The Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh #111 It's A Trap!

Goonalan

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Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #086: Revelations.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 8
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 8

NPCs
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by George) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick) RETIRED
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
Tarbin Tul (played by goonalan) Male Human Bard RETIRED
Ubmo (played by Goonalan) Supreme Being Lvl 1
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.

Servants/Familiars
Gerald (Bat/Giant Bat) servant/mount of New Tricks
Owly (Owl) Vinnie’s familiar

The Dark Squad’s to-do list-


  1. Return to Fallowstone Holy, church of Oghma, pick up info (Witch's Tor & Pact of the Flame, although the Dark Squad probably know all about this stuff already). What else do you need to find out about? See below.
  2. Warn Ashby- the Soggy's (Sahuagin) are coming!
  3. Vinnie needs to be back for the next Saltmarsh Council meeting on the 1st Kythorn (June).
  4. Find the other four Symbols of Ub, one was left in Deepbridge (Duergar fortress in the Underdark). The others need to be found, they belonged to- Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit (halfling killer), Antonio De La Crane (posh kid druid alchemist) & Giggles (crazy wood elf). All of these folk lived in the Saltmarsh region, the Dark Squad have found the De La Crane Manse (in the Dreadwood) and the De La Crane Crypt (in Saltmarsh Cemetary).
  5. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood?
  6. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  7. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame you need to find the hidden weapons left to fight Ashardalon, these are in a dragon-in-flight shaped barrow in Farrow Woods.
  8. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame prepare the Witch's Tor for the coming of the starfall, the Witch's Tor is in the Drowned Forest, in the Mere of the Dead Men.
  9. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame track down the last member of the Pact, a wild elf adventurer called Giggles- and finally put her spirit to rest, and also recover her maze button. Location unknown. SEE 2. ABOVE.
This is session 86, and a cracker (although not lots happened- except chatter and revelations) and I've almost caught up at last.

The Dark Squad, after their Moon Pool visions, have decided to stop off in Ubton, a town that has adorned their map of the region for quite some time, the town of Ub, that may be worth investigating. The settlement, as it turns out (or else the fortified walls) were constructed (paid for) by a dwarf called Ub, he found the town effectively nearly three hundred years ago.

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Ubton, the town of Ub, and it really is a very nice place- well maintained and, well... just really nice.

And as the Dark Squad have discovered, Ub's son- Dargan Ub still lives and works here, he's the captain of the watch, and so a visit is on the cards. It takes a while to locate Dargan, but eventually- after a strained explanation the Dark Squad get a chance to question the son of Ub.

As stated above, this isn't an easy conversation, keep in mind the Squad are of the opinion that Ub is/was a primordial and/or god-like-being (shaped like a dwarf) who has been on Toril since the very beginning. How do you tell someone that? So, we go around the houses, and Vinnie and Nicky in tandem are a delight, even Newt gets involved- and he's polite with it.

Yep, you read that right. I've no idea what was going on.

But here's the thing, Vinnie makes sure that neither he nor his compatriots let the cat out of the bag, the questions asked are with regard to the activities of the Eyes in the Night, the adventuring party that included Ub in its ranks.

And so... after much chatter the Squad learn that Ub abandoned his son and wife (now deceased) when Dargan was just eight years old (200+ years ago), Ub went adventuring, never to return- his loss broke Dargan's mother's heart. As I said, it's a hard conversation, but the PCs say all the right things, are very sympathetic, and as importantly some of them roll stupid high with their checks.

At one point the chatty pair (Vinnie and Nicky) managed five checks in a row all 20+ with their charm offensive.

So moved is Dargan that he takes the time to lead the Squad into the basement of the town hall, in which languishes a life-size stone statue of a short, plainly dressed dwarf- the figure has a coin in his hand. The coin is, of course, a maze button- not a real one (the PCs make lots of checks) but a sculpted version of the real thing. This is Ub, but the PCs have seen him before, as Durgeddin the Black on a sarcophagi in the Glitterhame, all the way back in the Forge of Fury adventure. Also, on another sarcophagi in the dwarven halls beneath Squabblepot, and... in statue form along with the Dwarven gods, in the passageway chambers that lead to Tao.

Ub, pardon the pun, is becoming ubiquitous.

But, that's all there is to find out from Dargan, the Dark Squad learn that Ub was a family dwarf before he was an adventurer.

He's had many lives, it seems.

Then, the Dark Squad are back on the road, they want to get to Fallowstone Holy, to find the answers to the questions they asked there earlier, they hired/paid the adherents of Oghma and Deneir to do the research.

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The road to Fallowstone, note the Witch Wood, and in it the Bandit's Lair- that becomes relevant a little later, keep reading...

The trip is uneventful, all summer country lanes and beautiful weather, nothing untoward, they make their way to the temple and soon after get into action- more chatter. Just to say the Dark Squad have more questions/topics/subjects that they're keen to employ the good folk here to further examine, so- there's plenty to be done here.

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Fallowstone Holy, with Sister Annabolezia (Deneir) and Brother Schenk (Oghma).

In fact so keen are the Dark Squad to regale the brothers and sisters of the temple with their tales, and in doing so get a bunch more questions asked, that they eventually persuade the fellows here to allow them to stay the night. The Dark Squad are very generous with their donations, and also keen to spend more money on a variety of other research subjects.

They learn, that-

The Pact of the Wild Flame is/was an ancient elven organisation purported to have been active in this region, although- a very long time ago. The only recent (well, fairly recent- 200+ years ago) mention of the organisation is in the histories of Lowden, the local guards there reported a battle outside of the town taking place on Witch Hill (in the Witch Wood). Involved in the fracas was a local, and somewhat renown (at the time), adventuring party lead by a dwarf called Ub, versus a dragon (possibly black) and forces that may have belonged to either the Red Wizards of Thay or the Cult of the Dragon.

Note, the PCs have been to Witch Wood, they chased a bunch of bandits back to their lair there, actually within the bandit lair itself Newt unleashed a pair of wights on himself and the rest of the Squad. After the battle was won the Dark Squad noted that the wights were Thayan warriors (in life), so... that fits with the above.

And the Eyes in the Night, it seems, were also good at their job.

We move on...

To the Witch's Tor, which was the other topic the Dark Squad asked the priest's here to examine, but again- the PCs have since learned a lot more about this place, including its location, but the new info is that the Witch's Tor is a very modern name for a haunted spot in the Drowned Forest, said latterly to be inhabited by spooky lights (and possibly the undead, dark fey, hags- that kind of thing).

But that's not the news- the Witch's Tor is actually an ancient elven ruin, from millennia past, one of many such ruins that can be found in the Mere of the Dead Men, its archaic elven names translates as- the beacon gate.

So, that fits too, and now the Dark Squad are on a roll.

There follows another hour or so (real time) of chatter, and more questions- many of which will require more research, basically the info will not be available for at least a tenday, and the PCs are paying premium rates, they spend/donate the best part of 500gp here.

But, there are more revelations.

The Dark Squad ask the priest's about the three missing adventurers, members of the Eyes in the Night, that they are looking for...

Giggles, the wild elf, no information available, alas.

Antonio De La Crane, well- that's local news, 200+ years ago and the De La Cranes were the big money in the Saltmarsh region, Antonio was however the last male sire, and he, well he was murdered by...

Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit, a halfling ex-pirate/smuggler, from Lowhill, a halfling village situated just outside of Saltmarsh. Or so the story goes, although Rambles was never caught or tried for the slaying.

So, a little more information to add to the investigation.

Then early the next day, rise and shine, and back on the road- next stop- Ashby, to tell the good folk there that the soggy's (sahuagin) are coming.

Another beautiful late spring, early summer's day and the Dark Squad are making good time...

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Here they all are, the Dark Squad on their mounts- note Ram is on Spartacus, his giant goat, while leading his riding horse- Carruthers. Vinnie is mounted on his riding horse- Persephone. Daktari on his warhorse- Ramvin (paid for by Ram & Vinnie). Nicky is perched on Alouicious, his very fat pony. While Newt is grumbling on the back of Unlucky Colin, his nervous third mount (clue: his previous two mounts died/killed by the warlock).

Then, there are lots of noises coming from over the hill on the road ahead, screeching and shouting, and... goblins, note the PCs at this juncture made five perception checks (or similar) and the lowest was... well, over 20.

Therefore less than a minute later when a trail of goblin wolf (and worg) riders coming rushing down the road, and across the nearby fields, well- there's a Spike Growth spell waiting for them, and also Daktari and Nicky standing in the middle of the road as bait.

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The PCs have parked their horses and are about their business, note Nicky's theory here was to talk to the goblins to see what they wanted. Not bad, but then he rolled a '4' on his initiative, and then the war started.

It's a massacre, and particularly so because the encounter is 1000 XP worth of goblins and wolves, no threat at all, but the Dark Squad go hog heaven and a majority of the enemy get shredded, blasted, and/or maimed in short order.

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Berk, a forest goblin archer, he ended up stranded in Vinnie's Spike Growth spell clutching onto the waystone in the road, trying desperately not to get shot by Newt or Ram, and to not fall into the Spike Growth, he saw what it did to the wolf he was riding.

Berk lives for approx. six more seconds.

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Nimby, forest goblin worg rider. Six seconds later Ram manages to shoot an arrow through the goblin's head from nearly 100 feet away. Nimby's head explodes like a ripe cantaloupe.

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So, in order of circles- Vinnie's Spike Growth with Berk still holding onto the waystone within. Nicky's Twilight-Healing nonsense, and then Vinnie drops a Plant Growth (the real big circle). Why? You'd have to ask him.

The fight is done in just over ten seconds.

But here's the thing, a little later the Squad discover that the goblin loot is, well... stuff that they have clearly robbed from a house/home nearby.

And so it proves, the Dark Squad- lead by Daktari and Vinnie, find their way following the goblin's trail to a large-ish house (clearly not a peasant's abode) a little way off the road, the place has clearly been attacked.

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"Helloooooooooooooooooo!"

The Dark Squad cautiously head in, 'hello'ing and making their presence known, no replies- and the rooms here are a mess, with blood aplenty pooled in places on the floor, and on the furniture, the ceiling and the walls.

That's not good.

There's a sound- upstairs, a loud thump.

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Ram is sent up to investigate, and soon after it all gets a little bit crazy.

Over the course of the next few minutes various items of furniture snatch themselves up from their resting places and hurl themselves at members of the Dark Squad. Daktari gets framed by a large landscape picture as it slams down from the wall on top of him, Ram gets hit by a chair, but... there are no enemies to see.

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The rest of the Dark Squad come running, except for Newt, he heads outside, you'd have to ask him why.

The PCs are on the look out for anything odd/strange- what's going on here? The smarter members of the gang are shouting out for the violence to stop. Nicky and Vinnie very quickly work out that they are likely dealing with the angry spirits of those that (recently) died here (maybe, it's a working theory).

Eventually, after several more attacks the pair (Nicky & Vinnie) manage to calm the violence, and then figure out a way to communicate with the malevolence- paper and pencil are deployed and a moment later the pencil is picked up and used, the scrawl says- “they killed us!”

It must be said however that Newt deals with a similar situation, in a different room in the house, and in his own inimitable way. He offers the equally violent spirit that he encounters (it threw a bed frame at him) a one way trip to hell to sit at his master's side (is he referring to Belphegor or Far-Fer-Nar, who knows). Remarkably (after a '20') Newts threats have the same reaction, the violent spirit quietens.

So, that's nice.

But it's also the end of the session.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

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Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #087: The Soggy's Are Coming!

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 8
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/1
Vincenzo (played by Jim) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 8

NPCs
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by George) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick) RETIRED
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
Tarbin Tul (played by goonalan) Male Human Bard RETIRED
Ubmo (played by Goonalan) Supreme Being Lvl 1
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.

Servants/Familiars
Gerald (Bat/Giant Bat) servant/mount of New Tricks
Owly (Owl) Vinnie’s familiar

The Dark Squad’s to-do list-


  1. Warn Ashby- the Soggy's (Sahuagin) are coming!
  2. Vinnie needs to be back for the next Saltmarsh Council meeting on the 1st Kythorn (June).
  3. Awaiting new answers to new questions from the priests at Fallowstone Holy, info will be sent to Saltmarsh for around the 10th of Kythorn (June).
  4. Find the other four Symbols of Ub, one was left in Deepbridge (Duergar fortress in the Underdark). The others need to be found, they belonged to- Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit (halfling killer from Lowhill), Antonio De La Crane (posh kid druid alchemist) & Giggles (crazy wood elf). All of these folk lived in the Saltmarsh region, the Dark Squad have found the De La Crane Manse (in the Dreadwood) and the De La Crane Crypt (in Saltmarsh Cemetary).
  5. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood?
  6. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  7. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame you need to find the hidden weapons left to fight Ashardalon, these are in a dragon-in-flight shaped barrow in Farrow Woods.
  8. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame prepare the Witch's Tor for the coming of the starfall, the Witch's Tor is in the Drowned Forest, in the Mere of the Dead Men.
  9. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame track down the last member of the Pact, a wild elf adventurer called Giggles- and finally put her spirit to rest, and also recover her maze button. Location unknown. SEE 2. ABOVE.
This is session 87, and we seem to be on a roll again, it was superb, although its mostly lots of chatter, and a revelation or two, and I've caught up at last.

So, the Dark Squad are in a house just off the beaten track that has very recently been attacked by a bunch of goblin wolf riders, forest goblins as it happens, and the Falcon has told the PCs that these fellows mostly inhabit the Dreadwood. Although, it's goblin season at the moment, time for goblin warriors to venture out to prove their worth, claim a little glory for themselves and their tribe.

The PCs have just calmed the two spirits inhabiting the upper floor of the bloody abode, and so the chatter continues for a while, or at least Vinnie and Nicholai take it in turns to ask questions of the spirits who are writing their answers manipulating a pencil to scrawl on paper supplied by the Squad.

The Squad also take the time to return all of the items that the recently slaughtered goblins had on their person, all of which was no doubt stolen from this place. But the spirits are still unsettled, unable to pass on, and the cause-

“Where are your mortal wemains, oh iwate spiwits, so that we may lay them to west?” Nicholai lisps and enquires.

“Below” is the scrawled reply.

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Note this is George's PC screens, and it looks lush- there's even some pictures of the fab four (the players) to the right. From top to bottom, introducing George who plays Nicholai, Bear who plays Newt, Jim playing Vinnie & Daktari, and Kev guiding Ram. That's me at the bottom- I don't have a camera on my PC which cost me nearly £300 from Tesco, ten or so years ago (it's made by Palitoy, I think).

The basement is a nasty looking place, and... the packed earth floor here is uneven, in places, and it's soon discovered that there are bodies buried here, four of them. The first is dug up, and... the Squad have no idea who the fellow is. A young-ish male human, who looks to have been much abused but most likely died when his throat was cut, possibly three or so months ago.

We'll get to the other three bodies in a while, because there's also a door down here, bolted shut from the outside (this side) and within, well... Ram can hear something or someone moving about.

The rogue, when the rest of the Squad are positioned and ready, springs the door open and staggering into the doorway comes a zombie, a female figure in a cotton dress in her mid-40's, perhaps- recently deceased (and then reanimated). It seems she suffered before her execution. Oddly, for such a fresh corpse, the shambling undead is riddled with maggots.

It gets nasty, more nasty than the Dark Squad accounted for initially, there's a second zombie in the newly revealed room, a young girl- similarly tortured, killed and reanimated, and likewise maggot infested.

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The shambling undead emerge, that's Vinnie's Moonbeam just behind the pair, and that greyish circle before the druid, that's a freshly spewed swarm of maggots. Classy! Note Daktari has already taken a couple of hits, while Ram is about to take a pasting. My dice!

The first thing to note is the zombies hit hard- tearing at Ram and Daktari, both PCs are bloodied in a matter of seconds (two claw attacks each for piercing plus necrotic damage = 3d6 + whatever per hit, and they keep on hitting).

What's worse both zombies also spew torrents of maggots at random targets, it also helps that the undead pair have just short of 100 hit points each at the start of the encounter.

A little later, after Vinnie has unleashed his Moonbeam and the zombie pair have been shoved back into their former cell- great work by Newt with his Eldritch/Fiery Blasts (can't remember which it was). Anyway, Nicholai wanders too close to the action- while shutting and securing the door to lock the undead back in- the cleric of Twilight is swathed in maggoty-spew.

Note, all of the PCs used Inspiration Points to re-roll failed saves to avoid the maggoty-spew, they figured out very quickly that nothing good was going to come of suffering this attack. Alas, Nicholai's Dex save re-roll is another failure.

A short while later and the dhampir can feel the maggots, they've crawled inside his armour and are eating away at his flesh. A very rushed application, by Ram, of a dose of Keoghtom's Ointment (Cure Disease) saves the day.

Note, at this point Nicholai was taking 2d6 damage per turn as the maggots burrowed deeper into his flesh.

Meantime the now very badly wounded maggot wreathed zombies smash their way back out of their former cell, and wander back into the fight, but the pair are mostly broken at this point- particularly as the Moonbeam has been searing their flesh all the while.

The rest of the fight takes seconds, although both zombies- when they fall, spew out one last swarm of grotesque squirming maggots. Newt clears these away with more Fiery Blasts.

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The grey-ish circle is another pile of maggoty spew.

The fight is won.

Although much healing is needed by Ram and Daktari.

Then, after a brief rest, follow more investigations, and eventually exhumations.

Then chatter is about trying to make sense of what has been discovered here.

The two zombies were the inhabitants here, a mother and daughter- killed by goblins less than eight hours earlier, both had been tortured/abused before death. The Dark Squad also remember back to the goblin wolf riders they fought earlier on the road, Ram recalls that one of the buggers that got away was riding a Worg (so, probably a boss) and now the rogue thinks back- the creature looked like a shaman, or else a witch doctor.

So, the goblins did this- killed the folks here and then raised them as maggoty zombies (note, the pair were actually Kyuss Zombies with added flavour-build).

But, what about the four bodies that are interred in the cellar here? Well, they've been dead and in the ground here for between one and three months, they were all killed here- singularly at different times, their throats cut. Although, there are signs that the chamber that the zombies were corralled in had been put to similar use in the past. These poor fellows were obviously also tortured before they were offed.

At this point the Dark Squad are thinking that the mother and daughter are responsible for the murdered bodies in the basement, but... well, that doesn't sit right.

But then the rest of the house gets searched and... a half-finished letter is found, dated yesterday- it looks as if the author was disturbed mid-sentence, possibly by the goblin's attack. The letter is written to the author's sister, in Saltmarsh (presumed), and tells a sad tale. The recent death of the writer's husband, and in terrible circumstance, and the fact that they (the author and her daughter, Rachel) have had to move to their present location, because of their lack of money. The author seems in all respects sane and normal, an educated woman suffering the loss of her husband and her former life.

The letter is signed by Anna Maria Blevins, wife of Alfred Blevins.

Blevins, perhaps you remember, fell foul of the Dark Squad (and the Slagg brothers) very early on in the PCs adventures here. Blevins was an arsehole, and a racist, and... well, not a nice fellow, he managed the warehouse that the PCs had to collect a variety of stuff from to take back to Farhill Mine.

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That's Blevins in the warehouse, all the way back in session 34.

However, a little later on in their adventures the PCs discovered that Blevins had been captured, beaten and then burnt to death in a place called Hecse Field, just outside of the village of Ravendale. Which isn't that far from here.

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Hecse Field, and the remains of Alfred Blevins, all the way back in session 49a.

So, who killed what, killed who?

To make clear.

The bodies, all dockworkers and the like from Saltmarsh- Ram thinks one of the dead also worked at the Blevin's warehouse, have all been dead here for at least a month, the oldest three months.

Blevins' was kidnapped, tortured and then incinerated about two tendays ago.

Anna Maria & Rachel Blevins only moved into this place two or three days ago.

They didn't stay long, the goblins killed them yesterday.

There's little else to find, although much more head-scratching and second guessing for a little while. Daktari in the meantime digs graves for Anna Maria and Rachel Blevins. Newt attempts to pay tribute to this terrible tragedy by setting the house on fire, you'll note I used the word 'attempts' there, because... Newt doesn't get his way.

Here's a thing, the dynamic has changed (or is changing, finding a new equilibrium) in the Dark Squad, viz- Newt is usually able to talk Vinnie around to his way of thinking (sorta), and Ram generally doesn't give a stuff, and so he gets away (quite a lot) with his petty arson, but now... Well, Vinnie doesn't think torching the building is a good idea, and nor does Nicholai, and then... Ram has an opinion, and the rogue's opinion is- “No.”

Note, Ram always has an opinion, it just so happens that most often his opinion is- “Whatever.”

We circle for a while, with Newt cajoling- the conflagration will be a marvellous denouement to the deceased's, no doubt, humdrum lives, that kind of thing, but... “No.”

And so the Dark Squad mount up and head on, there's enough light in the day- down the road to the small town of Omust, Vinnie and Ram stop off to tell the authorities there about the situation at the Blevins House, eventually giving a statement (over a late lunch) to the local Sgt. in the Inn.

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The Old Dwarf Inn.

What now?

The signboard for the establishment depicts an old dwarf, arms folded over his copious beard, and depicted on the back of both of the old dwarf's hands are tattooed- a pair of maze buttons.

As it turns out the inn was built and very possibly formerly run by a dwarf, called Ub, although that was centuries past or so the present owner tells them when Omust was just half-a-dozen families and a permanent camp for wood cutters and charcoal burners.

Bloody hell!

You wait ages for one Ub to turn up, and then all of a sudden six come along.

As stated last time, he's Ub-iquitous.

But there's nothing else to find here, and so- the Squad are in a rush to get to Ashby, remember- the Soggy's are coming! And so they head off, attempting to urge their mounts on all the way to the village.

Note, Ashby has retained a place in the Dark Squad's heart, it was the start of Newt- the happy-go-lucky, big-spending, Newt the Magnificent.

Back when he was way less creepy.

Anyway, the Squad are therefore unhappy to see in the last light of day, roiling back smoke issuing from the spot down the road that is Ashby.

The Squad whip/urge/Fireball* their mounts in an attempt to race to save the good folk there, the last time they were in Ashby they swore to defend the place with their lives. It seems an opportunity has arisen.

*The Squad have to make Handle Animal/Ride checks in order to urge their already tired mounts to go faster, Newt fails spectacularly (although, not a '1') and so reverts to plan B. The tabaxi warlock aims a Fireball behind his mount, Unlucky Colin, but close enough for the riding horse to feel the lick of the flame at its rear.

Unlucky Colin finds third, fourth and then very soon after fifth gear, Newt makes more checks to hang on to the terrified beast (and remarkably does so).

Vinnie and Daktari are well ahead of the race however, and are therefore the first to see that the burning and black smoke come from the stubble fields surrounding, the village itself looks to be in great shape, and soon after dozens of the locals have come out to see...

The Return of the Dark Squad.

There is cheering.

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Ashby!

Newt arrives, at speed, and on a still panicked Unlucky Colin, and then with a Handle Animal '20' he manages the ultimate dismount, while scattering copper coins, landing after a somersault- with his lute in his hands and a song on his lips.

Newt the Magnificent is back in town.

The crowd go wild. chanting his name.

Ten minutes later and wherever the Dark Squad (Newt) go, so does the crowd- the twenty or thirty hanger's-on are eventually persuaded to head off to the Red Dragon Inn, ostensibly to tell the halfling proprietor- Stiggy Hatpeg, that Newt is back, and that he'll be performing there this evening.

Meantime the adults go and see the authority figures here- Lukas Gnarlyfisk (village speaker/headman) and Ludwig Clamzucker (priest of the Sea), Daktari tells the pair about his and Newt's terrible vision.

The text from session 73-

An invisible wave of mental anguish washes through the chamber as the great stone door lurches upwards, and open, into a concealed cavity. The terror wave (alas) affects only Newt and the Sky Pony barbarian (the others passed their wisdom saves).

The pair, while squealing and hooting in fear, suffer a vision, it's this-

A bunch of nasty looking sea creatures (identified by Daktari as 'Soggys' = Sahuagin) arise from the waves and clamber up and onto the docks of a pleasant-looking sleepy sea-side village. Seconds later, as the gibbering Dark Squad pair watch on, and the people of this unknown place begin to suffer- to pay with their lives. The soggys set about about their terrible slaughter under the watchful eye of some larger leader type, although neither Newt nor Daktari can make out who or what this creature/person is (they both failed their checks).


Note, a little later the pair work out that the village seen in the vision was Ashby.

Back to the here and now-

But, well- Lukas doesn't think so, everything is well with the world of Ashby- the crops are good and the weather, and fishing, is better still. Ludwig smiles along with the village headman as he dismisses the Dark Squad's concerns, but Vinnie spots that the priest of the Sea has just skipped a beat.

A while later Ludwig gets the Dark Squad to himself, he too has a story to tell, and now he's worried, very worried- he also had a dream about a tenday ago. In his dream he saw a sea devil (a sahuagin/soggy) in the opening to a sea cave just a few miles up the coast from Ashby. Ludwig knows this place, it's called Salt Cave, and in times of trouble it is one of the places that the inhabitants of the village can flee to. The place is out the way, and only accessible from the sea. Some of the village folk also use the cave to... well, store things, smuggled things, nothing untoward- mostly just rum, grog and the like.

Anyway, long story short, Ludwig had the same dream again two nights ago, and so yesterday he sent two local fishermen Bobby & Trevor Hopscotch to take a look, but they've not returned...

Note, the DM at this point delights in telling the players, after Daktari and Newt's vision above (Session 73) I put a date on when the sahuagin invasion of Ashby would happen, the Dark Squad have arrived at the village five days before that date, and so this is their chance to change fate/the future.

Further note, and this is for the players- there's a timeline, there are events that are going to happen- with or without you, and more of this stuff coming, your choices (what you do, when you do it) are becoming increasingly important.

So, and keep in mind the PCs didn't get to Ashby until nine bells this evening, there's nothing much more to be done for today. Well, except for the show of course, Newt the Magnificent goes full throttle, with fireworks, songs and stories, and... remarkably he rolls just above average (even with his stats/skills/bonuses). But, that wont suffice and so he spends an Inspiration Point, and when that doesn't cut it he uses Dark One's Own Luck, and still manages only one properly good check out of three.

So, Ashby is entertained, the warlock spends in the region of 40gp in the Red Dragon Inn- drinks for the village, and yet...

Overheard from one of the booths-

Peasant One: Nor az gud az e wuz lazt time, mindz yew. 'e made ol' Ma Coddles' 'ead to com orff, it grew back, loik.

Peasant Two: I rememberz it like it wuz yestermorn, an' he made fire belch from 'iz bakk trumpet!

The rest of the evening, before sleep, is spent chatting with Ludwig Clamzucker- sahuagin and fighting underwater are the topics up for discussion, prep for the next session, because that's the end of this one.

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The Dark Squad Are Coming For The Soggy's! Next time.

We spent the last twenty minutes reviewing the rules for underwater combat/casting/etc. and with good reason- got that fellers?

The Dark Squad are going for a swim.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 



Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Twilight Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #088: The Twilight Squad New Hires.

The Twilight Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Big Man (played by George) Male Human Fighter Lvl 1
Dave McTiernan (played by Bear) Male Human Fighter Lvl 1
Grumpy Slagg (played by Kev) Male Dwarf Monk Lvl 2
Halibert Shambles (played by Bear) Male Human Fighter Lvl 2
Juanita Branch-Withers (played by Kev) Female Forest Gnome Wizard Lvl 1
Nancy Female (played by George) Human Cleric of the Sea (Poseidon & Umberlee) Lvl 2
Porthole Slagg (played by the DM & Haggis) Male Dwarf Barbarian Lvl 2

And I bet you are thinking... what the bloody hell is going on here.


Well, as it turns out for the next six weeks or so Haggis/Jim (who plays Vinnie & Daktari from the Dark Squad) is rehearsing, and then starring, in a play. Therefore he's only available after 10-ish on a Tuesday night, or indeed almost any night.

So, we're playing the Twilight Squad, and there are new hires. The three remaining players- Bear, George & Kev were given carte blanche to go and roll up a new PC for themselves, anything they liked- although, they could co-ordinate, if they wanted to.

They chose not to, although that's not a slight- I like that.

The Twilight Squad's new hires are, after a little chat with their player/wranglers for a bit of back story-

Big Man (played by George) Male Human Fighter Lvl 1

Big Man, who actually has a name but... no one uses it, because Big Man is a stooped male human four feet eight inches tall, but he looks smaller, who is as wide as he is tall. He wields a halberd, which makes him look kinda-odd, what with him being such a shorty. He dresses badly, everything he wears is ill-fitting (too big) and very second hand, he's also a bit wild-looking, mostly unwashed and mostly smells of drunk. Big Man was raised by gnomes, it's a long story... apparently. Although being raised by a close-knit and peaceable community of little folk has not had the desired affect, none of his surrogate family and friends were particularly sad to see Big Man leave the burrow on his naming day. Aged 35 (gnomes live longer than humans, remember) Big Man was unleashed on an unsuspecting world, he very quickly graduated towards bars (he likes a drink he has discovered) and once ensconced within bars he has majored in brawling. For the first thirty-five years of Big Man's life he has been... well, the big... man! Discovering, aged 35 and a few days, that he is in fact- a very small man, has tipped him over the edge. Big Man is angry, a lot of the time, and in particular with anyone he has to look up to. He's spent the last two years either brawling in the streets (with a little jail time) or else fighting in various mercenary outfits- mostly against the greenskins.

The Twilight Squad found Big Man drunk and obnoxious, having just taken another beating, in a back alley in Burle.

Big Man is played by George.

Dave McTiernan (played by Bear) Male Human Fighter Lvl 1

Dave McTiernan is not a young man any more (he's in his 40's), and he's had enough of the mean streets of Burle, he served in the town watch for the last twenty-something years. Dave is a tough and nasty looking human, his clothes and his armour all show signs of dedicated service- although they're in good repair. The McTiernan family are famous in the Burle town watch, Dave's dad- Doug (Mad Doug), was till his dying day (not so long ago) also a watchman. All of Dave's brothers- Derek, Dan, Dom, Damian, Dean, Dudley and Desmond also serve in the watch. The McTiernan's are, for want of a better word, a gang- an armed and very dangerous gang, it also helps that they're the law.

Dave however has done with that, he figures there's more money to be made enforcing the law elsewhere. Dave has kept his Burle town watch badge, and expended his jurisdiction massively. He uses his badge in conjunction with his silver-tongue, and hulking menace, to enforce a new type of law, he calls it Dave's Law.

Dave is played by Bear.

Lastly...

Juanita Branch-Withers (played by Kev) Female Forest Gnome Wizard Lvl 1

Juanita Branch-Withers is a small wizened witch like female forest gnome, small even for her race. She has spent the most of her life surviving in the Mere of the Dead Men- not an easy task but she's been at it for a while- she's 163 years old. She's an outsider even to her people- who think her a little outre even for them, she's just too witchy. Juanita has fore-sworn manners and when the swearing starts she gives as good as she gets, she's a feisty one- think female snarky/sweary Yoda- “Off naughty word you can!”. Juanita dresses badly- her clothing is for camouflage, dirt is positively encouraged. Juanita joined the Twilight Squad, and not the other way around, one minute she wasn't there and then suddenly while in camp by the road to Burle the adventurers found that they had a an aged female gnome sat at their fire. Juanita hasn't disclosed much to her new colleagues, only that she will be joining them, at least for a while, on their adventures. None of the other PCs had the bottle to say 'no' to her, or indeed to ask any other pertinent questions of the dirty wizened gnome.

Who knows what Juanita is up to?

Juanita is played by Kev, my bro.

Oh, last bit- Porthole Slagg will be botted by me until Jim (also known as Haggis) gets into the game, again because of his rehearsals et al that wont be until the last hour of every session.

Oh, do you remember this-

The Dark Squad’s to-do list-

Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?

The above task has been on the Dark Squad's to-do list for like, well... forever. In truth it was a section of the present Dark Squad mega-adventure that I designed for Buggles to enjoy.

Also, Buggles received a prophecy from one of the Dead Bad Ancestors, it was-

Ancestor #5-
I am Golcanz and I am forgotten.
The answer you seek [Golcanz looks directly at Buggles] is at the bottom of the Goblin’s stair/stare.”


The Dark Squad had a chat about the prophecies and came up with the following for this one-

This is all about Gwen, Buggles is certain- he's going to find all about his Skeleton companion at the bottom of the Goblin's Stair.

The Goblin's Stair being either a staircase of some sort, the piercing gaze of a Goblin- possibly a statue of a Goblin, or else a stair made from Goblins- dead or alive.


Since this time the Dark Squad have further learned that the Goblin Stair is the name of the Goblin King's lair, it's situated in the Dreadwood, possibly near to Blackedge (a small village).

Therefore the Dark Squad have passed the above info onto the Twilight Squad, who have taken up the task.

Then... well, we begin.

Although the first ninety minutes of the session are spent rolling up the player's new PCs' Big Man, Dave McTiernan & Juanita Branch-Withers, and also levelling up the existing members of the Twilight Squad- Grump & Porthole Slagg, Halibert Shambles and his would-be (not) girlfriend, Nancy. This last bunch are now all level two.

This then is session 88, and we're on it, and some of us are drinking.

But, there's lots of chatter to be had in this one, the first stop on the trip is the Falcon's Nest, the Twilight Squad meet with the Falcon and from her learn all that they can about the Goblin's Stair. Which is- it's the lair of the Goblin King, it's near Blackedge (both of which they knew already) and the more pertinent fact- there's a gnome in Blackedge called Rasshold Sharp, he's a curmudgeon, but here's the thing, he was a prisoner of the Goblin King for over a year, and he knows where the entrance to the Goblin Stair is.

The Twilight Squad also learn that there's a standing bounty (paid by the Falcon) for killing goblins, to collect on this they need to return with the severed hands of the goblins that they have slaughtered. This then is also a competition- between the players, every time they kill a goblin (deliver the killing blow) then a goblin hand will appear in their inventory (put their by the saintly DM). It's a bit gamer but we were stuck for something to do with Jim/Haggis being unavailable and I already had this bit built.

So, to Blackedge, and the journey is without incident, although the Twilight Squad- now that we're in-game proper take a good thirty minutes to introduce themselves (the new PCs) to each other. Thirty minutes because Big Man is constantly in search of an argument, while Juanita gives as good as she gets, and Dave is a sweary bully.

The original members of the Twilight Squad, Halibert in particular, are worried that the new hires are a little bit spicy.

“I don't like these new folk, Nancy gel! They're all mouthy buggers, and lummy but they like their swears!”

Halibert, played by Bear, used to be a cockney chimneysweep.

So, Blackedge. It's a small place- a fortified village on the forested slopes of Blacktop (a cliff/hill/tor), and ideally situated for defence. The settlement is guarded by a dozen-or-so members of the militia, and home to two hundred or so souls. It features a slightly up-market but rambling and dilapidated Inn (the Black Dragon), a fortified three storey watch building, a smithy and a general store called- 'Sharp's Store'.

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George's wrap-around screens. That's Blacktop, looking up from Blackedge- shown next right. Then the regional map, the Twilight Squad are on the edge of the Dreadwood. Reprobates, far right- not an indication of their political leanings.

Big Man quickly finds the bar of the Black Dragon Inn, he gets three pints inside him and then tries to play the giddy-goat, but none of the locals want anything to do with the short and sweary menace.

Dave McTiernan checks in with the local watch, the McTiernan name has made it to Blackedge it seems, he's welcomed (cautiously) by the local militia.

Juanita spends her time talking to various dogs that she meets wandering the streets of the village, and then when folk think this strange she curses and/or swears at them.

The original members of the Twilight Squad meantime head for Sharp's Stores and soon after, after the spending of money (ostensibly for drink = bribery) they get to chat with Rasshold Sharp in the backroom of his now 'closed for afternoon drinking' store. Rasshold is, as stated earlier, a curmudgeonly (and sharp) fellow- but money, as is often the case, talks. Rasshold breaks off the telling of his story- my escape from the Goblin Stair, every few minutes to demand more silver and gold...

And so it goes.

Although, Big Man doesn't last long in the conversation, he keeps pronouncing naughty word Sharp's name incorrectly, funny that. Big Man spends most of the evening sitting in the street, drinking and grumbling to himself.

However, the rest of the Twilight Squad learn-

The way to the Goblin Stair, it's on the back edge of Blacktop (a tor/craggy summit), only accessible via two ravines that snake around to the rear of the rocky Blacktop, the rest is cliffs.

Alas both of the ravines are patrolled by Forest Goblins in the pay of the Goblin King, but also beholden to their mistresses- the hags of the Deep Dreadwood.

There's a path up to the summit of Blacktop at the rear, it leads up to a rickety wooden bridge that spans a fast-flowing stream. The Twilight Squad need to make their way here, and then follow the stream down into a dell, it's a climb (down).

Down in the dell- keep following the stream, all the way to the crenelated battlements of a tower, which- very oddly, pokes through the earth. Just to make clear- the rest of the tower, Rasshold Sharp eventually explains (after he's been paid some more), seems to have sunk into the stone of Blacktop.

So, follow the stream through a rotten trapdoor into the tower, but watch out because there are lots of nasty goblins down here, and keep going- all the way down to the fifth level of the tower.

Rasshold makes clear that they'll know this place because there are a pair of latrines in a circular chamber on this level of the tower. He spent the best part of a tenday hiding in one of them.

One of the walls of the tower here has been smashed open (from without), the cavern tunnel exits into the goblin's lair proper, and continues on to a cavern called Garbelgut's Palace. Garbelgut is lord here, a massively fat (and tough) goblin chief. Rasshold served as his prisoner (and jester) for nearly a year.

But here's the thing, the Twilight Squad also eventually learn, the Goblin Stair itself is below this place, descend the tower until it's final level- keep following the stream. The Goblin Stair is down there, Rasshold finally confesses.

Truth be told Rasshold Sharp has never been to the Goblin Stair proper, only to Garbelgut's Palace, but it's down there- and so he says- 'it's terrible to behold'. But he's never actually seen the place, so what does he know.

So, the Twilight Squad- once they're in the tower, can if they chose sneak (or fight) they're way all the way down to the Goblin Stair, although that would leave them with an entire goblin tribe (Garbelgut's) at their back. Or else- stop off at Garbelgut's Palace and take the scum down there before descending to the Goblin Stair.

The DM has this to say-

The further you descend the tougher the encounters get.

That's it, that's the story.

Except that Juanita also manages to prize a little extra info out of Rasshold, just for herself, but I'll not share that here.

The Twilight Squad therefore are heading into the Dreadwood, to the northernmost ravine, in the morning. Dave manages to blag a room in the militia house for the adventurers to spend the night, although several of the PCs chose to stay at the Black Dragon Inn.

Then, the next day- bright and early, to adventure.

But, let me make this clear- there are seven PCs in game, four first level and three second. I wrote (and populated) this adventure for the Dark Squad when they were level 5-ish. I could swap out a lot of the encounters but, nah!

And so, the Twilight Squad have some new rules to help them, they are-

1) All PCs have a new REACTION ACTION, so when a bad guy reveals themselves a Player/PC that sees and/or is aware of the event says "I react to that", whoever says it first gets it and can then take a single action- to move, attack, or whatever.

Example-

A wolf breaks from hiding and rushes twenty feet at PC#1, but PC#2 shouts "I react to that" first. PC#2, who already has bow in hand shoots at the wolf but misses. PC#1, shouts "I react to that" and then runs away from the wolf, or readies an attack to slice the wolf as soon as it gets into range- or does whatever it wants with its REACTION.

Note in the above example other PCs can obviously also react, but... you get one reaction/turn- it only renews after you have completed your next turn.

I'll keep track of who has a REACTION to spend, but I suggest you do too for your PCs.

So, new rule 1)- called Reaction Action event for all PCs.

2) If you kill an enemy you go again, which means- reduce an enemy to 0 HP or below and you immediately get another ACTION that you must use immediately- to move, or to attack again (if another enemy is in range), or... whatever.

Note if you kill five enemies on your turn then you only get one immediate ACTION to spend, not five. Always just one extra ACTION.

But, if you take your immediate ACTION and you kill another enemy, well... then you get another immediate ACTION, there is no maximum- so keep going.

Also note, if you kill an enemy on your REACTION ACTION, then... same, go again, as above.

So, new rule 2)- Kill and you go again.

3) Battlefield promotions, as soon as you overcome all of the enemies in an encounter then I'll drop the XP on your PCs. If you have enough XP to level up then... SHOUT OUT! Because when you do you immediately level up your PC there and then and... they get an immediate LONG REST and all of their abilities and spells are back etc. Note, this applies just to the PC/s that have levelled up- not all PCs, a gift from the gods.

So, new rule 3) Level up for recharge.

4) INSPIRATION POINTS for the win- all PCs start with two Inspiration Points, you can use them for pretty much anything, including-

to regain a (first level) spell slot already used,
to take another action,
to re-roll a bad dice,
to give advantage to self,
to use a healing surge (spend one recovery HD immediately), and...
to take another REACTION.

At the end of every completed encounter the PCs will receive another Inspiration Point, so always spend at least one point in every encounter.

New rule 4) Inspiration Points FTW.

Last new rule.

5) Describe the action/outcome for bonuses to hit, skills checks, damage or whatever roll you like.

Not so much role-play as narrative.

Example #1- PC #1 says "I stab the goblin."
DM says- "Roll to hit."

Example #2- PC #2 says "I yell- 'naughty word you fatso' (in goblin) at the goblin and then when it's dithering/getting angry I gut him like a squealing pig."
DM says- "Roll to hit, at +2."

Example #3- PC #3 says "I ready an action, as soon as that goblin sniper pops his head out I shoot him in the face- blood goes everywhere causing him to stand up disorientated, wander about and fall off the cliff."
DM says- "Nice, roll to hit with advantage, and if you hit it's a crit."

So, the gods are smiling on the Twilight Squad, but they're also going to be very much out of their depth, let's see how it goes.

And so...

Well, at midday the Twilight Squad enter the northern ravine, and soon after are ambushed by a trio of forest goblins, and a pair of mangy wolves. But here's the thing, at the end of the session we've only just concluded the goblin's surprise turn.

Just to make clear- that's not because we got bogged down with the above new rules, we only had ten minutes for the start of the ambush, there was a lot of chatter this evening, and when Haggis finally arrived in game all of the other players were keen to show Jim their (not very) shiny new PCs.

And so, the fight, briefly-

Three forest goblin shooters (with bows) have emerged from the undergrowth, all three up on ledges to either side of the lower ravine path, Grumpy & Porthole Slagg have both been shot and wounded, although both have retaliated in kind, as have nearly all members of the Twilight Squad. After great dice rolls two of the forest goblin shooters are dead. The third goblin ambusher has retreated into cover. Also, a pair of mangy wolves have emerged from the foliage, one is immediately spotted by the gnome witch/wizard, and hit by Juanita's Chill Touch (and killed), the second is still snarling and trying to bite Dave McTiernan.

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Porthole gets shot, a moment and a CRIT later and the forest goblin shooter is dead. There's a mangy dead wolf in the foliage, it didn't even make it out of the long grasses- Juanita killed it.

The REACTION ACTIONS are working well.

Big Man meantime has taken a few wounds- he was trying to climb up one of the scarps in the ravine to get at the retreating goblin shooter, he didn't make it ('1') and so is sprawled in a heap in the dirt, clutching his elbow and swearing up a storm.

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Big Man fails to clamber up, and falls on his arse... two dead forest goblin shooters, a dead mangy wolf- and another snapping at Dave McTiernan.

But that's all we had time for, as I say- there really was a lot of chatter in this one, in particular the new PCs introducing themselves and then repeatedly falling out with the original members of the Twilight Squad, and each other, and anyone other NPCs that they encountered.

More fighting- lots more fighting, believe me, next time, although the next session isn't until Tuesday 24th May.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 



Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Twilight Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #089: The Twilight Squad's Struggles in Goblin Gulch.

The Twilight Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Big Man (played by George) Male Human Fighter Lvl 1
Dave McTiernan (played by Bear) Male Human Fighter Lvl 1
Grumpy Slagg (played by Kev) Male Dwarf Monk Lvl 2
Halibert Shambles (played by Bear) Male Human Fighter Lvl 2
Juanita Branch-Withers (played by Kev) Female Forest Gnome Wizard Lvl 1
Nancy Female (played by George) Human Cleric of the Sea (Poseidon & Umberlee) Lvl 2
Porthole Slagg (played by Haggis) Male Dwarf Barbarian Lvl 2


The Twilight Squad are in action, because Jim/Haggis is going to be away for the next six weeks (rehearsing and then performing in a play), only... now he isn't, he's quit the production, but we decided to play the Twilight Squad this session anyway- just to see how they went.

These are the new rules, skip ahead if you've seen them before.

1) All PCs have a new REACTION ACTION, so when a bad guy reveals themselves a Player/PC that sees and/or is aware of the event says "I react to that", whoever says it first gets it and can then take a single action- to move, attack, or whatever.

Example-

A wolf breaks from hiding and rushes twenty feet at PC#1, but PC#2 shouts "I react to that" first. PC#2, who already has bow in hand shoots at the wolf but misses. PC#1, shouts "I react to that" and then runs away from the wolf, or readies an attack to slice the wolf as soon as it gets into range- or does whatever it wants with its REACTION.

Note in the above example other PCs can obviously also react, but... you get one reaction/turn- it only renews after you have completed your next turn.

I'll keep track of who has a REACTION to spend, but I suggest you do too.

So, new rule 1)- called Reaction Action event for all PCs.

2) If you kill an enemy you go again, which means- reduce an enemy to 0 HP or below and you immediately get another ACTION that you must use immediately- to move, or to attack again (if another enemy is in range), or... whatever.

Note if you kill five enemies on your turn then you only get one immediate ACTION to spend, not five. Always just one extra ACTION.

But, if you take your immediate ACTION and you kill another enemy, well... then you get another immediate ACTION, there is no maximum- so keep going.

Also note, if you kill an enemy on your REACTION ACTION, then... same, go again, as above.

So, new rule 2)- Kill and you go again.

3) Battlefield promotions, as soon as you overcome all of the enemies in an encounter then I'll drop the XP on your PCs. If you have enough XP to level up then... SHOUT OUT! Because when you do you immediately level up your PC there and then and... they get an immediate LONG REST and all of their abilities and spells are back etc. Note, this applies just to the PC/s that have levelled up- not all PCs, a gift from the gods.

So, new rule 3) Level up for recharge.

4) INSPIRATION POINTS for the win- all PCs start with two Inspiration Points, you can use them for pretty much anything, including-
to regain a (first level) spell slot already used,
to take another action,
to re-roll a bad dice,
to give advantage to self,
to use a healing surge (spend one recovery HD immediately), and...
to take another REACTION.

At the end of every completed encounter the PCs will receive another Inspiration Point, so always spend at least one point in every encounter.

New rule 4) Inspiration Points FTW.

Last new rule.

5) Describe the action/outcome for bonuses to hit, skills checks, damage or whatever roll you like.

Not so much role-play as narrative.

Example #1- PC #1 says "I stab the goblin."
DM says- "Roll to hit."

Example #2- PC #2 says "I yell- 'naughty word you fatso' (in goblin) at the goblin and then when it's dithering/getting angry I gut him like a squealing pig."
DM says- "roll to hit, at +2."

Example #3- PC #3 says "I ready an action, as soon as that goblin sniper pops his head out I shoot him in the face- blood goes everywhere causing him to stand up disorientated, wander about and fall off the cliff."
DM says- "Nice, roll to hit with advantage, and if you hit it's a crit."

So, the gods are smiling on the Twilight Squad, but they're also going to be very much out of their depth, let's see how it goes.

BUT...

They don't work- the new rules, by which I mean to say that we slogged through what follows, and it took us nearly three-and-a-half hours to play maybe eight or nine turns of action.

The new rules didn't work for a variety of reasons.

Don't get me wrong their were some excellent moments of super-high-energy-fun, but in between, well... 1st and 2nd level PCs = lots of rolling and missing, and once all of the Inspiration Points had been spent...

Also, none of the rules above were really of any benefit to some of the PCs, in particular the casters armed only (mostly) with cantrips, both Juanita and Nancy had a very hard time of it.

If we played this again (there's a clue) then I'd allow the casters to just spam their spells- no limit to their use, in truth I should have worked this out ahead of time, or else figured something out.

So, have a read- see what you think.

But keep in mind, we're back to the Dark Squad in the next session, thank heavens.

So, Goblin Gulch, here we go, and just to say I'm going to annotate a few pictures here, a full explanation of events would be a trial, both for you to read and for me to write-

8900.jpg

The start of it all (apart from the bit in the last session), the Twilight Squad's new adventure, we had such high hopes. Oh... the action, there are goblins atop a pair of pillars in this area, they're firing their bows down on the T-Squad.

That is until Big Man goes hop-stepping and slaughtering, the gnome-sized young man manages to leap onto the first stump/stack- kill two goblins, dropping one (almost) on Halibert, and then leap to the second pillar to slaughter a third.

Nice work!

That's how it was supposed to happen.

Such high hopes.

8901.jpg

Big Man, after his leap-frog slaughter just rushes on ahead.

8902.jpg

Mangy wolves emerge from a cave to the east, Big Man forges on- flushing goblins out of hiding as he goes.

Note, part of the issue is that these buggers are Forest Goblins (I got them from Nord Games Ultimate Bestiary) and they have a bonus action Hide power and so in the image above there are actually seven goblins on the screen.

Can you spot them?

Look again.

I can see them on my screen.

But this is Big Man's turn- hence his token being highlighted, he can only see one of the goblins with his passive perception of 11.

I thought about just revealing all of the goblins but that's all of their trick- they're hard to spot, they attack from hiding. Without this talent, well... maybe I should have just played them stoopid.

8903.jpg

Juanita has not landed a hit yet, we're over an hour in- the gnomish witch therefore conjures an illusory giant (well, fairly big) frog and then uses the beast to attempt to lure other goblins out of hiding.

The trick works, a bit.

8904.jpg

The Twilight Squad rush on, this image depicts Porthole's first frenzy, the crazy Dwarf has just had to come to Big Man's rescue, the human fighter is down and bleeding out, laid low by more of the sneaky goblins. Porthole manages to cut down three goblins in a row, remember the new rule- kill an enemy and get another action, well... we've had to reinvent the charge but, what the hell.

Note, at this point Big Man is still leading the way with a four-kills-in-a-row frenzy.

Also note, I sent the PCs the picture of a fleeing goblin, top left- they seemed to think that this fellow was loaded down with treasure.

They're so... naïve/child-like/full of wonder (delete as you think fit).

I think they should probably take another look at the image.

A moment later Grumpy Slagg almost falls foul of a trip wire, while Halibert has to leap over a snapping bear trap.

Any guesses as to what the goblin pictured is doing?

I'll provide one more clue, he's not carrying a backpack full of treasure, which even at the end of the session the PCs were still convinced of.

“We've got to get down to search that goblin!”

Yeah, that's right- that was the treasure goblin.

Players!

8905.jpg

Then there are some more wolves, and more pillars with goblins on them. Also note bottom left, Big Man has just rustled up a couple more previously hidden goblins- his technique is a delight. Generally he rushes towards where ever he has just spotted a goblin, or been shot at from that direction, then dives into the undergrowth screaming threats and thrashing around with his halberd.

It's tactically terribly unwise.

It works almost every time.

8906.jpg

Halibert goes on a killing spree, see the goblin on the pillar just to NE of him, he manages to cut the legs off this fellow by leaping up from a lower pillar- nice work.

8907.jpg

Halibert keeps on killing, but this is the last picture from the session.

But here's the thing.

Grumpy Slagg kills a total of five goblins and/or wolves, Dave McTiernan the same number; Halibert maybe one more, Big Man takes down eight, but Porthole- he's a bad bugger. The dwarf with access to bombs (but not many of them) manages to kill eleven enemies, and in one well-timed slaughter he slays five enemies in a row.

So, if you've got a good to hit roll then you're in action (at least when you're not missing), but if you are casting cantrips then even if you hit you're struggling, and certainly not as able to chain multiple kills.

And that's really what the new rules were for, or else were designed to try to make happen- this was to be a shooting gallery (with melee also available). At lots of times the REACTION ACTIONS proved useful, even generating a few lesser killing sprees now and then. But... not enough.

Also, I'm going to share out a bit of the blame.

The players didn't help themselves at times- when one of them runs so far ahead then none (or few) of the others can sometimes see, or even get to, the action. You could have retreated a bit, or just spread yourselves out a bit more wisely- two on the ravines either side, three down the middle- or else some variant in which everyone is paired up.

Hey-ho, you live and you learn, and that's right- all of the Twilight Squad are still alive.

Bring on the Dark Squad, I say.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Good on you for trying something new, the slog is real.
And we played the Dark Squad last night, and it was glorious... although, that bastard Newt crippled my just short of 8,000 XP encounter. I went from pulling my punches to trying to just save one of my bad guys in a matter of moments.

It was excruciating for me, although the players seemed to spend a lot of their time laughing like drains.

Cheers goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Lol, as my players like to tell me. Okay, blame me.. you don't get the heroes you want, but the heroes you deserve.
Bastards the lot of 'em
If it weren't for my players this game would be just perfect... tbh failed saves (multiple/repeated) did me in.

I'd upped the threat significantly because Nicky, the Cleric, is just jam-packed with healing goodness and the like, but... Newt, the miserable cat-bastard...

Cheers goonalan
 


Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #090: Underwater Dark Squad.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 8
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 8

NPCs
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by George) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick) RETIRED
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
Tarbin Tul (played by goonalan) Male Human Bard RETIRED
Ubmo (played by Goonalan) Supreme Being Lvl 1
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.

Servants/Familiars
Gerald (Bat/Giant Bat) servant/mount of New Tricks
Owly (Owl) Vinnie’s familiar

The Dark Squad’s to-do list-


  1. Warn Ashby & investigate Salt Cave, the Soggy's are coming!
  2. Vinnie needs to be back for the next Saltmarsh Council meeting on the 1st Kythorn (June).
  3. Awaiting new answers to new questions from the priests at Fallowstone Holy, info will be sent to Saltmarsh for around the 10th of Kythorn (June).
  4. Find the other four Symbols of Ub, one was left in Deepbridge (Duergar fortress in the Underdark). The others need to be found, they belonged to- Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit (halfling killer from Lowhill), Antonio De La Crane (posh kid druid alchemist) & Giggles (crazy wood elf). All of these folk lived in the Saltmarsh region, the Dark Squad have found the De La Crane Manse (in the Dreadwood) and the De La Crane Crypt (in Saltmarsh Cemetary).
  5. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood?
  6. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  7. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame you need to find the hidden weapons left to fight Ashardalon, these are in a dragon-in-flight shaped barrow in Farrow Woods.
  8. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame prepare the Witch's Tor for the coming of the starfall, the Witch's Tor is in the Drowned Forest, in the Mere of the Dead Men.
  9. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame track down the last member of the Pact, a wild elf adventurer called Giggles- and finally put her spirit to rest, and also recover her maze button. Location unknown. SEE 2. ABOVE.
This is session 90, and it was glorious... for them. The players that is. The bastards. Although, tbh I bloody loved it too. It's great to be back with the Dark Squad, but- shush, don't let the players hear me saying this.

So, we're back in Ashby- and Daktari (& Newt) have had a dream/premonition- the Soggy's (sahuagin) are coming, the pair (in their shared vision) saw a sahuagin baron lead his troops ashore, to pillage Ashby, only- here they are, the Dark Squad to the rescue.

I'm happy to inform the players, they're ahead of schedule, I had planned for the visioned event to take place in around five days from now (I have a calendar of disasters planned, or something similar). So, they're ahead of the game, for now.

Therefore, after another half-an-hour (or more) reviewing (again, but we've been away from the DS for a month nearly) the rules for underwater action/combat, and figuring out what each of the PCs are doing should they (when they) head beneath the waves. Well, it takes a while, for info-

All the PCs have at least one Potion of Water Breathing.

Daktari is going to get a Freedom of Movement spell courtesy of his pal, Vinnie.

New Tricks has a Helm of Underwater Action.

Nicky has nothing else to contribute, note Nicky- in his plate armour, is a Bottom Walker and also incredibly slow, but he doesn't intend to get involved with the hitting of things (combat). He has however got a trick up his sleeve- which we will get to see in this session.

Ramshambow is wearing a suit of +1 Mariner's Studded Leather armour, so that's handy.

While Vinnie is either going to be plodding around like Nicky (but he's not weighed down with heavy armour et al) or else- well, Wildshape may come in handy.

As you can see from the above I've been distributing magic items that are going to come in handy here, there's a plan.

Last bit of news before the get-go.

We forgot all about Ubmo, the Supreme Being, so- he's not in play this session. My bad, but y'know- fun happened anyway. I forgive me, and the players didn't remind me either.

Therefore, 7.30 AM the next day, and the Squad- with Ludwig Clamzucker, Ashby's Priest of the Sea (Poseidon & Umberlee), make the journey by jolly boat to Salt Cave. Remember the PCs are in search of Bobby & Trevor Hopscotch. Ludwig who has also been having bad dreams sent the pair of Ashby fisherman to this spot two days ago- the priest also saw Soggy's in his dreams, and they were in Salt Cave.

So, this is a rescue mission... maybe.

And this session is mostly in pictures, and one or two of them in technicolour, I'm going to do a little less writing than previous (I hope) because life post-Covid (can I say that yet?) is busier, real-world.

9000.jpg

The Dark Squad are water walking (we had a discussion about how that works what with the waves etc.) but save for a few Acrobatics or Dex checks, we're moving quickly now- we want to get to the action.

Ram is, as usual, sent ahead, into Salt Cave. Ludwig and his boat are just off the screen, he's waiting there for the Dark Squad.

9001.jpg

Ram's in, and the water's much calmer in here, although the rogue can't see a way out of the high ceilinged central cavern.

9002.jpg

But then there's a small beach, and it slopes up into caverns proper, and there's light to the north, but not a sound, save the sea and the drip of the cave.

Note, the Dark Squad are being very very cautious here.

9003.jpg

The investigations begin- Nicky & Vinnie find tracks- webbed and clawed tracks, and there's been a confrontation here, bloody... two bodies were dragged away to the west.

And moments later Ram finds the remains of Bobby Hopscotch, the poor fellow has been slashed and cut repeatedly by blades, and then... consumed, or at least his lower half has.

Nicky, Vinnie and Ram are certain now- they are very definitely looking for Soggys here.

The passage continues on, illuminated by cavern fungus here and there, alas there's no picture of the pool at the end of this winding route.

The pool looks deep.

It's time for the Water Breathing Potions (et al), as the Dark Squad begin their underwater adventure.

9004.jpg

Forty feet down and in through the roof of a cavern that is another thirty or so feet deep, and full of sea water, there's just the waving fronds of kelps and other aquatic plants.

Note, there's nothing to the south or west of the chamber that Ram swims down into- there's nowhere to go except up a stepped passage to the north, or else into a cave to the east.

Not all maps are perfect.

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The Dark Squad explore both directions, Newt heading into the cavern to the east- Ram keeps an eye on the warlock's progress. While Nicky, slowly (he's a Bottom Walker, remember) clambers up the stepped shelves kicking up clouds of silt as he goes- to the north. There he discovers the remnants of ancient stonework- and after a '19' on his History check, he notes the style is dwarven.

But still, there are no enemies to be seen.

Note, the PCs entered Salt Cave at 7.50 PM (real world time) they get here an hour later- I did say they were taking things real slow, real cautious.

9006.jpg

Ram gathers the guys and then scouts ahead, down the main passage, there's a constructed stone archway leading into the side of the ravine, this place is very definitely an ancient dwarven redoubt, of some sort.

Note, at this point we've also had a discussion about how to communicate underwater, more than fifteen feet away and the PCs have to mime and gesticulate their 'messages' (on camera, on Discord), which the watching PCs then have to translate. Charades, if you like.

Nicky (George) is very good at charades.

9007.jpg

Ram finds a statue, it's a dwarf- it looks a lot like Ub. Surprise! There's another one in an alcove to the south, found by Nicky. The short section of ancient passages is thoroughly searched but, there's nothing untoward or interesting to be found. The place is a ruin, and mostly collapsed- this was a much larger complex.

But... we go on, or else.

Back in the lower cavern (on this map) Newt thought he saw some stairs leading up and out of the chamber, eventually he convinces his colleagues to head back to take a look, here it is-

9008.jpg

The stairs head up, east and then north.

9009.jpg

Up, with Ram leading the way, into an air-filled cavern, and out of the water. See those glimmers and twinkles on the floor, they're gems. The place is carpeted with gold, and with spilled-opened chests that have unleashed very many shiny (and valuable) items. At the far end of the cavern (not shown) the gold must be several feet deep.

There is whooping.

Although Ram only just cracks a smile-

“We're going to have to carry all of this.” He sulks.

But then Ram heads a little further in to the cavern, wading through gold, and... triggers a Glyph (of Warding) which unleashes a thundering blast (8d8 thunder damage)- several of the PCs fail their saves, some of them even after expending Inspiration Points to re-roll. See the picture above- check out the blood drops.

Ram somehow manages to avoid all hurt.

The sound of the blast echoes in the chamber, Newt and Nicky are both bleeding from their ears and nose, somewhat deafened.

Worse still the treasure is revealed to be an illusion, winking out of existence after the trap is spent, although soon after investigations continue. Newt & Nicky confirm that the trap was a Glyph of Warding, and not ancient- this trap is new. Newt and Nicky's Arcana checks were '19' & '20' respectively.

But there's nothing else to be found here, and so Nicky fires up one of his healing powers and over the course of the next minute or so manages to pretty much get all of the PCs back up to just about full hit points.

And then, back down into the water...

9010.jpg

But the Dark Squad are no-longer alone here, two swarms of baby sharks come swimming down and are quickly biting Daktari and Nicky.

A moment later and the first of the sahuagin arrive, this fellow is quite a sight- wearing a shell and coral version of plate armour, and with a clam-shell shield, wielding a longblade that curves and undulates like a wave. A sahuagin blademaster.

9011.jpg

The first sahuagin blademaster cuts and slices at Newt, and the warlock is bloodied and beyond in seconds (down from nearly full to approx. 12 hit points- one of the hits was a Crit), Vinnie also gets sliced- but the druid doesn't get cut as often, or as deeply, as the warlock.

Suddenly there is bubbled screaming.

9012.jpg

But then... Newt hits both of the revealed sahuagin with his Hold Person spell, and... two failed saves.

Note, one of the baby shark swarms has also been repeatedly Eldritch Blasted (by Newt again) and sent swarming away from the rest of the Squad (he's using his Repelling Blasts here).

Also note the circle shown is another one of Nicky's life-saving powers, each PC gains 1d6+8 Temp HP at the end of their turn (if they're in the circle).

9013.jpg

Vinnie conjures a Hunter Shark which rips into one of the two paralysed Soggys, and remember hits are Crits for paralysed folk.

At this point we also had a discussion about the nature of the Hunter Shark that Vinnie has summoned, I asked the question because sahuagin (as you probably know) have an affinity for sharks. But, from the text of the spell-

You Summon Fey spirits that take the form of Beasts and appear in unoccupied spaces that you can see within range.

So, it looks like a shark but it really isn't.

Note Vinnie and Newt are keeping out of the way.

9014.jpg

Oh! But this is how the Hunter Shark sees the world, it's Blindsight (in Fantasy Grounds Unity) paints the world blue/purple (I'm colour blind, help me here).

The bastards (the players) have tamed my two very tough sahuagin in seconds, so... here's two more- another sahuagin blademaster (that's three) and a high priestess.

The two already in situ sahuagin blademasters both fail their saving throws again- and so they're both still paralysed.

Players = Bastards.

The newly arrived sahuagin blademaster tries to communicate (telepathically) with the hunter shark which is ravaging his paralysed colleague.

That doesn't work.

The high priestess- she targets her wild gesticulating at, well... who is missing from the picture below-

9015.jpg

That's right- it's Daktari who, even after expending an Inspiration Point for a re-roll, fails his Charisma saving throw, and he's Banished.

A hush falls.

The tank has gone bye-bye.

But look at the above image again, at Newt- and those arrows are the targets of his next spell/warlock power, and of course- all three sahuagin fail their saving throws, and now the two new arrivals are Blinded, as is one of the already paralysed blademasters.

But here's the thing- can you see that innocuous looking vertical line that seems to split the image in two? Got it? It's in the middle of Nicky's healing circle (or whatever it's called).

Well, everything to the left of the line is- well normal (underwater etc.), while everything to the right of the line- well, the water has gone away.

Nicky, I said he had a trick up his sleeve, has just cast Control Water and managed to drain the entire area to the right of the aforementioned line.

Nicky, as already stated, is a Bottom Walker in his platemail. The paralysed (and blind) sahuagin blademaster is less fortunate- he drops from over twenty feet and hits the deck hard. The baby shark swarms are also suffering, they tend to very heavily favour the aquatic, they're out of their element and drowning in air (is that right?).

9017.jpg

Check out the Wall of Water.

Vinnie swims down and climbs out of the water and into the air- and then unleashes D&D's most devastating spell- Produce Flame. The targeted swarm of baby sharks is mostly flopping around and dying, now it's also a little burnt. The second baby shark swarm however manages to flip itself back into the blue, alas it's only got one hit point left.

The sahuagin?

Oh, they're getting taken apart- although slowly, the blademasters have 120+ hit points each, the high priest something similar.

But Ram's stabbing up the priestess.

And... she fails her concentration check and BLINK- Daktari is back in the room.

Note, FGU does all of the concentration checks automatically, so... BASTARDS!

9018.jpg

Daktari takes down the high priestess, the hunter shark finishes off one of the blademasters, both of the baby shark swarms have been blasted (or just plain drowned).

The sahuagin blademaster that was paralysed and blinded, and then dropped twenty plus feet onto its backside when Nicky removed the water from the cavern, has now thrown off the paralysis and managed to dive back into the briny. It is however wounded, and still blind.

The last sahuagin blademaster, also blind, is hacking and screaming (bubbling?) at the hunter shark that is trying to tear him to pieces.

9019.jpg

Ram and Daktari double team one of the blind sahuagin blademasters, this after Newt Eldritch Blasts the creature and smashes it into the far wall.

The hunter shark is getting hacked apart- the sahuagin hits hard, but it's still biting the foe.

Note, except for the sahuagin blademaster that threw off the paralysis (leaving it still blind) my bad guys have failed every saving throw, so far...

9020.jpg

But then, at bloody last, the sahuagin that the hunter shark was eating regains its sight, and it's off- up through a narrow passage to the north west and back into the main passage. Note the small five foot circle (next to the shark) is Nicky's Spiritual Weapon, he's been clobbering stuff from afar.

The chase is on!

Note, Ram and Daktari have now accounted for the other sahuagin blademaster, like I say... the chase is on.

9021.jpg

And after expending all Move/Actions Ram, Daktari and the Hunter Shark catch up with the last enemy.

But none of the PCs have anything left with which to make an attack.

The sahuagin flees again- and it's fast, eighty feet/turn, and all of the opportunity attacks generated are... misses.

There is cursing.

9022.jpg

The image on the left shows Daktari and the Hunter Shark, now joined by Newt, left in the wake of the fleeing sahuagin. Image on the right connects to the north edge of the left image- yes, I know it's the wrong way around but use your imagination.

Ram catches up with the last sahuagin...

But he's out of actions, again.

9023.jpg

As do many/all of his friends, they're all just waiting for the blademaster to flee again, and...

I'd be a fool to disappoint them.

9024.jpg

The sahuagin tempts fate and flees, and keep in mind it's on approx. ten hit points and so hanging around to fight these two murderous bastards (Ram & Dak) and their shark, well- that's not really an option.

The sahuagin blademaster doesn't get far.

There is cheering- so, uncouth.

That however is the end of the session, the bastards done me, stitched me up like a kipper.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
I've got players like that ... :rolleyes:
Afterwards I went through the chat and discovered out of 17 total saving throws made my five guys passed just three of them.

The last one was the sahuagin blademaster that briefly got away, and he was bloodied already.

The one before that was the high priestess saving against blindness, she had six hit points left.

The first, was one of the sahuagin blademasters who saved against the hold person spell but that just left him blinded and bloodied.

I had them fretting in the next one though... and Nicky had a tough ol' time of it.

Cheers goonalan
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #091: The Great Big Soggy Fight.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 8
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 8

NPCs
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by George) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick) RETIRED
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
Tarbin Tul (played by goonalan) Male Human Bard RETIRED
Ubmo (played by Goonalan) Supreme Being Lvl 1
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.

Servants/Familiars
Gerald (Bat/Giant Bat) servant/mount of New Tricks
Owly (Owl) Vinnie’s familiar

The Dark Squad’s to-do list-


  1. Warn Ashby & investigate Salt Cave, the Soggy's are coming!
  2. Vinnie needs to be back for the next Saltmarsh Council meeting on the 1st Kythorn (June).
  3. Awaiting new answers to new questions from the priests at Fallowstone Holy, info will be sent to Saltmarsh for around the 10th of Kythorn (June).
  4. Find the other four Symbols of Ub, one was left in Deepbridge (Duergar fortress in the Underdark). The others need to be found, they belonged to- Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit (halfling killer from Lowhill), Antonio De La Crane (posh kid druid alchemist) & Giggles (crazy wood elf). All of these folk lived in the Saltmarsh region, the Dark Squad have found the De La Crane Manse (in the Dreadwood) and the De La Crane Crypt (in Saltmarsh Cemetary).
  5. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood?
  6. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  7. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame you need to find the hidden weapons left to fight Ashardalon, these are in a dragon-in-flight shaped barrow in Farrow Woods.
  8. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame prepare the Witch's Tor for the coming of the starfall, the Witch's Tor is in the Drowned Forest, in the Mere of the Dead Men.
  9. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame track down the last member of the Pact, a wild elf adventurer called Giggles- and finally put her spirit to rest, and also recover her maze button. Location unknown. SEE 2. ABOVE.
This is session 91, and again- it was glorious... for all concerned this time, let's get right to it, but just to say in advance- there's no chatter here. The fight got going real world 7.50 PM time (the session started at 7.30 PM) and... we went slightly over time for the session (end 11.15 PM) when the last Soggy died. Although, the players were all still on Discord another fifteen or twenty minutes later with their braying voices oft repeating, “Do you remember that bit when...”.

Yes, they won, but we went close to the wire again, so the secret's out, but here's how it happened.

9100.jpg

The Dark Squad retreat into the previous cavern to lick their wounds (Newt?) and for Nicky to spread some healing around.

Then, after the briefest of chats, we press on... and keep in mind the Dark Squad, or at least some of them, are on the timer here. A water breathing potion lasts an hour, although the PCs have only been sub-aqua for less than twenty minutes so far.

Oh, but just to say, more pictures than words- again.

9101.jpg

And soon after (actually, soon after Ram rolled a '1' & '2' on his with advantage Stealth check) the Dark Squad have spotted, and been spotted by, a lone sahuagin guard.

Note this place is a massive multi-level cavern, the ceiling nearly sixty feet above. Ram has swum his way over to the northern area, scouting ahead- and from a natural cavern opening in the north west a soggy with a spear comes.

Remember Nicky is a bottom walker, he's given himself a chance however- he's spider climbing places, gripped tight to the walls, although with no fear of falling.

Ram duck's back into cover- passes the message on, an enemy approaches.

9102.jpg

Alas, the soggy sentry doesn't last long, beating Ram to initiative is like, well... it pretty much never happens.

The rogues waves/pull faces at the inbound soggy and then ducks behind a pillar (with a readied action) and when it arrives- he guts it.

There is cheering, I know it's early but the Dark Squad are developing a healthy disrespect for soggys, at least the fellers in the last fight were very tough, so- they're on their guard.

9103.jpg

But the soggy sentry has friends, however Dak and Ram are straight into action, while Newt is blasting and the druid- Vinnie, well, let's just say that Produce Flame is a lot less useful underwater, and yet... he keeps on hitting, for maybe 1-4 points of fire damage. He really does need another ranged attack cantrip.

9104.jpg

The soggy's keep on coming.

Why's that you ask? Because the soggy blademaster boss of this group (with AC 21 and Max HP, that's approx. 150 hit points) has sent the soggy guards in to distract from the fact that he has gone to get the soggy priestesses. That's right- priestesses, multiple.

Six of them. Count 'em.

9105.jpg

Daktari is the front line, and the barbarian (now raging) is also taking the time to Intimidate and generally put on a show for the swarming soggys, trying to keep them away from his friends, he goes as far as cutting himself to keep any newcomers pointed at him.

He's my hero!

Just to say, Daktari got MVP this evening, at the end of the session me and my bro checked out the stats generator thing on Fantasy Grounds Unity, and keep in mind the crazy barbarian was raging, with reckless attack (the soggys get advantage on their attacks against enemies not on full hit points anyway, so what the heck) and in a frenzy (three attacks/turn). So, the bastard did over 400 HP damage in the session, the next highest was Ram with just over 200 damage. Here's the clincher, the barbarian rolled eleven crits.

Let's just take a moment and think about that.

He made 34 attack rolls, 31 of them hits (again, 27 of his to hit rolls were with advantage). But, eleven crits!

9106.jpg

But, I designed the soggy guards to stick around- I gave them each 30+ HP, but that didn't help, they barely did their job.

Keep in mind the rest of the Squad (save for the less than fiery druid) were also doing their thing. Ram, you'll note, hasn't lost a hit point- The rogue swims in, guts a soggy- stabs another close by, and then swims away again.

Rinse and repeat for the rest of the fight.

9107.jpg

It's not going well. Perfect world I should have had the soggy's arrive at the fight slower, because...

9108.jpg

I could have got my hit point sponge/tank in earlier, a thirty foot long skeletal shark is spotted silently finning it's way towards the action.

This thing has just short of 300 HP and a great big bite that is difficult to miss with.

9109.jpg

The Dark Squad re-orient south- towards the new enemy, Daktari crits the skeleton shark twice in a turn- the bastard. Note the big orange (maybe, I'm colour blind) circle is the limit of Nicky's healing-doo-dad. Which, the Dark Squad are discovering, is worth it's weight in gold, or else Nicky's weight in gold.

Note, the very tough soggy blademaster boss has been creeping towards the fight, Vinnie's hunter shark spots the foe.

9110.jpg

Daktari gets bitten by the skeletal shark, while the soggy blademaster boss kills Vinnie's conjured shark and then swims directly into action with Nicky and the newly revealed Moonboar (Vinnie).

But there are also a bunch of soggy priestesses that keep popping up, firing Hold Person spells (the PCs keep on saving) and/or Guiding Bolts (several hits).

The priestesses have also got bless spells running, and one on the soggy blademaster too.

The soggy priestesses emerge from hiding for just a moment, fire off whatever they've got, and then as swiftly retreat again, it's getting busy in the combat and the Dark Squad are fretting.

A lot of inspiration points get spent, mostly re-rolling failed saving throws.

9111.jpg

Lovely image of the cavern, the skeletal shark is almost done for- Daktari, remember, was pretty much landing a crit every turn, and Ram's been helping out with Deadend, his undead bane sword (and sneak attack).

And now Newt & Daktari take the fight to the soggy priestesses, the pair go hunting the sahuagin spell-throwing bastards.

Note, this new tactic came about because- a) that's what Daktari does, and b) Newt got so mad at the priestesses swimming out of hiding, blasting something at him (almost always a miss) and then swimming off to hide again. He's jittery under fire the tabaxi, he doesn't like it and he's not used to it. There's usually a meat wall between him and the enemy.

9112.jpg

See Ram there, top left, that's his home for the entire fight- scoot out, kill stuff- scoot back in again.

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Note, can you see all of the various coloured (small) circles? They are a variety of spiritual weapons, wielded from a distance by the various soggy priestesses.

All thumping at various members of the Dark Squad.

They were not enjoying the sensation, and keep in mind I did a lot of missing with the priestesses spells, and yet... they were rattled.

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But the max hit point soggy blademaster is still going strong, and Nicky's very suddenly down- unconscious, and the healing stops.

There is swearing, the Dark Squad have got very used to Nicky, very quickly- they like him a lot, and keep in mind he delivers 1d4+8 Temp HP every turn to the PCs who end their turn within his aura.

That's why the bastards look like they've not taken many hits.

I, of course, figured some of this out before hand, which is why I went big with the enemies here. There's the best part of 8,500 XP in this encounter, and all of the enemies had pretty much maximum hit points.

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There's a lot more fretting going on now from the Dark Squad, particularly as the blademaster has started to cut into the Moonboar, who for two turns in a row fails to reply in kind, and then he spends a third turn getting a Cure Wounds into Nicky.

The dhampir cleric struggles to his feet, and then conjures his spirit guardians in an attempt to keep him safe from harm.

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It doesn't work, the soggy blademaster cuts Nicky down again, but the Moonboar is now hitting hard, as are Ram and Newt, who has returned to the fold.

The blademaster falls, at last- I even had one of the soggy priestesses park herself in hiding behind the blademaster, pumping healing into him, but... not enough.

At this point Daktari is still out hunting soggy priestesses, it's worth noting that during this 'hunt' the barbarian manages to make three Hold Person saves in a row, and Wisdom is his dump stat.

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There's Daktari, bottom left- another soggy priestess is about to meet her end. While Newt and the Moonboar are dashing west after the only other soggy left standing.

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The finale, the last picture, and the final soggy priestess has been chased down, another one of Newt's many victims, he started slow but found his aim in the end.

The soul of the last departing soggy is dedicated to Humphrey Far-Fer-Nar by the exalting puddy-tat, I mean tabaxi warlock. It was Humphrey's turn, that's the third soul that he's had dedicated to him, Newt keeps a list. Some how that fact seems to make the whole enterprise feel, if anything, a little worse.

I get the feeling that Newt is going to be reading this list sometime in the future, while petitioning one of his devilish patrons to come to his aid.

“Hear ME, Lord Belphegor, for it is I- Newt, your most dedicated of servants, for I have sent thee- the two orcs in the frosty forest, the goblin that looked at me funny, the dead hooker, the ogre with the daft hat... and on the list goes, for quite some time. What can he have written in the list? He doesn't know their names?

I worry about Newt.

He's such a wretched soul, bags of fun to have around, but... just incredibly broken inside.

Back to the last picture- it's a wonderful map, and the day after at work Jim (who plays Vinnie) was purring about the fight, apologies for the lack of detail but it really was just all fighting, and not a grind- although we skirted it, it helped that the soggy priestesses didn't get too close to the action.

Remarkably the Dark Squad were incredibly good, tactically, in the fight- concentrating fire on the big bad enemies, and then- when the time was right- sending Daktari and Newt out to hunt the soggy priestesses.

If I could have got a priestess (or two, or three) to the sahuagin guards before the Dark Squad cut them all down, well... the priestesses all had Mass Cure Wounds spells. Different fight, maybe.

But that's all we did, but I promise we'll do some more of it next time.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 



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