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


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Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #097b: The De La Crane Manse.

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. 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 97b, and the Dark Squad are out and about again, they're adventuring some more.

A four or so hour trek along the coastal path from Saltmarsh, tramping through tall grass and thick vegetation, uphill all the way to The Leap. A spot, the adventurers have been told, that in ancient times was where the wives (and sometimes children) of fishermen that had been lost at sea would go to to fling themselves, in grief, from the high cliffs. The sound of the rolling waves of the Sea of Swords is loud here, pounding into the cliffs below, and beyond The Leap, when they get there- the Dunwater River and the Mere of Dead Men is, even in the midday light of summer, obscured by a thick mist, a seemingly permanent sea fret.

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The De La Crane Manse perches here, the place is a ruin, and... it's a bit, well, spooky.

But the Dark Squad are old hands at this, and keep in mind that the adventurers are checking out the Manse for a variety of reasons- because Anders Solmor asked them to, of course; and because Teddy & Neddy Shakeshaft* (hired previously by Anders) are missing (perhaps); and most importantly because- Antonio De La Crane was a member of the Eyes in the Night. The Dark Squad have established- the Eyes in the Night were on this same quest some two hundred years past, they (the Dark Squad) are just the latest incarnation of this group of heroes.

*Neddy Shakeshaft is a rough and ready weasel of a man, and with an ability to bypass locked doors; his younger brother Teddy meanwhile is six feet eight and big with it, and a member of the Saltmarsh Watch.

Caution then is the watchword for the Dark Squad, and a little while later Vinnie and Daktari, working together, are certain that two individuals (one heavily armoured- Teddy Shakeshaft) went this way, they approached the front door of the manse but did not enter, it seems they circled the place (perhaps) to check it out, although the trail is very hard to follow.

The Dark Squad follow suit, although this doesn't go entirely to plan- a little way around the rotten Manse, and with Vinnie somehow leading the way- following Neddy & Teddy's tracks, he's ambushed by a six foot long very angry giant weasel.

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Vinnie leads the way.

But there is an entire pack/family of giant weasels (and with '22' Stealth) and so lots of folk get ambushed, and a fair few of them bitten.

Although, the enemies prove to be easy kills- Newt starts blasting while Vinnie and Dak try to stun the large (and territorial) beasts, or else frighten them away. In short order the few giant weasels left standing the Dark Squad's initial onslaught flee the scene.

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A surprising attack, but not a testing encounter.

That is until the ground beneath the Dark Squad's feet suddenly erupts, tangling vines snake around the lower limbs of Vinnie, Nicky & Ram- holding the trio fast.

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A clump of bushes suddenly comes alive, a thick vine tentacle unfurls- shoots out- and grabs a fleeing Ram, who has only just managed to rip himself free of the tangling vines around his legs. The rogue is encircled, and squeezed by the vine-limb, a myriad sharp spikes injecting foul venom into the hero.

The Dark Squad go through the gears very quickly- do you see the circle around the Vine Monster, that indicates Newt's inward facing Wall of Fire. Although, as it turns out, the monster is resistant to flames.

Seconds later it also escapes the flaming circle, moving very slowly- of course, but the Dark Squad have things under control, and Daktari has chopped through the hefty vine that was clutching and poisoning the rogue. Newt runs all the way around the flailing plant to get the angle right, and Eldritch Repelling Blasts the angry flora back into his Wall of Fire, where it expires.

Phew!

That got nasty very quickly.

But the Dark Squad are keen to get on, although Vinnie can no longer discern the trail now, he however figures that the Shakeshaft's went this way. Ram, this time, is sent ahead- following the tangled gardens all the way around the ancient derelict mansion.

To a small decrepit slate-roofed well.

The Dark Squad, of course, move to investigate- while the ever-so-stealthy Ram continues to circle around the building.

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It's at this point that the two black-as-night giant (poisonous) snakes strike out, expertly hidden in the crumbling and cracked stonework of the well, the duo strike with surprise.

But that's all we had time for, it was a quiet (and frustrating) session. Quiet because three of the guys were just back from some interminable 'rock' festival, and still a little worse for wear. And frustrating? I foolishly updated Fantasy Grounds Unity prior to play and once again all (or maybe just one) of the various add-ons (DLC) that I have installed caused FGU to constantly spew error reports.

So, an error report every time we move one place forward in the initiative tracker, another one every time a player targets a monster (and vice-versa), another with every to hit roll, and damage roll, and saving throw, and...

Frustrating.

At this point, and after using FGU (and FG before it) for the last 10+ years (since I stopped using Maptools) then I think I'm possibly in the market for a new/better VTT. I realise I could just get rid of the DLC content I have installed but that's the stuff (atm) that's making FGU great- the stats tracking, the targeting system, the wildshape tools etc.

Should I take a look at Foundry, people keep telling me to make the switch, or should I wait for the new Dungeons & Dragons: One-

Dungeons & Dragons: One - Official D&D Reveal Trailer - YouTube

Any thoughts?

More adventuring in the De La Crane Manse 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 #098: “I don't want to die!”

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. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out, it's also the ancestral home of the De La Crane family, and the Squad are looking for Antonio De La Crane- see below.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule- see below.
  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 98, and it was glorious.

I really don't know what happened to Newt (Bear) in this session but, he's changed. It could be the adoration of his eleven young disciples back in Saltmarsh, it could be... the butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

At long last.

It could be nits (fleas).

What's changed you ask, well... for 97 sessions so far Newt has spent the VAST majority of his time, particularly when we are moving minis on the VTT (and therefore danger is approaching), hiding behind three other people.

If a volunteer is needed to go ahead- naturally that's Ram, or else Daktari, or even the new tin can- Nicky, and if Vinnie's the Moonboar then he can have a go too. It's never Newt. Newt doesn't lead the way, sometimes he doesn't even get too involved- particularly in the action. Newt stands somewhere with cover, shouts threats (and useful advice to his colleagues, which often sound like threats too) and blasts things.

Sure, he has a habit of opening the wrong door/thing at the wrong time, but usually- straight after, he's on his toes and away, leaving whatever new threat he's unleashed to be dealt with by his colleagues.

He stays out (and away) from trouble.

That's his thing.

Always.

ALWAYS.

Until tonight.

Then there's the fact that early on in the piece, and in conversation with Nicky, he said something like- “I've got nine lives, nothing touches me...”

And then it did.

And so we're at the De La Crane Manse, on The Leap overlooking the Dunwater River, with the Mere of Dead Men just a few miles away, although the vast swamp is perpetually shrouded in a miasma and so not visible. Even on a bright and breezy summer's day like today.

The Dark Squad are checking out the surrounds of the manse, they've just found a well, and a pair of poisonous snakes that are laired here. Soon after the two giant poisonous snakes become four- Ram, Nicky & Vinnie all get bitten, and poisoned (but only a little). Nicky, as always, is in the wrong spot (I swear I'm not picking on you George) the Cleric of Twilight gets bitten repeatedly, like three or four times, and he's AC 21, which is the best in the group.

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But they're just snakes, and the poison leaves no lasting effect- the serpents are quickly slaughtered.

Then after a brief chat, and time for Ram to sneak his way back around to the front of the manse- all clear, Nicky and Daktari decide to recon the well shaft here. The spider climbing pair head on down.

Note, Dak indicates to his colleagues (and the DM) that he is spider climbing by declaring “Spider standz!”, like a (cod-Russian) superhero, and then of course he bends over and places his hands on the ground and scuttles wherever he needs to go, like, well... a spider.

So, the pair scuttle (& stride) a little way down the well shaft, and here's the thing- it's a very deep well, about eighty feet below there's a larger cavern chamber, but that's not all, the well shaft descends through this chamber- it goes on- deeper.

This place deserves further exploration, however the Dark Squad have a job to do- to check out the De La Crane manse, and find the missing Shakeshaft brothers (Neddy & Teddy).

And so onwards, although the door here is locked- Ram soon springs it open.

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Chaps (to the Players) when you take a picture mouse click on your PC first, you may need to do it twice- when you click on your PC token the first time it will show you what you can see. Click on it a second time and it'll show you what you and all of your colleagues can see, and thereby illuminates the map. Fanks.

Note, Newt is first in- he finds a kitchen but here's the thing- this entire place is dirty, mouldy, and generally falling apart. It creaks and groans at every step, and there are holes in the floorboards, and walls, and in places- it's a wreck.

That's not just the kitchen, that's everywhere here.

But then, very soon after there's screaming, and the Banshee wail (the Dark Squad think) is prolonged and terrifying, the scream causes both Daktari and Nicky's hands to shake.

Daktari covers his fear with a short bout of macho-

“I must rescue damsel in distress! I am Sky Pony!” Say it loud, and in a cod-Russian accent.

The scream, the sound of a woman in fear for her life (or else in hell), is coming from upstairs.

The brave Sky Pony barbarian races to the scene.

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Daktari is rushing to save the wailing/dying woman, “I kom to save now. Den we DIY all over house, I nail gud!”

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See the picture on the left, that's Daktari scrabbling to get back up again- alas the balcony he was just running along has just collapsed depositing him back on the ground floor.

The picture on the right, that's Nicky (spider climbing) and Newt also running to save the struggling, screaming woman. That little 5' token is the hole that Daktari made.

And yes- Newt's rushing to the scene too.

One more thing to remind you- Newt doesn't like jumping, not at all- his athletics check bonus is just about zero, from memory, the tabaxi has fallen in stuff repeatedly. I can remember two DC 5 jump checks he has failed just off the top of my head. One of the two he inspiration point re-rolled, and failed again, and both times he ended up in hot water (actually one of them was hot mud).

Oh, and there are a lot of pictures in this session, the Dark Squad did lots of stuff, and very mostly at top speed. The Dark Squad were on the run.

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Nicky is the first to arrive at the room from which the screams emanate, the armoire (just to the left of Newt) is shaking and rattling on its stand- the doors are being slammed from within- something wants out, the screams (the pair think) are coming from in here.

But Nicky isn't opening the wardrobe, the dhampir (remember) is still subject to the terrors, he's also very cautious.

And not stupid.

Newt however... flings the doors open and... is covered in a cloud of glittering dust, but... hang on- the rotten clothes within the wardrobe are slathered in the same sparkling yellow mould, and now so is the tabaxi.

Newt begins to strangle and choke, coughing up lots of blood.

Nicky, at this point, has moved back out of the chamber, terror and caution can keep you alive it seems.

But here's the thing, the screaming hasn't stopped.

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Ram thinks the screaming is coming from the last chamber to the right, the rogue flings open the door and... the screaming stops.

However, over the far side of the very dilapidated chamber is the face down body of a male human, the fellow is stripped to his underwear- his legs tied, and arms similarly secured behind his back.

There's a little blood on the floorboards close to the face-end of the body.

That said, the panic's over- or else the screaming woman has been replaced by the screaming cat-thing, Newt is taking 2d10 poison damage every turn, the yellow mould is in his lungs. The Dark Squad scramble to get to the warlock and set things aright.

Which takes a round or two.

Then calm (& a little healing for Newt).

Vinnie makes a short speech-

“We shud ztick togezzer, no runin' off!”

Just to note Vinnie repeats the above sentence maybe a dozen (maybe more) times this evening, every time you feel like adding one to the text below then go ahead, throw it in- the druid, this evening, is doing his best impression of an answerphone message.

With good reason.

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The Dark Squad gets back to adventuring, and you guessed it- Newt leads the way- the dead body's over in the corner.

Here's that picture again...

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But hang on... where's Newt gone?

See that 10' marker on the map, that's where the hole in the floor is now- dust billows from this spot.

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Here's Newt, in the room below- picking himself up from the dirt.

Newt, very obviously, is not at all upset by events so far in the De La Crane manse, and so when he starts Eldritch Blasting the ceiling above, well...

More of the ceiling comes crashing down (some of it onto Newt) although, helpfully, the dead body also crashes down to join the tabaxi.

Various members of the Dark Squad climb down to- a) laugh at Newt, and b) get on with the adventure.

Newt flips the dead feller over and discovers it's Neddy Shakeshaft, the Squad have a description of the two missing Saltmarshians, provided by Anders Solmor. Neddy has had his throat cut, although that was certainly several days ago, Vinnie also ascertains that prior to death Neddy suffered a severe beating.

There's someone here, the Dark Squad think, the De La Crane manse is inhabited.

Then Newt takes a moment to search, and wrestle a little with Neddy's stiff corpse, this while delivering one of his withering speeches, it went something like this, and remember the lines are delivered it in a husky whispered voice. Everything Newt says sounds like a threat.

“Let's see if this stupid hick has got anything worth taking, then we can search out the corpse of his equally stupid brother. These people... they're such amateurs, you need professionals- like us, for a job such as this.”

At which point shouting “I don't want to die!” the ghost of Neddy Shakeshaft lurches up and out of the corpse, and attempts to possess Newt.

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The ghost of Neddy Shakeshaft fails to possess Newt.

Damn!

The Dark Squad are, of course, surprised- although Ram and Nicky get into action quickly, the rogue badly wounding the now fluttering spectral Neddy, but then...

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Where's Neddy?

Neddy's possession attack recharges, and he tries it again.

SUCCESS!

Neddy possesses Newt, and Bear (who plays Newt) plays his part.

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At this point the rest of the Dark Squad descend to the action, the action is however... rather odd.

Nicky and Ram have both seen Neddy's ghost disappear into Newt, but... the tabaxi is having none of it.

“I'm fine, do not concern yourself- I am adept at dealing with the souls of others. NOW LEAVE ME ALONE!”

The last increase in volume because Daktari has now got Newt in his grip (the barbarian is grappling the tabaxi), the rest of the Squad are not enjoying this moment.

The collective wisdom is-

“Oh, Shi... This ain't good.”

But Newt continues to insist that he's fine, and that Neddy has gone, and...

Then he fires a repelling Eldritch Blast into Daktari causing the barbarian to a) let him go, and b) go slamming back into the nearest wall.

Newt, meantime, leaps out of the nearest window.

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Newt is on the run.

It's at this point that the spirit of Neddy reveals to Newt his destination- off the cliffs.

Neddy would like Newt to leap from the incredibly high cliffs here to his death in the raging seas below.

Just to make clear the cliff-fall is 20d6 bludgeoning damage, and it's seven squares (35 feet) away from where Newt stands on the above map.

Bear, playing Newt, 'ulps' a few times, and then prevaricates.

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A lot of things happen at once.

Nicky scrambles out of the window and Turns Undead, and suddenly Newt is free of Neddy's spirit.

“I don't want to die!” are Newt's first words, now that he's back, which oddly were Neddy's first words to him.

Funny that.

Then Ram makes it to the spot with Deadend, his undead slaying rapier. Neddy's ghost, soon after, is really not well.

But seconds later the spirit disappears, Vinnie (with a monster knowledge check) confirms that the ghost has, “pazzed over tew zer udder plane.”

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But Nicky's not giving up, and he knows that the See Invisible spell can also detect those on the ethereal plane (he's a clever feller), and so he casts the spell and then spider climbs his way back into the manse, and there's Neddy.

A radiant damage Guiding Bolt later and Neddy is, at last, laid to rest.

The Dark Squad however have seen, and done, enough for now.

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The twin Leomund's Tiny Huts are up, it's time for a (short) rest and a chat.

The chat is 90% Vinnie, and 90% the following-

“We shud ztick togezzer, no runnin off!”

Then, after more healing for some, they're back to exploring.

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The ground floor of the manse again, Newt- he's gone ahead again, has found some books in a forlorn study, they indicate- he thinks, that the owner/occupant of the manse was very probably an alchemist. Note Ram and Nicky are off exploring elsewhere, and Vinnie- he's trying to link the two groups, to keep 'ze partee togezzer!'

Didn't last long.

Newt finds a fragment of paper in one of the books here, it says- “...beyond the skeletons...”, the rest of the text is lost to time.

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The escritoire (writing desk) in the northern room contains lots of ancient papers- mostly receipts for various chemicals and similar substances, more evidence of alchemy.

And keep in mind- Antonio De La Crane (posh kid druid alchemist), this is his old home, before Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit (halfling killer from Lowhill) murdered him.

The larger chamber to the west is a puzzler, Ram (clever lad) realises that all of the broken furniture was piled in the corner here after (not before) it was broken- someone most have done this.

But then...

Footsteps.

In the chamber above this one, Ram hushes his comrades silent, someone paces.

The general consensus is this-

“Get 'em.”

The Dark Squad are off and running again.

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We're back upstairs, and note Newt is leading the charge again- although the tabaxi chooses (this time) not to open the door.

Note Nicky just spider climbed up the side of the house, but he's not yet got up the courage to take a look into the chamber above.

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Ta-da!

Ram bursts in, but the room is empty.

Save for some junk, a filthy fireplace and a curtained four-poster bed- the shrouded contents of which are hidden from view.

But there's no-one pacing here.

Vinnie is taking no chances, he fills the room with Faerie Fire, but...

There's nothing, and no-one to be seen.

Ram investigates the canopied bed, which sags and collapses at his touch- but there's nothing there either.

“Zut alor! But ver iz...” Vinnie begins, but is shushed into silence once again by Ram. The rogue points up- to the ceiling.

Footsteps.

Pacing.

It seems the De La Crane manse has an attic.

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Newt, as he always does, leads the search for the stairs up- note several more chambers are briefly investigated en route to here.

But here's the thing, only the first few steps of the stairs up into the attic are in situ, the rest have collapsed. Note there are another set of stairs here heading down into the kitchen (on the north wall).

The Dark Squad, helped by the spider climbing trio, make their way as cautiously as they can into the attic above.

Note, Daktari over-extends while carrying Newt and is left hobbling (and effectively exhausted).

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The attic is full of junk, and the ceiling towards the outside of the chamber is low, there are holes in the roof here and there, light spills in spotlighting random filth and tat.

Ram shushes the gang again.

Footsteps.

Pacing.

The sound is coming from the south west.

And so Newt, of course, leads the Dark Squad to the spot.

Note, Ram is loving this by the way, he's regularly chuckling and making way for the tabaxi to recon ahead.

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But then the stirges turn up.

But that's all we had time for this session.

More adventuring in the spooky De La Crane Manse 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 #099: Snakes Alive!

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. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out, it's also the ancestral home of the De La Crane family, and the Squad are looking for Antonio De La Crane- see below.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule- see below.
  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 99, and it was nearly the end of the Dark Squad, or at least a significant chunk of them. You'll have to read on, of course, to find out which members of the Squad (at the end) are barely hanging on to life.

But here's a teaser, at the end of this session- and the Dark Squad are still in a terrible fight when we leave them, one of the PCs has been unconscious and making death saves- twice, and is now on six hit points; another is wavering on eight hit points; yet another is bloodied; and all of them (Vinnie, Nicky & Newt) are towards the very end of their spells.

It sucks to be the Dark Squad.

Where did it all go wrong?

Let's find out together...

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We left the Dark Squad fighting stirges in the attic of the De La Crane manse...

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But then a very large phase spider ports in and fails to do any significant damage to Ram, the bastard rogue gets away.

And see that circle surrounding Nicky, that's his Spirit Guardians, which Nicky takes the time to describe/explain- he is surrounded by a selection of ghostly vampire guardians, all of them his relatives, watch out for his auntie she has a particularly vicious bite.

That's nice flavour, right there.

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Soon after all of the stirges are either blasted to death by Newt, or else destroyed by the aforementioned vampire Spirit Guardians whilst trying to get to the Dark Squad.

The large ugly sometimes ethereal spider is likewise tempted to dine, it doesn't last long (even after I doubled its max hit points) the Dark Squad, by the time it stalks them down, have been stacking readied actions.

Note, you can't stack readied actions, but you understand, right? The Dark Squad have been waiting for it to reappear again, so that they can unleash merry heck.

Which, of course, causes the demise of the phase spider.

The attic is searched, a little treasure found- but nothing else, and remember the Dark Squad only came up here because they could hear footsteps coming from this place.

Well, there's no-one here, and so there must be some other explanation of events. The Dark Squad however do not delve deeply into this (actually they don't delve at all), they instead quickly move on.

9903.jpg

A strange event- Nicky, having spent a little time telling his comrades about his family (and pointing a few of them out- his Spirit Guardians, see above) then takes a moment to ask the other members of the Squad about their families.

The Squad hold station for twenty minutes here to discuss their various (mostly traumatic) childhoods. Daktari, raised by violent but loving barbarian (Sky Pony) parents even has a little cry at the end-

“You are all so badly damaged, it make me sad!” Do it in cod-Russian, remember.

Newt however rallies the troops.

“Never mind Nicky- forget all that rot, we're your family now!”

And now Nicky is crying.

Happy? Sad? Only time will tell.

Twenty minutes I'm never getting back.

Loved it.

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The Squad make a concerted effort to search through all of the rooms in the manse, and keep in mind- they're certain that- a) Antonio De La Crane lived here, and they need to find this guy- and his maze button; and b) there's somebody else here... very likely someone or something bad.

Nicky, at the window (see image above) swears he saw a large light, as if from a lighthouse, emanating from somewhere down in the delta (known as The Choke) at the point the Dunwater River exits into the Sea of Swords.

The Dark Squad promise to investigate further, only not now.

9905.jpg

Ah! This is another odd one- Vinnie has a Detect Magic spell up and running, and much of this room detects as magical, illusory magic is involved. The druid therefore dispels the magic present only... well, nothing changes.

After a series of skill checks Vinnie (& Newt and Nicky) conclude that there was magic present here- possibly some sort of trap, but Vinnie dispelled it before it got going, or else before the trap had been triggered.

Keep the above in mind as you read on.

Oh, and Ram finds a little more treasure in the fireplace, and more evidence that this place was home to an alchemist.

Antonio De La Crane was an alchemist, and a druid- just like Vinnie is.

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Eventually the search continues to the ground floor of the manse, and in this image we see that Newt is making friends with two spider swarms.

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Later some giant centipedes also get into action, but here's the thing- these are not Dark Squad worthy enemies, and then Nicky conjures his Spirit Guardians again, and everything dies.

We go on...

9908.jpg

Back to the kitchen, the first room that the Dark Squad failed to search- in truth on their first pass through the manse they were pretty much running full-pelt, lots of things got left undone.

The Squad discover that Neddy Shakeshaft (throat cut) was killed here. It's a bloody mess.

But that doesn't answer the Dark Squad's questions, like who cut Neddy's throat, and where are they now? Also, where's Neddy's brother, Teddy? And so Ram is sent down the stairs and into the basement.

9909.jpg

And there's Teddy Shakeshaft, six feet eight and clad in platemail. Neddy is very dead, although Ram only takes a brief look- wary of ghosts.

This basement is simply a long-abandoned wine cellar. There's nothing much to see.

Except for Teddy's body.

Vinnie and Newt investigate, their trying to figure out who or what killed the platemail clad Teddy, but before they can...

9910.jpg

Swarms of writhing maggots burst from the armour, and flesh, of the now wriggle-some Teddy.

A single maggot, actually a rot grub, burrows into the flesh of Vinnie's arm. The druid after an adjusted '25' monster knowledge check realises that only fire can kill the burrowing grub within him, and that left unattended the rot grub will kill him by eating its way to his heart (1d6 damage/grub per turn).

Actually the druid also realises that a Cure Disease will also free him of the noisome grub.

The druid chooses to Produce Flame and then slap the fiery ball against the limb into which the maggot burrowed. The plan works, and just to make sure Daktari, still on the stairs, grabs up the druid and hauls him up and out of the way of the maggot swarms that spew from the corpse.

Hurrah!

Which brings us to Newt.

9911.jpg

The rot grubs are +0 to hit, seconds later six of them have burrowed into the fur and flesh of Newt.

From memory, I think there was a lot of swearing around the VTT just about now.

Although maybe thirty seconds later (real world) and Newt (and Bear, playing Newt) are both remarkably calm.

There's even time for a little speech-

“Fear not my comrades in arms, I will purge these burrowing fiends from my flesh. Lord Belphegor hear me, send FIRE!”

9912.jpg

Newt encircles himself in a Wall of Fire- the fiery side pointing in, he burns, but then again so do all of the grubs- and both swarms are destroyed.

Genius!

Alas (or fortunately, depending on you POV) the fire damage causes Newt to fail his concentration check, and so the Wall of Fire lasts but a few seconds, however- job done.

Newt quickly swigs down a potion of greater healing (and he rolls 4d4+4 and gets 1+1+1+2+4, and recovers nine hit points).

Hurrah!

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“Hurrah!” Indeed. However, that's when the snakes start arriving- a sudden tide of slithering swarms of brightly coloured (clue: poisonous) serpents come spewing down the chimney and into the basement.

Thousands of them, and it's an unending supply of snake swarms seemingly...

But the Dark Squad, they're still too tough.

9914.jpg

Vinnie sets up his own Wall of Fire to corral the serpents.

Lots of snakes swarms die, but clearly not enough, and here's the thing the snakes are seemingly not frightened of the flame, or else the volume is so great that they spew through the Wall of Fire regardless.

9915.jpg

Newt gets swarmed, he's just about bloodied.

But again-

“Fear not my friends, for I will- in a very similar fashion- put an end to these foul vipers!” Newt is confident still, and keep in mind everything that he says is whispered and sounds like a threat.

The tabaxi warlock shuffles and herds three of the four snake swarms on him into and through Vinnie's Wall of Fire, obviously incinerating himself a little more in the process.

More remarkably none of the snake swarms on him are destroyed either, and when he gets inside the fiery box he's no longer visible from without.

About three seconds later (game time) after a series of snake bites-

9916 Newt gathers snakes WoF.jpg

The tabaxi warlock is down and dying, and keep in mind Vinnie's Wall of Fire is still up- it's not visible in this image because we were having problems with token stacking.

Uh-oh!

But we move on, swiftly.

9917 infinite snakes.jpg

Vinnie's Wall of Fire is back to being outlined on the screen, and obviously this is going to be a problem for the dying tabaxi within its compass.

But that's not all- yet more snake swarms come slithering through the Wall of Fire.

Note, at this point I have activated exactly 15 giant poisonous snake swarms, and the Squad have accounted for six of them.

Here's the thing- the chatter from the Dark Squad is- we can do this, they figure that with so many snake swarms badly injured they just need a real good round to turn this fight around.

Suckers!

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Nicky summons up his auntie-led vampire Spirit Guardians, snake swarms within its compass suffer.

Although there are no new serpent casualties.

The Dark Squad are doing a lot of frantic.

Note Daktari and Nicky are now surrounded, being swarmed- they both have snake swarms occupying the same squares as they are, it's just tough to show this on the VTT, therefore I keep notes.

9919.jpg

Vinnie, after ending his Wall of Fire, unleashes an Erupting Earth spell, and keep in mind the dying Newt is in the area of this spell, his body is actually beneath snake swarm 13, just north of his position in the image above.

Note Nicky and Daktari are also caught within the earthy chaos.

The ground surges, erupts, fissures slew and stone and dirt fly- and a few snake swarms die, and Newt automatically fails a death saving throw- his first.

And yet more snakes swarms come spewing down the chimney, I think I mentioned I had 15 snake swarms in action last time, we are up to 20.

9920.jpg

Why won't it stop?

But take a look at Newt, the tabaxi has just rolled a '20' on his death save, the warlock is lying still with one eye open, still being slithered over by a sea of snakes, but he's alive!

More remarkably he manages to crawl his way slowly out of the snake swarms, and then huddled in the corner of the chamber he stands and delivers yet another speech/threat.

“If I'm going to hell then you are all coming with me!”

9921 Fireball.jpg

Newt lobs a Fireball into the mix.

Before the Fireball I had 11 (out of 20) snake swarms still in action.

9922.jpg

After, I'm down to just eight swarms, and most of these are broken, but Daktari is below 10 hit points and Nicky is just about bloodied.

Note, there are still more snake swarms spewing from the chimney, and the Dark Squad are still convinced they can do this.

That fighting is the answer.

Seconds later Newt is knocked unconscious again- he gets bitten by a swarm of snakes, wouldn't you know it.

Although, mere moments later Nicky revives the tabaxi with a healing word.

But that's where the session ends, and we were 20 minutes over time, and the snakes started spewing from the chimney exactly one hour and one minute ago (real time).

Could there be something else going on here?

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #100: F**k Yew Gray-Hum!

Sorry about the naughty word in the title but when it happened in-game, when we had stopped laughing- everyone said, that's the title for this episode.

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. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out, it's also the ancestral home of the De La Crane family, and the Squad are looking for Antonio De La Crane- see below.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule- see below.
  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 anymore, 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 100, although at the time no-one realized this- woo-hoo, we're 100 sessions old! Now, back to the game. Last we met them the Dark Squad they were getting eaten alive by snakes, swarms of 'em! In fact the name of the last sessions was- Snakes Alive! Which is a very odd thing because there aren't any.

Aren't any what? You ask.

Snakes alive, the DM answers.

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The image shows the scene as it actually is, a secret door to the south has just slid open- and in the newly revealed opening is stood a rough looking cloaked young man in salt-sprayed leathers, and with a loaded hand crossbow at the ready.

Although, only Nicky spots the intruder, the rest of the Dark Squad are still fighting illusionary snake swarms, which are still spewing from the chimney here.

To make clear, at the start of this session the Players arrived at the VTT to discover the snake swarms had all gone, and for the next ten minutes I went through all of the action here (as played out at the end of the last session). The illusion that conjured the snake swarms required a player/PC to voice their concern- “I don't believe this!”, that kind of thing, and the PCs (last session) were doing a lot of chatting, but all of it in an attempt to gee themselves up, to somehow win the fight.

They bought it.

And so, every time a PC got bitten (last session) they took 1d8 psychic damage, the rest of the hurt they did to themselves- Newt walking through two Walls of Fire (his and Vinnie's), the druid's Erupting Earth followed by a Fireball from the warlock, the Dark Squad got fooled.

Good and proper.

Note, Daktari took 13d8 psychic damage, the snake swarms were all over the barbarian.

Last bit of the intro- this was a short session, I've been having some issues with Fantasy Grounds Unity, and so the IT Crowd (mostly Bear & George) were helping me to get my head around some of the ongoing issues. Also, we've just (last week) rolled up some Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition characters, and we're looking to try them out, possibly using the Foundry VTT. We spent over an hour talking through this kind of stuff.

So, back to the action, and believe me- it's all action.

Nicky starts screaming, although very politely, at his colleagues- “it's not weal! The snakes are ill-ooo-juns!”

But for now the rest of the Dark Squad are not listening.

10001.jpg

Daktari gets shot repeatedly, there are two leather armour, hand crossbow wielding folk- and the pair take it in turns to pepper the barbarian. Then a hulking brute steps into the formerly secret doorway and fires a heavy crossbow bolt into Daktari's gut.

He's really not well.

But also check out Vinnie on the stairs- spot the difference from the previous image, that's right- the druid has just been shot twice in the back. There are more of the thugs up the stairs.

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Vinnie becomes the Moonboar, and then charges up the stairs, back into the first floor pantry, alas the druid then flails and fails to land a hit. Meanwhile chaos below...

The Dark Squad in the cellar, at last, become aware of reality- the snake swarms are gone, there are enemies new in sight.

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Ram dodges into the chamber beyond the secret door, there are lots of bunks in here- naughty word! This could get busy.

The rogue, to make matters worse, is also rolling low.

10004.jpg

Newt, still on not very many hit points you'll observe, uses his Rod of the Pact Keeper to get one of his warlock powers back, and then with an inspiration point he launches a Fireball into the mix. You'll also note that Daktari is dirt-napping here, the armoured thug cut the barbarian down moments earlier.

It's getting nasty.

10005.jpg

Back upstairs and the Moonboar is also taking a beating, in three turns of scrapping he's landed only one hit. The druid tries to slow his attackers down with an enhanced Hold Person spell, alas only the one of his enemies succumbs, but then the attacker makes his save second time around only moments later.

The druid is not making any real headway, and he keeps getting hit... but he's a clever fellow, seconds later and the Moonboar is swathed in flame- his Fire Shield, any enemies hitting him in melee are getting burnt.

However...

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Back down below and the rest of the Dark Squad have, at last, got the rough (and tough) looking humans on the run, the trio are retreating. Note, Nicky gets Daktari back awake with a Healing Word, while Ram grabs out a potion of greater healing and shoves it down the exhausted barbarian's throat.

Oh yeah, Daktari also has Exhaustion 2, he's not in his happy place, and grumbling like an old man as he totters around- half move as well as disadvantage on all of his skills.

Newt is sniping with his Belphegor Fiery Repelling Blasts, and then scampering back to hide behind his colleagues.

That's better.

The old Newt is back.

10007.jpg

Belphegor's Fiery Repelling Blasts- the armoured thug is lifted up a slammed into the far wall, it's the death of him.

The Dark Squad press the attack- note Nicky is flying as he goes, and he's very pale-faced, with his vampire fangs revealed. The Twilight priest grabs and bites the nearest retreating human, which leaves the fellow at death's door, and screaming “Vampire!” in terror.

The enemies here are in full retreat.

Back upstairs, the Moonboar is still keeping the pair of attackers here at bay, but not for much longer, the druid flees down the stairs (weathering blows), and all the way back to his comrades.

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The tough from above follows the fleeing druid down the stairs, and is then instantly targeted by Ram, and shot with a Crit-Sneak-Attack-ton-of-damage-HIT! The now screaming rough fellow flees the scene, back up the stairs.

Meantime, the rest of the Squad are now hot-footing it after the fleeing humans.

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The chase is on, note Ram has left a bag of marbles just the other side of the secret door (the blue circle-ish shape on the map), just in case the rough fellows that were battling the Moonboar are coming back.

Daktari and Ram discover a set of very steep stairs leading down in to a dripping wet torch lit cavern passage.

The Dark Squad, and remember Nicky is still flying, descend into the sodden stone passages, they creep forward a short way but are swiftly met by a wall of steel- as three more of the hefty armoured thugs rush out of an unseen passage and straight into the fight.

Then, at last, we get to meet Graham!

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So, the Dark Squad are fighting humans, and that's a first- at least for a while, and so the bad guys here have hardly been silent. Throughout the fight they've been shouting a variety of things, not just insults, but also encouragement, and instruction to each other.

“That's it Terry, stab the bastard!”

“Fall back Trevor, get the door!”

“Hold 'em!”

And latterly-

“Get around 'im, Graham!”

“Do 'im, Graham! Do 'im wid yer blade!”

That kind of thing.

Well, it seems that Graham is not a classic fantasy fiction style-name for a homicidal maniac thug, or at least Daktari doesn't think so.

And keep in mind that the following line comes apropos absolutely nothing, save the above.

Daktari (played by Jim) just starts shouting it- in his cod Russian accent, and he's very annoyed.

“naughty word yew Gray-Hum! naughty word yew very much, Gray-Hum!”

We laugh.

Daktari shouts it some more, or else versions of it- “I come for yew Gray-Hum! I hurt yew real bad Gray-Hum!”

We laugh a lot more.

Daktari flips, as stated earlier- he's not having a good day- he's been fighting illusionary snakes (and was subject to Newt's Fireball, and Vinnie's Erupting Earth spell, plus 13d8 of psychic damage), he's double-exhausted, and this is really not going that well.

Note the orange (maybe) circle in the image above is the limit of Nicky's Spirit Guardians- the spectral vampires are back.

Further note, Newt is out of spells (save Cantrips), Jim and Nicky- they're down to first level only, or just about.

10011.jpg

But the Dark Squad effect their patented pile on.

Gray-Hum is cut down.

10012.jpg

But then seconds later Newt gets shot some more, remember the two bad guys that Vinnie left behind, well... they've made it back to the party.

The fighting front has to quickly re-orient.

10013.jpg

Foolishly the hand crossbow guy retreats to stand beside Nicky's flying mace-style Spectral Weapon, he gets hit in the face (a Crit) seconds later, after first getting blasted with a Guiding Bolt.

10014.jpg

And mere seconds later and the enemies are retreating again, but the Dark Squad are certain- even more terror (the boss of these guys) lies ahead.

They are not out of this yet, and they are blowing- blowing hard, out of hit points, spells, rages and... all that stuff.

This is as low as I have seen them (the Dark Squad), in like- ever.

But that was the end of the session.

Just to say, there were seven turns of combat at the end of the previous session (against the snake swarms) followed by another 17 turns of combat (and running about) here.

Who knows what next week will bring?

Also, I've just remembered- we forgot all about the Supreme Being again, Ubmo to save the day?

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Ouch! It's nice to see you giving the "good" guys a severe beating - I was beginning to think you'd gone soft. ;)

I do hope you'll post your WHRP tale up on these boards too.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
WFRP write up, but of course.

Also, a member of the Dark Squad died last night (in Session #101) and I don't mean Ubmo or and NPC, I mean an actual member of the Dark Squad, a PC.

Any guesses as to who got offed?

Oh, and last night's session- all combat, again, the fight started at the end of session #99 with the snake swarms (and rot grubs) and went on for... 39 turns, the finale involved an invisible wizard trying to flee underwater (not that effective) being chased down by... well, I can't tell you who because that would give the game away.

Toodles until I get it written up.

Goonalan
 

Neurotic

I plan on living forever. Or die trying.
Being chased by Nicky since he doesn't breathe and Mew-two with the helm and shapechanged druid...unless one if them died.
Nicky died...
 


Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #101: Ram's Revenge.

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. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out, it's also the ancestral home of the De La Crane family, and the Squad are looking for Antonio De La Crane- see below.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule- see below.
  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 anymore, 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 101, and we're still fighting, in fact spoiler alert- the fracas that started at the end of session #99 continues to its conclusion here, and we only got it finished by going thirty or so minutes over time.

So, last we left the Dark Squad they were battling their way through a mob of human thugs and toughs, although a few of the enemies were also adept at the sneak attacks, and so the going is slow. It doesn't help that the Dark Squad expended a lot of ordinance fighting illusory snake swarms at the start of this to-do.

At present Vinnie is the Moonboar, but middling-low on hit points and almost out of spells- he's also missing a lot of his hits but has a Fire Shield running, so he's spreading the joy; Daktari has Exhaustion 2 and has taken a beating, and his second to last Rage is just about to end. Nicky is almost through his spells, he too has taken a good kicking- the Dhampir is at present flying around with his Spectral (Vampire) Guardians surrounding him, he's pale-faced, fangs extended and feeding on the villains (and in the process terrifying them). Nicky is pissed. Newt has been out of warlock powers for hours now, he spends the majority of this session hiding and blasting- back to Newt of old. Although not all of this session, later he will attempt to stir the Dark Squad into further action with a Churchillian speech (but see later). Ram? Well, Ram has taken just one point of damage. Ram is a man entirely in control of his destiny, his ability to get both 'in' and 'out' of trouble is becoming legendary, the swashbuckling rogue is a terror, ghosting in to slash and stab, and as quickly retreating to find cover, out of the way of whatever bad things the enemies attempt to serve up next. He is however rolling low quite a lot.

So, back to it.

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And here we are again, the Dark Squad have been attacked from the rear, and have therefore abandoned the cavern passages to the south and have started to hunt down their new enemies. Note, there's a fresh bad guy arriving from the north east, firing his hand crossbow as he arrives.

10101.jpg

But the Dark Squad swiftly turn this situation around, and moments later the same new enemy is fleeing back up the stairs with Ram and Nicky in pursuit, and... between the pair they convince the 'smuggler' to surrender.

Oddly, and pretty much at the same time, back down stairs in the basement Vinnie also convinces another one of the sneaky hand crossbow firing bad guy smugglers to surrender too. Alas, at this point a whole new batch of enemies begin swarming in from the cavern tunnels, more smugglers, more tough guys, and oh look! There's a hefty (seven foot tall) thickset bugbear wielding a club as big as Daktari.

The Moonboar can also hear someone shouting orders to the large goblinoid, someone back in the cavern passages to the south.

Note, prior to this the Dark Squad have had maybe ten seconds to chat with their two new captives, in summary they learn- they're smugglers (but the real deal, these are the pros), their boss is called 'the Master', and he's a wizard or caster of some sort.

Further note, both prisoners are knocked out- the Squad don't have time to tie up these fellows.

Then, however, the bad guys start arriving again...

10102.jpg

The bugbear hits hard, and by the sound of things there are more enemies on the way.

It's at this point that some members of the Dark Squad start wondering whether they should ship-out, flee this place.

But Newt is having none of it, although it's not yet time for his stirring speech.

10103.jpg

It's also at this point that someone wrenches open a trapdoor above the stairs that lead into the barracks here (just south of Newt) and another enemy emerges from here, rushing down the stairs- hand crossbow pinging. Oh, but you can't see Nicky? That's because the dhampir is fighting another tough smuggler in the pantry, back up the stairs from the wine cellar.

The fight is getting spread out again.

10104.jpg

But Nicky isn't built for going toe-to-toe with a guy that's swinging both a longsword and a shortsword in a swirling bloody pattern, the cleric retreats- at speed. The heavily armoured fellow facing him swears (repeatedly) that he's going to end 'the vampire', he pursues the priest of Twilight at all cost.

You'll note the Moonboar is getting busy with it over in the south west corner of the barracks here. But how come he seems to have healed a lot of damage- he's back down to one blood drop in the image above. Vinnie has had to drop out of Moonboar mode, and then re-initiate, this after getting dropped down to less than ten HP.

So, the druid is using his second (and last) Wildshape.

However, Vinnie is also sporting his Fire Shield and so while he's taking hits his attackers are getting hurt too.

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Then the Master suddenly appears (he was Invisible), he's a tall thin robed fellow with the mandatory 'evil genius' goatee, he makes a maniacal proclamation or two and then frazzles Daktari and the still flying Nicky with a Lightning Bolt (and I rolled 38 damage on 8d6).

Nicky fails his save and soaks up the lot.

You'll note there are now three of the hefty bugbears in the chamber, and these trio take a lot of stopping- and with 100+ hit points each, although they keep on bloody missing.

Newt is generally issuing bold statements, and blasting, although most all of this is achieved whilst hiding behind the stone stair well. Note the very bloody smuggler here is unconscious. The remarkable thing about the end of that last statement is the fact that Newt doesn't kill this guy just for the temporary hit points.

10106.jpg

Enter the Supreme Being to save the day. Ubmo comes flying down the stairs beeping furiously, and to ragged cheers.

It's at this point that we remember that Ubmo is not in the fight, and so... here he is. The binary speaking modron flies down the stairs and the DM rolls a 1d4 to see what Ubmo's attack is going to be (he uses his powers at random).

The DM rolls a '4'.

Jim/Vinnie starts cheering.

Jim/Vinnie knows that '4' is a Lightning Bolt, and so Ubmo positions himself and...

10107.jpg

Is swiftly torn apart by Nicky's Vampire-style Spectral Guardians. See those two circles on the map, well- when you put them down they get in the way of other folk moving their PCs etc. and so we just put them to the side. One of them is Nicky's Spirit Guardians...

RIP Ubmo, and no Lightning Bolt.

The DM enjoyed that immensely.

Note, the Vampire Spiritual Guardians also account for both unconscious prisoners that the Dark Squad have taken, they're dead too.

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And then, bad things happen.

In quick succession the following events occur-

The tough guy smuggler that has been chasing Nicky for the last maybe six or seven turns gets to the dhampir and cuts him down.

Nicky is flying, although only a few feet in the air (the ceiling is about twelve feet above here) he therefore falls unconscious and then falls out of the air- and hard to the ground, but for only three points of damage.

But that's a Death Saved failed.

Seconds later Nicky rolls and fails another Death Save.

This is suddenly getting very tricky.

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You'll further note that the Moonboar is gone, and Vinnie is back, and only just clutching on to life- the druid is down to maybe six hit points, he's halfway up the entirely enclosed stairs.

This after yet another Lightning Bolt from the Master.

The druid wants to go home.

However, Newt climbs on the table and starts making threats.

So, as stated before, Newt is played by Ben, and when Ben is voicing Newt, and Newt is angry and pissed, and loud- well, Ben's microphone cuts out, repeatedly.

It's a marvelous piece of comedy, every time, because Ben forgets it happens- and obviously this is a big role-play moment for him- every time, and yet-

“Mighty Bel... and SHAME! For I am... and... and... with my fiery... and...FOREVER!”

The bit we get to hear is great, but I've no idea what any of it means.

Anyway, the point is- Newt's going nowhere, he's fighting until the bitter end.

Then, see all the yellow targeted enemies on the image above, well... Daktari has a Necklace of Fireballs, the barbarian flings a bead into the far wall of the chamber and very suddenly the Master has just two badly wounded bugbears to cover his retreat, all other enemies are burned to death in the fiery blast.

Newt approves wholeheartedly.

Note, there's also a plan to get Nicky back on his feet.

But that doesn't work.

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Then... the Master, the enemy wizard, casts a Shatter spell into the largest wedge of the Dark Squad left standing, alas that's also the end of Nicky, that's him- the skull nestled behind Daktari.

Three failed Death Saves.

He's done.

Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev/Nicky (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8 is DEAD.

There's a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth, sack cloth and ashes- that kind of thing.

But... It ain't over yet.

The fight that is.

10111.jpg

The Dark Squad are only just hanging on, although there are only two enemies left here- note the Master, badly wounded, has already exited running back into the passages to the south.

In the next few moments both bugbears are cut down, Vinnie gets to the fallen Nicky but there's nothing the druid can do, he doesn't have the components he needs to cast Revivify (I think that was the discussion, I didn't get too involved). Although there were a lot of angry voices (not from George) as Nicky departs all for the want of 300gp of diamond dust (or some such).

Vinnie is all for grabbing Nicky's body and getting the hell out of dodge right now, but then Ram has a speech of his own, although it's not a speech as much as a muttered reply. It goes like this-

“I'm off to kill the wizard. You do what you like.”

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And with that the rogue ducks out of the chamber, hustling down the steps into the torch-lit cavern passages, Newt (grinning) following after.

“Yeah! Get 'em Ram!” Newt offers, and then seconds later- as the fast moving Ram goes full stealth the warlock is suddenly left alone in the caverns.

“Ram? Ram?”

But Ram's in stealth mode, and so- no reply.

Newt is very suddenly a little less confident.

And then even less so...

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See Ram, he's following an invisible wizard, and doing rather well, by which I mean his passive perception is high, and the Master's stealth rolls are low. Newt however, the warlock took the wrong path and has had to quickly employ his tabaxi shuffle (Feline Agility), the cavern he's exiting was home to a whole a number of patches of Green Slime, several of which tried to drip on him.

Daktari is just heading in, keep in mind he's still Exhaustion 2, and so plodding.

Vinnie is staying with the fallen Nicky, he makes a very nice speech (although there's no-one there to hear it) and then says a few prayers.

10114.jpg

Here's the bigger picture.

Where's the wizard? Where's the Master?

He's invisible but is also trying to push the small sail boat ten feet ahead of Ram out to sea.

Ram knows where to aim his next attack with Deadend (his magical rapier) and sure enough...

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Here's the Master, having just failed his concentration check.

Invisibility over.

But that's not enough.

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The Master dives into the sea, desperate to get away.

But Ram's not having that, and the rogue is wearing his magical Mariner's armour.

Then Ram misses both of his attacks.

There is cursing.

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But then Newt and Daktari dive into the sea too. Newt Blasts (but mostly misses) while Daktari is much more accurate with his javelins.

The Master has had enough, he surrenders.

Or else turns and mimes the act to Ram- he's underwater and holding his breath remember.

But the rogue is having none of it.

He guts the Master.

Dead.

Revenge.

And that was all we got up to in this one.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.

Oh, and George's new PC is already made, unless he changes his mind again.
 



Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #102: Where's My Pudding?

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari/Dak (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
Fellowyn Silverstream (played by George) Male Eladrin Wizard Bladesinger Lvl 8
New Tricks/Newt (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock 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

DEAD PCs
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev/Nicky (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8 RIP

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. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out, it's also the ancestral home of the De La Crane family, and the Squad are looking for Antonio De La Crane- see below.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule- see below.
  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 102, and relax.

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And here we all are, the Dark Squad have won the day- but at a price.

Well, that was a close one, just to recap-

Nicky is dead.

Vinnie burned through both of his Moonboar wildshapes (and all of their hit points) and then out of spells entirely was reduced to six hit points.

Newt was out of warlock powers for the last three to four hours of the fight, he was also briefly unconscious (twice) of course, and was mostly just surviving on temporary hit points towards the end.

Daktari got down to five hit points at one point but all of the other members of the Squad found ways to keep the barbarian up and swinging. Dak was also on Exhaustion 2 for almost all of the fracas, so- tough going.

And Ram?

Ram lost one hit point.

You read that right.

One hit point.

One.

Hit.

Point.

My observation is, Ram does his own thing, that's not to say he doesn't help out- he killed a lot of stuff, and delivered healing potions (to Newt and Dak) when needed. That aside, Ram has a groove, and it's a narrow-ish groove (but again, that's not a bad thing), and he's very good at it. Very good.

We move on.

The above image shows the Dark Squad after almost exhausting their healing supplies, note Dak has gone to sleep already, he's knackered. The Squad have had a couple of hours rest here, but now Ram egged on by Newt is keen to investigate further.

Note prior to this there had been a vote- 2:2, I seem to remember, the question being- whether to take a long rest or not...

And Newt settles all draws, or else he usually finds someone (Ram) to do whatever he wants doing, he's a silver-tongued bastard when he needs to be.

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Ram, eventually, gets the door open (it was locked and trapped)- it leads to the Master's room, the Squad correctly surmise. Note, there's another door to the right in the above image- it's locked, and barred, and has “DANGER!” chalked on it.

This is the door that instigated the above vote.

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The Master's room is ransacked, and I mean ransacked- this after a spray of Detect Magic followed by the Ram trap finding tour, he finds a second trap here- the hard way, a blast of Magic Missiles to the torso.

It hurts but not enough, besides- Ram still has plenty of healing left.

There's lots to find here, including the Master's spellbook, the bastard was an illusionist- well, that figures. The wizard also kept a scrawled diary, from the last few entries the Squad learn that the crew here have been ordered by 'the Captain', to wait for 'the ship'.

There's even notes for a signalling system, Ram makes sense of these, he spent a lot of years at sea remember, and always on the wrong side of the law.

There's also a collection of dirty poems (illustrated), this is passed to Daktari (by Newt, he likes handing out presents) in an effort to improve the barbarian's reading skills.

Daktari, point of fact, cannot read (or write) but he now has 18 Int, and so he's learning- and besides the pictures keep him amused.

“That is wrong way to put up shelf!”

The barbarian is very interested in DIY.

Note, throughout what follows (including the fighting- see later) Daktari (played by Jim) entertains us with a number of risqué limericks, for full authenticity these should be read aloud (by you) in Dak's dumbish (slow) cod Russian accent.

Begin-

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And-

10204.jpg


There, that's done- we'll move on.

So, the Dark Squad take another time out to talk through and make sense of the things that they have found in the Master's room, including a book of tide times for the Saltmarsh region. Ram also takes the time to read the last month or so of the Master's diary. The enemy wizard fellow is actually called Sanbalet, but he has adopted airs and graces, he thought himself a master, sorry- Master, illusionist- beyond compare. But as Ram said at the time, “he's dead now, so screw him.”

So, the upshot is- Ram thinks, the Master and his guys here are smugglers, and there's a lot of high-end goods in the caverns (and one of the guys before his demise confessed to being a smuggler). But, Ram thinks, this is a high level operation, and furthermore that the next boat is due sometime soon, best guess (tide & moon taken into consideration) is between the 14th & 18th of Flamerule (July), that's this month (it's the 2nd today).

Ram has a plan, and it involves being back here between the dates above- to meet the ship, Newt interrupts and rushes ahead to the end of his own plan, something about burning the smuggler's ship to the waterline. The tabaxi warlock is shouting again.

But Ram's plan is even better than that, and here it is, in all of its glory-

“I'm getting a ship this month.”

The rogue doesn't smile often, but reports come in of a smirk.

Then, back to the here and now, and specifically a door marked “DANGER!”, Newt (& Ram) want to take a look inside, and the warlock has a way of safely doing this. This after Ram discovers that the door has a keyhole (it's also locked).

Newt looking through the keyhole manifests Gerald his bat familiar in the room beyond the sealed door.

He's a clever lad.

10205.jpg

It's easier, of course, just to move Newt's token into the newly revealed chamber- particularly as the warlock is 'seeing' the chamber through Gerald's senses.

There's an old once elaborate now smashed up large table, and... at least half-a-dozen skeletal bodies, some armoured- humanoids, best guess.

There are no other exits from the chamber, and nothing else of note.

Then Newt, and Vinnie, remember that when they were looking through a bunch of old books in one of the chambers above, in the manse, a fragment of paper fell out of one old tome, written on the scrap- “...beyond the skeletons...”

Then, however we get back to debating what to do next, because the Dark Squad are now convinced that the skeletons are going rise again should they open this door, and fighting... well, Vinnie and Daktari are still very broken.

Newt, however, is ready to rock and roll, and Ram's looking feisty.

He's getting a boat, apparently.

We get to debating/arguing, delete as appropriate.

Therefore, the DM (and George) chose this moment to blind-side the Dark Squad.

10206.jpg

Fellowyn makes his entrance, that's him- top left. He's an old man (or something) wearing a dressing gown over a pair of tighty-whitie budgie-smugglers. Oh, and he's wearing a wizard's hat, and sports a wizard's long flowing white beard, and he's puffing merrily on a pipe.

Later (when Fellowyn draws the blade) the Dark Squad note that he also wields a battered rapier.

Fellowyn's opening line is something like, “Is that you Antonio? What the hell has happened to the house, you've really let things go my friend?”

Which gets the various members of the Dark Squad interested.

However, Fellowyn's follow up sentence, on spotting the various members of the adventuring party, is- “Are you the hired help? I'm six-hundred-and-thirty-four-years-of-age. Where's my pudding? I WANT my pudding!”

Over the course of the next twenty (extremely frustrating) minutes the Dark Squad learn, or else deduct, that Fellowyn is an elf (probably), he knew (knows?) Antonio De La Crane, he's an expert with blade and spell, he talks like an older/retired gentleman, he loses track of what he's saying all of the time, he's mad.

F'rinstance-

“Oh, yes! Yes, of course. Yes, indeedy-do, I know Antonio De La Crane, this is his house. See. And you're in it, so you must know Antonio too. I'm Fellowyn, Fellowyn Silverstream. I haven't seen you since, well... forever. Have you seen Antonio? Is he about? Is there pudding? I'm six-hundred-and-thirty-four-years-of-age. Who are you people and why are you here (THREATENING- DRAWS RAPIER). Is it time for breakfast? (MOTIONS TO RAM) Garçon, the full works- with extra treacle, and make it snappy man, I'm absolutely famished. (FELLOWYN SUDDENLY STANDS) Antonio! ANTONIO? Where the hell is he? Off with his adventuring friends again, no doubt. (NOTICING THE DARK SQUAD ARE HERE) Oh, my manners, I'm Fellowyn Silverstream- dashing blade and bookish mage, what-what, charmed to meet you. I'm six-hundred-and-thirty-four-years-of-age. Where are we?”

And then in the gawking silence that follows.

“Is there pudding?”

And so it goes, and for longer than you'd think possible.

And so the DM keeps dropping the in adventure time in the chat window- moving forward one hour at a time, and still Fellowyn is talking, saying everything... and nothing, only perhaps the shape or shadow of hidden things.

10207.jpg

Fellowyn knows/knew Antonio De La Crane, very well apparently, but alas he makes no sense.

The Dark Squad make a variety of meals, chat, and then sleep the night- Fellowyn, well...

10208.jpg

Fellowyn, after lots more chatter, let's it all hang-out.

Apparently George rendered these pictures, this is original art, which I certainly would not admit to.

10209.jpg

And then in the morning after breakfast, but with Fellowyn mostly still not making sense, Ram gets the “DANGER!” door open, but he's not going in.

That's the purview of the new hire, Fellowyn is invited to demo his hot to trot skills with sword and blade, after all the old man keeps going on about them.

Note, it's Newt that makes the above deal with Fellowyn, tempts the old man into action.

10210.jpg

And then it goes semi-badly (for George) once again.

The skeletons get up and into action, and the fellow with the bow stood on the ruined table manages to plug Fellowyn three times in a row. Then an armoured skeleton with a pike starts its dance of death, it too manages to skewer Fellowyn, and then seconds later- Ram, too.

Moments later it is discovered, by the players, that both bad guys have the use of a variety of Legendary Actions.

Oh, and Fellowyn, the expert with blade and spell, well...

10211.jpg

Fellowyn is reduced to six hit points in two turns, and now there's a third skeleton in the mix, and this fellow is armed (and armoured) with a longsword and a shield. The latter he clonks into old man Fellowyn's face.

It seems the forgetful fellow has entered into combat with none of his spell assists running, not even Mage Armour.

And the third skeleton also possesses a few Legendary Actions.

Just a note, Jim (plays Vinnie and Daktari) at work prior to this session, he said something like- “I'm glad the fighting's over, that was a close one.”

My reply, “Over?”

10212.jpg

Fellowyn panics and turns (polymorphs) into a giant scorpion.

10213.jpg

Daktari barges his way into the action, and yet another skeleton gets up to meet the barbarian's rush. Although the Squad have now managed to take the tough one with the pike down, good work from Fellowyn (in scorpion form)- he grabs the undead bugger and then holds it out for his new found comrades to smash to pieces.

But it's still not going super-well, Daktari is back to raging, and he's taking hits- in one turn I land three Crits on the barbarian.

10214.jpg

Fellowyn retreats to think about things, he's still only got six hit points left.

As debuts go...

Well, this one went.

Vinnie is back to being the Moonboar (it's a new day remember) and both skeletons in the picture have been knocked prone.

But that's all we had time for this session- keep in mind there was a lot of good stuff in the Master's room (although no magic items save the spell book and a few potions), also plenty of the other enemies had bits and pieces of treasure, and... Fellowyn really did hold court for a while.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 



Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #103: Well! Well!

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari/Dak (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
Fellowyn Silverstream (played by George) Male Eladrin Wizard Bladesinger Lvl 8
New Tricks/Newt (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock 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

DEAD PCs
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev/Nicky (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8 RIP

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. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out, it's also the ancestral home of the De La Crane family, and the Squad are looking for Antonio De La Crane- see below.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule- see below.
  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 103, and we are (of course) back to fighting.

Skeletons this time.

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Only these skeletons are tough buggers, there are seven of them in this encounter- although only six have made themselves known so far. Three of the six skeletons so far revealed have the use of Legendary Actions (and a big bag of hit points), alas the Squad have already destroyed two of the three tough bad guys so far.

The Legendary Actions I attached to these three fellows were awesome, alas the two skeletons the Dark Squad have already taken down didn't get a chance to show off their skills; the skeleton with a pike had an awesome attack in which he impaled an enemy (a PC) with his pike and then swung around his planted weapon kicking everyone within ten feet in the chops. I failed to hit with this attack repeatedly.

Damn!

The sword and board skeleton with Legendary Actions (also alas deceased) had something similar going on, but in a moment of genius the new mumbling bumbling Bladesinger (Fellowyn) transformed into a giant scorpion and grabbed this guy up. The skeleton swordsman failed to escape the scorpion's claws, and was duly smashed apart.

So, I had vowed (your kindly DM) to put some effort into getting the last of my Legendary Action-enhanced skeletons, the archer, into some mischief- success! Read on.

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But my poor skeletons are struggling to begin with, although it helps slightly that the Dark Squad are also missing quite a lot.

But then...

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My seventh skeleton turns up.

An ordinary piece of wall suddenly outlines an opening, which swings inwards- and stepping out of the dark within comes another skeleton- this one is in robes, and with a wizard's hat, and a spectral wispy beard.

This guy's skeleton claws (worn down finger bones) exude acid- Daktari gets raked and scarred.

This guy also makes sounds, he/it has a speech, or at least a few pithy asides, like-

“Come on! Keep Ub!”

“Like the Crocodile said to the Man- make it snappy!”

“And it all turns to Ash in the end!”

“Go on! Amaze me!”

That kind of thing, and the PCs are noting this stuff down- I just copied and pasted the above from the Discord chat window.

This is all stuff from the Dark Squad's various quests.

But here's the thing- what happens when the big bad guy (the skeleton with the wizard's hat) turns up?

That's right, the PCs concentrate fire and start hitting.

10303.jpg

Less than six seconds later and my acid flinging wizard hat skeleton is down to single digit hit points (from approx. 120). It didn't help that Ram and Daktari both landed Crits.

And then he's gone... shattered.

Last words-

“WELL! WELL!”

Last actions-

The wizard hat wearing skeleton sinks to his knees, spits out a... something the size of a coin, onto the table before him, and then delivers the above last line.

Let's type it again- it must be important.

“WELL! WELL!”

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See the circle(-ish) indicator on the map, that's whatever the wizard hat wearing skeleton spat out.

But here's the thing, remember I said that three of the skeletons had Legendary Actions, well bow-guy just got his chance, one of his Legendary Actions involves a full move action, with no AoO's, combined with a chance to fire his bow at anyone he gets within ten feet of (with no disadvantage).

At last.

And all hits.

Fellowyn is on something like two hit points, and my bad guy is off and running, although he's the only member of the undead still standing.

10305.jpg

And still standing, although only just- you'll note that Daktari is back down to only a handful of hit points (again), the skeleton archer managed to plug the barbarian at least four times since the last image (with one of them a Crit).

Even Ram has taken a few hits.

But... it doesn't last.

Ram's attacks leave the last undead creature on just one hit point, at which point Vincenzo (the Moonboar) grunts out-

“Ze mowst powerful zpell in Don-john's and Drag-oons! Produce Flame!”

And that's all she wrote for my guy.

Then rest, and healing- Vinnie is having to provide a few Cure Wounds (remember Nicky, I miss him).

Funny thing.

Nicky is still in the Combat Tracker, his body is still on the map, and so every turn in combat- as we play-through the tracker, last thing- every turn is George's bell ringing on his PC to remind him that it's Nicky's go.

At which point the rest of the Players helpfully remind George, every time they hear that bell ring-

“Nicky's dead!”

It's a wonderful chorus.

I'm not sure if it's an accepted method of grief counselling, but hey-ho.

10306.jpg

The thing the wizard hat skeleton spat out turns out to be a Luckstone. Newt snaffles this, and soon after (oddly the warlock is now very keen to get in a short rest) he attunes it.

Then, after the aforementioned rest, the Dark Squad investigate the newly revealed chamber.

10307.jpg

It's an office come laboratory. There's money here- gold pieces, and a few hundred of them (nice). There are also lots of objects- a skull, a rose, an apple, and other things that seemingly have been turned to solid gold.

Investigations continue apace.

Note, in reality the PCs examine all of the gold items repeatedly- seemingly passing them from PC to PC, attempting a variety of skills, and eventually- after maybe a dozen checks they come to the conclusion that these are everyday items that have been either magically transformed into solid gold (less likely) or else dipped in gold (gold-plated).

Then Newt eventually takes a look at the open book on the desk, the one that the DM has been pointedly reminding the PCs about (repeatedly) for the last fifteen minutes.

The book is entitled the “Ye Olde Philosopher's Stone”, and the text begins by explaining that the book contains the secret of turning base elements into gold...

That's fifteen minutes of my life I'm not getting back.

The finds lead to more head-scratching for the Squad. The skeleton with the wizard hat said lots of stuff, it's as if Antonio De La Crane (the guy they are here to find, and to acquire his Symbol of Ub/maze button) is taunting them.

But, “WELL! WELL!”

It's time to go into the well.

Remember the Bad Dead Ancestors and their prophecies-

Ancestor #2-
I am Larkoz, the warden.
Check the ancient alchemist’s well.”


Well, Antonio De La Crane was an alchemist, ancient or not, and he has a well.

So, here we go again-

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Out into the overgrown garden, and it's the day after (the PCs arrived) and mid-morning now, the sun is out and yet the house seems to be perpetually in shadow and gloom. Daktari assumes spider-stance, and descends, trailing a rope as he goes (affixed to an immovable rod up top).

The chamber below (eighty feet below) is full of sickly glowing fungi, but otherwise empty.

The well opening however continues down into the depths.

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The Dark Squad descend into the newly revealed chamber, avoiding the glowing fungal furze- except for Vinnie who dares it- and takes a little poison damage from the spore cloud.

There are coins scattered around the chamber here, Newt sends a Mage Hand to collect them all up- silver coins.

“A luuuuuuure.” The Moonboar explains, almost breaking the French language (in an Inspector Clouseau way) with his 'luuuuuuure'.

Note, to get into the chamber the PCs (without Spider Climbing) have to swing and leap/step a few feet from the bottom of the rope onto the floor of the cavern chamber proper- this to avoid falling further down the well-shaft.

I (your glorious DM) state, 'as long as you don't roll a '1' you leap clear.'

Ram rolls a '1', and then has to spend his last Inspiration Point to re-roll it (successfully).

Which only makes the rogue more unhappy when ten minutes later the Dark Squad's investigations reveal that the well-shaft has a solid (see through) barrier preventing access below.

In essence they could have all just stepped off the rope.

After lots more checks and the use of a few ritual cantrips and the Squad discern that the barrier preventing access to the shaft below has a pattern etched into it- the pattern depicts a simple maze.

The Moonboar grabs out his Symbol of Ub/maze button, remember the Dark Squad are looking for more of these- as it turns out they all need to have one.

So far they have found... one of them.

And this Symbol of Ub/maze button was gifted them by Timor (& Daktari) of the Sky Pony Uthgardt barbarians, all the way back in...

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Session 24, I think.

But then the Moonboar tries to trace the maze that prevents entrance to below, but when he gets close with his maze button in hand- the forcefield or barrier disappears with a 'pop'.

The way below is open.

Daktari, still spider stance, descends into...

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A dark and grim looking pillared chamber.

And after a brief search of the place he calls his comrades down to continue the investigation.

The twenty foot high pillared chamber is dwarven built, like a lot of things the Dark Squad have been finding buried around this region. Furthermore, it's ancient.

Note, the well-shaft continues on, but as with above this too is blocked, another invisible barrier prevents further descent.

Oh, and a little later it's discovered that Vinnie's button does not open this barrier.

Further note, the Squad are around 150 feet below the surface in this columned chamber.

The statues are ghoulish looking dwarves, skeletal beneath their robes, and frightening to look at, menacing even.

The Dark Squad are waiting for these things to come alive, and are thus a little on edge throughout all that follows, although that doesn't prevent them from investigating the walls, the statues, the floors and... well, everything.

There follows lots of rolls, and lots of ideas, and things to try and/or explore- with associated skill checks. I've just checked on Discord, the image above was taken at 10.21 PM, the next image times in at 10.59 PM.

So, between this and the next bit is almost forty minutes of real time activity, so- and again, the PCs try lots of stuff, lots of searching and investigating.

There are no secret doors to be found, in the floor, in the walls, in the ceiling, or even in the pillars.

Likewise there's nothing that moves, or presses, or turns, or... nada, nothing.

No signs, or text, or images, or symbols to translate or to make sense of.

The only thing that's not part of the chamber are the remains (shattered bones) of maybe one or two individuals, but they're old... very old.

Both long dead humanoids, best guess.

For forty minutes the DM asks- “What are you doing?” And the PCs have an answer, and some other activity is discussed and then undertaken, and... still, nothing is found.

The DM, getting a little bored with this, even gets the PCs to roll random d20's every now and then, just to see if a '20' or similar comes up, so that I can give them a clue.

The thing to do here is...

Nothing.

Just stop, stand still, and listen.

Eventually, it's Ram that hears it in the end, a very quiet scratching noise, and... it seems to be coming from Newt.

Most odd.

The Squad stand in silence for a minute, and then all concur- there is indeed a faint scratching noise coming from the tabaxi warlock's backpack.

Newt gingerly takes one item at a time out of his bag.

It's coming from his Book of Shadows.

Note, Newt's Book of Shadows contains all of his spells, powers, rituals, cantrips, and other dark thoughts, it also contains his various to-do lists etc. It's a filofax-cum-necronomicon.

Newt, with the Dark Squad peering over his shoulders, turns the pages to see.

Someone else is writing in Newt's Book of Shadows.

This fact doesn't do much for Newt's mood.

10311.jpg

There's a lot of this, about five pages worth of screen shots.

Whoever's writing in the Book of Shadows starts with 'Who are you?', although the author refuses to tell the Squad who he (or she) is.

Note Newt is writing his answers in the book, and also writing his own questions for the mystery author to answer.

There's a little back and forth, although very quickly the unknown author gets around to asking- “Who have you killed already?”

And the Dark Squad instinctively know that the writer is talking about the members of the Eyes in the Night, because they have the Symbols of Ub/maze buttons that they need.

The conversation circles for a little while longer, with the unknown author repeatedly refusing to answer quite a few of the Squad's questions.

Although many of the mystery writer's answers just lead to more questions.

Particularly about the Man and the Crocodile, which comes up- the unknown author tells the Squad that they will need to go to the Man and the Crocodile, this however only causes Newt to get even more tetchy.

The warlock starts adding emoticons to his answers, and surly asides, and CAPSLOCK SHOUTING!

That's when the twelve foot tall armoured Skeleton Minotaur appears from nowhere and full tilt slams into Newt (although in truth I missed my charge attack, even with advantage) and then follows up with a maul attack which connects with the tabaxi's mush.

10312.jpg

That's also where we leave it, we were thirty minutes over time again.

Although there was a lot of chatter after this one, consensus is- Antonio De La Crane is the author, and he's below, maybe, and he's keen for the PCs to see off the other members of his old adventuring party- the Eyes in the Night.

More of this kind of thing, probably, next time.

Although, we're not back at the VTT until Tuesday the 18th October.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #104: To the Lighthouse.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari/Dak (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
Fellowyn Silverstream (played by George) Male Eladrin Wizard Bladesinger Lvl 8
New Tricks/Newt (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock 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

DEAD PCs
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev/Nicky (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8 RIP

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. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out, it's also the ancestral home of the De La Crane family, and the Squad are looking for Antonio De La Crane- see below.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule- see below.
  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 104, and we are (as usual) fighting again.

Last we left the Dark Squad they were in a spooky dwarven (evil?) temple style area about two levels (approx 100 feet) below the surface of the well, which is in the backyard of the ruined De La Crane Manse up on the cliffs.

Remember-

Ancestor #2-
I am Larkoz, the warden.
Check the ancient alchemist’s well.”


So, that's what they're doing, only now they're fighting a skeletal minotaur (and guess what, this fellow is a tough bugger!) this after Newt started cheeking (writing in CAPS LOCK, and leery with it, and adding emojis to his replies).

To make clear, the Dark Squad have been communicating with whoever it is down here in the well, by writing and receiving written replies in Newt's Book of Shadows.

Note, I get the feeling that Newt's Book of Shadows is actually a spiral bound note book with “SECRETS KEEP OUT” written on the front cover, and slathered in “I [heart] Belphegor” stickers.

Anyway, fighting-

10400.jpg

The skeletal minotaur hits hard and hits plenty.

And very briefly my dice are on fire, I seldom miss through what follows.

10401.jpg

And then the second skeletal minotaur (200+ HPs each) suddely charges into existence and smashes into Daktari.

The Sky Pony barbarian has still got one level of exhaustion on him and he's pretty much out of healing hit dice, and it's not much past 10 AM.

Have a nice day!

But here's the thing, this is the Dark Squad, and all the skeleton minotaurs do, once they get locked down- which happens remarkably quickly, is hit hard.

So, the Moonboar and a (raging) Daktari just soak up the hurt while the rest of the gang do their stuff.

10402.jpg

And soon enough we get to here.

It was inevitable.

You'll note both Daktari and the Moonboar are beyond bloodied, it should also be noted- at this point, that a few of the PCs (but not Ram) are also getting low on healing potions and the like.

And so, after a bit more chat, and another attempt or two to communicate (via the Book of Shadows) with the well's author/alchemist- no luck, and... the Dark Squad head back up and out of the well, safely ascending to the surface.

They need to do some work to get further down the well shaft, they need to kill a few more members of the previous adventuring party- the Eyes in the Night, or else they need to locate the maze buttons that each of these long dead adventurers possessed.

Then- back in-game, a short rest and another (much longer- see below) chat, and then... Fantasy Grounds Unity flips out while trying to send the map that follows in the next image to the Players. We spend nearly forty-five minutes fixing this error, or else installing a new update and making it work.

10403.jpg

The map that crashed Fantasy Grounds Unity, for a while, actually it was much bigger than this- but all of equal quality.

So, during the rest stop/chat the Dark Squad are trying to figure out what comes next, they need to be on the track from Gedge to meet Bonnie Bowspirit (halfling granddaughter of Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit) on the evening of the 6th of Flamerule but it's only the 3rd today.

So, what next?

Well, the Dark Squad- while exploring the De La Crane manse, briefly saw a light, a big light- as if from a lighthouse, the source of this illumination must, they figure, be situated somewhere down in The Choke. The Choke being the delta of islands in the bay of the Dunwater River, that separates civilisation (sorta) from the Mere of the Dead Men.

Therefore the Squad decide to grab the rowing boat they saw down in the smuggler's caves below the manse, and then drag it through the marshy/watery region here, trying to find the source of the light. Note, Ram has already determined that high tide will be at 6 bells (PM) this evening, and so while they have a few hours to search they don't want to get stranded, hence Dak gets to drag the boat.

Further note, Daktari is a little under the weather at present, or else he's starting to feel his age, and so do the following lines in his cod-Russian accent, but mumble it, as the barbarian narrates his pain-

“Yes! Daktari bring boat. Yes! Daktari kill skelli-bobs. Yes! Daktari spider-stance down well. Daktari tired now. Daktari taken for granted. Daktari no feel value- is not love, is service...”

And on the Dark Squad ramble, for hours- no, really- hours.

It takes an hour in the mist and fog, and with the squelching stinking mud, and the sudden deep sections of running water to search just one square of the map above.

And so after two or three hours of wandering through the stink the Dark Squad are almost pleasantly surprised when someone starts shouting at them through the mist, at this point the gang are wading from one islet to another.

Eventually half-a-dozen rough (& wild = hairy) looking (human) fellows are spotted in the mist ahead, all of them are armed with crossbows, and soon after- after a little back and forth with whoever is shouting at the guys, the crossbows get put to good use.

But here's the thing, these are bandits (stat-wise) with about ten hit points each (save for the leader type) and so this is a massacre. The various members of the Dark Squad are soon in pursuit of their now terrified attackers, although some of the slower members of the group- including Daktari still dragging the boat, are soon so far behind the action that they're out of the fight.

10404.jpg

The initial encounter, the 'bandits' have crossbows.

10405.jpg

The Dark Squad press forward leaving a trail of destruction behind them, well... apart from Dak who is still trudging forward through waist deep water and knee deep mud.

Still dragging the row boat.

At this point the Squad have already figured out that the enemy they are facing is very weak, they're dropping like flies, and Newt is obviously capering with delight as he screams obscenities at the fleeing humans, stopping only briefly to blow the screaming wild-men apart.

Newt's is sending the souls of these fellows to Belphegor, and he's keeping count- his fiery master set him to this task at the warlock's last Personal Development Review (PDR).

There were over a dozen 'bandits', plus the leader type, in this encounter.

10406.jpg

Only three of them (and the leader) escape the encounter (map).

But some of the Dark Squad- Ram, Newt & Fellowyn, are happy to pursue.

We move into a chase sequence, with the dirty hairy guys getting blasted apart, or shot in the back, by Newt and Fellowyn, but that's not Ram's style. The rogue is after the leader type, who started out with the threats at the beginning of this encounter.

Ram, as it turns out, is very hard to shake off. The rogue eventually catches up with, and then quickly subdues the mid 50's disheveled human leader of the enemy group while swimming (and wrestling/fighting) in a (formerly) hidden deep channel that seems to snake through the marshy hummocks and stony eyots that constitute The Choke.

10407.jpg

About twenty minutes later, Ram gets turned around for a short while- he gets lost, the rogue makes his way back to his comrades with a very badly wounded (but still fairly surly) leader of the 'bandits'.

Time for a chat.

The rough fellow, he's very hairy and disheveled (think wild man), is a bit strange to talk to- he sometimes makes sense, sometimes, less so.

The Dark Squad, employ a combination of overt threat and honeyed words- Ram's going to cut the guy's fingers off- one by one (Ram's a troubled soul at heart, not all toothpaste smiles and action hero); while Vinnie is happy to play good cop, offering to let the fellow go unharmed, and being reasonable about it.

The Dark Squad eventually learn that the 'bandits' (the dirty fellow's job title is never discussed) here work for the mad lightning summoning half-orc priest, and his pet harpies, that inhabit the nearby lighthouse. The Squad, of course, secure directions to the aforementioned lighthouse.

Then, after the wild man prisoner is released, the Dark Squad get in their row boat, because the tide is really turning now- it's coming in quickly, and off they row to the lighthouse, which takes another hour or so (the tide is coming in, remember) and keep in mind the entire area is swathed in thick mist and fog.

10408.jpg

A trio of docks are spotted ahead.

But that's all we had time for this session, a short one- you'd think, but keep in mind that we had at least forty five minutes out when FGU dropped, and the Squad spent a similar amount of time discussing what comes next after their visit to the well. Most of this in character.

To further explain- Dark Squad consensus is the alchemist down the well is indeed Antonio De La Crane, in whatever form he presently exists. The Squad have obviously already met (and killed) Randall the Black (the mad gnome warlock from the Eyes in the Night). They're next venture will be to go after Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit, the rogue of the previous party. The only one they've not located is Giggles, the mad elf.

Oh, and Ub, the dwarf.

But they've still only got one of the maze buttons, and all of the adventurers above had one of these each, probably/maybe. They figure that Randall the Black left his maze button with the duergar that captured him two hundred or so years ago, in Deepbridge, in the Underdark, and the PCs have already been there, they're plotting now to go back.

The Dark Squad need more maze buttons, they're definite about this now- they need these to descend deeper into the well, and to join the Pact of the Flame.

Note, during the chatter here it becomes obvious that Fellowyn spent plenty of time with Antonio De La Crane, the ancient (and yet sprightly) bladesinger knows about the splitting of the previous party- when the various members of the Eyes in the Night went their own separate ways.

The unfortunate thing, of course, is that Fellowyn is a bit old and daft- the friendly DM has gifted him a series of nuggets of information, which he has been instructed to distribute as and when he sees fit, but only one nugget per session- max.

So, the tap that is Fellowyn is dripping.

Oh, and last thing- in the previous session, or the one before- I forget, Newt found a Luckstone; as it turns out this item is cursed, Newt discovers this the hard way- he wants to attune something new but, he can't 'put down' the Luckstone. Nor can he lose it, even when he throws it away it comes back, reappearing in his pocket. The warlock is cursed, although the nature of the curse has yet to reveal itself...

But that's you/our lot- more of this kind of thing next time.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 
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