Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh
Session #079: Dark Squad Investigations.
Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 8
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 8
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by goonalan) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick)
Ubmo (played by goonalan) Supreme Being Lvl 1
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.
Gerald (Bat/Giant Bat) servant/mount of New Tricks
Owly (Owl) Vinnie’s familiar
This is session 79, it was very short (we started late and finished early- work/real-life has a way of intruding) and... well, it meandered towards the end, a bit.
However, I wrote at the end of the last session-
They figure they've got it beat now, but we'll get to the conclusion in the next one.
The 'they' in question, of course, being the players/Dark Squad, well- I wrote that deliberately, an act of provocation. Although, I was provoking myself.
So, the Dark Squad- a secret assignation in the wee small hours in a parking lot (or equivalent) in Burle, a trap! A vampire (actually a vampire spawn) with a pack of ghouls, and a roof-running rogue with a clutch of tough kobolds to support her.
The undead come courtesy of... well, the Dark Squad are uncertain as to who exactly has unleashed this flavour of fury upon them.
The vampire spawn, Argus Skeel, made mention of the fact that 'they' (his mob) have 'your bard', which would be Tarbin Tul, ex-member of the Dark Squad (although Tarbin hated adventuring).
Also, something about 'the Dreadnought is coming'.
The rogue on the roof, well- she said something about her master Ashardalon, the great dragon. So, the Dark Squad know what colours she's wearing.
See later for further discussion with regard to this fracas.
But now, back to the fight.
So, the kobold toughs are tough (who would have thought it), the ghouls are all dead (much less tough) and the vampire spawn- Argus Skeel has gone away (to regen) while the rogue on the roof, well... she's had enough missing with her crossbow, and now she's part of the action.
The rogue suddenly dashes into the fracas and stabs Newt up a bit, the warlock tabaxi is bloodied in an instant. For the rest of the Dark Squad the struggle continues, although Ram- to the south, is still looking for the 'vampire bastard', Skeel.
Ram spots Skeel, up on a nearby roof, and as Vinnie and the rogue note- Skeel's token has far fewer blood drops on it- basically the vampire is recovering/regenerating nicely.
Note Newt has used all of his warlock powers, the kobold toughs with their incessant attacking have spoiled every concentration based spell that he has cast, his last big gun- Radiant Sickness, lasted less than a turn.
Then Skeel runs down the side of a building and into the action, it's only a shame his dice are broken- miss after miss follows.
Note Ubmo (the supreme being, remember) is still helping out here and there, but the wonky modron seems to delight most in trying to stab the Dark Squad's enemies to death (for 1d4+1 damage on a hit).
But the Dark Squad continue to prevail, and now Skeel is taking a beating, and with only four of the tough kobolds left in the fight the decision is made- kill the wampire.
The Dark Squad concentrate their attacks.
Note, seconds after this picture is taken Newt takes to dirt-napping, the rogue rushes in again- cuts the tabaxi down, and then rushes off again.
The Dark Squad note that the enemy rogue is a lot like their rogue in this regard, she hits hard and covers a lot of ground. Also, now that I have remembered to turn the lights on (actually off) on this map then the enemy rogue almost always ends her turn out of sight of the Squad.
Which proves annoying, apparently.
There's a little bit of consternation in the ranks, but then Skeel has seen enough, the vampire has taken too many hits and so scarpers back up the side of a building and onto the roof, only Argus didn't account for Daktari and his Slippers of Spider Climbing.
And seconds after this picture is taken the frenzied, raging and reckless barbarian cuts Skeel down, and with two crits in a turn.
Note, in the above image Newt is prone (the little arrow down button on his token) but conscious again- this after Ram gets to the warlock with a potion of greater healing.
Here's a funny thing, in the stat counter-thing we have attached to Fantasy Grounds Unity one of the things it records is healing given, Vinnie obviously tops this chart (300+ HP healing)- he has the Cure Wounds on tap. But second in the queue is Ram (150+ HP healing), and in third spots is any of the other members of the Dark Squad with 30+ HP healing given each.
Here's my point, it's remarkable how many times Ram arrives just in the nick of time with a healing potion in hand to revive a foundering colleague.
But back to the fight...
There's not much of it left, the remaining tough kobolds take a beating, the rogue skips in every now and then, attempts to stab someone up, and then darts away again before the Squad can target her.
But not for long.
The tough kobolds are dead, and every member of the Dark Squad in this picture has a readied action, just waiting for the Ashardalon supporting rogue assassin to show up again.
She doesn't, she's gone.
But what's that 'C' token on the map? Over on the right.
That's a commoner, a member of the Burle community- remember Newt's Radiant Sickness spell, well it encompassed the corner of a nearby building, and now several of the inhabitants of said premises are staggering out into the street, effected by the warlock's spell.
Vinnie has to rush over to save the dying citizens, although that too doesn't go entirely to plan. The druid, you will note, is in Moonboar form- a seven foot tall, French and gruff sounding (and with a speech impediment- the tusks get in the way) monstrosity.
“I yam EAR [SNORT SNORT] tew 'elp yew!”
The terrified citizens attempt to scramble/crawl away from the monster that is trying to heal them.
Then, a whistle sounds, the watch are on the way- this coincides with the folk in the nearby buildings starting to awake and make themselves known.
Note, the entire fracas took a good long while to play out (thinking time) but only lasted ten turns (60 seconds) in game.
Vinnie quickly casts another Pass Without Trace on his companions and then... they skedaddle, well- all but Ram.
The rogue positions himself out of sight (Stealth check '38') and watches, while the rest of the gang head down the darkest alleys trying to find their way out of Burle, which is actually very easy to do because they're right on the edge of the town.
So, Ram stays hidden and observes the arrival of the watch, and then the furore of the newly awakened citizens of Burle. Ram is waiting to see if the enemy rogue is going to show up again, but... nothing, just thirty minutes of panicked town guardsmen directing traffic.
However, back to the rest of the Dark Squad- on their retreat from Burle to the Falcon's Nest, Vinnie spots a shadow creeping across nearby roofs. The Ashardalon tagged rogue is, it seems, is still keeping track of the Dark Squad. But the adventurers have seen enough, and outside of Burle there's no-place for their rogue shadow to hide (or else fewer places to hide).
The Dark Squad scarper back to the Falcon's Nest, Ram shows up there nearly an hour later.
So, rise and shine again at the Falcon's Nest, and first item on the agenda over breakfast- what was that all about?
The results of the following discussion are-
a) Ashardalon is about, somewhere, and very likely Ashardalon is an ancient red dragon come to burn things to the ground. Also, it's clear- Ashardalon has followers, and an agenda.
b) Who was Skeel working for? Well, the PCs know that Nightshade, the missing Uthgardt ancestor is laired in the deeps of the Dreadwood, and they've been told that she favours the undead, and so- logic dictates.
Which means of course- Ashardalon and Nightshade both want the Dark Squad dead, the attack was just that, an attempt to kill them, neither enemy was delivering a message, their intent was clear.
The Dark Squad are being hunted, it seems.
So, what's next- well, Vinnie is incredibly keen to get to the Moon Pool, and to have a chat with Wildroot (the treant) and join the Pact of the Flame.
But, the other PCs have concerns, and they talk the druid around.
Therefore, back to Burle, note the Dark Squad are attempting (and succeeding) to keep a low profile.
Tracks of the ghouls are discovered, the undead crept along the river here- heading into town having come from the east.
The Dark Squad follow the undead trail all the way back to the Burle cemetary, there- after conversing with a pair of perplexed grave-diggers, they discover that seven graves have been recently interred, the odd thing being that the inhabitants seem to have interred themselves.
Note, there were seven ghouls in the fight. Funny that.
Then, after a '20' survival check from Vinnie the Dark Squad discover the tracks of Argus Skeel heading away from the graveyard. They follow them- all the way out of Burle and to the very edge of the Dreadwood, at which point however the trail disappears, or else gets much harder to follow.
But here's the thing, Argus Skeel came from the Dreadwood, Nightshade is in the Dreadwood, and so... the Dark Squad figure they're on to something.
The Dark Squad are going to head into the Dreadwood again, but not yet.
They really do want to get to the Moon Pool, and so- back to Burle, only when they're halfway back to the town they hear, and see, a commotion near the Dreadwood, not the place where Skeel went in, but close to it.
Note a square is three miles (I think).
And so, after yet more chatter, the Dark Squad turn around again and go and investigate the aforementioned commotion, which has concluded by the time the adventurers have made their decision.
The commotion, as far as they can tell- Inverna with her Eyes of the Eagle being the best placed to see the event, involved a lot of screaming- some folk rushing out from the Dreadwood and then being hunted down and (possibly) slaughtered by some other folk that exited the woods soon after the first group. The second group were mounted, and obviously able to move much faster than the first.
However, it takes another hour or so to get to the scene of the crime, and...
The Dark Squad discover the dead bodies of half-a-dozen degenerate goblins, Vinnie identifies the creatures- they're goggle-eyed deep goblins, sometimes known as dark goblins, as a rule they live underground- deep/dark goblins never visit the surface.
Which increases the odd count.
But here's the thing, the folk that slaughtered the deep/dark goblins here were goblins too, and they were riding wolves or else worgs.
So, the goblins- or at least some of them, are in conflict (perhaps) in the Dreadwood.
But again, the Dark Squad do not want to just dive into the Dreadwood, the Moon Pool- it's time, although they've spent the day on their investigations, and so the adventurers walk to the Wayside Inn. They figure they'll spend the night there and then head off on the next part of their quest in the morning/next session.
Note, the last time the Dark Squad was at the Wayside Inn it was being attacked by undead (zombies and a wraith), Vinnie (or Newt) tried to burn the building down, and... they first met Tarbin Tul, the bard.
Also, see the to-do list below for the ritual/route needed to locate the Moon Pool.
But that's all we had time for.
The Dark Squad’s to-do list-
- Go to the Moon Pool, need to climb to the top of Silverhill and be inside the stone circle there before midnight, and then stay within it until dawn's first light. Then journey down the hill and into the centre of the Silverstand (forest). Meet Wildroot there, and enter the Moon Pool, and then the Treant will set the Dark Squad to their task, that's what Belphegor said.
- Remember, we've got to find the other four Symbols of Ub, one was left in Deepbridge (Duergar fortress in the Underdark). The others need to be found, they belonged to- Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit (halfling killer), Antonio De La Crane (posh kid druid alchemist) & Giggles (crazy wood elf). All of these folk lived in the Saltmarsh region, the Dark Squad have found the De La Crane Manse (in the Dreadwood) and the De La Crane Crypt (in Saltmarsh Cemetary).
- Return to Fallowstone Holy, church of Oghma, pick up info (Witch's Tor & Pact of the Flame, although the Dark Squad probably know all about this stuff already). What else do you need to find out about? See above, and below.
- Warn Ashby- the Soggy's (Sahuagin) are coming!
- Vinnie needs to be back for the next Saltmarsh Council meeting on the 1st Kythorn (June).
- Nightshade in the Dreadwood?
- Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
Stay safe and well you lovely people.
Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.