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The Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh #139 Into the Mere of the Dead Men Part 4.


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Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Apologies, my work schedule exploded and we have not played a session since the one above, but now... we are back on it as of the 17th, as they have never said, and never will- Dark Squad Assemble!

I'm not even sure what film that line is from, one of them odd mecha-movies in which machine things turn into other machine things, probably.

Last of the quiz and then onwards until the end of the world.

Cheers goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Hey folks, how's it going?
Belated happy new year to you all and hopefully you're playing even if you don't have time to write up seshes.
Same to you.

We played all the way back on the 17th of Oct, as per my last missive, but then on hiatus until... tomorrow. Game on the 23rd Jan.

I'll catch up with the write up in due course, just as soon as we get playing again- and can agree on what happened in the last session- it was such a long time ago.

Back in a bit, and thanks for taking the time.

Cheers Paul
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session#123: [Sigh]-[PoP!].

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Daktari/Dak (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 8
Fellowyn Silverstream (played by George) Male Eladrin Wizard Bladesinger Lvl 8
NewTricks/Newt (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock 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

DEADPCs
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev/Nicky (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8 RIP

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 EXPLODED
Ubdug (played by Goonalan) Supreme Being Lvl 2 (When we remember)
*Trappedin 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. An extraordinary meeting of the Saltmarsh Town Council, the Dark Squad are going to get hired to end the smuggling menace (see below), scheduled for 10thFlamerule.
  2. The smuggler's ship will be turning up sometime between the 14thand 17th of Flamerule, the Dark Squad (and particularly Ram) are keen to meet the vessel, particularly Ram- why, because as the rogue said- “I'm getting a boat.”
  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 Cemetery).
  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 123, and a long time coming- we've been away, not prison time, just away from FGU & the Dark Squad, in truth I had run out of stuff to play on Fantasy Grounds, and work... work was a bit busy.

But, here we are again- we played last night (23rd) but this session is from all the way back in October last year, I couldn't write it up previously because- I had no time (work) at first, and then I forgot what happened at the end, so I had to wait until we were all back together.

Explanation over.

Dark Squad Assemble!

Although this may be brief, I'm going to be jumping over the puddles.

Alas, as it turns out- this missive is far from brief.

Last session we were playing some weird version of Universally (University) Challenged, hosted by Cortex, a very jolly Mind Flayer-and with all the questions being about the Dark Squad's adventures so far.

Well, when I say 'the Dark Squad's adventures so far', not just the Dark Squad as it happens.

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As it turns out there were previous iterations of the Dark Squad, or at least adventuring parties with similar sounding names, and all on the same (or very similar) quest(s).

Confused?

Good.

And so the questions go on and there are lots of them, all of them about the Dark Squad (see above) and their adventures, all the way to the present.

But before we get to the end...

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But who's that, bottom right- the 4th member of 'Darkvision'.

That's right- it's Fellowyn Silverstream, it seems the confused (and confusing) bathrobe wearing mage is on the spin cycle.

Fellowyn (played by George) is having to field a lot of questions, which is unfortunate because I'd not briefed George that this was happening, the big lad copes remarkably well with the tirade from the other players.

But keep in mind that Fellowyn is deaf (when he wants to be), confused (all of the time) and generally makes little or no sense (almost always).

More questions from Cortex follow.

12301.jpg

For quite a while. Oh look- four Fellowyns. He really is on the spin cycle.

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Quite a while.

And then, a while longer still...

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That's two separate screens (left and right) in the shot above.

It seems there have been quite a few iterations of the Dark Squad, and they're all in the quiz.

The sound, at times, of the multifarious adventurers- buzzing in and answering unheard questions is... well, reality warping about sums it up.

But the Dark Squad are winning the quiz when the questions catch up to the present.

However, the chorus of noise that the Dark Squad is hearing- as all of the teams in the quiz attempt to talk at once, well...

Reality blurs a while, and then Mandelbrot's into somewhere else.

Somewhere very else.

It is warm.

It is close.

It is wet.

And dark.

The air is vegetable, and sweet funk.

12304.jpg

The Dark Squad are stood on what seem to be giant lilly pads, the steaming liquid beneath the pads swims with imagined (perhaps) shapes and shadows. On writhing tenti-pods, evenly distributed, are ten or so bulbous blinking eyeballs. They all sway as if to an equally steamy and sensuous unsung song.

A giant eyeball- front and center- blinks once and then whispers in to the mind's of the various members of the Dark Squad.

It has a story to tell (and apologies but it goes on a while)-

I am the Watcher in the Void.

I am [Sigh] [POP!]

I was here at the beginning.

I will be here at the end.

I am the Watcher in the Void.

I am [Sigh] [POP!]

I have been watching.

I have been watching from the beginning.

Harken unto me, for I have seen that of which I speak.

I am witness.

Listen and learn.

Ao created the multiverse, and within the sphere of existence that he had created- worlds formed, but slowly, and for aeons they drifted upon the Sea of Night.

The worlds contained no life, but they were coveted by powerful beings who arose from the Elemental Chaos that boils beyond the arc of existence.

The chaos birthed the creatures that are known today as the primordials.

The beautiful goddesses of light and dark, Selûne and Shar, were formed from the ocean of silvery liquid left over from the realm's creation, the same substance that would later became the Astral Sea, that which joins all of the many spheres of existence.

The primordials were ignorant of this development- the birth of light and dark, content they were to explore and to bring chaos to their new gained domain.

Selune & Shar defended the new worlds that Ao had created from the primordials, naturally as the primordials were beings of entropy and destruction.

Thus began the Dawn War, during which time many other gods were created from the residue of the conflict, or else summoned (or drawn) from other dimensions to help (or else hinder) the native gods of Realmspace

Later, during the time known as the Blue Age, a race of sea creatures were living on Abeir-Toril in the planet's single vast ocean.

These were the precursors to 'the people', or as they become known to all others- the Elves.

The Blue Age came to an end when a primordial known as Dendar the Night Serpent sought to best all of the gods, and his kin alike. The Night Serpent swallowed the sun, giving way to the Shadow Epoch.

And for aeons yet great battles raged during this time, between the primordials and the Elder Gods.

The war turned in the gods' favour when a single primordial changed sides and assisted the Elder Gods in slaying, imprisoning, or else driving away the remaining primordials.

And for a while peace reigned.

The primordials were killed or else contained, all save one- Ubtao the Deceiver, who turned against his kin and whispered their secrets to the Elder Gods, for this act Ub, as he became known, was given license to roam the world of Toril forever more.

But nothing lasts...

During the Days of Thunder the amphibious creator race was waging a losing war against the Titans, the sons and daughters of the chaotic primordial beings-the spawn they left behind.

Desperate, the creator race summoned several primordials to aid them in the fight, while their actions also caused other primordials to escape their imprisonment.

The creator gods quickly attacked their ancient foes, and the primordials and their offspring (who became known as the Dawn Titans were eventually defeated), a few even slaughtered, in a cataclysmic period known as the Tearfall.

During the fighting, Ao himself intervened when the primordial Asgorath the World Shaper hurled an ice moon at Abeir-Toril, wanting to destroy the world she couldn't claim as her own.

Ao therefore sundered the world in two, twin worlds called Abeir and Toril.

He granted the primordials control of the world of Abeir and the Elder Gods control of the origin world, Toril

Ao decreed that all primordials should abandon Toril and move to Abeir, and mostly this came to pass.

Mostly, I say... for there remained a handful of primordials still on Toril, although all but one of these languished in ancient magical prisons.

There is yet one true primordial that remains free on Toril.

Ub, who was formerly known as Ubtao.

But Ub, right from the beginning, was not like the other primordials.

He was weak you see, while his kin were very, very strong- and that was his edge.

He had to learn, at first he had to learn to hide, to stay away from danger, to survive.

He learnt quickly.

He survived.

By deceiving, by telling stories- as you no doubt have come to learn.

It would be fair to say that Ub was worth watching from the very start.

You are the 192nd iteration of the story that Ub seeks to tell.

The Seekers in the Shadows were your ancient predecessors, enamored with the weapons that Ub had made for them- they took up his cause... or else their cause, for they believed that Ub sought to help them.

You visited with them in their Dragon Barrow.

I saw you there.

The Seekers in the Shadows, signed the Pact of the Flame- to fight and kill the fire-breathing dragons who coveted their woodland kingdoms.

Ub saw his opportunity, and so your story began.

That was 38,412 yearsago.

I know this- I marked it on my calendar.

And so...what are you for?

What is any of this for?

Dendar, the Night Serpent ,will return, the Time of Shadow is coming.

But Ub's desire to save your world is but part of this story.

You work your task, and yet how much of what you have already wrought do you truly understand.

You must see this to conclusion.

You started it after all, you let him out.

Ub has deceived you, as he deceived all of the others that came before you.

Ub is your only hope.

Toril's only hope.

It therefore follows that you are Toril's only hope.

A storm is coming.

The Time of Ash is coming.

A time of death and shadow.

There are many prophecies, with many names and many endings...

They may yet all prove to be true.

Dendar the Night Serpent comes.

I am the Watcher in the Void.

I am [Sigh] [POP!]

I was here at the beginning.

I will be here at the end.

I am the Watcher in the Void.

I am [Sigh] [POP!]

I will take one question from each of you.

Save from the one whom I now serve.

Lord Newt the Magnificent I will answer thrice.

Then, I will send you back.

So, that's a lot of exposition, but you know- I was scrabbling, and anyway- thought I'd just get it all out there.

Most of the above is self-explanatory, or else... well, you can make sense of it.

It maybe worth reminding you that Randall the Black (see Session 76) stated that he worshipped a Great Old One called- Zypop.

Zypop is [Sigh]-[PoP!].

Natch!

So, there follows a lot of making sense of things- the players chat a good long while, and then we are on to the PCs questions for [Sigh]-[PoP!], they have one question each- except for Newt, of course.

The Warlock also has a new best buddy, it seems.

Q&A in the order asked (which is the bit that I needed to refresh my brain about last night, thanks chaps).

Vinnie asks- “What is Ub's goal?”

[Sigh]-[PoP!] answers (paraphrased and précised)- “To save Toril, and in the process to escape his primordial heritage and become a God.”

That's nice- more chatter, and then-

Newt asks- “Who or what is Ashardalon, and what is his role in this story?”

[Sigh]-[PoP!] answers (paraphrased and précised)- “Ashardalon is Dendar the Night Serpent- the greatest of Wyrms. Dendar's role is to instigate the Time of Ash/Shadow.”

Then after a little by-play between [Sigh]-[PoP!] and Newt, the floating eye explains some more- “Ub told many lies to many people- some of his stories took on lives of their own. The Elves fear the coming of Ashardalon, they swore an oath- the Pact of Flame to defend the lands and their people. Ub, the Deceiver, instigated this effort. The Elves were the first folk he deceived.”

And so Newt asks his second question- “How can we kill (or just stop) Ub?”

The story just got switched around pretty quickly there.

Although, this is Newt talking, so... he has a lot of hate to go around.

He wants to kill most everybody, remember.

[Sigh]-[PoP!] answers (paraphrased and précised)- “You could end Ub's plan easily- just fail at your allotted task, cease pursuing Ub's goals. The 191 previous versions of this tale have all ended in failure. Only by failing can you succeed in thwarting Ub.”

A lot of mithering, and a fair bit of swearing follows.

The Dark Squad are grumbling.

Note, I allowed each of the players five minutes in isolation to come up with their question, or in Newt's case- questions, and without discussion so no-one knew what their colleagues was going to ask. Then, when they were all ready, we rolled a dice to get a running order- any alterations to questions (because someone else had already asked something very similar) had to be done in real time.

After answering the previous question the next player had only twenty or so seconds to start asking their question, added a bit more pep to it.

Then Newt's last question- “How has it come to pass that you, great[Sigh]-[PoP!], wish to serve me?”

To make clear [Sigh]-[PoP!] has also been messaging Newt using the whisper function on Fantasy Grounds Unity, basically [Sigh]-[PoP!] has offered, as stated above,- 'to serve Newt.'

That old chestnut.

Again.

As Admiral Akbar is so fond of saying.

“It's a Trap!”

Newt, of course, has already agreed to accept [Sigh]-[PoP!]'s help.

He now has three masters- Belphegor (remember him), Humphrey Far-Fer-Nar and now [Sigh]-[PoP!].

That's nice.

Cosy.

[Sigh]-[PoP!] answers (paraphrased and précised)- but to be honest it's not really worth paraphrasing, basically Newt is going to go supernova-according to the great eyeball-thing, he is going to be an all powerful being and [Sigh]-[PoP!] just wants to get his name on the members list early doors.

Newt loves it.

And believes every word of it.

He's a giggling/preening loon by the time the flattery draws to a close.

That's four of the Dark Squad's six questions asked.

Here comes the practical fellow.

At last (nearly).

Ramshambow asks- “Where are the four missing Maze Buttons, right now?”

[Sigh]-[PoP!] answers (paraphrased and précised)- “Two are with the Duergar, seek them at the bottom of the Goblin's Stair. One is in the bilges of the Empress of the Sea, the last was taken by the one who calls himself Ashardalon and can only be recovered when all the rest are gathered.”

Well, that's a big relief.

At last the Dark Squad have got some directions.

Here's a thing, and it happened again last night, I mention the Goblin Stair a lot- I mean every 2-3 sessions (by design) I bring it up.

I remind the Dark Squad.

Jim (playing Vinnie and Daktari) said this last night- while we were recapping the events described above (it was all a very long time ago). He said- “That'll explain why Paul (that's me) has been going on about the Goblin Stair all the time for the last year and a half.”

The follow up question, again from Jim, being- “Why haven't we been to the Goblin Stair?”

I could explode.

I have been trying to get the Dark Squad to go to the Goblin's Stair (they found out where this place is back in their first few sessions in the Saltmarsh region), since...

Session 25 the Dark Squad learned the prophecy-

“Iam Golcanz and I am forgotten.
The answer you seek [Golcanz looks directly at Buggles] is at the bottom of the Goblin’s stair/stare.”

Once they arrived in the Saltmarsh region the Squad started working for the Dwarves in Farhill mine, during their underground/Underdark exploration they met a Stone Giant Mystic Hgraam, he directed them to... the Goblin Stair. That was in Session 40.

In session 45, while settling into their new house, and environs, in Saltmarsh the Dark Squad were advised by several folk there that there was adventure to be had at... the Goblin Stair.

In session 47a one of the points of order at the first Saltmarsh Town Council meeting was about... yep, right again.

In session 48 the Dark Squad were attacked by a gang of Hobgoblins, which the DM confirmed were likely, from...

In session 50a The Falcon attempts to hire the Dark Squad to take care of the Goblin problem by invading the...

I kid you not, and on it goes.

I brought up the Goblin menace every chance I could.

For over a year.

I even attacked the PCs again with a gang of Goblin wolf riders, whose tracks the Squad followed for a while- they headed in the direction of the murder house and then on to...

So, as it turns out there's something for the Dark Squad at the bottom of the Goblin's Stair.

Who would have funking believed it.

The Goblin's Stair, numerous folk have explained to the Squad is the multilevel (hence stair) lair of the Goblin King.

It's number 5 on the PCs list of things to do- it has been on the list since session 40-something.

The PCs even found a gnome that had been a prisoner of the Goblin King, he told them where the lair is and how to get in... that was all a very long time ago.

But I'm not bitter.

Not bitter at all.

AT ALL!

Moving on.

I said- “MOVING ON!”

To the last question for [Sigh]-[PoP!]

Fellowyn asks- “What can we do to break the cycle?”

And although that's a lot like one of Newt's questions- how can we stop Ub?

[Sigh]-[PoP!] has a better answer, because I am a kind-hearted soul.

[Sigh]-[PoP!] answers (paraphrased and précised)- “Succeed where all before you have failed. Or, destroy Ub and Dendar both (if you want to have a future). Or, usurp Ub's rise to divinity. Or else, find a different way to bring this story to an end.”

Then seconds later, with a last blink of the great eye, and... the Dark Squad are gone.

Or else.

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Back in the Mere of the Dead Men.

Here's the thing- they can't see the Tomb of Rambles Shambles Bowspirit, they seem to be somewhere else, also...

“Help...”

There's someone else here, several someone's in fact- lost in the mist and mirk.

And all calling forlornly for help.

The Dark Squad follow the sound, and then the tracks- four foot wide slithering mucus filled trails in the slick mud- Snails?

Very big snails?

So it proves.

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A gang of Lizardfolk, and their Giant Snail beasts of burden, are heading through the mire- the rear two snails are carrying rusted iron cages, both portable prisons are packed with wailing humans.

A job for... the Dark Squad.

That's Vinnie's Spike Growth on the left (in the image above) and one of Newt's terribly nasty area of effect spells on the right.

The session ends as it's all about to really kick off.

More of this kind of thing next time.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.

We're back!
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #124: Here We Are… Again.

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

Daktari/Dak (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 9
Fellowyn Silverstream (played by George) Male Eladrin Wizard Bladesinger Lvl 9
New Tricks/Newt (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 9
Ramshambo/Ram (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/2
Vincenzo/Vinnie (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 9

DEAD PCs
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev/Nicky (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8 RIP

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 EXPLODED
Ubdug (played by Goonalan) Supreme Being Lvl 2 (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. An extraordinary meeting of the Saltmarsh Town Council, the Dark Squad are going to get hired to end the smuggling menace (see below), scheduled for 10th Flamerule.
  2. The smuggler's ship will be turning up sometime between the 14th and 17th of Flamerule, the Dark Squad (and particularly Ram) are keen to meet the vessel, particularly Ram- why, because as the rogue said- “I'm getting a boat.”
  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 Cemetery).
  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 124, and this is going to be a very short write up because, well… we’ve been away for a good long while, this was our first game for three months, there was a lot of catching up, and reminding ourselves what went on way back then, going on.

Also, well… fighting.

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More of the rough and tumble.

If you remember the guys have been deposited back in the Mere of the Dead Men, and almost immediately perceived several someone’s calling out for help.

The several someone’s, as it turns out, are a bunch of what look to be Saltmarsh region road wardens, and several other commoners- eight prisoners in all, in two rusty metal cages, each being dragged (slithered) through the swamp on the back of a Giant Snail.

And lizardfolk aplenty.

Actually, about fifteen or so of them (most all of them with max HP, and a few extra bonuses here and there).

The Dark Squad get into their thing and it’s not pretty (for the lizardfolk) for a while.

Then a slightly better dressed lizardman does some magic of his own and suddenly Ram and Daktari are paralyzed (Hold Person). Soon after the ten-foot-tall Lizardfolk Render starts laying into the PCs.

There’s a little bit of panic, but not for long.

Ubdug (Supreme Being Version 2) gets into action, just to note Ubdug is not Ubmo- the guys loved Ubmo. Ubdug… has a grating voice (Ubmo could only say ‘yay’ in binary) and the Modron says things like-

“I will defend you squishy man-thing, for I am Ubdug, the Supreme Being!”

Then he rolls a ‘3’.

Now when Ubmo did this kind of nonsense he was cool, he had pathos.

His '3's were spectacular, or else just plain funny.

Ubdug… not so much.

We’d only been playing maybe thirty minutes in this session when Jim (playing Vinnie & Dak) said- “I hate that guy.”

Jim is the mild one, the placid guy.

I don’t really know what it is that I (or Ubdug) is doing wrong but… they don’t like him.

Anyway…

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More fighting, and the caster that enspelled Ram & Dak is killed pretty quickly.

All is well with the world.

The snails are fleeing (very slowly, natch), and the lizardfolk are dying, ain’t it always the way.

That is, until…

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The Rot Troll turns up.

The best part of 5,000 XP, the Rot Troll basically tears Newt a new one (and with alacrity)- the Warlock goes from full HP (and approx. 15 Temp HP) to less than 10 HP in a matter of seconds.

There is terror, and lots of WTFing, several of players forgo the WT of WTF. There's a lot of F for a while.

That is until the MVP wizard, Fellowyn, settles a dome-shaped (hemispherical) Wall of Force over the Rot Troll, which is pretty much all she wrote for that guy.

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The Troll in the Bubble.

The remainder of the lizardfolk flee the scene, pretty much as soon as they spy the Rot Troll- the PCs kill as many as they can before they scarper back into the swamp. Which, as it turns out, is plenty of 'em.

Then, after a brief stop for a little healing, Fellowyn pops the cap on his Wall of Force and the Dark Squad unleash merry heck.

Ram, the bastard, even manages to sneak attack Crit the Troll with his bow, for something like 60 damage in one hit.

I think Newt managed to Crit it too with an Eldritch Blast.

The creature dies before it has even got a chance to attack the PCs again, note the PCs backed off a way before Fellowyn cancelled his Wall of Force.

And for those that are thinking- the Troll should have dug under the Wall of Force, then- a) I know, and b) but in game time we’re talking about thirty seconds of activity between Fellowyn instigating the Wall of Force, and then cancelling the spell.

And then…

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A bit of a recap- we played out the final scene from the previous session, the Dark Squad’s meeting with [Sigh]-[PoP!] all over again, and there were lots of questions.

Then (eventually, we're in the last hour of the session here- already), back to the here and now; the eight captives, all (remarkably) still alive, turn out to be a bunch of road wardens who were sent into the swamp to investigate the disappearance of a bunch of hunters from the village of Lawhon, who are also present in the cages (well, some of 'em, there were casualties).

The lizardfolk, it seems, were waiting for the Lawhon hunters on the other side of the river- see the map on the right above. The capture of the road wardens was just a bonus for the lizardfolk. Both groups are of the opinion that they were likely to be sacrificed to some dark lizardfolk god.

Therefore, they are soooooo very grateful to the Dark Squad for their rescue.

And here’s the thing- the oddness.

Newt is nice.

Repeatedly.

And against all the odds.

He’s also had a refit of his Leomund's Tiny Hut, inside is now candle-scented, with a delightful warm spring breeze, there are scatter cushions to sit on, and somewhere far off the sound of tinkling rain/whale noise etc.

Newt has gone New Age.

He is polite.

Attentive.

Caring.

YES.

Caring.

Newt really... CARES.

And No- I don’t know what has happened here.

And No, again, none of his colleagues can make sense of events either.

And to make clear- YES. For the past 100+ sessions Newt has never deigned to give a WTF about anyone else.

I mean he prostrates himself readily before every (evil) super-being that pops into the Dark Squad's world, but even then you know he's in it for the biscuits, he generally mouths proscribed platitudes, wags his tail furiously, and then waits for the pat on the head.

He asks questions of the rescued folk, listens to their answers, there-there’s them as needed, and generally behaves with such bonhomie and joie de vivre that…

Well, it’s just about the weirdest thing that we have encountered so far in all of the sessions, the change is so… dramatic, and unaccountable.

Pretty much the rest of the session, there’s not a lot left (already), is interspersed with Newt’s various colleagues trying to wheedle out of the warlock what he’s up to.

Newt isn’t saying, and… dare I write this again… just being polite and smiley face, he's even getting on with his colleagues- chipping in, with helpful comments. Keep in mind that Newt's plans almost always revolve around the gathering of fire in one place- that place being the location of whoever has recently pissed the Warlock off, or else the Dark Squad's enemies (but mostly the former).

Is Arthur C Clarke still alive? Only we have a mystery that needs looking into. Newt is being pleasant.

But we move on.

So, the Dark Squad cross the Dunwater River (see image above) to Lawhon.

Here’s Lawhon.

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Lawhon is a rag-tag and bobtail kinda place, a small village that makes its money by hunting for lost things (and the copious wildlife) in the Mere of the Dead Men, a precarious occupation at best.

The Dark Squad drop off the rescued folk, receive much good cheer and celebration and then swiftly locate a farmer’s cart heading towards Saltmarsh.

And in Saltmarsh… well, next stop is the emergency Saltmarsh Council Meeting, but before then the Dark Squad have a shed load of things to sell (they have two Bags of Holding full of junk), and… a shed load of things to buy- because they are pretty much out of everything. They also have stuff to identify and… ADMIN.

And that’s the end of our first session back, apologies but a lot of it was spent saying hello again, then nearly 90 minutes fighting, then the recap, and… just lots of stuff.

We’ll have more to go on this next time.

Just to remind the Dark Squad that after the emergency Saltmarsh Council Meeting it is mostly going to be about how they are going to go about attacking the Smuggler’s/Pirate’s ship (or as Ram often states- ‘my ship’), that’s the next part of this adventure.

See you there.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #125: No Change.

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

Daktari/Dak (played by Haggis) Male Human Uthgardt Sky Pony Barbarian Lvl 9
Fellowyn Silverstream (played by George) Male Eladrin Wizard Bladesinger Lvl 9
New Tricks/Newt (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 9
Ramshambo/Ram (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue/Fighter Lvl 7/2
Vincenzo/Vinnie (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 9

DEAD PCs
Nicholai Barbaros Kostyiev/Nicky (played by George) Male Dhampir Cleric of Twilight Lvl 8 RIP

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 EXPLODED
Ubdug (played by Goonalan) Supreme Being Lvl 2 (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. An extraordinary meeting of the Saltmarsh Town Council, the Dark Squad are going to get hired to end the smuggling menace (see below), scheduled for 10th Flamerule.
  2. The smuggler's ship will be turning up sometime between the 14th and 17th of Flamerule, the Dark Squad (and particularly Ram) are keen to meet the vessel, particularly Ram- why, because as the rogue said- “I'm getting a boat.”
  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 Cemetery).
  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 125, and this is going to be a very short write up (again) because, well… we’re not back into the grove yet, and… well, I had a bit of a tirade.

We’ll do the tirade first, we’ve been at this for a while now, and yet there are still players that don’t know how to add a power, or weapon, or whatever to their character sheets in FGU, I mean… really simple stuff. The result, inevitably, as in this session- when the Players/PCs are adding in new spells, new powers, magic items etc. The game has to stop, and either I have to do whatever needs to be done for the Player/PCs new stuff, or else…

I’m not doing that anymore, this was the subject of my tirade, and so the Players had to figure things out for themselves, and that’s the rule from hereon in.

The result, of course, is that we had a short break- perhaps only 90 minutes long, for the Players to get their character sheets and powers all working well, and doing what they should in FGU.

Nobody died, it all worked out… in the end.

After this session I sent the PCs the how to/guide page for FGU, more remarkably several of them visited said page and even demonstrated their new skills in the following session (which we have already played). In fact, in the next session James, all on his own, managed to create his first macro/power. Not bad, we only started this journey in June 2020, just 3.5 years.

Kev, my brother- playing Ram, has yet to break his macro/power writing duck.

So, that’s something to look forward to.

Back to the game.

There are no pictures of any events before we get back to fighting, so- it sucks to be you.

Just words.

Again, the Players, are a bit rusty- forgive them, I am learning to.

So, more buying, more selling- more discussion, then (at last) to the meeting of the Saltmarsh Town Council, but this is an extraordinary meeting, and so it’s just the Dark Squad and the three main members of the Council- Anders Solmor (who hired the Squad to look around the De La Crane manse previously), Gellen Primewater (who is the Dark Squad’s landlord) & Eda Oweland, the head of the Saltmarsh Council, and a crotchety old so-and-so.

But here’s the thing, this entire discussion is just a set up- for me (the DM) to get across to the PCs that they’ll need a plan, for getting aboard the smuggling/pirate vessel, aka Ram’s New Boat. So, we spend an hour working through the plan- keep in mind Ram has done this kind of thing before (smuggling & piracy), so he’s the go to about how this will go down. Or else he knows the set up.

Basically, the PCs are figuring out who’s in the rowboat- sent out to meet the smuggler’s vessel, and how everyone else is getting to the fight.

As it turns out in the rowboat are- Daktari, playing Gray-hum (see Session 100) a (deceased) no-necked thug; and on point (if you can believe this) is Fellowyn, playing the part of the Master (see Session 101) or else just another dotty mage.

Newt is on recon duties, he has recently acquired a Broom of Flying, but he’s also adept at riding Gerald- his Giant Bat who sleeps in the tabaxi’s hair (Gerald is a teeny-tiny bat most of the time). So, Newt will be at altitude (subject to conditions) and guiding folk in- with Message spells, possibly.

Ram will be Water Walking all the away around to the far side of the ship, again- with help from Newt up above.

Vinnie will either be swimming or flying, he’s the druid, so… wild shape, natch, as the mood takes him.

They’ve even made plans about how they’ll get aboard for the clinch when it all kicks off, and who to target once they’re at it- the ship’s officers. So, all is well with the world… except, well someone seems to be screaming quite a lot outside.

The noise is coming from the marketplace.

The PCs are on the third floor of the Town Hall building, and out the window- when they rush to it, they can see…

A mounted fellow- he looks like some sort of tribal-type (a bit like Daktari) running down and lancing a civilian, and on a nearby roof a thick-set leather armour wearing woman is firing arrows into the crowds below.

That’s not right.

I guess it’s time for…

12500.jpg

Daktari with his spider-climbing slippers charges down the wall and straight into the horse and rider, and here’s the twist- the rider is some sort of pale skinned tribal-looking type, but the horse… the horse is made entirely from water.

It’s basically a water elemental in the shape of a horse.

12501.jpg

Fellowyn slaps Ram on the back and a moment later the pair are on the roof and in the civilian-killing archer’s face.

It’s a great idea, but the execution- keep on reading.

12502.jpg

Daktari has dragged the tribal type off his water horse, and now he and the Moonboar are kicking the heck out of the evil fellow. Meantime, Ram and Fellowyn are really struggling to land a hit on the archer.

A short while later the tribal-fellow is identified as being a Dark Tide Knight, basically a cultist devotee of the (watery) elemental lord, while the female archer, when seen up close, is a half-orc- and covered in cult/tribal markings and tattoos. The bad guys are Talos- related villains, a recurring theme.

The archer however is better equipped than Ram & Fellowyn, apparently, she manages to sink two arrows (big hits) into the wizard from very close quarters.

To make clear Ram’s dice are broken- two attacks, both with advantage, and his highest shown number is a ‘3’. He uses his Inspiration Point to try again and rolls a ‘1’ and a ‘3’, which he’s now managed twice this turn- the other one was a ‘2’ and a ‘3’.

The Dark Squad are of course aided in their endeavors by the fact that Newt has paralyzed (Hold Person) both attackers already, all while still carrying on a civilized conversation with the other members of the council. The Warlock is still being nice to folk.

12503.jpg

Then another mounted fellow, en water-horse, joins the party. And another archer on the next roof over starts firing arrows into Ram and Fellowyn.

12504.jpg

As it turns out the Dark Squad are somewhat rusty, and when they keep missing… well, I (your glorious DM) do not miss as often. Ram and Fellowyn are cowering/taking a moment using the roof’s slope to stay out of sight of the hitting (and critting) archer on the next roof over.

Daktari (raging) is also taking hits, although he manages to chase the second archer down- not for long, she will get away from the barbarian again moments later, and then thump a couple more arrows into the tough.

Oh, and if you are wondering who the dead person is near Newt in the Town Hall’s upper chamber- that’s Ubdug, who after making a sterling speech, fails spectacularly to make his way down the side of the building.

The Supreme Being falls thirty feet and is smashed to smithereens on contact with the cobbled street.

Don’t worry, he’ll be back.

I wouldn’t want to deprive the Dark Squad of his efforts.

They all still hate Ubdug.

Keep in mind he talks like a Dalek.

“RaaaaaaaaMMMM! I wiiiiiiiiilllll SAVeeeeee Yewwwwwww!”

12505.jpg

More of the same, it needs to be said that we’re maybe three or so turns in here and the Squad have only managed to put down one guy, and he was paralyzed.

12506.jpg

And then some more bad guys turn up.

The Squad are scratching around here a bit, truth be told Ram’s dice are indeed broken, from memory he landed two out of seven attacks. Daktari rolled ‘1’+ damage for four of his six hits, I just checked back through the Chat Text.

So, here we go again- next time.

That was a three-and-a-half-hour session. It’s also noticeable that now with the PCs at 9th level then the higher-level spells are taking a while to figure out, both on Fantasy Grounds, and… well, the need to remember multiple stuff. Things have slowed down, it seems, but again- we’re just getting back to this.

We’ll get better.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

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