The Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh #133 Fellowyn's First Massacre.

carborundum

Adventurer
All caught up! Mission accomplished...without a huge fight? No souls for the fiendish patron of the arts? That's pure evil!

I loved the dreamtime, and I'm sure you didn't lie awake trying to imagine a situation where they would need the very things they gave to Hgraam :)
 

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Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
All caught up! Mission accomplished...without a huge fight? No souls for the fiendish patron of the arts? That's pure evil!

I loved the dreamtime, and I'm sure you didn't lie awake trying to imagine a situation where they would need the very things they gave to Hgraam :)

Oh, you're such a heartless soul, I would never do that.

Hgraam took, from memory- some rations (jerky), a piton, a torch, a tinderbox and a bone charm given to Daktari by one of the peasants that the Dark Squad saved from the Manticores.

Just for info all of the items had duplicates in the same (or another PCs) inventory- even the bone charm, the PCs got three of them from the grateful Manticore survivors.

So, that's not it- you cynic.

Note, I specified the rations were jerky above, not because I love specificity, or for some diabolical DM reason, just to make the following joke-

In game the kindly DM asked what the PCs had in their rations- because Hgraam wanted to know what his options were. Buggles must have been away from the mic at that moment- the other PCs therefore filled in the gaps, rations = hard tack, jerky, stonebread etc.

Later on when the Giant Crayfish came nosing round the LTH Buggles said-

"I throw the thing a banana from my lunch box."
Lots of folk laughed at the fact that Buggles had a banana in his pack-up/rations, so- I tried again, what do you Buggles have in your rations-

"Errr... sandwiches- egg and cress, a packet of frazzles (bacon flavoured crisps/chips), a wagon-wheel (a large chocolate and mallow biscuit), and a can of top deck shandy- mmm, good. Oh... and the banana."

So, there's the hard-bitten adventurers munching and gnawing on their rock-like tack and nibbling around the mould on their rations, and then there's Buggles who seems to be on a school trip, bemoaning the fact that he forgot his hazelnut yogurt.

It's the same game- just the outlook differs.

Note, I entirely avoided telling you, of course, what Hgraam was up to.

Stay safe and well.

goonalan
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
The House of Dark Squad

Just a reminder to the various and assorted members of the Dark Squad, the plan is for you guys to be heading to Saltmarsh not this session coming (tomorrow) but the one after (April 6th). Once in Saltmarsh you will of course be settling in your new rented accommodation.

I therefore need a floorplan like diagram of the new place- you get one entry each, there are extra points given for colouring, but there's no limit to the depths you can plumb (as you have ably demonstrated in the past).

Remember Dark Squad House should have 2-3 stories, five bedrooms (of one sort or another), a kitchen, a toilet (indoor, if you like) and a basement.

Everything else is up for grabs.

No, you can't have a bat cave/laboratory/dojo/summoning chamber/teleporter/etc.

Entries to me by Monday 5th April.

Winning entry will receive either 1) an in-game favour from the DM, or else 2) first choice of the next magic item.

See, now you're interested.

Note Buggles' entry is already in.
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #041 We Will Never Let A Troll Take Our Cat.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Buggles (played by Stu) Male Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 3/Rogue Lvl 3
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 6
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 6
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 6

NPCs
Daktari Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 6
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.

Buggles’ undead servitor
Gwen Female Duergar Skeleton, in full-face helm and armour


This is session 41, and the secret duergar base has been discovered, and better still explored- via Hgraam, the Stone Giant’s, Dreamtime experience. The Dark Squad therefore have the time and inclination to attempt the treasure run that Old Gorm told them all about- and remember 50% of their findings will go to the amputee miner.

So, it’s all for a good cause.

That’s provided they actually find any treasure- they have directions, and so… it should be a doddle, for the Dark Squad.

Just to say ahead of this session I had a chat with Jim (playing Vinnie) at work, just to let him know that this one was going to be a walk in the park, and that we’d get all wrapped up with the Underdark and ready for the Saltmarsh experience in the session after.

Jim, wise man that he is, replied- ‘au contraire, we’ll find a way to make a mess of it.’

So, here it is- the mess of it.

Note, I had even sorted out a nice social encounter for the Dark Squad, for when they get back to Farhill Mine, because I thought we’d be through this next bit real easy.

Nope.

But ahead of time, it was their dice that broke it.

So, back in the fungal forest and it’s a new day- this after Ram took care of the giant crayfish that were investigating the Leomand’s Tiny Hut (LTH) last night. Rise and shine and onwards, ever onwards.

The reality is it’s three DC 12 checks, one of which needs to be Survival (all of which can be aided but no guidance) for the Dark Squad to find their way, following the river, to a narrow space and out of this massive fungus cavern. Each check to simulate an hour’s worth of travel, only… well, five checks later and the Dark Squad are still in the fungi jungle, and… lost, after the last two Survival checks turned up ‘1’s.

Well, I have/had a trio of random encounters at the ready for this kind of thing- punishment for rolling low. Note, I used one of my three pre-planned random encounters- the Black Pudding, earlier. Not because the PCs had done anything truly bad to trigger the attack, I just thought it would be fun to have the giant ooze pay a visit while they were huddled for the night in the LTH.

Therefore, random encounter number two- Trolls!

See the title of this instalment.

The Dark Squad are minding their own business, they’re lost- a bit, or else they’re not particularly paying attention, Vinnie is regaling his companions with helpful observations regarding the local flora. It’s… oh, I think boring just about covers the druid’s waffling, when of a sudden a troll ambusher attempts to swiftly clamber out of the river and charge on and into the midst of the surprised PCs. Only I rolled a ‘1’ too, and so the great beast contents itself with barely scrambling up the muddy bank and then raging and flailing its arms in the Dark Squad’s general direction.

4101.jpg

Random Encounter #2 is go- Troll!

Surprise round over.

Underwhelming.

The adventurers unleash hell, or else the rogues do now that they’ve got initiative, but then the giant terror claws Newt, and follows up with a claw- bite combo for the still pontificating Vinnie. Both attacks are hits, actually the claw is a high-damage-roll Crit, Vinnie takes 30-something damage and is very suddenly looking very peaky.

But the Dark Squad get into their stride, the troll is Belphegor fiery blasted, and stabbed some more by a variety of folk- Daktari, and the rogues again, and it’s Buggles that takes the creature down (with a Crit of his own).

But there’s a second troll in the fungal foliage nearby, and it’s just about to launch its attack when Buggles spots it and moves to defend his squishier comrades- that’s, Newt and Vinnie.

The second ambusher however will not be put off- it claws Buggles, and then lays into Newt- another claw- bite combo, and yet another Crit (total 30-something damage). The tabaxi warlock hits the deck- unconscious and bleeding out, although his last action is to mutter the words that launch his Hellish Rebuke.

4102.jpg

Troll! Note Newt's token is turned on its side- indicating that once again Catkins is mid-dirt-nap.

The troll screams as it burns.

It’s at this point that Buggles makes his declaration, here it is in all of its glory-

We Will Never Let A Troll Take Our Cat, and that’s a Buggles promise.

Vinnie meantime assumes his more feral form (as Jim said at the time- ‘I need the temporary hit points’), and then cures the prostrate tabaxi (although Bear, playing Newt, argues against this action for a while- ‘no, leave me on the floor- it’s the safest place by far’).

This debate is only curtailed when the kindly DM let’s the tabaxi know that the salivating troll’s next action will be to grab Newt up and rush/dive/plunge into the river.

Goodbye Newt, either drowned or else eaten.

Newt decides that healing would be great, and he’s suddenly very, very grateful.

The druid dares to go further, he scurries away from the troll- taunting it and drawing its ire. Vinnie suffers an opportunity attack so that the now conscious Newt can- “get away mes amis, and zen blast zis ‘orrible monster wiz your fire!”

Daktari (played by Jim = Vinnie) rages and gets into tearing up the troll with Shatterspike, while Newt does as he instructed- gets back on his feet, staggers away from the fracas, and then blasts the troll with a hit-crit, and plenty more fire.

The rogues set to their work, more hits and Buggles with another Crit, but the beast ignores the pain and instead tears a fresh hole in Daktari.

But the fight is already won, although it takes another frustrating turn to play out after a slew of swings, spells and misses. Eventually, a Produce Flame from Vinnie, followed by more Daktari fury finishes the second enemy off.

Note Newt is… I think the word apoplectic would just about cover it, he takes to incinerating the troll remains- caterwauling, making threats and… well, being very Newt about things.

Buggles repeats his declaration once more-

We Will Never Let A Troll Take Our Cat, and that’s a Buggles promise.

After a brief discussion the Dark Squad discover that a ‘Buggles promise’ is worth, by the wood elf’s own admission- “nada, absolutely nothing.”

[Troll encounter 3600 XP]

But the Dark Squad, some of them, are already pretty beat up, Newt certainly needs to rest and so another hour is spent in a new LTH by the fungus riverbank.

Note, it’s also at this point that Buggles finally discovers that the LTH is conjured by Newt, and not found by the tabaxi (see last session). I, your friendly DM, ask how the wood elf reacts to this revelation.

Stu, playing Buggles, states that he simply pretends that he knew this all along, but secretly Buggles is sore amazed by the warlock’s talents.

They’re all playing remarkably nicely this evening, although…

Then, after the short rest and subsequent healing (with Newt still not back to full having spent all his Hit Dice), the Dark Squad have a difference of opinion. Buggles has found troll tracks leading away from the ambush site and so he wants to investigate further. Newt, wants more than anything to do the same, he capers for a while whilst describing the various methods by which he is going to destroy the baby trolls that he suspects will be found in the ambusher’s lair (clue- all methods of destruction involve fire).

Vinnie and Ram both make clear that the sensible choice would be to press on, “ze Underdark is proving to be extremely dan-jerus, n’est pas?”

It circles for a bit until Buggles remembers that the deciding vote should go to Daktari, who according to the magnanimous Jim, is also keen to check out the trolls lair.

The troll tracks are followed and a cavern, eventually, found. Note- eventually, a DC 12 Survival check was required to do so, cue more low rolls.

The cavern lair is cautiously investigated, the remains of other troll victims and a few coins and associated treasures are found.

4103.jpg

The Troll's lair is empty- save a little treasure, keep in mind in-game the cautious rogues took at least fifteen minutes, and made a variety of checks, creeping forward slowly- one square at a time, before finally declaring the place to be safe. It fills my heart with joy to know that they are scared.

[The Troll’s lair 250 XP]

So, we’re back to the riverbank, and.. at last, after some better rolls, the Dark Squad find their way out of the fungus forest- they’re still following the river, and now wading through the shallows into dark and winding tunnels.

Note this section required just one more DC 12 Survival check to navigate, although I obviously described the terrain and had the PCs work out how they were coping with the environment, but… yet more low checks follow. Including another pair of really low rolls- a ‘2’, followed by a, ‘1’.

What’s a DM to do?

So, the secret here is the PCs can make these checks with advantage, by aiding each other, but they keep forgetting to do so, and…

They need another lesson.

[Not finding the way, again 200 XP]

I send the players on a break, grab out another map from my Underdark folder and set up the next/last random encounter, while they’re off peeing and/or refreshing drinks (probably not at the same time).

The river passage therefore leads into a much larger watery chamber, and… it’s at this point it becomes very obvious that the Dark Squad are going to have to swim through the deeps here, and they’re really not keen.

Vinnie however ruins the moment by casting Water Walk, on himself and all of his comrades.

The bastard, he keeps changing out his spells- by which I mean he does this legitimately, during a long rest, but he seems to be adept at second guessing me.

[Vinnie is a water walking bastard 250 XP]

The Dark Squad cautiously- very, very cautiously, I mean some of the slowest movement on a VTT map you are ever likely to see, they traverse the chamber- walking on the water, neat.

The PCs/players think the threat is going to come from the water, well- it’s really not, this is a massive high-ceilinged chamber, the water/terrain was just the thing to slow them down. The threat comes from above- gargoyles lair in the massive stony chamber.

The elemental foes begin the encounter hiding among the dotted stalagmites, Ram- now three-quarters of the way across the pool spots the first of the beasts and screams a warning as the creature swoops down.

4104.jpg

Gargoyle! There are a lot of ambush predators down here...

Vinnie becomes Vincen G Squeezy Snake, a huge constrictor, and bites the flying attacker as it dives towards the adventurers, Buggles also wings the creature with his magical bow.

Note Vinnie made a monster knowledge check to discern that magic weapons were needed to damage these creatures (significantly), however he neglected to share this information with his colleagues before his wildshape transformation.

So, many of the following attacks made by the PCs are with whatever weapon they have in hand, rather than optimised- it’s not until later on in the fight that it becomes apparent to all that magic weapons are the way to go.

I do so enjoy it when it’s the PCs doing the fighting, rather than the players- who unlike their characters have read a variety of monster manuals cover-to-cover, and in some cases for a number of iterations/editions.

So, the first gargoyle takes its ire out of Vince G, and my dice are on fire- another hit and another Crit, and Squeezy Snake is already bloodied and beyond.

It doesn’t help matters that over the next ten or so seconds another pair of hidden gargoyles glide down from their high stone ledges and come crashing into the fight.

Daktari takes hits, including another Crit, while Squeezy gets punished some more.

Oh, and the PCs are swinging and missing plenty.

That is until dangerman Ram gets his mojo back, the ex-pirate rogue decides to use the coils of Vincen G Squeezy as a platform- he runs/leaps up the huge constrictor’s body until he is balanced on the great reptile’s head, and once there ideally placed to unleash his melee attacks.

4105.jpg

"Keep your head still!" Ram screams at Vincen G Squeezy Snake, and then stamps his foot down hard. Alas the giant constrictor does not have access to vocal chords, therefore his thoughts about being used as an elevated-platform/cherry-picker remain unknown.

Note he’s having to make acrobatics checks to achieve this/stay in place.

As reported in the chat window-

Newt: SNAKE RIDE!

Cool beanz, bro.

The already wounded gargoyle gets sliced, and left heavily wounded- it wants away, particularly as Newt, seconds later, fiery blasts it.

Buggles heads over to help Daktari with the gargoyle on and about him, but the barbarian is soon in full swing with Shatterspike, his magical longsword. The second gargoyle therefore also takes a beating, and is soon after bloodied, and then critically wounded, until eventually- it’s smashed to pieces.

One down.

Ram remains balanced on Squeezy’s head, and keeps cutting- although the rogue is also taking hits, alas the huge snake is mostly off-target.

Note Ram and Vincen G Squeezy are atm fighting two of the gargoyle attackers, the other is engaged with Daktari and Buggles, with Newt scurrying around and taking pot shots.

Soon after a badly wounded gargoyle manages somehow to successfully flee the scene- getting away from Ram & Squeezy. At which point however a fourth gargoyle makes itself known by clattering full pelt into Newt, clawing and biting the tabaxi to bloodied in an instant.

Two down/fled, but still two gargoyles left in the fight.

The tabaxi is back to yowling, hissing and cursing, Newt flees- and avoids another hit, he then turns and starts blasting the stony bastard that was threatening him.

The warlock is ranting up a storm.

Note, Bear- playing Newt, stops the action for a moment every now and then to deliver his hissed threats/rants. Alas, almost every time, his mic seems to zone out mainly when the warlock’s voice reaches fever pitch.

“You would dare to [HISS- SILENCE] me! I will destroy you with my [HISS- SILENCE] and my {HISS- SILENCE] until your [HISS- SILENCE] is [HISS- SILENCE].”

At which point Bear/Newt usually leaves a (real) silence, a pause (I think) for us- his audience, to (possibly) applaud him.

What usually follows these tirades is a version of the following-

“Did you get that?”
“No.”
“Nope!”
Stu/Buggles laughing, followed by, “Hardly any of it, but it sounded terrifying!”
“I heard him say something about ‘pyjamas’?”
“I got that too!”

Note, for the full effect some/all of the above should be said at the same time.

By which time Newt has already launched into his next tirade, or else has set about repeating the last one.

But, back to the action…

The gargoyle facing down Ram and Squeezy, now badly wounded, also attempts to flee the fight but is plucked out of the air by Vincen G, and soon after wrapped in the giant constrictor’s coils.

Buggles and Daktari follow Ram’s lead and climb up onto the huge snake’s body, and then begin wailing on the restrained gargoyle there- smashing it to pieces, just as it’s about the escape Vincen’s crushing coils.

The last of the stony bastards figures very quickly that this encounter is over- it too gets the hell out of dodge, and the wounded Newt is happy to watch it depart.

Encounter over.

Although when I say Newt is happy to let the last gargoyle depart-

“I will destroy you with my [HISS- SILENCE] and my {HISS- SILENCE] until your [HISS- SILENCE] is [HISS- SILENCE].”

And we go again with the “What did he just say?” for a while.

[Gargoyles 1800 XP]

But now the Dark Squad want to get on- they’re right royally fed up with today- it’s been tough going, and for much too long.

Just a note, back at the start Old Gorm told the guys that the treasure was about half-a-days travel off the beaten path, well- by the time the adventurers make it out of the river passage they’ve been nine hours on the trail already today.

From the directions Old Gorm gave them, they reckon, they’ve still got at least two or three more hours of travel to go. But, they’re knackered, and hurt some more. It is therefore time for another night in the Underdark, the LTH is pitched in a virulent green cavern- with the river flowing through it, and it’s another very large space, narrow but perhaps half-a-mile, long, maybe.

So, rest- and remarkably none of the PCs are suffering from exhaustion.

A quiet night?

Nope, if a jokes worth doing- well, three times is the cure.

So, it’s during Buggles’ watch (as always) that the inhabitants of the cave come home to roost. Apposite- roost. The inhabitants of the cave are about a million bats. Just cave bats mind, but… the air above the river, and then the ceiling, are over the course of the next few hours, clogged/swathed with hundreds of thousands of the little critters.

The bats eventually settle down to rest.

Note Buggles wakes a few of his companions up just to share around the blame, but- the bat’s can’t get in and… they’ll figure out what comes next in the morning.

However, the bats are still in situ eight hours later when the LTH fades, but at this point the Dark Squad have already sussed out their strategy- they’re going to sneak there way past the creatures, and Vinnie (the swiss army knife of elemental/environmental magic) has already cast Pass Without Trace on the gang.

The outcome is never in doubt, although I get the guys to make plenty of checks, and there are even a few close calls here and there.

But, the bats are avoided.

[Bat avoidance techniques 400 XP]

Note there was a completely different map for the bat cavern- alas, possibly because there was no fighting, no-one thought to take a screen-shot. Bad Dark Squad!

Which brings us at last- after a few more checks, including a successful DC 12 Survival- made with advantage, see- a learning moment, and the Dark Squad make it to, well… to the treasure, maybe.

Let me take a moment to explain, the PCs were told by Old Gorm that he and Harfnag had found treasure in the river within this chamber, they had also found the source of the river (and the treasure) but… it looked dangerous.

So, before the PCs is a scree slope up against a high stone wall- the terminus of the cavern, it’s a dead end. Although the scree here isn’t pebbles and gravel, it is actually comprised of very large boulders- and the river rushes through and out of this mess of stone. But there’s a way in. By which I mean the heaviest flow of the river water spills out of a natural pipe, a bore hole- or else a hollowed out passage through the fallen stones.

The treasure is in there…

The Dark Squad take a good while to investigate, they figure they’ve got maybe a sixty foot crawl through a three foot diameter passage, half-submerged, and with the force of the water trying to eject them from the crawlspace.

I’d like to take a moment to tell you about the arguing, the fretting, the sass and recriminations when the PCs/players learn that the treasure isn’t just simply awaiting their collection.

I’d like to do that but I can’t.

Less than a minute after I finish describing the layout of this puzzle, Vinnie is Vincen G. Octopod, and with rope in tentacle he is making the terrifying crawl into a walk in the park.

Vinnie Octopod squeegees his way down sixty feet of crawlspace and into a semi-submerged cavern chamber, his colleagues are semi-hauled through to join him.

So, where are we?

In a cavern chamber over thirty feet wide in places, and about half that high- at this point (at the entrance) two thirds filled with crystal clear water (ten feet deep). There are the skeletal remain of creatures- humanoids, on the floor of the cavern, and many more of them ahead.

4106.jpg

Note the rogues have swum on ahead and are perched on a stack of rocks that reach up and out of the water. Further note, later on Ram finds the chest tucked in a cranny at the base of this stone outcropping- see later.

The cavern curves around, and… happily, slopes upwards- soon after the Dark Squad are wading rather than swimming. There are many more bodies here, all skeletal- all look to be warriors (possibly humans?). A lot of the bodies, various PCs notice (and then take) have treasure on them, or else nearby. Rotten coin purses with their contents spilled out, amulets, jewellery etc.

The Dark Squad continue on and discover the body of a heavily armoured knight- or similar, complete with rusted platemail and an equally tarnished greatsword.

This body is a little away from all of the others.

4107.jpg

This doesn't look good! There follows fifteen to twenty minutes of fruitless checks as the Dark Squad fret and pontificate about what bad thing is going to happen next. That is until Buggles puts his football boots on- read on.

This final figure/body spooks several of the adventurers, attempts are therefore made to discern whether this is some terrible monster, but… how exactly to do this, and so no new information is available.

The threat however diminishes somewhat when Buggles kicks the head off the dead knight.

Nothing happens.

So, the Dark Squad get to looting, and there are a few coins, a few gems, and a few other miscellaneous treasures- all of which are shoved into Vinnie’s bag of holding.

But that’s all there is, and so the PCs are still nosing around, checking the walls, investigating the water’s flow, looking for anything concealed or hidden etc.

“Well, how did they die?” Buggles voices the Dark Squad’s until this moment unspoken concern, while pointing at all of the dead folk in the cavern.

More investigations follow- many of the ancient bodies here, it seems, suffered violent deaths- they were hacked apart.

But still nothing happens.

There are three waterfalls that spill into the chamber, constantly topping the place up, and feeding the underground river beyond this cavern. Newt and Vinnie G Octopod are looking for tide lines- does this place flood, is that it?

[Lots of investigations 500 XP]

Time passes.

Then Ram, still investigating places, finds a very expensive looking chest- just a flash of gold at first, wedged in a hidey-hole under the water. Vinnie G helps to drag the box out, and after a thorough once over- no traps, the rogue opens the receptacle, but… it’s empty.

Ram, in frustration, goes searching for a false bottom or hidden compartment, seconds into the procedure and the rogue’s hand passes clean through the bottom of the chest and into… well, a large space- a large space filled (nearly to the brim) with coins.

Ram grabs out a handful.

Mostly copper, but there are also a few silver, and a gold coin in his fist.

[Ram finds the chest 250 XP]

Newt identifies the chest, it’s a chest of holding- like the bag, and it’s full.

While the warlock is at his ritual Ram continues to fish around inside the extra-dimensional space, fetching out more coins, and… then… eventually, something else, a rug? Or a blanket? Or else… the rogue drags out a beautiful fur trimmed cloak with a velvet lining, and with gold and silver stitching.

It looks a lot like the cloak that Newt used to possess, the one that Humphrey Far-Fer-Nar confiscated from him. Newt has been going on and on about the loss of his magical cloak ever since his fiendish squeeze took it from him.

So, ahead of the inevitable detect magic/identify spell- because this revelation also signals the end of this week’s action, yes- it’s a +1 Cloak of Protection.

But what else is in the chest, maybe next session we’ll get to find out?

Maybe next week we’ll also get out of the Underdark, I bloody hope so, but we’ll see.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #042 The Dark Squad Get The Flip-Dickings Out Of The Underdark.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Buggles (played by Stu) Male Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 3/Rogue Lvl 3
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 6
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 6
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 6

NPCs
Daktari Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 6
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.

Buggles’ undead servitor
Gwen Female Duergar Skeleton, in full-face helm and armour


This is session 42, and it’s all coming up Dark Squad (as they say)- Old Gorm’s treasure has been found, the duergar deep-fort base has likewise been located (while in Hgraam/Stone Giant assisted Dreamtime) and successfully explored. Woo hoo!

And so 3-2-1, and we’re back in the room.

The room in this instance being a watery sealed (save for the river going in/out) cavern, home to plenty of treasure including a chest (of holding) crammed with coin and who knows what else. But the place is strewn with skeletal corpses- it all kicked off in here, and some time ago… or so the PCs think.

But here’s the thing- the Dark Squad have given up, at last, on trying to figure out what’s going on with all of the skeletal remains in here.

It’s time to go home, to get out of the Underdark… at bloody last.

Being towed, once again, by Vincen G Octopod the adventurers therefore depart the dangerous place, and once outside the watery cave, Vinnie turns back into himself- shifter-shape.

But the Dark Squad don’t get far.

So, the skeletons on the floor of the watery chamber were waiting for just one thing- for the chest that the adventurers found to be taken from its final resting place (note the guy’s figured this out after the fight), and so- here they come.

And just to remind you the Dark Squad had to crawl through a tight tunnel, nearly sixty feet long and half-filled with water to get into the treasure chamber- made all the more easier because Vincen G Octopod just dragged his compatriots through. So, on the way out- and for the undead following, it’s a flume-ride to exit the place.

We’re very quickly to the fighting, and just to say- the undead are in a rush to get at the PCs- they come spewing out the watery flume. And there are, from memory, eighteen skeletons (all with max HP) and the last to the fracas, a greater zombie knight (a greater zombie combined with a knight stat block with a few ‘extras’), and this last guy is a bad ass.

But he doesn’t get into action right away.

Just to say ahead of time, this fight took nearly two hours to play through, so hold on to your headgear, rest-assured- I’ll precis the action.

Oh, and while we’re telling tales, during the fight three PCs (Ram, Buggles and Vinnie) all alluded to the fact that they had an escape plan plotted for their guys. As in they were ready to cut and run- needless to say the fight was going particularly badly at the time that this conversation got played out.

Newt was the only member of the Dark Squad (PC) that remained steadfast and committed throughout the fracas that follows, or else he was unconscious and making death saves when the above conversation happened. For completion sake- as was Daktari, at the time.

Point of fact the other three PCs weren’t particularly healthy at this point either.

But, we’ll get to this.

Enough build up, the skeletons come tumbling out the river tunnel and rush into melee, and en masse, there are ten of them in the first wave.

Daktari rages and cuts one down (Crit- Hit combo), Buggles rolls his first ‘1’ of the evening- there are plenty more of these from the PCs, he uses an inspiration point to re-roll and Crits second time around.

It all started so well- there’s cheering already as another skeleton dies.

But then the skeletons wail on the raging Daktari, and the barbarian is taking hits- my dice are good to great for me this evening.

Vinnie conjures his Moonbeam and scorches a swathe of the undead- who nevertheless keep on coming, I’m getting all of the bad guys out of their watery cavern lair as quickly as possible here- and into the PCs grills.

Ramshambow (with Deadend- undead bane rapier) cuts another skeleton down, another of the undead gets to Newt and the warlock is stabbed- he doesn’t like that, he therefore drops the bomb- Fireball!

4201.jpg

Newt manages to get all of the enemies inside his Fireball, but hang on! Isn't that Daktari in there too.

Seven skeletons are destroyed in an instant as the fiery explosion rips through the pack- alas positioned in the middle of the aforementioned pack is Daktari, who fails his save and… is bloodied in an instant. The raging barbarian however fights on, although screaming every now and then in his cod-Russian accent (now transitioning to Scottish, he’s being played by Bear/Newt tonight) “I HURT, BAD!”

4202.jpg

After the Fireball. Note, I made Daktari make a saving throw for his hair- the barbarian loves his hair, nearly as much as he does Vinnie.

But there are still eight or so skeletons in action- Vinnie gets mobbed and stabbed repeatedly, that’s nice.

Also the zombie greater knight has at last made his appearance, Daktari- the tough guy heads over to face-off against this feller, and then starts cutting, but the undead knight is hard to pin down- and heavily armoured in rusty plate.

Note the greater zombie knight is also missing his head- Buggles kicked it off remember, but that doesn’t seem to be slowing the fellow any.

Buggles cuts another skeleton down.

Come on… this is easy!

Vincenzo however has to disengage, as the undead just keep on shuffling forward, pushing their way deeper into the ranks of the Dark Squad.

The druid drops back, and… is instantly engulfed in a swarm of bats, the PCs look up and about them- this after hearing Vinnie’s yells. The ceiling of this great cavern chamber is swarming with bats who have been riled into action by the Fireball et al.

4203.jpg

Vinnie: "Sacre bleu! I hatez ze Batz!" Buggles: "Come on Vinnie, can't you just talk to them, tell them your busy?"

The Dark Squad encountered the bats here earlier, and had to sneak through the place, but- they had forgotten about that.

Vinnie keeps his Moonbeam burning, and keeps moving it about, using it like a radiant spotlight to scorch more of the undead buggers.

Daktari keeps on taking hits, soon after the swamped barbarian is down to maybe 15 or so HP (from approx. 70), and looking back on it that happened pretty quickly, and if the barbarian falls…

Ram takes another skeleton down, and then stabs the greater zombie knight, Newt fiery blasts this bugger too.

But the creature’s HP Bar, on its token in Fantasy Grounds, hardly drops at all- causing mutterings around the VTT. Mostly, “Oh, crap!”, but also ‘fresher’ variants.

Daktari keeps on taking hits (I think I’ve said that before), but he’s raging, and so he’s soaking up the damage, but… it’s not looking good.

Seconds later and the barbarian is put down by the greater zombie knight, note this undead terror attacks by flailing wildly with its fists which also deliver a hefty necrotic punch.

4204.jpg

The turning of the token- Daktari gets to dirt-napping.

Buggles slices another skeleton down.

But there are now also three bat swarms swooping and swirling around- attempting to find a PC to feed on.

It also doesn’t help that Vinnie (Jim) is rolling really low for his Moonbeam damage every turn.

Note, it’s probs worth mentioning at this point that Buggles has also been screaming (at Vinnie) for some time to get some healing into Daktari- this, of course, prior to the barbarian’s fall.

The following appears in the chat window-

Buggles: WANTED! Are you a healer? Fancy adventuring with a group with no healer? Contact Newt at Newt Towers now
Vincenzo: I am much more than an ealerr mon ami

Personally, I like it for the fact that Jim/Vinnie spells like he sounds, he is ‘ an ealerr’.

Ram gets to the greater zombie knight with Deadend, and Crits it- there’s a wild cheer, but the thing is still not even close to bloodied.

Then Newt misses the beast with three Belphegor Fiery Blasts in a row (the third attempt courtesy of an inspiration point).

Then the warlock gets stabbed-up by a skeleton.

As does Buggles, repeatedly.

It’s about now, with the laughter all gone, that play really slows down- PCs are, I can tell, working out what to do for the best. Is it time to cut and run yet?

Ramshambow suddenly finds himself one-on-one versus the greater zombie knight, that doesn’t go well- and now he’s down to maybe 12-15 HP.

Buggles fights his way through to Daktari, and then gets a healing potion (with his action surge) down the big lad’s gullet.

Vinnie’s Moonbeam continues to have very little effect, this is not his fault you understand, when it works this spell can be devastating. But, the bad guys keep making their saves and his damage rolls are real bad- 2d10 radiant = 6, save for 3 damage; that kind of thing. Repeatedly.

Therefore the huge constrictor Vincen G Squeezy Snake makes his appearance, but let me just pre-empt this- Squeezy has a bad reputation already, and it’s about to get worse.

The huge constrictor fails to hit… anything (at least for a while), and repeatedly- even when Vinnie spends an inspiration point to try again, and this guy is +8 to hit with the druid’s insignia of claws.

4205.jpg

Vincen G Squeezy Snake, a titan amongst tokens, but otherwise... a bit meh!

Oh, Buggles gets sliced again.

Ram fails to land a hit on the greater zombie knight.

It’s getting bad…

Then worse…

Newt decides to get another potion of (greater) healing into Daktari, and takes three opportunity attacks (all hits) to get the job done, the warlock is bloodied and beyond.

But let’s just take a moment to admire the life-changing effects of that healing balm, copied and pasted directly from Fantasy Grounds chat-

Newt: [HEAL] Potion of Greater Healing [4d4+4 = 8]
Heal [8] -> [to Daktari]
Newt: Potion of Greater Healing

That’s right- 4d4, and in FG it rolls the dice, and they all came up ‘1’s.

As Buggles said/screamed at the time= “Quadruple Cabbage!”

There’s a lot of talk about the expiry date of the potion just consumed, followed by a short discussion as the players try to figure out how much they paid for the underperforming magic, and who was it that sold it to them?

A lot of humour, quite a bit of it of the gallows variety.

Newt, by the way, is down to maybe 10 HP.

Buggles gets sliced (I’ve read that before somewhere), as does Vincen G Squeezy.

Ram however still has the greater zombie knight on him- and this bastard has three attacks (and is also approx. +7 to hit). The headless undead monstrosity connects just once, and thanks to Ram’s uncanny dodge, well… he lives.

Oh, and just to say that the greater zombie knight hits with his first attack, for the second and third of his to hit rolls you could have heard a pin drop.

Ram is on 1 HP.

4206.jpg

Daktari's back in action- "Guyz! Guyz! Vot did I miss!"

Daktari, at last, gets back up again- and rages again, his last rage for the day- and then he adds a little extra frenzy to his attacks.

The barbarian smashes another skeleton down but then misses repeatedly with his other attacks. There are only three or so skeletons left in action, and the greater zombie knight (still not bloodied), oh… and a trio of bat swarms.

Squeezy still hasn’t hit anything.

Ram, can’t keep it up- the rogue disengages from the greater zombie knight and then gets the hell away, and then swigs down a potion of greater healing- he’s blowing hard.

Newt drops the bomb- the second Fireball, but this time it’s Vincen G Squeezy Snake’s turn to be in middle of the conflagration.

4207.jpg

Fireball the Redux! Squeezy gets toasty!

The flash fire clears and several bat swarms have been destroyed- or else are fleeing the scene, only one skeleton survives, and the great zombie knight is, at bloody last, bloodied.

But Squeezy is also wrecked, the huge snake-shaped-druid is down to less than 10 HP.

The last skeleton left standing slices Newt, and then another bat swarm swoops down and swathes the tabaxi warlock in claws and bites.

Newt’s on 1 HP.

The greater zombie knight is now bereft of enemies- Ram ran away last turn remember, therefore the headless killing machine shambles over and flails at Daktari, and connects- although just once.

The barbarian hits the deck- unconscious, again- rage over.

4208.jpg

"Guyz! Guyz! I am fading fast- I vunt all uff my hair products and gels to go to Vinnie! Vinnnnnnniiiiieeeeee! Quick turn my token to da side- Dah! Eeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Buggles dances in and cuts the zombie knight, and then as swiftly spirals away and out of danger.

Then, at last, Squeezy comes good- the huge constrictor grabs up the greater zombie knight and crushes the undead terror in its coils.

Ram rushes in and stabs furiously at the zombie knight, and suddenly my big bad guy is also on less than 10 HP.

This is going to get close, to the wire.

But Newt, the warlock, while his comrades scream for him to put the undead abomination down, well… he has a better plan. He Belphegor blasts the last skeleton to flinders (to get his 10 HP temporary hit points- Dark Ones Blessing), and then follows up by blasting the bat swarm that is buzzing him.

The bats however hang around- and bite and claw at the tabaxi some more.

Then yet another swarm of bats flutter in and gets in Ram’s grill.

But here’s the thing- my greater zombie knight is still up and rolling, of course he is at present being grappled and restrained by Squeezy.

Let’s fix that, the zombie knight slams the huge constrictor, and that’s the end of Squeezy, and my guy is on the loose again.

First stop Buggles- flailing fists and… BAM! A Crit and the wood elf is on 3 HP.

Then BAM! Again, and this time it’s Newt that hits the deck.

4209.jpg

BAM! BAM! BAM! The ol' triple BAM! Bedtime for bozo's.

Recap- Vinnie is back in shifter form and very bloodied, Ram is on maybe 8 HP, Buggles only 3 HP- the other two (I forget their names), bleeding out.

But that’s the end of my hot streak- Buggles cuts down the greater zombie knight, and then gets his second wind, and all that’s left are the bats.

Although it takes another three or so turns for the pesky flutter-some bastards to finally give up the fight, at which point Daktari has failed two death saves and Newt, just the one.

Vinnie gets to Daktari with the cure, while Ram gets to Newt with a potion, and- at bloody last, it’s over and the DM can go and pee.

[Undead and bats 2900 XP]

The Dark Squad ‘find’ a Leomund’s Tiny Hut (LTH) as quickly as they can, or else Newt gets on with the ritual while the rest of the gang stand statue, weapons still drawn, waiting for something else bad to happen.

It doesn’t.

The Dark Squad crawl inside the LTH, and rest.

That was close.

And for the next hour- a short rest, and there’s a hell of a lot of healing going on.

Also Newt goes off on one for a while, etching the symbol of his (original) master into the floor of the LTH, the tabaxi doesn’t rise to the various jibes and jokes that his colleagues make regarding exactly what Belphegor’s symbol depicts.

Decide for yourself.

4210.jpg

Whatever it is, I don't like it.

At the end of the hour all of the PCs save for Vinnie have spent all of their healing HD, and all of them (save Vinnie & Buggles) are still wounded when they’re done.

But, and there’s been an extended chat about this, they want to get the hell out of the Underdark.

See the title of this session.

The first job, once rested- and with help from a little Pass Without Trace, is to sneak past myriad millions of bats in here, again- success.

Then the Dark Squad push themselves, and they’re starting to really work out how this should be done- co-ordinating their efforts to get as much help as they can with the necessary checks they need to follow the path all the way back to the massive fungi cavern.

Just to note from a DMs POV, up until this point the PCs perhaps co-ordinated their efforts on maybe one in four skill checks, at most, from hereon in- every check is considered, and aided et al.

Once back to the massive fungus cavern, and after a very long day (13 hours walking plus fights et al)- although not as long as tomorrow will prove to be. The Dark Squad rest up for the night, and again- in the LTH, which has proved to be worth its weight in gold.

[Back to the fungus cavern 250 XP]

There follows much more in the way of discussion, although it’s mostly Buggles and Ram shining a light on the madness that is Newt. The rogues always seem to have lots of questions for the warlock. The flip-side of this coin is that Newt always has plenty to say back, all in character- of course.

You have to keep in mind that apropos nothing much Newt can (and does) every now and then just say really odd stuff-

“Yes! I will crush them and kill them, send their souls to my lord Belphegor, and then caper and prance on their blasted bodies.” Newt gibbers.

“I said, did you want a cup of tea?” Ram sighs as the tabaxi giggles and mwa-ha-ha’s to himself for a while longer.

He’s bonkers.

[Newt, more oddness 300 XP]

Then rest, and recuperation- and remarkably all of the PCs make their exhaustion checks, and in the morning there’s an addition to the party- Owly.

4211.jpg

Owly!

Vinnie (now that I have bought Tasha’s for Fantasy Grounds) can use one of his wildshape usages to summon a familiar.

Owly is an owl, just a regular owl- nothing monstrous or terrifying.

It’s all a bit normal for the Dark Squad.

[Rest and recuperation, & Owly 200 XP]

Then, we go on- or at least the Dark Squad do, and they’re not stopping now until they get back to Farhill Mine, although that’s a thirteen hour journey if they make all of their various skill checks today.

It all starts well, safely through the massive fungi cavern, and then a long passage which ascends (for three or so hours) into the bridge cavern.

The massive cavern in which the Dark Squad sat and watched as a horde of gnolls, hyenas and (maw) demons chased after a horde of kobolds.

Well, there’s a whole lot of noise coming from the bridge cavern- again, and it sounds like fighting.

Ram is sent sneaking forward to take a look, the rogue eventually locates the fracas- there are two large four-armed demons (good monster knowledge check- Glabrezu) battering the hell out of each other near the bridge in here.

4212.jpg

Bloody hell! Will this sodding day never end?

Then, for seemingly no reason, the pair stop what they’re doing, take a few steps back to stare intently at each other, and… well, that’s all they do- at least for a short while. Until the fighting starts up again.

Very odd.

Note, I hadn’t prepped another encounter down here in the Underdark, so I just decided to throw in something really nasty on the spur of the moment.

The problem being the fight is in the PCs path- they need to get safely around the demons, or else take them on. Note, this later course of action is not even discussed- just no, we’re done with this- let’s get out of here.

Ram and Buggles get situated and the pair are using thieves cant to signal back and forth- what’s going on with the demons, or else conveying suggestions from other folk about how to get past/around this confrontation.

Minds are concentrated further when the hefty pair of demons break from fighting again, and then both fiends start chanting and/or making threats (maybe) aloud, and in a language that none of the Dark Squad can understand. However, Vinnie is fairly certain that the pair are both attempting some sort of summoning spell/ritual.

The decision the is swiftly made, Vinnie spreads a little more Pass Without Trace around, and then the adventurers start creeping their way towards the exit.

Heading over the ledge they bunked down on earlier, on their first pass through this cavern, however this stealthy journey involves a close call as the demons summon… well, yet more demons.

The final checks involve the Dark Squad stealthing around and behind one of the Glabrezu, while overhead two pairs of Vrocks take it in turns to try to tear each other apart.

4213.jpg

At this point I'm just screwing with them- "Go on, I double dare you- let's see how this fight goes..." You've got to do it, every now and then, keeps 'em on their toes.

The guy’s make it past, the demons it seems are far too wrapped up with their own plight.

The Dark Squad head away from the great cavern at a rush, and don’t stop hustling until they make it all the way back to the mine- that’s a fourteen hour journey from the fungus cavern.

[Sneak past the demons 500 XP]

They’re out of the Underdark, and they’re knackered.

[Survive the Underdark 500 XP]

Both rogues are exhausted, they need rest- but as it turns out, not quite yet.

4214.jpg

Buggles: "I've never been so glad to see a bunch of grubby dwarves."

It’s nine in the evening, but the Dark Squad are swiftly ushered into an empty guardroom, a while later- after food and drinks are supplied; Manistrad Copperlocks, Golf Kindle, and Old Gorm have gathered and are ready for their report.

As usual Vinnie mostly leads the chatter, but all contribute, the story of the Dark Squad’s adventures gets told, although all mention of Old Gorm’s treasure run is left out from the telling. The explanation is- the adventurers took a while to get back here because they got lost for a couple of days, or so they tell Manistrad et al.

The PCs also leave out the fact that explored the duergar deep fort courtesy of an out-of-body experience (Dreamtime) and thanks to Hgraam the Stone Giant.

But Manistrad digs and digs, and eventually the whole story gets told (except for Old Gorm’s treasure run), and the PCs are able to convince Manistrad, and also to provide drawings and directions. Eventually Copperlocks is assuaged. Mission accomplished- the Dark Squad are paid, and thanked for their sterling efforts.

[Manistrad is happy- mission accomplished 500 XP]

The Dark Squad have also, at last, accomplished everything they need to at the mine- they’re ready to be unleashed upon the world/region, but more of this next session.

There’s still time this evening however for the Dark Squad to retire to their bunkroom and share the treasure that they found with Old Gorm, the chest turns out to contain over 50,000 coins. The issue being that 99% of them are copper coins, still- it’s quite a haul.

Old Gorm is more than happy with his cut, particularly as there’s plenty of other minor valuables to be sold (gems, jewellery etc.), and therefore still more money to be made.

But that’s not all that’s in the chest, and keep in mind Vinnie and Newt are using a variety of spells and rituals to examine the horde (mostly Detect Magic & Identify).

Two quivers full of magical arrows (+1 & walloping) are gathered, as is a jar of keoghtom’s ointment, and an immovable rod, and… a well-worn, scuffed, marked and sodden book.

The text within the book, at least the small amount of it that is legible, is however written in a complex code, the PCs eventually conclude.

The DM has a hangman (word puzzle) for the PCs, it’s the title of the book they’ve just found, and the more incorrect guesses it takes the PCs to get the title, then the harder the DC to decipher the rest of the text within the tome.

It takes a good long while to work out the book’s title, and so all future checks (Wis or Int) will be DC 14 to continue to crack the code. This activity can be completed during downtime or moments of rest (without distractions).

See next session guys for a discussion of the rules for this activity.

The title of the book-

VH Campaign Diary

We may get to what the book contains later on in this series, but for now- we’re done, that’s the end of the session, and we were thirty minutes over time.

[Treasure & VH Campaign Diary 250 XP]

Next session- Saltmarsh!

Although just a heads up Vinnie will be away for the next one, still- I have plenty to keep the other three players amused.

Jim/Vinnie send me a list of anything downtime you want to get done, and I’ll incorporate it into the next write up, or else bodge your story in later- somehow.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #043 Chez Dark Squad.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Buggles (played by Stu) Male Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 3/Rogue Lvl 3
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 6
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 6
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 6

NPCs
Daktari Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 6
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.

Buggles’ undead servitor
Gwen Female Duergar Skeleton, in full-face helm and armour


This is session 43, and it didn’t go well, from my POV.

But the fighting is over, and we’ve moved on already, and so here’s what went down, and just to say that when we have a bad session (which happens hardly at all) then before I post the write up here, I send my offering to the players first.

They get to vet it, make sure I’ve not been too heavy handed.

So, they all agreed that this one was good to post, Ben/Newt I think best précised, their feelings best with the following comment-

"I mean, it does read a bit like a slow-motion car crash in the making...
Probably a fair representation of events!"

So, the Dark Squad spend a few more hours at Farhill Mine topping up their equipment, selling a few items, and then distributing some of the treasure they found in the chest of holding, back in the watery cavern.

Then, Newt persuades (with a little coin) a dwarf with a wagon to give the Squad a lift into Saltmarsh. Their new home.

4301.jpg

See the house circled in red- yeah, that's the one- it's a bit of a doer-upper, but ideally situated- just across the road is the Bird family farm- plenty of places to hide a body or two there.

Once there the Dark Squad pick up their keys for the new house- they organised the rental earlier, with Manistrad Copperlocks helping to make the connections.

There then follows a twenty to thirty-minute debate, and then a vote, to decide which of the four potential chez Dark Squad house designs (as contributed by three of the PCs) is to be their new home.

4302.jpg

The Chez Dark Squad design competition entries, Ram's (Kev) design is the eventual winner (lower middle), although special mention should go to the multi-image Buggles (Stu) entry (lower right cluster). That said if the buggers had just picked Vinnie's (Jim) entry (top middle) then I wouldn't have to draw another bloody map.

Ram’s alfresco design is the eventual winner, although it’s down to a die roll so close is the decision.

Ram’s design is, of course, by far the largest of those proffered- it’s certainly a grand house, and with a large great hall. The rogue’s professional standard blueprint has been completed using ink and squaredy-paper, although like all good draughtsmen Kev/Ram has actually ignored the squares and/or lines on the paper, he’s taken a free-hand approach.

A full floor plan of chez Dark Squad will (probably) follow later.

A name for chez Dark Squad will also evolve, no doubt, in time.

Next up the Dark Squad move in and fit out their rooms.

4303.jpg

The Dark Squad get situated- note, they're all jealous of Vinnie's hot-tub, and they all complain about the state (and smell) of Daktari's room. Barbarians!

House done, next- downtime and what to do in Saltmarsh?

Let’s have a party.

I beg your pardon.

So, after less than thirty seconds discussion it is decided- the Dark Squad will throw a party, it’s all round to chez Dark Squad for a shindig.

Note, Jim playing Vinnie is not in-game yet, I’ll mark your card when he arrives.

A party?

But now they’re all on board, and at times giggling like drains.

It seems the idea of the party is to gather a bunch of dwarves from Farhill and to get them to mingle with a bunch of folks from Saltmarsh.

The DM has worries, who do the Dark Squad know in Saltmarsh?

Just to be clear, the Dark Squad have visited Saltmarsh ten times prior to their moving here, each of their visits was between sixty and ninety minutes long, these were the lunch time visitations outlined in sessions 34 and 35. Basically, the time it takes for the wagon to get loaded. The longest conversation any member of the Dark Squad has had with anyone in Saltmarsh at this point is maybe thirty minutes.

Also, session 34 didn’t go so well.

Who are you inviting to the party, again?

The Dark Squad get a list going- it runs to approx. 45 names, and it’s basically everyone they have ever met- and some others that they have only heard, including members of the Town Council, it also includes Blevins. The last time a member of the Dark Squad ‘chatted’ with Blevins it ended in threats, the time before that… oh yeah, threats and violence.

Blevins hates the dwarves of Farhill, and the dwarves of Farhill, it seems, are not fond of Blevins either.

But the PCs are into it, and on with it.

Party!

Oh, and the list of folk to invite also includes people that would have to travel from Farhill (Manistrad Copperlocks, Max Damage, Arty Swell (Max and Arty are shopkeepers, just for info) etc.) or else people the Dark Squad have met (very briefly) when they spent a morning (and a lot of gold) in Ashby. That’s an 8-10 hour round journey, just to attend a party with a bunch of adventurers that they’ve met once.

I’ll be honest, I’m making a list of these folk as the PCs keep shouting out names, or actually not names but, “that bloke in…”, and I’m struggling.

Why would any of these people come to a party at the Dark Squad house?

The next question would be why would the Dark Squad invite these people?

I’m trying to understand.

But hang on, I recognise this plan, this is the same plan- get the two sides together (Farhill dwarves & Saltmarsh folks) as was suggested and then swiftly rejected back in session 34. The idea then was for Dark Squad to arrange a spectacular show (that they would put on) and then invite lots of folks from Farhill and Saltmarsh to attend, and by doing so end the interminable antipathy that exits between the two places.

We agreed back in session 34, or else sometime soon after (session 35)- that this project would be a long-term affair, and certainly not a part of the plot that could be resolved overnight, or at a party.

The issue is there’s a degree of antipathy between the dwarves of Farhill and the good folk, some of them, of Saltmarsh.

Point of fact Ram discovered that it’s mainly the fishing folk that seem to have bad things to say about the dwarves of Farhill- mostly.

Although in all honesty there’s not been a lot of investigation at all about this, so…

There are no fishing folk invited to the party- the PCs don’t know any of them, fisherfolk don’t have shops.

So, the Dark Squad’s answer to this is to invite everyone they know- including folk that they know that are violently opposed to the dwarves of Farhill (Blevins), to a party, with some dwarves from Farhill.

Let’s just take a moment to let that sink in.

Light blue touch paper and retire.

Then there’s the folk that they have never met- Eda Oweland, Gellen Primewater- both Saltmarsh council members. Oh, and the last time anyone from the Dark Squad was in the Town Hall, that would be Buggles- he was making threats as I remember and had to be lead away by the Town Guard.

Oh, but the head of Saltmarsh Watch is also invited (they’ve never met him), as is the local wizard- Keledek, who the PCs have been warned about repeatedly, Newt has already made several attempts to communicate with this guy. With no answer.

So, how do I play this?

And keep in mind if all the folk on the list attend the Dark Squad party, and… things go badly- read on, then the Dark Squad are going to be making it even harder for themselves from the get-go.

But, it’s a goer- the party; Ram, Buggles and Newt are all convinced.

Oh, and this is Buggles’ idea.

Did you guess that?

Did you?

Although, about halfway through what follows and Buggles is starting to express his doubts, and by the end of the session he’s convinced that the party is going to possibly be a very bad thing.

But there’s another ninety minutes of this to follow, and I don’t want you to think (dear reader) that I expressed any of the above opinions during this session.

I left the Dark Squad to their own devices.

I tried to steer them around with a bit of chatter, but that didn’t get me anywhere.

So, as well as the party preparations, which accounts for at least 50% of what follows, the Dark Squad are also doing some shopping.

So, every time one of them goes to the shop (any shop)- and spends his money then whoever it is that’s selling them tries to help the PCs out, with a bit of chat, and a few questions- so, who are you guys? Have you just moved to Saltmarsh? And plenty of other friendly blather, all the time leaving the way open for the various members of the Dark Squad to ask any other questions that they might have.

4304.jpg

Buggles buys a tinderbox from Winston's store (he gave his last one to Hgraam the Stone Giant). Winston is very chatty- do you want to come to our party? Buggles asks, Winston would love to- he'll even bring a couple of friends.

Here’s the thing, I’ve been setting Saltmarsh up for a while- there is plot here aplenty, and contacts, and employment. I just need one PC to ask…

Every PC that the Dark Squad talk to does this because the DM is really trying.

But the Dark Squad are all just pointed at the party.

Nope, they have no other questions, this is really all they’re doing.

They have nothing to ask at all.

Except… do you want to come to our party?

Meanwhile…

Newt sets about trying to learn to fly Gerald (in the basement- don’t ask), his Bat/Giant Bat familiar, he works out very quickly that he’s going to at least need a saddle- he later visits a leatherworker to try to arrange this, and to invite her to the party, of course.

Then…

The Dark Squad spend a day writing and sending party invitations.

Just to say by the time we get around to the 28th of Tarsakh, the day before the party, the Dark Squad have spent over 150gp on the shindig, including… ahem, the hookers.

There had to be hookers, and can you guess which member of the Dark Squad went questing for the ladies of the night?

But we’ll get to them.

Next up, Newt gets together the two wagon loads of wood needed for the finale of the party- a massive conflagration with pyrotechnics and other adventures in flame. Note across the road from the new chez Dark Squad is the Bird farm, with their barn stuffed full of straw. The Dark Squad have invited the Bird family, of course, to the party- they’ve never met them, but come along.

So, Newt’s going to have a bonfire, are alarm bells not ringing yet?

Ram visits the Whicker Goat and gets a good deal on booze and entertainment (sea shanty singers, and a jig and reel band) for the night- sorted.

At this point Jim/Vinnie arrives and gets into the game.

After a catch up the druid has the following to say-

“I will not be ere for zis partee, I will be swimmin’ a la Vincen G Octopod, the thing yew describe iz a car-crash n’est pas?”

Throughout what follows Vinnie has cause to repeat the above statement, or else a version of it, several times.

“I sink Newt will ‘ave anuzzer body to ads to iz collection.”

This last addendum after Newt decides to head to the docks, although after first asking Hannah, the female owner of the poshest Inn in Saltmarsh, the Snapping Line, how to go about procuring some whores?

Again, let’s just take a moment- the Snapping Line Inn, which Newt has been to once or twice previously, is upmarket- the best in town, and family-orientated. So, the warlock seeking hookers asks no-one else in town, just Hannah the owner of the Snapping Line.

She’s really not impressed with the tabaxi, but after a bit of persuasion (and RP accompanied by a great check) she eventually shoos him towards the docks, although she is aghast and… just massively uncomfortable.

His next question for Hannah, do you want to come to my party?

Then to the docks.

Newt hires five hookers, although even that proves to be pretty creepy, scratch that- incredibly creepy.

The ladies of the night are not for touching, just eye-candy for the party, note this event happens just after the Bird family accept their invitation. The Bird family are devout church goers, they’re like a puritan version of the Vonn Trapp family- they do hymns.

So, hookers and the salvation army- check.

But it goes on, there’s more of this- lots of this, until the DM is going barmy, but still just playing along and not saying anything.

Vinnie eventually comes around to the idea and starts making herbal cocktails for the party.

So, the day before the party and the invites are all back (or most of them)- twenty-two folk have confirmed that they will be attending, although the Bird family account for ten of the attendees.

Also attending are a pair of dwarves that work at the mining headquarters in Saltmarsh, a pair of Saltmarsh guardsmen (Cannon & Ball) that Ram has been drinking with twice (well done, that worked), Winston- the general store owner (invited by Buggles), and Golf Kindle who just happens to be in town.

So, here’s what pissed me off- we’ve done Downtime before. It’s a way for some of the PCs to make a lot of checks- find out info, and not have to a lot of roleplay, which some of the guys don’t care for (at times).

I’d kept the Dark Squad out of Saltmarsh for a good long while, until I was absolutely ready for them- NPCs, plot, new quests, all ready to roll.

Not one question got asked.

Eight skill checks for the entire evening-
Newt Persuaded a dwarf with a wagon to take them to Saltmarsh.
Newt used Handle Animal to attempt to ride Gerald.
Newt Persuaded Hannah to point him towards the hookers.
Newt Persuaded two hookers to come to the party.
Newt Persuaded another hooker to come to the party.
Newt Persuaded another two hookers to come to the party.
Vinnie made herbal cocktails for the party.
Newt used Handle Animal to make Gerald stand still while he was measured for his saddle.

They never mentioned the plot, or any of the places or people they are looking for.

They spoke to nobody.

And I was absolutely dying to reveal to them all my hard work.

They were making each other laugh, but not me.

So, after the session there was a little more discussion about the above.

Oh, very last bit- Vinnie, later in the piece started de-coding the VH Campaign Diary that the PCs found inside the chest of holding, back in the Underdark.

Here’s what they discovered, note the book this information comes from is sodden- torn in places, stained and otherwise ill-used. It has blood on it. Also, every entry is written in code, these then are the translations-
VH Campaign Diary #01 (20).jpg

VH Campaign Diary #02 (22).jpg

VH Campaign Diary #03 (27).jpg

VH Campaign Diary #04 (28).jpg

VH Campaign Diary #05 (16).jpg


VH Campaign Diary #06 (12).jpg

VH Campaign Diary #07 (8).jpg

VH Campaign Diary #08 (7).jpg

VH Campaign Diary #09 (8).jpg

VH Campaign Diary #10 (18).jpg

VH Campaign Diary #11 (16).jpg

VH Campaign Diary #12 (14).jpg


The Dark Squad are, obviously, keen to get more of this de-coded.

Note, Newt said- they're talking about us at entry 8 above, he was shot down by his comrades immediately.

But by the end...

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
The Twilight Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #044 Boomtime for the Kobolds.

The Twilight Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Grumpy Slagg (played by Kev) Male Dwarf Monk Lvl 1
Halibert Shambles (played by Bear) Male Human Fighter Lvl 1
Porthole Slagg (played by Haggis) Male Dwarf Barbarian Lvl 1

NPCs
Nancy Female Human Cleric of the Sea (Poseidon & Umberlee) Lvl 1

NPC Hireling
Cuthbert Tetley Male Human Goxhill Militiaman (Guard)


This is session 44, and don’t ask me how this happened but sometime towards the end of the last session, well before I’d started moaning to/about the players, well... we decided to play The Twilight Squad.

Twilight Squad 1.01.jpg


Just to remind you The Twilight Squad we’re put together by Buggles, the wood elf hired Halibert Shambles, a warehouse worker from Saltmarsh, ostensibly the young lad was to be his squire. At the same time the Dark Squad were working with Grumpy & Porthole Slagg, two (very) surly dwarf miners from Farhill.

See sessions 33b to 37a, Saltmarsh and Back with the Slaggs, for the full story.

So, at some point during these sessions Buggles convinced Halibert, and then Grumpy & Porthole to take up the adventuring life, Halibert even convinced his would-be girlfriend, Nancy to join the gang.

And thus the Twilight Squad were born, and told (by Buggles) to head to Goxhill, a village maybe eight miles from Saltmarsh, and once there… to seek adventure.

Note, Buggles had no idea what exists at Goxhill, he just saw the name on the map.

So, that’s what the newly formed Twilight Squad do.

The eight mile trudge to Goxhill serves as time for introductions, because although the various NPCs turned PCs have met- the pairings (Halibert & Nancy vs Grumpy & Porthole) have never really been introduced to each other.

As it turns out Halibert is a chancer, and voiced by Bear as a squeaky cockney- dogs howl when he pronounces. Nancy (voiced by the DM) has a similar accent, although without the squeak, she tries (every now and then) to sound posher than she is, like a ‘lady’. Grumpy & Porthole are less chatty, their voices quickly settle into some gruff dwarven version of the Kray twins, or at least how you would imagine a pair of east end gangsters to sound.

[Halibert’s voice 20 XP]

Halibert takes charge of the adventurers, when he can, he’s remarkably chirpy and throughout what follows refers endlessly to his experiences with the Dark Squad. At several points during the adventure Halibert wonders aloud- “What would Buggles/Newt do in this situation?” The answer, inevitably, is ‘kill ‘em all!”

Halibert, played by Bear, does funny.

Grumpy is more polite than Porthole, the latter being quite sweary- although very quiet with it. The pair call each other ‘Bruv’, and they constantly refer to their ‘Old Ma’ throughout their various speeches. The Slagg’s mother, it seems, was a sturdy woman with a healthy disregard for morality and ethics.

The Slaggs, played by Jim & Kev, also do funny.

[Meet the PCs 20 XP]

So, to Goxhill- a two bit village with a mine.

4401.jpg

“Mine, call that a mine! Old Ma ‘ad a bigger ‘ole than that!” Porthole sneers.

The Twilight Squad visit the Last Barrel, sink a few beers and chat with whoever’s available- they’re looking for something to do, adventuring and the like. There are lots of complaints and moans from the present off-shift miners, mainly stories about new money- investors are coming from one of the big cities to buy out the mine. The miners are fretting, and then happy, and then fretting again- all in short order. Goxhill, like Saltmarsh, is also in flux- things are changing, at least that’s the rumour.

But, the Twilight Squad don’t much care about this, and I’m only mentioning it here because its plot.

They are therefore eventually directed to Larg Neverstay, the head of the Goxhill Watch- actually, he’s the only paid member of the Goxhill Watch. Larg’s an old man, his job these days is to sit atop the Goxhill Watch Tower (an ancient windmill that has lost its sails) and, well… watch.

Larg however has a task for the Twilight Squad, or else he’s heard reports of a bunch of creatures he refers to as little-dragon-man (later identified as Kobolds) whose activity has been noted by farmers hereabouts. He doesn’t know where the creatures are laired, but best guess somewhere to the south west, along a line of bluffs which curves toward the river. The area is dotted with copses and stands of trees, an ideal spot for a lair of the “pesky little buggers!”

After some excellent haggling a price is agreed, for every severed kobold hand returned to Larg he will pay eight silver coins. So, this is a slayers quest, and time to unwind for the players- or else time for a TPK, we’ll see.

That’s as complicated as this one’s going to get.

The Twilight Squad however decide that they want a little back up, and so after a trip to Red’s, the general store- for rations and torches, it’s back to the bar to see if they can hire an extra body. There follows some complex cost calculations, this in order to discern which of the three available hireling options is the cheapest. For hire are- a militiaman (with all his own armour), a hefty miner/brawler (with his own club), and/or a local woodsman/ranger (with lots of her own gear).

Cuthbert Tetley is hired, he’s the militiaman, and by far the most economical of the three.

[Cuthbert is hired 30 XP]

The DM is therefore voicing Cuthbert, I do the best I can to mimic Halibert’s squeaky cockney (but get nowhere close- I have a drill sergeants voice). Cuthbert, having attempted to steal Halibert’s voice, also attempts to impress/steal Halibert’s girlfriend- Nancy, during the course of the adventure.

Therefore, after a night sleeping on the floor of the Last Barrel, the Twilight Squad and Cuthbert, rise and shine early- get breakfast and then head off into the wilds. Although it’s not that wild, the adventurers however spend the entire day chasing their tails. There are a few signs of the small humanoids in the area, but none of the trails they find seem to lead to anywhere significant. Although a much-used trail is found later on in the day, and will be taken up again in the morning.

So, a night out in the wilds- but with no untoward encounters, and then they’re back on the track in the morning.

Success!

The Twilight Squad arrive, still early morning, at what looks to be an old mine shaft in the bluffs Larg directed them to previously. The mine opening is screened by a stand of tall trees. The giveaway however is the fact that there are a number of yapping and chirruping kobolds, very obviously on ‘watch’ in the locale- most of them in the trees.

4402.jpg

Kobolds!

Note, Nancy instigated a comprehensive Monster Knowledge style chat about kobolds earlier in the piece, the Twilight Squad know that the little buggers are less at home out in the sunlight. Nancy further insists, once the kobolds are found, that there’s a plan- do they want to stop the guards from re-entering the mine and alerting their comrades?

Yes, is the obvious answer- but how?

Halibert in the end takes charge of the situation.

“Oh. Yer so manly Halibert.” Nancy swoons.

Cuthbert takes notice.

Cuthbert & Porthole will be sent forward to cover/block the mine entrance, while the rest of the Twilight Squad unleash missile-fire heck on the kobolds (poorly) hidden in the trees and bushes in the area.

That’s Halibert’s plan, and it gets the nod- approved.

Oh. But just to say ahead of time, I have given each of the members of the Twilight Squad a little something extra, a secret weapon- if you will, and with express instructions not to tell their comrades-in-arms what special weapon they’ve got.

You’ll see.

So, we get to fighting, and the first kill comes courtesy of the hireling- Cuthbert, the young militiaman races towards the mine entrance- en route he flings one of his spears and skewers a kobold perched in the branches of a tree which extends above the dark opening to the lair.

“Check me out, gel!”

The young militiaman ends his turn by looking buff and flexing in Nancy’s direction.

Porthole follows him in, the dwarf flings out a hand axe en route, and another kobold cops it- and comes tumbling out of the same tree, dead.

Halibert, with his longbow, shoots- Crits, and kills another (after a miss- inspiration point to roll again- he didn’t want to look bad in front of Nancy), while Nancy herself wounds another kobold with her crossbow.

Remarkably Halibert’s plan works- Porthole and Cuthbert are positioned at the entrance to the mine, any kobold wanting to warn its chums within will need to get through this pair.

A kobold situated in the branches of the tree that arches up and over the mine entrance bungees down and Tarzan-like swings into Porthole & Cuthbert. The kobold is armed with a spear- but alas it misses it’s swing-attack, and then on the backswing is cut clean in two by a now raging Porthole.

Grumpy, with his crossbow, shoots another kobold hidden (it thinks) in a nearby bush- dead.

Yet another kobold attempts a bungee spear attack, only it doesn’t go so well- the vine/liana it is tied to snaps rather than springs, and leaves the small humanoid badly wounded and sprawled before Cuthbert & Porthole.

Sling bullets clatter into the clearing before the mine entrance, Porthole takes one to the head.

“Don’t ‘urt.” He mutters, and punches the spot the rock landed- seconds later he and Cuthbert slice the sprawled kobold before them dead.

There are only three kobolds left in the fight, two in the trees- both, moments later, are sniped to death by Halibert and Grumpy, respectively. While the last enemy attempts to flee the scene- but that doesn’t happen, a raging Porthole lights out after the terrified kobold and soon after buries a hand axe in its back.

Porthole doesn’t stop chopping until the ‘yellow’ kobold is paste.

[Kobold guards taken care of 200 XP]

A few minutes later, after the dead kobolds have been searched (a few coppers and silvers each) and then butchered for their hands, the Twilight Squad creep- as best they can, into the mine.

Porthole and Grumpy (with darkvision) sneak a little ahead, there are a number of kobolds scrabbling on the floor beyond a T-junction, they look to be gambling- although there’s also a lot of squabbling going on. None of the kobold guards here are paying any attention, confident that the watchers outside of the lair will raise the alarm.

4403.jpg

Ignore the dead Kobold bottom right- no idea how he got there.

The two dwarves close in but alas Porthole finds a pit trap the hard way, although the nasty dwarf reacts with lightning speed (and a ‘20’) and dives over the pit before it yawns.

Note, Porthole has had a light spell cast on his battleaxe (by Nancy) although the weapon is covered until he leaps into the attack.

Cuthbert, the militiaman, comes rushing over to help- he leaps the now open pit, and spears a surprised kobold dead.

Grumpy caves in the head of the nearest kobold to him with his staff, and then chops another in the throat- the creature is left sprawled on the floor and choking for breath (and on 1 HP).

Halibert also leaps the pit and then charges in longsword drawn- and yet another kobold dies, Porthole- with his battleaxe, accounts for yet another. There are only two of the screeching terrified humanoids left alive.

The sprawled heavily wounded kobold is bathed in watery-blue (sacred) flames by Nancy- it expires with a hiss. While the last gets its head caved in by Grumpy.

The fight’s over.

Only, “Rats!” Cuthbert shouts, and sure enough- scurrying down the western passage towards the junction are a trio of giant snuffling and snarling giant rats, drawn to the sound of the pit trap, perhaps.

4404.jpg

RATS! And that far one is a big 'un!

Halibert and Porthole both leap over the pit and charge to meet them- cutting the first two of the vermin down. The passage ahead opens into a low ceilinged and very stinky cavern, in the middle of which is a morass of filth and excrement, and worse.

There are more giant rats in the low cavern, and the walls of the place are riddled with rat holes, this is obviously their lair.

Nancy burns a giant rat dead with her sacred flames, while Grumpy takes another out with his crossbow.

But the vermin keep spewing out of their burrows, rushing towards the Twilight Squad- Halibert and Porthole keep them at bay, and cut another pair of giant rats down.

The PCs keep attacking, and mostly they keep on hitting- but some of the giant rats have enough hit points to survive a stab or a slice, and they keep on coming- soon after there are more giant rats than adventurers in the low-ceilinged stinky cavern.

Porthole gets bitten- twice, the dwarf is left critically wounded, he has to use an inspiration point to trigger a healing surge (his healing HD, allowed by the kindly DM in low level play).

Halibert cuts another giant rat down with his longsword, Porthole repeats the trick with his battleaxe.

Cuthbert Tetley is beginning to panic, he’s not landed a hit yet, he’s even stopped calling for Nancy to admire his work.

Nancy’s sacred flame burns another giant rat dead- a smoking corpse, while Grumpy splats another with his staff, but then moments later gets bitten for his troubles.

Porthole ends yet another, but still the giant rats come, several more of them emerging from holes behind the Twilight Squad.

4405.jpg

"I'll save yers Nancy, darlin", Halibert & Cuthbert call out in chorus.

Nancy calls for help- Halibert (& Cuthbert) are trying their best to assist her, but Cuthbert still hasn’t managed to land a hit.

Porthole smashes a giant rat down, it’s the only hit (rats and adventurers) in an entire turn’s worth of action- that’s ten to hit rolls.

Cuthbert gets savaged by a giant rat, and the militiaman is left screaming.

“’Elp me ‘alibert! ‘Elp me! Please!”
“Ger’a grip on yerself Cuthbert!” Halibert shouts back.

While Porthole growls- “Grow some balls, lad!”

Although seconds later Porthole is bitten again, the dwarf doesn’t back down but does some grumbling of his own.

But Cuthbert’s nerves are shattered, he flees the fight, and triggers three opportunity attacks- he doesn’t get far. The Goxhill militiaman gets bitten twice more, and is left sprawled in the mirk- and dying (one failed Death Save will be enough to kill Cuthbert).

Nancy smashes a rat dead with her mace, the vermin are in too close for her to use her spells.

Halibert manoeuvres to stand over the fallen body of Cuthbert, but the fighter is swinging and missing repeatedly, he spends his second inspiration point to try and fail to hit again.

Things are getting desperate.

4406.jpg

Halibert straddles Cuthbert's fallen body, he's the hero of the hour, he keeps the Giant Rats at bay. "Oh Halibert, yer soooo very brave!" Nancy cries and then incinerates yet another of the vermin with her Sacred Flames- "Gertcha! Yer filthy bar-steward!" Note the arrival of the big Rat leader.

At which point a much larger giant rat- the brood mare, emerges from her lair and scurries into the fight- this creature has a glistening silver chain wrapped around its abdomen. Alas the beast doesn’t last long- Grumpy thumps it hard with his staff, and moments later Porthole lodges his battleaxe into the great vermin’s brain.

Dead!

The remaining giant rats, on hearing the brood mare’s dying screech, attempt to flee the fight, Grumpy splats another dead, but the rest of the vermin scurry back into their holes.

At which point Cuthbert opens his eyes (after a ‘20’ Death Save).

“Are dey all gone?” He asks.

Followed by, “Can I go ‘ome now?”

Nancy helps out with a little healing as the Twilight Squad get themselves back into fighting shape, and after removing a silver and gem necklace (wrapped tight around the brood mare’s bulbous body) they head back to the dead kobolds and the pit trap.

There are noises echoing down the passages of the old mine, but no sign of any more kobolds.

The Twilight Squad take a minute to search the kobolds here, and then remove their hands- it’s grisly stuff.

“Get the bag, Bruv.” Porthole states.
“Wha’, the ‘andbag?” Grumpy sniggers.
“Good one, Bruv.” Porthole rejoinders.

The gambling kobolds have a little more copper and silver, but not a lot, but keep in mind that three of the four PCs started the adventure with less than 2gp in their pockets.

[Kobold guards and giant rats- lots of them 650 XP]

Grumpy & Porthole lead the way, stealthily forward- there’s another passage to the north, otherwise it’s on to the east- and there’s the flickering flame of a camp fire, and much yapping, shouting and howling coming from this direction.

The two sneaky dwarves discover the large cavern home of the kobold tribe, and there are lots of kobolds in here.

4407.jpg

All of the Kobolds.

DM Interlude- there are forty kobolds in the tribal cavern- although a majority of them (23) are 10 XP non-combatants.

Halibert attempts to sneak forward to join the stealthy dwarves- but that doesn’t work, although only the closest kobold spots the creeping fighter, the small humanoid starts shouting and pointing.

But then, the world ends- at least for a lot of the kobolds.

Grumpy grabs out a black powder horn and flings it into the camp fire in the tribal cavern.

BOOM!

Twenty kobolds are caught in the flaming burst- fourteen of the small humanoids are scorched, blasted, burnt and generally incinerated in the following brief, but very vigorous, conflagration.

“Bluddy ‘eck!” Halibert screeches.

Nancy rushes forward and blasts another screaming kobold dead with her sacred flames.

But respite for the tribe is in short supply.

A grinning Porthole fishes out a small round fist-sized black metal ball, the object has a short length of what looks to be rope poking from a hole in the top of it, a second later a tinderbox sparks, and then the fuse hisses.

“Gertcha!” The surly dwarf grunts and throws the object into the densest clutch of screaming and panicked kobolds.

“Fire in the hole!” Porthole yells, and then sticks his fingers in his ears and crouches- turning away from the chamber ahead. Grumpy mirrors his brother’s actions- while the remainder of the Twilight Squad watch and learn.

BOOOOOM!

A dozen kobolds are caught in the blast, absolutely none of them survive the ordeal- the cavern itself is also transformed, one side of it collapses.

4408.jpg

Kobolds post Boomtime.

The remaining deafened and terrified kobolds mostly scramble to get as far away as they can from the Twilight Squad, although a few of the small fools attempt to fight their way out of the chamber.

Grumpy smashes a kobold down, but gets stabbed for his endeavour.

Halibert decapitates another with his longsword- although the fighter also takes a hit, this time from a sling stone.

Several more of the kobolds rally, the fight to escape the cavern turns into a rumble- Porthole gets stabbed too.

He’s seen enough, the crazy dwarf throws a second bomb into the chamber- the five or so kobolds engaged in the fightback are liberally distributed around the cavern.

Or else bits of them are.

The remaining enemies swiftly surrender, and are ordered- soon after by Halibert (translated by Nancy, she speaks Draconic), to cut of one of their own hands, at which point they will be allowed to exit the lair.

In the meantime Cuthbert, who is still terrified and out of sorts, is sent back to the passage north and told to watch the way. In double quick time the now one-handed kobolds, after also being disarmed and searched for money, are escorted quickly out of the lair and into the light- there are less than ten of them left, eight of them non-combatants.

Halibert gets his second wind, while Grumpy snaffles his healing potion (they have one each, paid for by the Dark Squad) and then spends his last inspiration point to trigger his healing surge.

Note, a vast majority of the exploded kobolds are sans hands, and the adventurers don’t have the time or inclination to search through the filth and viscera here.

[Clearing out the kobold tribe 655 XP]

The Twilight Squad hustle quickly up the northern passage, there’s no chance the kobold’s here have not heard the explosions, and sure enough there are a trio of armoured (chainmail-wearing) kobolds armed with bows waiting for them.

Nancy uses the last of her magic to bless Halibert and the Slaggs.

But the Twilight Squad close in fast- there’s a brief exchange of missile fire, but these three kobolds are tough.

4409.jpg

The Tough Kobolds- Boomtime is coming!

Halibert shoots one, but then gets shot right back.

Porthole goes the direct route, he lobs his third bomb into the much smaller guard chamber.

BOOM!

And that’s all she wrote, all three of the tough kobold defenders are blasted to pieces in an instant.

The Twilight Squad creep forward, and when the smoke clears- over the far side of the cavern is a broken door (destroyed in the last blast), which in itself is odd- someone very important must live in there, and so it proves.

The kobold chief, a huge (over four feet tall) snarling scarred kobold in heavy armour and wielding a battleaxe in two hands- swatting and slicing wildly, comes charging into the fight. The furious foe is accompanied by his hareem, five scantily clad females kobolds armed with a variety of blades.

Halibert screams and points at the onrushing kobold chief.

“This one’s mine, I’ll take the little bastard! Watch this Nancy, gel!”

WHOOSH!

Suddenly a ghost-like massively horned Ram appears before Halibert- the sturdy creature is mid-charge. it blasts forward- smashing into the approaching chief. The heavily armoured kobold chief is flung back and up, and slammed into the far wall of the chamber.

Halibert has a ring of the Ram, and he just used all three charges (6d10 force damage) to smash most of the life out of the kobold chief, the small now mostly broken humanoid goes from full- 32 HP, to just 2 HP in the blink of an eye.

4410.jpg

The Kobold Chief needs healing fast.

Grumpy meantime slams one of the hareem dead with his staff, seconds later another of the screeching females gets to Halibert and stabs the fighter with a Crit, and now he’s heavily wounded.

Moments later and Cuthbert is stabbed too, and the militiaman is back to retreating.

“I’ll watch the rear, ‘alibert?”

Nancy accounts for another of the ferocious hareem with yet more of her sacred flames.

Porthole rages, and cuts another of the hareem down, while the kobold chief levers himself to his feet and then rushes back through the broken doorway and into the chamber beyond, and out of sight.

Halibert cuts yet another member of the kobold hareem down, then Grumpy follows suit, that’s the last- there’s just the chief left.

Porthole rushes on and into the chief’s chamber- a junk store full of tat and dirt, the kobold chief is over the far side of the cavern, and has just finished swigging down a potion flask- healing, no doubt. The kobold is reaching for another.

Porthole flings a hand axe into the chief’s back, but it’s not enough- the kobold chief growls and grabs for the last healing flask.

Halibert rushes past the dwarf at the door, screaming- “ger’a load of this ya little bar-steward”, and finishes the job, burying his longsword in (and all the way through) the chief’s back.

Dead.

The fighting is done, the kobold’s are dead and their lair cleared, and the session is almost over.

More treasure is found in the chief’s lair- including a slew of gold coins, by which I mean just over fifty. Also, the chief has a beautiful black ruby set on a silver chain, later the Dark Squad discover this is an expensive piece of jewellery. They eventually sell it to the mine owner, back in Goxhill, for 900 gold coins.

[Kobold chief, toughs and the hareem 475 XP]

The chief’s last unused healing potion is taken by Grumpy, who used the one he had earlier, and then the time is taken for a thorough search- and another chest and more coin found. Then the collecting of more kobold hands- they have 65 of these in total.

After an hour or two to rest the Twilight Squad head back to Goxhill, they get to the village in last light of day, and head straight to the bar to share their tale of adventure with the folk to be found there.

The Twilight Squad get the drinks in.

Three cheers for the Twilight Squad!

That was a great release, down and dirty and just a hoot to play- and with bombs, and black powder, and Halibert’s ring of the Ram.

Note, Nancy has a secret weapon but she didn’t need to use it, so we’ll keep her secret safe for a little while longer.

Note, there’s no plans to play the Twilight Squad again any time in the future, however I’ll stat up another adventure for the guys (soon after) and should the opportunity arise, for whatever reason (we’ve had a chat about this) then they’ll no doubt make another appearance.

Oh. The PCs required 400 XP to get to level 2, they totalled 411 XP each for this adventure, so- they’re all level 2 now.

Next session however- it’s the Dark Squad all the way, and party time in Saltmarsh.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

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