• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

The Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh #137 Into the Mere of the Dead Men Part 2.


Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #032 Vinnie, Corner Stone of the Dark Squad.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Buggles (played by Stu) Male Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 2/Rogue Lvl 3
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 5
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 5
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 5

Daktari Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 5
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 32, and it was a cooker- hot, hot, hot.

I called time on the game at just after 11 PM but the players were still yabbering on, “do you remember when…”, nearly thirty minutes later. So, it kinda very mostly worked.

Here goes…

Last we left the Dark Squad they were in an ancient ruined temple of Abbathor (evil dwarven god of greed) and down in watery, ancient and zombie-infested crypt. The PCs are working for Bang & Olafsson, a pair of dwarven engineers wanted back ‘as soon as’ to Farhill mine. The deal is a 50/50 split on all that the Dark Squad find here, and then B&O will gladly accompany the fellers back to Farhill and Manistrad Copperlocks.

Vinnie however, had just picked up a (terrible &) magical holy symbol of Abbathor, and after being charmed/confused by the device had also swiftly come to the conclusion that his (former) companions were trying to take his new ‘preshus/precious” from him.

The druid therefore departed the central chamber of the crypt- wading through the foul water and making for the exit, and at speed- snarling at his former comrades as he went. Alas at this point about a dozen or so skeletons rose up from the water- and the associated debris that dots the dungeon hereabouts, it seems the undead are less keen that the artifact should be allowed to leave.

So, let’s roll initiative.

Guess what, Vinnie’s first, but the Abbathor holy symbol is still messing with his head- the druid is going nowhere this turn- he’s subject to a confusion spell atm. That said, the druid then throws off the device’s effect, he’s cured, and so end his turn shouting at his friends.

“I am back mes amis, the strange symbol scrambled my brain… but I ‘av overcome itz evil magique.”

But then the skeletons get into it- Newt gets sliced, but Daktari gets stabbed and shot with alarming regularity- I mean just lotz and lotz.


Daktari wins the popularity contest, note the door to the north of him is only one of two in the entire complex that is still stuck shut. Which proves to be very handy for the Dark Squad.

My zombie/skeleton dice have just been on fire in this one, I appreciate they’re only cuts and bruises but I’m doing it…

Note, Buggles’ first attack rolls of the session are- ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’- alas not in that order, spoil sport. For a short while the wood elf’s to hit dice are broken (and therefore a subject of great mirth for his fellow players). A very short while later he manages to roll three ‘2’s in a row, and one of those required an inspiration point to conjure.

Stu, playing Buggles, briefly goes swearnova.

But the skeletons are just skeletons- nothing to be feared. Vinnie is smushing them with his shillelagh, Daktari is raging- and smashing the undead bastards down (but alas the barbarian is also very quickly bloodied), while Newt is blasting, and Ramshambow (armed with Deadend, his undead bane rapier) is also accounting for the forlorn skellies.

The PCs manoeuvre to set up a killing zone, but the skeletons just keep on coming.

Note there are actually twenty something skeletons scattered throughout the crypt complex, the trap has been sprung and they’re now all heading at speed towards the PCs. Their progress has been made real easy because the Dark Squad have opened up more or less every door in this place. If they hadn’t have done this then the skeletons would have had to do it for themselves (and remember the portals were hard to shift), so- thanks again guys for splitting up the party.

Daktari takes lots more hits- the raging barbarian is soon after down to maybe 15 hit points, and fleeing to take cover behind his friends- that hasn’t happened before, his rage however is spent- and now he’s also exhausted.

At which point a ghostly spectral dwarf suddenly materialises in the middle of the central chamber and attempts to throttle Newt (but fails with a ‘1’), and all the while its screaming-

“I am Ratchit Goldfinger- too late, this will be your TOMB!” Only in dwarven, which only Vinnie understands.

Note the Dark Squad found Ratchit’s tomb back upstairs, they disarmed the traps on it and robbed the ancient dead priest of Abbathor of all of his treasure.

So, Goldfinger isn’t happy.

The spectral creature swipes ineffectively at Newt and then floats off through the nearest wall, still screaming its threats.

Newt settles himself again and then flings a fireball into the largest concentration of skeletons, destroying eight of the undead warriors in an instant, and also singeing Daktari a little.


After the Fireball, a mixed media (although predominantly flame-based) art installation by Newt.

The tabaxi starts screaming and caterwauling-

“I pledge the departed souls of these foes to Lord Far-Fer-Nar!” He yowls.

“They’re undead- they don’t have souls.” Buggles is quick with the riposte.

“Oh! Yeah, I guess…”, is about the best that Newt has by way of a counter.

Then a second spectral dwarf appears and attempts to throttle Daktari, alas it fails to do so- and so heads for the nearest wall- keen to get away, the barbarian however cuts it as it departs.

The second dwarven spectre is also shouting-

“I am Klug Finderskeepers- this is your END!” And again, in dwarven.

Note Klug’s tomb was also located up above, and also emptied of its treasure by the PCs.

So, here’s a thing- only Vinnie can understand the dwarven tongue, and so only he gets a translation in Fantasy Grounds of Klug’s (and Ratchit’s) ravings.

Likewise the spectres’ tokens on Fantasy Grounds are simply titled- “Unidentified Creature”, that’s all the players can see.

Therefore the PCs, including Vinnie, believe (for ages) that there is only one dwarven spectre present, although they don’t actually identify the undead monstrosity- they think the spectral dwarf is a wraith.

Vinnie just didn’t notice that there were two different names being yelled.

And keep in mind, the spectres float through the walls- swipe at an adventurer, and then… depart the same way- taking a few AoO’s as they go, but I’m fine with that- my job is to frustrate the heck out of ‘em.

It worked- big time.

Although, some point soon after Vinnie fills the central chamber with his spike growth spell.


Tough on the skellies trying to make their way through the spike growth.

So, more skeletons are turning up all the while, but only in ones and twos, but the PCs have bought themselves a little time. There’s a lot of shouting this session-

“WE SHOULD FLEE THIS PLACE- TO THE STAIRS!” Buggles yells, and then as good as his word heads for the exit, with Ram in his shadow.

However Newt and Vinnie are much less certain.

“WE SHUD HOLD ZEM ERE!” Or some such, the druid screams.

So, the rogues are heading for out, while the others are trying to hold the line.

The skeletons keep showing up, but they’re really not the problem- the problem is the spectres that keep appearing through random walls and attacking with surprise.

Newt gets clawed by one of the ghostly dwarves, and the fiend’s necrotic energies also reduce the tabaxi’s hit point maximum, so he suddenly goes from more or less full, to just 8 HP left in an instant.

The tabaxi changes his votes to flee, it’s not a consensus but we have a majority.

More skeletons get slaughtered- courtesy of the spike growth and Newt’s continued fiery blasts.

Daktari meantime is swigging healing potions.

“I am, how you say- cream-crackered.” Rhyming slang for knackered, only the barbarian delivers the line in his thick cod-Russian accent.

The rogues meantime, after wading again through the foul water, have just made it to the exit and are about to announce their discovery, when…

Vinnie’s sending stone starts bleeping- he’s got a text message from Bang & Olafsson back up top-

“Lots of moving stone sounds- both entrances sealed. Statues have disappeared into ground- coming your way? Will work on opening entrances. You okay down there?”

Vinnie shares some (but for some reason not all) of B&Os message with his comrades, which also leads to a little more confusion later on.

While Ram and Buggles let their fellows know that indeed- the way up and out of the crypt is sealed.


I believe quite a few folk shouted this at the time.

Then, right on cue, a stone cursed dwarf (one of the Abbathor style masked dwarf statues from up above) steps out of the wall (they have stone glide) and tears Vinnie a new one. He’s bloodied in an instant, and restrained- big time, the druid’s feet are now encased in solid stone.


A stone cursed dwarf prevents the druid's progress.

The word above- the one with the two stars (like this **) well, that gets repeated quite a lot, and not just here and now- throughout much of that which follows.

Oh, and Vinnie is way beyond bloodied already.

Oh, and his spike growth has just stopped working- seems his concentration is dashed.

What a terrible shame.

Then a second stone cursed dwarf steps out of a wall and fails to repeat the trick with Newt, the tabaxi however is on form- two Belphegor’s fiery blasts later (the first a crit) and the second walking statue is no more- reduced to a heap of rubble on the floor.

Note, like the spectres the stone cursed dwarves have one tactic- step out of the wall, claw and restrain, then step back into the stone’s embrace.

It is most annoying- just ask any of the players.

More skeletons are coming (although not many) but there’s no more spike growth to be had, and so Daktari has to keep the undead at bay.

Newt gets clawed by a dwarven spectre, remarkably he survives the ordeal- the tabaxi is however almost unconscious. Moments later the same can be said for Ram (who like Newt has now got a much reduced HP maximum- spectres man, they’re nothing but trouble).

I think pretty much everyone was panicking a little at this point. I mean the players, not I.

Vinnie drops a third level cure wounds on himself, just so he can survive another turn- his words.

Ram and Buggles kill the very last of the dwarven skeletons, while Newt does the best he can to run somewhere that is safe… he doesn’t get far as yet another stone cursed dwarf steps out of a nearby wall and claws the tabaxi into oblivion.

[Well, at least the skeletons have been destroyed 1000 XP]

Newt falls unconscious- he’s dying, and drowning, as he’s now submerged in three feet of mirky water, however Daktari accounts for the spot and seconds later strides over and drags the warlock back onto dry land. Moments later Ram gets to Newt with a healing potion- but only after the tabaxi has failed his first death save.

The immobilised Vinnie manages to bludgeon an attacking stone cursed dwarf to death (actually to rubble) with his shillelagh.

That’s the secret- the statues are vulnerable to bludgeoning, but resistant to all other forms of weapon damage.

If only one of the PCs had spotted that at the time, no matter- Vinnie is the only PC with a bludgeoning weapon.

Buggles who has so far lead a charmed life in this fight, he’s the only member of the Dark Squad not bloodied (atm)- too soon, yet another stone cursed dwarf steps out of a wall and crits the wood elf (for 25 damage) and now he’s possibly the most badly injured.

Note, there are only two spectres and three stone cursed dwarves in the fight atm.

If the PCs had taken a moment to remember, or just looked on the map of the upper level of this dungeon they would have noted that there are seven stone dwarf statues, and as Bang & Olafsson said- they have all disappeared into the stone.

So, there’s still a couple more to get into the fight, I unleashed them one by one into the combat- which I thought was pretty nice of me.

To be honest at this point the PCs/players had no idea how many of the stone cursed dwarves they had defeated, and therefore no idea how many more are left to come. At this point they still hadn’t worked out that there are actually two spectres.

Note the stone cursed dwarves have great ACs- 18, resistance to slashing and piercing, but vulnerability to bludgeoning and only 25 or so HP each.

Also note all of the enemies always disappear back the way they came- i.e. back into the stone walls on every turn. Thus leaving the PCs with just two options, they can move- of course, but then the only other choice they have is whether to ready an action, or else to swig down another healing potion (or similar).

Vinnie gets slashed horribly by a spectre, and now he’s back to being very bloodied again. The druid therefore wildshapes into… actually he runs through a list of suggestions before finally settling on a crab.

Not a giant crab you understand- the druid turns into a very small crustacean, the plan is to hide for as long as he can, in three feet of murky water. Alas he can’t sidle away from the spot he’s presently in because his stone encased little legs prevent movement.


Vincen T(iny) Crab.

I don’t think that plan went quite as well as Vinnie intended.

[Vincen T(iny) Crab, just because it was so funny/daft 250 XP]

Newt, Ram and Buggles snaffle down potions of healing while watching the walls.

A stone cursed dwarf briefly appears and turns its attentions to Gwen, Buggles’ skeleton friend- and seconds later she too is destroyed.


The rogues making for the exit, Gwen has just been totalled by another stone cursed dwarf.

Then Vinnie is suddenly Vinnie again, the crab thing just wasn’t working out- he’s still restrained of course, and there are still no enemies to be seen.

Therefore after delivering a long speech attempting to explain his crab mis-shape, and after then reaffirming his desire to face the enemy like a man- the druid has his shillelagh back in hand. He then manages to do two marvellous things.

One- to smash down another of the stone cursed dwarves when it lurches out of a nearby wall and at the restrained druid.

Bludgeoning damage FTW.

Two- to throw the Abbathor holy symbol (that started all of this) back into the central chamber of the crypt, and all the way to Newt’s feet. Then to scream at the tabaxi to put the cursed thing back in the spot they first saw it.

[Vinnie saves the day 500 XP]

However, mere seconds later Vinnie fails another saving throw and his rictus grin is etched on his fizzog forever, permanent-like, he’s turned to stone.

James, formerly playing Vinnie, now takes on the mantle of Daktari.

Damn his eyes, he’s even better at the cod-Russian accent than me.

Newt blasts and kills a spectre as it steps from the wall before him- there is much cheering.

You’ll note that’s the first ‘cheer’ of the session.

A turn later and the bloody tabaxi repeats the trick, blasting the second spectre into oblivion.

[Dwarven spectres despatched 400 XP]

Note the rogues are hitting plenty but their weapon attacks are doing much reduced damage, they’re also taking hits here and there- but miraculously passing all of their saves.

Then the sudden realisation, the stone cursed dwarves are no-longer attacking.

Cautiously, still creeping around a bit- Newt drops the holy symbol of Abbathor back on the floor (using a mage hand), and then with his comrades, and now lugging a 400 lb statue of a grinning portly druid the group (eventually) head back up the stairs and out of the crypt. This after they hear Bang & Olafsson shouting down from above- the way out is open again.

[Retreat, retreat 250 XP]

That was… I honestly don’t think I know the word.

Sometimes you kinda think as a DM, I sure am glad I’m not a player- can you imagine the terror these poor fools go through, all in the name of what… adventure?

I send the players on a ten minute break, to let them empty their bladders and to consider what has come to pass.

Actually my brother paid me/us (the game) a great compliment after this session was done, he said- “when you sent us on the break, I realised that I didn’t even mind if Ram died, as long as we could just keep on playing.”

I heart my bro, as it turns out.


Then with statue Vinnie parked in the corner and out the way Newt fires up his Leomund’s Tiny Hut and the Dark Squad scuttle inside for a short rest, and to discuss with Bang & Olafsson the events of the morning.

Actually, I think the discussion was entitled “WTF is going on here?”

So, much chatter (and the spending of healing HD), the talk encompasses the following facts-

1) The stone cursed dwarves are something Newt knows about, stories of his parents from their time back in Chult. They are in fact living dwarves that have been cursed to occupy their present state. A state, the tabaxi makes clear, that they wish to share with others. The members of the Dark Squad turn, as one, to look at statue Vinnie.

2) Next up, the stone cursed dwarves- Newt is certain, now that he has wracked his big brain, and also made a great monster knowledge check (‘20’), are vulnerable to bludgeoning damage etc.- see above.

3) Next a brief examination of the treasure they’ve found in the crypt down below, so far- which is worth pretty much nada. However the Dark Squad reason- if they don’t touch/move the Abbathor holy symbol they can head back below and search the rest of the dungeon thoroughly.

4) Last bit of the discussion- do we want to head back below? Furthermore, do the Dark Squad want to steal the Abbathor holy symbol- but again, they’re smart people, the answer is obviously to head back down and examine the piece, without touching it. Now that they’re healed to mostly max.

[More chatter and at last a method to the madness 500 XP]

This time however they’re taking Bang & Olafsson with them, and they’re scouring the forest beyond the ruins for club-shaped fallen branches.

Then… we go again, and once they have the answer then it’s an anti-climax, but y’know- the players bloody loved it because they won (damn them to heck) and smushed all of my bad guys- dead.

So, the Dark Squad head back through the crypt searching as they go- everything, everywhere- and thoroughly. There’s a little treasure to be found- coins, a few gems and other valuable items, even a couple of potions of healing.

But the real treasure is the holy symbol of Abbathor- B&O take a good look at it and the little dagger is most likely platinum and studded with very well-cut precious gems, the dwarves are certain that it’s worth at least 1,000gp.

Newt also takes the time to employ a few of his divination style ritual magics- the thing is indeed an evil trap-triggering holy symbol of Abbathor, but beyond that he doesn’t have a clue. B&O are cautious however, if they’re taking the thing then they’ll be extracting the value from it.

The dwarven engineers are not for selling evil artifacts.

So, decision made- we’re having this.

Newt uses his mage hand to grab the holy symbol up and to move it out of the chamber- smart move, only the Dark Squad and B&O have also positioned themselves in such a way as to prevent the stone cursed dwarves just being able to step in and out of the walls to get at them.

[Evil holy symbol of Abbathor taken 500 XP]


Dark Squad in position- stay away from the walls!

Besides, there are only four enemies left, although the last to arrive is the much larger version of a stone cursed dwarf- the brutish eight foot tall (and wide) statue that was previously clutching the fiery gem back up above.

This guy has a big bag of hit points and a terrifying claw attack.

Daktari however with his newly improvised great club bloodies the thing in a turn, with a Crit- hit combo, the enemies don’t last long, and miraculously the PCs emerge from the fight unscathed.

Then they start cheering.


[Stone cursed dwarves destroyed 1650 XP]

But with that the session comes to an end, more of this kind of thing next time- I would imagine.

Until then stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.

Oh, and they still just need that extended rest for level 6, although Vinnie…

log in or register to remove this ad


So wait, Vinnie is a statue and we have several more of the dwarf statues to defeat if we want to go back and snaffle the artefact again? Maybe if we just position Vinnie at the entrance and activate the statues, they will just gather round him like 'who is this new guy on the block on our turf?' which might distract them for a bit.

Yeah my dice tho... the bad thing about playing on Fantasy Grounds is that you can't put your dice in the freezer the night before a game, to ensure great rolls. I might do it anyway even though we're not rolling actual dice, maybe the magic would still work.


So wait, Vinnie is a statue and we have several more of the dwarf statues to defeat if we want to go back and snaffle the artefact again? Maybe if we just position Vinnie at the entrance and activate the statues, they will just gather round him like 'who is this new guy on the block on our turf?' which might distract them for a bit.

Yeah my dice tho... the bad thing about playing on Fantasy Grounds is that you can't put your dice in the freezer the night before a game, to ensure great rolls. I might do it anyway even though we're not rolling actual dice, maybe the magic would still work.
Didn't you draw the nuclear power symbol-


on your drawstring dice bag?

Was that you Stu, back in the day?

I remember the freezer thing.

Cheers Paul


Yikes, that sounds brutal. I love it!
Yeah, it went down hill rapidly...

Vinnie should get a lot of the credit- he knew he was turning to stone (making saves every turn) and he just figured it- throw the holy symbol back into the original chamber it was first spotted, and suddenly the attacks stopped.

Although it took another turn or two for the PCs to notice that the attacks had actually stopped, because I was taking my time with the bad guys- moving them around through the walls and out of the PCs sight on screen.

The PCs didn't know turn by turn which wall the stone cursed dwarves or the dwarf spectres were going to lurch through and tag them from next.

Much fun.

Still, they made it- and their return visit to the crypt, now armed with bludgeoning weapons, and positioned so that they couldn't get caught... it was a massacre.

All downhill from here, they just need to get Bang & Olafsson home., a walk in the park.

Cheers goonalan


I second that emotion :)
Jim, who plays Vinnie has been on the phone this morning for my version of the Stone Cursed (Dwarves)- he's having them for a game he's DMing.

Once you figure them out- bludgeoning damage only, and stay clear of the walls- then they're easy; but if you don't get there quickly they can be brutal- AC 18, resistance to slash & pierce, and double damage on a surprise hit with added turn to stone.

More of this kind of thing for the guys this evening.

Stay safe.

Cheers goonalan


Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #033a The Leader of the Pack.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Buggles (played by Stu) Male Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 2/Rogue Lvl 3
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 5
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 5
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 5

Daktari Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 5
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 33, or at least the first part of it. It was a good ‘un, but we start as usual with Prophecy Corner, see here for the results of this week’s speculation and chatter.

The Dark Squad are done with the ruined temple/crypt of Abbathor- they’ve robbed it of everything it held, and bested every enemy there, including the terrifying stone cursed dwarves and their spectral cousins. So, now time to get Bang & Olafsson- the would-be explorers, back to Farhill Mine and the matronly embrace (I’m sure) of their boss, Manistrad Copperlocks.

The issue however is the 400+lb statue version of Vinnie, that’s right the druid has been petrified- although the adventurers with a bit of back and forth have figured out the stone-faced druid’s present condition will only last for 24 hours. Vinnie will be back. And so, the issue is how to get the very heavy/awkward statue safe and sound back to Farhill.

Newt suggests to Buggles and company (i.e. everyone that’s not him) that they just somehow ‘knock up some sort of cart’, eventually a stretcher or drag of some sort is decided upon, however the situation very quickly evolves. The wood elf heads out into Farrow Wood to look for suitable materials and hears, well- the sound of yapping dogs (he thinks) approaching, and lots of ‘em.

Buggles retreats back to the ruin interior to tell his colleagues, the Dark Squad make ready for an assault by… well, dogs! Just in case, they’re not quite sure what’s going on here.


Daktari laughs in the face of danger!

But it’s not dogs, it’s hyenas- a pack of the ferocious feral mutts (I know they’re not really mutts/dogs) that snarling rush to savage the Dark Squad. Then things get really weird when the hyena are joined by a number of hunched skeletal (and yet hyena-like) humanoid undead. These foul creatures are quickly identified as being skeletal gnolls, actually gnoll witherlings.


Witherlings- not as pleasant as they look.

Note there are over a dozen hyenas and witherlings combined- it gets busy, particularly for Daktari, being played atm by Jim, who usually mentors Vinnie.

Note, Jim is still better at the barbarian’s cod Russian accent than me.

The fight then is a hold the line special, with two waves of hyenas and witherlings rushing to the assault- note the frontline of the Dark Squad is mostly raging Daktari-shaped, the barbarian takes repeated beatings. However, brave dwarven mining engineer, Ragbark Olafsson (who is also a priest of Dumathoin) stands behind the barbarian, constantly healing his wounds. This while Garvast Bang, engineer- but also former guard captain, sings Dumathoin hymns (like a Bless spell) and holds the line also.


Turn two of the combat and Daktari has gone from pretty much full HP to bloodied, been healed back up- back to bloodied again... and repeat, he's also managed to stop four Crits with his face. It's been a rollercoaster, and you're welcome to him Jim, this is what Daktari is for.

The bad guys founder, and then flounder, and then are swept away almost entirely by a well-placed fireball, thanks Newt.


Apres le Fireball.

But at this point the gnolls have also made it to the fight, and there are over half-a-dozen of them. Most of the frenzied hyena-like humanoids just plunge into the maul and melee, but a pair stay a little way back and chose instead to repeatedly fire arrows into Daktari. The barbarian goes from not bloodied to bloodied, and then back again- maybe four to five times during the course of this fracas.


Gnolls. No respecters of other people's property, or lives.

Worse still at the back of the pack, mostly keeping out of sight- but spotted once or twice, is a seven-and-a-half foot tall more elaborately dressed gnoll, with all manner of totems and symbols about its attire. The calm in comparison pack leader (Lord) barks orders and co-ordinates the savagery. It’s gargled howls and growls also cause the pack to rampage- and tear and bite some more at Daktari- the barbarian takes a ton of damage in this fight. If it wasn’t for his rage he’d be down and dying- I had four Crits against him in the opening two turns of the melee, although keep in mind I made nearly 30 attacks on the hefty barbarian.

My dice- on fire, again.

Just to say while all this is going on Newt, the crazy tabaxi, is hollering and hooting- offering up repeatedly the fallen souls of the pack to his latest fiendish squeeze/patron, Lord Far-Fer-Nar. His colleagues are however pointing out, repeatedly (yes, you Buggles) that the warlock is continuing to send his new master ‘empty boxes’, a large number of Newt’s victims are either undead, or else scabby hyenas…

Lord Far-Fer-Nar demanded ten fresh souls (at least) from Newt before his next visitation (scheduled for session 39, maybe). Just to say Newt/Bear you are only halfway there, you need another five victims (with souls) to make the count. You may have to kill a few more townsfolk…

But, here’s the thing- the rest of the PCs (and NPCs) take a few hits here and there, but the pack is dwindling pretty fast, six turns into the fracas and the two gnolls with bows fire their last volley and then rush back into Farrow Woods, the pack Lord gnoll having already departed the scene.

So, it’s another win- and all of the PCs (and NPCs) make a kill or two, but the Dark Squad have had their feathers ruffled- both fleeing gnoll hunters (the ones with bows) are chased down and slaughtered. Daktari, still raging, turns the one he catches up to into paste.

Buggles leads the gang on again, plunging through Farrow Wood now in pursuit of the pack Lord, and for a while the wood elf manages to keep to the trail, but the gnoll seems to know where it’s going, and what it’s doing. The beast eventually gets away.

[The gnoll pack slaughtered 1800 XP]

Note it’s at this point the PCs make the connection between this attack and the mystery sniper with accompanying giant hyenas they encountered earlier in the woods, on their inbound journey to find Bang & Olafsson.

Should they meet this gnoll again, it is going to die a terrible death, that’s guaranteed.

So, back to the ruins- and after a short debate it’s already mid-afternoon. Daktari is still wounded (as are many of the other PCs & NPCs) he’s also exhausted after an earlier rage/frenzy, Vinnie is a statue (still), while Newt and Ram are also still down on their HP max after the spectre attacks last session.

The decision is therefore made, we’re staying here- in the Leomund’s Tiny Hut (hereafter referred to as the LTH), but in the meantime the Dark Squad get up to a host of activities. First off Buggles and Ram set themselves up as the hidden watchers and take turns keeping their friends safe. Meantime Newt and Daktari give Bang & Olafsson an expansive tour of the crypts below.

[Defensive positions, and guided tour for B&O 250 XP]

Then, later still, the Dark Squad even take the time to chat with B&O, and once again they’re digging for answers- just what is wrong here? What problems need to be solved in the Saltmarsh region?


The Dark Squad and associates kick-back and widdle-some in the LTH.

I’ll not go into too much detail here with regard to the answers that B&O give, but… I will make mention of the cumulative effect at the end of this session’s write up, because this session the Dark Squad ask a variety of dwarves lots and lots of pointed questions.

Good to great detective work guys.

[Chatting with B&O, lots of questions and good insights 600 XP]

So, the next day- after a fitful sleep in the LTH the Dark Squad rise and shine, and are all better again- and Vinnie’s no-longer a statue, the PCs are also level 6 now- hurrah, although it took us thirty or so minutes to make the needed changes (and to discuss).

But the rest of it, and there’s plenty more, will come in the second part of this write up, I’ll see you there.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.


Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #033b Out with the Slaggs.

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

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 33b, the second bit- grab a coffee and settle back because there’s a lot of chatter to be found here, this may only be a short report of events but believe me we went on and on in places.

So, about six hours later- and after a pleasant undisturbed tramp through the undulating spring countryside hereabouts the Dark Squad, with Bang and Olafsson in tow, make it back to Farhill Mine.


Back to Farhill Mine.

[Bang & Olafsson are safely home 500 XP]

The Dark Squad top up their gear- spent ammo etc., while Vinnie spends a little more time chatting to Arty Swell- a gnome alchemist/potion-seller. The druid eventually does a deal with the friendly little fellow to teach him a few more alchemical formulas. Basically, Vinnie orders the necessary equipment and glassware et al from Arty, and then books in for future lessons- good work.

I’m looking for the PCs to figure out some downtime ventures in this section of the campaign, in collusion we have agreed that Saltmarsh is to be the Dark Squad’s new home for the next six months to a year.

[Vinnie and Arty- making potions 100 XP]

Then, with the help of B&O, the gang sell the treasure they found in the crypts of Abbathor, the profits split 50/50 with the dwarves, of course. The engineers are delighted with their half of the haul. While the Dark Squad are effusive in their offer- if B&O ever need any help in the future, just call the Dark Squad.

I don’t know about you but they’re my heroes, and I feel safer already.

[Impress B&O some more 250 XP]

Then a meeting with Manistrad Copperlocks (the boss) and Golf Kindle (her right-hand dwarf)- B&O are safely back to the mine, and four days early. Manistrad is almost polite to the adventurers, and then much more chatter- most of it Dark Squad instigated, they’re still asking questions, and now specifically about the relationship between the dwarves at the mine and the rest of the folk that live in the region. Again, more about this later on.

Eventually Copperlocks offers the Dark Squad another (unpaid) job- a simple job, basically to go and pick up a shipment of mining equipment from Saltmarsh, and bring it back to the mine. It’s a long day- a five-hour cart ride there, and then back again- an hour more to load, at least; and Manistrad wants them back home safe and sound before nightfall- that’s eight bells.

The Dark Squad are up for it, and so a little later head off into the mine camp to find their co-drivers for tomorrow’s journey, a pair of dwarven brothers called Grumpy & Porthole Slagg.

Buggles’ initial enquiries- he wanders down the main road of the mining camp shouting “Anyone seen the Slaggs?”, as loud as he can, are alas met with mostly laughter, but the wood elf is entirely unperturbed.

I thought Vinnie would be up next, the Dark Squad’s ‘grown up’ would simply start up with the chatter and… but, oh no.

Newt approaches one of the dwarf miners laughing at Buggles’ joke and successfully (and surreptitiously) casts suggestion on the rough fellow. Ten or so minutes later and the Dark Squad have been led to a secret shebeen, an illicit storeroom bar on the outskirts of the sprawling settlement.

The suggested dwarf is soon after dismissed, and heads off smiling- glad to have been of help.

[Find the Slaggs 250 XP]

Just to say Newt, I really appreciate you getting so close to the wire but if you’d not made the stealth check to go with the initial casting of the suggestion spell you would, once again, have been in trouble. I just wanted to make that really clear- casting a spell on a semi-surly dwarf miner, while surrounded by lots more of the same- that could have escalated very quickly.

Don’t ever change.

Great work.

Like Buggles said at the time, I think its between you and Vinnie atm for a job on the Saltmarsh Town Council- see later.

So, the Slaggs are located- although the bar falls silent, of course, when the Dark Squad enter, and these dwarves- it soon becomes apparent, are of the old school hillbilly variety- “Dang!” Not at all impressed that their inner sanctum has been invaded by a bunch of… of… well, none of the intruders are dwarves- that’s for sure.


Dwarves in their multitude- Grumpy to the left, Porthole to the right- watch him, and the hill-billy dwarven band in the bar front and centre.

But Ram spends some money- and gets twenty pints in, and Newt plays his lute, and Vinnie is as smooth as silk- with stories of slaughtering orcs and other Dark Squad adventures. Later Ram gets involved in dwarven dancing- mostly headbanging, the pogo & the grapple, but he performs admirably- particularly for a half-elf.

A pleasant afternoon is had by all, although Buggles finds a corner to nestle into- to watch, he however is not unpleasant, which in itself is worth reporting.

[Drinking and chatting with the Slaggs 250 XP]

Again, the PCs, after getting the Slaggs fixed for the job on the morrow also take the time to ask lots of questions, again the results of their interviews will appear towards the end of this session’s write up. It’s enough to say that they (the Dark Squad) are beginning to see the problem here, but… we’ll get to this.

Later still the various members of the Dark Squad are required to take their cart driving test, the Slaggs (for insurance reasons, Grumpy explains) make each of the adventures guide a horse and cart up and down the main thoroughfare of the camp, and with dozens of witnesses laughing at them as they go.

Hang on, it’s a DC 10 Animal Handling check I’m looking for here- and each PC gets three goes at it.

Hardly epic.

The results are in, only Buggles and Newt pass the test, and both of them first time- that’s right, Vinnie the druid- with the highest score in Animal Handling (+4) rolls three 5’s in a row. He’s pissed, although the audience (including his comrades) seem to very much enjoy the moment.

[Cart riding 250 XP]

Then, this is turning into a long day, the Dark Squad get another meeting in with Golf Kindle, and again they have more (follow-up) questions. Particularly as they now have Kindle on his own, without Manistrad. Again, the results of these interviews are to be found towards the end of this write up. The only other point of interest worth sharing is Golf’s warning to the PCs- watch Porthole Slagg like a hawk, he’s a mean conniving bastard. So, worth noting.

Then onwards- always onward, rise and shine early doors the next day- and the Dark Squad are on the road to Saltmarsh, which means just over three hours of beautiful countryside followed by a cart-ride through the centre of Lowden, a small town on the Kingfisher River. The place is on the up-and-up, by which I mean it hosts stone buildings, some with two storeys, including a squat fortified tower, a manor house, and a variety of inns and merchants.


On the road to Saltmarsh with the Slaggs, first stop Lowden.

But here’s the deal, and this is where the big reveal begins- the dwarves Grumpy & Porthole Slagg are not really adept at mixing with folk not of their kind (i.e. non-dwarves). The Dark Squad, and in particular Ram and Vinnie note this- Grumpy is stone-faced, at best, while Porthole snarls at folk. Therefore Ram, and Vinnie, make a real effort to interact with the good folk of Lowden, as they’re passing through, and any other folk they see on the roads. Newt, of course, joins in and gets into it- using a variety of cantrips in his cart-back magic show.

[The Dark Squad entertain, including more chatter with the Slaggs 400 XP]

By the time the two carts exit the settlement there are two dozen children giggling and racing after the adventurers, actually- it’s just Newt they’re enthralled by (not the spell enthralled, although I wouldn’t put it past him). The tabaxi is certainly a strange sight, and his use of magic… he’s a veritable feast for the senses.

The thing is… the thing is… the Dark Squad have figured out what some of the problem here is. Some people in Saltmarsh, and maybe some of the other settlements in the region, do not like the dwarves at Farhill, and for a variety of reasons. To begin with- the mine is doing well now- after a few years in the doldrums. The dwarves are earning, and spending- and some folk (merchants, perhaps even some of the folk in power) are starting to have to deal with the mine, and the dwarves. New opportunities are arising, and lots of folk- particularly those not being included in these opportunities are beginning, perhaps, to feel left out.

Or else they’re (possibly) less than happy with the change in the balance of power in the region. Keep in mind that Gundren Rockseeker, and his Waterdeep and Neverwinter backers, have purchased a place on the Saltmarsh Town Council for the mine, at present taken-up by Manistrad Copperlocks.

Then there’s the dwarves themselves, they’re nice enough, some of them- but they seem insular, set in their ways, and… if Manistrad’s anything to go by, and keep in mind she represents the mine (see above), well- they’re not that friendly.

I’ll not delve too much further because the Dark Squad are just getting into this idea, although they are pretty certain that they need one of their number to step up and take Manistrad’s place on the Saltmarsh Town Council. They’re probably/possibly working towards this.

The mine boss (Manistrad) even hinted at such the last time they met her, and talking to Golf, and Bang, and Olafsson, and the Slaggs- Manistrad, it seems, really isn’t a people person.

Again, Gundren (Rockseeker) also warned the PCs that this might be the case, all the way back in Neverwinter.

But we’ll leave the PCs to run with this one, it needs to be said however that by the time the Dark Squad arrive at Saltmarsh, another two hours later) then Grumpy Slagg is starting to see that he (maybe) could make other choices. His new (Dark Squad) travelling companions have made him smile and grin, and folk- passers-by, seem (a lot of them) to be awfully pleased to see them. Most odd.

Alas, Porthole Slagg, well- he’s a harder nut to crack, although Ramshambow has been trying- keeping up a constant barrage of questions for the full five hours of the journey. I kid you not (this is the DM talking) it was just question after question. Porthole’s replies are short, terse, or else monosyllabic- he’s also very quietly spoken. The rogue concludes, as Saltmarsh fast approaches, that Porthole is a ticking time-bomb.

He’s not a pleasant dwarf.

[More working things out, and an extended chat with Porthole 400 XP]


Saltmarsh hoves into view.

But that’s all we did- although the above encompassed one new metric ton of RP.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
Last edited:

Remove ads