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

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You also have an old thread, We D&D - Tyranny of Dragons part 2 - The Rise of Tiamat that you never finished off. Has that one been abandoned? Your last update was on August 20 of last year.

To be honest this one got a little complicated and ugly/messy towards the end, and we did get to the end- sorta.

There's a part of me that does want to finish this one off, which is why I've not totally abandoned it and declared it dead, or thrown out the Fantasy Grounds Chat files and the associated note books that went with this one.

I'm still not ready to say I'm not going to finish it, I just... other (new and more exciting) things keep getting in the way, although to be honest I'd not thought about it for months.

Sorry, but again... there may come a time.

Cheers goonalan


Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #065: Attack of the Psychic Rats (& Daktari).

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 7
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 7
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 7
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 7

Inverna Nightbreeze (played by Goonalan) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 7 (Sidekick)
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
Tarbin Tul (played by goonalan) Male Human Bard RETIRED
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.

Gerald (Bat/Giant Bat) servant/mount of New Tricks
Owly (Owl) Vinnie’s familiar

This is session 65, it was a doozy, up there with the best.

And the day after, in the school yard- actually the smoking shelter outside of the Uni building in which me and Jim/Haggis (Vinnie & Daktari) work, he was keen to tell me how much he enjoyed the session, I think he said- “we were being hunted, maaaan! I mean- I was scared.”

So, that worked.

Oh, but after the session- there was an awful lot of bitching- 'my dice were broken', followed by, 'but no, my dice were broken more...' But y'know- players. They tend to exaggerate, have you noticed that?


The Dark Squad are in the process of trying to save Arty Swell, he's a murderer dontchya know, or at least he remembers stabbing Cali Brightsong. Vinnie has signed up to be Arty's Speaker (Lawyer) at the gnome alchemist's trial here in Squabblepot. The trial will take place in 72 hours, although that's down to 65 hours now.

The PCs however have chosen to go for the 5,000 gp reward (see session 62b) and so they're trying to get this mystery solved in just 24 hours (of which they have 17 hours left).

At present the Dark Squad are chasing Ian with one I, a nothic you'll remember, and the creepy bastard that has been bending Arty's head, at least that's where the PCs are at with the story. Although there's some talk that Ian with one I is actually Randall Blackthorn, a bad gnome (perhaps) that fled Squabblepot nearly two-hundred years ago.

When we left the Dark Squad they had just made it to the base of a sulphurous cavern stair- attacked by sulphur stirges and plagued by earth tremors en route, it's been a fraught descent, and at the bottom... a sulphur ankheg to greet them.

We're in melee, and my pitiful ankheg lasts just one turn, the Dark Squad are hard core.

That said this fight may have been the cause for the various PCs 'my dice are broken' complaints- initiative for the guys went- Ram '1', Daktari '2', Vinnie '1', Inverna '4' & Newt '1'. Plus bonuses, of course.

So, there's that.

But as I said, the ankheg dies very quickly, and without landing a hit.

The gang are now in a high-ceilinged, sulphurous cavern- there's something shiny over in the far corner, it turns out to be an old discarded holy symbol of Torm- silver & valuable.

But further investigations cause the second ankheg to make its appearance, the creature manages to spray sulphuric acid at Daktari and Ram. I roll 3d8 for damage and get- 7. Daktari saves for half-

“My skin feels so clean and fresh, I have exfoliating!” The cheeky Sky Pony barbarian loudly declares.

While Ram evades all hurt.



Then the Dark Squad take my second ankheg apart, with Ram doing something like '34' damage with a high rolling sneak attack.

'My dice were broken...'

Mwah, mwah, mwah!


[Ankhegs 1000 XP]

But next a Constitution saving throw for all of the PCs, the cavern is hot and sulphurous remember, and now Ram (after a fail) has a permanent cough- there's no more moving silently for the rogue, he has to stop to hack and splutter every five seconds or so.

Note these saves continue as the PCs exert themselves, or else spend more time down here in the fug and stink.

Keep in mind guys, in this session I made you all make a lot of dice rolls- saves and checks.

However, there's a way out of the huge-ish cavern, a stepped series of stone ledges- a warm wet mist and the sound of water/liquid bubbling coming from this direction, there's even another minor earth tremor as the PCs ascend to find out.

Into another cavernous chamber, with high vertical walls that enclose a bubbling lake- the liquid steams, and is undoubtedly sulphurous. Every now and then at a spot just before the ledge on which the PCs stand, the water suddenly churns and erupts in a scalding (and possibly toxic) burst of viscous mud.

“It iz, ow yew say- a bit of a bug-ear! We are ave to do sum climb-ming!” Vinnie declares.


That circle's the bubbling mud. The caves down here are a much less friendly place.

If you've not noticed I'm environmenting the hell out of the Dark Squad down here.

The druid is wearing a pair of Slippers of Spider Climbing, so he's all good. Newt, previously, cast Spider Climb on Daktari but he failed his concentration check to maintain the spell when he got critted back on the sulphurous stair by an equally sulphurous stirge.

Vinnie therefore- on his own and very cautiously, goes for a bit of a clamber about- the druid discovers that there are hollow spaces- small caverns, dotted around the walls of the watery chamber.

He, very tentatively, explores one or two of them, and in one finds a little bit of treasure- a piece of long lost jewellery.

But that's all he can find, initially, that is until en route back to his friends a scalding hot geyser erupts in the confluence of several watery passages- the druid is left burnt and screaming. Worse still. emerging apres the burning discharge come a trio of mud mephits, as quickly identified by the now frantic druid.

Vinnie books it, he disengages and flees (still spider climbing) around the walls and across the ceiling, all the way back to the Squad who are, of course, still situated on the shore of the steaming pool.


Mud Mephits! Vinnie disengages and is ready to run...

The mud mephits chase the druid- and are then swiftly shot and/or blasted by the Squad.

Note, at this point Daktari decides to use his longbow (for the first time), a weapon that Ram & Vinnie (I think) convinced him to buy way back in Neverwinter- he was getting through an awful lot of javelins. Daktari is not sure about using a bow, he thinks bows (and the like) are unmanly. If you are not hitting or chucking then... well, it isn't proper fighting.

The Sky Pony barbarian therefore has to ask the gods to look away prior to using this weapon, I love it when Jim makes this kind of stuff up. But remember this moment all the same.

“I bring shame on my clan when I use the bendy-wood-string, it is martial aid, much shame. Look away oh my great ancestors, Daktari has no use for martial aids!”

But it's a massacre, a little later- after a second Vinnie spider-climbing expedition, yet more caves are discovered, and more mephits aroused.

In swift order another four mud mephits get blasted, not one of them manages to land a hit on any of the PCs.


Vinnie triggers another encounter with Mud Mephits, this after having been badly scalded by the boiling water/mud geyser explosion- indicated by the larger circle. Any second now he's going to disengage again and go running (screaming) back to his friends.

I refer the players again to their broken dice.

But here's the thing, during Vinnie's last expedition the druid discovers that there's a way out of the chamber that they are in- the water, and it's clean clear water at this point- flows into the chamber through a partially submerged passage to the west.

That's the way out.

[Find the clear water 200 XP]

He therefore returns to his friends to share the good news, although it is at this point that the four more mud mephits get into action against the druid.

[Vinnie spider-climbing and exploring 250 XP]

So, after the fighting...

Daktari, like Ram, is also coughing and spluttering, while Vinnie is much worse- the druid is effectively exhausted. Don't go spelunking in poorly ventilated sulphur-filled caves, it's a lesson for life.

Then, after more checks- mostly inventory, the PCs- again mostly Vinnie, discover that while the water/sulphur/mud mixture in the pool is hot, and toxic, it isn't going to kill them- or else given time it could and would kill them, but very slowly.

DM- at worse it does 1d4 acid & 1d4 heat/turn, and the exit stream, with clean clear water, is only half-a-minute swimming away.

Here's the thing- Ram has Mariner's Studded Leather armour, and he's also a great swimmer (ex-smuggler/pirate). Daktari, as you are undoubtedly aware, is a very athletic individual. Vinnie? Well, he's a giant octopus when he wants to be.

Vincen G Octopod can carry two folk (while on the surface) through the liquid, and so he does- Inverna and Newt, although all of the PCs need to submerge partially to get through the watery passage and into the next chamber.

It all goes well, a little bit of hurt here and there- the odd geyser explosion, but nothing too much.

[Mud, mephits and a big geyser 1200 XP]


The first appearance of Vincen G Octopod for quite some time.

The chamber the Dark Squad emerge in is another high-ceilinged pool cavern, a stepped incline leading down into the chamber from the north- down which the fresh clear water flows and feeds the pool. There are also a series of stepped platforms to the south- dry land.

It is much less sulphurous in here, and so the decision is made- the Dark Squad have not stopped for nearly eight hours now, they've not even had a biscuit.

Newt erects his Leomund's Tiny Hut, and... the Dark Squad take an hour to recover.

Note, before this happens- or else while this is happening, Vinnie- rather, Vincen G Octopod takes it upon himself to go for a bit of an explore back in the previous chamber. He manages to trigger the scalding geyser twice more during his voyage of discovery.

He finds nothing, and is now even more in need of healing.


Although, when Newt emerges from the Hut (and the Hut disappears) both the tabaxi and the Sky Pony barbarian receive messages directly into their brains- I won't say what Ian with one I (if that's who it was) said to them.

But it's not pleasant- perhaps even a little threatening.

The Dark Squad, collectively and individually are pissed with Ian, and still- I am glad to report, very keen to get hold of the one-eyed little bastard.

Again, it was Daktari with the threat-line.

“I will find this one-eye bastard, and poke him with shatterspike. Right in eye! Ha ha! Yes!” Daktari nods a lot, and grins like he has just told the funniest joke ever.

Then- Ram's secret door.

The chamber, as I have already said, has a river leading down into it- a few stepped areas of dry land and all else is water.

Ram states, “There's bound to be a secret door in here”, and then rolls a '1', but keep in mind he's rolling in the Dice Tower on Fantasy Grounds Unity, and so the only person that can see the result of his roll is me.

Ram finds the secret door, more remarkably all of the other members of the Dark Squad (even Newt) take a moment to big-up Ram with his eagle-eyes.


"It's there- just there!" Ram exclaims again while Daktari continues to rub his shoulder.

A little later, maybe five or so minutes... with Daktari having almost dislocated his shoulder trying to shove open Ram's secret door, well... three more perception checks from the rest of the team and there is no secret door, never was- it's just a plain bit of wall with a bunch of striations and cracks.

Daktari took more damage from Ram's secret door than he took from the ankhegs and the mephits combined.

[Ram's secret door 100 XP]

We go on- climbing the northern watery passage out of the chamber, the path of the river... and there find a little side passage and on the dirt and stone here the wet clawed tracks of a biped/quadruped, furthermore it seems Ian with one I was sitting in this spot not so very long ago- a matter of minutes perhaps.

Boy are the Dark Squad pissed.

The cavern ascends a bit but then the only place to go is through a narrow tunnel, high and dry- above the water's flow, and on... with Ram leading, as always, into a snaking narrow tunnel. The passage is mostly three to four feet high and wide, although interspersed with larger (but not much) chambers/spaces.


[Inset Image] Ram crawls/clambers down a narrow and ratty passage. [Main Image] The rest of the Dark Squad await the recon man's return and report.

There are lots of rats here, but they're just cave rats who either run away from the PCs, or else pay them no heed. The Dark Squad, for their part, return the favour.

That is until a couple of giant rats come out to play, but come on- giant rats? These are 7th level PCs, but stuck on their hand and knees, and if you're Daktari attempting to poke the vermin dead with your longsword.


Giant Rats in the tunnels.

So, it's a little frantic for a while, and more so when the rat swarms start to show up- Vinnie gets attacked repeatedly.

Just to note, the rats (cave) mostly move through the walls, the players attacks are at minuses or with disadvantage, and if there's a PC between you and the target, well- the likelihood is you cannot see the target.

The threat is getting neutralised, but... it's not easy.

Newt almost manages to collapse the ceiling of a tunnel on Inverna.

Then, for no reason anyone can think of, Daktari declares that he has spotted Ian with one I and so runs off down a different tunnel and into the dark.


Ram chases down Daktari- the barbarian spotted Ian with one I and took off after the Nothic. Although, Ram is certain that there's no-one in the room that Daktari just chased Ian into... what's going on here?

The rest of the Dark Squad didn't see Ian, and so after a brief chat they go after the barbarian.

Ram spots a swarm of rats that seem to glow, but then the creatures disperse into the passage walls.

Newt gives up the chase and finds a way out of the cramped tunnels here, into a flagged and worked stone chamber, he is however reluctant to investigate (on his own) and so sends Invisible Tiddles to go check the place out.

Meantime the other members of the Dark Squad finally catch up with Daktari, only now the barbarian is broken, they find the sensitive brute sat upon the muddy ground bemoaning his fortune-

“I cannot no more see Ian with eye. My ancestors have cursed me for using bendy-wood-string. I am in great shame!”

Daktari is in a blue funk.

But then a bunch more giant rats, and another swarm (not glowing this time) turn up and get into their biting routine, soon after Vinnie is covered in rats. Although, while trying to keep the vermin at bay he casts Speak with Animals and attempts to persuade a few members of the swarm to answer his questions.

More remarkably, after a series of good to great rolls, he succeeds.

“The rat swarm king has ordered your destruction!” Just about summarises the rat's (collective) position.

Vinnie thinks the 'rat swarm king' is Ian with one I.

A little after this Ram starts to feel something, perhaps several somethings, trying to scurry around in his brain. He manages to block the mental attack, but the last image he sees as he wards the psychic blow is the same glowing swarm of rats he saw earlier, only these foul vermin have their cranium's peeled back to reveal their throbbing & glowing brains.

Not nice.

It's all getting very confused in the rat tunnels.

Then Daktari spots Ian again, he shoves several of his companions over, or else aside, as he races off- back the way he came, back into the darkness.

Newt learns little from his Invisible Tiddles save that the chamber ahead is clearly uninhabited, he ordered the cat to claw anything living/suspicious that it found in the chamber.

The warlock therefore returns back the way he came, just in time to see Daktari rush right past him- back into the tunnel that leads all the way up into the watery (and sulphurous) chambers above.

Just to note, Daktari has failed six saves so far- DC 14, this includes the inspiration point he spent to make that save again = '1'. Daktari has been subject to a Confusion spell for the last five turns.

Newt, or else Bear playing Newt, wonders if he can attempt to lift the charm (actually Confusion) affecting the barbarian, to which I- your moderate DM, reply-

“You're metagaming. Daktari has just rushed past you shouting about wanting to kill Ian, he's swearing and cursing at volume 11, and all the while crashing about in an absolute fury.”

“How is his behaviour any different than normal?”

Newt concedes the point, and instead makes polite chit-chat with the screaming barbarian, enquiring as to the locale of the rest of the Squad.

But then Daktari finally figures it, the enemy is no longer racing ahead of him- and that enemy is Ian with one I, who just happens at this moment in time to look an awful lot like Newt.


Daktari spots the Dark Squad's true enemy- Newt, I mean...

The screaming barbarian turns around and rushes (as best he can in the cramped tunnels) the tabaxi, Shatterspike at the ready- he rages, and then, finally, he makes his saving throw (even though it was at disadvantage, I'm a nasty DM).

Daktari pulls his attack, Newt keeps his head.

That was close.

Further along the tunnels Vinnie, Inverna and Ram are still fighting off yet another rat swarm.

But that's all we had time for this session, the Dark Squad have spent ten-and-a-half hours at the mystery so far.

The Dark Squad’s to-do list reads a little like this-
  1. Find Ian with one 'I'.
  2. Save (the bastard) Arty Swell (maybe).
  3. To the Moon Pool.
  4. Goblins in the Dreadwood.
  5. Nightshade in the Dreadwood.
  6. To Blackedge, find the Goblin Stair.
  7. Return to Fallowstone Holy for answers- the Witch’s Tor & the Pact of the Flame.
Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.


Damn - splitting the party, in teeny tiny tunnels, with psychic enemies who know the terrain, all with the clock ticking. Rather them than me!


Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #066: No Smoke without Fire, or rather Magma.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 7
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 7
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 7
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 7

Inverna Nightbreeze (played by Goonalan) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 7 (Sidekick)
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
Tarbin Tul (played by goonalan) Male Human Bard RETIRED
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.

Gerald (Bat/Giant Bat) servant/mount of New Tricks
Owly (Owl) Vinnie’s familiar

This is session 66, and here we go again.

Note, before this session there was a fair amount of chatter amongst the players about the impending level 8, they're only approx. 4,000 XP away- plans are getting made.

All they need to do is survive.

But back to it.

The Dark Squad are shuffling around some cramped and muddy tunnels, they're after Ian with one I, who is a nothic (they want to capture Ian, or else bring his body back as evidence)- the beast (it seems) has Arty Swell in its power. Or at least that's the story the PCs are telling me and themselves atm, we may get to see if they're right.

But not in this session we wont, there's a lot of fighting in this one- and some more nasty environmental stuff to deal with, and the psychic rats of course- a swarm of cranium rats actually. Last session ended with Daktari just about to take a big chunk out of Newt (he thought the tabaxi was Ian with one I), and then he (at last, and with disadvantage) made his save. The confusion is lifted- it's not Ian with one I it's the lovable Newt!

Oh, and atm Vinnie has about a thousand rats on him... that's not good.

So, here we go...


Newt has a quiet word with Daktari.

Newt goes bonkers, and by which I of course mean that Bear who plays Newt goes bonkers- in his rasping voice, and keep in mind that when he gets real hissy loud his microphone cuts out, so-

“Daktari, you moronic rat's ... If you ever come at me again then I will take your sky pony and shove it so far up your ... … ... stuck in your COLON! I am Newt the... I am the ... of ... you piece of ... I will ... and then ... and then ... and then ... with a ... until it breaks. Do you understand me?”

And everyone does.

Everybody is real clear.

Even Daktari who just mostly does sanguine, and yet he's very keen to explain.

Daktari is always remarkably calm, it's like he doesn't understand what's going on most of the time, odd that.

And so, and remember to do it in a dumb cod Russian voice-

“Newt! My eyes were telling lies to the bit behind my eyes! I do not understand Newt! They lied to me. My evil eyes!”

[Newt & Daktari 100 XP]

A little later the pair agree to go and find their friends, who are at present still happily playing with rats.

However, en route to Vinnie's rat-show (he's being swarmed) something tries to tickle Newt's brain- but the cranium swarm have picked the wrong guy this time, the tabaxi warlock is not buying it.

Ten seconds later and Newt has spotted yet another rat swarm off on its own, skulking around in the dark, trying to act all innocent, he blasts the heck out of the little critters, and rolls mad damage with his second Belphegor Fiery Blast.


The Rat King Swarm.

My cranium rat swarm gets toasted, shame- that was nearly ten turns of fun I had with those guys.

After that the swarm that was bothering Vinnie, and a bunch of other fast approaching rat enemies, that were closing in on the action, well... they sorta scurry off to do something else.

[Psychic rat bastards, and friends 2075 XP]

A couple of minutes later, while the Dark Squad watch and wait, the scene shifts to normality, there are cave rats about- mostly just scuttling along and doing their own thing, but no more giant rats trying to kill them, no swarms of ferocious biting rats, and definitely no-more cranium rat swarms.

Newt investigates and then identifies the bad psychic rats he lit up, maybe even takes a few body parts, he's like that.

Meantime Vinnie decides to try again with his Speak with Animals spell, which is still in operation. After a brief search about, and by proffering some of his hard tack, he manages to find a rat willing to gnaw the bone with him, as it were.

Vinnie chats with Wilfred the rat, he learns that Creepy Ian was here not so long ago- he passed through the tunnels, stopping only to communicate with the Rat King Swarm (the cranium rats) who then started riling everybody else up. Creepy Ian passed on into the old dwarven works.

Which is the place that Newt found last session, just a bit further through the tunnels here.

Good info.

Vinnie, as is his want, makes a speech to Wilfred about the new freedom that has been won for all rodent kind (in the post code), it ends with “Viva La Rodent!”, it usually does- or something very similar. It's good to see that Marxism and the revolutionary zeal still have a place in the D&D universe, It's like Animal Farm, only with... no, forget it.

Wilfred is made to promise to tell Vinnie if Creepy Ian gets spotted by him or any of his friends, note after this request I, your glorious DM, think- no chance, but then Jim/Vinnie rolls a '19' plus bonuses, so- okay.

Wilfred will pass the word.

[Chats with Wilfred 200 XP]

The Dark Squad exit the rat warren tunnels and into, well- what the hell is it. Maybe some kind of forge, maybe. Investigations begin- there are sloping four runnels, possibly down which molten liquid flows, into a mould. The mould is a very odd shape, it's not very deep- maybe two inches, and it's bevelled. It's odd. All of the stonework here is very definitely dwarven.

The Dark Squad take a moment to scratch their collective noggins- what were the dwarves making, the mould would create a ten foot tall, five foot wide, slightly curved- but very thin piece of metal. Or if not metal then whatever previously molten substance that entered the mould down the runnels here.

If they're right in their assumptions.

If you are struggling to imagine the shape than think of a tower shield- only ten feet tall, five feet wide and very slightly curved.

The stairs to the west of this chamber are also throwing out a lot of heat, there's something nasty warm down there, the PCs think, and so therefore chose not to explore.

Then someone, my guess is it's Ian with one I, which coincides with Newt's guess too, well... whoever that somebody is they start making threats in the tabaxi warlock's head again.

Newt, normally the most calm of individuals, starts hissing, swearing and shouting the odds.

“Get out of my head, you one eyed piece of … ! I am going to...”, but we know how this sentence ends, with Bear's mic cutting in and out as he screams and rants.

Then Vinnie and Daktari simultaneously conclude that the creature they are following- let's call him Ian, headed down the northern stairs, the gang follow. Note there are three exits to the mould chamber, the third is ignored.


Ian went this way!

The northern stairs however descend steeply into a cavernous wide passageway, possibly two passageways- there are two tunnels both heading north but the eastern one has completely collapsed.

There's a heat haze ahead, and the temperature rises as the Dark Squad cautiously move forward, Ram sneaking a little way in advance of his colleagues.


Ram, off for a lurch in the dark.

But here's a thing, to either side of the main thoroughfare of the passage are, what look to be stones shaped like the missing area of the mould, the Dark Squad stop to investigate and have another think about things. These low set stone biers, they conclude, are exactly the same shape as the hollow of the mould, whatever comes out of the mould could be placed here- to cool?

It's all very odd.

Then onwards, scurrying quickly, Ram first- of course, past an opening in the west wall, beyond the collapse a sea of molten lava- that's not good.

The Dark Squad move quicker still, particularly as Ram has just spotted a pair of reptile like taloned feet/legs (attached to an unseen body) skittering around the corner ahead, but on the ceiling. Ian with one I it seems is adept at spider climbing, as the PCs already presumed.

Then, of course, as the PCs are dashing ahead a sudden wave of ferociously hot lava surges up and over the collapsed wall to the west, it would have to happen now! What bad luck for the Dark Squad.

But remarkably- there are two saving throws, the first a Dex check for the two PCs in the path of the sudden slop of red hot liquid- they both pass with style. But then the corridor is suddenly filled with scalding hot steam and smoke, and... all of the PCs make their Con saves, so... that was pretty disappointing.

That said the passage ahead is now home to a pool of terrifyingly hot lava, and Inverna is on the wrong side of the fiery spew, although pretty much no-one at this point can see what they're doing, or indeed where they're going (the steam remember).

Worse still, moments later, everyone that's not Inverna spot- when the smoke clears a little, that ahead is the shimmer of yet more lava that has breached the passage. The safe route does indeed seem to be the ceiling...

Then, as the PCs are shouting back and forth to each other, and figuring just how close they can get to the lava without having to make saves, then... the mephits arrive.

These beauties come in two flavours- magma and smoke.


No Smoke without fire (Magma). Get comfy.

An hour later.

We're still at it.

The schtick is, the mephits emerge from the smoke and lava, use whatever they have in the way of breath weapons- hose a few PCs, and then retreat to the very hard to hit places (concealment or better, most every turn).

The PCs on the other hand have found a safe zone from which to do their fighting (mostly shooting), a spot in which they don't have to make saving throws for the smoke and heat of the lava pools either ahead or behind.

They pretty much religiously stick to this spot, Vinnie, Newt, Daktari & Ram are lined up across the passage, which is ideal for my guys- I get to make three attacks every time another breath weapon recharges.

Daktari gets blinded my a smoke mephit at least twice, Vinnie also dips in and out with regard to the sense. All of the PCs, even Newt (for 1 HP damage) get scalded by the magma mephit's breath attacks.


Daktari's view for much of the fight, note he should not be able to see his colleagues, or the mephit to the south- I'm not a High Master when it comes to Fantasy Grounds Unity.

However, early on in the fracas both Vinnie and Newt consume their Potions of Fire Resistance, and that helps a lot.

So, the fight goes on- because the Dark Squad are not going to move from their spots, and... the mephits are therefore much harder to hit, and they can take their time- wait for things to recharge.

Well, that's okay if you're a gang of four, Inverna after five turns of listening to her new found companions rant, scream and suffer suddenly gets to find out for herself.

The elf hireling is attacked by a magma and smoke mephit of her own, just one of each- but the magma mephit's Heat Metal spell is particularly effective, the sidekick fighter is bloodied in maybe three turns.

Of course all of the other guys are also taking hits, but the mephits are getting beaten down.

Daktari has to drop Shatterspike when it to is subject to a magma mephit's Heat Metal spell, it goes on a while.

But, eventually, we get through it, although Ram- danger man has to rush and leap the lava puddle to get to Inverna's side of the fight and help the elf out.

And keep in mind when the smoke mephits die they leave a cloud of concealing smoke as a grave marker.

[Lava and mephits 1050 XP]


The greyed out circles are exploded smoke mephits- I've figured a better way of doing this in FGU now. The yellow circle is Vinnie's Moonbeam, I've also figured a better way to do this one.

The Dark Squad finally continue on north, past another breach and more lava, then around the corner and back towards the collapse in the parallel passageway.

Vinnie even takes to the ceiling (with his Slippers of Spider Climbing) to search for Ian's trail, he finds the nothic's muddy foot prints.

Ian went this way, the druid is certain- back down the passage (south) and up a set of steep steps that rise to the east.


Around the corner- Newt, of all people, finds the stairs outta here.

But before we go there, the Dark Squad are pretty beat, and beat-up, remember they are trying to get this task done quickly- in just 24 hours, for which they will receive a reward of 5,000gp's worth of alchemical type items- drip fed to them by Arty providing they save him.

Keep in mind they actually have 72 hours to save the gnome, in reality, the time dependency thing (and the three levels of reward available) is my construct, a motivation tool.

So, the Dark Squad take a break- not a short rest, they've had one of those earlier today, but the time it takes to shoot the breeze and suck down a few Potions of Healing, and to rub in a use or two of Keoughtom's Ointment.

Note at this point Vinnie's hit points were in the high teens, Daktari was down to twenty-something (from about eighty), Inverna low-twenties (max high sixties), while Ram was only just bloodied.

Newt had lost one of his temporary hit points- that's it.

The tabaxi got hit just once in the entire mephit fight, I was rolling randomly to see who provoked each mephit's ire, he got ignored almost all of the time.

Also note, we have a combat stat counting thing attached to FGU, Ram did something like 270 damage in this session- the next best, Newt, with something like a 160 damage. The rogue was, well, on fire- I guess.

Then, after a brief discussion between Inverna and Newt-

“Is it always like this, I mean...” Inverna begins.

“What? This? Pull yourself together woman, we've barely started. Look at me. LOOK AT ME! WELL!” Newt starts up.

Inverna looks, there's not a scratch or a singe on the tabaxi warlock.

“Now buck up Missy and let's get on!” Newt has a way with folk, an easy natural charm.

[Inverna & Newt 100 XP]


Ram, on point duty again.

The Dark Squad send Ram up the stair, stealthy-like, the rogue spots a lone dwarven skeleton guarding the ten foot high chamber ahead, with another set of stairs exiting on the far side. He signals his comrades to ready, and then begins the attack- the skeleton is destroyed in seconds but it seems there are more enemies present, another half-a-dozen members of the shambling undead descend the far stairs and into action.

But... they're low level undead, it's a massacre.


The Dark Squad get into the swing of things- low level undead are easy kills.

And when the fight ends the Dark Squad take a brief moment to look around them, there are a bunch more of the strange curved biers in here, and on each sits a rustless piece of white metal? Maybe, the investigation of these items (possibly) next time.

And that's all we got up to... lots of chatter, lots of fighting, lots of fun.

I love this game.

The Dark Squad have spent eleven-and-a-half hours at the mystery so far.

The Dark Squad’s to-do list reads a little like this-

  1. Find Ian with one 'I'​
  2. Save (the bastard) Arty Swell (maybe).​
  3. To the Moon Pool.​
  4. Goblins in the Dreadwood.​
  5. Nightshade in the Dreadwood.​
  6. To Blackedge, find the Goblin Stair.​
  7. Return to Fallowstone Holy for answers- the Witch’s Tor & the Pact of the Flame.​

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.


Blimey, but that was a good one...

I was particularly fond of the bit in which Inverna and Ram were out cold and dying (and taking ongoing damage), with Daktari on maybe a dozen hit points, and... not an enemy in sight. Not that you'd want to see a Bodak.

Then there was the bit later on with the disintegration rays...

Write up for the weekend.


Goonalan, and the Dark Squad.

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