The Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh #141 Out of the Mere of the Dead Men Part 1.


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Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Alas while there was a 'session' last night we spent the whole of the time finishing of the characters for our new WFRP campaign, which can be found here-


Then we did the 10 questions around the VTT, which caused much in the way of laughter. See- Shamus (Fergus McClean), the dark, dark world of Frederich and Olek Hass, and the missing Walton- Lothar Jurgen Muller, he really dislikes Witches.

Cheers goonalan

But don't think for a second we're dipping out of the Dark Squad, it'll be a bunch of WFRP for a bit and then back and forth thereafter, I've got some cracking stuff in the pipeline for the Squad.
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #114: Return of the Dark Squad.

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
New Tricks/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

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 (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 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 114, and another cracker. We're back.

Blimey, it’s been a while.

In precis-

The Dark Squad are in the ‘true’ tomb of Rambles ‘Shambles’ Bowspirit, a halfling rat bastard- or so the graffiti on the previous ‘false’ tomb said. The tomb seems to be situated somewhere in the depths of the Mere of Dead Men, a portal transported the PCs here. The tomb is also full of skeletal and zombie dwarves, and traps… lots of traps. The PCs have been having fun.

Rambles ‘Shambles’ Bowspirit was one of the previous members of the adventuring party The Eyes in the Night, our heroes are somehow connected with this group- on the same quest. The Dark Squad are after Rambles’ Symbol of Ub- a coin-sized (and shaped) disc with a crude maze etched on one side of it.

They need to find five of these Symbol of Ub buttons- they need one each.

They have found one so far, but keep in mind we’re only 114 sessions in to this campaign, so- early days yet.

Lolz.

And so, the first twenty-five minutes of the session is all chatter, because we really haven’t been in this game for a good long while. Then… an equal amount of time for the PCs to exercise their creative muscles, the four players/five PCs get in-character and for some reason decide to banter with each other for another twenty-five minutes. They’re relaxing into their new/old personas.

Mostly taking the piss out of each other and pleading with Fellowyn (again) to put some bloody clothes on.

I get the feeling that I could leave them at this, yarning at each other, for a while longer, but…

At last, onwards…

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So, here we all are again- and that door just to the south of Ram is yet to be opened, until now.

Within is another emptyish dungeon chamber, replete with nasty looking minotaur statue, at the base of which is a slew of coin, and other valuable-looking stuff (maybe). The PCs have been here before, they encountered a very similarly adorned chamber earlier, it wasn’t good- the minotaur statue transformed into a big bad undead nasty (minotaur) and there was also a trio of Flameskulls to contend with. Well, there are no Flameskulls visible here.

There is however treasure… and so we take a break (because we’ve been going ten minutes now) for a discussion, it goes like this-

Ram states-

“If we take the treasure bad things happen, we should leave it.”

It’s not a popular opening gambit.

There follows ten minutes of chatter summarised thusly-

Fellowyn dares all- bring it on.

Daktari never backs down, and he likes shiny stuff.

Vinnie is curious, all of the time… very curious, he needs to find out what happens.

Newt never has any money, and he loves money- and the things it buys.

So, as discussions go… everyone agrees with Ram in principle, and then Newt sends a Mage Hand in to start grabbing at the treasure.

At which point a twelve-foot-tall plate mail wearing demonic looking Minotaur suddenly shows up and starts battering the PCs… and very specifically, to begin with, battering Newt.

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Kinda predictable but y’know- they had a choice.

But the Dark Squad kick ass, they put down the 180 HP terror in a matter of maybe three turns.

Although, after the fracas a rest is needed.

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All in Newt’s happy house.

Just to make clear the atmos within Newt’s version of Leomund’s Tiny Hut is as follows-

Light: Shadowy, candlelight but guttering.

Floor: Giant (very phallic) symbol of Belphegor, etched in illusory (very low) licking flames.

Sounds: Random moans and far off screams.

So, home from home.

Cosy.

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Onwards- a narrow passage ahead, and then a couple of skeletons armed with crossbows turn up and start shooting the PCs.

The guy’s charge and smash and make very short work of another pair of skeletons.

Oh, but here’s the thing- Vinnie has a brain wave just about now, he grabs out his Symbol of Ub- that’s the coin-shaped object with a maze-like pattern etched on one side (the other side is blank).

The Dark Squad are still looking for more of these Symbols of Ub, they figure they need one each.

Anyway, the clever thing Vinnie does- he traces the maze pattern on the symbol and then concentrates on the thing- willing it to point him in the right direction to go… to find the next Symbol of Ub.

Because Rambles Shambles Bowspirit had one, at least one, of these Symbols.

It works.

Vinnie can sense which direction to go, although- in truth, at this point there is only onwards, or else back the way the PCs came.

And so off they go again.

There’s an odd raised dead-end section in the dungeon here, and there’s a scattering of treasure up there.

Ram revisits the previous discussion, vis treasure and traps- and leaving things alone.

He’s like a parent, at times.

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Newt skips up the stairs, grabs the treasure, and in the same instant triggers the trap. The corridor, ceilings and floor hereabouts are suddenly swathed in ice as the temperature plummets, it’s so cold it hurts.

There is swearing.

All of it directed at Newt.

Natch.

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The adventurers get out of the ice-covered area, which proves difficult for some- it’s very slippery.

But before the repercussions can really get going, Ram- still on point, discovers another pair of zombie dwarves just around the corner.

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Shhhh… More dead things, Ram hisses, then grins and heads forward- very quietly, to introduce himself to his newfound friends.

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Oh bugger! There’s a Zombie Ogre. Ram starts shouting.

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It gets smashy.

But only for a short while… the Dark Squad rearrange themselves and then head on again, a little way ahead and there’s yet another narrow passage- this one however looks to be trapped, there are holes in the floor of the passage. From which, the PCs collectively imagine, sharp things stab or else fire.

However, Ram is less certain- although only briefly, the rogue can’t seem to see the trigger for the trap, that said he doesn’t spend long looking because another pair of dwarven skeletons start firing their crossbows from the far end of the passage.

The rogue gets shot and then gets the hell out of dodge.

“It’s over to you…” Ram nods at Daktari, and moments later- after a brief warm up-

“In the zone! In the zone!”

The Sky Pony barbarian goes charging down the passage.

“I am Daktari! I am Sky Pony! I have beautiful hair!”

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Here we all are. That little circle in the passage indicates that there’s a smattering of treasure to be found here, Ram spotted it earlier, there’s always a lure.

But Daktari is wearing his Boots of Spider Climbing remember, and so he runs along the northern wall of the passage, and then starts smashing skeletons.

Ram is missing out, the rogue therefore scoots forward next…

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And finds the trap. See where it says Pointy that is (or rather was) a paper-thin section of stone floor- recently smashed through by Ram, who is now bleeding profusely and also limping badly, he’s hampered. The hollow space beneath the false floor contains a swathe of punji-style spikes.

But again, it’s just a pair of dwarven skeletons, the duo are smashed to pieces in seconds.

The Dark Squad move on, Ram now limping ahead.

Into a series of chambers, and there are many possible ways to go, and so Vinnie, once again, concentrates on the Symbol of Ub and…

“Frew ze doors, mes amis.”

The doors are not locked, Ram ascertains.

Daktari pushes them open and…

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There’s a dragon, in a dungeon.

FTW.

But that’s not all- more undead, and now that the PCs are looking- the dragon is a tattered wreck, but big with it, it’s undead too.

Then initiative and the PCs are way ahead of the undead.

“Shut the door! Shut the door!” Newt starts yelling, just after dropping his Sickening Radiance into the room ahead.

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Note Fellowyn, furthest right- the empty chamber he was peering into is suddenly filled with dwarven zombies.

It gets swingy, very swingy.

And there are still more zombies coming.

And the Zombie Dragon needs a DC 12 to break through the doors (with Ram and Daktari leaning on them), and it has big pluses, but so far I have rolled a ‘4’ and a ‘2’.

So, it’s no fun for my bad guy.

But the zombies keep on coming, and soon after Ram and Dak are both in the fight.

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Ubmo drops a Lightning Bolt- nice work.

We go on, and the doors are breaking, but Ram’s back and leaning against them, trying to keep them shut- and I’m still rolling garbage.

And that… that’s where we got to.

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The Dark Squad are, as always, in the mix.

D&D is so much easier than WFRP, particularly with these Galah’s, they just love killing stuff and getting the crap beaten out of them.

Which is cool because, that suits me too.

Toodles.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 




Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #115: Infinity Mayonnaise & Great Chiggley.

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
New Tricks/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

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 (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 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 115, and yet another cracker. We're back, but for how long…

You’ll see what I mean by the end of this session.

And so, when we left the Dark Squad they were fighting a huge undead dragon, although fighting may be stretching the point a little. What they have done, so far, is trap the huge undead dragon in its lair with a hefty portion of Sickening Radiance for company, and then lean on the door so that it can’t escape.

More remarkably, and very mainly because my dice are broken, this tactic seems to be working.

There are a bunch of lesser undead (zombies) also in the fracas but… the Dark Squad are taking care of business.

Then, well- Daktari goes supernova (nearly), the Sky Pony barbarian atm is Hasted, Raging & Reckless.

Dak cuts down an Ogre Zombie, leaving Shatterspike (his magical longsword) buried in the guts of the collapsing undead brute, and then after taking a deep breath he dashes into the Dragon’s lair- drawing his Dragonslaying two-handed sword en route.

Note, this is another Durgeddin the Black manufactured sword, the Dark Squad found this beauty way back in session #93, in the Dragon Barrow.

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Then, after the spending of an Inspiration Point, Dak makes the save against the Sickening Radiance and… buries the Dragonslaying sword (twice) in the great undead dragon.

Daktari FTW.

The barbarian even has movement enough left to dash back out of the room, as the great undead beast collapses behind him.

“Great Gonads of the Sky Pony!”

It’s something he’s taken to saying of late, don’t ask me why.

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The rest of the undead continue to take a kicking, we all know (around the VTT) how this fight is going to end, but the Dark Squad love these little kick-ass moments, when they mop up the minions. It’s usually their time to shine, and to roleplay…

Daktari-

“Here, Fellowyn- I will show you vat it is to be Great Gonads of Sky Pony!”

The barbarian rushes into a chamber full of zombie dwarves and lets the last of his Rage, Haste, etc. play out.

“I am killing zem one handed Felloyn. FELLOWYN! Come- watch me, I show you how it done.”

Note, Daktari’s latest shtick is to try to teach the Bladesinger how to fight.

Newt is soon to the party too, he makes it to the slaughter chamber and just starts blasting while screeching a variety of imprecations to Belphegor, his fiery first love.

The rest of the Dark Squad take a breather, only Ram bothering to remain on alert and watching the way ahead and behind.

The deed is eventually done and Newt and Dak return to their comrades- drenched in gore, no doubt.

There’s talk of a rest, but… Newt screeches into the former undead dragon’s lair-

“Hoard! Hoard! HOARD!”

Just about covers it.

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Fellowyn finds the treasure pile, just around the corner from where Newt was looking- lots of coin, almost all of it low value, a few potions and…

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A jug of alchemy is discovered and identified.

It’s not a great treasure but this kind of wonderous item seems to always tickle the Squad, and so I put a few of them in every now and then.

The jug of alchemy pulls its weight.

“INFINITY MAYONNAISE!”

Daktari declares, as he stands staring- mouth agape, at Newt. The tabaxi has just explained the various liquids available from the jug.

“Infinity mayonnaise…” Daktari whispers to himself, and then sits- dumbfounded, and then has a little cry.

Daktari, it seems, is a big fan of mayonnaise, he has found his grail.

He’s having a great session the Sky Pony lad, so far.

MVP, I think, by the time we get to the end of this one.

Note, there are a variety of ancient markings etched into the floor, in this chamber, the Squad put on their thinking caps- they’ve seen these before- in a hard to get into underwater chamber accessed only via a sea cave, and at the time filled with nasty Sahuagin (see Interview with a Dhampir).

The symbols depict planetary alignments, or else solar systems- perhaps even the solar system of which Faerun (Abeir-Toril) is part. The Dark Squad however are not experts in this field- they make drawings however- as they did last time, clever folk.

Then, after a little bit of healing from the Moonboar, the Dark Squad head on- no short rest, which may prove to be a less than clever thing to do. Newt has no spells, and lots of folk are still just a bit wounded.

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Ram is sent out for a scout around. This after Vinnie spends a moment concentrating on the Symbol of Ub for the correct direction to head next.

So, here’s a thing- and this is the DM writing (and talking to you the reader), why is the finale of an adventure always placed at the end? So, between sessions- the last and this one, I moved the climax (sorta) to… well, here.

And I do hope that the PCs read this because I don’t think they’ve figured it out yet, just to make clear- my players do not read this write up, a lot, if at all. Just sometimes when they remember.

So, an experiment, the following encounter is the climax of this segment of the Dark Squad’s travels, this is the big bad encounter, although in truth the big bad guy has not made it to the screen yet, even at the end of the session.

Cats and pigeons.

Let’s see if any of the players read this before the next session.

So, where were we… oh yes, Ram creeping ahead- down dirty, ancient, broken rat-infested corridors. I’ve been letting the players know this all the while- the map looks clear, nice- the reality is stinky, wet, broken and falling apart- an ancient and long forgotten tomb.

Anyway, Ram is being very cautious, and thus he’s moving very slowly- it doesn’t help that every now and then he has to stop to answer the questions being asked him by the voice in his head.

That’s right- the voice in his head, it sounds like the voice of Rambles Shambles Bowspirit, although somehow off- every now and then like a chorus of Rambles’.

The voice wants to know who Ram is?

Who his companions are?

What they call themselves?

Why they are here?

Ram takes the time to reply, and to explain- although in his usual off-hand/casual method.

The rogue explains that they (the Dark Squad) are here to recover Rambles’ Symbol of Ub, the voice in his head is less pleased by this particular news.

Then, while this is going on- very slowly, Fellowyn gets bored and goes for a wander, and triggers a trap.

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See the stone skull on the wall with the arc of blue before it, that’s spewing flames now, constantly, Fellowyn is singed, but still exploring- although more cautiously now.

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Then, as Ram continues to chat to his interlocutor, Newt decides to try a little exploring of his own too, what is it about cats and curiosity?

See Newt?

Well, the statue before him, a cowled and hooded dwarf, suddenly breaths a noxious gas into the corridor- the tabaxi steps back just in time.

But the statue’s mouth is now agape- and the gas continues to spew out making access to the corridor difficult.

Newt however is a genius, he instantiates Gerald, his Bat familiar, and then sends the avian scouting.

Genius at work.

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Well, not quite, Gerald is ordered to fly through the gas ahead- I checked this with Bear/Newt to make sure. Gerald fails his save and is paralysed by the still hissing gas and drops out of the air to thunk on to the dirty floor just ahead of the tabaxi.

That didn’t work.

Scouting over.

Meanwhile.

Fellowyn has Misty Stepped past the flame trap he triggered- it’s still spewing fire. Back to his comrades.

Note, at this point Ram is explaining to his friends the situation, vis he’s just had a chat with a chorus of Rambles Shambles Bowspirits’, and the little guy wants the adventurers to skedaddle (clear off) sharpish, only with added threats.

But the Dark Squad are adventuring…

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Daktari explores a side chamber and is engulfed in flame, the fiery inferno (and it is an inferno- big damage) spouting from another skull carved face on the wall here. Note, the trap, after flaming once, ceases working.

So, it’s going well here.

Fellowyn instantiates his familiar, a metal (I think) owl called Archimedes. This after a short contretemps between the Bladesinger and Newt- “My familiar is better than yours…”, that kind of thing. The bird flies around the corner- across another section of the passage that looks to be trapped, and… gouts of flame erupt from the holes in the floor here. They continue to burn.

So, as I say, it’s going well.

Then, while the adventurer’s bicker and shout things at/too each other, someone (or something) shoots Archimedes, and now the metal owl thing is dead.

Newt and Daktari run through the flames ahead (and emerge entirely unscathed) just in time to see a swarm of rats emerge from the corridor ahead and skitter towards the pair.

They don’t however spot the shooter.

Daktari slashes and cuts the rodents.

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Newt blasts them repeatedly and knocks the swarm back into the corridor they emerged from.

At the same moment another swarm of rats emerges from the floor, ceilings and… well, everywhere, and launch themselves at Fellowyn, and Crit the Bladesinger.

Daktari races forward, intending to finish off the swarm before him, and… is shot by a small rat-like looking humanoid that was seemingly waiting for him to appear, the small figure was hidden in a corridor just to the north.

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Shot twice, and both bolts are poisoned- and Dak fails both saves.

Daktari is down to 10 hit points, that happened fast.

It gets crazy.

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Not a great picture this one- George, I love these little images but- a bit bigger please, or else closer to the action- pretty please.

So, down south Fellowyn, Ram and Ub are fighting a Rat Swarm, and missing a lot. Note other than a few extra hit points (approx. 35-40 hp total each) these are just plain ol’ rat swarms.

The swarms are maybe 50 or 100 XP each.

Fellowyn gets Critted again, and he’s AC 25/26 atm with all of his Bladesinger power ups running.

Fellowyn is bloodied and beyond.

The rat swarm has only suffered about six points of damage so far.

A titanic battle.

To the far north (in the image above) Dak is looking for the fellow that shot him, but… the creature seems to have run off, or disappeared, or...

Likewise whatever shot Archimedes is also no longer visible, another wererat (the PCs have figured this out) most likely- the Moonboar is on the spot and confused. No targets.

Note, Daktari has also come to the conclusion that the wererats are very much smaller, and are wearing the same clothes as the halflings that showed them into the tomb, all the way back in session 108 (The Shambles in the Shambles Tomb).

The wererats, shouted consensus is, are Bonnie Bowspirit (granddaughter of Rambles) and her companions.

Then, during a moment of clarity, the Moonboar shouts out-

Remember, the Moonboar employs a gruffer, snorting, French/Mediterranean accent.

“Rambles iz a Rat Bastard- it zed [SNORT] zo on iz tomb!”

But none of his comrades have anything in reply.

Shame.

That’s probably worth thinking about.

Which just leaves the following conundrum.

Look back again at the last image- the one above.

Who’s that standing close to Newt?

That is a Tanarruk, a seven-foot tall, three-hundred-pound hulking Orc-like fiend armed with a razor-sharp glaive a little under twelve feet long.

Where did he come from?

Short answer- Newt.

Long answer, Newt uses his Rod of the Pact Keeper to recharge one of his spell powers, and then spends an Inspiration Point to cast Summon Greater Demon- hey presto, the Tanarruk.

Newt orders the beast to slay the rat swarms (& wererats) that are menacing the tabaxi, the fiend complies and then… makes its saving throw.

The Tanarruk is now no longer under Newt’s control.

“I am Great Chiggley!” The Tanarruk declares.

Do it in a Daktari voice- cod-Russian, up-tempo(-ish), but a bit dumb/slow.

“I am seek slash available for employ. I have fulsome CV and 90% rating on Faceslap. I am gottsa get paid- big time! I kill for money- you pay putty-tat, or I give you fat lip and then you die!”

The speech culminates in Great Chiggley waving his massive glaive in Newt’s face.

Remarkably none of Newt’s friends (by which I mean his adventuring companions) come to Newt’s aid, consensus is- the tabaxi can clear up his own mess. Although Daktari is trying to look out for the wererats while keeping an eye on the newly summoned Great Chiggley.

To note, Great Chiggley’s token will change on the next image, I found a better one.

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Trouble? Another wererat (that’s him- the little guy furthest south) appears to the south of the corridor in which Fellowyn, Ram and Ub were fighting a rat swarm, and… shoots the Bladesinger, who duly fails his poison save.

Fellowyn is down to six hit points.

Newt?

Newt uses a cantrip he learned from Humphrey Far-Fer-Nar (his other fiendish patron) ‘Friend a Fiend’ and then rolls a ‘27’ to persuade Great Chiggley to remain loyal, although Chiggers still gottsta get paid.

Great Chiggley delivers a running commentary because the DM so rarely gets to speak.

“I am killing ratz now, for furry masta. Then I gottsta gets paid, or else it fat lip time!”

Oh, and another swarm of rats has gathered and is on the rampage, so… everything is under control.

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Or maybe not.

The aforementioned wererat dashes past Ram, tumbling as it goes, and slicing the rogue’s ankles (with added poison) en route, and then scarpers- turning back just once to shoot Fellowyn once again.

Fellowyn is down.

And dying.

He fails his first Death Save seconds later.

Meantime Daktari and Great Chiggley are fighting rat swarms, and bonding.

Initiated by Dak, of course-

“Chiggley, I am Daktari- Great Gonad of the Sky Pony! I am liking your style- with your glaive work, and killing and killing.”

The Tanarruk glances at Daktari and then replies.

“I am Great Chiggley. Not plain old every-day Chiggley. I am great- know this and say this Daktari or else I give you fat lip and then you dead. I am however liking your hair, it iz smart but casual, and shiny-looking, do you do treatment?”

By the time the third rat swarm is decimated the pair are fast friends, in fact so good is the roleplay I ask Daktari to make me a Persuasion check.

He rolls a ‘20’.

Great Chiggley declares-

“I am here for good time not long time, puddy-tat, our contract is broken. I am employ by Daktari now- we have hair-raisin adventures together.”

Note, when Newt lost control over Great Chiggley I rolled to see how long the fiend would remain here before the spell/connection ended and he was whisked back to whatever hell he came from. When Dak rolled his ‘20’ I doubled that time and added a little extra.

So, you have Great Chiggley for a while longer.

Then Fellowyn rolls a ‘20’ on his second Death Save, and he’s back.

Daktari meantime hits the potion bottles.

11514.jpg

Then, the voice is back, like a chorus and it has further questions for the Dark Squad, and they can all hear it now.

Also, several of the PCs are aware that something, maybe lots of somethings, seem to be mooching about in their brains.

Reading their thoughts.

But we’ll get to this next time.

The PCs, see the above image, are huddled in the corridor- perhaps not the safest place. To the north are more wererats, at least two of them- the PCs know this. There are lots of traps- most of them are still firing. There are endless amounts of rats- possibly, and the PCs have made a Monster Knowledge check now and realise that the wererats can transform into Giant Rats- and thus escape into the walls very quickly, or else travel within the swarms. There’s also another wererat to the south somewhere, maybe two of them, and... the PCs are mostly low on hit points, and low on powers.

A bit of an impasse.

So, this is what happens when you decide to just drop the climax on the adventurer’s mid-adventure (as it were).

Let’s see how it plays out.

Always a pleasure, never a chore.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #116: “We are the SWARM! We are LEGION! Shiver me TIMBERS! You are BANJAXED!”

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
New Tricks/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

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 (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 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 116, and yet another cracker.

Well, at the end of the last one it had all calmed down a little, although this mostly since the wererats had fled (or else had hidden themselves somewhere) and the remaining rat swarms had all been slaughtered by the Dark Squad.

It’s at this point that Daktari and Newt become aware that something, or else a lot of somethings, are running around in their respective brains.

Newt really isn’t happy about this, and quickly aware that he’s having his thoughts read, perhaps even his memories flicked through, as if the scurrying somethings in his brain are searching for… who knows what.

The tabaxi starts shouting and making threats (to no one in particular) - it’s his go to move, and let’s be honest- after a hundred-and-whatever sessions, he’s getting pretty good at it.

Daktari is a little less forthright.

“It tickles! They are in my head-piece!”

Then comes the voice.

The voice can be heard by all of the PCs, directly into their brains- and as they quickly discover, they have the right to reply.

But first a word about the voice.

The wererats here, they’re Bonnie Bowspirit and her companions, halflings all- and they sound Oirish, that’s the DMs old skool comedy Irish accent.

“Howaya?”

“Top O’ the mornin’ to ya!”

“Wha’s the craic?”

That kind of nonsense.

Then the PCs met Rambles Shambles Bowspirit, or at least some sort of hologrammatic (magic) version of the wee fellow. Rambles is/was a halfling adventurer, ex-smuggler/pirate.

Hey! That sounds like Ramshambow’s backstory!

Anyway, Rambles’ voice was very excited Irish with added pirate slang.

“Howaya me hearties?”

And other nautical additives.

The new voice in the PCs head, well… I didn’t quite know where to go with it, and so I went for an (excitable) Dalek (Davros).

Now, try to do the next bit in your best gargling (vibrato) Dalek voice (forget the Oirish/Irish) but then add in a bunch of Irish & Pirate slang.

Oh, and shout every second or third word/phrase.

And when you are shouting get your screech/gargling-vibrato on.

“HOW-A-YA? We are Rambles Shambles Bowspirit- HOIST THE MAINSAIL! We are LEGION!”

A little later it all turns into capitals.

“WE HAVE BEEN HORNSWAGGLED! HORNSWAGGLED! WE ARE IN BITS!”

That sort of thing.

Anyway, we’ll get to what gets said to who and by whom, and the this and that a bit later. The impasse here is the voice belongs to Rambles Shambles Bowspirit and he is… the rats? Maybe. Maybe something else. The Dark Squad are unsure (for a bit) and besides Rambles is making threats- he wants their maze button/Symbol of Ub.

It’s at this point that the guy’s figure that they are quite a way into this adventure, and very specifically- quite a way into this dungeon. Retreat isn’t really an option.

11600.jpg

Then the bad guys turn up, in force- blocking all exits, there are another four or five rat swarms, and maybe a few less wererats.

There’s a lot of back and forth, but again- more of this later.

Then, Vinnie has a clever idea. He has been using the Symbol of Ub to guide him through the dungeon so far, it points- he thinks, to the nearest other Symbol of Ub. Keep in mind this is a working theory.

Well, proven- perhaps. Vinnie concentrates hard on His Symbol of Ub, and…

11601.jpg

It points him straight at the swarm of rats before him.

Rambles Shambles Bowspirit is… a swarm of rats?

That can’t be right.

Can it?

Meantime- more chatter going on, and while the delay continues the Dark Squad are as unobtrusively as they can necking potions, healing potions all of ‘em.

Then, and we’re an hour into the session at this point, Vinnie brings the conversation to a sudden conclusion by blasting a Moonbeam down on the swarm of rats that is Rambles. Because as well as hurting a Moonbeam causes a shape-changer to assume its natural form, I hate it when the players start reading up on their spells/powers (I actually don’t, at all- I applaud this, do more of it- pretty please).

And so, within the Moonbeam are-

11603.jpg


And then one of the players says- “I’ve seen them before…”

And they have, this exact same Swarm of Cranium Rats, all the way back when they were en route to the tomb/last resting place of Randall the Black, the first member of the Eyes in the Night that the Dark Squad tracked down.

Rambles, as he puts it-

“We are the SWARM! We are LEGION! Shiver me TIMBERS! You are BANJAXED!”

Then, well… we’re fighting again.

Great Chiggley (the Tanarruk) is still around, but not for long.

11602.jpg

Fighting, fighting, fighting…

But the Dark Squad have the upper hand now, or else they are all (nearly) healed up (Fellowyn was still bloodied when it kicked off again) and rather oddly all the PCs get initiative over all of their opponents.

An already wounded wererat gets cut down rather quickly, and now the other wererats are trying to get away.

The Rambles swarm vacated the melee only moments after it got out of the Moonbeam.

In short… six or so turns of combat and a few more rat swarms are decimated, save for the dead wererat all the other bad guys get away.

Moments before the last swarm falls and… Great Chiggley departs, with Daktari wishing the demon ‘all the best in you are future endeavours.’ Which is nice.

Later Newt spends several (shouted) moments wondering why it was that Great Chiggley preferred to ‘work for’ Daktari rather than Newt (the Magnificent). The tabaxi simply cannot fathom the reason for this very odd behaviour.

Daktari’s reply-

“It is call Respeck. Having great hair is also Billy bonus.”

Eventually.

11604.jpg

Glamping in the dungeon.

And here’s the chat at last, the conversation that took place between the Dark Squad and the Swarm, or at least all the latest news.

To begin with the Rat Swarm is indeed Rambles Shambles Bowspirit, ex-member of the Eyes in the Night. There’s lots of chat about the other members of the Eyes in the Night- Randall the Black (Gnome Sorcerer), Antonio De La Crane (Human Druid/Alchemist), Giggles (Wood Elf Ranger/Killer) and Ub (Dwarf Fighter?). Rambles knows his stuff.

However, a lot of the initial chatter is quite adversarial, it seems the Rambles Swarm wants the Dark Squad’s Symbol of Ub.

The Rambles Swarm claims to already possess two Symbols of Ub- Rambles Shambles Bowspirit’s button (of course), and Antonio De La Crane’s button- stolen by Rambles at some point in the last two hundred years.

So, the stakes have just been upped.

There are three Symbols of Ub to be claimed here… perhaps.

Keep in mind this is what the Swarm is saying, there’s no proof, although Vinnie’s Symbol of Ub perhaps points to the fact that there’s another Symbol of Ub here, most likely being carried by the Rambles Swarm.

Next, more revelations…

There are five Symbols of Ub, according to the Rambles Swarm, Ub had a maze button too… the Dark Squad had been working on the theory that there were just four buttons to be found.

Also…

The Rambles Swarm knows where the other two missing buttons are.

To be clear, five buttons-

Ub’s button- carried by Vinnie
Rambles’ button- Rambles Swarm
Antonio’s button- Rambles Swarm
Randall’s button- held by the Duergar, exact location unknown.
Giggles’ button- UNKNOWN

The Dark Squad try, but fail, to learn the location of Giggles’ button, they however think- after their chat, that the Rambles Swarm knows where all of the buttons are.

It seems the Rambles Swarm has been very busy.

Then…

The Dark Squad learn that there was a traitor in the Eyes in the Night, Randall the Black discussed this with the PCs also. Randall thought the traitor was Rambles Shambles Bowspirit.

To be clear the traitor, whoever it was, sold the Eyes in the Night out to the Duergar, whose attack (two hundred years ago) signaled the end of the Eyes in the Night.

Drum roll…

The traitor, according to the Rambles Swarm was/is Giggles- the crazy killer wood elf.

Her and her brother…

Buggles!

This revelation elicits a lot of reaction (and hissing from the players around the VTT), particularly when the Dark Squad remember that Gwen, Buggles’ dwarven skeleton warrior companion, was not in fact a dwarf- she was a duergar, in life.

So, there’s nearly forty minutes of this conversation with the Rambles Swarm, before we get back to fighting again, there’s another thirty minutes more chatter in Newt’s Tiny Hut after the fracas.

And keep in mind that the Dark Squad don’t achieve all of the above info for free, they have to tell their story to earn it.

The Rambles Swarm and the Dark Squad exchange a little info, in short.

The chatter in the Hut continues for a little while longer, we’ve been away from D&D for a bit and so the Dark Squad, and Newt in particular, wants a bit of a recap.

Just to note, Bear who plays Newt writes a lot of this stuff down- everything that sounds important in-game. Just before we shifted to WFRP he stated that he had filled one notebook already, A4 100+ pages, so- it’s complicated.

But here’s the working theory the PCs/players come up with-

The Time of Ash is coming- this is an end of world event; it may involve a titanic dragon/serpent like creature, who might be called Ashardalon.

Ub is a dwarf/elemental/fallen god/something else and he’s somehow trying to prevent the Time of Ash.

Every two hundred years or so a bunch of adventuring folk pop-up with a name like the Eyes in the Night or the Dark Squad and are tasked to collect the Symbols of Ub, and then do something… who knows what, in order to prevent the Time of Ash.

Also, the Pact of the Flame- a 30,000-year-old secret society of (Wood?) Elves is somehow involved in all of this, and with preventing the Time of Ash.

Maybe.

There’s lots of other stuff going on too, and a variety of other enemies that are perhaps working to ensure that the Time of Ash happens- Talos worshippers seem to be in sure supply, although there are other factions in play.

That seems to be about it.

Then, back to adventuring.

11605.jpg

Twenty minutes later, Ram is leading the PCs on- through the maze of rooms and corridors, see the blue squares- they’re trapped areas- Ram has been very busy.

Then a few more undead turn up…

11606.jpg

There are a pair of dwarven skeletons armed with crossbows in a corridor to the south of Newt in this image. This pair just keep on rotating spots and firing.

Also, to the north you’ll note there’s a zombie ogre heading the PCs way, well… Ubmo has something to say about that, the Supreme Being fires a Lightning Bolt into the undead brute.

11607.jpg

To the north the PCs get into the zombie ogre, to the south Newt goes chasing the crossbow firing skeletons and, in the process, gets trapped in the corridor when another pair of dwarf skeletons emerge from a previously unseen chamber and start beating on the sorcerer.

The tabaxi starts shouting, and moments later Ram is racing to the rescue.

But here’s the thing- this is just a bunch more undead.

It’s not very testing.

That is until the first wererat pops up and sinks a poisoned crossbow bolt into Daktari, and then another.

Just to make clear, these here wererats are a little bit lively, they have good ACs, lots of hit points (100+ each), two attacks (at least) and both their crossbow bolts and blades are poisoned (4d6 save for half). Oh, and like Ram, they have a Cunning Action to disengage/dash/hide, and their shape-changing move is also just a bonus action.

So, Dak gets shot, and he’s not happy about it, particularly as moments later the wererat that shot him scurries quickly out of sight, around a corner and away.

Fellowyn, who is just about out of spells, hits the barbarian with his last Haste, and now Daktari is in hot pursuit.

11608.jpg

Note, Dak is moving at 160 feet/turn (double move) but he still can’t find the wererat that shot him. Note Ram to the south, finishing off the last of the undead.

But Daktari is still in the hunt…

11609.jpg

See those highlighted squares in the corridor, they are canvas (coloured to look like stone) covered traps- all of which Daktari has located, the hard way.

Beneath each stretched canvas is a one-foot-deep depression filled with spikes, not a lot of damage from each but now the barbarian has disadvantage on his Dex Skills & Saves. Note, Ram fell afoul of one of these traps in a previous session, he’s also at disadvantage, as above.

Daktari, see the above image, spots the last wererat fleeing the scene, the creature is in giant rat form.

The Sky Pony barbarian rushes on…

11610.jpg

And finds the pit trap- which is also filled with spikes and is a good ten feet deep.

The only upside being the wererat he’s chasing also fails his save and plunges into the pit.

It’s all going off.

11611.jpg

Particularly when yet another wererat turns up and sinks two poisonous crossbow bolts into Fellowyn, the bladesinger is back down to approx. ten hit points.

But that’s all we had time for.

A long chat with the Rambles Swarm, a bit of fighting- one wererat killed (and a bunch of rat swarms), a rest- with more chat, more exploration and then here we go again.

It’s a war of attrition going on here, although there’s one other factor that I have so far neglected to tell you about thus far.

The Rambles Swarm wants the Dark Squad’s Symbol of Ub, that’s a given.

The PCs spent a lot of time during their chat with the Rambles Swarm trying to make clear- they (the Dark Squad) are trying to achieve the same goal as The Eyes in the Night. In precis- we are on the same side as you.

Well, the Swarm didn’t entirely disagree with this summary of the situation, the Swarm therefore made a back-up proposition, which was-

Remember to go full Dalek for this and shout it out.

“JOIN US! JOIN THE SWARM!”

The PCs have, so far, neglected to explore this option, they’re not sure what joining the Swarm entails but they don’t like the sound of it.

A further note- the PCs have enough XP to advance to Level 9, they passed this mark even before we started with the WFRP. That said they have been in this here tomb since midway through session #112. That was nearly five hours ago, it’s only just gone midday, the Dark Squad need to survive another ten or so hours (possibly more) so that they can take another Extended Rest (and Level Up etc.). Keeping that in mind-

Ram is pretty much okay; he always stays out of trouble.

Fellowyn has less than 10 hit points, no HD left to spend, no healing potions, and very few spells left.

Vinnie is also doing okay, but he too is almost through his spells.

Newt regains his powers on a short rest, but he’s almost through his HD.

Daktari is almost out of everything- no Rages, no HD.

So, we’re into it.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #117: 1,000gp & more Hoof to Groin.

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
New Tricks/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

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 (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 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 117, and strap in because it’s mainly all fighting…

11700.jpg

Dak & a wererat are fighting in a spike filled pit to the south; while a second wererat has just appeared from the sewers/pipes (look for the drains on the map) and shot Fellowyn back down to below 10 hit points.

Oh, and the last thing that happens in the previous session was- Fellowyn fails his concentration check and… Daktari’s Haste spell is gone, and now the barbarian has to rest a moment.

We begin…

With the wererat in the pit, who stabs (and poisons) Daktari up again, and then clambers out of the pit unchallenged, and departs at speed.

The wererat is soon out of sight, and off the map.

The second wererat departs the same way it arrived, down the drainpipe.

The Dark Squad are taking a kicking here, both wererats escape and… the Squad are still kinda stuck-ish, they’re too far into this dungeon to turn around, and some of them are hurting real bad.

11701.jpg

Newt got shot too, and poisoned of course, by the wererat departing down the drain (also visible). Here he is in-game, it’s full swear-a-thon around the VTT.

It gets no better.

While a number of the Dark Squad cower, Daktari makes his way out of the pit and further along the trap-filled corridor.

Ram also checks out the drains, these openings are dotted throughout the dungeon, and have been briefly ‘examined’ previously by the Squad. The rogue eventually discerns that these are definitely the thoroughfares that the wererats are using to get around, and that he too could enter here (he has a potion of Diminution) but, he’s reluctant to do so. The tunnel network beneath the tomb floor looks to be extensive however… it’s an option to be kept in mind.

Then back to Daktari.

11702.jpg

There are more traps to find here- Dak’s all the way at the bottom, he’s just managed to dodge his way past a spectral scythe trap (with only a few minor wounds) the blade of which passes through the stone walls here but seems to cut flesh pretty well.

This blade swings like a fast pendulum, left to right across the corridor.

The Sky Pony barbarian leaps out of the first spectral scythe trap and straight into a similarly trapped zone- the spectral scythe blades however swing out of the walls here- both sides, and once activated they synch with the first spectral blade trap.

The effect is a killing zone, or else a hurting zone- to which Daktari can attest.

The barbarian takes a few more wounds, he does however manage to dodge the third trap here, which starts firing spear-sized arrows down the corridor, the missiles emerging from hidden holes in the wall to the south. This is a constant rain, a spear-sized arrow is unleashed every turn, from a different hole in the wall each time (seemingly).

Daktari gets out of the firing line, around the corner is a plain looking corridor- no enemies, no wererats, just dank, dark and dirty. The passage goes on, Daktari doesn’t however, he’s almost broken, he therefore gorges himself on a jar of Keoghtom’s Ointment- eagerly spooning the salve into his mouth with his fingers.

After some shouting- back and forth, and a bit more healing, the other members of the Dark Squad make it to the stairs in the long corridor. Ram makes it past the pit and through the various spectral scythe blades without a scratch on him, Fellowyn’s an Eladrin, he Misty Steps the rogue across.

11703.jpg

That’s the Dark Squad hunkered down by the stairs midway down the passage, up the stairs (to the south) is an open spiked pit, spectral scythe blades (various) and the spear-sized arrows are still firing.

Then a wererat turns up (see image above, to the north) and starts shooting at the squishier members of the Squad.

This is going very badly is the consensus.

That is until… and this is a genius move from Fellowyn.

The ancient Eladrin bladesinger (in fluffy white slippers, bathrobe, wizard’s hat and Y-fronts- Gandalf White!) casts a Suggestion on the wererat.

“I say you fine fellow, you’d be better off attacking the pig and the cat here with your blade, don’t you know.”

11704.jpg

The wererat duly fails its save, drops its crossbow, draws its sword and rushes into melee with the ‘pig’, the Moonboar- the nearest of the ‘named’ pair. The rat-man, actually rat-woman, is snickering and squeaking threats all the while.

The Moonboar gets stabbed and poisoned (a bit) but he’s a tough bugger and, he hits hard in reply, and seconds later the wererat is almost broken, but still up for the fight.

11705.jpg

It’s at this point that yet another wererat turns up and starts shooting- Fellowyn is the first to take hits.

Note the PCs are still trying to figure out how many wererats there are in the mix here, consensus is hard to find- guesses range from three to five, although the adventurers are certain that they have killed two of the bastards so far.

At least two…

There were four wererats to begin with.

They’ve killed just one of them.

Where are Ram and Daktari in all of this, the wrong side of the spectral scything blades, spear firing mechanism, and the spiked pit.

Point of fact Ram, with a little help from Daktari using Shatterspike (his anti-construct magical longsword) to make short work of the wall and expose the trap’s mechanism, is in the process of ‘fixing’ the large arrow firing trap.

Here’s a better picture of things, including what’s around the corner, the blue circle at the bottom of the corridor indicates the arrow firing mechanism, Ram’s present task.

11706.jpg

So, things have changed slightly- the female wererat has been battered into submission, and has further been persuaded to call the wererat with the crossbow off…

In a very around about way we have arrived at a parley.

The female wererat has also thrown off the Suggestion spell and is now very keen not to die here.

That said several of the PCs (by which I mean mostly Newt) are absolutely spitting feathers. There follows a number of brash (and very loud & sweary) statements from the tabaxi.

“We are not TALKING to this RAT! KILL IT! KILL IT NOW!”

“KILL IT VINCENZO! It’s VERMIN, they have lied to us and… RAMBLE-SWEAR-RAMBLE-REPEAT”, ad infinitim.

Newt votes murder, and Fellowyn is on his side.

Note, Fellowyn is mostly the good guy, he has however been shot and poisoned so very many times by the wererats, at least three of them Crits. He has expended almost all of his spells, healing HD, and all of his potions et al. He’s spent. Broken.

He doesn’t like the wererats.

But wiser heads prevail.

Or else Vinnie declares-

“We can ‘ear it out, and zen decide weaver to keel it or, non!”

Throughout the following conversation, which rattles on for nearly 45 minutes (real time) Newt continues to shout threats and express his general displeasure.

When the discussion gets to the point where the wererat demands 1,000gp from the Dark Squad…

Newt goes swear-nova.

It’s wonderful to sit on the side lines at these moments.

Vinnie/the Moonboar, you see, is ‘dad/mum’ of the Dark Squad. Or at least he’s management, and for all of Newt’s bluster he’s… neither parent nor manager.

Every one of Newt’s swearing-efforts, and there are plenty to choose from, is aimed either directly at Vinnie or else to garner support from his fellow party members in order to persuade Vinnie of the rightness of Newt’s cause.

Keep in mind Newt’s cause at this juncture, is to be allowed to blast Bonnie Bowspirit dead.

Oh yeah.

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The captured (sorta) badly wounded wererat is Bonnie Bowspirit, granddaughter of Rambles Shambles Bowspirit. The halfling that lead them to this hell-hole place, and remember the Dark Squad paid for the privilege.

So, here’s what the Dark Squad learn, and this is teased out, the first few statements come for free, but then Bonnie figures out that she has the upper hand in these negotiations, and so we move to the Newt swear-nova section, which begins with Bonnie demanding 1,000gp for the rest of the info that she knows.

Newt = apoplectic.

But to begin with Bonnie tells the guys (for free, nice of her)-

She and her fellow wererats (Bowspirits all) are cursed with lycanthropy, they didn’t choose this life, their mad bad grandad Rambles Shambles Bowspirit made them what they are.

Rambles Shambles Bowspirit is indeed a swarm of rats, how he ended up in this form Bonnie does not know but, as she states- “he was a rat bastard halfling before, and now…”

Rambles has one maze button (Symbol of Ub)- she’s seen it. He says he has two but… she’s only ever seen one of them.

The Rambles Swarm can leave this place (the tomb), although the swarm is less a swarm and more a colony- over a million rats strong. Rambles really is legion. So, the Rambles Swarm can send out smaller (swarms) to go investigating and has been doing so for the past two centuries.

Bonnie’s point- Rambles Shambles Bowspirit knows his stuff.

And that about covers the free info, mostly extracted by the Moonboar while waving his gigantic maul in the broken wererat’s face.

The pay-wall info regards the following, this is the enticement, Bonnie tells the Squad-

“Der’s a way ta get grandpappy Rambles Shambles Bowspirit back to dis ‘ere tomb, all of ‘im. An’ when he’s all ere he can be killt or bargained wid, he’d be vulnerable. I’ll tellya all about it, fur anuther 1,000gp.”

The point being unless Rambles is all here then… he can’t be killt, I mean- killed.

Bonnie discovered this secret way back- and kept the information safe, as a form of insurance, her point- Rambles doesn’t know that she knows.

Then, as above, Newt goes off the deep end for a bit.

And to be fair no-one is particularly keen to pay Bonnie another 1,000gp, the PCs have already paid these rat bastard halflings just short of 2,000gp to get them to this point.

Newt repeats the word “never”, only much much louder and with added swears for… maybe twenty minutes solid. He finds his meter about eight minutes in, the rest is just derivative.

The row, let’s call it what it is, gets resolved in the following way.

Newt’s various tirades include all sorts of terrible accusations with regard to the honour of Bonnie Bowspirit and her chums. Taking the Dark Squad’s money, leading them into a nest of traps, etc. etc.

The DM, voiced by Bonnie, therefore reminds the PCs, and very specifically Newt, of the following.

Bonnie told the Dark Squad repeatedly that Rambles was a Rat Bastard, every time they spoke to her in fact, as in repeatedly.

She further told them that the tomb was not a place she would ever go (with them, the PCs) because it was ‘likely’ full of traps, Rambles was a Rat Bastard, and a rogue/smuggler/pirate/assassin remember. Like Ram.

Bonnie repeatedly warned the PCs about going into the tomb- that it would be trapped, and very dangerous.

She even wrote Rat Bastard on Rambles’ sarcophagi, the Dark Squad found this, and remarked upon it.

The point being, everything (which wasn’t a lot, but just enough) that Bonnie told the PCs was true, the Dark Squad either chose to take it as a challenge, or else words of warning, or… they just ignored it. They’re adventurers, this is what they do etc.

It’s at this point that Vinnie declares he will pay 500gp for the info that they need.

Bonnie is happy to do business with the Dark Squad.

Newt swears for a while longer, but his heart is no longer in it.

Note, Ram was for paying from the very start.

Also note, throughout all of this Ram and Newt are still to the south of the traps, they’re getting the chatter/info relay style.

And so… shouty-shouty etc. Then the secret’s out, here it is.

This entire tomb, according to Bonnie, and she heard it from Rambles (many times), was designed by a mad ancient dwarf called Ub. There are four guardians here- horned skeletal minotaur creatures all of them, terrifying undead beasts. If all four guardians are destroyed within 24 hours (first to last) then the tomb sorta shuts down, and all of the Rambles Swarm is forced to return here until the guardian’s regenerate. Which takes another 24 hours.

This info elicits as much sorrow as joy.

The Dark Squad have found and destroyed two minotaur guardians already, they’re certain- and they are correct this time. The undead minotaur's were pretty tough- particularly as the foul creatures have a Legendary Action Hoof to Groin which caught a number of members (fnarr) of the Squad out. Daktari repeatedly.

Note, the minotaur guardians actually have a number of cool Legendary Actions but so far Hoof to Groin has proved a) the easiest to get into play, and more importantly b) by far the funniest.

The PCs also know where a third minotaur guardian is, they spotted it earlier on their journey through the tomb, they left it alone because… well, Ram had had enough of the mindless violence, and so- they let it be.

So, two guardian minotaur's destroyed already, leaving two to go- one of which they’ve already found, and at this point the Dark Squad have another eighteen hours to get the job done. Although that would also leave them with the small matter of dealing with Rambles Shambles Bowspirit, The Swarm.

To make matters clear- the Dark Squad (nearly all of ‘em) are close to broken, but here’s the thing- they can get an extended rest in those eighteen hours… this could just work.

As for Bonnie, she gets her money- wishes the Dark Squad well, and with her other wererat chums- she departs the tomb. Ram and Bonnie agree to meet up back in Saltmarsh, the rogue learns how to get a message to her.

Bonnie makes sure the PCs know that she has other secrets to sell. She knows other things about the goings on in Saltmarsh, present day.

Last bit, before Bonnie departs, she makes one thing very clear-

“My grandpappy wants yew ta join da club.”

The ‘yew’ in question is Ram, of course, and the club is… to join the Bowspirit family, to become a wererat.

Ram is flattered but… he’ll think about it.

The Dark Squad are still sundered, they’re either side of the spectral scythe traps- the arrow/spear firing trap is eventually disarmed, they therefore rest up and chat (shout at each other) for an hour or so… during which time, the spectral scythes depart.

The trap is reset, Ram determines, but Dak is not hanging around- the barbarian leaps over the trap, the trigger spot (he found it the hard way earlier), and then across the spiked pit- that’s how it’s done. Ram repeats the trick with ease, when the dice are with you… and you know what you are doing and where it is safe to land. Lots easier.

Time to hunt the third undead minotaur skeleton down.

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Here he is… but hell, there’s another rune-etched skull in the chamber, the Dark Squad have encountered these before too. The last time it was a pair of the buggers- Flameskulls, which were unleashed as soon as the minotaur (initially in statue form) animated.

Which, on both occasions, was preceded by Newt helping himself to the treasure/offerings arrayed before each guardian.

The Dark Squad ready up- get healed, get Blessed, get whatever other spells they have going on (tbh I don’t think they had much else left). Then get ready to face the foe.

Note, the guardians have a good AC, 250+ HP, two very bloody attacks and three Legendary Actions/turn- Hoof to Groin being the finest/funniest.

They are bad bastards.

I know, I made them.

Fellowyn Mage Hands a handful of coins from the guardian’s treasure and…

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Here we go again…

The PCs in the chamber all had readied actions, however the minotaur also arrives swinging, and kicking.

Dak, as is traditional, is the first to suffer a Hoof To Groin onslaught.

Oh, but the skull disappears.

Note the skulls are initially (when encountered) embedded in a metal housing grafted into the stone floor, they’re able to look around (pivot) but not escape… and so, the skull disappears, it’s gone. Which stymies quite a few readied actions.

Then, after say another ten seconds, the Flameskull turns up, or rather makes it way back to the fight.

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Welcome to the Fireball.

Note, observant PCs at this point would have noted that the Flameskulls, when summoned, do not appear close to the action- they always, so far, appear some distance from their initial position. The PCs (actually mostly Daktari) had to hunt them down last time.

Anyway, Fireball!

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And then a lot of missing from the Dark Squad, with much fewer misses from my guys, and…

Hoof to Groin!

Daktari drops unconscious, keep in mind that the barbarian is out of Rages, there’s no half-damage here, he’s getting the full treatment, and it hurts.

The Supreme Being- Ubmo, is consumed entirely in the Fireball, but he’ll be back in two turns- he always is. Yay, Ubmo!

Ram ends the Flameskull, with Deadend- his undead killing magical rapier.

The rest of the team kick/blast heck out of the third minotaur guardian, but not before Daktari has been healed by Vinnie, staggered to his feet- hit the guardian a couple of times more, and then has been Hoofed to Groin back into unconscious once more.

Then, after the fracas is ended, healed again.

Note, when I say healed, we’re mostly down to Vinnie’s Cure Wounds, that’s all they have left… and not many of them.

So, it would be fair to say that no-one is particularly happy at this point.

Although I seem to be smiling a lot. Perhaps I’m just a nicer person than my players, with a sunnier disposition. Yeah, that works.

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The Dark Squad are not ‘appy.

And so…

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They crawl inside Newt’s Tiny Hut.

To remind you within Newt’s Tiny Hut the atmos is as follows- dark and flickering shadow, shrouded seemingly by distant fires, a low moaning and whimpering- someone in pain? Punctuated by strangled screams. It smells of brimstone, and flame.

But at this point no-one, not even Newt, gives a monkey’s cuss.

They’ve just had enough.

An hour passes, in silence (and pretty much the last of the healing*), save for the sound effects.

*Ram has some healing stuff left, but then again Ram very rarely gets hurt. Vinnie may have a little something left… but not much. I figure the rest of them are out.

Then…

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“We are the SWARM! We are LEGION! Shiver me TIMBERS! You are BANJAXED!”

Make that last word- BANJAXED, sound a lot like a Dalek screaming “EXTERMINATE!” in your face and you are getting there.

Next session is on the 25th.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

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