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The Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh #138 Into the Mere of the Dead Men Part 3.


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Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #097b: The De La Crane Manse.

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

NPCs
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by George) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick) RETIRED
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 (When we remember)
*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. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule.
  3. 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 from Lowhill), 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).
  4. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood- except she's not there any more, but a big red dragon is?
  5. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  6. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame prepare the Witch's Tor for the coming of the starfall, the Witch's Tor is in the Drowned Forest, in the Mere of the Dead Men.
  7. 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. SEE 2. ABOVE.

This is session 97b, and the Dark Squad are out and about again, they're adventuring some more.

A four or so hour trek along the coastal path from Saltmarsh, tramping through tall grass and thick vegetation, uphill all the way to The Leap. A spot, the adventurers have been told, that in ancient times was where the wives (and sometimes children) of fishermen that had been lost at sea would go to to fling themselves, in grief, from the high cliffs. The sound of the rolling waves of the Sea of Swords is loud here, pounding into the cliffs below, and beyond The Leap, when they get there- the Dunwater River and the Mere of Dead Men is, even in the midday light of summer, obscured by a thick mist, a seemingly permanent sea fret.

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The De La Crane Manse perches here, the place is a ruin, and... it's a bit, well, spooky.

But the Dark Squad are old hands at this, and keep in mind that the adventurers are checking out the Manse for a variety of reasons- because Anders Solmor asked them to, of course; and because Teddy & Neddy Shakeshaft* (hired previously by Anders) are missing (perhaps); and most importantly because- Antonio De La Crane was a member of the Eyes in the Night. The Dark Squad have established- the Eyes in the Night were on this same quest some two hundred years past, they (the Dark Squad) are just the latest incarnation of this group of heroes.

*Neddy Shakeshaft is a rough and ready weasel of a man, and with an ability to bypass locked doors; his younger brother Teddy meanwhile is six feet eight and big with it, and a member of the Saltmarsh Watch.

Caution then is the watchword for the Dark Squad, and a little while later Vinnie and Daktari, working together, are certain that two individuals (one heavily armoured- Teddy Shakeshaft) went this way, they approached the front door of the manse but did not enter, it seems they circled the place (perhaps) to check it out, although the trail is very hard to follow.

The Dark Squad follow suit, although this doesn't go entirely to plan- a little way around the rotten Manse, and with Vinnie somehow leading the way- following Neddy & Teddy's tracks, he's ambushed by a six foot long very angry giant weasel.

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Vinnie leads the way.

But there is an entire pack/family of giant weasels (and with '22' Stealth) and so lots of folk get ambushed, and a fair few of them bitten.

Although, the enemies prove to be easy kills- Newt starts blasting while Vinnie and Dak try to stun the large (and territorial) beasts, or else frighten them away. In short order the few giant weasels left standing the Dark Squad's initial onslaught flee the scene.

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A surprising attack, but not a testing encounter.

That is until the ground beneath the Dark Squad's feet suddenly erupts, tangling vines snake around the lower limbs of Vinnie, Nicky & Ram- holding the trio fast.

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A clump of bushes suddenly comes alive, a thick vine tentacle unfurls- shoots out- and grabs a fleeing Ram, who has only just managed to rip himself free of the tangling vines around his legs. The rogue is encircled, and squeezed by the vine-limb, a myriad sharp spikes injecting foul venom into the hero.

The Dark Squad go through the gears very quickly- do you see the circle around the Vine Monster, that indicates Newt's inward facing Wall of Fire. Although, as it turns out, the monster is resistant to flames.

Seconds later it also escapes the flaming circle, moving very slowly- of course, but the Dark Squad have things under control, and Daktari has chopped through the hefty vine that was clutching and poisoning the rogue. Newt runs all the way around the flailing plant to get the angle right, and Eldritch Repelling Blasts the angry flora back into his Wall of Fire, where it expires.

Phew!

That got nasty very quickly.

But the Dark Squad are keen to get on, although Vinnie can no longer discern the trail now, he however figures that the Shakeshaft's went this way. Ram, this time, is sent ahead- following the tangled gardens all the way around the ancient derelict mansion.

To a small decrepit slate-roofed well.

The Dark Squad, of course, move to investigate- while the ever-so-stealthy Ram continues to circle around the building.

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It's at this point that the two black-as-night giant (poisonous) snakes strike out, expertly hidden in the crumbling and cracked stonework of the well, the duo strike with surprise.

But that's all we had time for, it was a quiet (and frustrating) session. Quiet because three of the guys were just back from some interminable 'rock' festival, and still a little worse for wear. And frustrating? I foolishly updated Fantasy Grounds Unity prior to play and once again all (or maybe just one) of the various add-ons (DLC) that I have installed caused FGU to constantly spew error reports.

So, an error report every time we move one place forward in the initiative tracker, another one every time a player targets a monster (and vice-versa), another with every to hit roll, and damage roll, and saving throw, and...

Frustrating.

At this point, and after using FGU (and FG before it) for the last 10+ years (since I stopped using Maptools) then I think I'm possibly in the market for a new/better VTT. I realise I could just get rid of the DLC content I have installed but that's the stuff (atm) that's making FGU great- the stats tracking, the targeting system, the wildshape tools etc.

Should I take a look at Foundry, people keep telling me to make the switch, or should I wait for the new Dungeons & Dragons: One-

Dungeons & Dragons: One - Official D&D Reveal Trailer - YouTube

Any thoughts?

More adventuring in the De La Crane Manse next time.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #098: “I don't want to die!”

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

NPCs
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by George) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick) RETIRED
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 (When we remember)
*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. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out, it's also the ancestral home of the De La Crane family, and the Squad are looking for Antonio De La Crane- see below.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule- see below.
  3. 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 from Lowhill), 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).
  4. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood- except she's not there any more, but a big red dragon is?
  5. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  6. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame prepare the Witch's Tor for the coming of the starfall, the Witch's Tor is in the Drowned Forest, in the Mere of the Dead Men.
  7. 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. SEE 2. ABOVE.
This is session 98, and it was glorious.

I really don't know what happened to Newt (Bear) in this session but, he's changed. It could be the adoration of his eleven young disciples back in Saltmarsh, it could be... the butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

At long last.

It could be nits (fleas).

What's changed you ask, well... for 97 sessions so far Newt has spent the VAST majority of his time, particularly when we are moving minis on the VTT (and therefore danger is approaching), hiding behind three other people.

If a volunteer is needed to go ahead- naturally that's Ram, or else Daktari, or even the new tin can- Nicky, and if Vinnie's the Moonboar then he can have a go too. It's never Newt. Newt doesn't lead the way, sometimes he doesn't even get too involved- particularly in the action. Newt stands somewhere with cover, shouts threats (and useful advice to his colleagues, which often sound like threats too) and blasts things.

Sure, he has a habit of opening the wrong door/thing at the wrong time, but usually- straight after, he's on his toes and away, leaving whatever new threat he's unleashed to be dealt with by his colleagues.

He stays out (and away) from trouble.

That's his thing.

Always.

ALWAYS.

Until tonight.

Then there's the fact that early on in the piece, and in conversation with Nicky, he said something like- “I've got nine lives, nothing touches me...”

And then it did.

And so we're at the De La Crane Manse, on The Leap overlooking the Dunwater River, with the Mere of Dead Men just a few miles away, although the vast swamp is perpetually shrouded in a miasma and so not visible. Even on a bright and breezy summer's day like today.

The Dark Squad are checking out the surrounds of the manse, they've just found a well, and a pair of poisonous snakes that are laired here. Soon after the two giant poisonous snakes become four- Ram, Nicky & Vinnie all get bitten, and poisoned (but only a little). Nicky, as always, is in the wrong spot (I swear I'm not picking on you George) the Cleric of Twilight gets bitten repeatedly, like three or four times, and he's AC 21, which is the best in the group.

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But they're just snakes, and the poison leaves no lasting effect- the serpents are quickly slaughtered.

Then after a brief chat, and time for Ram to sneak his way back around to the front of the manse- all clear, Nicky and Daktari decide to recon the well shaft here. The spider climbing pair head on down.

Note, Dak indicates to his colleagues (and the DM) that he is spider climbing by declaring “Spider standz!”, like a (cod-Russian) superhero, and then of course he bends over and places his hands on the ground and scuttles wherever he needs to go, like, well... a spider.

So, the pair scuttle (& stride) a little way down the well shaft, and here's the thing- it's a very deep well, about eighty feet below there's a larger cavern chamber, but that's not all, the well shaft descends through this chamber- it goes on- deeper.

This place deserves further exploration, however the Dark Squad have a job to do- to check out the De La Crane manse, and find the missing Shakeshaft brothers (Neddy & Teddy).

And so onwards, although the door here is locked- Ram soon springs it open.

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Chaps (to the Players) when you take a picture mouse click on your PC first, you may need to do it twice- when you click on your PC token the first time it will show you what you can see. Click on it a second time and it'll show you what you and all of your colleagues can see, and thereby illuminates the map. Fanks.

Note, Newt is first in- he finds a kitchen but here's the thing- this entire place is dirty, mouldy, and generally falling apart. It creaks and groans at every step, and there are holes in the floorboards, and walls, and in places- it's a wreck.

That's not just the kitchen, that's everywhere here.

But then, very soon after there's screaming, and the Banshee wail (the Dark Squad think) is prolonged and terrifying, the scream causes both Daktari and Nicky's hands to shake.

Daktari covers his fear with a short bout of macho-

“I must rescue damsel in distress! I am Sky Pony!” Say it loud, and in a cod-Russian accent.

The scream, the sound of a woman in fear for her life (or else in hell), is coming from upstairs.

The brave Sky Pony barbarian races to the scene.

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Daktari is rushing to save the wailing/dying woman, “I kom to save now. Den we DIY all over house, I nail gud!”

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See the picture on the left, that's Daktari scrabbling to get back up again- alas the balcony he was just running along has just collapsed depositing him back on the ground floor.

The picture on the right, that's Nicky (spider climbing) and Newt also running to save the struggling, screaming woman. That little 5' token is the hole that Daktari made.

And yes- Newt's rushing to the scene too.

One more thing to remind you- Newt doesn't like jumping, not at all- his athletics check bonus is just about zero, from memory, the tabaxi has fallen in stuff repeatedly. I can remember two DC 5 jump checks he has failed just off the top of my head. One of the two he inspiration point re-rolled, and failed again, and both times he ended up in hot water (actually one of them was hot mud).

Oh, and there are a lot of pictures in this session, the Dark Squad did lots of stuff, and very mostly at top speed. The Dark Squad were on the run.

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Nicky is the first to arrive at the room from which the screams emanate, the armoire (just to the left of Newt) is shaking and rattling on its stand- the doors are being slammed from within- something wants out, the screams (the pair think) are coming from in here.

But Nicky isn't opening the wardrobe, the dhampir (remember) is still subject to the terrors, he's also very cautious.

And not stupid.

Newt however... flings the doors open and... is covered in a cloud of glittering dust, but... hang on- the rotten clothes within the wardrobe are slathered in the same sparkling yellow mould, and now so is the tabaxi.

Newt begins to strangle and choke, coughing up lots of blood.

Nicky, at this point, has moved back out of the chamber, terror and caution can keep you alive it seems.

But here's the thing, the screaming hasn't stopped.

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Ram thinks the screaming is coming from the last chamber to the right, the rogue flings open the door and... the screaming stops.

However, over the far side of the very dilapidated chamber is the face down body of a male human, the fellow is stripped to his underwear- his legs tied, and arms similarly secured behind his back.

There's a little blood on the floorboards close to the face-end of the body.

That said, the panic's over- or else the screaming woman has been replaced by the screaming cat-thing, Newt is taking 2d10 poison damage every turn, the yellow mould is in his lungs. The Dark Squad scramble to get to the warlock and set things aright.

Which takes a round or two.

Then calm (& a little healing for Newt).

Vinnie makes a short speech-

“We shud ztick togezzer, no runin' off!”

Just to note Vinnie repeats the above sentence maybe a dozen (maybe more) times this evening, every time you feel like adding one to the text below then go ahead, throw it in- the druid, this evening, is doing his best impression of an answerphone message.

With good reason.

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The Dark Squad gets back to adventuring, and you guessed it- Newt leads the way- the dead body's over in the corner.

Here's that picture again...

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But hang on... where's Newt gone?

See that 10' marker on the map, that's where the hole in the floor is now- dust billows from this spot.

9808.jpg

Here's Newt, in the room below- picking himself up from the dirt.

Newt, very obviously, is not at all upset by events so far in the De La Crane manse, and so when he starts Eldritch Blasting the ceiling above, well...

More of the ceiling comes crashing down (some of it onto Newt) although, helpfully, the dead body also crashes down to join the tabaxi.

Various members of the Dark Squad climb down to- a) laugh at Newt, and b) get on with the adventure.

Newt flips the dead feller over and discovers it's Neddy Shakeshaft, the Squad have a description of the two missing Saltmarshians, provided by Anders Solmor. Neddy has had his throat cut, although that was certainly several days ago, Vinnie also ascertains that prior to death Neddy suffered a severe beating.

There's someone here, the Dark Squad think, the De La Crane manse is inhabited.

Then Newt takes a moment to search, and wrestle a little with Neddy's stiff corpse, this while delivering one of his withering speeches, it went something like this, and remember the lines are delivered it in a husky whispered voice. Everything Newt says sounds like a threat.

“Let's see if this stupid hick has got anything worth taking, then we can search out the corpse of his equally stupid brother. These people... they're such amateurs, you need professionals- like us, for a job such as this.”

At which point shouting “I don't want to die!” the ghost of Neddy Shakeshaft lurches up and out of the corpse, and attempts to possess Newt.

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The ghost of Neddy Shakeshaft fails to possess Newt.

Damn!

The Dark Squad are, of course, surprised- although Ram and Nicky get into action quickly, the rogue badly wounding the now fluttering spectral Neddy, but then...

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Where's Neddy?

Neddy's possession attack recharges, and he tries it again.

SUCCESS!

Neddy possesses Newt, and Bear (who plays Newt) plays his part.

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At this point the rest of the Dark Squad descend to the action, the action is however... rather odd.

Nicky and Ram have both seen Neddy's ghost disappear into Newt, but... the tabaxi is having none of it.

“I'm fine, do not concern yourself- I am adept at dealing with the souls of others. NOW LEAVE ME ALONE!”

The last increase in volume because Daktari has now got Newt in his grip (the barbarian is grappling the tabaxi), the rest of the Squad are not enjoying this moment.

The collective wisdom is-

“Oh, Shi... This ain't good.”

But Newt continues to insist that he's fine, and that Neddy has gone, and...

Then he fires a repelling Eldritch Blast into Daktari causing the barbarian to a) let him go, and b) go slamming back into the nearest wall.

Newt, meantime, leaps out of the nearest window.

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Newt is on the run.

It's at this point that the spirit of Neddy reveals to Newt his destination- off the cliffs.

Neddy would like Newt to leap from the incredibly high cliffs here to his death in the raging seas below.

Just to make clear the cliff-fall is 20d6 bludgeoning damage, and it's seven squares (35 feet) away from where Newt stands on the above map.

Bear, playing Newt, 'ulps' a few times, and then prevaricates.

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A lot of things happen at once.

Nicky scrambles out of the window and Turns Undead, and suddenly Newt is free of Neddy's spirit.

“I don't want to die!” are Newt's first words, now that he's back, which oddly were Neddy's first words to him.

Funny that.

Then Ram makes it to the spot with Deadend, his undead slaying rapier. Neddy's ghost, soon after, is really not well.

But seconds later the spirit disappears, Vinnie (with a monster knowledge check) confirms that the ghost has, “pazzed over tew zer udder plane.”

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But Nicky's not giving up, and he knows that the See Invisible spell can also detect those on the ethereal plane (he's a clever feller), and so he casts the spell and then spider climbs his way back into the manse, and there's Neddy.

A radiant damage Guiding Bolt later and Neddy is, at last, laid to rest.

The Dark Squad however have seen, and done, enough for now.

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The twin Leomund's Tiny Huts are up, it's time for a (short) rest and a chat.

The chat is 90% Vinnie, and 90% the following-

“We shud ztick togezzer, no runnin off!”

Then, after more healing for some, they're back to exploring.

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The ground floor of the manse again, Newt- he's gone ahead again, has found some books in a forlorn study, they indicate- he thinks, that the owner/occupant of the manse was very probably an alchemist. Note Ram and Nicky are off exploring elsewhere, and Vinnie- he's trying to link the two groups, to keep 'ze partee togezzer!'

Didn't last long.

Newt finds a fragment of paper in one of the books here, it says- “...beyond the skeletons...”, the rest of the text is lost to time.

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The escritoire (writing desk) in the northern room contains lots of ancient papers- mostly receipts for various chemicals and similar substances, more evidence of alchemy.

And keep in mind- Antonio De La Crane (posh kid druid alchemist), this is his old home, before Rambles 'Shambles' Bowspirit (halfling killer from Lowhill) murdered him.

The larger chamber to the west is a puzzler, Ram (clever lad) realises that all of the broken furniture was piled in the corner here after (not before) it was broken- someone most have done this.

But then...

Footsteps.

In the chamber above this one, Ram hushes his comrades silent, someone paces.

The general consensus is this-

“Get 'em.”

The Dark Squad are off and running again.

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We're back upstairs, and note Newt is leading the charge again- although the tabaxi chooses (this time) not to open the door.

Note Nicky just spider climbed up the side of the house, but he's not yet got up the courage to take a look into the chamber above.

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Ta-da!

Ram bursts in, but the room is empty.

Save for some junk, a filthy fireplace and a curtained four-poster bed- the shrouded contents of which are hidden from view.

But there's no-one pacing here.

Vinnie is taking no chances, he fills the room with Faerie Fire, but...

There's nothing, and no-one to be seen.

Ram investigates the canopied bed, which sags and collapses at his touch- but there's nothing there either.

“Zut alor! But ver iz...” Vinnie begins, but is shushed into silence once again by Ram. The rogue points up- to the ceiling.

Footsteps.

Pacing.

It seems the De La Crane manse has an attic.

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Newt, as he always does, leads the search for the stairs up- note several more chambers are briefly investigated en route to here.

But here's the thing, only the first few steps of the stairs up into the attic are in situ, the rest have collapsed. Note there are another set of stairs here heading down into the kitchen (on the north wall).

The Dark Squad, helped by the spider climbing trio, make their way as cautiously as they can into the attic above.

Note, Daktari over-extends while carrying Newt and is left hobbling (and effectively exhausted).

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The attic is full of junk, and the ceiling towards the outside of the chamber is low, there are holes in the roof here and there, light spills in spotlighting random filth and tat.

Ram shushes the gang again.

Footsteps.

Pacing.

The sound is coming from the south west.

And so Newt, of course, leads the Dark Squad to the spot.

Note, Ram is loving this by the way, he's regularly chuckling and making way for the tabaxi to recon ahead.

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But then the stirges turn up.

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

More adventuring in the spooky De La Crane Manse next time.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #099: Snakes Alive!

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

NPCs
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by George) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick) RETIRED
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 (When we remember)
*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. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out, it's also the ancestral home of the De La Crane family, and the Squad are looking for Antonio De La Crane- see below.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule- see below.
  3. 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 from Lowhill), 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).
  4. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood- except she's not there any more, but a big red dragon is?
  5. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  6. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame prepare the Witch's Tor for the coming of the starfall, the Witch's Tor is in the Drowned Forest, in the Mere of the Dead Men.
  7. 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. SEE 2. ABOVE.
This is session 99, and it was nearly the end of the Dark Squad, or at least a significant chunk of them. You'll have to read on, of course, to find out which members of the Squad (at the end) are barely hanging on to life.

But here's a teaser, at the end of this session- and the Dark Squad are still in a terrible fight when we leave them, one of the PCs has been unconscious and making death saves- twice, and is now on six hit points; another is wavering on eight hit points; yet another is bloodied; and all of them (Vinnie, Nicky & Newt) are towards the very end of their spells.

It sucks to be the Dark Squad.

Where did it all go wrong?

Let's find out together...

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We left the Dark Squad fighting stirges in the attic of the De La Crane manse...

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But then a very large phase spider ports in and fails to do any significant damage to Ram, the bastard rogue gets away.

And see that circle surrounding Nicky, that's his Spirit Guardians, which Nicky takes the time to describe/explain- he is surrounded by a selection of ghostly vampire guardians, all of them his relatives, watch out for his auntie she has a particularly vicious bite.

That's nice flavour, right there.

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Soon after all of the stirges are either blasted to death by Newt, or else destroyed by the aforementioned vampire Spirit Guardians whilst trying to get to the Dark Squad.

The large ugly sometimes ethereal spider is likewise tempted to dine, it doesn't last long (even after I doubled its max hit points) the Dark Squad, by the time it stalks them down, have been stacking readied actions.

Note, you can't stack readied actions, but you understand, right? The Dark Squad have been waiting for it to reappear again, so that they can unleash merry heck.

Which, of course, causes the demise of the phase spider.

The attic is searched, a little treasure found- but nothing else, and remember the Dark Squad only came up here because they could hear footsteps coming from this place.

Well, there's no-one here, and so there must be some other explanation of events. The Dark Squad however do not delve deeply into this (actually they don't delve at all), they instead quickly move on.

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A strange event- Nicky, having spent a little time telling his comrades about his family (and pointing a few of them out- his Spirit Guardians, see above) then takes a moment to ask the other members of the Squad about their families.

The Squad hold station for twenty minutes here to discuss their various (mostly traumatic) childhoods. Daktari, raised by violent but loving barbarian (Sky Pony) parents even has a little cry at the end-

“You are all so badly damaged, it make me sad!” Do it in cod-Russian, remember.

Newt however rallies the troops.

“Never mind Nicky- forget all that rot, we're your family now!”

And now Nicky is crying.

Happy? Sad? Only time will tell.

Twenty minutes I'm never getting back.

Loved it.

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The Squad make a concerted effort to search through all of the rooms in the manse, and keep in mind- they're certain that- a) Antonio De La Crane lived here, and they need to find this guy- and his maze button; and b) there's somebody else here... very likely someone or something bad.

Nicky, at the window (see image above) swears he saw a large light, as if from a lighthouse, emanating from somewhere down in the delta (known as The Choke) at the point the Dunwater River exits into the Sea of Swords.

The Dark Squad promise to investigate further, only not now.

9905.jpg

Ah! This is another odd one- Vinnie has a Detect Magic spell up and running, and much of this room detects as magical, illusory magic is involved. The druid therefore dispels the magic present only... well, nothing changes.

After a series of skill checks Vinnie (& Newt and Nicky) conclude that there was magic present here- possibly some sort of trap, but Vinnie dispelled it before it got going, or else before the trap had been triggered.

Keep the above in mind as you read on.

Oh, and Ram finds a little more treasure in the fireplace, and more evidence that this place was home to an alchemist.

Antonio De La Crane was an alchemist, and a druid- just like Vinnie is.

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Eventually the search continues to the ground floor of the manse, and in this image we see that Newt is making friends with two spider swarms.

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Later some giant centipedes also get into action, but here's the thing- these are not Dark Squad worthy enemies, and then Nicky conjures his Spirit Guardians again, and everything dies.

We go on...

9908.jpg

Back to the kitchen, the first room that the Dark Squad failed to search- in truth on their first pass through the manse they were pretty much running full-pelt, lots of things got left undone.

The Squad discover that Neddy Shakeshaft (throat cut) was killed here. It's a bloody mess.

But that doesn't answer the Dark Squad's questions, like who cut Neddy's throat, and where are they now? Also, where's Neddy's brother, Teddy? And so Ram is sent down the stairs and into the basement.

9909.jpg

And there's Teddy Shakeshaft, six feet eight and clad in platemail. Neddy is very dead, although Ram only takes a brief look- wary of ghosts.

This basement is simply a long-abandoned wine cellar. There's nothing much to see.

Except for Teddy's body.

Vinnie and Newt investigate, their trying to figure out who or what killed the platemail clad Teddy, but before they can...

9910.jpg

Swarms of writhing maggots burst from the armour, and flesh, of the now wriggle-some Teddy.

A single maggot, actually a rot grub, burrows into the flesh of Vinnie's arm. The druid after an adjusted '25' monster knowledge check realises that only fire can kill the burrowing grub within him, and that left unattended the rot grub will kill him by eating its way to his heart (1d6 damage/grub per turn).

Actually the druid also realises that a Cure Disease will also free him of the noisome grub.

The druid chooses to Produce Flame and then slap the fiery ball against the limb into which the maggot burrowed. The plan works, and just to make sure Daktari, still on the stairs, grabs up the druid and hauls him up and out of the way of the maggot swarms that spew from the corpse.

Hurrah!

Which brings us to Newt.

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The rot grubs are +0 to hit, seconds later six of them have burrowed into the fur and flesh of Newt.

From memory, I think there was a lot of swearing around the VTT just about now.

Although maybe thirty seconds later (real world) and Newt (and Bear, playing Newt) are both remarkably calm.

There's even time for a little speech-

“Fear not my comrades in arms, I will purge these burrowing fiends from my flesh. Lord Belphegor hear me, send FIRE!”

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Newt encircles himself in a Wall of Fire- the fiery side pointing in, he burns, but then again so do all of the grubs- and both swarms are destroyed.

Genius!

Alas (or fortunately, depending on you POV) the fire damage causes Newt to fail his concentration check, and so the Wall of Fire lasts but a few seconds, however- job done.

Newt quickly swigs down a potion of greater healing (and he rolls 4d4+4 and gets 1+1+1+2+4, and recovers nine hit points).

Hurrah!

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“Hurrah!” Indeed. However, that's when the snakes start arriving- a sudden tide of slithering swarms of brightly coloured (clue: poisonous) serpents come spewing down the chimney and into the basement.

Thousands of them, and it's an unending supply of snake swarms seemingly...

But the Dark Squad, they're still too tough.

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Vinnie sets up his own Wall of Fire to corral the serpents.

Lots of snakes swarms die, but clearly not enough, and here's the thing the snakes are seemingly not frightened of the flame, or else the volume is so great that they spew through the Wall of Fire regardless.

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Newt gets swarmed, he's just about bloodied.

But again-

“Fear not my friends, for I will- in a very similar fashion- put an end to these foul vipers!” Newt is confident still, and keep in mind everything that he says is whispered and sounds like a threat.

The tabaxi warlock shuffles and herds three of the four snake swarms on him into and through Vinnie's Wall of Fire, obviously incinerating himself a little more in the process.

More remarkably none of the snake swarms on him are destroyed either, and when he gets inside the fiery box he's no longer visible from without.

About three seconds later (game time) after a series of snake bites-

9916 Newt gathers snakes WoF.jpg

The tabaxi warlock is down and dying, and keep in mind Vinnie's Wall of Fire is still up- it's not visible in this image because we were having problems with token stacking.

Uh-oh!

But we move on, swiftly.

9917 infinite snakes.jpg

Vinnie's Wall of Fire is back to being outlined on the screen, and obviously this is going to be a problem for the dying tabaxi within its compass.

But that's not all- yet more snake swarms come slithering through the Wall of Fire.

Note, at this point I have activated exactly 15 giant poisonous snake swarms, and the Squad have accounted for six of them.

Here's the thing- the chatter from the Dark Squad is- we can do this, they figure that with so many snake swarms badly injured they just need a real good round to turn this fight around.

Suckers!

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Nicky summons up his auntie-led vampire Spirit Guardians, snake swarms within its compass suffer.

Although there are no new serpent casualties.

The Dark Squad are doing a lot of frantic.

Note Daktari and Nicky are now surrounded, being swarmed- they both have snake swarms occupying the same squares as they are, it's just tough to show this on the VTT, therefore I keep notes.

9919.jpg

Vinnie, after ending his Wall of Fire, unleashes an Erupting Earth spell, and keep in mind the dying Newt is in the area of this spell, his body is actually beneath snake swarm 13, just north of his position in the image above.

Note Nicky and Daktari are also caught within the earthy chaos.

The ground surges, erupts, fissures slew and stone and dirt fly- and a few snake swarms die, and Newt automatically fails a death saving throw- his first.

And yet more snakes swarms come spewing down the chimney, I think I mentioned I had 15 snake swarms in action last time, we are up to 20.

9920.jpg

Why won't it stop?

But take a look at Newt, the tabaxi has just rolled a '20' on his death save, the warlock is lying still with one eye open, still being slithered over by a sea of snakes, but he's alive!

More remarkably he manages to crawl his way slowly out of the snake swarms, and then huddled in the corner of the chamber he stands and delivers yet another speech/threat.

“If I'm going to hell then you are all coming with me!”

9921 Fireball.jpg

Newt lobs a Fireball into the mix.

Before the Fireball I had 11 (out of 20) snake swarms still in action.

9922.jpg

After, I'm down to just eight swarms, and most of these are broken, but Daktari is below 10 hit points and Nicky is just about bloodied.

Note, there are still more snake swarms spewing from the chimney, and the Dark Squad are still convinced they can do this.

That fighting is the answer.

Seconds later Newt is knocked unconscious again- he gets bitten by a swarm of snakes, wouldn't you know it.

Although, mere moments later Nicky revives the tabaxi with a healing word.

But that's where the session ends, and we were 20 minutes over time, and the snakes started spewing from the chimney exactly one hour and one minute ago (real time).

Could there be something else going on here?

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #100: F**k Yew Gray-Hum!

Sorry about the naughty word in the title but when it happened in-game, when we had stopped laughing- everyone said, that's the title for this episode.

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

NPCs
Inverna Nightbreeze (played by George) Female Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 8 (Sidekick) RETIRED
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 (When we remember)
*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. The De La Crane Manse is on The Leap, and Anders Solmor would like the Squad to check it out, it's also the ancestral home of the De La Crane family, and the Squad are looking for Antonio De La Crane- see below.
  2. Bonnie Bowspirit, grand-daughter of Rambles, will show the Squad to the missing halfling killer's tomb, on the 6th of Flamerule- see below.
  3. 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 from Lowhill), 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).
  4. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood- except she's not there anymore, but a big red dragon is?
  5. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  6. To join the Pact of the Wild Flame prepare the Witch's Tor for the coming of the starfall, the Witch's Tor is in the Drowned Forest, in the Mere of the Dead Men.
  7. 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. SEE 2. ABOVE.

This is session 100, although at the time no-one realized this- woo-hoo, we're 100 sessions old! Now, back to the game. Last we met them the Dark Squad they were getting eaten alive by snakes, swarms of 'em! In fact the name of the last sessions was- Snakes Alive! Which is a very odd thing because there aren't any.

Aren't any what? You ask.

Snakes alive, the DM answers.

10000.jpg

The image shows the scene as it actually is, a secret door to the south has just slid open- and in the newly revealed opening is stood a rough looking cloaked young man in salt-sprayed leathers, and with a loaded hand crossbow at the ready.

Although, only Nicky spots the intruder, the rest of the Dark Squad are still fighting illusionary snake swarms, which are still spewing from the chimney here.

To make clear, at the start of this session the Players arrived at the VTT to discover the snake swarms had all gone, and for the next ten minutes I went through all of the action here (as played out at the end of the last session). The illusion that conjured the snake swarms required a player/PC to voice their concern- “I don't believe this!”, that kind of thing, and the PCs (last session) were doing a lot of chatting, but all of it in an attempt to gee themselves up, to somehow win the fight.

They bought it.

And so, every time a PC got bitten (last session) they took 1d8 psychic damage, the rest of the hurt they did to themselves- Newt walking through two Walls of Fire (his and Vinnie's), the druid's Erupting Earth followed by a Fireball from the warlock, the Dark Squad got fooled.

Good and proper.

Note, Daktari took 13d8 psychic damage, the snake swarms were all over the barbarian.

Last bit of the intro- this was a short session, I've been having some issues with Fantasy Grounds Unity, and so the IT Crowd (mostly Bear & George) were helping me to get my head around some of the ongoing issues. Also, we've just (last week) rolled up some Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition characters, and we're looking to try them out, possibly using the Foundry VTT. We spent over an hour talking through this kind of stuff.

So, back to the action, and believe me- it's all action.

Nicky starts screaming, although very politely, at his colleagues- “it's not weal! The snakes are ill-ooo-juns!”

But for now the rest of the Dark Squad are not listening.

10001.jpg

Daktari gets shot repeatedly, there are two leather armour, hand crossbow wielding folk- and the pair take it in turns to pepper the barbarian. Then a hulking brute steps into the formerly secret doorway and fires a heavy crossbow bolt into Daktari's gut.

He's really not well.

But also check out Vinnie on the stairs- spot the difference from the previous image, that's right- the druid has just been shot twice in the back. There are more of the thugs up the stairs.

10002.jpg

Vinnie becomes the Moonboar, and then charges up the stairs, back into the first floor pantry, alas the druid then flails and fails to land a hit. Meanwhile chaos below...

The Dark Squad in the cellar, at last, become aware of reality- the snake swarms are gone, there are enemies new in sight.

10003.jpg

Ram dodges into the chamber beyond the secret door, there are lots of bunks in here- naughty word! This could get busy.

The rogue, to make matters worse, is also rolling low.

10004.jpg

Newt, still on not very many hit points you'll observe, uses his Rod of the Pact Keeper to get one of his warlock powers back, and then with an inspiration point he launches a Fireball into the mix. You'll also note that Daktari is dirt-napping here, the armoured thug cut the barbarian down moments earlier.

It's getting nasty.

10005.jpg

Back upstairs and the Moonboar is also taking a beating, in three turns of scrapping he's landed only one hit. The druid tries to slow his attackers down with an enhanced Hold Person spell, alas only the one of his enemies succumbs, but then the attacker makes his save second time around only moments later.

The druid is not making any real headway, and he keeps getting hit... but he's a clever fellow, seconds later and the Moonboar is swathed in flame- his Fire Shield, any enemies hitting him in melee are getting burnt.

However...

10006.jpg

Back down below and the rest of the Dark Squad have, at last, got the rough (and tough) looking humans on the run, the trio are retreating. Note, Nicky gets Daktari back awake with a Healing Word, while Ram grabs out a potion of greater healing and shoves it down the exhausted barbarian's throat.

Oh yeah, Daktari also has Exhaustion 2, he's not in his happy place, and grumbling like an old man as he totters around- half move as well as disadvantage on all of his skills.

Newt is sniping with his Belphegor Fiery Repelling Blasts, and then scampering back to hide behind his colleagues.

That's better.

The old Newt is back.

10007.jpg

Belphegor's Fiery Repelling Blasts- the armoured thug is lifted up a slammed into the far wall, it's the death of him.

The Dark Squad press the attack- note Nicky is flying as he goes, and he's very pale-faced, with his vampire fangs revealed. The Twilight priest grabs and bites the nearest retreating human, which leaves the fellow at death's door, and screaming “Vampire!” in terror.

The enemies here are in full retreat.

Back upstairs, the Moonboar is still keeping the pair of attackers here at bay, but not for much longer, the druid flees down the stairs (weathering blows), and all the way back to his comrades.

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The tough from above follows the fleeing druid down the stairs, and is then instantly targeted by Ram, and shot with a Crit-Sneak-Attack-ton-of-damage-HIT! The now screaming rough fellow flees the scene, back up the stairs.

Meantime, the rest of the Squad are now hot-footing it after the fleeing humans.

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The chase is on, note Ram has left a bag of marbles just the other side of the secret door (the blue circle-ish shape on the map), just in case the rough fellows that were battling the Moonboar are coming back.

Daktari and Ram discover a set of very steep stairs leading down in to a dripping wet torch lit cavern passage.

The Dark Squad, and remember Nicky is still flying, descend into the sodden stone passages, they creep forward a short way but are swiftly met by a wall of steel- as three more of the hefty armoured thugs rush out of an unseen passage and straight into the fight.

Then, at last, we get to meet Graham!

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So, the Dark Squad are fighting humans, and that's a first- at least for a while, and so the bad guys here have hardly been silent. Throughout the fight they've been shouting a variety of things, not just insults, but also encouragement, and instruction to each other.

“That's it Terry, stab the bastard!”

“Fall back Trevor, get the door!”

“Hold 'em!”

And latterly-

“Get around 'im, Graham!”

“Do 'im, Graham! Do 'im wid yer blade!”

That kind of thing.

Well, it seems that Graham is not a classic fantasy fiction style-name for a homicidal maniac thug, or at least Daktari doesn't think so.

And keep in mind that the following line comes apropos absolutely nothing, save the above.

Daktari (played by Jim) just starts shouting it- in his cod Russian accent, and he's very annoyed.

“naughty word yew Gray-Hum! naughty word yew very much, Gray-Hum!”

We laugh.

Daktari shouts it some more, or else versions of it- “I come for yew Gray-Hum! I hurt yew real bad Gray-Hum!”

We laugh a lot more.

Daktari flips, as stated earlier- he's not having a good day- he's been fighting illusionary snakes (and was subject to Newt's Fireball, and Vinnie's Erupting Earth spell, plus 13d8 of psychic damage), he's double-exhausted, and this is really not going that well.

Note the orange (maybe) circle in the image above is the limit of Nicky's Spirit Guardians- the spectral vampires are back.

Further note, Newt is out of spells (save Cantrips), Jim and Nicky- they're down to first level only, or just about.

10011.jpg

But the Dark Squad effect their patented pile on.

Gray-Hum is cut down.

10012.jpg

But then seconds later Newt gets shot some more, remember the two bad guys that Vinnie left behind, well... they've made it back to the party.

The fighting front has to quickly re-orient.

10013.jpg

Foolishly the hand crossbow guy retreats to stand beside Nicky's flying mace-style Spectral Weapon, he gets hit in the face (a Crit) seconds later, after first getting blasted with a Guiding Bolt.

10014.jpg

And mere seconds later and the enemies are retreating again, but the Dark Squad are certain- even more terror (the boss of these guys) lies ahead.

They are not out of this yet, and they are blowing- blowing hard, out of hit points, spells, rages and... all that stuff.

This is as low as I have seen them (the Dark Squad), in like- ever.

But that was the end of the session.

Just to say, there were seven turns of combat at the end of the previous session (against the snake swarms) followed by another 17 turns of combat (and running about) here.

Who knows what next week will bring?

Also, I've just remembered- we forgot all about the Supreme Being again, Ubmo to save the day?

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Ouch! It's nice to see you giving the "good" guys a severe beating - I was beginning to think you'd gone soft. ;)

I do hope you'll post your WHRP tale up on these boards too.
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
WFRP write up, but of course.

Also, a member of the Dark Squad died last night (in Session #101) and I don't mean Ubmo or and NPC, I mean an actual member of the Dark Squad, a PC.

Any guesses as to who got offed?

Oh, and last night's session- all combat, again, the fight started at the end of session #99 with the snake swarms (and rot grubs) and went on for... 39 turns, the finale involved an invisible wizard trying to flee underwater (not that effective) being chased down by... well, I can't tell you who because that would give the game away.

Toodles until I get it written up.

Goonalan
 

Neurotic

I plan on living forever. Or die trying.
Being chased by Nicky since he doesn't breathe and Mew-two with the helm and shapechanged druid...unless one if them died.
Nicky died...
 

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