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Suggestions for Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh [SPOILERS]

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
I'm currently running The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh from Ghosts of Saltmarsh. I run U1 in AD&D a long time ago (it was probably the first AD&D module that I run) and, back then, the adventure more or less went as the authors expected.

This time, the group did explore the house, "rescued" Ned and then had the misfortune of triggering the Yellow Mold in the wardrobe upstairs. It's quite deadly and it wiped out two out of four characters.

The survivors decided to retreat back to town and try to recruit more characters. All very logical, but how would Ned react to this? What would the smugglers in the house do?

They were already alerted to the characters dye to the Magic Mouth and they were ready to ambush the party in the cellars, but now the group is leaving. Will they stream out of the cellars and try to eliminate the survivors before they reach town? This seems a realistic choice, but with Ned in the middle it will be probably lethal.

Maybe I could invoke a fortuitous coincidence and have two more adventures arrive just in time to join the fray. Thoughts?
 

Shiroiken

Explorer
Smugglers: party left without discovering them, so should remain business as usual. If the Magic Mouth goes off again, they'll be on alert again.

Ned: if Ned was with the party when the Mold killed half the party, have him spread tales in town about how haunted the house is, with a yellow ghost stealing the soul of two people. Have him exaggerate the danger as much as possible to keep anyone from wanting to help the players (obviously the 2 new PCs will still join up). If accosted about his tales, have him call the party crazy for going back there, saying they already got two people killed, and they're next. If/when they go anyway, I'd have him follow, bringing along a couple of friends (bandits/guards), who will try to ambush the party inside the house, so that the stories of the house become even worse when the players don't return.

Ned (option 2): Ned offers to join up, but asks for a day or so to take care of business in town (which the players will need to recruit the new PCs). He'll then have a couple of friends (bandits/guards) go ahead the night before and set up an ambush in the front room. Ned will then betray the party, and go back to town talking about how he was foolish to join the party, and that an evil spirit killed them while he luckily escaped.
 

Paul Farquhar

Explorer
Another option is to let one of the characterless players play as Ned, briefing them in private in thier role as a mole. This would generally be a temporary situation, but it can sometimes be interesting to have one of the players secretly working against the party.
 

77IM

Explorer
In my game, the party retreated after killing the bandits in the basement (area 21) but before they found the secret door to the caverns. Also, although the party heard Ned banging for help upstairs, they did not investigate.

I decided that the remaining smugglers would hole up. So during the night, a few of them scouted the house and killed Ned. Then the smugglers barricaded the secret door from room 20 to 21, and sabotaged the stairs from the trapdoor down to 21, in the hopes that any return visitors would fall and hurt themselves. The smugglers, hobgoblins, and Sanbalet then occupied the caverns until the PCs could show up and kill them.

This really wasn't the smartest plan for the smugglers, who would have been better off not touching anything so that the PCs think there's no one left, and then barring the secret door into the caves from the cave side so even if the PCs find it they will have trouble getting in. Better yet, they could have hidden all the smuggled goods on the jolly boat and just rowed away with them, coming back the next day.

However, sometimes the smartest plan for the enemy isn't the most fun game-play. I think it's more important to depict enemies who are active and doing stuff. Players often can't distinguish between an enemy executing a smart plan versus a stupid one, but enemies sitting passively can stick out like a sore thumb.
 

Hussar

Hero
And, something to remember is that the ship is coming sometime. So, making some defensive preparations and then holing up makes sense for the smugglers. They aren't terribly interested in fighting.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Another option is to let one of the characterless players play as Ned, briefing them in private in thier role as a mole. This would generally be a temporary situation, but it can sometimes be interesting to have one of the players secretly working against the party.
I've done such things in the past, but with this specific group I'm not sure it would work well.
 

Gilladian

Villager
I will be running a very episodic version of this adventure with new players in August. I hope to have multiple excursions to the house, and will need to make changes each time. I am adding a “haunting noise machine” in the attic, some illusions in the main level, and each time they return, I will try to plan some unique rp scenario, like a peddlar on the road, or a cute, harmless animal hiding under the porch, etc... Other ideas would be welcome. If they make it as far as the ship, I may also want to add to the length of it, too. Maybe add some interesting things in the hold to explore, or a short sailing run for them to go on.
 

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