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

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Heh, nah, it was fun as always, and I got to do some cool teleporty shenanigans, "accidentally" dropping newt aside. (Fellowyn's aim must be off after being unceremoniously dumped off the broom, that'll be why I caught him in a shatter too)

Tons of weenies is always fun to see as a spellcaster, even if they do damn near eat the party :)
Give some love to George, he plays Fellowyn, and more importantly he takes the pictures or at least 95% of them, and he provides the soundtrack to our sessions.

Thank you George, you complete us/me.

Cheers Paul
 

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Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #139: Into the Mere of the Dead Men Part 4.

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
Archimedes (very scruffy & old, Owl) Fellowyn’s familiar.

The Dark Squad’s to-do list-

  1. 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).
  2. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood- except she's not there anymore, but a big red dragon is?
  3. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  4. 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.
  5. 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 139, the Dark Squad are in the Mere of Dead Men, still- this is the morning of their fourth day in the swamp, and the guys are just recovering from a Froghemoth attack.

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Here we all are again, in Newt’s Tiny Hut- which he has toned down a little, keep in mind Newt controls the soundtrack and the general atmos (lighting etc.) of his Tiny Hut. Previously he entertained folks within with a soundscape of screeches, maniacal cackles and a myriad other spooky sounds, this has changed significantly, it’s a mixture of Muzak and whale song at present, Newt’s mellowed- he’s gone all New Age.

So, the Dark Squad have had the crap kicked out of them, and it takes a short while for Ram to… well, become Ram again- Were-Ram is a little more on-edge than the much more somnambulant rogue.

There are investigations, after rest- the carriage hasn’t been in the swamp long- only a few days, it has livery and emblems that make the Squad think that it is ‘foreign’, possibly oriental- Shou. Something very big and with massive, clawed talons, it seems, picked up the carriage and dropped it here in the Mere- a very big dragon! Possibly.

There’s a whole lot of treasure within the cab, mostly in a variety of sacks and other, sturdier, containers- no magic, but lots of stuff that can be sold.

Keep in mind the Squad have three Bags of Holding between them (actually two bags and a chest of holding).

Eventually, after a bunch more chatter- we go on, although the Squad have a problem now, they are now very much behind the pace. Best guess they aren’t going to get to the Witch’s Tor until the five days are up- breaking their covenant with the Lizardfolk.

Note the Squad committed to undergo the tribal tradition of Sunda, this in an attempt to make amends for their nearly-genocide of the lizardfolk tribe. So, Sunda means surviving in the Mere of the Dead Men and then coming home quickly and safely. Basically, the test is to walk/travel for five days out into the Mere- as far as the initiate can go, and then to return to the lair in just four days. The Squad, to complete Sunda successfully, need to be back to the lair before dawn in nine days.

They’re half-a-day behind schedule, after some interruptions en route, and then some bad checks today.

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So, when there’s suddenly a great glowing light to the north, way off the trail (miles away)- the Dark Squad stop and fret.

Newt wants to investigate this phenomenon, he thinks the source of the light is magical, but his colleagues are less keen- Fellowyn, with some great checks, offers a variety of other swamp-based natural phenomena as explanation for the light.

However, and throughout the discussion, the light to the north pulses, every now and then.

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Eventually the decision is made- the Dark Squad go on, ignore the light- mark the spot on their map, but… they go on- and at pace. They’re going to travel late into the evening, at least that’s the plan, to try to make up lost time. But, not too much- Ram is of the opinion that whatever awaits them at the Witch’s Tor is going to be nasty, they don’t want to get there and be suffering from Exhaustion etc.

The Dark Squad trudge on, although- Newt’s on his flying broom- with Fellowyn riding pillion, Vinnie and Daktari are on summoned Spectral Mounts, and Ram is Water Walking. So, not a whole lot of trudging going on.

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We get to here, and here turns out to be a very odd place.

Note, the weather has improved as the Squad have continued their journey towards the Witch’s Tor, in fact the whole Mere has started to look… well, less nasty. To make clear- the fog and the mist has lifted somewhat, the swamp appears more natural- less spooky; the sun is even visible every now and then. The water, and the flora and the fauna has likewise become less slimy, dirty, dark and/or suspicious.

It's very odd. Things are becoming more ‘normal’, less terror-filled spooky place.

But back to the image above- odd.

The Squad pass into a huge forest, or else a water-filled mangrove like forest- only the mangrove-like trees are titanic, the smallest a hundred feet tall.

So, back again to the image above- apropos absolutely nothing Daktari, Newt and Fellowyn scatter- running screaming away from their colleagues. The three can see the (massive) fireball that’s about to crash down into the area.

Specifically, the area that the Dark Squad are at present inhabiting.

Newt kicks Fellowyn off his broom and then zooms off to hide behind a tree; Fellowyn- doing a lot of shouting half-wades/jumps away and then dives beneath the water to escape the flame. Daktari is watching- he thinks- the sun falling into Faerun, the barbarian stands open mouthed; and then a moment later- after the fireball hits, the brave barbarian runs screaming back into the conflagration in an attempt to rescue his companions from the flames.

Ram is entirely consumed in the fiery impact, Vincenzo burned black, Fellowyn screams his “Nooooooooooooooooo!”, while Newt begins offering an obituary (of sorts) to the newly departed, and then…

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Newt flies down to hide behind the massive bole/root of a tree; Fellowyn is submerged, and Daktari has just attempted (and failed) to save Ram- or at least to drag him out of the way of the conflagration. The rogue just side-stepped the screaming lunatic barbarian.

There is no fireball, no flame, no injury- no harm; the world- and the Mere, is as exactly as it was, I mean, as it is.

The trees are still massive, the water clear- and warm, there are fishes, and (water) foul, and other signs of ‘normal’ life, and…

What was that all about?

The three were convinced.

And for a while after… still convinced.

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More chatter follows, and a fair few associated checks- remarkably the Dark Squad detective their way through this one. Ram questions the three that shared the fiery vision and determines exactly where the fireball would have gone into the Mere.

Then, with a bit of Water Breathing, the rogue goes diving and searching in the spot- he finds nothing untoward.

Fellowyn, you see, has figured it out- he, Dak, and Newt have just had a vision- a vision of the future. If they had been seeing the past, he works out, Ram would have found something with his aquatic search.

Then Newt chimes in-

“Seek the Witch’s Tor,
In the lair of the drowned ones,
Beware the Demon’s sport,
Find the time.
Return again with the star fall,
To reclaim the power.”

So, the Dark Squad have just seen where the star falls.

Well, and this is the DM speaking- that worked.

The Dark Squad go on- after marking the spot on their map.

13906.jpg


To here.

Dry land, a clearing in a forest- ruined buildings ahead.

Note, the phrase above, ‘a forest’, the thing is… not the watery mangrove-like forest the Dark Squad were, a moment ago, walking through.

Not the Mere of the Dead Men.

And… when the Dark Squad look behind them- there is no Mere of Dead Men, there’s just a forest. A very normal looking forest- temperate zone, wind in the trees- birdsong, no swamp- nothing at all swampy in fact.

Something has happened.

The Dark Squad make a variety of checks, cast a spell or two, and… WTF just happened.

Newt is getting tetchy; he hates it when reality plays tricks on him. The warlock therefore kicks Fellowyn off his flying broom (he does this a lot) and zooms on ahead- straight to the ruins.

13907.jpg

He gets to here.

The pleasant forest clearing has been replaced, or else the field and forest- and ruins, are still present, but the atmosphere has changed dramatically. The thick mist and fog is back, the ground is dead- or else lifeless, it is cold- freezing cold, ice in the fur type cold. And there are birds- flocks and flocks of big black birds- ravens, waiting- watching, arrayed on the skyline of the ruins ahead.

Thousands of them.

13908.jpg

Lots of ravens that squark wildly and then very quickly take flight, swarming towards Newt.

Note, back in the forest/ruins clearing with the rest of the Dark Squad- Newt has disappeared, of course.

There’s a brief moment for discourse as the remainder of the Squad alternatively threaten not to follow Newt’s charge, and/or continue to bemoan their lot.

Then, all of them, charge forward into the unknown.

13909.jpg

The rest of the Dark Squad arrive just in time to see Newt being mobbed by Swarms of Ravens, and with more birds on the way- at one point there are six swarms trying to peck past his defences.

There is fighting, although until Newt descends to ground level, the rest of the Squad are having to be the artillery.

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More of this.

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Newt goes for the big guns- Synaptic Static, he hates having stuff surround him/get in his space.

That’s why I do it.

A lot.

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There are a dozen or so swarms, and they pretty much all head straight for Newt.

Then, as the fight is just about won- Newt zooms off again- full speed- to the ruins.

And…

Zoop!

13913.jpg

Newt disappears again.

And his Darkvision is not much use to him here- or so it seems.

This is the same place- Newt can see the same features, but the air/fog/mist is very oppressive here, there is no light here.

Not yet.

Back with the rest of the Dark Squad and we almost get to a vote-

“Let’s just turn around, let’s leave him…” I’ll not say whose line it was because as soon as it gets delivered two more voices chorus the following- “I was going to say that!”

Ram, eventually, rushes after Newt, swearing and saying some really unpleasant things about the warlock as he reluctantly departs.

Note, Fellowyn has reminded folk that the whispered voice that has been visiting them most evenings in the Mere has urged them to go to the “Castle beyond the Birds”.

Well, that was the birds.

Ram rushes forward and…

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Well, it’s an improvement.

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Moments later the rest of the Squad rush through.

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Then the dead start to arrive. Note Newt spots his comrades light, that’s right- the Squad are scrambling for light spells (and the like, Ram has a glow sphere), flying back to his friends he spots a zombie ogre en route to the fracas.

That’s not great.

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More of the same, and the Dark Squad are discovering (the hard way) that the elven zombies deliver multiple attacks all with added necrotic damage.

They’re also pretty tough.

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Fellowyn arrives and summons Sydalg- his eye monster friend, it gets to blasting, but there are plenty of enemies and… the Dark Squad can’t see them- until they step into their limited light.

And that’s where we end the session, it was another good one.

Alt Game on the 25th, George is away- I think.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 



Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #140: Into the Mere of the Dead Men Part 5.

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
Archimedes (very scruffy & old, Owl) Fellowyn’s familiar.

The Dark Squad’s to-do list-
  1. 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).
  2. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood- except she's not there anymore, but a big red dragon is?
  3. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  4. 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.
  5. 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 140, and at the end of this session we are still in the same fight- to be clear we spent four hours or so in game this evening and we’re still in the same encounter that started in session #139. Bugger.

So, settle in- maybe go fetch a cup of tea and a biscuit (or two), it’s going to be very mostly pictures here however.

The Dark Squad are in the Mere of the Dead Men, en route to the Witch’s Tor, as part of their penance (lizardfolk and genocide remember), and this is day five- the last day of their journey. Only they’ve found some ruins, fought swarms of ravens (as the whispering voice warned) and then folded space and time (maybe) to end up in some freezing version of the present, and being overrun by shambling undead.

A horde of zombies.

So, a typical Tuesday evening.

14000.jpg

Here we all are again.

14002.jpg
And here we all are again (again), obviously the PCs even with their darkvision, can’t see very far in the preternatural mist and fog, which is a shame because if they could- well, they’d see about twenty more zombies (all shapes and sizes) making for them.

Nice!

14003.jpg

Newt has a new trick (although it’s actually a very old trick), the warlock has a Fire Shield (or else his version- Belphegor’s Fiery Hair-Shirt, possibly) on the go, he is therefore zooping about on his Flying Broom triggering as many Oppo Attacks as he can from the zombies, who- if they hit him obviously attract a swathe of fire damage in reply.

He finishes every turn by blasting a zombie or two (when he can) dead, and thus sucking up another tranche of temporary hit points (Dark One’s Blessing).

It’s a system.

It works- but then again- it doesn’t. By which I mean lots of zombies are killed, while Newt’s hit points continue to drop.

It doesn’t help that a few of the flailing zombies land crits.

14004.jpg

Here we all are some more- Ubdug- the Supreme Being, you’ll note is dead (again). Before the end of this session Ubdug will get heartily sick of dying and coming back-

“The ZEROES, Ram!”

“THE!”

“ZEROES!”

When deceased, it seems, Ubdug temporarily experiences the Binary Plane- he doesn’t like it there- not one bit, he’s a ‘1’ in a sea of ‘0’s. Apparently that’s a very bad thing.

14005.jpg

There’s nothing new to see here, I just like the layout of George’s screens.

Oh, but the zombies are more or less all gone- deceased, we are at this point just over ninety minutes into the session.

And when the last zombie falls…

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The sound of clapping echoes from the freezing thick fog and mist, followed by the line- a female voice, and in common- “Well fought, but alas for you- no further”.

A moment later, stepping out of the mist come four enemies-

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A heavily cloaked human-looking woman riding on the back of a very big Chimera.

And two of these guys-

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Heavily armoured humans/humanoids- with glowing fiery eyes.

There’s time for a very brief chat (only a couple of turns, in which several PCs- while chatting- quickly snaffle potions of healing).

The essence of the chat is this- the woman on the back of the Chimera is called Rega Swarn, the Squad have never heard of her. The Chimera is called Ashbreath, and the newly arrived enemies are here to kill the Squad, on orders of their master.

Bloody hell.

This sort of thing seems to happen a lot.

Their ‘master’, on enquiry, turns out to be “Death”, at least according to Rega who is doing all of the talking.

Then, and we’re still in initiative here, Rega and her friends attack.

There’s not much in the way of mucking about- and no more time for potions or healing for the Dark Squad.

14009.jpg

See those arrows on the above image, they mark the direction of, well… arrows, that are fired out of the fog and mist and straight into Ram- both hits.

Seconds later and Ashbreath demonstrates why s/he is so called, by engulfing several members of the Dark Squad in its hellish breath- a mixture of fire and necrotic hurt.

Note, all of the PCs are still using Rary’s Telepathic Bond, and so Ram has marked the paths of the arrows that shot him.

The other PCs are going to do the same.

14010.jpg

Oh crap! As it turns out there are lots of shooters out there in the mist and fog, and while the PCs can’t see their attackers their attackers can obviously see the Squad.

The Dark Squad are taking lots of hits.

It seems they are in a fight and at the same time surrounded.

14011.jpg

Newt settles a burst of Synaptic Static over the largest concentration of (visible) enemies, and in so doing temporarily illuminates one of the bow-wielding attackers.

The strange looking human/oid wears leathers and and a hooded cloak, and an odd-looking (bone?) deathmask.

That’s probably not good.

So, the Dark Squad swing into action, and I’d love to say that this was a plan they’d made before hand but, I somehow doubt it- the Squad never tell each other what they are about to do.

So, Synaptic Static imposes a -6 on a variety of things- saves and to hit’s included.

The Moonboar therefore settles a Confusion spell over the same gaggle of bad guys.

More remarkably only Ashbreath fails its save. The Chimera is confused.

Seconds later Fellowyn settles a hemispherical Wall of Force over three of the Death-serving enemies.

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Here we are.

It’s time, it seems, for the Dark Squad to deal with the shooters.

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And so, the hunt begins.

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And so, some more…

A short while later the Squad note that all is not well within the Wall of Force bubble- Rega seems to be pushing around the glowing-eyed armoured fellow.

More remarkably for the next six or so turns Vinnie rolls on the Confusion spell effect table and gets- ‘does nothing’ every time for the Chimera.

Ashbreath is having a rest it seems.

Rega Swarn is getting more annoyed all the while.

Oh, the other fiery-eyed sword wielding foe, bereft of support, is cut down quickly by the rest of the Squad.

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Newt heads out into the dark, hunting the arrow firing attackers, down at the bottom of the above image Ram does something similar.

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The Dark Squad disperse, and hunt.

At some point, and keep in mind there are dozen of these bow-wielding enemies hidden in the miasma, Ram gets bloodied and…

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Were-Ram is back into action.

Note in the image above Newt is down to just six or so hit points.

It seems the Flying Warlock is presenting a favourable target for the artillery.

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A few things to note- the Moonboar (Vinnie) is down to ten or so hit points, as is Daktari. Newt’s been on very low hit points for the last two turns. He keeps on killing the archers and topping up his temporary hit points however.

Also, Rega Swarn has killed the glowy-eyed warrior that was trapped in the Wall of Force bubble with her.

That’s not nice.

She decapitated the poor bugger.

Ashbreath is, of course, still just sitting and doing nothing.

And then… at bloody last.

Vinnie rolls on his Confusion spell table one more time and Ashbreath, ‘acts as normal’ this turn.

Rega leaps astride the great beast and PING!

Oh, and Rega has also managed to throw off the effects of Newt’s Synaptic Static- she’s all ready to roll.

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The pair teleport outside of the Wall of Force.

The Dark Squad, less than three seconds earlier, manage to kill the last of the death-masked wearing archers.

And then, all of them, grab out more potions of healing, or healing spells (the Moonboar).

Just as Ashbreath and Rega pop out of the Force bubble to continue their visit with the Squad.

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Ubdug who has not been in a happy place for the last ten or so turns, gets his revenge. The Supreme Being has been shot and killed every other turn during this time.

Just to note, when Ubdug is killed he explodes- and then on his next turn he reappears next to Ram (wherever Ram is- even when he was inside a Froghemoth, remember). Ubdug however can perform no other action after revitalising on his turn.

At which point he, of course, gets shot and destroyed again.

Ubdug is therefore apoplectic.

“THE ZEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

So, the Supreme Being leaps like a salmon and punches Rega Swarn in the face- a tooth flies out of her mouth.

And…

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Daki Kong, at last, makes an appearance. Polymorph courtesy of Fellowyn.

Just to note Daktari, on every one of his last ten or so turns- since he has been bloodied, in fact, has been calling out to Fellowyn, again- every single turn-

“I have a hankering for bananas, Fellowyn?”

“Feel free to make big-big monkey out of me, Fellowyn?”

“I am copying what you do- Fellowyn, or else you are APING me!?”

Getting more and more insistent every turn.

So, he gets his wish.

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And we only get half-a-turn more of this, but it’s already time to end the session.

Note, Rega is still on the back of Ashbreath, it just makes sense on FGU to put her token to the side, for targeting purposes etc.

So, there’ll be fighting a little more at the start of the next one, and then...

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 


Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Holy crap, you do like piling it on, don't you!
Since Fellowyn has got hold of his Wall of Force then it has been increasingly difficult to up the threat with the Dark Squad, particularly like now, when the PCs are just doing one (or maybe two) encounters a day. So, I had to soften them up a bit with ten swarms of ravens followed by 40 or so zombies (including half-a-dozen greater zombies- 100 or so HP each, two attacks- with good to hits and added necrotic damage; plus six zombie ogres) and I didn't really care how long it took because... 140 sessions and they're still 9th level. Keep in mind though that the warm up acts are just minor inconveniences so the Dark Squad are not really going to feel the squeeze until the main act comes on.

But here's the thing, I don't want to kill them- that's just between me and you, don't tell the players.

Actually, I've just read that last sentence again- it's not necessarily true, I'd like to kill one of them every ten to twenty sessions- in a perfect world, so the threat is present and palpable but the story goes on.

That's the dream.

Oh, and just for info I've posted my other game here.

Thanks as always for the feedback.

Cheers Paul
 

doghead

thotd
Holy crap, you do like piling it on, don't you!
But, IIRC, it seems like the encounters that rattled the party were the odd ones, like the frogs in a pond, or the ghosts in the walls.

Maybe they don't mind facing down hordes of monsters, just so long as they can get their own licks in.

thotd
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
But, IIRC, it seems like the encounters that rattled the party were the odd ones, like the frogs in a pond, or the ghosts in the walls.

Maybe they don't mind facing down hordes of monsters, just so long as they can get their own licks in.

thotd
That's something for me to think about, good spot.

Cheers Paul
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh

Session #141: Out of the Mere of the Dead Men Part 1.

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
Archimedes (very scruffy & old, Owl) Fellowyn’s familiar.

The Dark Squad’s to-do list-
  1. 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).
  2. Nightshade is in the Deep Dreadwood- except she's not there anymore, but a big red dragon is?
  3. Blackedge and the Goblin Stair?
  4. 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.
  5. 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 141, and I said at the end of the last write up-

So, there’ll be fighting a little more at the start of the next one.

Well, we spun it out to about ninety more minutes of fighting.

Before the French lesson began.

But we’ll get to that.

14101.jpg

Newt, just off the top of the screen, zooming around and blasting; Fellowyn- Master of Blade & Spell (apaz, not much in the way of evidence to date- according to Daktari); the Moonboar just off the bottom of the screen, readying himself to deliver a charge- tusking to the Chimera; Ram, or rather- Were Ram sneaking out to stab and then scurrying back behind that Damn Hairy Ape- bonjour, Monsieur Daktari.

The Dark Squad are all accounted for.

The enemies, a sneak attacking, (poisoned) crossbow bolt firing, damage avoiding (evasion etc.) and with incredible saving throws (I know- I made them up) Rega Swarn. She’s out to kill (even just one of them), and with a big bag of hit points too (200+).

Ashbreath, the Chimera, only a souped-up version as above (and with maybe 350 HP), and yet…

Without the chaos that the archers were bringing earlier to the Dark Squad, this one’s a bust.

14102.jpg

Daki Kong’s eyes. They follow you around the room.

And it takes about another hour-and-a-half of attrition- with a lot of missing and rolling low damage, keep in mind both enemies have ACs above 20, but…

14103.jpg

Daki Kong (after missing both attacks last turn) connects with a Crit, and its good night Ashbreath.

For flavour-flave I let the big ape use the Chimera’s corpse in place of a boulder- bring on the fling attack- seconds later (and 7d6+ damage) and Rega is just about down too.

The sensible members of the group (Vinnie and maybe Fellowyn, although he’s a lot bloodier than you think, but in a good way) are calling for Rega Swarn to be taken alive.

Alas the pleas for (temporary) clemency go unheard- as Newt keeps on blasting, and then Were-Ram guts the last enemy.

That’s right- Were-Ram isn’t nice like Ram.

And Ram, when the occasion suits, is not nice at all.

So, the fight is over, and none of the PCs are much the wiser.

Who were them guys?

&, of course- the old favourite-

Where are we?

& it’s bedfellow-

What’s going on?

The PCs are about to get a few answers.

The PCs are all however pretty badly beaten.

It is therefore a blessing that suddenly…

14104.jpg

They find themselves back in the forest, or else in a large clearing in an even larger forest- and the ruins are still here. It’s the same clearing in fact- from all the way back to the bird attack.

And the whispering voice is back, the same voice that has been bothering them for the last three nights in the Mere.

Only this time it’s saying things in French.

Why French?

Because if I just said them in English well, that’d be way too easy- so cryptic, and in French.

The language actually being employed is an ancient form of Elven, Fellowyn had to roll high to even understand it- several of the PCs had to try and repeat what they heard (when they heard the whispers in the Mere) back to Fellowyn, so that he could try to translate.

Ancient Elven = French, why not.

14105.jpg

In the chat window on the left.

The Whisperer... and in translation-

Souviens-toi
Remember

Trouver le centre
Find the Centre

Du bord au milieu
From the Edge to the Middle

Le voyage de la vie
The journey of life

À travers le labyrinthe de l'expérience
Through the maze of experience

Souviens-toi
Remember

I’ll not say how long it took for the Dark Squad to get to the answer.

I will write it- fifteen minutes.

Back to the story, seemless-

A few moments later the Moonboar grabs out his Maze Button/Coin/Symbol of Ub, and traces the maze etched into the ancient artefact with his finger.

Which he has done at many other (important) times before.

Remember.

The Moonboar turns into a statue.

By which I mean, and as discovered by his colleagues, he becomes an object- like a statue. Unmoving- very life-like, but- solid as a rock.

Then the Moonboar’s voice (because the Squad are still using Rary’s Mobile Phone, or whatever it’s called).

Gruff, and in a cod-French.

“I can zee zer Castle, it iz wonderful, n’est pas. Come on sroooo…”

Now, what happens next is a little hazy.

I’m honestly not very sure why it took so long.

It was a long night- at times, this session.

Anyway, the only other member of the Dark Squad with a Maze Button/Coin/Symbol of Ub is Ram, and so he does likewise (eventually- another 5 to 10 minutes are spent prevaricating) and seconds later and Ram is a statue to.

Then there’s five minutes in which the remainder of Dark Squad can’t fathom how they’re going to get through to wherever Vinnie and Ram are… the Castle!

The genius of the group, well…

Daki Kong scratches out a very rough maze in the dirt and walks his finger to the center- hey presto, there’s a big monkey statue of Daki Kong.

I think Fellowyn and Newt (in the end) traced their fingers (or eyes) through the mazes (still perfectly visible) on the statue Maze Buttons being held by the statue Moonboar and the statue Ram.

We get to here.

Falling through the door, rather than flying…

14106.jpg

Which probably wasn’t what they/you expected.

The whispering voice tells the Dark Squad- even as they investigate the strange spectral echo, -

C'est difficile... la première fois.
It is difficult... the first time.

Vous êtes proche... Je vous entends.
You are close... I can hear you.

And then goes on to repeat the same instructions as the first time.

Repeatedly.

Basically, the Dark Squad need to do the maze-thing again, only better- all at the same time.

The castle is investigated, it’s like an overlay to reality, the picture is here- but not the substance. The walls can be walked through and flown through- Newt tries.

There’s nothing however to interact with.

Ten minutes later, after all manner of other investigations, the Dark Squad work it out (again) and do the maze thing again- but all together, and-

14107.jpg

We, at last, get to here.

And a little later still, to here-

14108.jpg

The chateau/castle is beautifully (but not luxuriously) appointed, the beds are comfy, the fires are warm- food, just appears- very good food, and wine, and when Fellowyn opens a box looking for… I can’t remember what he was looking for but, he finds it. In fact, within boundaries, when one of the PC wishes for a thing- but only simple/mundane things (food, light, heat, simple objects etc.) it happens, or else just appears- as if it were always just there.

There are books here also. Books that the PCs find interesting or have (earlier) expressed a desire to read and/or to study.

There’s also a voice.

The whispering voice in fact.

It has this to say, and with translations, and the speech begins the moment the PCs first arrive, and goes on as they slowly explored the place-

Bienvenue à Argentriver.
Welcome to Argentriver.

Ma maison.
My home.

Ta maison.
Your home.

Je suis... Argentriver, bien sûr.
I am... Argentriver, of course.

J'espère que ce message vous trouvera bien.
I hope this message finds you well.

Vous êtes vraiment rare.
You are rare indeed.

D'être arrivé jusqu'ici.
To have made it this far.

Le Château n’a plus reçu de visiteur depuis sept millénaires.
The Castle has not had a visitor for seven millennia.

Rare en effet.
Rare indeed.

Vous pouvez vous détendre ici.
You can relax here.

Vous pouvez vous reposer ici.
You can rest here.

Le courant argenté du temps ne règne pas ici.
The silver stream of time does not rule here.

Argentriver est éternel car il ne vieillit jamais.
Argentriver is forever because it never ages.

Ses habitants ne marquent pas non plus le cours du temps.
It's inhabitants also do not mark the stream of time.

Détendez-vous, reposez-vous et explorez le château.
Relax, rest- explore the Castle.

Revenez ensuite ici pour la suite de ce message.
Then return here for the rest of this message.

So, that’s nice.

From which the Dark Squad (quickly and cleverly) figure out that they are in a place beyond time, and that when they step out of the castle and back into the Mere (providing they learn/figure out how) then no time will have passed at all.

Here’s the prophecy the PCs are working on atm-

“I am Kolven, and I am forever.
Seek the witch’s tor,
In the lair of the drowned ones,
But beware the demon’s spore.
Find the time.
Return again with the star fall,
To reclaim the power.”


Well, and this is for the players, you’ve found the time.

That’s all I’ll say for now.

Next week we are doing some Downtime activities with the Dark Squad, which is also what this stop-over is about.

Then, well… there may be some strange.

Stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers the Dark Squad and goonalan.
 

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