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 #092: Interview with a Dhampir.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari/Dak (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
New Tricks/Newt (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 8
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev/Nicky (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8
Ramshambo/Ram (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/1
Vincenzo/Vinnie (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 (When we remember)
*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. Vinnie needs to be back for the next Saltmarsh Council meeting on the 1st Kythorn (June).
  2. 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).
  3. 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 Cemetery).
  4. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood?
  5. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 it was great, but there'll be a lot more chat and text in this one, because... well, there was a lot more chat in this one.

The Dark Squad are still sub-aqua swimming through ancient dwarven ruins situated beneath Salt Cave, which is just up the coast from Ashby (their favourite coastal settlement), they're saving the village from the sahuagin (Soggys) remember.

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But first things first, because a lot of the PCs are broken, the adventurers huddle up for a bit more of Nicky's Aura of Vitality, and no-one needs healing more than Nicky, he spent time dirt napping twice in the previous session.

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And after healing comes exploring, although the PCs are sore amazed that nothing has jumped out at them yet, they're expecting an end of level bad guy, but...

There are no more Soggys to be found, and nothing else tries to eat them.

However, there is a room to the south, it's hard to spot on the above map, but the Dark Squad find three sets of ancient stone double doors leading into the inaccessible chamber (it's all the way at the bottom of the map).

Furthermore, after a little investigation, Ram is certain that the Soggys were trying to break the stone portals open, although that's another mystery- the stone portals have no locks, and no obvious opening mechanisms, they're sealed fast. Also, this place is ancient- dwarven construction but any signs and symbols have long since faded or been eroded, there are no clues here.

Then however the Dark Squad discover this place (see below), and keep in mind Dak, Ram & Vinnie (unless he wildshapes into something aquatic) are on the timer here, they have approx. twenty five minutes left on their potions of water breathing.

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The odd domed chamber is around twenty feet high, there are another pair of the stone doors to the west, however there's also a (very) large circular/oval stone object that has been chained upright in position upon a dais. And when I say very large... the huge convex/concave stone is eight feet in diameter, and roughly circular (not exactly though), the object must weight several tons.

A short while later Vinnie figures out that the chained object isn't made from stone, it is in fact a massive clamshell (or at least half of one). Investigations continue apace, but again Ram discerns that there is no visible way to open the doors here.

Note, at this point- after a series of spectacularly low skill checks (a variety of skills) Newt is getting irate/bored/whatever with the situation. He's getting sweary-

“What the ---- are we doing here! Ram, you ------- ---- ------ get the doors open or else my Lord, Belphagor, will...”, apologies but at this point the warlock's tirade descends into an unbroken stream of asterisks.

But, that doesn't work, and so...

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The warlock Eldritch Blasts the chain indicated, the ancient and rusted steel breaks and the massive (8 foot diameter remember) clamshell gyres, pivots and thumps into... Dex saves follow, and Ram, Nicky and the Moonboar all make theirs. So, Newt! The tabaxi is lightly crushed against the wall of the chamber by the slow swinging giant shell.

Fate rolls dice, it seems. Who would have thought it.

However, the concave portion of the shell is now facing towards the floor of the chamber, which is a shame- that's the interesting bit.

Eventually, after a short row/argument, Dak- with help from the mighty Newt, who is now doing all he can to help, but pointedly not saying sorry for having got the Dark Squad to this point. Anyway, the pair manage to pull the chain back up and away so that the inside of the massive clamshell can be examined, and beneath the years of dirt is... a maze. By which I mean a simple circular maze has been etched into the palm of the great shell, it's barely visible (beneath the patina of dirt) and yet... it's there.

The maze looks a lot like the maze on the magic button that Vinnie keeps, the buttons that the Dark Squad are looking for.

Ram uses his finger to trace the maze, to map out the solution- from the outside to the centre, and is instantly rewarded- a puff of dust from behind him and the twin stone portals silently swing open wide.

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The spacious high-ceilinged chamber is empty, although... there are strange markings upon the floor here, the markings are clearly visible because not a lot of the dirt and debris has accumulated here.

But what do the markings depict?

Best guess, and this after a series of checks by a variety of PCs- some good, some not-so, the Dark Squad believe the images show a progression of the planet on which they live (Toril), at some point in the future two moons will appear in the sky, and Toril will... well, it looks like it's going to collide with another planet.

But, and this is a big but- none of the PCs have any skills in this area, and so they're relying on a mixture of Insight, History, Arcana, Nature and Religion.

A little later, and keep in mind several of the PCs are now down to ten minutes of water breathing left, the PCs discover that the Soggys they fought to the north were exploring a series of ancient dwarven tombs. They recover the looted treasures from the dead Soggy blademaster, it includes a palm-sized black pearl. Newt is convinced that the gem is something special (it isn't but... I like that he's trying). The PCs best guess is the Soggy tomb-robbers et al were looking for a way to open the doors into the chamber that they have just explored.

Let's just take a moment to say that bit again, or better still to ask the question(s) of the players, here it comes-

“Why were the Soggy's in Salt Cave?”

Follow up-

“Why were they trying to break into a chamber full of ancient dwarven glyphs and sigils that depict... the end of the world? Or something similar?”

Or, I could have asked-

“Do you think this was random? That the sahuagin were just in search of treasure? But that can't be right because they had already found treasure in the tombs.”

So-

“Why were the Soggy's in Salt Cave?”, and, “Why were they trying to break into a chamber full of ancient dwarven glyphs and sigils that depict... the end of the world? Or something similar?”

Note, the Dark Squad before departing the secret chamber use repeated castings of Prestidigitation to dirty the massive clamshell again, to obscure the maze pattern- this after they close the doors again (by tracing the maze again- in to out this time).

Then Dak, Ram and Vinnie depart, at speed, back to the surface.

But not Nicky and Newt, the tabaxi doesn't need to surface as he's wearing a Helm of Underwater Action, and Nicky... well, he doesn't need to breath air, he's a Dhampir.

Which is the subject (sort of) of Newt's discussion/interrogation.

Further note, during the fight in the last session- when the Soggy blademaster got close to cutting Nicky down, well... Nicky changed, his face and features became a lot more... what's the word? Feral? Vampire-like, certainly.

So, Newt wants to know- “What's the story, Nicky? What specific kind of freak are you?”

Nicky explains, and George (who plays Nicky has done a write up of this, before he even built the character- I saw it, but now he can't find it and neither can I). So, a summary of intro and events as explained by Nicky-
  1. He lived his life, a disappointment to his family, in a much less colourful place/world.
  2. His father barely spoke to him.
  3. His brothers mostly picked on him.
  4. Because Nicky is a wet, a nerd, a geek, and he speaks with a lisp. He's also very polite, he says things like- “I say, that's simply marvellous- is it a dwagon?”
  5. Nicky hated his life, or else he wanted to escape it.
  6. Then, in a long sealed room he discovered in the undercroft of the castle in which he and his family live, he found a magical mirror- and stepped into it.
  7. He fell (briefly) through worlds (and space and time).
  8. During his plummet through realities he appeared briefly in the Dragon Barrow with Dak, and then in an undead crewed ship (the Dreadnaught) with Ram, and then in a dark far-future (maybe) with Newt. These visions courtesy of the Moon Pool (Sessions 84 & 85).
  9. Finally, his fall through space and time was arrested when Sehanine Moonbow caught him, soon after he dedicated his life to the goddess who saved him.
  10. At which point, you'll remember, Vinnie turned up for a chat with Sehanine, and Nicky was sent back to Faerun with the shifter druid, to aid the Dark Squad.
  11. Oh, and Nicky is a sort of vampire.
Newt really isn't interested in any of the above, although he let's Nicky blather on and get it all off his chest. Newt's reply (see below), Nicky later states is the kindest thing that anyone has ever said to him, it goes a little like this-

“That's as maybe, and all very interesting. Not! Now, what you need to know is we're the Dark Squad, we're chasing down some mad prophecy... yada yada Primordial, yada yada, big dragon equals the end of the world. But, and this is very important, it's a prophecy- so it's going to play out whatever we do. So, don't bother trying to work any of it out, what we have to do is just keep killing everyone/thing that looks at us funny, and then somehow we'll get to the end.”

Nicky tries to argue- he's incredibly interested in the various prophecies, the nature of Ub, the... but Newt shuts him down again.

“LOOK! None of that is important. What is important is- me! Now, your job is to keep me alive, and even at the expense of the others. They're expendable, remember that. Besides, if you keep me alive then I'll kill everything else, ergo- the others will survive too. Now book up your ideas, and no-more snivelling!”

As Nicky said to the departing Newt's back- “that's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”

It doesn't take much.

The Dark Squad back-track, grab up the remains of the one member of the Hopscotch brothers that has not been entirely eaten by the Soggys, and then Water Walking again they rendezvous with Ludwig Clamzucker and row back to Ashby, after all they only spent about an hour in Salt Cave.

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To Ashby, and the townsfolk there, and keep in mind it's still early afternoon when the Dark Squad return with half-a-Hopscotch-body and a story to tell.

There is much in the way of the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the villagers are distraught to learn that the two young fishermen (Bobby & Trevor Hopscotch) have been killed. In this moment of high drama Newt, of course, gives a speech- it's mostly well-received but it's a bit creepy, although the warlock only mentions genocide twice, which is probably a record.

Dak therefore steps up, and in front of the assembled masses he gives a much more stirring speech, about how in his culture (I am Uthgardt! I am Sky Pony!) the Hopscotch brothers would be celebrated as heroes, defending the tribe from deadly/evil monsters etc. It's a bit of a stretch, but it's heartfelt, and so the funerals of the dead Hopscotch brothers follow apace.

Note, Ram finds the mother of the two Hopscotch lads and presses the large black pearl the adventurers found earlier onto her, to sell, to make ends meet, to go on- he explains. The pearl has already been checked over- it's not magical, it is however valuable (worth in the region of 500gp).

Then Newt sings sea shanties in the Red Dragon Inn for the remainder of the night, and it's stirring evening (his adjusted performance check is a '30'). The drinking (and singing) goes on to the wee small hours.

However, Vinnie also takes the time to take Nicky aside- down onto the docks, and to ask a few questions of his own, the druid was also on hand to witness Nicky's feral change in the fight with the sahuagin blademaster.

We do another twenty minutes of Nicky's story, followed by Vinnie's introduction to the various members of the Dark Squad- Dak is loyal and steadfast, Ram is a cold-hearted killer (with a conscience, eh?) and Newt is a lunatic.

It's very moving- a proper introduction to events for the Dhampir, and a welcome to the journey, but, we move on...

The Dark Squad spend the night at the inn, and then early doors hit the road again- next stop is Farrow Wood. The location, they know, of the ancient Dragon Barrow that Dak (and Nicky) saw in the barbarian's vision in the Moon Pool. There is a weapon here, a two-handed sword, a dragonslayer; and recovering it is one of the tasks that needs to be completed for the Dark Squad to join the Pact of the Flame.

And so onwards, although... here's another little snippet.

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Nice map, very professional. Salt Cave is situated on the coast (obviously) to the west of Ashby, see the bit that says High Top. Well, at this point the Dark Squad- thinking about ancient dwarven ruins, remember their time spent exploring beneath Squabblepot, the hidden gnome enclave.

Here's the thing, during their investigation they questioned Arty Swell about his movements prior to the murder he committed (remember, Arty was being controlled by Ian with one I). At some point during the Dark Squad's discussion with Arty he said-

“Three nights ago I got home from my work at the Farhill Mine. I did a little shopping at the market and said hello to a few folk on the way back into the burrow. I went back to my rooms, then prepared and ate dinner.”

Ram, very clever at the time- but he doesn't remember it now, asked, “How did you get back to the burrow?” And keep in mind the Dark Squad arrived at the burrow via a magical portal, and were sniffing around trying to find out where Squabblepot was on their map.

Anyway, Arty's reply back then was-

“I walked- it only took me a few minutes.”

So, Squabblepot is within walking distance of Farhill Mine.

The ruins accessed via Salt Cave are the same ruins (very likely) that the Dark Squad explored beneath Squabblepot.

But then, we move on- to Farrow Woods.

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Which is still a beautiful place, at least to look at- remember the Dark Squad have been here before too, this is where they came to rescue Bang & Olafsson, their first adventure in the region.

So, Farrow Woods has changed, the Dark Squad (some of them- the ones with good rolls) have a feeling they're being watched, and then Ram spots a pair of floating eyes- a very hard spot, twenty or thirty yards away and hidden within the forest.

Then five minutes later another pair, and another pair- and now Vinnie and Nicky have spotted the watchers too.

But, when approached- and the floating eyes (as if set in a five to six foot tall humanoid's head) are always on the move, they dart away- disappear.

Just once, Ram is convinced, he sees the spectral outline of a ragged and torn elf.

Eventually, Vinnie grabs out his magic maze button- holds it aloft, and then explains- “We are 'ere to re-cover ze ancient weaponz to fight ze dragun. Fur ze Pact of ze Flamz!”

A much abused (very dead) spectral elf appears and points the way forward, the way in which Dak was leading his comrades, to the Dragon Barrow.

Note, the watchers however continue to observe.

Then we get here...

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And the Dark Squad start exploring, the barrow itself is thirty feet above the forest floor, and the only clearing the Dark Squad have encountered within the forest so far.

Note, Dak has forgotten how he managed to get inside (it was all the way back in session #84 after all).

But then...

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Charging out of the woods comes a centaur, of a sort- see the picture, although I don't have the exact image I need- the centaur here looks as rotten and dessicated but lacks the finery. The centaur shouts something about “trespassers”, but in elven- which only Ram (I think) understands.

Then it skewers Nicky with its pike, and then stomps on the Twilight/Moon priest and ruins the poor fellow's day.

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Less than ten seconds later and there are now three of the centaurs in the fight, the first to arrive is almost destroyed (on the right) this after a raging Dak manages to land two Crits in a row (see the previous session).

However, Nicky is also suffering badly and down to less than half-a-dozen hit points- two of the centaurs have stomped and skewered the priest.

Note, I'm not picking on you George- I promise, the bad guys were always going to be coming on to the fight from off the map, you and Newt were the only two PCs I could get to- I rolled a 1d6 to see which of you got double teamed by the enemies. The dice came up Nicky.

Although, seconds later Newt is also skewered and stomped too, and that's about where we're at.

But that's all we did, but I promise we'll do some more of it next time, although the next session isn't until the 28th.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 
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Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Playa Playa

The Diary of Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev-

6th Myrtul


Dear diary,

It has been a simply rotten day!

I finally gathered the nerve to confront Aleksandr about the ghastly noises coming from his rooms, and Konstantin was there as well!

It is always so much more difficult when they are together.

I asked him to keep the noise down, and he said that the problem must be with my ears, as no one else seemed to be disturbed!

Well, I may have gotten a little cross, and both of them seemed to take offense. They said that the best option was to trim my ears a little! I protested of course, but as usual I was too weak to stop them doing as they pleased.

I am afraid I did not make much of a brave showing of myself. Broke down actually. At least they agreed not to tell father.

Konstantin even said they preferred me better this way, as I am so different that it is strange that I should look like them.

7th Myrtul

Dear diary,

I have decided that I have to take some kind of revenge on Aleksandr. He has gone too far this time.

I have decided to free his latest guest and to get them away from the castle. At the very least it might provide some respite from the noise.

Daylight should give me chance to get them a good distance before I have to return to avoid suspicion.

20th Myrtul

Dear diary,

I FINALLY DID IT!

I think I finally got far enough away that they will never be able to find me!

After the ear thing, and that poor woman, I decided it would be best to avoid my family for a while.

I headed out to that ruined forest temple I have been meaning to take a look at.

What a marvel it is, older even than father. It seems likely that the ruin has stood there since before my family took over the barony.

While exploring, I found a hidden corridor, simply choked with roots. I managed to squeeze through a gap - my build does have it's advantages after all - and found an astounding underground chamber.

It was large and circular, with raised edges like an amphitheatre. The ceiling was painted with an enormous representation of unfamiliar stars, faded by time. After pausing for a quick sketch, I turned my attention to the wide, uncannily level, and utterly unadorned floor.

As I approached, I realised that the entire room was an enormous mirror!

Reflected clearly within was the same sky as the mural, only in the mirror the first light of dawn seemed to be breaking.

Oh how I wish I could have shared the beauty of that image with my family, I do not know if any of them have ever truly seen a dawn.

Regrettably, my usual misfortune and clumsiness decided to assert itself: I leaned over too far trying to get a better look. I remember closing my eyes, terrified that the weight of my mail would shatter that beautiful mirror, but the impact never came.

Instead, I found myself falling through that reflected sky, well above the clouds, just as the sun crested the horizon. I had no way to slow my fall, and could only watch as I plummeted into the swirling grey below.

I must have fainted (weak until the end, father would be so ashamed) as I awoke to find myself before a cave. The wind whipping snow around me as though trying to conceal the breath-taking (figuratively) vista of a sweeping mountain range.

Only the inclement weather broke the spell, and I have retreated into the cave away from the wind.

I suppose I should be concerned for my safety, but it is all too marvellous to concern myself with such simple worries as yet.

Even the cave interior offers new delights! The walls are densely packed with primitive paintings that appear to tell the story of a great hero, battling monsters, creating great wonders and raising cities in his name.

The strangest thing is that I can still see the clouds out of the corner of my eye, as though looking through a smudged spyglass. Though they remain in the periphery even when I turn quickly. Yet another mystery to explore as I learn more of this place.

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

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Ain't D&D great.

Best game of D&D for ages last night- I have such wonderful players.

Some of that was down to the fact that we've not been together for a while (and the heart grows fonder) but the majority of it was down to the guys (and a bit of me), a fun time was had by all.

Newt is such a screw-up.

And Daktari... cradling the raddled skeletal remains of a dead horse while singing Minnie Ripperton's "Loving You", full volume- no holding back, and with all the tenderness of a Leonard Nimoy spoken word bonanza, only in an emotion-filled cod Russian accent and with the husky voice (and drawl) of Lee Marvin (Wandering Star).

Nothing says D&D like a singing barbarian cuddling the head of a long-dead horse, let me tell you.

If I was the kind of D&D DM that gave XP for this kind of thing, then I would, but I'm not.

I nearly cried when England won the cricket earlier yesterday, but it was nothing like the hard-snuffling I was having to do last night to keep the tears at bay.

I'll say it again- D&D*, naughty word yeah!

*And all other RPG-type games, pick your own poison.

Love you all lots.

Cheers goonalan
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #093: Enter the Dragon Barrow.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari/Dak (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
New Tricks/Newt (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 8
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev/Nicky (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8
Ramshambo/Ram (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/1
Vincenzo/Vinnie (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 (When we remember)
*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. Vinnie needs to be back for the next Saltmarsh Council meeting on the 1st Kythorn (June).
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood?
  5. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 93, and it has been a long lay-off, no game on the 28th and so it's been three weeks, we were all very ready...

But first a word from our sponsor-

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Wise words from the stately cat-thing, Newt there- it's not a glib motto for the tabaxi warlock, it's a way of life.

We move on.

If you recall the Dark Squad were getting their backsides kicked (some of 'em) by a trio of undead centaurs, although the various members of the team have failed to fully identify the undead monstrosities that are at present assailing them.

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The Dark Squad suspect that the new enemies are the guardians of the Dragon-in-Flight tomb, it's an odd thing really, from a DM P.O.V.

What's odd?

I'll tell you, the floating eyes/watchers-in-the-wood (see last session) were also guardians of the tomb- the Dark Squad (and in particular Vinnie) had a chat with these odd fellows, and assured them that they were the good guys, and... well, the watchers-in-the-wood stayed away.

My point, the Dark Squad could have tried the same tactic, it just might have worked.

But, they didn't, and so... the fighting.

Nicky takes a proper beating, he's swiftly down to six or seven hit points in then opening rounds. Newt also suffers greatly- and yowls a lot about it- to anyone that will listen. Even Daktari takes a kicking.

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But the Dark Squad keep putting the bad guys down, it's a war of attrition folks- although pretty swift, particularly as Daktari's '20' streak continues for a while, he manages a Crit every turn for the next three rounds.

And soon after the fight is over.

Further investigations conclude that the nag-rag-and-bone piles- all that remain of the guardians, were centaur mummies.

Which explains (in a minute- keep reading) why Vinnie (the Moonboar) finds it impossible to heal the wounds inflicted by the guardians.

Bugger!

Furthermore, the Squad are fairly certain that the undead guardians here were once members of the Pact of the Flame, they're that old- and very elven in feature, and clothing. This after several very high skill checks.

Then rest, but note the watchers-in-the-woods are keeping their eyes on the Dark Squad, the spectral observers are now gathered all around the clearing.

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A Leomund's Hut Venn Diagram. Note the moment after this image was 'snapped' Daktari decided to move next door.

So, that's Nicky's Leomund's Tiny Hut on the left, and Newt's on the right.

Within Newt's Hut, lit by flickering spectral light, the surface of the sphere opaque, a jumble of grind and whirr (a percussionist sponsored nightmare soundscape) plays, while the squatting tabaxi chants and salaam's in guttural (& menacing) infernal.

Meanwhile, inside Nicky's hut the very faint smell of blood is masked by a variety of flowery and/or herbaceous aromas, a little bit of mood lighting, a Brian Eno track, and a scented candle or twelve. Oh, and lots of scatter cushions.

When the short rest is over Newt is sitting on his own, save for Ram who sits within the union of the two sets.

Then, as above, when the healing should be done the Moonboar discovers he is still injured, and after further investigation also subject to the centaur mummies' curse, but the Dark Squad don't have the magic they need to make things right.

And so we go on, and after a little more investigating Daktari eventually remembers where the entrance to the barrow within is, basically he just read back through session 84, that's when the barbarian experienced this place before.

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We're in to dark tunnels, and Dak is heading south- note Nicky (& Dak) both know that the great weapon they have come here for is to the north, but... Dak met a Sky Pony to the south, and so that's his target.

Alas, en route to the spot Ram (I'm fairly certain- although no pictures exist) finds a trap the hard way, the floor ahead- or else a five foot section of it is illusionary and conceals a thirty foot deep pit lined with projecting spikes.

The rogue gets an ouchy, Nicky makes it better.

We go on...

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If you scooch real close in to the above image (you can click on it and enlarge it) you can see the mortal remains of a long dead horse, Daktari can hear a voice in his head, the same sing-song voice as the last time he was here.

“Sing our song, my love- sing it with all your heart.”

Which, inevitably, leads to a cod Russian, mostly spoken word, version of Minnie Ripperton's, “Loving You”, the barbarian even gets his friends to join in with the chorus- and they do.

It made me cry, but y'know, because I was laughing that hard, no other emotion is evoked, just levity.

While all this is going on Dak is cradling the skeleton nag's head in his loving arms, Nicky is making notes, Vinnie... well, he doesn't know where to put himself.

Also note Newt, getting bored, has encouraged Ram to head into another crudely excavated ancient tunnel, the rogue spots a trap ahead, and then semi-safely triggers it- the following ceiling/rock fall is minimal, only Newt gets hurt.

Which does little to improve his temper.

But back to Dak, the voice of the long dead Sky Pony whispers the following words directly into the barbarian's brain-

"Now take my skull, and four hooves, treat them reverently my love for I am racing back to be with you..."

"A skin you will have to find and forge for me, it must be made from the finest shadow."

"A heart too, for my love to run true- you will need to acquire for me the pump of life... it must be suitable, my love."

"It must be- half-night, half-shadow, half-death, half-life, half-lost, half-found, half-fey, half-undeath and it must be filled, of course, with your love..."

"Only then will I come to you..."

"Oh, Daktari.... I cannot wait to be with you my love..."

"Oh, Daktari, I had forgotten how lustrous your hair is..."

Daktari is made up.

A short while later the barbarian shares the above information with his companions, and asks advice from Newt, ostensibly about acquiring a shadow hide, and a heart to meet the above requirements.

I'd like to say that Newt's advice is helpful.

I'd like to, but I can't.

The warlock simply lists the various pieces of viscera that he has acquired, so far, on his journey. He collects mementoes does our Newt.

9308.jpg

Soon after, Newt grows bored again- Daktari (see above) is still rambling on, and so the tabaxi investigates the next tomb over, there are two sarcophagi here, illuminated by everburning candles, etched in to the lid of each is a tall thin elf.

No pictures exist of what follows.

First, Newt tempts fate and flings open the first sarcophagi- the tabaxi warlock is instantly caught in a cloud of acidic gas which stings his eyes and burns his fur. He's not happy.

He flees back to his companions, to tell his sad story.

A minute later, after the acid cloud has dispersed- and Newt has finally stopped bitching, Ram is sent back into the tomb to explore.

There's nothing in the first sarcophagi, and so after checking for traps- and very specifically little holes from which an acidic gas might spurt... there are none, the second sarcophagi is trap free, he opens it.

And is caught in a second acid cloud- note Ram rolled a '1' on his check above, he was absolutely certain there were no traps to be found.

The second sarcophagi is also empty.

Bugger!

I seem to remember swearing at this point.

9309.jpg

Then, with the Dark Squad making their way back to the middle section of the barrow, a bunch (actually a trio) of floating spectral lights turn up and start blasting folk with lightning.

Note, it's at this point that the DM (and the players) remember about Ubmo.

There he is. YAY!

Ubmo says “YAY!” a lot, only in binary (like the sound of a game loading on a Spectrum 48k) which only Vinnie understands.

9310.jpg

The will-o'-wisps keep disappearing- flying off, and then reappearing somewhere else in order to lightning blast a different member of the Squad.

Between the two images above the Dark Squad spend in excess on thirty minutes getting frazzled, chasing after, and/or readying actions in order to make the annoying little floating light-bulbs go away (permanently).

Eventually, two of the wisps are killed, the last one gets away.

9311.jpg

And the Dark Squad, at last, progress to the main chamber of the barrow.

The gargantuan dragon skeleton's skull is impaled by a beautiful greatsword, which- “touch noth-zing ere!” is later identified by Newt and Vinnie as being a dragonslaying sword.

The weapon they are here to collect.

There are two more sarcophagi, similar in appearance to the others found here, although there's some ancient elven text on the stone- the great wyrm was called Aegis, and the slaying of the beast instigated the formation of the Pact of the Flame.

Note, see the yellow square (on the above image) in the passage to the south of Vinnie, that's another illusory floor, with another spiked pit trap beneath it.

Ram, constantly prodding the floor ahead, found this one.

The Dark Squad stop to chat for a while.

The issue being-

“Yew knor, wen yew tak zee sword- zer my-tea dragun will cum alife!”

Vinnie precis what comes next.

And so after thoroughly checking the chamber over once again, the Dark Squad get ready, and into position- ready for the dragon's attack.

9312.jpg

Note, Daktari and Nicky are sitting (balanced) astride the great dragon's skull/head. Newt is hiding, as is Ram.

Ready.

Daktari grasps the hilt of the dragonslaying greatsword in two hands.

READY!

The sword slips out of the dragon's skull, no longer impaling the great wyrm, and... nothing else happens.

The barbarian struggles to his feet and holds his new blade aloft (note the ceiling here is much higher).

From on high he makes a grand speech-

“Be hold! I have new sword!”

And then gets punched- a mean right-hook to the side of his face, with a follow up swift left to the breadbasket that breaks a rib or two.

The barbarian manages to cling on to his precarious spot but then decides to leap down from atop the dragon anyway.

There is no visible enemy in the chamber.

There is however a fair amount of confusion present.

“Sumthing hit me! Hit me har...”

The barbarian begins but then get's punched again, this time in the back of the head- and it's a crit (for approx. 28 damage), and the big barbarian is bloodied and beyond.

But still, there's no enemy to be seen.

Dak scrambles for and then glugs down a potion of greater healing.

His companions collectively scramble and... accomplish nothing.

Until...

Nicky bathes a section of the chamber in Faerie Fire.

9313.jpg

He's a clever lad.

And the outline of an amorphous (although with clean lines) creature is revealed, the enemy looks and moves like the wind.

At the same time the last will-o'-wisp shows up and frazzles Newt some more.

It kicks off.

9314.jpg

And for a while I was really on to something here, my Invisible Stalker started with over 150 hit points, and hit hard- but then the inevitable Dark Squad pile on, and even with a fair amount of missing (Newt missed six Eldritch Blasts in a row- three of them '1's, it didn't improve his mood) the Stalker takes a beating.

Then Newt casts Blindness and the Invisible Stalker fails its save (and it has darkvision, but not blindsight), but that of course doesn't prevent the elemental from knowing where its quarry is- Daktari.

That said the Dark Squads victory is inevitable.

But that's the end of the session, save for one more thing- shame on you, all of you (players), you were so certain that the dragon was going to come back to life (or equivalent). I'm slightly insulted, that would have been way too obvious.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Very cool session. Don't suppose there's an audio file of Daktari's song ...?
Please Jim don't read this... please Jim don't read this... please Jim don't read this.

We had a reprise of the song last night, Newt was taking too long to decide what to do so Dak (Jim) sang at him for a while- which speeded up the decision making process immeasurably.

Toodles goonalan
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #094: Enter the Dragon (from the Barrow).

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari/Dak (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
New Tricks/Newt (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 8
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev/Nicky (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8
Ramshambo/Ram (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/1
Vincenzo/Vinnie (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 (When we remember)
*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. Vinnie needs to be back for the next Saltmarsh Council meeting on the 1st Kythorn (June).
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood?
  5. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 94, and yet another cracker...

Remember, I wrote this last time-

But that's the end of the session, save for one more thing- shame on you, all of you (players), you were so certain that the dragon was going to come back to life (or equivalent). I'm slightly insulted, that would have been way too obvious.

Well, check out the title of this one for the giveaway, but we'll get to that.

9400.jpg

Here they are! The Dark Squad, after a brief chat and a modicum of healing, get on- they've the rest of the barrow to explore- actually just one chamber.

And...

9401.jpg

Here it is.

So, Ram sneaks his comrades into the final part of the tomb, checking for traps and being very cautious- there's another illusion covered pit trap at the entrance to this chamber.

And the squiggle of elven script on the lintel over the entrance here, Ram translates- remarkably, he's the only one of the Dark Squad that can read elven.

It says, “The Seekers in the Shadows”.

Which causes a few words of concern.

“Zat name is very family-ar, n'est-pas?” Vinnie states.

“It's another bunch of us! Eyes in the Night- Dark Squad... that kind of thing!” Newt growls back.

“Be on your guard, watch well Ram, there are bound to be traps here.” The tabaxi warlock adds, like he's a team-player, or else he cares about his companions.

9401.jpg

The same picture again, but for a reason.

There are four sarcophagi here, similar to those found elsewhere in the barrow, but along with the usual bas-refiefs of ancient elves- one on each, there's a lot of text on these tombs. Again, Ram translates, and the text explains who lies within each sarcophagi.

And to save time I'll also include the text that is later discovered within each of the sarcophagi, as I go along, note this isn't the order the Dark Squad did things- they did all the translating on the outside first before the rest of the Squad fled the chamber to allow Ram to be alone with the tombs and the traps.

All of the sarcophagi turn out to be safe- no traps at all.

And so, we start with sarcophagi number one, which depicts a ferocious looking (and scantily clad- think Vallejo, chainmail bikini) elven maiden, in translation the text on the tomb says-

“Tardaki, sword elf maiden strong of arm and swift of foot, although woe betide those that would anger her for she was possessed of a frightful temper.

She will be remembered for her lustrous hair, red with the blood of her enemies.

Her spirit soars above yet, like a flying horse, she guards the heavens.”

And within is written-

“LOVING YOU IS EASY BECAUSE YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!”

Daktari is, of course, delighted- he even treats us to a chorus or two of his new theme song.

Next.

The second sarcophagi depicts a plain looking, non-descript male elf, kinda angry looking- Vinnie spots a series of slits on the sculpted elf's neck- an aquatic elf then, and the text here says-

“Sham-Bo-Ram the sea elf, whose heart had fled long hence, or so the rumours said, even afore the battle against the Dragon.

Swift of blade he was, although less swift to trust, but very quick (and yet quiet) to anger.

Revenge was his watch word, he sought to set his people free, and so rejoice for he freed a great many folk- their souls he sent winging to their dark gods.”

And within... well, that's a secret, and remember Ram is the only one of the Dark Squad that can speak elven, and so when he reads what is written within he keeps quiet, he says nothing. And nothing his comrades say can change his mind, that is until much later- after the half-elf has had a think about things.

This is what it says inside Sham-Bo-Ram's tomb-

“WARE YOUR SO-CALLED FRIENDS, THE LAUGHING ONE'S BROTHER WILL BETRAY YOU!”

And after Ram has had a think about it, and told the rest of the Squad the above message, he also has the answer, maybe- the laughing one is Giggles. A member of the Eyes in the Night, the last incarnation (it is thought) of the adventuring party, prior to the Dark Squad, of course.

Next.

The third sarcophagi depicts a stick thin, well-dressed and snooty looking high elf, possibly a noble, and the text states-

“Went, the high elf, whose mind was long lost, and whose heart was either black or else broken.

A raging furry whose flaming spells sent Aegis the dragon back to hell, possibly there to serve as the terrible Went's new master, for he sold his soul cheaply.

The oathtaker was lost to us- his fury spent his life, his friends fled, and in his fowl fool anger he lost his all, and he fell- again, into darkness.

Went, was sent Far-Far away.”

And when Ram translates the above- mainly aiming his speech at Newt, of course, he makes clear to the tabaxi that the 'Far-Far' in the last sentence is capitalised.

Far-Far away? Doesn't that sound like someone else we know?

Newt's reply- “Oh, NO!”

And on in the inside of the sarcophagi-

“THE MAN AND THE CROCODILE AWAIT THEE!”

Newt, for whom the above has become (at times) a bit of an obsession, manages not to flip-out.

Food for thought, but remember Newt is very much of the opinion that the plot will play out- whatever he and the other members of the Dark Squad do. He's in it for the ride, not to fathom riddles.

Next.

Then the last sarcophagi, this one showing a heavy set elf- as broad as two of his kind, barrel chested but dressed in simple attire, and the text-

“Veldino, the loquacious, and yet strangely accented, moon elf savant.

All that was wild and free in nature loved him best, and in the pale moonlight he bathed and was adored.

He was a friend to the pale dwarf, and thus began our service, and our misery.”

Just in case you missed it, Vinnie's full name is- Vincenzo Del Vino (Vinnie of the Wine).

The above translation causes much more chatter- the pale dwarf is, of course, Ub.

Note, when I say- 'of course' above, I mean that's what the Dark Squad think. The opinions expressed here are those of the adventurers, not the DM- of course.

But there's a lot more text within-

“Veldino it was that gave name to our endeavour, for our service it has been fore-said shall be known across the ages, our time will come... and once spent, it will come again.

We are forever consumed, for we are the Pact of the Flame.

Our course, of course, was named in honour of the one that sacrificed his all, to save the people so that they would live free.

Our beloved hero, the terror-schemer-of-destruction.

Like a candle in the wind, Went- went.

We shall miss him now that he has gone, for in life none missed (or cherished) him at all.

Thus Went, went- and in doing so he (Went) went well.

IF THE WEAPON HAS BEEN CLAIMED THEN THE GREAT DRAGON IS RELEASED, AND IT MUST BE FOUGHT AGAIN.

WARE ALL! THE TIME OF ASH APPROACHES.”

Which is a lot to take in.

Also present, within the tombs, are a whole bunch of (low level) treasures- potions and scrolls, a lute of illusions (in Went's sarcophagi), a driftglobe (in Sham-Bo-Ram's tomb), and a necklace of fireballs (in Takdari's tomb, note the necklace is very tribal, the fireball beads are rune-carved shrunken kobold skulls).

So, the barbarian can throw fireballs now, and Newt is showering him with compliments- the ability to destroy things with fire is the ultimate power, according to the tabaxi warlock.

There follows a very long chat, over an hour around the VTT, and in the hut-

9402.jpg

They're all playing nicely in the one hut (Newt's) now.

The result of the chatter is this.

The ancient elves here fought and killed the dragon Aegis, the huge skeleton they found earlier.

The elves here were the 'Seekers in the Shadows', fore-runners (progenitors) of the Dark Squad.

This thing is circular- 'for our service it has been fore-said shall be known across the ages, our time will come... and once spent, it will come again.', or else on repeat.

Nobody liked Went, the high elf, although the Pact of the Flame started here, and was named after the fiery bastard who's spells (ultimately) did for the dragon- Aegis.

Last bit, the dragon (Ashardalon), now that they have claimed the sword, has been unleashed.

The Dark Squad conclude- Ashardalon is abroad, although as Newt stated- 'Of course Ashardalon is abroad- who do you think destroyed Castell Gwythyr?”

Castell Gwythyr was reported destroyed way back in session 27c, and an ancient red dragon was spotted in the vicinity a day or two before the event was discovered.

It took an hour and an extended coffee break to get through all of this, including Ram's revelation (see above).

Then, after a short rest (only) the Dark Squad exit the barrow.

9403.jpg

To discover that they are surrounded.

Note the above image hardly does justice to the situation, there are an army of shadowy battered and broken elves surrounding the barrow- they look like ancient soldiers that have lost (or won) a war. The tokens on the image above merely represent the front line of the massed ranks, there are hundreds more fallen spirits crowding behind.

The watchers number in their hundreds, if not thousands.

The Dark Squad go for their swords and spells, when they eventually become aware of the situation, they were still chatting about various revelations when the exited the barrow, for which read all of them had their screens focussed on the centre of the image. It wasn't until Ram chimed up with an “Uh-Oh!”, followed by, “Scroll out on the map...”. Then comes the swearing.

However, then the Dark Squad decide to get mouthy for a while, or rather Vinnie tries to explain again to the assembled masses who they are (the Dark Squad- the heroes) and their intentions (to fulfil the prophecy- slay the dragon et al). Newt's version of mouthy is just swearing and threats, while intersperse the druid's honeyed words.

They do good cop/bad cop simultaneously, and not for the first time.

The silent spectral elves watch on, their weapons ready.

The stand-off continues for a short while, until an elven voice comes from the ranks of the watchers.

Ram instantly translates-

“Stand ready, by the fire and the fury... It COMES!”

And while the elf watchers ready their weapons they still do not attack.

And the Dark Squad are still targeting- Newt is manoeuvring his Fireball template on the map, the adventurers are stacking readied actions- waiting for the army of elves to make the first move.

And so they're all surprised when the barrow on which they are standing suddenly tears itself apart.

9404.jpg

Enter the Dragon (from the Barrow). That's right- Aegis is back.

Did you really think I was going to leave a gargantuan skeletal dragon unfought? Shame on you?

The massive skeletal wyrm has a ball of fire and shadow burning in it's skeletal ribcage- it's furious heart. The great dragon manages to poke a good thirty feet of its head, neck and body out of the barrow.

Several members of the Dark Squad are knocked prone by the dragon's turmoil entrance, and then more still as Aegis unfurls its seventy foot skeletal wings and flaps furiously- allowing the beast to eventually get free of its grave, and in the process flattening (and battering) the Dark Squad some more.

It gets violent.

Particularly when Aegis unleashes a breath weapon that is one quarter cold necrotic nastiness, to three quarters splintered piercing bone.

9405.jpg

Where's Newt? The tabaxi was last seen running south east and down the barrow, alas the ranks of the spectral elves coalesce and make it very clear to the warlock, there's no exit to be had this way.

Newt reports this event to his colleagues, who atm have bigger fish to fry.

Note, Ubmo is destroyed in the opening moments- the Supreme Being, of course, reappears unharmed (YAAY!) next to Vinnie moments later.

We get to fighting.

9406.jpg

Note, Ubmo has just been destroyed again, this after he had the audacity to hit Aegis with a lightning bolt.

Further note Ubmo's attacks are chosen entirely at random, on a 1) he grabs out his dagger and stabs, on a 2) he flings a javelin at the enemy, on a 3) he casts Witch Bolt, a 4) for the Lightning Bolt.

9407.jpg

And now we're into it, this is maybe three turns and perhaps an forty minutes later.

Ubmo has just been destroyed for a third time, Vinnie has conjured a Giant Constrictor Snake, which is attempting to grapple the gigantic Aegis. The dragon has taken a beating- Daktari has been coming up '20' again- and his newly acquired dragonslaying two-handed sword is working well, it also helps that he's in a raging frenzy, and reckless with it.

Nicky has his Spiritual Weapon in the battle, and is surrounded by his Spirit Guardians- and guess what? Aegis, as it turns out, is vulnerable to both bludgeoning and radiant damage.

However the dragon is immune to necrotic damage, and resistant to many others- including fire, which has left Newt yowling (in retreat) and taking pot-shots from afar.

Note, Newt does a lot of missing.

But his dice are on fire compared to...

At this point Ram hasn't managed to land a hit yet. You read that right, his dice have abandoned him.

Aegis' AC is high.

The rogue has also taken a beating.

But look again, the dragon has a number of Legendary Actions, it keeps swatting about with its tail- targeting whoever just hit it hard, and every now and then it unfurls its wings again and flaps furiously, flattening the Squad (the save is Dex 20) and clubbing them about their heads.

Aegis is trying, but failing, to get aloft.

Nicky, Ram and Daktari are down to their teens in hit points, the barbarian is the worst hurt- Aegis keeps on smashing, clawing and biting the him because he keeps on hitting with his dragonslaying sword.

Daktari shatters his way through the dragon's ribs, and is at present slicing and stabbing at the bolus of flame and shadow that is the great undead wyrm's heart.

Note, when it got to three blood drops on the Aegis token (see the image above) I added another 100 hit points to the dragon. Why? Because it would frustrate the heck out of the players.

Worked.

Ten minutes later and...

9408.jpg

Ubmo's back, the Giant Constrictor has survived Aegis' breath weapon, but remarkably (+12 to hit) the great wyrm (Restrained) has otherwise been missing a lot.

Eventually...

9409.jpg

And the killing blow, disappointingly, comes courtesy of the druid conjured Giant Constrictor.

Aegis is destroyed, and in the following twenty or thirty seconds reality unravels- the great skeletal dragon is sucked back into the barrow- its scattered and broken parts having tumbled back to the whole, and...

Reality remakes itself.

The barrow is exactly as it was before Aegis emerged.

The elven watchers-in-the-woods are all gone.

The Dark Squad are suddenly surrounded by bird song, and the aromas of the forest.

That was nearly 10,000 XP in action.

Then, after another rest, and yet more healing- the Dark Squad make their way to the fairly nearby Farhill Mine, they're spent.

I had to dig the Farhill Mine out- I tend to delete out stuff that I'm not using to keep Fantasy Grounds Unity slim, so there's no lighting or fog of war et al in this version.

9410.jpg

Back to Farhill Mine.

But that's the end of the session.

It's back to Saltmarsh (after Farhill) next session, and that's admin week- time to ditch the million and one items the PCs have been carrying in their inventories, and also time to fix lots of macros and buttons that have broken due to the various updates on FGU.

Oh, and keep in mind Vinnie has still got Mummy Rot, that needs fixing.

So, a quiet session next time.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 



Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #095: Saltmarsh Shenanigans.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari/Dak (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
New Tricks/Newt (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 8
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev/Nicky (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8
Ramshambo/Ram (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/1
Vincenzo/Vinnie (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 (When we remember)
*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. Vinnie needs to be back for the next Saltmarsh Council meeting on the 1st Kythorn (June).
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood?
  5. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 95, and actually an amalgam of two sessions, let me explain- I've accumulated quite a number of add-ons/DLCs etc. with my Fantasy Ground Unity VTT, and in the last big update something broke. I was getting yards of error messages when attempting to do all manner of formerly innocuous activities, like putting tokens on a map.

So, we did a little adventuring- getting the Dark Squad from Farhill Mine and back to Saltmarsh, and then we attempted to fix whatever was broken with FGU, I'm not very IT orientated. Confession- I've never owned a mobile phone, I don't own a TV, and the next most technologically advanced device in my office (after this desktop PC- now 10+ years old) is... looks around, well... there's nothing else technology wise in the room. Maybe the exercise bike, but the digital read-out on that stopped working last night, so... I've got an air-purifier? Does that count as tech?

Sorry, my life- so, FGU got (mostly) fixed, and we spent the rest of the session fine-combing the various PCs ditching out broken macros, fixing spells that don't work properly and... well, general maintenance. It's also mad the amount of crap that these fellows have hidden away in their PCs inventories. Newt's Chest of Horrors contains all manner of strange items- a preserved wight's hand, mandibles from a maw demon, and the grisly mementos of a dozen other enemies.

So, late spring cleaning.

Last bit on this- Fantasy Grounds Unity is great, the fixing proved to be easy- it was all a matter of me having missed various updates for a variety of the add-ons that we run, some of this not my fault- I bought the add-ons from the DMs Guild (or similar) but the updates were only available via the Fantasy Grounds Forge. But it all got sorted. I think I've mentioned this before- I'm not very good with technology, not frightened of it, just not as bothered/interested in it as I perhaps should be. Be assured, my (home) office is full of... books, now there's a technology I'm very at home with.

Back to the game/explanation.

And so last week's (two weeks ago now) mini session has been mashed in with this last session, I think I could have explained that much quicker.

Oh, and the fix stuff wot broke session was also the hottest day of the for-like-ever.

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It was 41 degrees C in Lincolnshire, my home patch.

Farhill Mine...

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The Dark Squad chat with Manistrad Copperlocks and her right-hand dwarf, Golf Kindle.

And while Farhill Mine is all running smoothly, better than smoothly they're on a hot silver streak down deep- the Dark Squad receive a little extra money from Manistrad for their previous work here, only 200gp but it's a pleasant surprise for the Squad.

But that's not all- Saltmarsh, for the dwarves of Farhill, has become a no-go area. Manistrad has even shut up the mining HQ they had set-up in the town. The dwarves only go to the place to collect shipments and supplies, otherwise- it's off-limits.

The reason- the towns folk regularly fling insults and worse, particularly on/around the docks area, the ill-feeling is building, threatening to spill over. Something must be done about it...

Hey! Weren't the Dark Squad originally hired by Gundren Rockseeker to smooth/improve relations between Farhill Mine and Saltmarsh, I think so?

So, slaughtering gargantuan undead dragons is all very well, Manistrad explains, but it doesn't help the mine.

The Dark Squad are set their task.

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And so off they go to Saltmarsh.

Here it is...

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Saltmarsh, in all its glory.

Keep in mind that Nicky has never seen Saltmarsh before, and the so the rest of the crew are talking him through the sites and sounds of the town.

The first of which is a crowd of what look to be fisher folk who are assailing (only verbally mind) the Watch House, Vinnie investigates briefly (with his Saltmarsh Councillor hat on) and discovers that the irate folk are protesting the fact that six fishing boat captains are languishing in gaol, charged with smuggling.

Eventually Vinnie disperses the mob, like every politician, he hands out gold to the crowd and pays them off, promising that he will look into this matter at the next council meeting (tomorrow night).

We move on with the tour.

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Sharkfin Bridge, another Saltmarsh highlight.

The Squad know that any Elf (or Half-Elf) that passes over the bridge feels... well, a bit queasy, Buggles and Ram have both been affected by this in the past. Nicky feels nothing, but when the Dark Squad tell him about the Pact of the Flame text that is visible through the rotting brickwork on the underside of the central span of the bridge. Well, Nicky investigates- alas this causes much consternation with the common folk here, mainly because the spider climbing Dhampir just walks over the side of the bridge- sticking to the surface as he goes, obviously.

The folk in Saltmarsh are clearly not used to seeing this kind of thing, although the terror is lessened somewhat when Nicky's voice echoes up from below.

“I thay, it's swimply marv-ell-us!”

Nicholai sounds a lot like a simpering, lisping, wet ninny.

Eventually we move on.

And after another twenty minutes or so of intros to various folk and places that the Dark Squad have previously visited et al, it's back to the Dark Squad house.

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The house needs an airing, Newt's room is a little stinky- it could be the dead cat. Note, Nicky is given Buggles' old room.

And that was pretty much all we did in the first mini-session, except to also go through some Downtime activity ideas, because the deal is Bear (who plays Newt) is away for the next three weeks. Therefore, the rest of the Squad is going to do a little investigating (and other things) in Saltmarsh, as well as a few Downtime projects.

Newt's Downtime activity, and keep in mind the Squad are going to be spending the next month in town, well... where do I start-

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I know what you are thinking, I'm thinking it too. Apostrophe!

Alas, that's all I can tell you about how, or why, or... anything, really. We'll play out Newt's Downtime School of Magic activities when he gets back from his holi-bobs.

It's not going to be good.

I will be very surprised if there are not casualties.

Keep in mind that Newt thinks that proper magic (his magic- which mostly involves fire and terror) is only doled out to mortals that pledge their allegiance (and souls) to fiery (or silver-tongued) demons and devils.

So, the curriculum at Newt the Magnificent's Magnificent School of Magic may need a little close-scrutiny.

But that was all they did in the mini session.

Then, the week after, the Squad (without Newt) swing into action.

Oh, and the Squad also get paid by Winston, the halfling fence/shop-owner that the adventurers send all their treasure item finds to, just over 400gp each.

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That's the “Faithful Quartermasters”, the local 'curiosity shop', proprietor Captain Xanderos, a female tiefling in piratical attire.

Over the course of the next month Nicholai acquires a +1 Shield, while Ram eventually gets his hands on (after some low rolls) a +1 Longbow, we're using the Downtime rules here. Alas the above transactions also prove to be expensive (bad rolls), and soon after Nicky is left with 3gp to spend for the rest of the month (only 20 days left of it).

Vinnie, again with his Saltmarsh Councillor hat on, heads out onto the streets to get the low down, the vox populi- nobody on the docks has a kind word to say about the dwarves of Farhill, also the catch is down for the year (the dwarves are to blame), the docks are not getting the investments needed- things are falling apart (the dwarves are to blame), and the Council favours the dwarves (the dwarves are to blame), and, of course... six good honest fishing boat captains are languishing in gaol (the dwarves are to blame).

The docksiders are very unhappy (the dwarves are to blame).

Remarkably (after several great rolls, including a '20') Vinnie, accompanied by Daktari (that's worth mentioning), finds himself spending time in the back room of The Broken Net, with Kreb Shenk.

Kreb is the voice of the people.

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All friends together. That's nice, this must be the role-playing bit of RPGs that people told me about.

Let's just take a moment. The Broken Net is a brigand/pirate/fisherfolk/scumbag tavern, proprietor the big surly racist- Kreb Shenk. The last Squad member to venture here was Ram, he fled when the good folk started throwing things (from tankards to knives) at his head.

So, Councillor Delvino (Vinnie, remember) has a pleasant chat- he can be incredibly eloquent when he wants to be. The racist Shenk plays his part well, he doesn't hate dwarves as much as hanker for the good times of old, before the money grubbing sawn off dirt diggers hit town. He's a patriot, and a traditionalist.

Vinnie and Daktari are invited back to the Net, any time- there'll always be a drink behind the bar for the pair.

Note, Vinnie is taking the temperature at this point, he's not offering the cure.

Then...

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That's the Saltmarsh Town Hall, which can only mean one thing...

TINSEL CANNONS EXPLODE!


RAZZAMATAZZ MUSIC BEGINS!

COUNCIL MEETING!

ACTION!

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Order!

There's a lot about potholes, then a major investigation as to the benefits (or otherwise) of implementing a single cart flow system between Tappits Lane and Stroop Avenue, leading to Furrow's End.

Daktari has plus five on his filibuster.

But I'm prevaricating, the good folk in the open council session are actually pretty incensed.

There's a lot of chatter, and I mean- a lot of chatter, in this bit and the closed council session that follows, maybe ninety minutes to two hours of play. Including daring swooping emotionally charged speeches by the young Councillor Delvino. Although, for every piece of eloquence from the stalwart Druid the DM, in the guise of various NPC folk- but mostly Councillor Anders Solmor, has a repost, and as arrogant as it is to write this- the DM, and Anders, scores more hits than the Druid.

But we'll get to that.

So, the big discussions are about the following-

The fishing captains/smugglers in gaol.

The dock folk's hatred of the dwarves of Farhill.

Obvious, ain't it.

About 75% of the citizens at the open session want the fishing captains freed, new investment in traditional enterprises (fishing) and, ultimately, for the council to bar the dwarves from the town- or some less/more violent version of the same.

One other important point to note from the open session of the Council- a well-meaning and concerned citizen of Saltmarsh reports to the authorities that he (or possibly she) has heard rumours that an illegal (and very possibly nefarious) unlicensed magic school may be opening its doors (in an effort to corrupt the youth) in the town.

The level of consternation increases.

Nice work!

I wonder who that well-meaning and concerned citizen could have been, whoever it was I am certain that their conscience is clear.

We move on.

To the closed session of the Council, and there's a vote- after approx. forty minutes of speeches (including a potted history of the fishing families of Saltmarsh), back and forth.

Just to remind ourselves the Saltmarsh council consists of-

Eda Oweland (Chair, and from a traditional fishing family and with ten generations in Saltmarsh)
Gellen Primewater (from a fishing family, same as Eda)
Anders Solmor (from a fishing family- same as Eda, latterly turned entrepreneur)
Eliander Fireborn (Head of the Watch, an outsider although in-post for eight years)
Vincenzo Delvino (Farhill Mine representative, in-post one month, has spent six days (in total) in Saltmarsh)

There's plenty of discussion about what to do to ease the tensions in the town- the fisher folk versus the dwarves, Vinnie (and others) will attempt to build some bridges- note all of this chatter is very positive.

That is until we get to the issue of the arrested fishing boat captains/smugglers, and there's the aforementioned back and forth between Vinnie and Anders (and Eliander, briefly- see below), and it's heated at times.

Eliander Fireborn is so insulted by the usually silver-tongued Vinnie's words- basically, Vinnie states, Eliander isn't up to the job- it's a little nicer than that, but not by a lot, that the Watch leader walks out of the meeting.

So, after the speeches there's the voting.

Vinnie wants the fishing boat captains/smugglers to be let out of gaol and made to serve the town in order to pay off their debts/taxes, alas the vote goes against him, but it's a close call- Gellan Primewater is on the Druid's side, but no-one else is convinced.

Then, more chatter until the end of the meeting, as the remaining councillors question Vinnie about the Dark Squad's activities in the last month, alas a lot of the adventurer's tale is severely/entirely redacted. There's no mention of fighting undead gargantuan dragons, or trips into space.

Eda Oweland wants to know when Vinnie is going to get a proper job.

We all do, Eda. We all do.

Then, more Downtime and more investigations as the month slips by, oh and after a bit of investigation and some skill checks, and spell casting, Vinnie has his Mummy Rot style curse removed.

So, some more Downtime stuff-

Vincenzo sets up his alchemy lab, and using the recipes he gained from Arty Swell, he gets to potion making, and he makes a bunch of them- topping up his comrades supplies.

Nicholai in the meantime, and with a little help from Vinnie, gets to spend a tenday in the Saltmarsh Town Council archives. Note, Vinnie greases the palm of a clerk- Dickie Vagabond, in order to make this happen.

Nicky is searching local records for any mention of people and organisations that the Dark Squad are at present involved with, ostensibly- Ub, the Pact of the Flame, any of the previous incarnations of the Dark Squad- including the previous mob that adventured here two centuries past- Randall the Black (mad gnome warlock), Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit (halfling killer from Lowhill), Antonio De La Crane (posh kid druid alchemist) & Giggles (crazy wood elf).

After his time at the Town Hall Nicky goes to talk (and visit) with Krag, he's the sexton of the Saltmarsh Cemetery, and also the local historian.

Nicky learns the following from the Twon Hall archives- Rambles Bowspirit (nearly 200 years ago) was charged with the murder of Antonio De La Crane, alas the halfling escaped justice by fleeing aboard a merchant ship called The Empress of the Sea.

But... in Saltmarsh cometary, and more specifically, in the De La Crane crypt there (the Dark Squad have been here before) are the sarcophagi of all of the members of the De La Crane family, only the tomb of Antonio De La Crane has never been sealed, it's empty.

The De La Crane family, Krag explains, faded to nothing- they were reduced to penury, only their tombs remain- their holdings, fortune and favour all fled.

Great work from Nicky.

Vinnie also takes a meeting with Dickie Vagabond, his new pet clerk, and sets him to his task, he wants Dickie to put in the over time and go through the classified archive and find the location of the De La Crane manse. The Dark Squad are searching for this place, but here's the thing, Dickie- as it turns out has a conscience, or else the information he discovers is so sensitive that Vinnie has, in the end, to attend a very hush-hush meeting with the senior clerk in the Snapping Line Inn, and then persuade and pay through the nose for Dickie's big reveal.

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In the shadows at the Snapping Line Inn, secret meetings and bags of cash- Vinnie is really taking to local politics.

But, here's the red hot secret.

The De La Crane manse was bought by Petra Solmor (deceased mother of Anders Solmor) about fifty years ago, it is situated on the headland known as The Leap, a series of high cliffs to the south of Saltmarsh on the estuary of the Dunwater River.

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See the Dark Squad token on the map, and south is to the left, that's where the De La Crane, now Solmor, manse is.

Note, The Choke is a delta at the entrance to the Dunwater River, a series of mangrove-like tidal islands, and across The Choke, well- that's the Mere of Dead Men.

Also note, Ram does other stuff while the above is going on- including commissioning a local artist to come up with a drawing of Buggles and Gwen (remember that pair). The half-elven rogue (and the Dark Squad) are now/still seeking to locate this duo, funny how that all came about.

The local artist of note is Kiorna Kester, she runs the leather-goods store, and is also an expert skinner and tanner. This is the lady that Newt visits, and freaks out, regularly- usually the tabaxi has the hand/face/tongue/scrotum of something nasty that he would like making into a plush or a bean-bag (or similar). This is also the lady that Buggles (& Gwen) freaked out when they visited the store, and so when Ram turns up, alas there's nothing the rogue can do to persuade Kiorna to revisit the memory of Buggles' first visit. But eventually he finds someone else to do his drawings.

Remember Kev (who plays Ram) your doing the drawing.

Ram, however is also keen to visit the nearby halfling village of Lowhill, the former home of Rambles Bowspirit, he'll be leading this expedition in the next session.

Last piece of news.

One evening, after all of the above has happened, Councillor Vincenzo Delvino returns to the Dark Squad's abode to discover a letter waiting for him, he and his companions are invited to visit with Anders Solmor at his home, for dinner...

But that's for the next session.

Reminder no game on the 2nd, more investigations on the 9th, and Bear/Newt will be back on the 16th- at which point you'll be adventuring again.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

carborundum

Adventurer
Thanks for the update. I do hope nothing untoward occurs to further colour the townfolks' opinion of the hard-working dwarves.
Have a nice holiday!
 
Last edited:


Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #096: Saltmarsh Shenanigans Part 2.

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

NPCs (in order of appearance).
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
Tarbin Tul (played by goonalan) Male Human Bard RETIRED
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by George) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick) RETIRED
Ubmo (played by Goonalan) Supreme Being Lvl 1 (When we remember)

*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-

THIS IS GOING TO GET A SORT OUT IN THE NEXT SESSION- PROMISE.

  1. 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).
  2. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood- except she's not there any more, but a big red dragon is?
  3. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. NEW The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out.
  7. NEW Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule.
This is session 96, and the Dark Squad are still in Saltmarsh, making friends and influencing people, well. Newt's not in-game, so... they are genuinely making friends and influencing people, and nobody has been on fire for what seems to be ages.

I miss him.

But first, Ram's homework from last week- the rogue was looking to get some artistically able Saltmarsh citizen to knock him up a wanted poster (or similar) for Buggles (and Gwen). He found someone to do this eventually, but that just meant that Kev (that plays Ram) needed to bring the proof this session, and so...

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Buggles in all of his glory! Warning: Do Not Approach, he's armed and dangerous.

But here's what else happened during the Dark Squad's sojourn in Saltmarsh for the month of Kython (June, that's good monster hunting weather).

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The Dark Squad house (I know, it's quite something isn't it- as you can see me and my bro- Kev, are incredible artists) and Mrs Bad-Crumble's screams bring all the residents of the house running to her side.

The conversation went a little like this-

“'Elp me! 'Elp me members of the Dark Squad! Der's a ruddy great toad-demon in my kitchen! Aw lawks a lummy, I'm dun fer I tell's ya!”

Then, when none of the Dark Squad can see the 'great toad-demon' in the kitchen, Mrs Bad-Crumble further explains.

“E's 'iding but I can spots-it. See der, Mr V? E's 'iding in the shadow of me broom, in der corner. Ya seez it Mr V?”

Note to Mrs Bad-Crumble the members of the Dark Squad are- Mr V, Mr R, Mr D (said with a leer and a gap-toothed coquettish grin), Young Master N and the Cat (as in- "der Cats gawn owt Mr V").

Back to the action...

And then a nine foot tall (and wide with it) toad style humanoid (Demon?) steps out from behind the broom that Mrs Bad-Crumble is pointing at. The creature rushes forwards flailing and growling as it comes, and then stops short to pantomime it's pain, the horrid creature looks desperate- it's constantly clutching at its throat.

“The paw kweture seems to bwe chowking!”

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Nicky to the rescue, the Twilight Cleric rushes over and gives the great toad-thing several thumping slaps on the back, and eventually- after much hawking and coughing, a large mucus slathered hairball flies out.

I say hairball- Bobby, is a Korred.

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Ralph (unidentifed- the toad-thing) and Bobby (a Korred).

The Dark Squad eventually remember, Granny Frogwart sent them a note to say that this pair would be coming to see the Squad, with news...

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Note received in session 78.

Granny F had suggested that she might be able to get a message or else broker a meeting with the missing hag- Nightshade, remember the Dark Squad need her to go back to the Land of Bad Dead Ancestors, so that Garumn can be set free.

And so, well... Bobby is chatty, and seemingly not keen to pass on whatever message Granny F has sent along. He wants to waffle, and then he wants to eat, and then he wants some money, and then he wants to drink... But you get me, eventually- and with patience, the Dark Squad learn the following-

Nightshade is gone (either dead or fled) her lair in the Deep Dreadwood is still ram-jam full of all manner of undead abominations- Granny F initially suspected that Nightshade was building an undead army, but... she's gone. Point of fact Granny F has asked, and searched, everywhere- Nightshade is no where to found, not a whisper.

Which is less than helpful.

But also, new news- a ruddy big Red Dragon has been seen flying around/over the Dreadwood. Just to make clear- Granny F has never seen (or heard of) this great beast before, and apparently the wyrm is enormous.

Again, not helpful.

The Dark Squad, obviously, have further questions, and Granny F (and Bobby) thought they might. Bobby has therefore brought them a gift (which he then sells to the Dark Squad for 100gp). A magic rope, actually a six inch long piece of raggedy string with a knot in one end.

The magical rope (string) can be used to point the wearer to Granny F's location in the Mere of Dead Men, the hag is using her travelling home at the moment- she's on the move, hence the need for the item. Final note, the string needs to be worn- which in this instance means tied around the wearers Johnson, remember Granny F knows that the Squad are all males.

Daktari takes the device and slips it on, Bobby explains again that the string only functions in the Mere of the Dead Men, but Daktari- to be certain- insists he will wear it always.

It takes all sorts.

Eventually, after being given a packed lunch and some booze to go Ralph & Bobby depart- the same way as they arrived- Ralph swallows Bobby, and then seemingly turns into a shadow.

Note, Ralph- save for the choking, has not said a word throughout the entire visit, that is until the last.

“I'd just like to say I've had an absolutely splendid time, you've been the most accommodating of hosts, and that sherry trifle was quite simply delicious.” Ralph (the big toad-demon-thingy) sounds even more posh and polite than Nicky, and that's going some.

Next up, Ram leads his comrades on a trip to Lowhill, just a reminder- Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit (of the Eyes in the Night) lived here, two or more centuries ago. So, a few questions are in order.

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Lowhill is an idyll.

The Squad eventually wander into Bungo Chubb, he's the mayor of Lowhill and 'yes' he's heard of the Bowspirit clan but that was all a very long time ago, and they've moved on- or else died, basically there's no news to be told.

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The Dark Squad are not so easily dissuaded, when in doubt they take folk to the pub (The Mapmaker Tavern) and get a round or two in, and then ask their various questions. Vinnie, and Ram- most odd, both make short but impassioned speeches to the gathered citizens, about how important it is that they find Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit, or else his earthly remains. The druid makes clear- “ze 'ole of 'umanity may depend up-on zis!”

But no-one here is buying, although they'll drink the drinks proffered. Rufus Tosscobble, proprietor of the tavern, has never even heard of the Bowspirit family, and he's been living in Lowhill for the best part of a century. Keep in mind the whole Rambles thing was 200 years in the past.

The folk here are, of course, lying through their teeth- Vinnie has made a number of checks now, and he's convinced- he tells his friends (on the hush-hush) which encourages a few more desperate please for info.

But, nothing.

Eventually Flannel Uphill, a stern looking female halfling- with a few friends, insists that the Squad try looking elsewhere. Remarkably the Squad decide not to push things, a little more digging may be needed but that's for another time- they head back to Saltmarsh.

More stuff follows...

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Including a diner engagement at the Solmor Mansion that's Anders with the guys and his butler, Chivers- that's nice. Note, spot the ornamental fish pond to the left of the image, Daktari spends a good part of the diner relaxing (and skinny-dipping) in here.

The Granny F Detector String is still in place.

So, lots and lots of chatter follows- the tales of the Dark Squad, Anders' story- growing up in Saltmarsh, and then we get to the politics- and the two Counsellors, with help from their friends reach an accord. It's all about Saltmarsh, the pair even commission (and pay) for Nicky to canvas public opinion about what needs to be done to improve the people's mood.

Then, after the hearty congrats for fixing the rift, Vinnie, sorry- Councillor Delvino asks Anders (Councillor Solmor) about the old De La Crane Manse. If you remember last session Vinnie discovered from his new found friend (he gave the guy 50gp) at the Town Hall, Dickie Vagabond, that Anders has been investigating his claim to this old house, situated on The Leap- overlooking the Dunwater River (and the Mere of Dead Men).

The druid is a little suspicious of Anders, but he needn't have been.

So, long story short- Anders only found the deeds to this place a few months back, in his dead mother's papers. He checked the veracity of the paperwork at the Town Hall (with Dickie Vagabond) and then employed two local 'characters' to go and check the place out. Although, that was five days ago and he's not heard from the pair yet. However, having spoken to the mother of the two ne'er-do-wells he employed for this task (Neddy & Teddy Shakeshaft) he's not overly concerned. Mother Shakeshaft told Anders, “they'll be pissed in a ditch, m'Lord. Won't see 'em again until the money yew paid um is drunk.”

Anders further divulges- Neddy Shakeshaft is a little... well, the rough fellow knows how to open a locked door (particularly when no-one else is around); while his brother- Teddy, is a six foot eight monster of a man, and a member of the Saltmarsh Town Guard. The pair were recommended for the job.

Vinnie, all heart, opines that he and his friends should check it out- free and gratis, Anders is of course delighted.

A very pleasant evening is had by all.

Then, a few nights later at the Dark Squad house...

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Nicky is awoken of a night- there's a halfling throwing stones up at his window- and now signing for him to come outside, down to the street below. It's very late. Ever cautious Nicky wakes his colleagues en route to the door.

And when the Dark Squad are arranged (Note, Nicky is flying- it's the only method he has for moving quietly) the halfling, still motioning for the Squad to follow, leads the gang on a merry chase through Saltmarsh- in the shadows.

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All the way to the dilapidated beach huts of Crabbers Cove, and waiting for the Squad there are a bunch more halflings, including a young lady who introduces herself as Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles. Or as she has it- “mad grandpappy Bowspirit.”

There follows much more chatter, Bonnie needs to be convinced that the Dark Squad aren't just crazy treasure hunters, or else... well, they're not the bad guys. Eventually this comes to pass and Bonnie makes her offer, here's the story-

After killing Antonio De La Crane Rambles fled to Lowhill, alas folk there were very unimpressed, and... well, Rambles (who keep in mind was a psychotic killer) met his end. To make clear, Rambles didn't get on the Empress of the Sea (as discovered in a previous session) and flee the region.

But, Bonnie knows where Rambles is buried (with all of his possessions*), a dwarf friend of his built his tomb, and she knows how to get in to it- you just need to be at the right place, at the right time, and know the password.

*The Dark Squad are, of course, after Rambles' maze button.

So, she'll tell all if the Dark Squad will pay her and her friends 2,500gp, the money they need to get away from Lowhill (and its dark secret) for ever, and make new lives for themselves elsewhere. Bonnie makes clear, she is selling out her family name, and in the process bringing shame to Lowhill- this is no small thing.

We go back and forth for a while- haggling, eventually a price is agreed- 1,500gp and papers of introduction for Bonnie and her gang with Gundren Rockseeker, the Dark Squad's dwarven patron in Neverwinter.

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Bonnie and her gang will meet the Squad on the track between Gedge and Lowhill, on the 6th of Flamerule (next month) at nine bells (or thereabouts) there's a way stone at the spot. Bring the money and the papers- if everything is good she'll get them into the tomb of Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit.

The deal is done.

Just to note, some of the PCs have a naughty word-ton of money still. Daktari, for example, spends next to nothing (a few healing potions, maybe), he's got nearly 200pp on his sheet. Newt and Nicky on the other hand are both on their uppers- the latter has a little more than 10gp. Newt, until he got paid by Winston the Saltmarsh fence in the last session, had a similar amount.

Then, another diner invitation. Gellan Primewater calls on the Dark Squad one evening, to invite them all over to his place for a repast.

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Gellan's butler is Captain Bernard Scoggins (complete with eye patch, hook for right hand, and peg-leg). Although butler is pushing it- Scoggins is the first to table when the food arrives.

The Squad, and in particular Councillor Delvino, chat a good long while with Gellan, and it's pretty much the same kind of thing as with Anders Solmor. Gellan however is old skool, while Anders was all new ideas. Vinnie can see the divide.

Here's the oddity for the evening, prior to their departure- after a pleasant repast, Gellan asks the Squad if there's anything he can do for them. Lots of semi-worthy answers follow- a pay rise for Mrs Bad-Crumble (Gellan is the Dark Squad's landlord, and Mrs Bad-Crumble's employer), a survey of the Saltmarsh citizen's needs and wants, Ram would like to go out on a fishing boat (he used to be a sailor)- Vinnie also wouldn't mind a trip to sea. That kind of guff.

Gellan makes his intentions clear- WHAT DO YOU WANT? Money? Position? Etc. He is looking to buy the Squad's favour, or else Vinnie's.

The Dark Squad politely decline (how different this would have been if Newt was here) and then pleasantly extricate themselves from the situation.

And so, that's all we got done this session, and Bear (Newt) will be back for the next one- possibly; Jim, Bear and George are at a festival this weekend and will not be getting home until Mon/Tues and so... perhaps, the worst for wear, may cover it.

Next session we need to finish off the following-

Vinnie go and see Eliander Fireborn (head of the Watch) you insulted him in the council meeting.

Nicky's survey of the commonfolk.

Ram and Vinnie go fishing.

Another chat with Gellan (about the above survey).

Oh, and I'm particularly looking forward to Newt the Magnificent's Magnificent School of Magic.

No, honestly- we all are.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 




Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #097a: Saltmarsh Shenanigans Part 3.

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


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And here we all are...

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 (When we remember)
*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-

THIS IS GOING TO GET A SORT OUT IN THE NEXT SESSION- PROMISE [I LIED].


  1. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule.
  3. 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).
  4. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood- except she's not there any more, but a big red dragon is?
  5. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  6. 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.
  7. 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 97a, and still the Dark Squad are in Saltmarsh, making friends and influencing people, although... Newt's back.

WARNING: It is going to get creepy.

Fairly quickly.

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Remember?

Come on, let's get this over with...

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Look, I put some effort in ahead of this session, here's how Newt (maybe) imagines his Magnificent School of Magic to look.

The reality...

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Which isn't so bad, and look- there's Professor Newt!

But the first tenday of Newt's downtime is spent on an exhaustive circuit, the tabaxi is visiting a variety of places in Saltmarsh- wherever folk gather, to spread the word, and of course to entertain. Newt always puts on a show.

The Warlock's in search of students, folk that want to learn magic- and at this point the magic in question is mostly close-up, sleight-of-hand, and maybe a few cantrips (mostly Prestidigitation).

And Newt the Magnificent's Magnificent School of Magic is free to attend, and so why wouldn't you?

The clever bastard!

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That's right, Newt is after children. Gulp! The Tabaxi is the child-catcher.

Note, in the left hand chat window- '22' for Performance (for the Downtime meet-and-greet shows) and '27' for his Persuassion, to convince folk to allow their kids to come and see the magic.

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Jim (playing Vin & Dak) helpfully positions Newt's Fireball, but unfortunately the spell's AoE includes glorious Newt- some mistake surely.

Jim shakes his head- no mistake.

We watch on, mostly through our hands, or from behind the sofa.

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Esmeralda, a sulky merchant's daughter, is made chalk-monitor on the first day.

Then in the second tenday of Newt's downtime the tabaxi gets to work, teaching the children the basics of magic, and keep in mind this isn't spell-flavoured magic (at this point) he's imparting- more sleight-of-hand and all the theatre to go with it, conjurer's tricks.

But he's keeping his beady eye on the kids.

Oh, the DM worries, Bear- please don't do or say anything bad...

The tabaxi is trying to determine if there's any latent magical talent in the class.

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There is- that's Sabrina on the left, and she's the new head girl.

Note, there are two others in the class that display some talent, but their skills- Newt thinks, are more mundane than arcane, the other pair are good at tricks.

Also note, Newt's down to eleven students- one of them went home.

And the last tenday of the Tabaxi's downtime? More teaching, and that includes extra lessons for the three students that are ahead of the class.

And a new subject/thought is introduced to these three high-flyers.

Newt tells them this, actually it's beyond telling, he inculcates the following instruction into the select trio-

“You are better than all of the others. You are special. You are chosen.”

With a hefty side salad of the following-

“They are less than you. They are ordinary. They are disposable.”

So, nothing to worry about here then...

That was a month's worth of Newt-flavoured downtime, in maybe six rolls- most of 'em 20+.

Insidious. Not a word you get to use often. I fear I may have to use it more.

I honestly dread to think where the cat-man scamp is going to go with this, but that's an ever-present concern, so hey-ho, we press on with the last of the Dark Squad's Saltmarsh activities.

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Vinnie meets with Eliander Fireborn, head of the Saltmarsh Watch, ostensibly to say he's sorry about the things he said at the last council meeting, eventually- after plenty of chatter from the silver-tongued druid, Eliander relents.

The druid is back in the Watch Captain's good-books, no-one (so far) can stay mad at Vinnie for long.

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Meantime Nicky spends a tenday on and around the Saltmarsh docks- a hive of activity, as can be seen.

The dhampir makes use of multiple castings of Eagle's Splendour, and eventually folk (after he's been stood around for maybe five days) start to take notice- and to answer his queries.

A list of issues/concerns is put together by Nicky, most of it is to do with the good folk here seeing their livelihood disappear, or else lose its edge- the dwarves are the new money in town. Saltmarsh used to live or fall by that day's catch, fishermen were important folk- they may not have ruled the waves but they held a certain amount of sway on the docks, and in the town.

But now- dwarves!

Let's be clear, some of the docksider's concerns can be precised thusly- their racists.

A good number of folk here just seem to hate the dwarves.

Nicky collates his report, and then prior to the next Council meeting goes to meet with both Anders Solmor and Gellan Primewater (separately) to show them his results. Anders is perhaps less impressed than he should be, although this clearly isn't his specialism; Gellan however is very interested, the council member even commits to helping more- financially. One of the solutions offered for the docksider's problem is to set up a sea-person's mission, a place for injured or unemployed fisher-folk to sleep, eat, find employment, meet with others etc.

Gellan agrees to co-finance this.

It's D&D, but of a different kind.

Then... well, Ram and Vinnie spend a day out at sea on a fishing boat, but that doesn't go well- I get the pair to make their social skill tests, after a little RP, just to see how their visit proceeds. The dice hate 'em, from memory the results- '1' and a '3', plus bonuses of course.

The pair always seem to be getting in the way of the grumpy sailors, eventually the pair take it in turns to go for a dip in the briny. Note, they decide not to go swimming together because there's really no guarantee that the fisher-folk are going to stick around to pick them up again when they surface.

Ram discovers little, the rogue sailed the Sea of Swords for many years, and has been in it plenty of times before, but the ability to breath and move underwater (Mariner's Armour & Water Breathing from Vinnie) is still new to him, and so... there's nothing he can discover.

Vinnie uses his druidic magic to locate the nearest shark, it's about 100 yards away- and then to wildshape into a fellow apex predator and visit with the dull fellow.

Here's the thing, the pair (Ram & Vinnie) are looking for the sahuagin, the Sea Devils, when Newt and Daktari had their vision of these nasty aquatics attacking (their favourite place) Ashby, then the Soggy's were led by a four-armed hulking Sahuagin Baron. The Dark Squad are after this fellow, they want to put an end to the Soggy threat. They really do like Ashby.

So, the plan is this- go underwater and try to figure out where and why the Soggys are at/up to?

The method?

Talking to a lone random shark and (for Ram)... looking about a bit.

The plan goes as well as can be expected, the pair go for a pleasant dip, and Vinnie makes a new boring friend-

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Marvin (the shark) dun't know nuthin'.

Then... the 1st of Flamerule Saltmarsh Council meeting, and there are lots of ideas generated- all taken from Nicky's report, which the Dhampir has to present at the closed session after. There are no more images to go with this bit because we were travelling at a hundred miles an hour at this point- eager to get on.

So, resolutions are made- new ventures plotted (although they're yet to be costed) and the Dark Squad now need to find a way to get the Farhill Mine to pay for some (all) of this, whatever the cost.

More on this sort of thing to follow.

But that's enough for part A of this write up, it's time for the Dark Squad to head out again- to the De La Crane Manse up on The Leap, overlooking the Dunwater River, beyond which lies the Mere of Dead Men.

Nice!

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

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