background the kobold queen had suddenly burst into frantic action, kicking her cohorts and screeching orders.

“So, the queen- Yusdrayl, thinks we’ve been sent by the great dragon, or something similar- we’ve a list of tasks, apparently the goblins are very naughty buggers down here. They’ve stolen the kobold’s dragon…”, the last word of the sentence is delivered with a half-shrug, half-snigger. “She wants us to get it back, and to rescue a bunch of kobolds that were taken prisoner in the last goblin attack, and kill a bunch of goblins while we’re at it. Oh, and if we kill the chief- well, that’d be a bonus. She’s willing to reward us for our victories- there’s a lot of stuff over on the altar back there, at least three magic scrolls- I think…””
“Why?” Garumn interrupts, “Why should we help the little fiends?”
“Because there are a lot of them, because they know where the Hucrele kids went- which is up against the goblins, so- two birds, one stone.” Ram surmises, “Why not- get paid twice over?”
“Scrollz?” Vinnie asks.
“Yep, I reckon, and some other stuff- oh, and there’s a key she’s going to give us if we get the dragon back.” Ram finishes.
“Did you zee ze scrollz?” Vinnie continues.
“Key to what?” Garumn asks.
Ram shrugs, “she said it was the key to the dragon door, if we get all the jobs done- she reckons, it’ll prove we are the chosen ones.”
“That’s nice”, Garumn growls back, unimpressed.

The three adventurers fall silent for a moment, content themselves to watch kobolds scurry.

“Did you zee ze scrollz?” Vinnie enquires again.
“What are they doing now?” Garumn barks again, the kobolds in the chamber are now rapidly scurrying back and forth, yelping and snarling- tottering around carrying a variety of objects- a large cauldron, bundles of wood, and at least three large squirming sacks.

“Feast. We’re being celebrated.”
“Feast?” Garumn spits- “What the hell do these little buggers eat?”
“Rats. Apparently.”
“Rats?” Garumn splutters.

At which point a trio of kobolds upend a squirming sack bundling free several dozen scurrying fat black rats, then a collective rush of kobolds into the mix to chase the vermin down- tossing the escaping creatures into the large cauldron.

“Ratzzzzzz!” Vinnie echoes, “delish-us…”, the shifter druid’s fangs glisten as they strain and extend,
“it would be zo rude to leave now, when zey ‘ave gone to zo much trouble…”


Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #002c Meet the Kobolds.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Garumn (played by Stu) Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 1
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 1

So, session two, and this is what we got up to…

The Dark Squad spent the first hour of the session as the boys about town, or else about the village of Thundertree- the players are all experienced RPers and so they split up to maximise their chatter time. In short order the trio learn-

1) The area around the Sunless Citadel is known as the Ashen Plain, not because of the devastation caused by the eruption of Mount Hotenow and the ash cloud et al that followed, but because of the depredations of a great dragon despoiling the region centuries earlier, apparently.

2) The Sunless Citadel is home to a tribe of Goblins which, oddly- grow and sell magical apples (poisonous and healing variants). This info courtesy of Reidoth the Brown, the ancient druid that freed Thundertree from the dragon cult all those years ago. Vinnie swears to find out what’s going on with the goblins, and to report back to the ancient and blind druid- he’s given a healing potion for his troubles.

3) Sir Bradford, the paladin of Tyr who accompanied the Hucrele’s possessed a beautiful sword that Rurik, the dwarven smith in Thundertree, would pay money to get a closer look at. Garumn, declares that he will endeavour to fulfil the smith’s desire, should the opportunity arise.

4) Karakas, the human ranger that accompanied the Hucrele’s is a local, often employed by the Thundertree guard, Felosial the commander there would like the ranger back, or else his story told. Ram swears to see this done.

5) A visit to the temple to Tymora generates another gratis potion of healing- Corkie, the gnome priestess has heard about the PCs helping Old Man Coley with his ‘divil’ problem, she’s very grateful.

6) Lastly Bert from the Old Boar remembers over a decade past that his inn was visited by a very strange fellow who he observed several times speaking to a pet frog he carried around with him, the guy also asked a lot of questions about the Sunless Citadel, this fact triggering his recollection of the strange event. Bert thinks the odd fellow’s name also began with a ‘B’.

Therefore, fully loaded with info the Dark Squad gather a little more equipment from the local store and then head off to the Sunless Citadel, which turns out to be at the bottom of a ravine two hours out of Thundertree.

The descent to the citadel is not without its danger, the climb down is easy- then however, while Ram is waiting for Garumn to descend the rogue is attacked by a pair of giant rats, he’s bitten. Garumn duly arrives and slaughters one of the beasts in an instant- Ram kicks the other rat off the ledge with a ‘20’ it hurtles down to its demise.

Then down switchback stairs to a battlement top courtyard, Ram finds the pit trap and the Dark Squad filter around the danger area and into the remains of a tower. The place contains four dead goblins- signs of the young Hucrele’s passing.

Then on into a corridor, halfway down which is a stone door engraved with an eastern water dragon at sport- a Pan Lung like creature.

The action here is played out in session #002a Snakebite, described above. The ice mephit is killed but Garumn is hurt again in the creature’s death burst and left badly wounded- Vinnie has to use his first spell slot- a cure wounds for the dwarf.

Note Garumn had to use most of his lay on hands to heal Ram after the giant rat attack on the ledge.

The ice mephit’s strange barrel prison yields a little treasure.

004 Meepo.jpg

Then on again into a much larger chamber, with a broken cage- a makeshift altar, a firepit, and scrawls on all the walls which read in draconic “HERE THERE BE DRAGONS”. Eventually Meepo the kobold dragonkeeper appears- he was hiding under the altar table having heard the PCs fight the mephit out in the corridor.

Meepo very quickly persuades the PCs not to kill him, mainly by being interesting- the PCs learn that the kobold’s ‘dragon’, who is called Cornflakes, has been stolen by the pesky goblins. The chatter goes on…

More kobolds show up, and make threats briefly, but Meepo sticks up for the PCs, eventually the decision is made to present the Dark Squad to Yusdrayl, the kobold queen. Ram somehow manages to convince Meepo that he and his companions have been sent to the citadel to aid the kobolds.

And thus, it comes to pass, the Dark Squad are escorted to their meeting with Yusdrayl, the aforementioned kobold queen, she instantly takes a shine to Ram.

Two things to note, Ram (played by Kev) has done his fair share of the chatter so far (the roleplay) however in this section he just starts talking and gets the reaction he wants, and so just keeps on jabbering away- saying the right things, majesty this… the great dragon that…

It helps that his dice are on fire.

The action here is played out in session #002b Ramshambo the Silent speaks, see above.

At the end of the session the Dark Squad have already received a reward from the altar- a unidentified as of yet flask of something. They have also been given a list of tasks to accomplish- each of which will earn them a further reward.

They’re also going to be directed to the last known position of the missing Hucrele’s, they’re ticking all of the boxes.

Note, I give out lots of little XP rewards- good roleplay- have a few XP, find the trap- disarm etc. have a little more XP. To compensate for my myriad acts of XP generosity it takes 400 XP to get to level 2 (with similar increases for each additional level). The PCs are at present a few XP short of halfway to Level 2, and they’ve only been in three fights- 1) three twig blights, 2) two giant rats, and 3) the ice mephit.

Note I’ve also cut the numbers of the bad guys in the encounters used so far for the simple reason that there are only three PCs in play- and the module recommends four. I’m going to solve this problem by having Meepo and a kobold guard (an elite kobold warrior- approx. 10 HP) accompany them from hereon in.

So, the encounters are going to be RAW from now on… which I’m looking forward to immensely, let’s see if the PCs feel the same way.

Another excellent session.

More next time.


Playa Playa

Garumn's personal journal, entry #2:

So, found meself off to hunt down stinkin' goblins, at the behest of stinkin' kobolds! Not too sure what Moradin would think of that, or me old Da. Killin' gobbo's is all well and good, but I'm not so sure about helping out some kobbo's in the process. The kobbo's worship a dragon called Ashardalon, I never heard of it but I also never heard of kobbo's worshipping a goodly dragon, so I'm assumin' that the dragon was evil and so are the kobbo's, which gives me a bit of a dilemma. I reckon they are only being nice to us cos we can help clear out the gobbo's, beyond that I'm not so sure.

So, I'm decided to go see the gobbo's an' kill me way through to find out what happened to Sharwin and Talgen, which is how we landed in this mess in the first place. I got a sword to look out for, and me friends Elf and Sna.. I mean Druid got some things to look out for too. Then we've got the matter of rewards from the kobbo's for killin' the gobbo's, which is all fine and good. But where me heart tells me not to go is helping the kobbo's. They had something stole from them - a dragon or summits - and they want it back. Well I'm decided not to be helpin' no evil cult of kobbo's, so we'll see what this stolen creature is and then see what's to be done.

Elf? Druid? What are ye about on this?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.


Playa Playa

To be read in a quasi-french accent, and apologies for the lack of proofreading:

An anthropological study into the culture of Thundertree, my thoughts regarding the nearby Sunless Citadel, and a word or two about my companions.

By Vincenzo Delvino

Firstly a few notes on the inhabitants of Thundertree:

They seem to be friendly, if simple folk. The livelihood of the village seems to be based entirely around agriculture; and they seem to favour food and drink that are heavy in the stomach and makes one want to sleep. They have some interesting linguistic features; speaking in a manner comparable to being struck in the head with an iron skillet, this can make more advanced forms of communication challenging, but I have found it oddly charming. The exception to this is the Hucrele’s, they remind me very much of those from the cities like Waterdeep; I would imagine if they did not possess a truly nauseating amount of coin, they would find it difficult to be accepted by the community as a whole.

The Sunless Citadel has been fascinating so far, seemingly gaining its moniker from some catastrophic event, burying it deep below the Plane of Ashes. Some scarce remains of it protrude from the surface, ancient stone pillars that have unfortunately been vandalised in crude dwarven script; likely by the reported tribe of goblins that have taken to using the citadel as a home. We descended down and it seems there is a large population of rats, they seem to have a stable source of food as they were indeed both plump and juicy; and seemingly unafraid of larger creatures such as ourselves.

We entered the citadel from what would have been the ramparts; some crude traps and locked doors easily avoided by my colleague Mr Shambo. Again I do not think these are part of the original design; and were likely set by the greenskins. Entering the citadel proper the influence of the cult was easy to see, with particular interest paid to a dedication to a being called Ashardalon; whom later revealed is a dragon of some power.

A bit further in, we encountered a strange device (oddly locked away behind a heavy stone door) seemingly using a small, and somewhat mean, ice elemental to cool down water, with drainage and ingress. This may be a relic of some ancient technology; more research is required into this, (it is also worth noting that the elemental creature exploded upon death, giving a chilly reception). A short time afterwards we came across the most exciting lead of this expedition so far.

We met a kobold who could speak the common tongue, (for those unaware; Kobolds are small, canine/reptile hybrids that have the distinct odour of burning hair in an outhouse) he introduced himself as Meepo, and we managed to integrate ourselves in order to meet the queen of this civilisation. They revere the five-headed queen of dragons: Tiamat, and their entire culture seems to revolve around the traditions of the historical cult of the dragon. There seems to be a cultural war between the Kobolds and the Goblins; who have seemingly taken residence in another part of the citadel. The Kobolds have asked for our help in fighting this war; and have offered food and gifts in exchange. We have been treated very well, as champions and guests of honour, provided with the finest foods (reminder: I must ask the queen for the spice blend they used on the roasted rat; the flavours were in perfect harmony).

While Tiamat herself, and the cult of the dragon are both incredibly evil and dangerous; I do not believe these kobolds have anything near the means in order to pursue their grand ambition, although they have said that the goblins have captured a “dragon” with the name “Cornflakes”. This may be a mistranslation, but I am looking forward to liberating whatever noble beast has been mistaken for dragon-kin. We venture further into the citadel soon dear reader, and with excited anticipation I await the meeting of this “outsider” one whom may be using an eldritch, dark version of druidic lore to control this goblin tribe.

Side note; some brief notes on my companions…

Mr Garumn seems to be a mighty warrior, wielding a zweihander with ease and I imagine he will be most invaluable in the inevitable conflict with the goblins. However he seems to have an issue with remembering names and possibly with his object permanence; perhaps he has suffered a serious injury to his head as a child, I will do some further research into a tincture which can help him with this most debilitating condition.

Mr Shambo is a predator of a different kind; much more the lone wolf than the angry bear. He is skilled with both locks and traps, and seems to have caught the amorous eye of the Kobold queen. Now I do not know if a half blood elf and kobold can produce a viable offspring, but it will be most enlightening to find out.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.
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Playa Playa

It seems the once pirate has turned poet-

The Saga Begins

The saga begins - we hope it will be one full of amazement and wonder
But with credit to spend, we start by shopping in the Trees of Thunder

With advice and aide and side-quests from folk of all races
A striking sword, a drunken warrior, an apple of two faces

We tread in the ashen steps of the young cubs’ band
And descend down the rope into the sunless land

Scurrying rats, a swift kick is employed
Descending still further, a pit to avoid

In a secure room, some strange ancient device
Freed from his prison, an angry mephit of ice

An altar to Tiamat, dressed all in green
Jade statues that vanish, whilst Meepo did dream

Champions of Tiamat do please their new queen
Her appreciation shown with delightful cuisine

Now with goblins to kill, a chief’s head to take
But most vital of all, to rescue a drake
The one and only, Cornflake

The Druid – A Haiku

Snake in bear’s clothing
Acid burns his enemies
Druid is calm once more

The Dwarf

There once was a dwarf named Garumn
Who looked a bit like his mum
With a slashing of his great sword
His mighty enemies where floored
So he bent over and flashed them his bum!!

From the pen of Ramshambo

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.


Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #003 Dungeons & bloody hell... a Dragon!

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Garumn (played by Stu) Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 1
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 1

Screw the creative writing- new plan, I’m going to try and keep up with the action in-game with my updates here, so the players have a record (of sorts) of what went on. So, this is session number 3, and it was very mostly all action.

But first up, as I did in-game (and for a very good reason) a reminder of the Dark Squad’s ongoing quests-

Main Quest: Kerowyn Hucrele wants her family members rescuing from the Sunless Citadel- Talgen and Sharwyn, if the pair are gone then bring back their signet rings.

Garumn’s secondary quest: Rurik the blacksmith in Thundertree would like to take a proper look at the longsword carried by Sir Bradford, the paladin of Tyr who accompanied the young Hucrele’s on their quest. Garumn will help out with this if he can.

Ramshambo’s secondary quest: Felosial of the Thundertree Guard has asked for Karakas the ranger to be rescued, the sometimes-drunken fellow also accompanied the young Hucrele’s on their quest. If Karakas is dead bring back proof of his demise so that his story may be told. Ram has said he will do this.

Vincenzo’s secondary quest: Reidoth the Brown, the ancient blind druid, has tasked Vincenzo to investigate the goblins in the Sunless Citadel, it seems the creatures offer up for sale a magical apple or two every year- deadly poison and tremendous healing variants available. Do goblins grow the fruit? If not, who does? Find out all there is to discover.

Then, of course, the Dark Squad met with the kobolds last session, and spoke at length with their queen, Yusdrayl. The kobolds are starting to believe that the Dark Squad are the chosen ones (of Tiamat) who will eventually pass through the dragon door. To prove themselves the PCs must accomplish some, or all, of the following-

Main Quest: Rescue Cornflakes the kobold’s dragon from the clutches of the nasty goblins, bring the dragon back to the tribe. Note the reward for this is the ancient key which opens the dragon door… which the PCs have not seen as of yet (they’ve seen the key, but not the door- but we’re about to fix this).

Secondary quests, a reward for each success to be granted from the collection of items on the dragon altar, which are- three scrolls, and a big feather (most odd?).

1) Rescue the kobolds taken prisoner by the goblins in their last attack on the tribe.

2) Kill ten goblins and bring their heads back to Yusdrayl, although the kobold queen said ten heads, she only held up eight fingers- so, perhaps the kobolds are not great at counting.

3) Kill the goblin chief, bring back proof.

Complete all four tasks and the Dark Squad can have the dragon key and all the items on the altar.

That done, at last, it’s time to get on with the action from the session.

More chatter with Yusdrayl and the kobolds- Garumn just wants to get a few things straight, why are the goblins attacking now? It seems that the goblins have got a new chief- the new incumbent killed the old chief. S/he has also developed a more martial strategy- the goblins are getting uppity.

The collective PC/player yap is the new chief is probably something very big and very nasty.

Chatter done the Dark Squad move out, and accompanied now by Meepo, the tribe’s dragonkeeper (10 HP) and Fraggle (10 HP elite kobold warrior). Fraggle wears a saucepan for a helm, and large serving platter as a breastplate, he’s the toughest SOB kobold in the whole tribe. He’s also as thick as soup, and only speaks and understands draconic.

Off they go… all the way back to the broken tower through which the Dark Squad first entered the Sunless Citadel, it seems Fraggle and Meepo also have their orders. So, Meepo shows the PCs the dragon door- it’s a stone door, carved with a dragon’s head with gaping maw, within which is a very obvious keyhole.

Meepo further explains that the door has never been opened, the kobolds have been awaiting the arrival of the chosen ones (our guys, if they play their cards right). Best guess by Meepo as to what lies beyond the door- the dragon lord (no other information available) and lots of treasure of course.

Ramshambo and/or Vincenzo (I forget which) tells Meepo that when they get the dragon key then he can come with them on their quest beyond the dragon door. Meepo is so excited by the prospect he feints.

At which point the PCs hear shouts and screams- it seems Fraggle was tasked to check out the pit on the battlements, to see if anything has been caught in it- the kobold has therefore opened the pit and is, as of now, being attacked by the giant rat that was formerly trapped within.

The Dark Squad rush (except for Garumn- he ambles) to help- Vince claws and bites the giant rat who takes another chunk out of the tough guy kobold- Fraggle. Eventually Garumn arrives and slaughters the beast, there’s a dead goblin in the newly opened pit.

The PCs however have no time to check it out as a moment later Meepo starts screaming, it seems another giant rat has entered the chamber he’s in and is now biting the dragonkeeper. The Dark Squad rush back the way they came (except for Garumn, he saunters) and to the rescue, Ramshambo skewers and kills the vermin with his rapier.

[2 giant rats 48 XP]

All is well, and now Meepo is beyond convinced that the Dark Squad are the real deal, he therefore confides in Ramshambo, the kobold dragonkeeper knows another secret- there’s a hidden chamber back in the tower room. The kobold leads Ram by the hand and points to the wall, eventually- with more than a little help from Garumn and his dwarven stonecunning, the adventurers locate a secret entrance and the mechanism to open it. The latter is activated by Garumn, who also manages to neatly avoid the trap on the device- the poisoned needle misses his hand by inches and sticks in the end of his hefty boot.

[Get the secret door open 15 XP]

A secret chamber is revealed, an archer’s firing station, partially collapsed with coin and bones aplenty scattered on the floor. Ram ventures in and three skeletons rise from the rubble and attempt to slaughter the adventurers.

005 Rats & Skellies.jpg

It's all kicking off in the Sunless Citadel!

Garumn and Vincenzo combine to sunder the first skeleton, the second and third are taken down by Ramshambo and Garumn respectively. The adventurers suffer several attacks but remarkably no hits. There is cheering.

Silver and gold coins are taken from the secret pocket, as well as a pair of exceptional arrows, Vicenzo thinks they must be magical (later confirmed).

[3 skeletons 150 XP and find the treasure 9 XP]

Job’s done (for the kobolds) time, again, to move on- this time in pursuit of the Hucrele’s and to track down the nasty goblins.

Guided by Meepo and Fraggle the Dark Squad pass through a chamber with lots of tracks (Hucrele’s, goblins and giant rats) and into another room with a fountain (dragon-themed) and another stone door with a… you guessed it, dragon-themed relief.

There are more tracks here- as previously.

The fountain is investigated first- carved into the base in draconic is the text- ‘let there be fire’, which Ram reads and then says aloud in order to translate for his friends, at which point the fountain splutters into life- red liquid pours from the dragon’s mouth and is captured in the basin below it. The PCs, at first, dash for cover but then gradually approach as nothing terrible happens. Vincenzo figures out that the liquid isn’t blood or anything horrible, it looks a lot like an elixir, or a potion. Ram reacts quickly, locates an empty wineskin and manages to suck up enough liquid with it to make a dose. Later (during the next short rest) the Dark Squad determine the liquid is a potion of fire breath.


[Figure out fountain, get magic potion 24XP]

Then to the door, which as it turns out is cold to the touch- Garumn tries to get it open using a skeletal hand- this after Ram makes sense of the text over the door- ‘rebuke the dead, open the way’. Which the dwarf translates as get a member of the undead to open it… or some such.

Obviously, this doesn’t work, nor does just trying to shove it open- the latter triggers a scythe trap and Garumn is hurt badly and has to swig down a healing potion. He’s not happy. Eventually Ram disarms the trap, although he has to do this while balanced on Garumn’s shoulders- the scythe swishes down from a slot in the ceiling.

That done the Dark Squad concentrate their efforts on the door- and get nowhere, eventually the door is left be, they’ll get back to this later.

006 Door & Fountain.jpg

The door's not for opening.

Then on again.

Note during their time in the fountain/door chamber Fraggle cries out at one point- the kobold guard spots something moving down the north passage, straight ahead. By the time the PCs look whatever it was has gone.

Later Fraggle also confesses that he watched the Hucrele’s head off in this direction, the adventuring party, he’s certain- went north. I’m telling you these things because that’s what I did (and said) in the session- I was trying to herd the party to the north (I have my reasons).

So, next chamber and more tracks to check out- Vincenzo is convinced that there are giant rats about around here (still), and that the Hucrele’s definitely went north, but… the goblins came from a door to the west.

Garumn is determined to go after the goblins, or else not to leave a door unchecked that could cause the Dark Squad to be cut off from the exit by their enemies. So, west it is- damn, but I tried.

West and another emptyish chamber- a door to the north, through which the goblin tracks go. Ramshambo finds a trap on the door (a bell, he determines with his ‘20’). He makes the trap safe and then enters the chamber with a ‘1’ on his stealth check- what goes up, must come down- or so it seems.

The door leads into a twenty-foot-long, ten-foot-wide corridor- at the far end a three-foot-high mortared stone wall, from behind which a goblin pops up and spots Ram. There’s a chamber beyond the wall, with a campfire in it.

Oh, but the entire passageway is strewn with caltrops- that’s not good.

The shoot-out begins- Ramshambo with his bow, and Meepo and Fraggle with their slings, no hits- and so Garumn screams ‘Moradin’ a lot and then rushes for the goblin wall. Five feet into the caltrop-strewn corridor and he treads on a… caltrop and… eventually staggers on- only to crush a second caltrop into the bottom of his other foot a moment or so later. The dwarf is unable to move further, stuck out in the open between his friends and the foe.

There’s a second goblin behind the wall- Vincenzo pulls out the big guns (his bestest spell) and flings an ice knife into the first goblin. The icy missile then explodes- killing the goblin in an instant and leaving the second goblin in the chamber suddenly missing a hand- gripping the bloody stump and screaming (on 1 HP).

The screaming goblin flees.

The Dark Squad and their kobold friends slowly make their way through the caltrop corridor- they’re not rushing, they saw what happened to Garumn.

The one-handed goblin meantime races into the next chamber- a goblin shooting gallery, with three more goblins present- one of the trio goes to investigate the situation.

Alas, for the goblin in question, Ramshambo is already in position, and hiding- the rogue attacks and stabs the fiend, a moment later Garumn arrives and throws a handaxe into the creature- it dies.

The Dark Squad move up, Ram spies around the corner- the chamber has another three-foot wall dividing the space, with three goblins behind the barricade- two goblins with shortbows, and the guy they’re chasing with just one hand.

007 Goblins in Position.jpg

The goblins, eye-witnesses state, were involved in a range of social activities- mostly for exercise or else as part of their leisure time, relaxing after a hard day in gainful employment. They offered no threat. At which point a gang of loutish thugs calling themselves- 'the Dark Squad', arrived on the scene and fatally assaulted to death all eight members of the goblin community. The members of the Dark Squad are being sort by goblin authorities... so, think on.

Remarkably Ram dodges into the chamber (after another incredible stealth roll) and shoots one of the goblins dead.

At this point Vincenzo is purring with his admiration for Ramshambo- “he iz zer killing machine, n’est pas?”

The goblin with the one hand has seen enough (again) it runs through a door to the north.

There’s just one goblin armed with a shortbow left defending the wall- Garumn has also seen enough, he charges in and flails wildly, seconds later Ram is on the scene and the goblin is stabbed and very badly wounded. The goblin spills his bow- grabs out his scimitar, slices and nicks Ram- and then flees, through the same northern door.

Vincenzo and the kobolds catch up with the action.

Beyond the north door is a corridor heading west (to yet another door) but also another open door to the north, seconds later yet another goblin comes charging out of this chamber- alas, for the goblin, Garumn is waiting with his readied attack. The dwarf however misses.

Several more goblins rush out of the room and open fire at close range on the dwarf- seconds later Garumn is down on the floor and bleeding out.

Vincenzo rushes over to defend the fallen dwarf paladin, he bravely slashes and cuts a goblin dead, Ram gets into action a second later and cuts another goblin down.

The last goblin in the passage flees back the way he came.

Meantime Garumn is given another potion of healing, and then by using an inspiration point (house rule with only three PCs in game) gets to spend his healing HD.

The Dark Squad move out into the corridor, take a quick look about- Vincenzo spots that there’s a pit trap (or similar) a little further down the passage. Ram meantime makes out that there are three goblins within the northern chamber (one with only one hand). The rogue rushes in, a goblin reacts and fires his shortbow and from barely ten feet away misses.

Ramshambo cuts the goblin down dead.

The remaining two goblins (disengage) flee the scene- they don’t get far. Fraggle and Meepo open up with the artillery, their slings- and roll a ‘20’ followed by a ‘20’. The goblins are both dead a moment later.

The fight, at last, is over- that took over an hour to play out, and maybe 12 turns of action, none of the PCs understand the goblin tongue, a shame because the last pair were trying to flee/surrender when they were being hunted down. Actually Garumn, after an insight check, thought as much but couldn’t bring himself to tell his friends.


[8 goblins killed 399XP}

The PCs have enough XP for Level 2, all they need now is a long rest, but oh no- they’re going on, or at least they will be, but first after a quick scout about and the posting of kobold sentries- a short rest.

There are plenty of silver pieces on the dead goblins, also three keys.

During the rest the PCs manage to identify the potion of fire breath, and the pair of +1 arrows- Ram is the only PC with a bow, so he takes these.

The Dark Squad have been in the Sunless Citadel for four hours now.

The adventurers investigate a locked and barred door, as it turns out they already have the key to it, within are three kobold prisoners and a gnome in a cage, as it turns out they have the keys to open the cage and to unlock the kobold’s chains.

008 The Rescue.jpg

The Rescue.

The rescued kobolds, a short while later, are sent back to the tribe- with Fraggle leading them home. The Dark Squad dismiss Fraggle, they’re going to be taking Erky with them- see below.

Erky Timbers (the gnome formerly in the cage) has been a prisoner of the goblins for the last two months and spent time with three members of the missing adventuring party- Talgen, Sharwyn and Sir Bradford, he has no idea where Karakas went. The three adventurers were ‘sent below’ (so the goblins said) about a tenday past.

Erky explains that ‘below’ is a place called the Twilight Grove, home to the Outcast- the goblins are frightened of this creature/person (the Outcast). The gnome has also heard the Outcast referred to as Belak.

The Dark Squad remember Bert (of the Old Boar Inn) talking about an odd fellow that stayed at the Inn over a decade past, his name began with ‘B’, he also had a frog companion that he spoke to.

Vincenzo, and others now suspect that an evil druid, or similar, is responsible for much of what is going on in the Sunless Citadel, they’re now of the opinion that this fellow’s name is Belak, or else the Outcast- and that he lives ‘below’ in the Twilight Grove.

[Rescue Erky & the kobolds- also new info 99XP]

Note Erky is a priest of Tymora (and with an Irish accent) and he’s up for some payback- Garumn gives him a handaxe, he’s also got a big bag of hit points (in an effort by the some would say saintly DM to keep him, and therefore the PCs, alive).

The adventurers press on- cautiously through a storeroom in which Vincenzo finds a cask of lamp oil and Ram finds some ‘elf pudding’- which he investigates, and then instantly regrets doing so.

Vincenzo and Garumn conspire- the dwarf is given the cask of oil so that he can fling it at the next group of goblins they see, the plan is that Vincenzo will use the fire breath potion to set the oil and oil-splattered fiends alight.

So, through the storeroom and into a large, smoky columned chamber- very similar to the chamber in which Yusdrayl holds court.

“Cornflakes” Meepo suddenly cries- the kobold signals frantically for his friend Ramshambo to come over- one of the doors in the smoky hall has a puddle of water beneath it. The kobold is certain the Cornflakes is being held within.

Ram gets the door open (it was locked) and then takes a look inside- the chamber was formerly used to show off a variety of goblin hunting trophies- the mounted heads of giant rats, a pair of kobolds and a cow- classy. The chamber is however a mess- it has been ransacked, and behind an over-turned table is spotted Cornflakes.

Cornflakes, as it turns out, is a white dragon wyrmling.

009 When Meepo met Cornflakes.jpg

When Meepo met Cornflakes- the romance cooled rapidly.

The players are semi-terrified, then more-so when Meepo breaks ranks and charges into the chamber arms open to hug the dragon. Cornflakes uses his breath weapon and turns the dragonkeeper into an ice sculpture, seconds later with a swish of its tail the dragon shatters the ice kobold- dead.

Garumn has the last word- “let’s do it!”

This after the adventurers duck back out of the chamber- Ramshambo uses a monster knowledge check to tell his friends what he knows about white dragons, the fear doesn’t go away any.

Then the fight gets going, the rogue shoots the white dragon with his bow- a scratch, but he’s got the beast’s attention.

Cornflakes bounds out of the chamber declaring en route- “free at last, now my reign of terror begins’.

Just to note the dragon is actually called Calcryx, the kobolds just had problems pronouncing it’s name, and so- Cornflakes.

So, Cornflakes bounds out of the room and savages Garumn- the dwarf is down and dying in an instant.

Vincenzo dodges out from behind the pillar he’s hiding behind and bathes Cornflakes in his fiery breath- and the rolls 4d6 for 7 fire damage, that could have gone better.

Now just to stay alive to try again.

Garumn passes his death save- he’s not failed one yet, and then Erky gets to the dwarf with a cure wounds- a sigh of relief, get the tank back up again.

Ramshambo bravely takes on the dragon, misses with his rapier and then just nicks it with his dagger.

Cornflakes’ breath weapon recharges (first time), alas the only enemies in clear sight are- Garumn and Erky, he bathes the pair in frosty hell- for 27 cold damage, which is enough to kill Garumn instantly- he failed his save and was only on 6 HP.

However, the kindly DM (after a chat with Stu playing Garumn) decides that the dwarf deserves a little bit of hope- therefore the ruling is Garumn is down and dying with two death saves failed already- one more and he’s really gone.

Erky meantime is very bloodied, but still on his feet.

Vincenzo emerges from behind a pillar and bathes the dragon in his fiery breath again- and rolls double the damage he did last time, and now Cornflakes is badly wounded, and down to 7 HP.

At which point Garumn gets to make his last (maybe) death save- he has an inspiration point to spend so (after the DM reminds him- such a nice man)… he rolls, an ‘8’ and a ‘10’, thank the heavens (and, ahem… the DM)- we go on.

Erky gets to the dwarf again and pumps another cure wounds spell into the paladin- there are ragged cheers.

Ramshambo does his thing with his rapier, cuts Cornflakes, and leaves the dragon on just 2 HP (after missing with his off-hand attack).

The dragon attempts to flee, the rogue slashes as it departs and cuts again- Cornflakes is crippled it mewls once or twice more and then expires on the floor of the storeroom- dead.

[White dragon wyrmling 450XP]

At which point the session is at an end, the cheering is much subdued- the players are spent, as are their PCs.

That was close.

Some point soon after (like now) the PCs are of course going to realise that they were supposed to return Cornflakes alive to the kobolds… so, that’s not an option.

We’ll see what they get up to next time.

Stay safe.

Cheers goonalan, and the Dark Squad.


Playa Playa

The Loyal Kobold

He dreamt of Tiamat’s champions whilst he did sleep. Oh

how brave he was to guide us through the keep. Oh

what joy when he found her that made him leap. Oh

how we now mourn his crystalline form and weep. Oh

let us remember the loyal, brave and worthy Meep - O

From the pen of Ramshambo

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.


Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #004 Kobolds vs Goblins vs Dark Squad.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 1

The new guy
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 2 (see later)

Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 1
Erky Timbers Male Gnome Priest of Tymora

So, session #4 and lots to report, the first thing being that we nearly crashed the game- Stu can no longer play on a Tuesday night, and most of the rest of us can’t play any other night. So, two days after session #3 and we’re floundering, but then James (Saint? Miracle-worker?) swings into action and corrals (sandbags?) his friend Bear.

Thus it was that we came to know New Tricks, or as he’s now known to all and sundry- Newt, the tabaxi with a can do attitude and an eldritch blast for all occasions, we- and by we I mean- I, like Newt a lot.

On Fantasy Grounds Newt’s equipment list (inventory, on his character sheet) is arranged by storage container- oh, I do so <heart> a bit of order.

But, to the game…

Last we left Dark Squad they had just slaughtered Cornflakes/Calcryx the white dragon wyrmling- this contrary to their quest (patron: Yusdrayl, kobold queen) which was to return the mischievous wyrm safely to the kobold-side. Well, that ain’t happening.

So, a brief debate follows- although as Newt isn’t in play yet it’s really just Vincenzo and Ramshambo mumbling through potential lies to tell the kobolds. Then, after settling on the winning lie, it’s clear up time. Dead dragon Cornflakes is dragged back into his former home- the door is locked- the place searched, a little treasure and an ancient dwarven scroll found (for examination later). Then the dragon mutilating really gets going- a tooth is extracted, then a clawed foot, and then Garumn gets the opportunity to put the boot in for a while.

[Doing stuff with the dead dragon, finding treasure and investigating various things- 40 XP]

That done the PCs decide that retreat is better part of valour, and head back the way they came- back to the kobold-side of town. This, ostensibly to catch some shut-eye, the PCs are all pretty beat up- with no spells, but perhaps more importantly they have the XP they need (after an extended rest) to rise to the heady heights of level 2. Power extreme!

So, back to see Yusdrayl, and another audience with the kobold queen, Victory! Ten (eight) goblin heads- check, three kobold prisoners rescued- check, and Cornflakes returned?

Well, about that… as it turns out according to the persuasive pair the goblins alas slaughtered Cornflakes, and just as the Dark Squad were about to rescue the beast. Further sorrow follows- Meepo, gave his life trying to prevent the dragon’s slaughter- he didn’t (save the dragon), and he died too- so, perhaps not the kobold dragonkeeper’s finest hour (although certainly, his last).

There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, although just from Yusdrayl- the other kobolds seem remarkably sanguine, or else just couldn’t give a toss (about Meepo, or the dragon). There are however no other contradictory stories, and Ram and Vince’s associated skill checks are all good- so, a victory of sorts, shame about the dragon though.

Yusdrayl however has other news- the kobold guards have captured a Cat-Man-Witch (her actual words) while the PCs were away on their jolly. The strange creature (New Tricks) is dragged out of the cell in which he has been (briefly) languishing, and after a little more chatter Yusdrayl is persuaded to allow the tabaxi to help the Dark Squad in their future endeavours.

Tymora be blessed, that was fortunate.

Yusdrayl however insists that as soon as the Dark Squad are rested, she wants them up and at ‘em, she wants all of the goblins and their chief dead.

[More pleasant chatter with Yusdrayl etc. 60 XP]

But now time for their rewards- with two quests ticked off (dead goblins & rescue the kobolds) the Dark Squad claim two items from the dragon altar- a scroll (Cure Wounds) and a strange feather which a little later is identified as a Quaal’s Feather Token (Tree).

Nice- Vincenzo has a druid-gasm the moment he takes possession of the latter item.

Then yet more chatter, as the various PCs relax and tell their stories- Newt it seems is in the Sunless Citadel to get himself a magic apple, he’s heard how much the things sell for, and so is keen to locate one and take it back to Neverwinter and the black market there. Ram and Vince attempt to one-up the tabaxi by making out their quest is for a far nobler purpose- to rescue the missing young Hucrele’s. Later, after further questioning, it becomes apparent that the original Dark Squad have been offered a shed-load of moolah to get the job done. So, as Newt concludes- we’re all looking to get paid, one way or another.

The chatter continues for a good long while, with the (New) Dark Squad retiring to Meepo’s former chamber in order to relax and get to know each other. The kobold house band shows up a little later (sent by Yusdrayl) and improvises a little smooth jazz to help the atmos- Newt joins in for a while. However, the kobolds threaten to curtail their set- the tabaxi’s performance check is a ‘1’, and so he puts his lute away.

The kobold band are called 'The Lounge Lizards', I wish I had thought of that in-game.

Then, just when everything is going swimmingly, the goblin invasion begins, and very soon after- ends.

010 Goblin Invasion 1.jpg

Death to smooth jazz!

A hobgoblin wrenches open the chamber door, it’s accompanied by another of its kind, two goblins and three twig blights. In short order the invaders slaughter the kobold house band, with the Dark Squad idly (surprise round) watching on.

The PCs (all still level 1, except for Newt- he started level 2) swing into action.

Vincenzo, after an excellent bit of RP (and the spending of both of his inspiration points) is given a first level spell slot back- he casts ice knife- kills a goblin with the spells initial piercing attack, at which point the ice missiles shatters and explodes killing the second goblin and a twig blight in the flying shrapnel.

Nice work!

One of the hobgoblins gets to Garumn and slices the surly dwarf- with a crit, but with very low damage rolls, praise Moradin.

Newt eldritch blasts the closest hobgoblin almost dead, while the second hobgoblin still stood in the doorway to the chamber opens up with his bow.

Ram takes a twig blight down, but there’s a whole lot of rolling and missing going on (as previous), until the last twig blight standing gets to the rogue and claws the ex-pirate, he’s left critically wounded, and soon after has to dodge (actually disengage) out of the fight.

Newt’s second eldritch blast ends the very bloodied hobgoblin, while Vince goes all snake-fanged primal savagery and takes the last twig blight down- there’s only one enemy left standing, the hobgoblin shoulders his bow and gets the hell out of dodge.

[Hobgoblins, goblins & twig blight 276 XP]

The Dark Squad prevaricate for a moment- do they go after the fleeing hobgoblin, or else… but Erky Timbers suddenly shuffles into view and starts screaming and pointing- it seems the goblin invasion is also happening elsewhere.

The PCs saunter back into the dragon-columned corridor-cum-chamber in which their meetings with Yusdrayl have taken place. The elite kobold guards (they have 10 HP each, and generally wear a fancy hat- or similar, that’s pretty god-damned elite in kobold-land) are facing off against a bunch more twig blights and another pair of goblins.

The Dark Squad saunter to the fray.

That’s right- saunter, I think it was Ram who said- “slow down folks- cool your boots, let’s not get to the fight too soon, might help us in the long run if a few more kobolds get butchered”, he’s all heart, the ex-slave, ex-pirate.

So slow is the PCs dawdle that Ram and Garumn stop off en route for a little light healing (potion and lay on hands), and then a chat about the weather, the football scores etc. before making their way to the new bundle.

011 Goblin Invasion 2.jpg

"Did you see the football last night? Waterdeep Rovers were all over 'em…"

One of the five kobold elite guards is dead already when the Dark Squad eventually shuffle up.

Garumn takes out a twig blight with the twirl, and hurl, of his hand axe,

While a second elite kobold guard is taken down by a pair of twig blights scratching and scoring at the forlorn creature in unison.

Yusdrayl, in the background, is screaming blue murder- time for the Dark Squad to press the kill button (repeatedly).

However, instead the PCs continue with their rich vein of missing for a while, eventually- when Vincenzo takes down a second twig blight there’s even time for a little ragged cheer.

A goblin- shouting instructions, it seems to be in charge of the operation, grabs out its shortbow and sinks an arrow into Garumn’s gut. The paladin is almost spent (on 1 HP) but he’s not for giving up.

Garumn charges the nearest goblin and breaks the its head with his warhammer.

Erky meantime blasts the last twig blight standing with his sacred flames.

The last goblin- the boss with the bow, beats feet trying to get away- and is hit by an eldritch blast (supplied by Newt) and then chased down and stabbed in the back by Ram- dead, dead, dead.

The goblin invasion is over, although you wouldn’t know it from the way Yusdrayl is going on. The kobold queen screams at the Dark Squad for a while- she accuses them of not being the chosen of Tiamat.

[Twig blights and goblins 100 XP]

It gets tetchy for a good while, until Vincenzo gets all ooh la la (remember in game he adopts a French accent) and persuades Yusdrayl that this is all part of the plan, that she is being tested- her faith, and then rolls a ‘20’, and a ‘4’ on his extra guidance dice.

It helps that the Dark Squad also promise (yet again) to kick the goblin’s collective asses.

It also helps that Ramshambo is doing his charming best (and Yusdrayl likes the rogue) and follows great RP with a great check or two of his own.

Soon after they are back in the kobold queen’s good books, Yusdrayl reaffirms her belief in the Dark Squad (actually in Ram and Vince in particular, this pair are always schlepping up to her, and rolling stupid high on their social skills- what’s a poor DM to do?)

[Convincing Yusdrayl, great RP 80 XP]

So, everyone gets an extended rest, and levels up, but also Yusdrayl has seen enough- they can have the key to the dragon door- now.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 2
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 2
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 2

Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 2
Erky Timbers Male Gnome Priest of Tymora

Although, as it turns out, getting the key from the dragon statue’s mouth proves to be more difficult than you’d think- the key is clamped tight in there.

012 Yusdrayl and the Dragon Altar.jpg

A minute or so later and a small opening is discovered in the top of the stone dragon’s skull, and then opened and investigated (mostly) by Ram. Within the hollow space there is a stone-carved candleholder (of sorts) effectively behind the eyes of the dragon. Around the base of the candleholder, written in the smallest, faintest, draconic script are the words- “the light that never goes out”.

[Getting into the stone dragon 20 XP]

Investigations continue, a lit candle is placed within the holder- alas it produces no effect- soon after the Dark Squad are certain that they are therefore searching for a magical candle (or similar) to sit within the space, at which point- they presume the statue will give up the dragon key.

Perhaps we’ll find out.

[Further investigations of the stone dragon 48 XP]

So, no dragon key as of yet.

It’s time, after much prompting, for the adventurers to head on- back to the front, back to slaughter the goblins (and their leader).

Note, I tell the PCs that if they’re taking five characters into the front line- the three PCs + Garumn + Erky, then I’m going to be adding bad guys to their future encounters (bulking up). Therefore, a vote is taken and Erky is deselected and left with the kobolds.

The Dark Squad follow the same route as their previous venture (and back) into goblin territory, all the way to the corridor with the caltrops and the low cemented wall. A stealthy Ram gets the door open and spies a pair of goblins nestled behind the wall (the same set up as last time they were here). Every now and then a goblin peers over the barricade towards the door behind which the rogue hides.

The plan is simple, Garumn is sent charging in- note on their way through the caltrop hall previously the adventurers cleared islands in the corridor to make a set of safe stepping places for them to quickly cross the area.

013 We're Back.jpg

"We're back!"

This route is still available, therefore Garumn charges across the space, reaches over the wall and with his warhammer brains one of the two goblins there (with a crit). Dead.

The second goblin pops up, spies the angry dwarf and attempts to flee the scene, back at the doorway Ram steps into view and fires an arrow into the back of the departing goblin’s head- also, dead.

Fight over.

[Goblins 100 XP]

The Dark Squad, cautiously- lead by a stealthy Ramshambow venture further into goblin territory. The adventurers make it all the way back to the storeroom in which the rogue previously found a cask of ‘elf pudding’ (don’t ask). The next chamber on, the PCs know, is the great smoky hall- a mirror to Yusdrayl’s throne room, this place also marks the furthest the adventurers have been into the goblin’s lair.

More great stealth checks later and Ram has discerned that there are guards in the long hall, at least three of them- skeletons armed with swords and bows, pacing the columned chamber.

Just to note, and I’ve checked back through the Chat log in Fantasy Grounds- Ramshambow has made thirteen skills checks to this point in the session, his lowest roll so far is a ‘15’, and that’s before bonuses. Point of fact, nine of his thirteen skill checks have produced dice rolls of ‘18’+, that just can’t be right. Has he got a magnet on his laptop? Weighted electronic dice?

So, the Dark Squad ready themselves again and then burst into the chamber. The closest skeleton is hit by Newt’s eldritch blast, and then is stabbed (twice) by a marauding Ram- it survives (I love it when Fantasy Ground rolls random HP for the monsters and comes up max, or close to max, that’s one tough SOB skeleton).

Finally, Garumn barrels in and smashes the first of the undead down, and in doing so the dwarf paladin clears the way for…

014 Vincenbear.jpg

"Bear with me, get it- I said...", Garumn smirks- he's the funniest paladin in all creation.


That’s right, our shifter druid wildshapes into a brown bear, and then charges into action- causing several of his colleagues to scream and shout and dive out of the way as the roaring ursine rushes forward.

Vincenbear smashes to pieces the next closest skeleton, and then roars his approval as he plods on to the next, his colleagues following close behind.

Alas things do not go exactly to plan as the two remaining skeletons fight back, Vincenbear is stabbed several times as the PCs dice suddenly go wonky- three PCs in a row manage to muster a ‘1’.

Garumn eventually connects and shatters the third of the skeletons, a moment later Vincenbear accounts for the last- but things have moved on since then. While the above action is taking place a goblin peers from a doorway a little further down the hall, soon after three of the little buggers emerge and start firing their bows at the adventurers.

Hardly friendly.

[Skeletons 200 XP]

015 Goblinville.jpg

"I'm just going to... BEAR... down on these goblins! Blimey, I'm a laugh-riot all-father." Garumn chortles to himself.

The PCs however continue to roll low, and soon after Vincenbear is heavily wounded and struggling to go on.

Newt, at last, eldritch blasts a goblin to atoms, but the fight seems to be at a stalemate- lots of attacks, very few hits- but then, perhaps in recompense, Garumn gets sliced and now the paladin’s looking hurt.

Eventually Ram accounts for the second goblin, while the third to emerge from the side room has seen enough, he flees the scene, and… then a second or so later yet another group of goblins come charging out the door dead- ahead. Within the newly revealed chamber the adventurers spy- Goblinville, the entire tribe, it appears, is situated in the next chamber over.

It seems the stakes just got a lot higher.

Bear (playing Newt) at one-point shouts out- “look at the combat tracker!”, as I drop 30+ goblins into the initiative order (mostly non-combatants, but still- that’s a lot enemies).

And then, at last, the Dark Squad find their meter- Garumn smashes down a goblin, while Vincenbear savages another, but that- alas, is time.

The session, just short of four hours play, comes to a close.

The Dark Squad are, as usual, fighting for their lives, and where’s the cleric (Erky) back in kobold-land, having big fun with his new little friends.

More next time.


Playa Playa

The Cat-Man-Witch

With eyes burning bright

And balls of flame that smite

The Goblins all now alight

For them no gentle goodnight

This Cat’s on Fire

From the pen of Ramshambo

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.


Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #005 Durn Um Batty Whim-Wham.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 2 (see below)
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 2
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 2

Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 2

Left back with the Kobolds
Erky Timbers Male Gnome Priest of Tymora

So, session #5, and here we go again- when we left the Dark Squad they were fighting their way through the goblin’s territory, and making short work of the enemies there- although Vincenbear was getting stabbed up good and proper (and on low HP).

But that doesn’t last- from the door ahead a voice and a strange visage appears- Grenl, the goblin shaman- she looks like a concertinaed version of your nan (three and a half feet tall, adorned in all manner of strange symbols and brooches, and mostly made of wrinkles).

016 Grenl a.jpg

Durn is "um batty whim-wham", while the Outcast is described as "dik-dik", at least according to Grenl.

“No fighting! No fighting!”, Grenl calls- and then grabs the goblins attacking the adventurers, slaps them about a bit and flings them back into the chamber behind her.

Much (sometimes odd) chatter follows- the Dark Squad, obviously hold-off their attacks and, after twenty minutes of back and forth, they do a deal with Grenl, during which they learn-

1) The goblins are not enamoured of their new chief Durn, who is a “hobnob” (= hobgoblin) and is “um batty whim-wham!”, which after a short mime translates as a ‘big fat arsehole’. More chatter reveals that Hogwash the previous gobnob (= goblin) chief preferred “boom-boom!” (= sex) to “bang-bang!” (= fighting). Durn, alas, is very (very) “bang-bang”-orientated, and keen (it seems) to spend goblin lives like water.

2) Grenl and the goblins will have further ‘talk-talk’ with the Dark Squad, if and when they rid them of Durnn- 'quick-quick'. Grenl points the way to their chief- north, and then slams the door shut.

The Dark Squad obviously have more questions but Grenl’s not saying anything else until the goblin’s freedom is won.

[Confrontation with the goblins- mostly last session 148 XP]
[Chatting with Grenl and doing a deal 100 XP]

The Dark Squad catch a quick breather (and lay on hands), Vincenbear reverts to Vincenzo, and then the group head north- cautiously lead by Ramshambow, all the way to the tower chamber of Durn and his ‘hobnob’ lieutenants.

Note Ramshambow has started up with his digitally magnetised dice, here’s a warning ahead of time at one point he rolled below ‘10’ maybe seven times in the session (and he makes a lot of rolls)- the rest of his checks are ‘15’ on the dice or higher. At one point the rogue rolls- 20, 17, 20, 20, 19- and in quick succession.

While we’re talking about dice rolls- pretty much for the entire session Newt’s dice are broken. I’ve just checked back through the Chat file from FG and in one consecutive streak the tabaxi made seven rolls in a row, the highest of them was a ‘4’.

The law of averages?

Sorry, I have a bit of a thing about dice rolls, the seemingly non-random (and yet entirely random) nature of the things. It makes me chuckle, best just to leave me be.

Back to it.

Stealthily Ram opens the door into Durn’s lair, spies inside- a large tower chamber with a central shaft (like a fifteen foot wide well) ringed by a low stone wall, with creepers and vines reaching out of the dark descent. Around the outside of the well-lit chamber are four hefty hobgoblins, including the easily identifiable (nearly seven feet tall) Durn. The big chief is sprawled on a crude stone throne with his feet up on a substantial iron chest. The rogue reports back to his comrades and then seconds later the Dark Squad unleash their surprise attack.

017 Durn.jpg

Thanks to Bear for some of the FG images tonight- it's always good for me to see what the players are seeing, in this one Ram's spying in on Durn and his entourage.

Ram dodges through the enemies and skewers Durn leaving the screaming hobnob chief heavily wounded, Garumn follows in and smashes a hobnob down with one hit (rolled max damage).

Vincenzo lights up the chamber, briefly, with his faerie fire- leaving Durn glowing like one of the Ready-Brek kids.

Ram stabs Durn again, and the chief is left spluttering and screaming at his comrades to defend him, to keep him alive- note none of the PCs however can speak or understand the goblin tongue. Garumn heads over and smashes Durn down- that was quick.

017a Durn.jpg

Durn, the DM under-hit-pointed again, I'll learn- and then they'll learn. Full disclosure- Durn started with 18 HP (and was AC 19) in truth I thought he would survive a little longer- woe is me.

The two remaining hobgoblins attempt to fight their way out of the fracas and into the nearby goblin chambers, the pair think the goblins there will help them…

At this point the twig blight, hidden in a pot by Durn’s throne, launches itself from its ceramic home and scratches and cuts Ram’s legs and feet.

Ramshambow however sticks to skewering hobgoblins and savages the nearest, it’s almost dead. The second hobgoblin wrenches open the door into the goblin’s lair and begins screaming for help- that doesn’t work, Grenl rushes in and tags the hefty goblinoid with an inflict wounds spell (and then rolls spectacularly low). Grenl didn’t account for that… the hobgoblin survives- she scampers off, back into the goblin crowd.

Newt, after missing with three eldritch blasts in a row, finally connects and flames the twig blight menacing Ram, who winks his thanks and then cuts the hobgoblin he’s fighting down.

The last hobgoblin flees the scene, heading at pace through the goblin’s chamber and towards the exit. Vince meantime goes all primal savagery with fangs and snarls and then chases the last enemy down, diving on to the creature's back, bearing it to the floor and then reaching around to bite the throat out of the hobgoblin.

Witnessing this spectacular kill are Grenl and the rest of the goblin tribe- they’re very quickly left terrified of the shifter.

The fight is over.

[Kill Durn, three hobgoblins & twig blight 400 XP)

Just before we move on, I’d just like to make clear that in the above fight the PCs spent five Inspiration Points between them, that’s a lot, which made things a easier. Note PCs can have a max of two Inspiration Points in my game.

Two things happen thereafter, firstly the Dark Squad continue their chat with Grenl (now complete with miming along goblin chorus) this effort is lead by Vincenzo, while Ram and Newt (mostly) search Durn’s lair et al.

Ramshambo finds the trap on Durn's footrest-chest, disarms it and unlocks it- all done in about thirty seconds (yet more high rolls) before Newt finds the key to the metal box. Within are gold and gems- the Dark Squad are semi-rich (over 50gp each).

Durn has a few more items of interest on his corpse including a potion of healing, and more importantly he’s wearing scale armour emblazoned with the Hucrele symbol, and on his hand a Hucrele signet ring. The other hobgoblin corpses are (oddly) wearing very nice jewellery- a pair of fancy earrings & a jewelled necklace.

The chatter with Grenl meantime reveals the following-

1) The three missing adventurers who were prisoners of the goblins (Talgen, Sharwyn & Sir Braford) we supposed to be sent below- to the Twilight Grove, the Outcast demanded this. Durn however had other ideas and in a fit of pique slew Talgen, and then took Sharwyn’s jewels before sending her and Sir Braford below.

2) The Outcast is a crazy fellow ('dik-dik')- he grows odd things down below, in the Twilight Grove, and takes goblins for his ‘workers’. He’s also the source of the magic apples.

3) The way below is guarded by a ‘bugnob’ (= bugbear) called Ballsack who is ‘dik-dik’ (= crazy) and terrifying.

Note, all of the above is extracted slowly- Grenl doesn’t know the names of the missing adventurers- and so she has to mime each, the PCs also have to translate her pidgin-common and her other (comic) mimes.

[More chatter with Grenl 100 XP]

The finale with Grenl and the goblins goes like this- they (the goblins) have to leave the Sunless Citadel, Vincenzo makes this very clear- the subtext to this is the Dark Squad have promised Yusdrayl and the kobolds that they will ‘get rid’ of the goblins. ‘Get rid’ means kill- to Yusdrayl and the kobolds, Vince is of the opinion that clearing the goblins out also constitutes ‘get rid’.

Obviously, the goblins are very unhappy at the suggestion but, alas (for this DM), Vince’s persuasion check is a… “20”, and it is preceded by some great RP. Eventually, after a lot more moaning- “do we have to… But… Oh, but can’t we… Pleeeeeease, let us…”, the goblins depart, ostensibly to find a new home.

After a bit more chatter, the Dark Squad are firming up their idea of what’s going on here- in precis they think, somewhere below in the Twilight Grove is the Outcast, he has the two missing adventurers, he’s an evil druid and is growing the magic apples, although to what end…

They’re very keen to find out.

Last bit, the adventurers are convinced that Karakas, the local guide the missing adventurers employed- described back in Thundertree as a loose cannon, and a drinker- opinion is this guy is working with the Outcast.

That's some clever thinking, right there- these guys are the A Team.

Chat done, Garumn is lowered down the great hole and into the Twilight Grove, the thinking being all of the other PCs can climb down the vines, the armoured dwarf cannot- also, he’s the meat-shield.

The dwarf paladin descends nearly 100 feet into a large square chamber, the floor of which is filled with soil and mulch- the area is a garden (of sorts) sporting fungi and pale shrubs and saplings. The area is illuminated by various glowing fungi emitting a slightly unnerving pale blue-green furze.

A pair of robed skeleton gardeners go about their business, and studiously ignore the dwarf.

Thus situated, Garumn calls the guys down- which is fortunate as mere seconds later one of the nearby shrubs comes alive and claws at him- a twig blight, and then seconds later, another attacks. At which point the two skeletons grab their spades and also wade into the dwarven paladin.

018 Twilight Grove intro.jpg

Garumn's continues with his meet and greet tour, the others are on their way down the shaft.

Moments later and Garumn is heavily wounded (note the paladin is now AC 19- that’s at least three more points than anyone else, and yet he’s always taking a beating, although that may be because he’s always getting in the bad guy’s grills).

Newt is the first down the shaft, and once situated eldritch blasts a twig blight into flinders, meantime one of the skeletons clonks Garumn again (with a Crit, the players hold their breath, their scrambling here- for only 3 damage). The paladin is chuntering, and staggering- he smashes the offending skeleton down in an instant.

Ramshambo scrambles down the shaft and into the chamber next, a second later the rogue cuts the second twig blight to pieces. The remaining skeleton slams its shovel into Newt, merely a glancing blow. In the next instant Vince descends into the room, as screaming from a cavern entrance over the far side of the chamber comes Ballsack the bugbear, and his two snarling giant rats- Grip and Fang.

018 Twilight Grove intro.jpg

Ballsack has (sorry, had) 45 HP, I thought he'd hang around- but no.

It just got nasty.

The strange looking Ballsack- he has antlers growing from his head, keeps up a litany of threats- but again, the PCs cannot understand the goblin tongue.

Garumn smashes the last skeleton down, just in time for all three new attackers to swarm the surly and badly wounded dwarf paladin.

Ram meanwhile steps out of the action, grabs his bow out and sinks an arrow into one of the giant rats, Vince grabs a scroll out and cures Garumn’s wounds, although seconds later the second snarling giant rats also sinks its teeth into the paladin (ah, pack attack).

Newt capers around the action, circling the fight using his feline agility, and then launches a burning hands into the three enemies, alas the flame produced only singes- although enough to consume the already wounded giant rat.

Ballsack seems to be terribly upset by this last event, Ramshambow refocuses the bugbear’s mind by stabbing the brute repeatedly (for 19 damage), although the bugbear is not even bloodied.

Just for info Ballsack started with 45 HP, I wanted him to be a threat.

A moment later, and once again sporting his fangs (primal savagery) Vincenzo grabs up and basically bites/swallows the last of Ballsack’s pet giant rats, and now the bugbear is really (really) not happy.

It doesn’t help that Ram savages the great brute again- and then Garumn connects with his warhammer, Ballsack is critically wounded, but still not giving up the fight- second later he’s bitten by Vince, and teetering at the brink (he had 3 HP when Vince bit him, for 2 damage).

At last- it’s the motivation he has needed, Ballsack hits- and with his morningstar leaves Vince critically wounded in an instant.

That's what I'm talking about!

And other odd statements the youth of today sometimes mutter.

Note, while this fight seems from the write up above (possibly) to fly by, be aware there was lots of swinging and missing going on, the two encounters took nearly forty minutes to get through.

At last, Ram steps in and skewers Ballsack dead with his rapier, the bugbear's last words, directed at the rogue- "whim-wham!"

The fight is over.

[Skeletons & twig blights 148 XP]
[Ballsack & giant rats 248 XP]

Vincenzo chugs down a potion of healing, while Garumn expends the last of his lay on hands.

There follows a tad more chatter, and then a close inspection of the chamber, the plants down here seem to be frail and wan versions of the local flora- most odd!

[Plant chatter and investigations 20 XP]

Ramshambow meantime has a look around the chamber, checking out the various exits- two doors and the cavern entrance that Ballsack emerged from. One of the doors (to the south) has no signs of traffic, therefore it is ignored- for now.

Then there’s time for a bit more chatter here, as the Dark Squad recalibrate their ideas about what’s going on here in the Sunless Citadel/Twilight Grove- this after Vincenzo determines that the strange antlers growing from Ballsack’s head are shaped, and feel like, the withered branches of a dead tree. The bugbear also bares ritual scars (on his forehead) a spindly gnarled and spikey ancient tree is depicted, actually cut deep into the creature’s flesh.

[Ballsack strange physiognomy and other info 32 XP]

The second door (to the east is investigated) and after many more checks a stealthy Ram, and then also Newt, sneak into a large barrel-ceilinged chamber beyond. There are three doors from the chamber heading north, and three more to the south. The closest two chambers are investigated- the first (to the north) holds three sleeping goblins, the second (to the south) contains two more goblins barely visible within a large wooden tun (mash tub) and hard at work.

019 More Gobbos.jpg

"Freeze!" Newt hisses as he kicks a stone into the leg of a nearby table, causing the contents to shudder, teeter (briefly) and wobble- the PCs make their collective stealth check by... one.

The sneaky pair, after a slight mishap- Newt nearly alerting the goblins to their presence (bad roll), retreat back out of the chamber, and chat for a while. A decision is made, leave this chamber for now- Ram even manages to lock the door.

[Sneaking about the goblin’s lair 48 XP]

Then on, into the cavern formerly inhabited by Ballsack and the giant rats, which is empty- save for their sleeping pits of the previous inhabitants, and a display of weapons taken from the bugbear’s fallen foes (probably). Note every longsword the PCs come across is examined closely- Garumn is looking for the blade worn by Sir Braford, part of his secondary quest.

Newt finds Ballsack’s treasure, a box of mostly silver coins, and then Ram leads the Dark Squad on- down a narrow passage which descends rapidly into… the Underdark, possibly, certainly away from the Twilight Grove.

The Dark Squad eventually turn back, and return to the printed adventure.

[Investigate Ballsack’s stuff, and briefly head into the Underdark 12 XP]

More chatter follows, and then the southern door is opened, Vince confirms that nothing much has been this way for a while.

Newt leads the Dark Squad down a flagged dusty corridor, severed a while further along by a crevasse (of sorts) several checks later and the Dark Squad are convinced this happened in the ancient past, and as the result of tectonic activity.

The ravine is only a step down, heading north east to south west, Newt investigates further and discovers a number of large holes in the ravine floor, walls and ceiling- this to the south west only.

020 the other ravine.jpg

"A snake that burns through rock- by Moradin's hairy testicles, that's obscene!" Garumn shakes his head, what is Toril coming too?

More investigations follow- all very cautious, Vincenzo discerns (with a ‘20’) that the holes were made by a flaming fiery worm-like being- burrowing and burning its way through the stone. Then the druid is more specific- “zis iz sign of zer spawn of zer salamander, a fire worm.”

The Dark Squad turn tail- they’re not going this way.

[Fire snake investigations 48 XP]

Finally the southern corridor continues on, a step up out of the ravine and with Newt scouting ahead, the adventurers discover another empty chamber, an ancient and abandoned dragon shrine, sans traps or anything else interesting.

The Dark Squad have found a chamber to take a much needed breather- and Garumn and Ram are still wounded, the rogue significantly, a short rest is therefore taken.

Although during this period Garumn takes the time to explain to his colleagues the ancient dwarven (Davek) runes used in the scroll the PCs found earlier- in the chamber of Cornflakes the dragon.

The Dark Squad (actually just Ram, so far) use the rest period to translate some of the scroll they found there.

018 Dwarf Runes.jpg

You'll note it says Khundurkhar on the title of all of the images, there's a clue there... also, I'm a lecturer by trade- homework for players is essential.

It says-

“Khundrukhar”, on the outside of the scroll tube.

Khundrukhar, Garumn explains- eyes full of wonder, was the name of the ancient holdfast of Durgeddin the Black, a master dwarven smith- actually, a master bladesmith. Ostracised by his kind nearly a millennia ago, Durgeddin and his clan headed south from the Spine of the World mountains, and found a new home.

That however, was the last that was ever heard of the famous smith- the lost clanhold- Khundrukhar, has been sort ever since, and presumed lost forever.

Garumn further explains, depending on what lies within this scroll it could prove to be very valuable (worth over 5,000 gp), the dwarf paladin (and trained smith, as was his father, and his father before him, etc.) would however rather not sell the scroll- but instead translate it, and… well, see where it leads.

Ram continues with his translation, and just for info the players have to do this with pen and paper, and the help of FG to access the dwarven alphabet, they have to translate it word for word from screenshots/photos they've taken in game.

The next part of the translation, from the scroll within the case, reads-

“That which is sort first is found last.”

Followed by-

“Seek the stone tooth
Climb to the mountain door
Descend the grand stair
Pass the tombs of the ancients”

There’s more to come, the above only dropped into my in-box after the session, so- more of this next time, probably.

Until then, stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan.


Playa Playa

Ramshambow's translations of the ancient dwarven scroll, found in with Cornflakes' treasure.

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #01.jpg

Trans: Khundrukhar

And Garumn knows what Khundrukhar is...

It is, or rather was (perhaps)- the last redoubt of Durgeddin the Black, possibly the greatest dwarven bladesmith that has lived in the last twenty centuries.

Durgeddin fled the Spine of the World and headed south, and- it is said- settled his clan and went back to smithing, he- alas- was never heard of again, whatever happened to Durgeddin and his clan- no-one made it out, or else they're still wherever they settled.

Dwarves that know, or else want to get to know, good blades have been looking for Khundrukhar for generations.

This scroll, Garumn thinks, would sell for a small fortune, in excess of 5,000gp- easy.

Depending, of course, on what the rest of it says.

Then again, Garumn also thinks- it'd be nice to check it out for ourselves...

And so the rest of Ram's translation-

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #02.jpg

Trans: That which is sort first is found last

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #03-06.jpg

Seek the stone tooth
Climb to the mountain door
Descend the grand stair
Pass the tombs of the ancients

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #07-10.jpg

To the glory of the glitterhame
Wary of the sinkhole
There you find the door
Within… the foundry of Durgeddin the Black

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #11-13.jpg

By the sword by the flame
By the hammer by the forge
By the axe by the fire

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #14-16.jpg

Dumathoin content sits by the fire
Feet almost in the flames
Hotter now

And the last bit-

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #17-18.jpg

High Wizard

Just to note Garumn has also explained that-

Dumathoin is second in the dwarven hierarchy of gods (after the All Father- Moradin). He is known as the King Under the Mountain, the Secret Keeper, but more often he's called the Secret under the Mountain. He's the god of dwarven miners, who always leave an offering to him before starting their shift.

Note the use of secret in dwarven terms doesn't quite mean the same as in human terms- it's not about keeping secrets as such, the secret referred to is the hidden wealth and wonder that the dwarves seek to extract from the ground.

Dumathoin, many believe hides the earth's secrets (minerals and treasures) in the deep dark places, almost as a dare to the dwarves to go find them.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.


Playa Playa

The Bugbear

There once was a Bugbear named Ballsack

With morningstar he wanted us to whack

So he and his rats

We turned into splats

And now his balls are stowed in my pack

From the pen of Ramshambo

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.