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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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Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
A very intriguing session. And can I just say how much I love Newt :)
No, don't encourage him, just really don't.

We're all friends here but there are occasions when I'm just waiting to see which of his other friends is going to call him out this time.

It was great in the last session when George (the noob) playing Inverna (George's PC joins us very soon) was just... "how the F do you put up with this guy (in-game), isn't he what we're fighting against?!"

Which, of course, is just milk and honey to the kitty-kat.

First time around at the Moon Pool the PCs got asked a bunch of questions by Wildroot (an initiation to the Moon Pool) the PCs had to provide written answers.

Inverna, Vinnie, Dak & Ram- all played nicely.

I kept a record of Newt's replies, because they were so... evil, that's not the right word- cackling to yourself and shouting at the mirror mad with extra lashings of fire and terror. That about covers it.

Let's see if Bear is still reading this thread.

That chicken is about to come home to roast, oh I meant roost, of course.

In game conversations with significant NPCs I'm constantly leaving gaps after Newt's outpourings because I know that another PC (usually Vinnie) is duty bound to jump in to translate the tabaxi's sneering hatred into something infinitely more palatable.

It's just a thing we always do now.

Newt has an interpreter.

No game tomorrow, next session 29th.

Cheers goonalan
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #084: Into the Moon Pool Part 1.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 8
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 8

NPCs
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by George) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick)
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
Tarbin Tul (played by goonalan) Male Human Bard RETIRED
Ubmo (played by Goonalan) Supreme Being Lvl 1
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.

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

The Dark Squad’s to-do list-

  1. To the Moon Pool to glimpse the future.
  2. Remember, we've got to find the other four Symbols of Ub, one was left in Deepbridge (Duergar fortress in the Underdark). The others need to be found, they belonged to- Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit (halfling killer), Antonio De La Crane (posh kid druid alchemist) & Giggles (crazy wood elf). All of these folk lived in the Saltmarsh region, the Dark Squad have found the De La Crane Manse (in the Dreadwood) and the De La Crane Crypt (in Saltmarsh Cemetary).
  3. Return to Fallowstone Holy, church of Oghma, pick up info (Witch's Tor & Pact of the Flame, although the Dark Squad probably know all about this stuff already). What else do you need to find out about? See above, and below.
  4. Warn Ashby- the Soggy's (Sahuagin) are coming!
  5. Vinnie needs to be back for the next Saltmarsh Council meeting on the 1st Kythorn (June).
  6. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood?
  7. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  8. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame you need to find the hidden weapons left to fight Ashardalon.
  9. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame prepare the Witch's Tor for the coming of the starfall.
  10. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame track down the last member of the Pact, a wild elf adventurer called Giggles- and finally put her spirit to rest, and also recover her maze button. SEE 2. ABOVE.
This is session 84, and another good 'un. Although, I'm one behind in my write up here- as in we've played session 85 as well, so I'd better get weaving, and, well... this might be a short 'un.

If you remember, it all happened such a long while ago (it has been three weeks since the last session) then the Dark Squad have arrived at the Moon Pool, they're in for a dip, and another trip down prophecy lane. The Moon Pool, now that the Shrine of Savras (the Diviner) has been reconsecrated, and can be used to give an individual an insight into their future.

However, there's a catch- the amount of time the PC can spend in their vision/prophecy depends on how long they take to get through the maze-

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The maze being a simulation of the myriad sights, sounds and memories that need to be waded through by the individual to get to their DM designated prophecy. It's never easy.

PCs can move as per normal through the maze, make use of any of their abilities or skills, and can in addition make three checks each turn- each success increasing their movement by an additional 5 squares (25 feet). Basically- double move and then roll for an additional 15 squares movement each turn. The checks are against each of the PCs stats- DC 8, increasing by one after each success, any failures and that stat can no longer be checked.

So, the quicker you get through the maze then the more time the PC gets to spend in their vision.

Got it?

Oh, and this is a competition- the players are all very keen to be the quickest out.

So, this is a maze- but the PCs have been warned that the shared vision on Fantasy Grounds Unity has been turned off- therefore they can only see their PC (and their route) on the map. Also, they cannot communicate in any way with each other.

To note, following the left wall through the maze, with no checks for additional movement, and a PC that moves 30 feet x 2 for double move = 60 feet/turn should escape the maze in nine turns. Follow the right hand wall and the journey should take 13 turns.

So, there's that to consider.

Here's the final shot of the maze-

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None of the PCs decide to employ any strategy whatsoever.*

*Not entirely true, after about eight turns involving all of the PCs just running around in random directions the somewhat nonplussed DM explains that their PCs might be here a while longer if they continue to employ the random direction approach.

Just to make clear, just over thirty minutes later- when I made the above announcement, only one of the PCs was in the upper half of the maze, and anywhere near the exit- that was Daktari. After eight turns of wandering Ramshambow (usually incredibly good at this kind of thing) and Newt were both within two turns worth of normal movement away from the entrance to the maze.

And so, skip to the end- an hour or so later, and Daktari is out of the maze in just ten turns- after the DM warning above he just followed the left hand wall and... there it is, the exit. Vinnie escapes a couple of turns later, while Ram and Newt, well... their wanderings take a little while longer, approx. 20-something turns for each to find their way out.

And then the PCs visions begin-

Note, the PCs are spectral beings within the following visions, they have to make checks to interact with anything, and even then they can only move very small objects, maybe push a door open- that kind of thing.

They cannot be seen by other individuals encountered within their vision, with one obvious exception- Nicky, but we'll meet him in a minute.

Further note while within their vision each PC takes 1d4 psychic damage/turn, this to simulate the concentration needed to maintain the link.

Also, they've only got a limited amount of time within the prophecy- depending on how well they did in the maze.

And so...

8402.jpg

Daktari suddenly finds himself in a large clearing in a beautiful forest, he's positioned halfway up a burial mound shaped like a dragon in flight.

The barbarian, eventually, finds a way into the barrow that lies below, and believe me- that takes a while. Down ancient stone stairs into the tomb, the ever alert barbarian hears a noise to the north.

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There's someone (or something) moving about to the north.

The barbarian rushes into a tomb chamber- with illuminated altars and embedded in the far wall the skeletal skull, fore-limbs and body of a great dragon. A beautiful two-handed sword impaling the skull of the great beast.

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The sword, a little later it is discovered, was made by Durgeddin the Black.

However, of more import is the fact that Daktari is not alone here, also within the chamber- making notes (and armed with a pen, the fellow's shield serves as a very large clipboard) is a gaunt and wan looking young-ish male human (maybe). With dark hair and a widows peak, wearing ancient-looking (too big) platemail. Oh, and the fellow has quite a set of gnashers- think Bugs Bunny, although the protruding dentures both come to a point.

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Nicky's teeth, of course, impair the nervous young fellow's speech.

Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev talks with a lisp, and daintily so, he sounds educated- and more than a little frightened, at times, and at other times incredibly excited and interested in the minutest of detail.

Nicky is played by George, he's our new guy.

There follows an odd conversation- to be repeated in all of the visions. Daktari threatens a little but eventually decides that the “pasty creepy weak-man” is no threat.

Nicky, very obviously, plays nicely and tells the barbarian what he has discovered, which is that this place is some ancient tomb built by 'the people' (the elves) during their wars with dragonkind. It really is an ancient place- millennia old.

And yet the sword within was made by Durgeddin the Black, that's worth mentioning again.

But then the barbarian hears a noise, actually singing- someone is singing “Loving You”, by Minnie Ripperton.

Daktari has been called.

Nicky, alas, cannot hear the music.

The barbarian rushes off again and soon after, following the song, he discovers, in a chamber to the far south, the love of his life- a jet black pegasus style flying horse, just standing within a filthy chamber in the tomb.

The 'sky pony' is the source of the song, yes you read that right- the pegasus is singing at Daktari.

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The barbarian is so overcome he has a little cry... and his vision ends.

Nicky, however, does not share the barbarian's view of events- the gaunt note-taker watches Daktari cavort and dance around a heap of large (horse) bones on the floor. It's not an edifying spectacle.

Note, a little later on- after all of the visions are concluded (in the next session) the Dark Squad take more than a moment to tell each other about their dream observations. Of course, in game all of PCs can see what's going on- shared vision has been switch back on Fantasy Grounds Unity. They (the other players) cannot however interject (except to laugh) or help the PC in their vision.

Later, Daktari (with a '20' Survival check) remembers that the trees in Farrow Wood, in which the Dark Squad adventured very early on in their wanderings here, looked exactly like those in his vision.

Later still the PCs work out that the tomb that Daktari visited most likely contains the hidden weapons left by the Pact of the Wild Flame that they need to fight Ashardalon (see no. 8 on the PCs to-do list above).

Which brings us to Newt-

8407.jpg

Newt steps out of a stone portal (that's a clue), it's very warm here, and he can just see a sea of fire beyond the skull and bone strewn cave in which he stands.

Note, Newt takes fire damage every turn here, not psychic damage- that's another clue.

But the tabaxi is moving very fast now because he's not got long in his vision- he took the longest to escape the maze, and beyond the cave- a river of fire, with stepping stones to cross.

8408.jpg

Newt loves this kind of thing*. Note, the sky is on fire too- that's nice (and yet another clue).

*No, he doesn't. He hates this kind of thing. That's a clue.

The warlock, remarkably, makes his way safely across the fast moving stream of lava, and then into a series of caverns and ravines.

An old friend shows up...

It's the prostitute he slew all the way back in Neverwinter.

The cranky screaming streetwalker attempts to murder the warlock right back.

8409.jpg

She fails, but keeps on coming back for more, by the time newt escapes this area he has slain seven incarnations of this shrieking terror. The tabaxi however also gets punched, slapped and spat at repeatedly by his former victim.

It would be fair to say that Newt isn't in a good mood at this point, although he has now worked out that he saw this place in his vision within the gnoll pyre (back at the Shrine of Savras, while his comrades were re-consecrating the place, and having their own vision).

So, Newt knows that Belphegor lies at the end of this chase- his fiendish sweetheart is waiting for him.

As I've said once or twice already- he's in a rush.

A little later, alas, Newt encounters “Colin”*, he's the tanarukk demon that Newt summoned in the fight against Garthok the Thunder Boar. The Thunder Boar killed Colin.

*Not his real name.

Newt remembers Colin begging him to be released- this while Garthok was repeatedly ripping Colin a new one, alas the tanurrak's pleas fell on deaf ears.

However... the warlock is a smart cookie, and so moments later Colin, after a well-worded Friend A Fiend spell, is left guarding Newt's back, and expecting a future promotion for his continued stalwart service.

He's a silver-tongued bastard, is Newt.

The tabaxi runs on, his fur still on fire, he briefly encounters a couple more incarnations of the dead hooker, and then makes it across another burning river and into a great iron tower- filled mostly with bones.

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He rushes on, and upstairs- to be at last with his Lord, Belphegor.

And here at last is Newt's true master...

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Belphegor, the Pit Fiend, demands that Newt report, and the grinning tabaxi is in his element.

Newt's report is basically everything that the Dark Squad have done so far, only in his version of events, well... It was mostly Newt that done it all. The rest of the Squad are referred to as something like, “fiddling reptiles”, or some such, more of a hindrance than a help.

Belphegor is happy with the warlock, and eager to reward him.

Newt is loving this.

8412.jpg

But then Jot appears, remember him- the quasit/imp that was trouble all the way back in the Sunless Citadel, and then showed up again in hell... which, of course, should be yet another clue. Like all of the dead folk that Newt has had to battle through to get to this meeting.

But back to Jot, his line to Belphegor, clearly his boss- is something like, “I tawt I taw a puddy tat, I did! I did!”

Jot tells Belphegor that Newt has been seeing another fiend behind the Pit Fiend's back, basically he's promised his soul to another...

Belphegor is not happy.

Newt is not happy either (with Jot) but is more concerned with trying to prevent his master from incinerating him.

It gets ugly, but only briefly- because moments later Newt begins to fade out of existence, the last thing the tabaxi hears is Belphegor cursing him and ordering Jot to “fiddle with the aerial on the planar gyroscope and get HIM BACK!”

It's at this point that Newt realises that this isn't Newt's prophecy, this is the DM messing with the warlock.

But now Belphegor knows that Newt has been playing away with Humphrey Far-Fer-Nar.

He's screwed, but what kind of screwed is he?

Which brings us to Ram-

8413.jpg

The rogue suddenly finds himself gripping tight to the prow of an ancient and bone strewn sailing ship, roaring and crashing through the storm, the seas are wild and the night illuminated mostly by the flash of lightning.

Also aboard the vessel are cowled half-orcs, and quite a few of them- Ram has seen these fellows before, they're Talos worshippers.

Also chained to the prow is the animated skeleton of a giant, who wails and moans as the the ship carves its passage through the waves and spray.

The half-elf knows that he doesn't have long, and so after catching the waft of music from below he rushes on, down into the bowels of the ship.

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There are dozens of skeletons at the oars, but also a cabin to explore down here, the rogue finds the map room, and quickly determines that the ship is heading for Saltmarsh.

Down again and to the source of the song- within a forward space sits an armoured knight upon a throne, the knight's bones and body are fused with the ship. The vessel is alive (sorta), the knight captain and the great creaking boat are as one.

8415.jpg

Note Daktari, Newt & Vinnie/Owl are not in this prophecy, they're on the screen just because the shared vision thing on FGU was prevaricating, it was just easier to drop them on the map.

Back to the story...

But the music? The soothing words and the strum of a lute, a much abused Tarbin Tul (bard, and ex-member of the Dark Squad) sings and plays to keep the undead master of the vessel becalmed.

Also present in this moment is a pale-faced fellow, armoured in ancient plate, the young creepy-looking man is making notes.

This is Nicky of course, more strained chat follows when Ram discovers that Nicky can see him. The dhampir buck-toothed grins and waves at the rogue.

As with Daktari the rogue is taking no chances, particularly after he discovers that he can interact with Nicky. The rogue exchanges a few cursory words and learns from Nicky that the boat and the captain represent a sentient undead being- the Dreadnought. He then however gives Nicky a shove as he races off to explore further, remember Ram is really up against the clock here.

8416.jpg

In the bilges of the boat the rogue ends his voyage of discovery- there are slaves here, and one of them his Captain Stonebeard, Ram's old captain, the dwarf that rescued him from slavery. He needs, it seems, to return the favour.

But then his prophecy/vision ends.

Note, George playing Nicky is great throughout the above, and the other prophecies that follow (next session)- delivering exposition in his very special way. I armed him with a few lines before the sessions, but the creepy, lisping and cowardly Nicholai was a joy to behold. Great work George.

Further note during the terminal discussion, after all of the prophecies have played out, the Dark Squad revisit Ram's vision, and remember that Skeel the vampire (spawn) they fought and killed in Burle had this to say-

"Enough of this, we have the bard and the Dreadnought is coming. My dark master will see you all in hell!”

So, that was the Dreadnought, and like he said- Tarbin has been captured, but- to what end, well the ship is on its way to the Saltmarsh region and so the Dark Squad are going to find out.

But that's all we had time for in this one, the visions/prophecies continue in the next one.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 



Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #085: Into the Moon Pool Part 2.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 8
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 8
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8

NPCs
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by George) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick)
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP*
Tarbin Tul (played by goonalan) Male Human Bard RETIRED
Ubmo (played by Goonalan) Supreme Being Lvl 1
*Trapped in the Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors.

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

The Dark Squad’s to-do list-


  1. To the Moon Pool to glimpse the future.
  2. Remember, we've got to find the other four Symbols of Ub, one was left in Deepbridge (Duergar fortress in the Underdark). The others need to be found, they belonged to- Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit (halfling killer), Antonio De La Crane (posh kid druid alchemist) & Giggles (crazy wood elf). All of these folk lived in the Saltmarsh region, the Dark Squad have found the De La Crane Manse (in the Dreadwood) and the De La Crane Crypt (in Saltmarsh Cemetary).
  3. Return to Fallowstone Holy, church of Oghma, pick up info (Witch's Tor & Pact of the Flame, although the Dark Squad probably know all about this stuff already). What else do you need to find out about? See above, and below.
  4. Warn Ashby- the Soggy's (Sahuagin) are coming!
  5. Vinnie needs to be back for the next Saltmarsh Council meeting on the 1st Kythorn (June).
  6. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood?
  7. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  8. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame you need to find the hidden weapons left to fight Ashardalon.
  9. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame prepare the Witch's Tor for the coming of the starfall.
  10. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame track down the last member of the Pact, a wild elf adventurer called Giggles- and finally put her spirit to rest, and also recover her maze button. SEE 2. ABOVE.
This is session 85, and yet another good 'un. But, I'm still behind in my write up here- we played session 86 last night, therefore this might be another short one.

So, in the Moon Pool and time for the second batch of visions/prophecies, next up then is... Newt.

Yep, that's right- Newt's first encounter here was not Moon Pool related, that was Belphegor calling his agent in for a chat, that didn't go well, the Pit Fiend is now aware that Newt has also promised his soul to another- Humphrey Far-Fer-Nar.

Basically, Newt is two-timing him.

It's worth noting that one of Belphegor's final lines included the following- “Him, he's not even a proper fiend!”, the Pit Fiend was talking about Humphrey. Newt is therefore now fretting a little, who or what is Humphrey?

But, that's for another time.

Let's get into the vision, but not before reminding ourselves that the PCs cannot be seen (or heard etc.) in their vision (except by Nicky) and they cannot interact (much) with their vision. Basically they're not really there...

8500.jpg

So, Newt suddenly finds himself in a small plain stone room, it's dark in here- there are stairs heading up. There's a single metal-looking door with a small square window in it- beyond the door the tabaxi can see a stone chamber of immense proportions. There are markings on the floor and walls of the cavernous stone chamber – although none that Newt recognizes. Also within the revealed chamber are what looks to be a large metal object, maybe two stored perhaps within the cavern.

The warlock would investigate further but the portal before him is locked, he further notes that beside the door is a small metal box with a number of lights and buttons upon it, the lights are a variety of colours, and there are symbols on the buttons. He recognises the language- draconic, but cannot translate.

Frustrated Newt presses a series of random keys, a bright light suddenly illuminates yet more draconic text, then flashes brighter, insistent, but... Newt has no idea what is going on here.

He screams and caterwauls a little and then turns and rushes up the stairs, into...

8501.jpg

Another small stone chamber, with another door, and another window- through which the tabaxi spies an oddly illuminated dirty-ish passage or corridor, the light beyond the glass is glaring. The door here is also locked, and there's another identical keypad here too. Alas the thing is still incomprehensible. So, having already reached peek frustration point the warlock launches a fiery blast into the wall-mounted flashing box.

The object resists the attack entirely.

But again, another very insistent light winks on and off- this one with vehemence, illuminating yet more draconic text.

Newt screams obscenities into the hollow space of the stairwell for a short while, and then... for the want of something better to do, he races up another flight of stairs.

8502.jpg

The chamber above?

It's exactly the same as the one below, and now the tabaxi has started to note a few more things- the stone walls here are seamless- they must be magically wrought, the lights have an odd scratch and buzz, they flicker and shimmy and exude an unhealthy pallor- likewise magical he presumes. Even the balustrade on the railing he grips on the stairs is wrong, it appears to be made of some sort of slightly flexible shiny ceramic (maybe) the entire place somehow reminds him of Tao.

Up another flight of stairs and...

8503.jpg

It's exactly the same, another small stone chamber, another door- only a shadow moves across the viewing window of this portal. The tabaxi is quickly over, banging, screeching, screaming, caterwauling.

This kind of thing-

“I AM NEWT THE MAGNIFICENT! I DEMAND ACCESS! LET ME OUT OF HERE OR IN THE NAME OF BELPHEGOR I WILL … I WILL... WILL.”

But truth be told Newt doesn't know what he will do, so he runs up another flight of stairs, the last- as it happens, and straight out of the door and onto the roof, or at least...

8504.jpg

There's a lot to take in, it's night, it's raining (which doesn't improve Newt's mood), he seems to be somewhere very high up, it's very foggy- although he can see that all around him are similar structures to the one on which he stands, in fact- there are dozens, perhaps even hundreds of them, as far as he can see.

The roof area is illuminated by more garish lights, these lights however shape and dance all the while- there are a dozen or so screens each one of which produces a constant flow of images.

Newt watches the nearest screen- enthralled by the moving image, it shows a small but long-handled brush (seemingly made from the same flexible ceramic he saw below). A great hand and arm appears and manipulates a tube or small container of some sort, dispensing and distributing a white gummy like paste evenly onto the bristles of the aforementioned brush.

The hand appears again, grabs up the brush and... puts it bristle end first into an equally enormous mouth, and then for some unknown reason works the white paste into the teeth within the mouth, it brushes and scrubs, then rinses and spits. We see the mouth again- a smile, the teeth within shine. One pearl tooth crescents and births a starlight gleam that for a moment illuminates everything, even Newt's midnight soul.

Involuntarily Newt reaches for his own mouth, and then notices for the first time the wan-looking creepy-dude dressed in platemail that is staring at him, the figure looks as oddly out-of-place as Newt does, on the roof of the building. The wan figure points at Newt, and then points up.

Newt follows the arrow, he looks up.

In a gap in the clouds he sees the massive scaled body of a roiling serpent, the break in the clouds is only for a few seconds long but the movement of the scaled body across the space is continuous- no head, no tail, just the coils of a massive serpent.

Newt guestimates that the body of the great serpent is as large (as round) as the building on which he stands.

He stands mouth agape.

Then however the wan-fellow starts shouting at the tabaxi, bad idea- Newt's not having that. There follows the third in a series of weird conversation as Nicky introduces himself to Newt and vice-versa. Although, Newt goes straight to threat mode, it swiftly becomes apparent that Nicky's options are- answer the tabaxi warlock's questions, or prepare to be incinerated.

So, long story short- Nicky, he explains, is having a wild old time seemingly skipping from one marvellous and interesting place to another, lost in some sort of malfunctioning gate- actually a magical mirror, Nicky further explains. Newt doesn't understand all/much/any of this, but he doesn't let that bother him, because he has more questions that Nicky needs to answer, like-

WHERE THE FLIP-DICKINGS ARE WE?

Nicky mostly shrugs, he offers the answer, “in an alternative future space”, but Newt does not recognise those words in that order.

WHAT IN THE NAME OF MIGHTY BELPHEGOR IS GOING ON HERE?

Just to make absolutely clear, Newt is doing an awful lot of shouting at this point.

This question generates a little more traction. Nicky can only tell the tabaxi what he has seen so far- the great snake/serpent above, oft glimpsed through the clouds and always in constant motion, and the two strange looking fellows- an elf and a dwarf (best guess) that proceeded Newt up the stairs.

This pair went through the door over there.

Neither Newt nor Nicky can read or else make much sense of the moving picture screens, the great serpent up above roils and flexes... but there's nothing else to keep Newt entertained up on the roof, and he knows he doesn't have long in his vision (he was last out to escape the maze, remember).

“Come with me, you creepy fool. And be useful or else I will incinerate you, understand?”

Nicky nods at Newt, turns to a fresh page on his shield-clipboard and continues to make notes, stumbling after the tabaxi in his ill-fitting platemail, and into the building on the rooftop into which the elf and dwarf passed earlier.

The place is... it's all hard bright lights, with more brightly coloured surfaces- a small reception area, a machine/device hums, another screen shows more glaring images, and weirder still there's a goblin, only... Well, the female goblin is wearing white skin-tight leggings, large clumpy white shoes (massively cushioned and with twinkling lights), a tiger-print top with protruding shoulder pads, and the largest pair of glasses that the tabaxi has ever seen. What's more the female goblin's hair seems to have been styled and made to stand up from her head. It is bouffant, and for a moment Daktari comes to mind.

The goblin seems to be shouting in its foul and unintelligible tongue through an open door into the unseen chamber beyond, more goblin voices sound from in there. But... Newt leads Nicky on.

Note, fortuitously every portal that Newt aims for is opened by another equally gaudily dressed goblin, even as he approaches the door- every time. Serendipity?

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Keep in mind no-one here can see this pair.

There are more chambers in the building complex, and more goblins- two hunched over smaller moving image screens, the pair entirely engrossed with the events that play out before them.

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There's a chamber with what looks to be a bar, another with a table at which more goblins gamble, and eventually- in an office all the way through the building are the two individuals that Nicky saw enter here earlier.

The elf and the dwarf.

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There's something about this pair, Newt thinks.

It takes a while for the cogs in Newt's brain to turn, and time goes on... all the way to the point at which the Newt's vision/prophecy comes to an end, and he (and Nicky) fade from this reality.

But... he's got it.

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He's worked out who they are.

The tabaxi finds himself back in the Moon Pool, grinning.

The elf and the dwarf, they've both made changes but, it was Buggles and Gwen.

But that's enough of that revelation.

Vinnie suddenly finds himself before an open doorway, he enters in- a stone walled and floored chamber, it looks to be dwarven work- he's seen a lot of it of late, a storeroom in a dwarven holdfast, Vinnie thinks (or else guesses).

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The druid however is in a rush, and keen to get to the interesting part of his vision, room after room follows- all of it, he's certain, screams dwarven- there are statues here to the dwarven gods, and runic inscriptions and prayers and pleas, and eventually, at last, there's a door that leads... outside.

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Note the place thus far has proved to be empty, uninhabited.

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The door to outside.

That is until now.

Vinnie is back up in the heavens, he's standing on a large stone perch or platform, situated on a vast ball of rock floating high in the heavens. As he strides forward he becomes very aware of the extent of this rocky world, he spots the edge, beneath him is the blue-green swirl of Toril.

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There are two other things, or rather persons, to note here.

The first is Nicky, the wan pasty-looking fellow in the platemail. Nicky waves at Vinnie in welcome, offers half a smile, and then gets back to making notes. The dhampir cleric of twilight stands atop a rune inscribed dais, a shimmering curtain of force constrains him to this place.

The second thing, or person, is actually a goddess.

“Vincenzo Del Vino, I am Sehanine Moonbow, and you... are very much at my service.”

Sehanine, elven goddess of the moon (and secrets), possesses a beauty beyond the constraints of mortality, beyond the constraints of Toril. She sparkles, she dazzles, and Vinnie swoons.

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For a while he stutters through a lot of platitudes and compliments in his broken French accent, and then Sehanine explains.

“You have seen Tao, and much of the game- you must have questions, I will answer some of them, and as truthfully as I can. Your first question is?”

Note, Sehanine (and the DM) further makes it clear that Vinnie's questions must be precise/exact, not just rambling enquiries, no version of- “What's going on here?”. The goddess also makes it clear, she does not know everything, she does not possess all of the answers.

The druid prevaricates a while but eventually (with a little help from his friends) gets his questions straight, and the answers he receives are-

That the Eyes in the Night were on the same quest as the Dark Squad, however they failed in their attempt. There follows a short discussion about the cyclical nature of history.

That Antonio De La Crane, the version of Vinnie from the Eyes in the Night adventuring party, ran home to his father's house, or at least one of them- the goddess doesn't know where he is exactly, only that Antonio remains in the place he fled to.

And lastly, that Ub is a primordial being, perhaps even the first primordial being, he has been on Toril from the start (pretty much) even before many of the gods. Ub, it is said- although Sehanine does not possess the details, betrayed another primordial being (name unknown) that took the form of a great serpent. Ub and the great serpent have been at loggerheads ever since, this feud- Sehanine states, has been working towards a showdown for quite some time. That time is obviously approaching.

Sehanine offers a few more details about Ub, and confirms the fact that the primordial seems to favour dwarven form (and forms, like Durgeddin the Black), and has already made links (and deals, she thinks) with the dwarven gods. As she stated earlier- Ub has been around for a long time.

The last act of Sehanine is to introduce the lost and desperate Nicholai to Vincent, and to charge the druid with looking after the fine fellow. Nicky's story will appear here courtesy of his diary, and so I'll leave it up to George (who plays Nicky) to furnish you with the details.

Then, we're all back at the Moon Pool.

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Much more chatter follows as Nicky makes his formal introductions, and then the various members of the Dark Squad attempt to unravel all that have just seen and experienced.

Following this more chatter with Wildroot as the treant guardian of the Pact of the Wild Flame makes clear what the Dark Squad have to do to join the organisation.

Which (updated) are-

To join the Pact of the Wild Flame you need to find the hidden weapons left to fight Ashardalon, located in the dragon-in-flight shaped burial mound in Farrow Woods.

To join the Pact of the Wild Flame prepare the Witch's Tor, located in the Drowned Forest (situated in the Mere of the Dead Men) for the coming of the starfall. This means clear it out- there maybe hags, fey, undead or else who knows what type of bad things there.

To join the Pact of the Wild Flame track down the last member of the Pact, a wild elf adventurer called Giggles- and finally put her spirit to rest, and also recover her maze button. Location unknown.

That done the Dark Squad depart, they'll be back to the Moon Pool when they have accomplished the above tasks.

Then back to Burle, and then on to the Falcon's Nest, the Dark Squad have lots of jobs to do- lots of treasure items (both Bags of Holding are full) are packed up and sent on a cart back to Saltmarsh, the gang have a fence (Winston) who sells all of these items for them.

More chatter with the Falcon, although no new revelations, and then goodbye to Inverna, the sidekick fighter is further rewarded for her stalwart work, the cool elven maiden has a good word for all of her new friends (except Newt, of course) and will miss the Dark Squad terribly.

Then, a day or so later, and the Dark Squad are on the road, and all mounted again- Newt buys a new horse (Black Death his previous mount was killed by an Ankheg) and Nicky buys himself a fat little pony (called Alouicious). But here's the thing, the plan is/was to head off to Fallowstone Holy, a church of Oghma & Deneir (Knowledge & Writing) in Fallowstone. The priests there have been doing some research for the Dark Squad.

But...

But...

Nicky has had a good look at the Dark Squad's map, here it is-

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And he really wants to go to Ubton, because... well, Ubton- the town of Ub.

Note, Ubton has been on the PCs map for... well about session 30-something. The PCs however only learned of Ub about 20 or so sessions ago.

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So, hiding in plain sight (middle-ish of the map).

Four or so hours later and the Dark Squad are in Ubton, which is an immaculately kept, and well made, fortified settlement- the walls, Vinnie notes, are all dwarven work.

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The adventurers head for the Inn- it's called the White Dwarf, and the signboard depicts- well, Ub (who also looks like Durgeddin the Black), a bald and bearded small pale dwarf. Good food and ale follow, and then after spending a little coin, a story. The tavern owner is happy to explain, Ubton was built by a dwarf called Ub, nearly three centuries past, or at least Ub paid for and helped to build the walls that surround the town.

The Dark Squad are suitably aghast, they have lots of questions, but alas the tavern owner doesn't have the answers (at least not all of them), perhaps the Dark Squad should have a chat with Durgan Ub, son of the town's founder, he's the captain of the guard here.

But that's all we have time for this session.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Playa Playa

The Diary of Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev-


Dear diary,

It has been a truly strange and wonderful day.

My fall, it seems, was only the first of many:

The cave in which I found myself was fascinating, the ancient murals on the walls seemed to tell a tale of a great war raging in the distant past, observed from on high by a remote tribe.

I only had a few hours to make notes however, as the clouds or mist at the corner of my vision began to spread, and again I found myself falling.

I only stayed an hour or so in the next place, a true shame, for I have never seen it’s like before. Desolate rocky ground on all sides, the vast night sky stretching from horizon to horizon, and a lone structure, a tavern sitting surrounded by floating ships.

I barely had time to take in all the sights, and found that not only could I not be seen or heard, I could only touch things with great effort. But far too soon the mist closed in again, dragging me to the next destination.

I must admit, my entrance was even less dignified than usual, I recovered my senses only to see a giant dragon skull directly in front of me in the dark! I may have uttered a most embarrassing shriek, before realising that the beast was long dead. Thankfully nobody was around to hear me.

At least, not at first; a few minutes later a hugely muscled, middle-aged man (with truly fabulous hair) barrelled into the room and began asking me questions. He seemed to think he was dreaming, and after a short conversation about the tomb, and much prodding to verify that I was real, he grabbed the beautiful sword embedded in the dragon skull and rushed off down a corridor shouting about ponies. Most peculiar.

I followed and found him kneeling with tears in his eyes over the desiccated corpse of a horse, though how he knew it was there, or why he was so moved, I could not say. Before I could ask, I was whisked away to the next place, or possibly, as the large man said the next vision.

The first thing I became aware of was music, and the swaying motion of a ship. Though I have never been to sea, the creaking of stressed wood and the roar of the waves made me certain.

I found myself on the deck of a ship, a most unusual ship. Heavily decorated with bone, and wreathed in ghostly light, it moved through the storm with no apparent input from the crew.

They were a strange lot, orcs marked with the symbols of Talos, the storm god. Unable to interact with them, I decided to go looking for the source of the music.

In what appeared to be the captain's quarters I found a strange scene: a bard, sagging with exhaustion, serenading an undead being that appeared to be fused to the hull of the ship.
It was here I was accosted by another ruffian, this one a swarthy, lean man with cold eyes.
As before, he seemed to believe our situation to be a vision, and after satisfying himself that I knew little more than he (and verifying my solidity with another round of prodding), he ran off to explore the ship further. Both of these men seemed to be in a rush, I wonder if they were being dragged through multiple places as I was? I shall have to ask.

I had begun to observe unsettling trends in these "visions"; each one was a more outlandish setting than the last, and the person I encountered more aggressive. I should therefore not have been surprised to find myself in what appeared to be the future and being threatened with fire magic by an incredibly tall cat-man. I suppose I should be grateful that he did not feel the need to prod at me with his clawed hands.

It was hard to give him my full attention, however, as the storm-filled sky appeared to be shrouding a serpentine form, titanic, and apparently without beginning or end. A writhing mass of coils in the night sky.

With little time to explore this strange world of smooth stone and glaring bright lights, we decided to follow two figures I had seen enter a low building, set into the rooftop upon which we stood.

We found a group of goblins apparently engaged in some combination of business and leisure, and a strange pairing of an Elf and a female Duregar. The cat man seemed to know the two and continued trying to catch their attention until the vision faded once more.

My final destination was quite different from the rest. As had become usual I was falling through swirling mist, but instead of waking in a strange new place I felt gentle hands catch me and place me upon my feet.

What I saw there, dear diary, has changed my life forever. Before me stood the most graceful and beautiful being I have ever seen. A near palpable aura of restful calm filled her presence, and her voice was sweeter than any music written. She seemed puzzled, and a little amused, by my tale, and bid me wait, for she had business with another caller soon to arrive.

I could have waited there, basking in her presence, forever.

The visitor and the lady spoke of a number of things, but I must admit I caught little - save her name: Sehanine Moonbow.

I have never felt such peace as I did in her gentle presence, such joy as when she accepted my offer of service.

Even now it is a marvel, I feel her power upon me like a cool balm during a fever. I want nothing more than to serve and share this feeling with any who are in need.

She charged me with aiding these strange few I met in our shared visions, to help them save the (or possibly their) world from destruction, and to the best of my ability I shall do so.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.
 



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