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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 #045 Prawn to be Wild!

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
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.

Lost to the void…
Buggles (played by Stu) Male Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 3/Rogue Lvl 3
Gwen Female Duergar Skeleton, in full-face helm and armour

This is session 45, and it’s party time.

And it was a cracker.

But first up, an explanation- actually not so much an explanation- that’d take too long, a statement.

Buggles (& Gwen) have departed the Dark Squad, simple as- on the morning of the party the wood elf’s room in chez Dark Squad is discovered to be empty. The bed not slept in, where has the crazy bastard gone?

Well, maybe later on in this story we’ll find out.


But it’s party time in chez Dark Squad and the guys have a plan, or at least, well… it starts off with weird (ain’t it always the way with this mob).

Newt calls the guys together in the great hall of their newly rented accommodation and signals that they really do need to chat, to get some ground rules straight for tonight’s main event. The tabaxi warlock is insistent that the other members of the Squad mind their P’s and Q’s this evening, everyone should be on their best behaviour, no tomfoolery- nothing that will sully the Dark Squads good name and reputation.


Chez Dark Squad, dramatically brought to life using only felt tips and ennui.

There’s a long and silent WTF moment from the rest of the folk at the VTT.

Ram & Vinnie are very aware that Newt has at least one demonic master, they suspect he has acquired a second (but don’t know for sure). Keep in mind reader that during his mindless slaying the warlock is often want to shout out things like-

“I send these fleshy souls to you my dark master!”

Bit of a give-away.


“Great Lord Belphegor, send your purifying flame to consume this offering!”

And in recent times-

“I send this fallen one to the realms of Lord Humphrey Far-Fer-Nar!”

It’s the kind of thing that gets noticed, even in the midst of battle.

Vinnie even had to reissue a warning in this session to Newt-

“Newt my friend, we are going to have to work harder on this plausible deniability thing, do not zay zese sings allowed.”

So, getting told to mind your manners by a seven foot tall hissing cat that consorts with demons and sacrifices prostitutes, apologies, that last ‘s’ was misplaced- Newt has killed only one hooker so far. Well, being lectured on etiquette… it’s a bit much to take.

[Newt lectures his colleagues on how to behave 300 XP]

As it turns out Ram and Vinnie have also been chatting, and they have some ground rules too, here they are, as presented to Newt-

1) No killing.

2) No fire in the house.

3) No bewitching townsfolk, of late Newt has become awfully fond of the spell Suggestion.

4) All of the prostitutes get to leave the party alive, and fully functioning (see 1.)

5) No genocide (see 1.)

Note, in reality none of the other PCs know that Newt murdered and sacrificed a prostitute back in Neverwinter, but all of the players do, and its hard not to mention it, so unsavoury was the original event.

After a few quibbles, and a little lawyerly discussion, the rules of engagement for this evenings entertainments are accepted by one and all.

[Ram and Vinnie’s rules 300 XP]

In addition Vinnie and Ram also discuss (with Newt) a number of safe topics for discussion for this evening, they include- the weather, fishing, hobbies and interests (excluding murder and genocide et al), the local cuisine, and the ultimo fallback conversational opener/clincher- check out the free bar.

The PCs also discuss the various bits of info that they are looking to find out, should the opportunity arise- bits and pieces of the plot that perhaps needs a little more exploration, that kind of thing.

[Questions that need answers 200 XP]


It's a hive of activity, the Dark Squad house. Note, the bar and buffet table have been added, and spots for the band. Nice!

Then… Lukas turns up, he’s the landlord of the Whicker Goat, and he introduces the bar & wait staff for this evening, and then gets on setting up the bar and the buffet, the guys are also getting busy- helping out where they can.

Next up Fishy Pete arrives, but he’s with the band- Clam ’69, a folk/punk/sea-shanty quartet. Pete plays lead spoons and washboard. Alas the first member of the Dark Squad on the scene is Newt, time to put the tabaxi’s charm skills to the test. The conversation goes so well that Pete let’s Newt in on a secret, he’s got some Red Kelp to sell.

Red Kelp?

After a brief chat with Vinnie (and a Herbalism check from the druid) the warlock discovers that Red Kelp is a mild aquatic (like a narcotic) which is said to produce a mellow buzz and feelings of undersea-style euphoria. Newt buys a bag of the stuff and settles into it.

Note Red Kelp comes in a perforated tea-bag style leather pouch, which is worn around the neck on piece of twine or similar, to be sucked on every now and then to get the full effect.

Later, when the Red Kelp really kicks in, Newt feels like he is fully submerged in the briny- but able to breathe, and employ all of his senses, only… with a little lag, like he is moving, seeing and doing everything really slowly. Oh, and he keeps spotting little fishes swimming by in his peripheral vision, and being a tabaxi- he chases them little fishes in an effort to make them his supper.

[Newt the Red Kelp fiend 100 XP]

But, while this is all going on in Newt’s world, Clam ‘69 are on stage, and on fire (figuratively you understand), so no-one much even notices Newt’s Red Kelp ingested oddness.

So, there are a bunch of visitors to the party, which as Vinnie repeatedly describes to each new arrival, is a house warming. Although then he has to further explain what is meant by the term- ‘house-warming’, somebody mentions setting the building on fire, which causes Newt to perk up, but thankfully the moment passes.

Over the course of the next four or so hours all of the folk that accepted the Dark Squad’s invitation turn up to the event, and… have a great time.


The Byrd family arrive early- Kum Ba Yah Poseidon, Kum Ba Yah!

Just for info at the party are- the Byrd’s- an extended family of very religious farmers (and the Dark Squad’s nearest neighbours), Golf Kindle and two off-duty dwarven guards from the Farhill Mine HQ in Saltmarsh, four hookers from the docks (hired by Newt)- two of whom turn out to regular attendees of the Temple of the Sea, which is also the Byrd family’s place of worship. Also attending are Winston, a local halfling storekeeper, who is accompanied by two massively muscled companions, and also a pair of off-duty guards from the Saltmarsh Watch, the pair are known to Ram, their names- Canon & Ball.

There are a few close calls during the evening, but the nearest we get to a confrontation is when Winston’s musclebound friends find themselves at the bar with the dwarven guards from the Farhill HQ- there follows a large amount of glaring. But Ram- of all people, somehow manages to diffuse the situation.

The free bar thing- it works most every time.

Then the band do their thing, and it’s time for the PCs to get their rewards.

Just to say at this point the PCs have made maybe close to 20 checks, a vast majority of these (90%) using their (charisma based) social skills (which save for Newt, are not great) but the DM is helping as much as he can with low DCs, and bonuses for good roleplay (and the free bar) et al.

Newt accompanies the Byrd’s on his lute for a skate-punk rendition of Kum Ba Yah Poseidon, Ramshambow learns to play the spoons with Fishy Pete, while Vinnie spends quite a while wild-shaped into a sea turtle- don’t ask how we got to this.


The hookers are here, as are a good number of the other invited guests, and the band (Clam '69) are just awaiting the arrival of their lead singer- Bustin' Crabman. Vinnie has wild-shaped into a Leatherback-style Sea Turtle, it made sense at the time.

So, the Dark Squad are doing well with it.

[Lots of RP and good-ish and better checks 500 XP]

Then, as stated above, the band- Clam ’69, get the place jumping, check out their setlist for this evening-

Clam ’69 set list

Dark Squad Party 29th Tarsakh 1493

Prawn Free

Prawn to be Wild

Krilling Me Softly

Rock Around the Dock

Just the Tuna of us

Baggy Flounders

Ships Don’t Lie (Sharkera Cover)

Sprats the way I like it!

Paradise by the Porthole Light

There’s no Plaice like home

Cod Only Knows

You make me wanna- Trout!

Trout! Trout! Let it all out.

I Like Hali-butts, and I cannot lie

Can I play with Lobsters

Breaking the Claw

I fought the Claw (but the Claw won)

Cod Save The Bream


Baggy Flounders (repeat)

And just to say that while I came up with some of the great tracks listed above, the players contributed as many- and we took it in turns (some of us) to sing a few of these.

So, for every suitable song the players come up with for the set list, well… they get to make a free (social skill) check, the DC is always 20, and for every success they get to buttonhole one specific member of the audience and ask them a question, any question. The answer to which (because of the high skill check) will be as honest as that individual can be.

Everybody is having a great time.


Party Hearty Dark Squad, dudes. Note the Byrd family in the mosh-pit, also note Canon & Ball, Ram's Saltmarsh Watch friends, have just arrived and are now enjoying their mandatory WTF moment, which will only last a few more seconds- Ram'll tell them about the free bar.

Later Vinnie sang an entire song, so… the players embraced it, and he did it all in accent.

The Dark Squad therefore get a few more of their plot-related questions answered, but we’ll catch up with all the new info gained a little later on in this piece.

[For every sea/fish related song title the chance of a prize 500 XP]

The finale of the show is a huge bonfire at the rear of chez Dark Squad, accompanied by animated tales- shaped from the fire, and using minor illusion spells, by Newt. The flame and illusions are used to depict some of the adventures of the Dark Squad. A couple of these tales get close to the wire- specifically, from memory, the Succubus and Garumn, but always Newt manages to pull back from the edge.


Newt's in charge of the pyrotechnics, and that's what scares me- and some others that I know.

A little crazy, but not too crazy.

The party then is a rip-roaring success, so much so that by the time the thing finishes at least another dozen locals have come along to catch the end of the Clam ‘69 set, and to join in with the (free bar) fun.

[Dark Squad party hearty 1000 XP}

Daktari, dressed in leather underpants, furry boots and a red dickie-bow- and that’s all, eventually ushers the last guest out of chez Dark Squad, and then helps Lukas and his staff dismantle the bar et al and load it on their wagon. This after the stars of the show- Vinnie, Newt & Ram have already gone to bed, or at least two of them have…

Newt, heads back out to tend the remains of his fire, and using his Control Flame spell once again makes a hollow within the pyre to sit within. Once in his toasty cocoon the tabaxi calls upon Belphegor, time to commune with his devilish/demonic fiery master.

Note, Flaming Kevin did make it to the Fantasy Grounds screen, but alas no screenshots were taken.

Belphegor however sends a f(r)iend, a being made entirely of flame joins the tabaxi within the swelter, and introduces himself as Flaming Kevin, he tells the tabaxi that he is a myrmidon, a champion of their fiery lord.

The two chat for a while, although it’s mostly Flaming Kevin that’s marking Newt’s card, his final assessment report being- ‘could do better’. Flaming Kev therefore sets Newt a new target- if he can wrestle 100 fresh souls to their master’s side, all of them executed by flame- then, Kev reassures the tabaxi, he will attract the attention of Lord Belphegor, and will likely get some sort of fire-upgrade-type promotion, and possibly a personal visit.

Newt likes the sound of that.

[Newt’s performance review with Flaming Kevin 250 XP]

The next day… well, let’s start with weird again.

The Dark Squad rise and shine only to discover that there’s someone (that’s not one of them) in the house. Vinnie is the first to make it out of bed, and therefore the first to make the acquaintance of Mrs Badcrumble.

Mrs Badcrumble is the char, the domestic, the woman that does for the Dark Squad. She cleans up the remains of last night’s activities, and then cooks breakfast- even going as far as to head out (briefly) to buy fresh fish for Newt (oddly he has a hankering for fish this morning). Her role, she tells the Dark Squad, is to keep the place spick and span, and our heroes fed and watered while they’re in residence.

Mrs Badcrumble refers to Vinnie as Mr V, Newt as Mr N, Ramshambow as Mr R, and you get the rest.

Her token in Fantasy Grounds is Mrs Miggins from the Black Adder series.

Note, Mrs Badcrumble did make it to the Fantasy Grounds screen, but alas no screenshots were taken.

Furthermore Mrs B(adcrumble) comes with the house, her services- she explains, are included in the rent they pay to Mr P, that’s Gellen Primewater- the Dark Squad's landlord.

The Dark Squad are semi-delighted.

They therefore spend a leisurely morning planning out who they’re going to chat with in Saltmarsh, and why.

[More plans, and a list of questions that need answers 250 XP]


Meeting with Pegs Larsson in the Mariner's Rest chapel- "No one comes in 'ere!"

So, to town, and over the course of the day the Dark Squad talk with Pegs Larsson, an ex-fisherman who now resides in the Mariner’s Rest, an alms house cum doss house for sea-faring folk.

Then with Karg, a half-orc, and the local sexton, who as well as digging graves is also very well-informed with regard to local history. Note, Vinnie wild-shapes into a badger and gets on with digging graves so as to afford more time for Karg to make his answers. So in depth are the Dark Squad’s questions that Karg cautions them that more information will only be forthcoming if they can persuade Eliander Fireborn that they are on the side of good and right.


Big red circle is the Saltmarsh Cemetary, like you needed telling. The small red circle is the Dark Squad abode. It's conveniently close to the big red circle, Newt makes a note of this.

It seems Karg sets a lot of store in Eliander Fireborn’s opinion.

Note, Eliander Fireborn is the head of the Saltmarsh Watch, and because their need is great- he is therefore their next port of call, although…

En route to Saltwatch Tower, the location of Eliander’s office, Ram is stopped and chatted at by one of the vendors from the Green Market, Leena Codswallop attended the Dark Squad party, and was enamoured of Newt’s flame-enhanced tales of adventure.

Leena tells Ram that Big Al, the ex-head of the Saltmarsh Watch, hasn’t been seen at the market for nearly two tendays. Note, Ram bought plants from Leena (for Vinnie) and a butter-pat (shaped like a skull) from Big Al during his last visit to the Green Market.

It seems the ex-Watch Commander now sells butter for a living, that doesn’t sound like a promotion.

Ram promises to check out Big Al’s farm- Butterskull Ranch (in a couple of days time), it’s out of town, obviously.

Then the guys get to meet with Eliander, this after some good social skill checks supplemented by offering to buy drinks for a few of the guards that staff Saltwatch Tower. Ram's friendship with Canon & Ball, it seems, is paying dividends. The Dark Squad are learning how to oil the wheels here in Saltmarsh.

The rest of the afternoon is spent in Eliander’s office, during this time both parties make clear their positions. Eliander represents the law in Saltmarsh, he has however heard good things about the Dark Squad- from Manistrad at Farhill Mine, and also from Barbara Lighthouse, the Watch Captain in Lowden. Therefore, if the Dark Squad continue to do the right thing- and make a point of popping by every now and then to tell Eliander what they know, if there’s anything worth knowing, then… well, he’ll let them be. Maybe he’ll even give them some elbow room, or a nudge in the right direction. On the other hand, should the Dark Squad become a concern… well, they’re going to get to see what the inside of a cell looks like.


I asked the guys, after their conversation with Eliander, what impression they had of the Saltmarsh Watch Captain. The consensus was- he's a nice guy, but I wouldn't want to naughty word with him. Nailed it.

Note, all of the above is achieved in a considered way, no threats- just a line in the sand, and having laid the foundation for any future relationship Eliander agrees that Krag, the Slatmarsh sexton, should continue to help the Dark Squad with their investigations. He also takes the time to offer a few opinions of his own.

The two parties have an accord.

The Dark Squad will be in Saltmarsh for at least one more day (tomorrow) and then they’re probably going to be journeying out into the wilds, and with tasks to do- problems to solve, people to see- all lined-up (see below). There’s also the small matter of their first Saltmarsh Town Council meeting, that’s tomorrow night, at which the adventurers have been informed- one of them will serve as the representative of Farhill Mine. Although Golf, and possibly Manistrad, will also be attending- to hold the elected PCs hand throughout the ordeal.

So, there’s that to look forward to.

DMing/RPGing a Town Council meeting, how much more high fantasy can you get? Do you remember the scene in Lord of the Rings when Elrond had to play arbiter between two Wardsmen disputing which of them was responsible for street furniture, or picking up dog mess?

No, me neither.

But we’re getting to the end of the session here, the only thing left for me to do is to explain what new info the Dark Squad have caused to come to light.

1) Sharkfin Bridge which must be crossed to enter Saltmarsh proper, is ancient- it was here before Saltmarsh the village. It was built by the elves (or at least the original structure was), and is something to do with the Pact of the Flame, and- it is said- is (somehow) the guarantor that Saltmarsh (or else the land between the structure and the graveyard) will never burn down. There’s even a local nursery rhyme that mentions the bridge, the Pact of the Flame, and a ward against ‘the flame from the sky’. The adventurers are intrigued- and Newt is looking to join the Pact of the Flame, Belphegor commanded him to do so.

2) Karg, the sexton, will show the PCs further proof of the above theory tomorrow, there’s something in the graveyard he wishes them to see, this now Eliander has given his permission.

3) Umber Hill, a small village nearby, is home to a healer, a witch- some say, called Adabra- she may be able to help with regard to the location of the Witch’s Tor, which appears in another one of the prophecies the Squad are investigating.

4) Butterskull Ranch, home to Big Al Kahoon- the previous head of the Saltmarsh Watch, who is missing, or else he hasn’t been seen in Saltmarsh for two tendays, and folk are concerned. Butterskull Ranch is close to Umber Hill. Ram has therefore promised to check this place out, although Eliander has also warned the Squad- Big Al, his predecessor in the job, is/was a shady guy- with his fingers in many of pies, or so it is said.

5) Burle is a frontier (wild-west) town, with plenty to see an do, it is also home to the Falcon’s Nest, a fortified manor, home (of course) to the Falcon, real name Keira. Keira is much admired by Eliander (and others), her job is to keep whatever’s in the Dreadwood, in the Dreadwood, and not menacing any of the other folk in the region. The present threat, it seems, are goblins- and in particular around the town of Blackedge, and the logging camps nearby. There’s money to be made in Burle, and a reputation to be gained.

6) Blackedge is also the PCs prime location for the Goblin Stair, see the prophecies earlier- Hgraam, the Stone Giant said as much during the Dark Squad’s time in the Underdark. Note the Goblin Stair- whatever this may be, is part of Buggles’ quest to discover Gwen’s secrets.

7) Lastly, Nightshade- a hag, and the missing Bad Dead Ancestor, is said to hold court somewhere in the depths of the Dreadwood. If the PCs can send Nightshade back to hell, then they can extract Garumn from his present tomb-sitting funk.

That’s a lot to see and do, and not even all of what gets said- the Dark Squad also learn about Lawhon and the way into the Mere of the Dead Men, but that’s for another time, and plenty of other stuff.

But that’s mostly what we got up to tonight.

So, next session the timetable is (atm)-

1) Trip to the Saltmarsh graveyard with Karg.

2) Buy horses?

3) Meeting of the Saltmarsh Town Council.

4) On the road to Umber Hill.

5) Then the Butterskull Ranch.

6) Then on to Burle.

7) Then probably to Blackedge.

8) Then, maybe, plunge into the Dreadwood.

It’s not a fixed list, it’s just what the players/PCs worked out at the end of the evening’s play.

Which all sounds like a whole host of fun.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.

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To be honest, i'm a bit disappointed the party went so smoothly. Not even a single death!!!

But I'm looking forward to finding out who will get to shout "You have no authority here!" and "Read the standing orders!" in the Council meeting.


To be honest, i'm a bit disappointed the party went so smoothly. Not even a single death!!!

But I'm looking forward to finding out who will get to shout "You have no authority here!" and "Read the standing orders!" in the Council meeting.
I wrote the (proposed) order of business for the coming council meeting last night, made me laugh out loud, but we'll see how it plays out.

Cheers goonalan


Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #046 Amazing!

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
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.

This is session 46, and we’ve not done enough exploring, time to fix that- a bit.

So, in the last session the players drew up the following timetable-
1) Trip to the Saltmarsh graveyard with Karg.
2) Meeting of the Saltmarsh Town Council.
3) On the road to Umber Hill.
4) Then the Butterskull Ranch.
5) Then on to Burle.
6) Then probably to Blackedge.
7) Then, maybe, plunge into the Dreadwood.

Well, we nearly got the first one done.

However the daft DM also forgot that tomorrow, which is now today- i.e. this session, is the festival of Greengrass (that’s the first day of Spring, like the Harvest Festival) and so the Saltmarsh Town Council will not be meeting until the first of the month, which is the day after.

The Dark Squad therefore have another day to kill in Saltmarsh, before they can go on their wanders, and so…

Well, first up a visitor, this while Mrs Badcrumble is serving up breakfast- and she went out early to get kippers for Mr N’s breakfast (that’s Newt, of course). So, the caller is Winston- who owns a general store just up the road from chez Dark Squad, and was also present for their party.


Winston needs to get paid, and the Dark Squad look likely candidates.

So, the explanation takes a while, but eventually it boils down to the following- the Dark Squad are adventurers, adventurers have a way of acquiring things- saleable things, Winston sells things.

In summary, I’m your shop/fence/first-port-of-call.

A deal is done, The Dark Squad will supply Winston, who will get 15% of the cut, and he’ll also introduce the adventurers to some more helpful folk in town- providing, of course, the adventurers bring him plenty of good things to sell.

[Winston the fence 250 XP]

Second up the adventurers decide to see what’s going on with the festival- Greengrass, and so they spend an hour or so wandering around the town seeing the sights. There are lots of stalls, and games, and folk drinking in the streets and starting to make merry; there’s dancing in the squares; and there’s lots of sea food to be had on the docks- it’s all very jolly. The mood in Saltmarsh is good.

So, let’s get to the weird.

Newt heads off to see Kester, of Kester’s Leather Goods fame, he has two requests- the first is to make some sort of glove type clawed weapon from a manticore’s paw he just happens to have found, and…

Here’s the weird.

“Ah, yes- which brings me to my second request, dear Kester, could you also do something to preserve this?” At which point he upturns a sack out of which spills (thuds) a grey-white severed and taloned hand.

Newt explains- “It is said to come from a terrifying undead creature, and may still be capable of sucking the soul from anyone handling it. Do you have gloves?”

Actually it’s the hand of a wight, which Newt hacked off the undead beast after killing it- I think he described this action to his colleagues at the time as, wanting a keepsake.

At some point in the developing conversation- which, let’s keep in mind, starts with terror and horror, at least that’s Kester’s opening gambit, anyway- at some point she has this to say to Newt.

“You do understand don’t you- you are very, very strange. Beyond odd- you are concerning, a little frightening. You are aware of this?”


The moment Newt walks into Kester's shop her face falls- "this again...", she cringes and shudders before plastering on a fake smile- "It's Newt isn't it? How can I be of service to you today?"

Newt replies- “It has been said, many times- I tried to get my companions to come with me to see you this morning, but they both had important appointments elsewhere. I apologise if I seem weird to you but it is my manner- and when you have seen what I have seen, well… weird is the only response, I assure you.”

At which point, if this was the movie, we would cut to Ram and Vinnie strolling along the docks watching the merry maidens flashing bye, eating fried fish and drinking fizzy cider. The pair wanted nothing to do with Newt’s enterprise, they know how weird he is, a rest is as good as a break, after all.

Eventually, after the counting out of platinum coins Newt gets his wish, or else- Kester will try.

[Newt chats with Kester 250 XP]

Next up, the Dark Squad get back together for lunch and then head off to buy horses- note Ram has already bought and stabled his new mount. However the generous rogue has also paid extra for a wild horse to be brought in to Saltmarsh for Daktari, and here it is.

The barbarian (played by Jim this evening) has to first break the beast so that he can ride it, alas this process turns out to be a lot less action-orientated than his companions expected. For the next forty or so minutes Daktari stands in front of the wild horse (as best he can) and either-

a) Stares it down,

b) Yells, “You are my horse!” at it, or

c) Both of the above at the same time.

Remarkably, after a suitably high Handle Animal check, the cowed creature allows the Sky Pony Barbarian to climb on board.

Newt and Vinnie also buy mounts, just plain old riding horses however.

[Daktari’s new horse 200 XP]

Then, well- the Dark Squad head for the Saltmarsh cemetery, Karg the sexton here has got something to show the adventurer’s, and he has been given permission by Eliander Fireborn (Saltmarsh Watch Commander) to do so.


The Delacrane Family Crypt, at the start of it all...

To the Delacrane Crypt, Karg explains that there are no records of the family ever having a home in Saltmarsh- which is slightly odd, maybe. More odd is… well, can the PCs spot the oddness within?

So, we’re exploring- Vinnie and Newt using a variety of spells, or rituals to try and find what’s wrong/different/odd within the Delacrane crypt. However, the pair are over-thinking it (too soon) and so it’s Ram that manages to spot the secret wall, and then to get it open.

Scratch that (the above), I have been reliably informed that it was in fact Newt that found the secret door, this after abandoning his casting about for magical emanations and the like...


The secret crypt is revealed.

Into a hidden crypt, holding the sarcophagi of two more members of the Delacrane family, the search continues- Karg explains that he only found this secret chamber five years ago, and then by accident. Keep in mind, he tells the Dark Squad, he only makes a tour of the crypts to check for undead two or three times a year.

Then Ram, with a ‘20’, discovers that one of the sarcophagi has a button- actually a bucolic scene with the sun shining, carved into the rear of the stonework- and the sun, set high in the sky within the perfect scene, is depressable.

The sarcophagi opens- a set of steps lead down into the darkness.

[The Delacrane Crypt 400 XP]

Down into damp and close-spaced catacomb passages, complete with niches filled with ancient bones. Karg leads the way, and it’s a maze of passages.

The kindly DM lets the players know- Karg strides on for a good sixty yards- straight ahead, passing two openings to the right and one to the left- and then takes the next right. Then a hundred yards further- passing more openings to the left, the sexton takes the first right. The directions- are winding, tortuous almost- although I am delighted to discover at the end of Karg’s wanderings that all three players have written them down- word for word.

The Dark Squad remember when they got lost in the Underdark- that didn’t go well, they’re not going to do that again- and if anything were to happen to Karg…

Eventually, the group emerge into a much larger chamber, and the space has high ceilings, and near to some of the crypts here candles are burning- endless flames. Also Karg has warned the Dark Squad, the chamber ahead is the home to vermin- rats, Karg doesn’t like rats. He’s not afraid of them, he works in a cemetery- after all, it’s just… they’re dirty- fortunately, he explains, the last time he was here the place was empty, but just in case, the adventurers are sent ahead.

So, the rats are gone.

Long gone.

The place is now filled with spiders- swarms of them, and giant wolf spiders, and giant spiders- and the leader of this pack, a choldrith. Blessed of Lolth, the choldrith- a priestly chitine is keen to defend its new lair.

This is the first fight that we have had without Buggles, and keep in mind that the mad wood elf was responsible for a lot of the hurt the Dark Squad dishes out. So, while I packed the encounter with monsters, I unleashed them slowly.

So, this is how it went-

Suddenly Ram spots a giant wolf spider creeping along a wall close by, towards Karg, the rogue reacts in an instant and shoots it dead, but then a swarm of spiders hustle out of nearby webs and engulf Daktari. There’s plenty of screaming and shouting in the opening moments, but the spiders are not big hitters- and I’m saving the giant spiders, and the choldrith (and a few others others) for when the adventurer’s head into the centre of the massive crypt chamber.

This then is only an amuse-bouche.

That said Daktari gets hit repeatedly- including with a Crit, Vinnie gets bitten- as does Newt, the tabaxi twice. Only Ram escapes harm- but their enemies are defeated.

The adventurers therefore cautiously press forward, investigating the larger chamber- the tombs here are old (500+ years) and clearly those of high class/wealthy Saltmarsh residents.

Note, the Dark Squad has been warned by Karg- no looting, no desecrating etc.

Soon after, however, the giant spiders start arriving (and I rolled a ‘20’ for their collective Stealth checks), there follows a lot of surprise attacks- Vinnie gets bloodied in an instant- with a Crit. Ram takes hits, as does Newt- but the tabaxi keeps on blasting and topping up his temporary hit points with his Dark One’s Blessing.


Here's the entree, and the funny thing is every turn- wherever Newt runs to (and he does a lot of running, I mean re-positioning), on my screen there's another Giant Spider waiting to be revealed, it's either directly above him, or else about to descend to the spot right next to him. Three turns in a row.

Daktari is also bloodied quickly, but then the barbarian gets to raging- and keep in mind at one point there are three giant spiders, two giant wolf spiders, two swarms, and the choldrith casting spells into the mix.


Who's a pretty boy? Things have got very spidery very quickly for the Dark Squad.

It gets busy- so busy that Vincen G Squeezy Snake makes an appearance, and remember that this latest wild-shape incarnation of the druid’s is underloved- Squeezy doesn’t have the best track record.

That all changes today, the hefty beast crushes, and smashes, and bites- and manages a couple of Crits of his own with his first two attacks. Spiders die.

The DM is also thwarted by his dice, during the majority of the fight the choldrith remains hidden- on the ceiling, behind pillars etc. and lets loose a pair of Hold Person spells, a Bane and a few others- not one PC saving throw is failed, and I’m mostly targeting the wisdom-lite barbarian, Daktari.

So, as stated above- spiders die, the Dark Squad take a semi-beating. The choldrith eventually attempts to run away, but gets stuck in a crypt with only one entrance/exit. Newt fills the chamber with a fireball, which rocks the crypt- and enrages Karg, then however the sexton sees the choldrith, and all his forgiven.


The circle is where the Fireball goes, obviously. But the Choldrith isn't even bloodied, if only I could have got a few of the spidery-bastard's spells to work!

“Kill it! Kill it!” The half-orc screams.

The chodrith stays alive, scurrying around the ceiling- and with a Sanctuary spell cast on itself, but Ram just keeps on spending his turns chasing the spidery-bastard down, and then making active perception checks to spot it and direct his comrades to the kill.

This tactic works a treat, eventually Daktari helps out by scrambling onto a sarcophagi and then leaping to grab at the choldrith, the weight (and strength) of the barbarian causing the eight-limbed terror to be ripped from its high perch and wrestled down to the crypt floor.

It dies.

[Bad spiders 2000 XP]

A little later the choldrith’s horde is discovered- a little gold and silver, a few treasures and a clutch of healing potions. The Dark Squad however really do need a short rest.

Then, once recovered, onwards- and more winding directions to follow- but the players are still making copious notes.

Eventually, into a beautiful crypt, and it’s elven- all of the art here screams it, as do the knights depicted on the sarcophagi here, and the place looks old.


The ancient Elven Crypt, the writings here recall the Pact of the Flame. The Dark Squad are finding clues, at last, getting warmer...

Point of fact Vinnie determines that the elven knights depicted in murals et al here are very similar to the knights that the adventurers saw in their vision, all the way back in the Sunless Citadel. Not exactly the same, but very similar.

At the far end of the chamber is a mausoleum, an eight foot tall- peaked roofed, ten foot wide- fifteen deep, structure. Investigations begin, the mausoleum turns out to be a solid, although it has a door it has no mechanism for it to open- it’s simply a carving. Ram however determines that the mausoleum is a hollow space, but with no discernible way in.

As for the rest of the chamber, well- it’s all elven- in the scenes that it shows, in the prayers that are inscribed here- to Labelas Enoreth (God of Time, History & Knowledge) and also to Sehanine Moonbow (Goddess of the Moon, Dreams, Mystery and the Protector of the Elven Dead).

There’s lots of investigating going on, the Dark Squad are certain that this place, and those interred here were members of the Pact of the Flame, which you’ll remember Newt was told (by Belphegor) he must join.

Then, at last- Ram spots the oddity. Carved into one of the beautiful scenes/murals is some davek (dwarven script) graffiti.

It says “Amazing”, Karg translates, he knew about this oddity already.

And then, after another ten minutes of searching- and investigating with no new info revealed, Vinnie takes a look at the dwarven graffiti for himself.

“Merde! It does not zay ‘Amayzing!’ It zayz ‘A Maze In!’” The Druid, almost, makes clear.

Which causes even more hurried skill checks to be made, and now the Dark Squad have a purpose- they’re going wall by wall, searching the detail for a maze.

Alas, with no success.

But then Vinnie remembers.

“Sacre-bleu! I am an imbecile! We ‘ave our own maze!” The druid fetches out the small button-like object that the Dark Squad were gifted by the Sky Pony Uthgardt barbarians, an ancient artefact- they were told.

The button has a maze on it.


Remember the button? Given to the Dark Squad by Timor back in session 24, that's a lifetime ago, or so it seems.

And here’s the thing- the scene depicted on the door (not door) into the solid stone mausoleum shows a bucolic idyl, it’s very similar to the scene depicted back in the Delacrane crypt. The glorious sun shines down on beautiful countryside.

Vinnie places the ancient maze button to cover the sun, and the mausoleum vanishes- a set of stairs lead down- and there’s a glowing light coming from below.

“Now, we are getting places, n’est pas?” Vinnie grins, and then points Ram towards the way down.

[The Elven Crypt 600 XP]

Karg is… the half-orc races through several emotions, but is as keen as the Dark Squad to see what’s below.

Ram leads them down, checking the way is safe as he goes, and into…


Lord, I have seen the Light!

Yet another crypt, only this one isn’t a crypt- as the ‘wizards’ in the party confirm, the sarcophagi, lid half open, contains a glowing and active portal, to who knows where.

Note, Ram has started calling Vinnie and Newt, ‘the wizards’. This was Buggles’ trick, anyone that used magic- according to Buggles, was a wizard, and thus it has come to pass.

That said the ‘wizards’ have exhausted their knowledge, and quite quickly- this is an active portal. “To where?” Ram enquires, and is met by healthy shrugs.

Therefore the daring rogue climbs into the sarcophagi, he disappears into the portal.

His comrades, including Karg, follow him in.

[Into the Portal 250 XP]

The quintet appear in a beautiful circular chamber with a high-domed ceiling, the place is elaborately decorated, and lit by vast golden braziers.

The place is old, but wow.

A pair of intricately carved (mostly woodland scenes) wooden doors lead into a vast complex of chambers- the doors open as the Dark Squad ahead. Into a massive hall, the ceiling here is thirty feet above, at least, and there are statues- depicting a variety of heroic (maybe) elves, and more golden burning braziers to illuminate.

The place is a shrine, or else a memorial, or else… what is this place?

“I do not know where we are? We are not below Saltmarsh, I am zertain. I would not be surprised if we were zomewhere other zan Faerun!” Vinnie dictates to his colleagues, as he wanders- and muses.

Then a discovery, Ram goes to touch the flame within a brazier- there’s no heat, his hand passes through the flame, and then also through the brazier.

The flame and the brazier’s are not real, the rogue concludes.

Soon after Vinnie discovers that the statues are also not real.

Newt yowls his frustration- “It’s all an illusion!”, and then the tabaxi walks into a wall- it’s all too solid.

The Dark Squad ‘wizards’ stop to have a think about things- what’s going on here?

The active theory, which takes a good ten minutes to develop, is this- the place IS real, but somehow- we (the Dark Squad) are less real. We’re here but somehow- not here, or else- not fully here.

Sound is absent, save the words of the adventurers. There’s no smell here- nothing much that can be touched, only the walls.

The Dark Squad press on, all the way to the final, grand chamber- containing another circular domed space, a great brazier burning, and then, at last… a voice.

A whispered female voice. Speaking in the common and the elven tongue at the same time- or so it seems.

“You cannot pass.”

“You must belong.”

“You must each possess a key.”

The voice insists.

And every step forward the adventurers make- towards the last great brazier, the voice begins its litany again.

But there’s nothing else that happens.

The Dark Squad explore further, they discover that there are many statues, and also a quartet of altar-like shrines (perhaps) atop each a finely crafted and most likely magical weapon, or staff. But again- none of this can be touched.


"It iz beauti...", Vinnie begins, "...and big. Real big!" Ram finishes. "Yes! As you zay monsieur...", Vinnie tries again- "I mean- Massive!" Ram interrupts once again. "YEZ! It iz big! It iz Massif! IT IZ ALZO tres tres beautiful, N'est pas?" The Druid sighs, and finishes. Ram shrugs, points about him some more- "Big!" he adds, nicely bringing us back to the beginning.

But what it is for? No-one knows, or at least- not the Dark Squad.

[The Hall of Elven Heroes 400 XP]

But that’s pretty much all we had time for this session.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
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Somehow missed a notification, so this was a nice surprise. Karg seems like one of the many npc's who deserve the adjective "long-suffering" after spending time with the party :)
Looking forward to more discoveries, and reuniting with Buggles. And Gwen.


Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #047a And Saltmarsh’s new Councillor is…

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
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.

Gerald (Bat/Giant Bat) Newt’s familiar/ride
Owly (Owl) Vinnie’s familiar

This is session 47a, and we got quite a lot done this evening, and apologies ahead of time but there’s an awful lot of chatter here- and lots of exposition, or else set up.

So, last session the Dark Squad had found their way through the crypts and the catacombs (and a portal) with Karg, the half-orc Saltmarsh sexton, all the way to a mausoleum/museum to the elven (Pact of the Flame) dead.

Although the Dark Squad have been told-

“You cannot pass.”

“You must belong.”

“You must each possess a key.”

The above words spoken by a disembodied female elven voice, that is not taking questions. Therefore what follows is another walk about the strange (and yet beautiful) place for the still curious adventurers. This in an attempt by the Dark Squad to figure out exactly where they are, and what they need to do next.

Alas there’s nothing much else to be found- there are hundreds of statues here, but save for the fact that they all depict elves, they have no other common cause. The folk depicted are all unknown to the Dark Squad, perhaps they are ancient elven heroes. The timeless space is hard to fathom- and there’s no text here, nothing to indicate the great tomb’s function.

If it is a tomb?


"Yes, alright Vinnie- it does look amazing- but what does any of it do?" Newt meowls and hisses his displeasure.

The Dark Squad make a lot of checks, the best clue they can garner from the wily DM is- if a secret organisation (the Pact of the Flame, for example) wanted to truly be secret, then it’s members would be unknown, their feats likewise unknown, and there would be no symbol, or text, to name them.


The lack of answers momentarily sends Newt loopy, he snarls threats and demands to see Wildroot, his contact- according to Belphegor, in the Pact of the Flame.

By which I mean he just rages and screams a version of the above, angrily, at anyone that will listen.

But nothing happens, like it has here- most likely, for centuries, millennia.

[More searching, investigating & intuiting- with scant reward 200 XP]

Then a sudden realisation- how the heck do we get out of here?

But that problem solves itself- eventually. The Dark Squad- and Karg, return to the place the portal initially deposited them, and… well, nothing happens for a while. Until Karg, then Daktari & then Vinnie disappear, and then reappear back at the other end of the portal in the catacombs beneath Saltmarsh.

However, the three successful portal jumpers neglect to tell their companions the how and why, therefore the secret of going home has to be fathomed, and then roleplayed out, by an increasingly angry Newt, and a flummoxed Ram.

Ram is the last to depart, but depart he does.

The secret to the return journey- the character just needs to imagine himself back through the portal. Newt is so mad about not being able to figure this out that he takes to leaping from foot to foot, eventually screaming at the heavens- “I JUST WANT TO GO HOME!” At which point, of course, he does- or at least back to the catacombs beneath Saltmarsh.

But even then Ram doesn’t get it (for a good long while), or else Kev playing Ram is roleplaying this up a bit- he tries twenty-three other things before finally cracking the code.

[Back to the Saltmarsh catacombs 200 XP]

The Dark Squad, after a little more investigation, depart the crypts and catacombs et al, they chat with Karg for a while, and thus decide that the only other person that should be told about this place is Eliander Fireborn. Then, at last, they head home.

But here’s the thing- Greengrass is a washout, not a big terrifying thunderstorm storm just one of those spring swirls complete with lashings of rain, some citizens of the town are trying to keep the spirit of the festival alive. But mostly they’re drunk, and in the various taverns and inns, but the Dark Squad don’t want that. They’ve had a hard day spent having to think about things, and that’s real graft for some of them.

And, they think, there’s still plenty to cogitate on.

So, supper (thanks to Mrs Badcrumble) and then a chat instigated by Vinnie that goes late into the night, to the wee small hours. The subject- do’s and don’ts, for the Saltmarsh Town Council meeting tomorrow evening.

Vinnie goes- “We shud find a way to impress zese peepul, find a way to elp the town, to do something gud fur zese fine folk zat av taken uz to zer artz!”

While Newt goes- “We should bend their puny minds to our will, we should pluck all that we want from these petty fools and wastrel councillors and then scour, with golden flame, the name of Saltmarsh from the map.”

[Newt is a maniac- the above is genuinely the kind of thing he says 200 XP]

When eventually he is asked Ram has the following to say on the subject “While I can see the merit in both of the above approaches, I think I’m somewhere in the middle.”

Somewhere in the middle? That covers quite a lot of territory.

Eventually a strategy is adopted, it boils down to this- if we can help, we help- particularly if we’re going to get paid (or it makes us or Farhill Mine look good). If we know something that might prove to be helpful, we tell them. If not, let’s just keep quiet and see what gets said.

Newt is, of course, made to swear he’s not going to set anyone on fire, or magically enthral the council etc. reluctantly he agrees. Although, when we get to the Saltmarsh Town Council meeting that doesn’t stop Bear (playing Newt) from repeatedly drawing the circle pointer on Fantasy Grounds he uses for targeting his Fireball spell.

Just to scare the bejesus out of his colleagues every now and then.

Note the above took a good 20-30 minutes to get straight, and there was a tiny bit more to it than the above. Although the DM is slightly perplexed by the one question that doesn’t get either asked or answered here.

But we’ll get to that.

[Plan for the council meeting 200 XP]

Oh, but before tomorrow comes Newt, who has also taken delivery of a shiny new saddle for Gerald (his familiar/Giant Bat), goes for a night flight. During which the DM requires the tabaxi to make two skill checks, just to see if he’s getting the hang of it, his first check is a ‘20’, his second… well, same again.


Newt & Gerald, loop-de-loop. Note the scale is accurate in the picture above but keep in mind that Newt and Gerald are flying at over a 1,000 feet, and so much closer to the camera.

Newt is loving this by the way, particularly as he manages a loop-de-loop on his maiden (with saddle and outdoors) Giant Bat flight, he’s rocking it, a natural.

[The Cat with the Bat 200 XP]

Then, at long last, it’s the 1st of Mirtul, the day of the Saltmarsh Town Council meeting, and while there’s a little more shopping for the Dark Squad, and another meeting with Eliander but… let’s skip that and get straight to the hot council meeting action.

Just to note guys- town council meetings are on the first of every month, mark it in your diaries.

So, what have we got- well to begin with, after the meeting is officially declared open by Eda Oweland, we’ve got an open session in which the good folk of Saltmarsh can air their various grievances.


"ORDER!" Ram attempts to filibuster, and he's +3 for being a half-elf, while Vinnie raises a point of order. As for Newt, with his face screwed up tight, I think the tabaxi is about to pass a motion. A lot of the rules I used for this bit I got from the new D&D 5e splat book Courts & Committees- The Rule of RAW. I highly recommend it.

Which to begin with takes the form of a number of carters and hauliers complaining about excessive loading times at the docks, and excessive queuing times at the town gate, and a variety of other niggles that add up to the same thing.

It all boils down to- “Saltmarsh is a fishing town, priority should be given to fishing boats and the hauliers employed to transport the catch!” This opinion, from the crowd, gets much applause.

The unspoken implication of the above statement does not remain unspoken for long.

“Merchant ships and those working for the dwarven mine should wait their turn, fish and not mining is the business of Saltmarsh!”

Here’s the thing though, the Dark Squad say nothing- they plot, ask questions of Golf Kindle, who is with them throughout the meeting, but they don’t start shouting the odds- they’re remarkably restrained. Keep in mind- Gundren Rockseeker is paying the Dark Squad, and they’re therefore big fanboys of Farhill Mine.

The Dark Squad make a series of insight/intuit (I can never remember which one it is in 5e) checks, and discern that the people that are making the above (anti-Mine/Dwarf) statements are, surprise-surprise- not stooges, they’re simple folk frightened for their livelihoods.

The meeting rumbles on, and then suddenly gets violent- for the kindly DM has also dropped in a little light entertainment for this evening. As it turns out one of the cart drivers with a loud voice ran over a now equally vocal citizen of Saltmarsh.

The two get fraught and sweary, and then to fisticuffs- with Eda Oweland hammering her gavel and screaming for the pair to “stop this bloody nonsense”, while a couple of town watchmen try to get in-between the puffing pugilists.

But who’s this to save the day?

That’s right- the voice of reason.

Newt steps into the fray.

And I swear to you Jim (playing Vinnie) screeched something like- “Oh f**k, please god NO!”, and not entirely out of character. While Ram, played by my bro- Kev, said something like- “Well, that didn’t last long did it.”

So, here’s what happens.


Newt gives the injured citizen two gold pieces- recompense for the two days’ work he lost due to his bad foot, and then the tabaxi encourages the arguing pair to let bygones be bygones, and then rolls something like a ‘19’ with his persuasion check, and with a little more fine roleplay to add.

The two would-be sluggers leave the room, a little later on, arm-in-arm, BFFs, and still taking it in turn to apologise to each other.

Newt says nothing more and heads back to his seat- although with a bow to Eda Oweland en route, the head of the council is very impressed.

No-one expected that.

Bear, playing Newt, is spotted on Discord grinning like a chimp.

[Newt the moderator 300 XP]

The meeting continues on, although for only another five minutes with the DM reading through half-a-dozen more complaints and ‘helpful’ observations from the citizens of Saltmarsh.

The Dark Squad continue to keep the peace, and just to make clear- Golf informed them earlier that this was an open session, and as citizens of Saltmarsh that they’re more than entitled to have their say.

But nothing more gets said by the Dark Squad, but they’re still making checks- now and then, and taking names, and making notes- and plotting.

Note by the time the council meeting ends (after which we have a short break in the session) the players have worked out where the docks needs to be extended to (for merchant/mine ships only). How to improve the traffic flow with new roads and a second gate into the town, and have several more suggestions, Note, Vinnie has also suggested a series of sustainability targets for the town.

I’m playing Dungeons & Dragons with a bunch of middle-managers, as it turns out, no doubt one of them will send me a updated map of Saltmarsh complete with a new one-way system including street furniture requirements (bollards, benches & bins).

The only real bone of contention for the rest of the public meeting comes up when a number of fisherfolk complain about the time it takes, and the inconvenience it causes, with the random stop and search of fishing vessels by the watch looking for contraband (smuggled goods).

This one turns into an argument, a not particularly heated argument, and it sounds like something that gets said most weeks here. The secret is the fisherfolk, it seems, are looking- some of them, to supplement their declining income, perhaps.

But a bit of smuggling doesn’t seem to be a big issue, however at this point Anders Solmor has made it to the meeting- and he’s a full member of the council too (list to follow). Anders, it seems, doesn’t hold with smuggling, and neither does Eliander Fireborn, the Watch Commander. But again, the argument doesn’t go anywhere much, and the Dark Squad conclude- it’s probably oft repeated.

Which concludes the open session of the council.

So, the hall is cleared, and we are on to the council meeting proper, present are (note the short description for each, info known to the PCs or else supplied by Golf)-


Left to right, top to bottom- Eliander Fireborn, Anders Solmor, Gellen Primewater & Eda Oweland; an august body of officials.

Eda Oweland, head of the council, a loud and often stern older lady from a long-standing fishing family which owns maybe half of the Saltmarsh fleet.

Gellen Primewater, portfolio- fish & docks, a middle-aged dandy-ish fellow- very amenable, and pleasant with it. He too is Saltmarsh through and through, there’s been a Primewater in the town for much of its history. Gellen owns a number of fishing boats, and also property- lots of it. He’s the Dark Squad’s landlord, point of fact.

Anders Solmor, portfolio- expansion, new contacts/contracts; a young go get ‘em tyro, embracing the new and, perhaps, looking to clear out some of the old. Note, Solmor, as with Eda & Gellen above, is the young heir of another very old Saltmarsh fishing family, which owns boats, land and property.

Eliander Fireborn, portfolio- law & order, but we’ve met Eliander already, although it’s probably worth reminding the Dark Squad and informing you (dear reader). Eliander is an ex-Griffon Guard, he’s seen it- done it, and got the stain on his chain shirt.

Last up, and soon to be replaced, is Golf Kindle (filling in for Manistrad Copperlocks), portfolio- Farhill Mine. But we’ve known Golf for ages, he’s the sensible (and calmer, and friendlier) version of Manistrad.

So, to the meeting, which we get through swiftly, and it’s a chance for each of the council members to talk a little about what’s going on in their world, in summary-

1) The docks are much too busy, fewer stop & search operations are needed- the argument starts again, but only briefly.

2) New logging contracts, and new land being cleared for new buildings, Saltmarsh is looking to expand.

3) Goblin activity in the Dreadwood, being dealt with by the Falcon, at Burle (we’ll get to this, probably).

4) A dragon, maybe, scorched a flock of sheep somewhere near Ravendale.

5) Farhill Mine production is up, therefore profits are up- and the council is going to receive even more money.

And that’s about it- although, and obviously points 3) and in particular 4) cause a little consternation. The Dark Squad are heading goblin hunting (at least it’s on their to do list) but now they’re also keen to visit Ravendale.

But then we get to the last business of the meeting, as Eda Oweland states-

“So, first it was Manistrad that stopped coming to these meetings- but that just brought Golf into our lives.” Eda grins at the stony-faced dwarf.

“But now it seems that even Golf is too busy to come to our simple little town meetings, and so we have… Well, who’s next in the Farhill Mine hotseat?”

But here’s the thing that didn’t get discussed in the Dark Squad’s pre-council prep meeting- who is going to be the next Saltmarsh council member?

And the PCs, and the players are playing chicken with it.

And the silence continues, until…

At last.

Vinnie makes his speech, and it’s a corker, and while not as much a surprise as Newt’s mending bridges moment earlier, it’s still fairly wonderous.

Vinnie extols the virtues of traditional/fishing Saltmarsh- playing to the crowd, but then makes it clear how much he admires the hardworking dwarves of Farhill Mine, the place he now represents. Then the speech takes a twist and a turn, and imagines a Saltmarsh that has successfully harnessed both the traditional and the new. The druid describes a harmonious conjunction of the two industrious (and law-abiding) cultures.

It’s a little triumphant, towards the end, but hopeful throughout, and respectful right to the conclusion- we should work together for a better Saltmarsh.

That sort of thing.

Even Eda is a little stirred by the speech, which was marvellously off the cuff from Jim/Vinnie.

Good work!

[Vinnie’s speech 400 XP]

Anders, Gellen, Eliander and even Eda, take it in turns to congratulate, and then welcome, Vinnie to the forum.

Although Eda also attempts to pump the druid for info, wanting to know about his previous experience, commercial expertise, skills and talents et al. Less remarkable is the fact that Vinnie answers all of her questions easily (and well), and without any sign of distress, or dissembling.

He’s a smooth talking fellow when he wants to be- when he gets the chance.

Vinnie is directed to select a portfolio for the next meeting, something that he is going to be responsible for, and to report on in each meeting.

The rest is a glass of sherry, small talk. and sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

The Dark Squad have made an incredibly good impression on the council.

I know, I’m as surprised as you are.

[The first Saltmarsh Town Council meeting 1000 XP]

But that’s still not all- as the Dark Squad exit the council chambers they are met by a large and loud character- Don Jon Raskin.

Don Jon has just stepped off a ship from Neverwinter, and he has a message from Gundren Rockseeker for the Squad- it’s simply this-

1) Help Don Jon, he’s a friend, &

2) Why haven’t you written to me? How are things going in Saltmarsh?

The Dark Squad (Vinnie) promises to jot something down for Gundren, and after questioning Don Jon for a while- the fellow is an ex-adventurer who got rich, he’s invited back to stay at the Dark Squad house.

More chatter past midnight, and Don Jon exacts a favour from his new friends- the Dark Squad will be dropping him off at Goxhill in the morning. It seems Don Jon is in the market to buy a mine, and Goxhill has one of these too, business is/could be booming in the area.


Don Jon Raskin, he's been looking cool since before you were born.

And so the new plan is for the Dark Squad is to depart Saltmarsh on the morrow, the route is-

1) Take Don Jon to Goxhill.

2) Head to Umber Hill, meet with Adabra (witch/priestess of Chauntea) for a chat.

3) Check out Butterskull Ranch, home of the ‘missing’ Big Al Kalhoon.

4) To Ravendale, a dragon attack?

5) To Burle meet with the Falcon.

6) Goblins in the Dreadwood.

7) Go to Blackedge- find the Goblin Stair.

But that’s for part two of this write up.

Sorry, a lot of exposition but, all needed- and it was a great session thus far (and for the rest of it).

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
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Maybe it's my old fartiness, but I really like the occasional Dungeons and Regulatory Commissions. Well done on navigating through the first meeting so well, chaps!


Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #047b Goxhill, Umber Hill & the Buttery Gnolls

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
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.

Gerald (Bat/Giant Bat) Newt's familiar/ride
Owly (Owl) Vinnie’s familiar

This is session 47b, and the Dark Squad are up and off early, they’re on the road out of Saltmarsh- on horseback, and on tour.

And so the plan is-

1) Take Don Jon to Goxhill.

2) Head to Umber Hill, meet with Adabra (witch/priestess of Chauntea) for a chat.

3) Check out Butterskull Ranch, home of the ‘missing’ Big Al Kalhoon.

4) To Ravendale, a dragon attack?

5) To Burle, meet with the Falcon.

6) Goblins in the Dreadwood.

7) To Blackedge, find the Goblin Stair.

And so just over two hours down the road, and its beautiful weather and the same can be said about the countryside hereabouts, and then we are in Goxhill, which isn’t a big place.


Goxhill, a mine and that's about all. It's a bit of a rathole place.

Don Jon says his farewells to the Dark Squad and reminds them to let Gundren know what they have been up to, and then the big man gets on with the business of checking out the Goxhill mine. The Dark Squad however are keen to move on, although not before calling up to the old watchman on the tower, Larg Neverstay- “has he seen or heard of the Twilight Squad?”

Neverstay has nothing but good things to say about the Twilight Squad, although the young adventurers have since departed Goxhill, the entire village- he assures Vinnie, are beholden to the neophyte adventurers, or as the old man puts it-

“They beat the holy crap out o’ those little dragon-headed fellers!”

He’s referring, of course, to the explosive action presented in session 44.

Reassured, their protégés are in the field- and doing good work, the Dark Squad get back on the road again, next stop is Umber Hill.

[Don Jon Raskin to Goxhill 200 XP]


"It iz be-who-t-full, n'est pas? I riot of kull-er, and zo... SNIFF-AAAARRRRHHH (Vinnie breaths deep) Zo full of li-FF!" Newt meantime is painting the landscape with a different colour in his head- that colour is red, a blazing red!

Umber Hill is beautiful, Vinnie later describes it as an idyl, a riot of colours and fecundity- the village clusters around a great windmill, home to Adabra priestess of Chauntea. The peasant folk here are happy with their lot, the land hereabouts is verdant and provides plenty for all.

The Dark Squad are soon identified by Adabra, they’re the folk that saved several farmers from a flight of manticores about two tendays past at Fiveways. They are for this reason very welcome here, a meal of magnificent proportions is prepared, and much chatter follows.

Alas Adabra has never heard of the Witch’s Tor, the Dark Squad are still searching for this place- and Adabra’s name had been mentioned as a possible source of information, although that was only because some folk in Saltmarsh think that the priestess here is a kind of witch.

Adabra suggests that the Dark Squad go in search of old maps of the region, perhaps they should visit Fallowstone Holy, in (of course) Fallowstone, just a few hours down the road. The Fallowstone Holy is a temple and library, maintained by monks and priests devoted to Deneir (God of Writing) and Oghma (God of Knowledge).

Well, that’s real handy.

Good work!

[Chatter and info from Adabra 200 XP]

The Dark Squad are very grateful for the help, and also for the fact that Adabra is also happy to sell the adventurers a variety of healing potions and balms- including a jar of Keoghtom’s ointment, and at friend’s prices.

After more smooth-talking Vinnie also secures an opportunity to visit again with Adabra, to learn more about potion making from the Chauntea devotee.

[Vinnie secures more potion-making lessons 200 XP]

However, just before we depart the glorious Umber Hill Newt lets his comrades experience his version of Umber Hell, basically the tabaxi- caught in a daydream, re-visions the blooming village during a ‘glorious’ firestorm.

Just to note this speech, describing a hellish Umber Hill, is delivered apropos nothing much, Newt just says these things, out loud (but usually only to his colleagues)- it’s odd.

“Imagine, if you will, tortured screams coming from the flaming windmill- as spirals of fire shoot from the twirling sails, as if from a Cat’o’whirl (like a Catherine Wheel). Each flourishing flame touching down amidst fresh kindling. To sprout afire-fresh and seed the entire of Umber Hill with a sizzling crimson crop!”

The tabaxi finishes, and with a grin, and then a shiver of pleasure.

“You are just zo weird!” Vinnie concludes, as Ram slowly shakes his head.

[Newt’s Umber Hell vision 200 XP]

It’s just great when the players do the work for you.

So, its early afternoon when the Dark Squad depart Umber Hill, next stop is Butterskull Ranch, home of the ‘missing’ Big Al Kalhoon, the ex-watch commander of Saltmarsh turned butter producer/seller.

But the next encounter is with a trio of unsaddled riding horses, and then a cow- all of the beasts wandering the road on which the Dark Squad are traveling.

Vinnie turns on his animal charm and corals the three riding horses, they’re certainly domesticated animals, and all of them branded- ‘BAK’, that’s Big Al Kalhoon. The beast’s have escaped the farm, the druid correctly surmises.

Ram tries and fails to lead the escaped cow to safety- the beast jogs ahead of the rushing rogue for a while, at least until the ex-smuggler decides to give up on the project, he’s not country-folk that’s certain.

The Dark Squad secure the three wandering horses- and their mounts, in a copse of trees a little way off the road, and well out of sight, and then as sneakily as they can (courtesy of Vinnie’s Pass Without Trace spell) approach Butterskull Ranch, undetected- they hope.

[Horses on the road 100 XP]

The place is as much fortress as farm, a stone-built compound with twelve foot high walls and great wooden gates. Vinnie however is certain that the barks and growls that can heard, every now and then, coming from within are not being produced by dogs (wild or otherwise). The sounds are being made by a gnoll, at least one, and perhaps several hyenas.

He’s not wrong.

The Dark Squad therefore huddle-up and hide in the dense vegetation, as Owly- Vinnie’s owl familiar, takes to the skies to have a good look around, and keep in mind that the druid is sharing the bird’s senses.

The area within the compound is a mess- with smashed and broken items strewn all about, and blood trails here and there. However, the buildings are still intact. The backyard of the compound is home to a watching gnoll and a clutch of hyenas- mostly just sunning themselves and relaxing. The front yard holds another pair of gnolls- one of which seems to be spearing and eating the fish from Big Al Kalhoon’s ornamental pond, the other is doing a lot of the barking and snarling, there’s also a giant hyena here that is worryingly gnawing on a severed arm.

It seems all is not well at the Butterskull Ranch.

Ram is up next, the rogue quietly and sneakily makes a circuit of the compound, and discovers that there are windows, barred but not shuttered, that show into the farmhouse proper. Within, the half-elf discerns, with a ‘34’ on his stealth check, there are a clutch more gnolls, two of them leader-types, he’s certain.

One of whom he recognises, it’s the cloaked gnoll the Dark Squad first encountered way back in the gnoll and hyena attack on the ruined Temple of Abbathor, when the Dark Squad helped out the dwarven engineers fro Farhill- Bang & Olafsson. Now, as then, the cloaked gnoll seems to be in charge of the operation, but the rogue doesn’t understand what the creatures are saying, although he gets the impression that the gnoll boss isn’t happy about something.


I promise you, all of you- this isn't going to be easy.

And so, we’re setting up for the fight- therefore the Dark Squad regroup, and then talk through their options/tactics, until a plan is formed. Then Ram gets situated, up on the roof of one of the buildings- behind a chimney and well out of sight (stealth ‘29’). While Daktari, Newt and Vinnie silently enter the compound- the door is pulled shut but not locked. They get as close as they dare to the giant hyena (eating an arm) in the main courtyard (lowest stealth ‘22’).

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

[Recon & prep for project gnoll genocide 500 XP]

I assure you however it is all going to kick off, and possibly right royally, in the next session.

Oh, but just to say- the Dark Squad are maybe 1,000 XP off seventh level, so that’s nice.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.

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