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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
Awesome meat-grinder session! Is this all your own campaign now?
Steal what you need (and is good) and make up the rest.

This bit is entirely mine, but later on I will snaffling maps, plots, stories, NPCs from everywhere and anywhere. The first two Sunless and Forge were pretty much as written, with a bit of my/our campaign twisted in. The next bit is more me and less any particular book, although as I say a lot of books are going to get plundered.

Take care.

Goonalan
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
You've done a great job on finding the maps for your own stuff, sir!

Often the map dictates what's going to go on- I subscribe to Heroic Maps (and a few others) on Patreon, but a good map is the thing- I know what I want to do, so I know the kind of map I am looking for- so I find 5-10 and then usually peer intently at the one I have selected to use (most often Heroic) and then think what goes on here- and the rest is adventure-time.

In truth I used to build 57 sessions worth of stuff ahead of time, I am atm one session ahead of these guys, and while that can cause a little consternation (for me) it's a whole lot easier to build if I know what happened in the last session, and what's expected in this.

Don't get me wrong- I know the story/plot- the big picture, so some stuff I have in hand- and ready to roll, but other stuff- I do between sessions. So, lots of stuff for the next session I built and mapped out on Saturday just gone.

This next session might get very good- depending on what the PCs do. I have a couple of routes we can go, with maps and encounters ready.

Looking forward to tomorrow night.

Cheers Goonalan
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in Meet the Uthgardt

Session #026 The Seventh Bad Dead Ancestor.

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

NPCs
Daktari Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 5
Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 5 RIP

Buggles’ undead servitor
Gwen Female Duergar Skeleton, in full-face helm and armour

NPC hangers-on, rescued prisoners of the Orcs
Geradil the “Inconceivable”, aging trapper (Male Human)
“Screaming” Courana, lady’s maid (Female Human)
Spandwick the Magic Gnome, ex-stage mesmerist (Male Gnome)
Bel, the beautiful and lovely wife of Spandwick (Female Gnome)


This is session 26, and not as good as the last one- or at least I thought not, but let me instantly caveat this, after the sessions every week I get 20 minutes or so with my brother Kev (playing Ramshambow) on Discord, mostly happy families stuff- but also a short chat about the game. He really enjoyed this one- the fool. Same-wise, always the next day at work I have the chance to catch up with Jim (playing Vinnie) to gather his thoughts- he liked the session a lot.

So, what do I know- but here’s the thing, I was fed up with the fighting towards the end, but I realised then (and now) that’s mainly because I know what comes next, and I’m keen to get to that.

Also, we’ve been fighting without much in the way of roleplay and/or investigation for the last few session- obviously we’ve had some fun and hijinks with the previous six bad dead ancestors but… not this session, just plain old terror and a rolling maul maybe two to three hours long.

And that, of course, is my fault- too many dead bad dead guys.

Strap in, although- no big who did what to whom, turn by turn (promise), maybe just the best of the action for this instalment, but It’s another lengthy one.

So, the guys are in the land of the bad dead ancestors, and with one barrow left to explore, the theory is- slaughter the inevitable guardians of the barrow, chat with the last (the seventh) bad dead ancestor then… home again- home again, clickety-click.

Sounds easy- never is.

But first the Dark Squad get some more healing done after last session’s fight-fest, just a note to say that Buggles and Ram have taken plenty of hits, while Vinnie and Newt have already burned through all of their healing HD. The latter of course being used here like healing surges (from 4e) activated as a free action by the use of an inspiration point, courtesy of the pulsing tethers that power the PCs on.

So, the last barrow- and we’re in, an empty (save for ancient shattered bones) central chamber with five alcoves leading from it, each home to an entire/complete sprawled humanoid skeleton.

Ram, as usual, scopes the place out- and inevitably (although very cautious) he triggers the arrival of the barrow’s guardians. Four hefty zombie/skeleton barbarian’s that have been levelled-up (with metal armour somehow affixed to their bones (and skulls)). The four undead enemies burrow up through the floor of the chamber. They’re actually Dread Warriors but none of the players got around to figuring this out in-game- the action was frantic initially. They also have high AC’s, two attacks and big bag of HP each (about 45-50 apiece) and so the fighting is fast and furious- particularly for Ram who quickly gets surrounded, or else three of the Dread Warriors concentrate their efforts on putting the rogue down.

2601.jpg

Peek closely and you'll note the Dark Squad's attackers are labelled as "Unidentified Creature", and thus they remained even after their demise, that's the real story here- and I'm welling up. The anonymous dead not even afforded a label by the callous and uncaring adventurers. Monster Knowledge checks are a free action, just saying- how would you feel?

Ram’s uncanny dodge saves his hide time and time again in this session, but even then he has to make use of his inspiration points to trigger healing HD/surges. It’s a lengthy fracas, the guys are rolling low, and the bad guys are tougher than the usual swarms of dead they’ve been getting used to fighting. That is until three turns into the fracas when Vinnie drops the faerie fire, and now the Dread Warriors are much easier to connect with.

Buggles finishes off the first enemy (in the fourth turn- so, they hung around) and with a Crit to end the undead terror- please Lord, not the Buggles Crit-train again. Ram accounts for another two of the Dread Warriors, while Daktari ends the last- but it’s a war of attrition, with everyone contributing.

[Dread Warriors in the last barrow 800 XP]

There is celebrating, but here’s the thing- the last bad ancestor has not shown his or her face- that’s odd, so there’s much searching, investigating- shouting “Monsieur dead ancestor, where are yew?” that kind of thing but… nada.

The Dark Squad, after Buggles shuts them up- listen intently, there’s a scratching sound, eventually pinpointed to beneath Vinnie’s feet.

Sixty frantic second later and a hole has been dug, and a box located buried maybe two feet deep.

The Dark Squad queue up all manner of readied actions (all attacks) as Daktari levers the box free of the dirt, it’s not a coffin- which was where the big money bets were at, it is instead a packing crate- with the scratching noise definitely coming from within.

However at this point the first wave (for this session) of Dark Squad dead has already been unleashed into the shadowy plane, the undead mooks (for the most part) are closing in fast.

Decrepit stirges swoop into the entrance to the barrow, and after a scramble are violently curtailed from intruding further- and yet more swoop in and so Daktari is put on permanent watch of the way- taking hits but swatting the pesky buggers dead as quickly as he can.

Note the new undead stirges don’t drain, they’re content to stab and spike with their elongated snouts.

While this is going on however Vinnie has directed his comrades to two of the alcoves- there are more digging/scratching sounds coming from these places too- although that just turns out to be half-a-dozen or so decrepit troglodytes (in two groups) working their way through the walls of the barrow.

So, the trogs get in- but… they’re really not a threat, and made less so when the few stench saves that the PCs have to make are all successes. Damn them.

There’s a brief moment of consternation when a huge decrepit subterranean giant lizard (the one that swallowed Vincen G. Octopod back in the forge) forces its way into one of the trog made openings. Then the beast starts flailing around with its massive bludgeoning tail, but it fails to connect with the PCs repeatedly, and gets swiftly beaten to a pulp mostly by Ram and Buggles.

2602.jpg

When the Giant Lizard's appeared Catkins (that's Buggles' special name for Newt*) spammed his Mirror Image- in fright. I loved the fact that in this rolling fracas that the guys were seemingly reacting more to the memory of the foe- the Giant (Huge) Subterranean Lizard was v. tough first time around, rather than, well... experiencing reality. The Giant Sub Lizard never hit once and was taken down in a turn, surprise!

*Buggles, helpfully has special names for most of his companions, but it's situational- funnily enough it's a remarkably similar approach to Garumn, at the start of these adventures- with 'Druid' (Vincenzo) & 'Elf' (Ram). Odd that. Atm Ram is 'Ram', Vinnie and Newt are usually known as "Wizard #1" & "Wizard #2", while Daktari is mostly being ignored.

Just to note although this fracas is gentle in comparison to some that have come before the Dark Squad nevertheless go full shields up- with Newt using his Mirror Image spell to create duplicates- this when the huge subterranean lizard first got into action. Likewise Vinnie has got the Spike Growth up and at the door- so, we’re locked down again.

But the bad guys are mostly making their own ways in to the barrow (or else flying).

Note Newt’s Mirror Images are reduced from three to one, to none- in a matter of seconds by marauding trogs, that was his first use of the spell, it didn’t last long.

As Buggles said at the time- “Is that a new spell. I think I prefer Fireball.”

And so it goes, as it always does, for another five or six turns- until the Dark Squad for the win, although Ram (again) and Buggles (again) have both taken a beating.

Note at the end of the wave of the recently dead the lightning strikes, the PC’s tethers pulse, and they all get another inspiration point. Yay!

As always.

[Yet another wave, mostly Trogs and Stirges, of the Dark Squad dead 630 XP]

But then back to the box the Dark Squad have just dug up, although only briefly, the container is prised open- and keep in mind the PCs are expecting something very nasty to leap out here- it’s like pass the parcel with a live grenade, with folk taking cover- readying actions et al.

So, Daktari gets the box open- there’s a book inside, it looks to be an oldish looking journal (no title)- the scratching noise is coming from within the tome.

Most odd.

Daktari hands the book over to the science monitors (Vinnie & Newt), the Uthgardt barbarian may have once seen window glass and taken a bath (he’s cosmopolitan) but he doesn’t hold with book learning.

So, and get this- Newt is trying to open the book as quickly as possible, just to get a glimpse- the latest collective thought is that something (the last bad ancestor) is going to escape the tome and attack them should they open it all the way and let the creature out.

I swear to you, they do about 50% of my job for me.

Where do they get these idiot ideas, although perhaps this one’s not that idiot- I’ve written it down for later use.

So, there’s text in the book- or at least on the random page that Newt opened the book at (very very briefly) and the text is written in the common tongue, but… what’s that?

naughty word- the dead are back again.

Do you see what I’m doing here?

Another wave of the Dark Squad dead have been creeping up, and now they’re here and ready to rumble. But again, I’ll skip to the good bits, just to say this wave included a battered and broken decrepit cave bear, a pair of similarly forlorn looking gricks, another half-a-dozen trogs (or more), and last but by no means least, Kaarghaz, the sorcerer trog leader the PCs offed back in the Glitterhame.

So, as before the trogs come in the back door tunnels, while the gricks come slithering/climbing in from above through the entrance to the barrow- avoiding the spike growth entirely, while the decrepit cave bear just takes the easy/direct route through the terrible terrain.

Remarkably the cave bear makes it through the spikes and into the front entrance of the barrow, at which point- already badly broken, Buggles slices the great beast down.

2603.jpg

"Where's the seventh bad dead ancestor?" Send your answers on a postcard to-

Dark Squad
Barrow 7
Land of the Bad Dead Ancestors

Make cheques payable to Goonalan.


More trogs rush in- mostly they get slaughtered, but a couple or three manage to land a few hits here and there.

The gricks stick around for a short while, but they’re not tough enough to do any real damage to the PCs. Shame.

Gwen (Buggles’ skeleton companion) is in the wrong place at the wrong time, repeatedly, and takes a beating- the former duergar is reduced to around 20 HP. Note Gwen was given a power up by Old Mare, the Uthgardt witch- the skeleton now has around 50 HP, but still can only be summoned once every tenday.

But when the enemy stop coming… no lightning strike, which the Dark Squad have learned from previous encounters means that there are more enemies on the outside of the barrow waiting for them to emerge.

In this instance it’s a decrepit Kaarghaz (the trog chief/sorcerer remember), invisible and with a readied action- come on out to play.

Buggles and Ram sneak out to take a look around, however the pair are way too stealthy for my trog sorcerer, he doesn’t even see the pair exit the barrow, but obviously the duo also cannot see Kaarghaz (invisible).

Newt however…

The tabaxi finally loses patience and follows the rogue’s out- and is swiftly hit by two out of three scorching rays, and left meowling in pain (and frustration). He blasts the newly revealed trog leader right back, and then screeches his comrades into action.

Buggles chases the trog down and with his twin scimitars (and a miss, thanks to the trog’s shield spell- inspiration point, roll again- Crit) guts Kaarghaz- dead.

Lightning strikes- tethers pulse- inspiration points all round, and the fight is over.

[More dead Trogs including Kaarghaz 430 XP]

But then swiftly back in to the barrow, and back to the box- and the book, at last Newt takes the plunge and opens it up- to have a proper look, and to the first page of text which goes a little like this-

“Divil!” The old farmer screamed in Garumn’s face once more, and then staggered back flailing for an edge, any surface to grab hold of to save himself- to keep him on his feet. He failed and sat down hard on the spit and sawdust barroom floor, a moment later he clutched his head and started to weep.

It takes the above section for the PCs/players to figure out what they are hearing/reading.

“Zat is our story mes amis.” Vinnie nods along… and then after a collective realisation there’s a sudden scramble to get the pages of the text turned to, well… the end, or at least to the present.

Buggles scratches his head as he leans in to read. Vinnie and Newt each holding half of the tome, their mouths agape in wonder. “How the hell are we going to get out of here? Where’s the seventh bloody ancestor?” Ram snarls, breaking the spell.

That kind of thing- but you get it, it’s the narrative- the journal of the Dark Squad, and the scratching sound, well- it’s an ongoing project. An invisible pen leaves its inky mark upon the page as the adventure unfurls and unfolds.

Most odd.

But, as always, there’s no time to ask questions or inspect the book further- the third wave of the Dark Squad dead has arrived, and when I say arrived- I mean several of them are already in the barrow.

They are duergar.

Invisible duergar.

Actually invisible recently slaughtered duergar back from the dead for their bloody revenge, but y’know- I’m preaching to the converted here.

It gets frantic for a bit, as Ram and Gwen take more hits, and again the former’s uncanny dodge gets spammed.

2604.jpg

A few more HPs each (they had only 11 apiece) and the Decrepit Duergar would have been real bad news for the Dark Squad.

So, more of the same- with the PCs cowering in a cluster- in the centre of the barrow, waiting for the invisible duergar to pop up, Buggles at one point had this to say- “I feel like we live in this barrow.”

But the duergar are, like all of the other former victims of the Dark Squad, low on HP, and so… attrition, except when Ghared (one of the duergar leaders killed by the Dark Squad in the forge) shows up and starts shooting his hand crossbow and with sneak attack- Ram is soon after sub-10 HP.

Note Buggles at this point is shouting (repeatedly) at Newt to- “Quick. Gain a level. We need more spells…”

During this fracas the trog excavated tunnels into the barrow also get enlarged, this courtesy of the decrepit duergar pumping up to large size while in the region- the barrow has, by the end of this fight, also taken a beating. It’s falling apart, collapsed in places.

In the last moments of the fight Ram, badly wounded, gets cagey and fills the entry to the barrow he’s guarding with a bag or two of ball bearings, and then retreats to watch the way, and chug a healing potion, and then to use an inspiration point to heal some more.

Miraculously (I gave the duergar bonuses on their rolls because of the mud/earth to ball bearing issue) the trap works- repeatedly.

Daktari for a good long while has been guarding the main entrance to the barrow (with a readied action), but nothing has come this way for quite some time. The barbarian is therefore ordered by… I want to say Newt, to go out and get the last duergar standing. Ghared, the rogue-leader type with the sneak attack.

The barbarian salutes, offers a few cod-Russian words of homespun wisdom, and then duly chases the last duergar down but alas fails to make a mark on the enemy. Buggles, following up, slashes and almost slaughters the foe, leaving a racing Newt to finish the creature off with another of his fiery blasts.

Lightning strikes- and another fight is over.

[Duergar dead 450 XP]

The adventurers quickly scurry back in to their wrecked and ruined barrow home, for yet more investigations of the newly unearthed book. These include an attempt by Newt to write his own ending to the story- basically to narrate the Dark Squad back to Old Mare and the Uthgardt barbarian camp, but that doesn’t work.

The ongoing race of the pen-less ink obliterates the line ahead in its charge across and down the page.

Fiddling with the maze-sided coin Timor the Uthgardt chief reluctantly passed over to the Dark Squad, alas also proves to be ineffective, as does using it (?) in conjunction with the book.

There’s a lot of frustration, a lot of tutting, and “Well, I don’t know how it works!” But still plenty of humour, things are not desperate yet.

Yet.

But then the magic pen writes, and the Dark Squad read-

Buggles and Ram are suddenly aware, there are more enemies rushing into the barrow, the dead are here again…

[Uncover the magic book, and get frustrated trying to figure it out 500 XP]

And so more Dark Squad dead, dwarven skeletons as it happens- and the PCs can’t even remember when they fought and killed these guys- it was in the forge after the Dark Squad were tricked into opening a door into an ex-dwarven guard ready-room by Arundil the dwarven ghost. Just for info.

So, dwarven skeletons- easy, but then a bigger and better enemy falls prey to Ram’s ball bearing trap, it’s Nimira- the decrepit version of the duergar big chief warrior- and she has a big bag of HP, a great AC, and two semi-hefty attacks.

2605.jpg

When will it ever end... but the Dark Squad have already figured that out.

Which is probably why she rolled a ‘3’ for her Dex check as she passed into the barrow and ended up cursing and sprawled on her arse.

But the orc wight champion is also here, and with a pair of decrepit ogre skeletons for company- and they’re not going into the spike growth at all now, save sometimes to drop from atop the barrow into the entrance tunnel and take just one hit.

Daktari as it happens is also taking hits, as is Ram- but that’s nothing new.

Vinnie cancels his spike growth and shoots a moonbeam down into the entrance to the barrow- a smaller area covered by the spell but much more damage- and he can shift the focus of the beam should he need to.

Meantime Nimira (the duergar boss) is not faring well, Ram gets her with a Crit- and with his opening attack, and then rolls stupid high and does 48 damage, in just one hit. Nimira had 52 HP full whack. Seconds later after a Belphegor’s fiery blast the decrepit duergar leader is toast.

Buggles takes down the orc wight champion, and then with his off-hand attack destroys one of the ogre skeletons. They were both wounded, but that’s still pretty fly.

And keep in mind that 90% of these decrepit former victims have low ACs, very few HPs, and much reduced attacks/damage- they’re weak, except for the bad guys with names- they’re at about 75% normal strength.

Vinnie’s moonbeam continues to burn, turning dwarven skeletons into shattered charred fragments of bone.

While Ram gets smashed on the head by the last standing ogre skeleton, this after the rogue chases outside the barrow to attack the brute, seconds later however the swashbuckler takes the giant skeleton down.

Lightning strikes- the fight is over, but the next wave is already on its way…

[Nimira the duergar boss and a bunch of decrepit undead 660 XP]

And here’s the thing- Ram is outside of the barrow to see it happen, which I had hoped would not be the case- Nightscale, a thirty foot long black dragon (with approx. 130 HP), or else a decrepit version of the same- sans approx. 30% of its scales (Vinnie took ‘em), descends upon the barrow.

And when I say- descends, I mean crashes into the roof of the Dark Squad’s bunker.

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Nightscale, note- token enlarged for Close-Up!

But that bastard rogue- Ram, has already screamed at his colleagues to “GET OUT OF THERE! DRAGON!”

If he had not exited the bunker in the last round of the previous fight, then… well, this might have been a very different finale.

I would have buried the bastards under a half-a-ton of earth, and then caught up with the survivors individually (I wish).

So, everyone gets out of the barrow except for Daktari who is left stuck in the entrance corridor to the chamber- which doesn’t collapse. The barbarian is moments later however trapped between the collapse and Vinnie’s moonbeam which fills (and burns) the only exit available to him.

The barbarian therefore takes to digging through the collapse.

For a follow up, after the semi-crashlanding, Nightscale unleashes its necrotic breath weapon, and after an inspiration point to roll again- pretty please Mr. DM sir, Newt manages to just make his save, and thereby stay alive/conscious.

The yowling tabaxi attempts to blind the dragon, but my saving throw’s a ‘20’, it means nothing- as long as Nightscale makes the save, but it feels good.

And it elicits groans from around the VTT, so- good.

Ram, in cover, fires an arrow into the wyrm- the dragon is still aloft, and he fishes his last +1 arrow out of his quiver for the attack- nice hit. Buggles repeats the trick, although the wood elf’s hit is much less painful.

Therefore Nightscale descends to rip Ram apart… or, almost- the rogue is down to single digits HP when Nightscale back-sculls and gets some altitude.

Soon after Buggles and then Gwen sink arrows into the hovering rotten wyrm some more.

Oh, but a note about Gwen.

Stu, playing Buggles- and therefore Gwen, has now got a new gig for his undead ally, a typical skeletal duergar attack, as narrated by Stu, goes something similar-

“Gwen pulls up her fencing mask (?) eyes the great dragon with a look of respect, and yet- eerie menace. She nods, the great wyrm struggling to stay aloft locks eyes for a moment with Gwen, and then out of respect nods back. Battle is joined, and… the ex-duergar warrior draws her bow, and rolls… does a ‘6’ hit?”

Every turn, actually that’s not true- at the start of the fighting Gwen was rolling and missing all of the while, but now- in the finale (and for a while before) she’s turning it on (mostly).

Come rain or shine, it doesn’t matter if its Nightscale in Gwen’s sights, or a stirge- respect is a big part (it seems) of the fighter’s code.

Always the nod- the acknowledgement of the terror about to be unleashed.

Gwen has one attack, for something like 1d6+2 damage, if and when she hits.

Vinnie refocuses his moonbeam to target the wyrm- alas just in time for Daktari to break out of the barrow and directly into the radiant glare, note the barbarian was digging in the other direction when the moonbeam got shifted.

Newt hits Nightscale with a fireball, but the wyrm makes the save and that’s just 13 fire damage, but the creature is now bloodied and beyond. Ram forgoes healing- he’s danger man, remember. He grabs out a potion of flying- swigs it down, double moves (with a bit of cunning action) and flies up to the dragon. Who, it must be said, is sore amazed. The rogue- with an inspiration point, stabs the dead flying terror in the face.

Vinnie’s moonbeam burns the beast some more.

Nightscale recharges its breath weapon and fires its necrotic blast point blank at Ram, who makes his save and then with little extra uncanny dodge somehow manages to stay alive (breath weapon = 6 necrotic damage, note that was from 11d4- half, and half again- the bastard).

Buggles sinks another arrow into the wyrm, Gwen alas- even after respect is paid and earned- fails to land the killing shot. As does a spear flinging Daktari- it takes another pair of Belphegor’s fiery blasts from a ranting screaming Newt “I warned you!” to blast the wyrm out of the air.

Kinda similar to the last time the Dark Squad and Nightscale went for it.

[Nightscale, the final wave of the Dark Squad dead 1800 XP]

Needless to say moments after the fight is done Ram, and Newt- and several others, are snaffling healing potions (those PCs that have any left) or else begging cure wounds spells from Vinnie. More healing is needed. Note at this point, save for Daktari, then all of the PCs are pretty much out of healing HD/surges.

As my brother (Kev playing Ram) said later- “to the wire, again.”

But the mystery isn’t over- barrows, ancestors- one missing, a book- writing the Dark Squad’s story, a strange coin with a maze on it and WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS GOING ON HERE?

It’s ten minutes before the end of the session, and so only half-an-hour left to play (we went over time, of course). But the guys can’t figure it out- they’re mooching all over the map, looking at standing stones- snooping around barrows, but…nothing.

Things are getting desperate- not shout at each other and fall out desperate but, lots of “there’s something we’re missing…”, here comes the repeated stating of the obvious, and louder with each echo.

Then Vinnie gets it, he mostly always does, the druid mooches to the centre of the shadowy space and stares and shouts up into the light-

“Garumn, we don’t know wot to do- ‘elp uz my frend.”

[Vinnie gets it right 250 XP]

And Garumn appears, and I’ve been waiting for this, and so after a very brief moment of shared smiles, nods and mutual hello’s, Garumn rips into his once bosom chums.

I’ll summary the Scottish-accented garrulous paladin’s diatribe-

1) No sooner than I’m dead than you shack up with another pretty boy barbarian meat-shield, admittedly Daktari has great hair- but that’s really not a justifiable reason. Have you fellows never heard of loyalty? Discuss.

2) Vinnie used dead Garumn as a seat! A SEAT! Discuss.

3) Garumn was having a fine old time upstairs working in the All Father’s forges, he had even met a nice redheaded dwarven lady who had repeatedly asked him about his ‘melt thresholds’, which in dwarven culture is tantamount to foreplay.

4) But, then he’s called into the overseer’s office and caught up with events vis-a-vis the Dark Squad in the land of the bad dead ancestors™.

5) And so, we move to the source of Garumn’s ire- it seems that the stout paladin is here to fill in for the seventh bad dead ancestor, it’s the only way to get the Dark Squad out of their present situation. Oh, and the implication is that this is Moradin’s scheme- as it turns out it was the All Father that was on the other end of the glowing tethers keeping the PCs alive- so, that’s nice.

6) So, Garumn- as he’s dead, is going to occupy the seventh barrow, to tomb-sit, as it were. The Dark Squad therefore need to best Garumn in order to win his secret, it seems the All Father has thought of everything.

7) There’s a lovely moment when the Dark Squad show Garumn over to his new home/barrow- which has been crushed flat by Nightscale, holed and wrecked by trogs and enlarged duergar. Garumn is not happy- he goes on to explain that he has tried 47 different varieties of dwarven ale in the last few days of R&R (and soul-warming work) in the All Father’s workshop. He only had another couple of thousand varieties of dwarven ale to try… In precis, Garumn has gone from ‘heaven’, to- ‘hell’; and looking at the last barrow- ‘hell’ is as Vinnie explains, “it iz a fixer-upper, n’est pas?” Garumn’s new home is a shadowy, cold ruin- it doesn’t even have a roof. He’s not happy, and Garumn (and the DM) really get into it when he’s ticked.

8) But back to the rescue, once the PCs have bested Garumn and learned his secret they can depart the land of the bad dead ancestors, and… find the missing seventh ancestor and get whoever s/he is sent back here to relieve Garumn from his tomb-sitting.

9) Simple as, and as Garumn states, repeatedly- Moradin has thought of everything.

So, next up Buggles bests Garumn at shooting things- no surprise there, and then there’s a secret revealed-

“To prove you are worth your salt,

Stand fast between the dead and the storm.

When the worst comes call upon me,

And I will send a God’s favour.

Look to the sea, to see, the sea-change.”

Job done!

Garumn makes clear that Moradin is the deity that needs to be called upon, so- they’ve got a favour in the bag from the All Father, although its use is clearly situational- and subject to the Dark Squad making sense of the secret.

[Garumn is the NEW seventh bad dead ancestor 1000 XP]

But, here’s the thing… nothing happens.

Then more nothing.

Times ten.

The Dark Squad are going nowhere, or so it seems… and Garumn is as confused as the PCs are.

But Vinnie’s not done, he’s about to have another clever moment- the druid grabs out the coin like artefact given over by the Uthgardt chief- Timor, he traces the maze on the thing, with his little finger- very carefully.

Suddenly there’s a voice- in his head.

“Ask, and I will tell you the answer.”

The druid goes on a long mental journey and replies, in his head, “How do we get out of ear?”

“DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Comes the reply.

[Vinnie activates the artefact 500 XP]

But that’s the end of the session.

However before I depart there’s one last thing I want to remind you, and the Dark Squad about, do you remember what Bel(phegor) said to Newt during the fire Lord’s brief appearance back in the forge? Well, here it is-

“Tell Wildroot that you wish to join the pact of flame, resist the urge to burn the woodsman to the ground- he will set you to your task.”

Newt nods, and makes notes in his book of shadows.

“Discover the last ancestor, she that lives under the cover of darkness- the hag will have the answers.”

“Got it, master.” Newt nods some more.

“When the hands move the end will have begun.”

“WAIT!”

“For the pale dwarf without a face to beg you- only then should you take the ghost home.”


Hang on, what was that about the last ancestor?

More, of course, next time.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 
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Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
I have no idea what going on here* but it's damned entertaining!! :)


* But then to be honest I don't in most situations.

We played last night, and it was a corker- I'll get around to writing it up soon-ish.

I got great feedback after the session- Kev/Ram (my bro) talked it up straight after we had done, Stu/Buggles e-mailed me soon after to say best session so far, and Jim/Vinnie was still grinning when I got into work this morning.

And Buggles didn't slaughter not hardly anything.*

*Well, maybe a couple of things- a stirge or two, oh- and a hill giant.

But we'll get to that... and plenty more, best map award so far last night as well. I'm still semi-buzzing.

It's a cracking game this D&D-thing.

Cheers goonalan
 


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