The Dark Squad in the Secrets of Saltmarsh #142a Six Months in Castle Argentriver.


Playa Playa

Garumn's personal journal, entry #2:

So, found meself off to hunt down stinkin' goblins, at the behest of stinkin' kobolds! Not too sure what Moradin would think of that, or me old Da. Killin' gobbo's is all well and good, but I'm not so sure about helping out some kobbo's in the process. The kobbo's worship a dragon called Ashardalon, I never heard of it but I also never heard of kobbo's worshipping a goodly dragon, so I'm assumin' that the dragon was evil and so are the kobbo's, which gives me a bit of a dilemma. I reckon they are only being nice to us cos we can help clear out the gobbo's, beyond that I'm not so sure.

So, I'm decided to go see the gobbo's an' kill me way through to find out what happened to Sharwin and Talgen, which is how we landed in this mess in the first place. I got a sword to look out for, and me friends Elf and Sna.. I mean Druid got some things to look out for too. Then we've got the matter of rewards from the kobbo's for killin' the gobbo's, which is all fine and good. But where me heart tells me not to go is helping the kobbo's. They had something stole from them - a dragon or summits - and they want it back. Well I'm decided not to be helpin' no evil cult of kobbo's, so we'll see what this stolen creature is and then see what's to be done.

Elf? Druid? What are ye about on this?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.

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Playa Playa

To be read in a quasi-french accent, and apologies for the lack of proofreading:

An anthropological study into the culture of Thundertree, my thoughts regarding the nearby Sunless Citadel, and a word or two about my companions.

By Vincenzo Delvino

Firstly a few notes on the inhabitants of Thundertree:

They seem to be friendly, if simple folk. The livelihood of the village seems to be based entirely around agriculture; and they seem to favour food and drink that are heavy in the stomach and makes one want to sleep. They have some interesting linguistic features; speaking in a manner comparable to being struck in the head with an iron skillet, this can make more advanced forms of communication challenging, but I have found it oddly charming. The exception to this is the Hucrele’s, they remind me very much of those from the cities like Waterdeep; I would imagine if they did not possess a truly nauseating amount of coin, they would find it difficult to be accepted by the community as a whole.

The Sunless Citadel has been fascinating so far, seemingly gaining its moniker from some catastrophic event, burying it deep below the Plane of Ashes. Some scarce remains of it protrude from the surface, ancient stone pillars that have unfortunately been vandalised in crude dwarven script; likely by the reported tribe of goblins that have taken to using the citadel as a home. We descended down and it seems there is a large population of rats, they seem to have a stable source of food as they were indeed both plump and juicy; and seemingly unafraid of larger creatures such as ourselves.

We entered the citadel from what would have been the ramparts; some crude traps and locked doors easily avoided by my colleague Mr Shambo. Again I do not think these are part of the original design; and were likely set by the greenskins. Entering the citadel proper the influence of the cult was easy to see, with particular interest paid to a dedication to a being called Ashardalon; whom later revealed is a dragon of some power.

A bit further in, we encountered a strange device (oddly locked away behind a heavy stone door) seemingly using a small, and somewhat mean, ice elemental to cool down water, with drainage and ingress. This may be a relic of some ancient technology; more research is required into this, (it is also worth noting that the elemental creature exploded upon death, giving a chilly reception). A short time afterwards we came across the most exciting lead of this expedition so far.

We met a kobold who could speak the common tongue, (for those unaware; Kobolds are small, canine/reptile hybrids that have the distinct odour of burning hair in an outhouse) he introduced himself as Meepo, and we managed to integrate ourselves in order to meet the queen of this civilisation. They revere the five-headed queen of dragons: Tiamat, and their entire culture seems to revolve around the traditions of the historical cult of the dragon. There seems to be a cultural war between the Kobolds and the Goblins; who have seemingly taken residence in another part of the citadel. The Kobolds have asked for our help in fighting this war; and have offered food and gifts in exchange. We have been treated very well, as champions and guests of honour, provided with the finest foods (reminder: I must ask the queen for the spice blend they used on the roasted rat; the flavours were in perfect harmony).

While Tiamat herself, and the cult of the dragon are both incredibly evil and dangerous; I do not believe these kobolds have anything near the means in order to pursue their grand ambition, although they have said that the goblins have captured a “dragon” with the name “Cornflakes”. This may be a mistranslation, but I am looking forward to liberating whatever noble beast has been mistaken for dragon-kin. We venture further into the citadel soon dear reader, and with excited anticipation I await the meeting of this “outsider” one whom may be using an eldritch, dark version of druidic lore to control this goblin tribe.

Side note; some brief notes on my companions…

Mr Garumn seems to be a mighty warrior, wielding a zweihander with ease and I imagine he will be most invaluable in the inevitable conflict with the goblins. However he seems to have an issue with remembering names and possibly with his object permanence; perhaps he has suffered a serious injury to his head as a child, I will do some further research into a tincture which can help him with this most debilitating condition.

Mr Shambo is a predator of a different kind; much more the lone wolf than the angry bear. He is skilled with both locks and traps, and seems to have caught the amorous eye of the Kobold queen. Now I do not know if a half blood elf and kobold can produce a viable offspring, but it will be most enlightening to find out.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.
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Playa Playa

It seems the once pirate has turned poet-

The Saga Begins

The saga begins - we hope it will be one full of amazement and wonder
But with credit to spend, we start by shopping in the Trees of Thunder

With advice and aide and side-quests from folk of all races
A striking sword, a drunken warrior, an apple of two faces

We tread in the ashen steps of the young cubs’ band
And descend down the rope into the sunless land

Scurrying rats, a swift kick is employed
Descending still further, a pit to avoid

In a secure room, some strange ancient device
Freed from his prison, an angry mephit of ice

An altar to Tiamat, dressed all in green
Jade statues that vanish, whilst Meepo did dream

Champions of Tiamat do please their new queen
Her appreciation shown with delightful cuisine

Now with goblins to kill, a chief’s head to take
But most vital of all, to rescue a drake
The one and only, Cornflake

The Druid – A Haiku

Snake in bear’s clothing
Acid burns his enemies
Druid is calm once more

The Dwarf

There once was a dwarf named Garumn
Who looked a bit like his mum
With a slashing of his great sword
His mighty enemies where floored
So he bent over and flashed them his bum!!

From the pen of Ramshambo

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.


Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #003 Dungeons & bloody hell... a Dragon!

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Garumn (played by Stu) Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 1
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 1

Screw the creative writing- new plan, I’m going to try and keep up with the action in-game with my updates here, so the players have a record (of sorts) of what went on. So, this is session number 3, and it was very mostly all action.

But first up, as I did in-game (and for a very good reason) a reminder of the Dark Squad’s ongoing quests-

Main Quest: Kerowyn Hucrele wants her family members rescuing from the Sunless Citadel- Talgen and Sharwyn, if the pair are gone (dead) then bring back their signet rings.

Garumn’s secondary quest: Rurik the blacksmith in Thundertree would like to take a proper look at the longsword carried by Sir Bradford, the paladin of Tyr who accompanied the young Hucrele’s on their quest. Garumn will help out with this if he can.

Ramshambo’s secondary quest: Felosial of the Thundertree guard has asked for Karakas the ranger to be rescued, the sometimes-drunken fellow also accompanied the young Hucrele’s on their quest. If Karakas is dead bring back proof of his demise so that his story may be told. Ram has said he will do this.

Vincenzo’s secondary quest: Reidoth the Brown, the ancient blind druid, has tasked Vincenzo to investigate the goblins in the Sunless Citadel, it seems the creatures offer up for sale a magical apple or two every year- deadly poison and tremendous healing variants available. Do the goblins grow the fruit? If not, who does? Find out all there is to discover.

Then, of course, the Dark Squad met with the kobolds last session, and spoke at length with their queen, Yusdrayl. The kobolds are starting to believe that the Dark Squad are the chosen ones (of Tiamat) who will eventually pass through the dragon door. To prove themselves the PCs must accomplish some, or all, of the following-

Main Quest: Rescue Cornflakes the kobold’s dragon from the clutches of the nasty goblins, bring the dragon back to the tribe. Note the reward for this is the ancient key which opens the dragon door… which the PCs have not seen as of yet (they’ve seen the key, but not the door- but we’re about to fix this).

Secondary quests, a reward for each success to be granted from the collection of items on the dragon altar, which are- three scrolls, and a big feather (most odd?).

1) Rescue the kobolds taken prisoner by the goblins in their last attack on the tribe.

2) Kill ten goblins and bring their heads back to Yusdrayl, although the kobold queen said ten heads, she only held up eight fingers- so, perhaps the kobolds are not that great at counting.

3) Kill the goblin chief, bring back proof.

Complete all four tasks and the Dark Squad can have the dragon key and all of the items on the altar.

That done, at last, it’s time to get on with the action from the session.

More chatter with Yusdrayl and the kobolds- Garumn just wants to get a few things straight, why are the goblins attacking now? It seems that the goblins have got a new chief- the fresh incumbent killed the old chief. S/he has also developed a more martial strategy- the goblins are getting uppity.

The collective PC/player yap is the new chief is probably something very big and very nasty.

Chatter done the Dark Squad move out, and accompanied now by Meepo, the tribe’s dragonkeeper (10 HP) and Fraggle (10 HP elite kobold warrior). Fraggle wears a saucepan for a helm, and a large serving platter for a breastplate, he’s the toughest SOB kobold in the whole tribe. He’s also as thick as soup, and only speaks and understands draconic.

Off they go… all the way back to the broken tower through which the Dark Squad first entered the Sunless Citadel, it seems Fraggle and Meepo also have their orders. So, Meepo shows the PCs the dragon door- it’s a stone door, carved with a dragon’s head complete with a gaping maw, within which is a very obvious keyhole.

Meepo further explains that the door has never been opened, the kobolds have been awaiting the arrival of the chosen ones (our guys, if they play their cards right). Best guess by Meepo as to what lies beyond the door- the dragon lord (no other information available) and lots of treasure of course.

Ramshambo and/or Vincenzo (I forget which) tells Meepo that when they get the dragon key then he can come with them on their quest beyond the dragon door. Meepo is so excited by the prospect he feints.

At which point the PCs hear shouts and screams- it seems Fraggle was tasked to check out the pit trap on the battlements, to see if anything has been caught in it- the kobold has therefore opened the pit and is, as of now, being attacked by the giant rat that was formerly trapped within.

The Dark Squad rush (except for Garumn- he ambles) to help- Vince claws and bites the giant rat who takes another chunk out of the tough guy kobold- Fraggle. Eventually Garumn arrives and slaughters the beast, there’s a dead goblin in the newly opened pit.

The PCs however have no time to check it out as a moment later Meepo starts screaming, it seems another giant rat has entered the chamber he’s in and is now biting the dragonkeeper. The Dark Squad rush back the way they came (except for Garumn- he saunters) and to the rescue, Ramshambo skewers and kills the vermin with his rapier.

[Giant rats 48 XP]

All is well, and now Meepo is beyond convinced that the Dark Squad are the real deal, he therefore confides in Ramshambo, the kobold dragonkeeper knows another secret- there’s a hidden chamber back in the tower. The kobold leads Ram by the hand and points to the wall, eventually- with more than a little help from Garumn and his dwarven stonecunning, the adventurers locate a secret entrance and the mechanism to open it. The latter is activated by Garumn, who also manages to neatly avoid the trap on the device- the poisoned needle misses his hand by inches and sticks in the end of his hefty boot.

[Get the secret door open 15 XP]

A secret chamber is revealed, an archer’s firing station, partially collapsed with coin and bones aplenty scattered on the floor. Ram ventures in and three skeletons rise from the rubble and attempt to slaughter the adventurers.

005 Rats & Skellies.jpg

It's all kicking off in the Sunless Citadel!

Garumn and Vincenzo combine to sunder the first skeleton, the second and third are taken down by Ramshambo and Garumn respectively. The adventurers suffer several attacks but remarkably no hits. There is cheering.

Silver and gold coins are taken from the secret pocket, as well as a pair of exceptional arrows, Vincenzo thinks they must be magical (later confirmed).

[Skeletons 150 XP and find the treasure 9 XP]

Job’s done (for the kobolds) time, again, to move on- this time in pursuit of the Hucrele’s and to track down the nasty goblins.

Guided by Meepo and Fraggle the Dark Squad pass through a chamber with lots of tracks (Hucrele’s, goblins and giant rats) and into another room with a fountain (dragon-themed) and another stone door with a… you guessed it, dragon-carved relief.

There are more tracks here- as previously.

The fountain is investigated first- carved into the base of the construct, written in draconic, is the text- ‘let there be fire’, which Ram reads and then says aloud in order to translate for his friends, at which point the fountain splutters into life- red liquid pours from the dragon’s mouth and is captured in the basin below it. The PCs, at first, dash for cover but then gradually approach as nothing terrible happens. Vincenzo figures out that the liquid isn’t blood, or anything horrible, it looks a lot like an elixir, or a potion. Ram reacts quickly, locates an empty wineskin and manages to suck up enough liquid with it to make a dose. Later (during the next short rest) the Dark Squad determine the liquid is a potion of fire breath.


[Figure out fountain, get magic potion 24 XP]

Then to the door, which as it turns out is cold to the touch- Garumn tries to get it open using a skeletal hand- this after Ram makes sense of the text over the door- ‘rebuke the dead, open the way’. Which the dwarf translates as- get an undead creature to open it… or some such.

Obviously, this doesn’t work, nor does just trying to shove it open- the latter triggers a scythe trap and Garumn is hurt badly, he has to swig down a healing potion. He’s not happy. Eventually Ram disarms the trap, although he has to do this while balanced on Garumn’s shoulders- the scythe swishes down from a slot in the ceiling.

That done the Dark Squad concentrate their efforts on the door- and get nowhere, eventually the effort is curtailed, they’ll get back to figuring out the door later.

006 Door & Fountain.jpg

The door's not for opening.

Then on again.

Note during their time in the fountain/door chamber Fraggle cries out at one point- the kobold guard spots something moving down the north passage, straight ahead. By the time the PCs look whatever it was has gone.

Later Fraggle also confesses that he watched the Hucrele’s head off in this direction, the adventuring party, he’s certain- went north. I’m telling you these things because that’s what I did (and said) in the session- I was trying to herd the party to the north (I have my reasons).

So, next chamber and more tracks to check out- Vincenzo is convinced that there are giant rats about around here (still), and that the Hucrele’s definitely went north, but… the goblins came from a door to the west.

Garumn is determined to go after the goblins, or else not to leave a door unchecked that could cause the Dark Squad to be cut off from the exit by their enemies. So, west it is- damn, but I tried.

West and another emptyish chamber- a door to the north, through which the goblin tracks go. Ramshambo finds a trap on the door (a bell, he determines with his ‘20’). He makes the trap safe and then enters the chamber with a ‘1’ on his stealth check- what goes up, must come down- or so it seems.

The door leads into a twenty-foot-long, ten-foot-wide corridor- at the far end a three-foot-high mortared stone wall, from behind which a goblin pops up and spots Ram. There’s a chamber beyond the wall, with a campfire in it.

Oh, but the entire passageway is strewn with caltrops- that’s not good.

The shoot-out begins- Ramshambo with his bow, and Meepo and Fraggle with their slings, no hits- and so Garumn screams ‘Moradin’ a lot and then rushes the goblin wall. Five feet into the caltrop-strewn corridor and he treads on a… caltrop and… eventually staggers on- only to crush a second caltrop into the bottom of his other foot a moment or so later. The dwarf is unable to move further, the dwarf is stuck out in the open between his friends and the foe.

There’s a second goblin behind the wall- Vincenzo pulls out the big guns (his bestest spell) and flings an ice knife into the first goblin. The icy missile hits and then explodes- killing the goblin in an instant and leaving the second goblin in the chamber suddenly missing a hand- gripping the bloody stump and screaming (on 1 HP).

The screaming goblin flees.

The Dark Squad and their kobold friends slowly make their way through the caltrop corridor- they’re not rushing, they saw what happened to Garumn.

The one-handed goblin meantime races into the next chamber- a goblin shooting gallery, with three more goblins present- one of the trio goes to investigate the situation.

Alas, for the goblin in question, Ramshambo is already in position, and hiding- the rogue attacks and stabs the fiend, a moment later Garumn arrives and throws a handaxe into the creature- it dies.

The Dark Squad move up, Ram spies around the corner- the chamber has another three-foot wall dividing the space, with three goblins behind the barricade- two goblins with shortbows, and the guy the Dark Squad are chasing- the goblin with just one hand.

007 Goblins in Position.jpg

The goblins, eye-witnesses state, were involved in a range of social activities- mostly for exercise or else as part of their leisure time, relaxing after a hard day in gainful employment. They offered no threat. At which point a gang of loutish thugs calling themselves- 'the Dark Squad', arrived on the scene and fatally assaulted to death all eight members of the goblin community. The members of the Dark Squad are being sort by goblin authorities... so, think on.

Remarkably Ram dodges into the chamber (after another incredible stealth roll) and shoots one of the goblins dead.

At this point Vincenzo is purring with admiration for Ram- “he iz zer killing machine, n’est pas?”

The goblin with the one hand has seen enough (again) it runs through a door to the north.

There’s just one goblin armed with a shortbow left defending the wall- Garumn has also seen enough, he charges in and flails wildly, seconds later Ram is on the scene and the goblin is stabbed and very badly wounded. The creature spills its bow- grabs out its scimitar, slices and nicks Ram- and then flees, through the same northern door.

Vincenzo and the kobolds catch up with the action.

Beyond the north door is a corridor heading west (to yet another door) but also with a second open door to the north, moments later and yet another goblin comes charging out of this chamber- alas, for the goblin, Garumn is waiting with his readied attack. The dwarf however misses.

Several more goblins rush out of the room and open fire at close range on the dwarf- seconds later Garumn is down on the floor, unconscious in the dirt and bleeding out.

Vincenzo rushes over to defend the fallen dwarf paladin, he bravely slashes and cuts a goblin dead, Ram gets into action and cuts another goblin down.

The last goblin in the passage flees back the way he came.

Meantime Garumn is given another potion of healing, and then by using an inspiration point (house rule with only three PCs in game) gets to spend his healing HD.

The Dark Squad move out into the corridor, take a quick look about- Vincenzo spots that there’s a pit trap (or similar) a little further down the passage. Ram meantime discerns that there are three goblins within the northern chamber (one with only one hand). The rogue rushes in, a goblin reacts and fires his shortbow and from barely ten feet away- misses.

Ramshambo cuts the goblin down dead.

The remaining two goblins (disengage) flee the scene- they don’t get far. Fraggle and Meepo open up with the artillery, their slings- and roll a ‘20’ followed by a ‘20’. The goblins are both dead a moment later.

The fight, at last, is over- that took over an hour to play out, and maybe 12 turns of action, none of the PCs understand the goblin tongue, a shame because the last pair were trying to flee/surrender when they were being hunted down. Actually Garumn, after an insight check, thought as much but couldn’t bring himself to tell his friends.


[More goblins killed 399 XP]

The PCs have enough XP for Level 2 now, all they need is a long rest, but oh no- they’re going on, or at least they will be, but first after a quick scout about and the posting of kobold sentries- a short rest.

There are plenty of silver pieces on the dead goblins, also three keys.

During the rest the PCs manage to identify the potion of fire breath, and the pair of +1 arrows- Ram is the only PC with a bow, so he takes these.

The Dark Squad have been in the Sunless Citadel for four hours now.

The adventurers investigate a locked and barred door, as it turns out they already have the key to it, within are three kobold prisoners and a gnome in a cage, as it turns out they have the keys to open the cage and to unlock the kobold’s chains.

008 The Rescue.jpg

The Rescue.

The rescued kobolds, a short while later, are sent back to the tribe- with Fraggle leading them home. The Dark Squad dismiss Fraggle, they’re going to be taking Erky with them- see below.

Erky Timbers (the gnome formerly in the cage) has been a prisoner of the goblins for the last two months and spent time with three members of the missing adventuring party- Talgen, Sharwyn and Sir Bradford, he has no idea where Karakas (the ranger) went. The three adventurers were ‘sent below’ (so the goblins said) about a tenday past.

Erky explains that ‘below’ is a place called the Twilight Grove, home to the Outcast- the goblins are frightened of this creature/person (the Outcast). The gnome has also heard the Outcast referred to as Belak.

The Dark Squad remember Bert (of the Ol' Boar Inn) talking about an odd fellow that stayed at the inn over a decade past, his name began with ‘B’, he also had a frog companion that he spoke to.

Vincenzo, and others now suspect that an evil druid, or similar, is responsible for much of what is going on in the Sunless Citadel, they’re now of the opinion that this fellow’s name is Belak, or else the Outcast- and that he lives ‘below’ in the Twilight Grove.

[Rescue Erky & the kobolds- also new info 99 XP]

Note Erky is a priest of Tymora (and with an Irish accent) and he’s up for some payback- Garumn gives him a handaxe, he’s also got a big bag of hit points (in an effort by the some would say saintly DM to keep him, and therefore the PCs, alive).

The adventurers press on- cautiously through a storeroom in which Vincenzo finds a cask of lamp oil and Ram finds some ‘elf pudding’- which he investigates, and then instantly regrets doing so.

Vincenzo and Garumn conspire- the dwarf is given the cask of oil so that he can fling it at the next group of goblins the adventurer's see, the plan is that Vincenzo will use the fire breath potion to set the oil-splattered goblin fiends alight.

So, through the storeroom and into a large, smoky columned chamber- very similar to the chamber in which Yusdrayl holds court.

“Cornflakes” Meepo suddenly cries- the kobold signals frantically for his friend Ramshambo to come over- one of the doors in the smoky hall has a puddle of water beneath it. The kobold is certain that Cornflakes is being held within.

Ram gets the door open (it was locked) and then takes a look inside- the chamber was formerly used to show off a variety of goblin hunting trophies- on the walls the mounted heads of giant rats, a pair of kobolds and a cow- classy. The chamber is however a mess- it has been ransacked, and behind an over-turned table is spotted Cornflakes.

Cornflakes, as it turns out, is a white dragon wyrmling.

009 When Meepo met Cornflakes.jpg

When Meepo met Cornflakes- the romance cooled rapidly.

The players are semi-terrified, then more-so when Meepo breaks ranks and charges into the chamber arms open to hug the dragon. Cornflakes uses his breath weapon and turns the dragonkeeper into an ice sculpture, seconds later with a swish of its tail it shatters the ice kobold- dead.

Garumn has the last word- “let’s do it!”

This after the adventurers duck back out of the chamber- Ramshambo uses a monster knowledge check to tell his friends what he knows about white dragons, the fear doesn’t go away any.

Then the fight gets going, the rogue shoots the white dragon with his bow- just a scratch, but he’s got the beast’s attention.

Cornflakes bounds out of the chamber declaring en route- “free at last, now my reign of terror begins’.

Just to note the dragon is actually called Calcryx, the kobolds just had problems pronouncing it’s name, and so- Cornflakes.

So, Cornflakes bounds out of the room and savages Garumn- the dwarf is down and dying in an instant.

Vincenzo dodges out from behind the pillar he’s hiding behind and bathes Cornflakes in his fiery breath- and then rolls 4d6 for 7 fire damage, that could have gone better.

Now just to stay alive to try again.

Garumn passes his death save- he’s not failed one yet, and then Erky gets to the dwarf with a cure wounds- a sigh of relief, get the tank back up again.

Ramshambo bravely takes on the dragon, misses with his rapier and then just nicks it with his dagger.

Cornflakes’ breath weapon recharges (first time), alas the only enemies in clear sight are- Garumn and Erky, he bathes the pair in frosty hell- for 27 cold damage, which is enough to kill Garumn instantly- he failed his save and was only on 6 HP.

However, the kindly DM (after a chat with Stu playing Garumn) decides that the dwarf deserves a little bit of hope- therefore the ruling is Garumn is down and dying with two death saves failed already- one more and he’s really gone.

Erky meantime is very bloodied, but still on his feet.

Vincenzo emerges from behind a pillar and bathes the dragon in his fiery breath again- and rolls double the damage he did last time, and now Cornflakes is badly wounded, and down to just 7 HP.

At which point Garumn gets to make his last (maybe) death save- he has an inspiration point to spend so (after the DM reminds him- such a nice man)… he rolls, an ‘8’ and a ‘10’, thank the heavens (and, ahem… the DM)- we go on.

Erky gets to the dwarf again and pumps another cure wounds spell into the paladin- there are ragged cheers.

Ramshambo does his thing with his rapier, cuts Cornflakes, and leaves the dragon on just 2 HP (after missing with his off-hand attack).

The dragon attempts to flee, the rogue slashes as it departs and cuts again- Cornflakes is crippled, it mewls once or twice more and then expires on the floor of the storeroom- dead.

[White dragon wyrmling 450 XP]

At which point the session is at an end, the cheering is much subdued- the players are spent, as are their PCs.

That was close.

Some point soon after (like now) the PCs are of course going to realise that they were supposed to return Cornflakes alive to the kobolds… so, that’s not an option.

We’ll see what they get up to next time.

Stay safe.

Cheers goonalan, and the Dark Squad.
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Playa Playa

The Loyal Kobold

He dreamt of Tiamat’s champions whilst he did sleep. Oh

how brave he was to guide us through the keep. Oh

what joy when he found her that made him leap. Oh

how we now mourn his crystalline form and weep. Oh

let us remember the loyal, brave and worthy Meep - O

From the pen of Ramshambo

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.


Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #004 Kobolds vs Goblins vs Dark Squad.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 1

The new guy
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 2 (see later)

Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 1
Erky Timbers Male Gnome Priest of Tymora

So, session #4 and lots to report, the first thing being that we nearly crashed the game- Stu can no longer play on a Tuesday night, and most of the rest of us can’t play any other night. So, two days after session #3 and we’re floundering, but then James (Saint? Miracle-worker?) swings into action and corrals (sandbags?) his friend Bear.

Thus it was that we came to know New Tricks, or as he’s now known to all and sundry- Newt, the tabaxi with a can do attitude and an eldritch blast for all occasions, we- and by we I mean- I, like Newt a lot.

On Fantasy Grounds Newt’s equipment list (inventory, on his character sheet) is arranged by storage container- oh, I do so <heart> a bit of order.

But, to the game…

Last we left Dark Squad they had just slaughtered Cornflakes/Calcryx the white dragon wyrmling- this contrary to their quest (patron: Yusdrayl, kobold queen) which was to return the mischievous wyrm safely to the kobold-side. Well, that ain’t happening.

So, a brief debate follows- although as Newt isn’t in play yet it’s really just Vincenzo and Ramshambo mumbling through potential lies to tell the kobolds. Then, after settling on the winning lie, it’s clear up time. Dead dragon Cornflakes is dragged back into his former home- the door is locked- the place searched, a little treasure and an ancient dwarven scroll found (for examination later). Then the dragon mutilating really gets going- a tooth is extracted, then a clawed foot, and then Garumn gets the opportunity to put the boot in for a while.

[Doing stuff with the dead dragon, finding treasure and investigating various things- 40 XP]

That done the PCs decide that retreat is the better part of valour, and head back the way they came- back to the kobold-side of town. This, ostensibly to catch some shut-eye, the PCs are all pretty beat up- with no spells, but perhaps more importantly they have the XP they need (after an extended rest) to rise to the heady heights of level 2. Power extreme!

So, back to see Yusdrayl, and another audience with the kobold queen, Victory! Ten (eight) goblin heads- check, three kobold prisoners rescued- check, and Cornflakes returned?

Well, about that… as it turns out according to the persuasive pair the goblins alas slaughtered Cornflakes, and just as the Dark Squad were about to rescue the beast. Further sorrow follows- Meepo, gave his life trying to prevent the dragon’s slaughter- he didn’t (save the dragon), and he died too- so, perhaps not the kobold dragonkeeper’s finest hour (although certainly, his last).

There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, although just from Yusdrayl- the other kobolds seem remarkably sanguine, or else they just couldn’t give a toss (about Meepo, or the dragon). There are however no other contradictory stories, and Ram and Vince’s associated skill checks are all good- so, a victory of sorts, shame about the dragon though.

Yusdrayl however has other news- the kobold guards have captured a Cat-Man-Witch (her actual words) while the PCs were away on their jolly. The strange creature (New Tricks) is dragged out of the cell in which he has been (briefly) languishing, and after a little more chatter Yusdrayl is persuaded to allow the tabaxi to help the Dark Squad in their future endeavours.

Tymora be blessed, that was fortunate.

Yusdrayl however insists that as soon as the Dark Squad are rested, she wants them up and at ‘em, she wants all of the goblins and their chief dead.

[More pleasant chatter with Yusdrayl etc. 60 XP]

But now time for their rewards- with two quests ticked off (dead goblins & rescue the kobolds) the Dark Squad claim two items from the dragon altar- a scroll (cure wounds) and a strange feather which a little later is identified as a Quaal’s Feather Token (Tree).

Nice- Vincenzo has a druid-gasm the moment he takes possession of the latter item.

Then yet more chatter, as the various PCs relax and tell their stories- Newt it seems is in the Sunless Citadel to get himself a magic apple, he’s heard how much the things sell for, and so is keen to locate one and take it back to Neverwinter and the black market there. Ram and Vince attempt to one-up the tabaxi by making out their quest is for a far nobler purpose- to rescue the missing young Hucrele’s. Later, after further questioning, it becomes apparent that the original Dark Squad have been offered a shed-load of moolah to get the job done. So, as Newt concludes- we’re all looking to get paid, one way or another.

The chatter continues for a good long while, with the (New) Dark Squad retiring to Meepo’s former chamber in order to relax and get to know each other. The kobold house band shows up a little later (sent by Yusdrayl) and improvises a little smooth jazz to help the atmos- Newt joins in for a while. However, the kobold musicians threaten to curtail their set- the tabaxi’s performance check is a ‘1’, and so he puts his lute away.

The kobold band are called 'The Lounge Lizards', I wish I had thought of that in-game.

Then, just when everything is going swimmingly, the goblin invasion begins, and very soon after- ends.

010 Goblin Invasion 1.jpg

Death to smooth jazz!

A hobgoblin wrenches open the chamber door, it’s accompanied by another of its kind, also two goblins and three twig blights. In short order the invaders slaughter the kobold house band, with the Dark Squad idly (surprise round) watching on.

The PCs (all still level 1, except for Newt- he started level 2) swing into action.

Vincenzo, after an excellent bit of RP (and the spending of both of his inspiration points) is given a first level spell slot back- he casts ice knife- kills a goblin with the spell's initial piercing attack, at which point the ice missiles shatters and explodes killing the second goblin and a twig blight with its flying ice shrapnel.

Nice work!

One of the hobgoblins gets to Garumn and slices the surly dwarf- with a crit, but with very low damage rolls, praise Moradin.

Newt eldritch blasts the closest hobgoblin almost dead, while the second hobgoblin still stood in the doorway to the chamber opens up with his bow.

Ram takes a twig blight down, but there’s a whole lot of rolling and missing going on (as previous), until the last twig blight standing gets to the rogue and claws the ex-pirate, he’s left critically wounded, and soon after has to dodge (actually disengage) out of the fight.

Newt’s second eldritch blast ends the very bloodied hobgoblin, while Vince goes all snake-fanged primal savagery and takes the last twig blight down- there’s only one enemy left standing, the hobgoblin at the door shoulders his bow and gets the hell out of dodge.

[Hobgoblins, goblins & twig blights 276 XP]

The Dark Squad prevaricate for a moment- do they go after the fleeing hobgoblin, or else… but Erky Timbers suddenly shuffles into view and starts screaming and pointing- it seems the goblin invasion is also happening elsewhere.

The PCs saunter back into the dragon-columned corridor-cum-chamber in which their meetings with Yusdrayl have taken place. The elite kobold guards (they have 10 HP each, and generally wear a fancy hat- or similar, that’s pretty god-damned elite in kobold-land) are facing off against a bunch more twig blights and another pair of goblins.

The Dark Squad saunter to the fray.

That’s right- saunter, I think it was Ram who said- “slow down folks- cool your boots, let’s not get to the fight too soon, might help us in the long run if a few more kobolds get butchered”, he’s all heart, the ex-slave, ex-pirate.

So slow is the PCs dawdle that Ram and Garumn stop off en route for a little light healing (potion and lay on hands), and then a chat about the weather, the football scores etc. before making their way to the new bundle.

011 Goblin Invasion 2.jpg

"Did you see the football last night? Waterdeep Rovers were all over 'em…"

One of the five kobold elite guards is dead already when the Dark Squad eventually shuffle up.

Garumn takes out a twig blight with the twirl, and hurl, of his hand axe.

While a second elite kobold guard is taken down by a pair of twig blights scratching and scoring at the forlorn creature in unison.

Yusdrayl, in the background, is screaming blue murder- time for the Dark Squad to press the kill button (repeatedly).

However, instead the PCs continue with their rich vein of missing for a while, eventually- when Vincenzo takes down a second twig blight there’s even time for a little ragged cheer.

A goblin- shouting instructions, it seems to be in charge of the operation, grabs out its shortbow and sinks an arrow into Garumn’s gut. The paladin is almost spent (on 1 HP) but he’s not for giving up.

Garumn charges the nearest goblin and breaks its head with his warhammer.

Erky meantime blasts the last twig blight standing with his sacred flames.

The last goblin- the boss with the bow, beats feet trying to get away- and is hit by an eldritch blast (supplied by Newt) and then chased down and stabbed in the back by Ram- dead, dead, dead.

The goblin invasion is over, although you wouldn’t know it from the way Yusdrayl is going on. The kobold queen screams at the Dark Squad for a while- she accuses them of not being the chosen of Tiamat.

[Twig blights and goblins 100 XP]

It gets tetchy for a good while, until Vincenzo gets all ooh la la (remember in game he adopts a French accent) and persuades Yusdrayl that this is all part of the plan, that she is being tested- her faith, and then rolls a ‘20’, and a ‘4’ on his extra guidance dice.

It helps that the Dark Squad also promise (yet again) to kick the goblin’s collective asses.

It also helps that Ramshambo is doing his charming best (and Yusdrayl likes the rogue) and follows great RP with a great check or two of his own.

Soon after they are back in the kobold queen’s good books, Yusdrayl reaffirms her belief in the Dark Squad (actually in Ram and Vince in particular, this pair are always schlepping up to her, and rolling stupid high on their social skills- what’s a poor DM to do?)

[Convincing Yusdrayl, great RP 80 XP]

So, everyone gets an extended rest, and levels up, but also Yusdrayl has seen enough- they can have the key to the dragon door- now.

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

Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 2
Erky Timbers Male Gnome Priest of Tymora

Although, as it turns out, getting the key from the dragon statue’s mouth proves to be more difficult than you’d think- the key is clamped tight in there.

012 Yusdrayl and the Dragon Altar.jpg

A minute or so later and a small opening is discovered in the top of the stone dragon’s skull, and then opened and investigated (mostly) by Ram. Within the hollow space is a stone-carved candleholder (of sorts) effectively behind the eyes of the dragon. Around the base of the candleholder, written in the smallest, faintest, draconic script are the words- “the light that never goes out”.

[Getting into the stone dragon 20 XP]

Investigations continue, a lit candle is placed within the holder- alas it produces no effect- soon after the Dark Squad are certain that they are therefore searching for a magical candle (or similar) to sit within the space, at which point- they presume the statue will give up the dragon key.

Perhaps we’ll find out.

[Further investigations of the stone dragon 48 XP]

So, no dragon key as of yet.

It’s time, after much prompting, for the adventurers to head on- back to the front, back to slaughter the goblins (and their leader).

Note, I tell the PCs that if they’re taking five characters into the front line- the three PCs + Garumn + Erky, then I’m going to be adding bad guys to their future encounters (bulking up). Therefore, a vote is taken and Erky is deselected and left with the kobolds.

The Dark Squad follow the same route as their previous venture (and back) into goblin territory, all the way to the corridor with the caltrops and the low cemented wall. A stealthy Ram gets the door open and spies a pair of goblins nestled behind the wall (the same set up as last time they were here). Every now and then a goblin peers over the barricade towards the door behind which the rogue hides.

The plan is simple, Garumn is sent charging in- note on their way through the caltrop hall previously the adventurers cleared islands in the corridor to make a set of safe stepping places for them to quickly cross the space.

013 We're Back.jpg

"We're back!"

This route is still available, therefore Garumn charges down the passage, reaches over the wall and with his warhammer brains one of the two goblins there (with a crit). Dead.

The second goblin pops up, spies the angry dwarf and attempts to flee the scene, back at the doorway Ram steps into view and fires an arrow into the back of the departing goblin’s head- also, dead.

Fight over.

[Goblins 100 XP]

The Dark Squad, cautiously- lead by a stealthy Ramshambow venture further into goblin territory. The adventurers make it all the way back to the storeroom in which the rogue previously found a cask of ‘elf pudding’ (don’t ask). The next chamber on, the PCs know, is the great smoky hall- a mirror to Yusdrayl’s throne room, this place also marks the furthest the adventurers have been into the goblin’s lair.

More great stealth checks later and Ram has discerned that there are guards in the long hall, at least three of them- skeletons armed with swords and bows, pacing the columned chamber.

Just to note, and I’ve checked back through the Chat log in Fantasy Grounds- Ramshambow has made thirteen skill checks to this point in the session, his lowest roll so far is a ‘15’, and that’s before bonuses. Point of fact, nine of his thirteen skill checks have produced dice rolls of ‘18’+, that just can’t be right. Has he got a magnet on his laptop? Weighted electronic dice?

So, the Dark Squad ready themselves again and then burst into the chamber. The closest skeleton is hit by Newt’s eldritch blast, and then is stabbed (twice) by a marauding Ram- it survives (I love it when Fantasy Ground rolls random HP for the monsters and comes up max, or close to max, that’s one tough SOB skeleton).

Finally, Garumn barrels in and smashes the first of the undead down, and in doing so the dwarf paladin clears the way for…

014 Vincenbear.jpg

"Bear with me, get it- I said...", Garumn smirks- he's the funniest paladin in all creation.


That’s right, our shifter druid wildshapes into a brown bear, and then charges into action- causing several of his colleagues to scream and shout and dive out of the way as the roaring ursine rushes forward.

Vincenbear smashes to pieces the next closest skeleton, and then roars his approval as he plods on to the third, his colleagues following close behind.

Alas things do not go exactly to plan as the two remaining skeletons (there were four in the chamber) fight back, Vincenbear is stabbed several times as the PCs dice suddenly go wonky- three PCs in a row manage to muster a ‘1’.

Garumn eventually connects and shatters the third skeleton, a moment later Vincenbear accounts for the last- but things have moved on since then. While the above action is taking place a goblin peers from a doorway a little further down the hall, soon after three of the little buggers emerge and start firing their bows at the adventurers.

Hardly friendly.

[Skeletons 200 XP]

015 Goblinville.jpg

"I'm just going to... BEAR... down on these goblins! Blimey, I'm a laugh-riot all-father." Garumn chortles to himself.

The PCs however continue to roll low, and soon after Vincenbear is heavily wounded and struggling to go on.

Newt, at last, eldritch blasts a goblin to atoms, but the fight seems to be at a stalemate- lots of attacks, very few hits- but then, perhaps in recompense, Garumn gets sliced and now the paladin’s looking hurt.

Eventually Ram accounts for the second goblin, while the third to emerge from the side room has seen enough, it flees the scene, and… then a second or so later yet another group of goblins come charging out of the door dead ahead. Within the newly revealed chamber the adventurers spy- Goblinville, the entire tribe, it appears, is situated in the next chamber over.

It seems the stakes just got a lot higher.

Bear (playing Newt) at one-point shouts out- “look at the combat tracker!”, as I drop 30+ goblins into the initiative order (mostly non-combatants, but still- that’s a lot enemies).

And then, at last, the Dark Squad find their meter- Garumn smashes down a goblin, while Vincenbear savages another, but that- alas, is time.

The session, just short of four hours play, comes to a close.

The Dark Squad are, as usual, fighting for their lives, and where’s the cleric (Erky) back in kobold-land, having big fun with his new little friends.

More next time.
Last edited:


Playa Playa

The Cat-Man-Witch

With eyes burning bright

And balls of flame that smite

The Goblins all now alight

For them no gentle goodnight

This Cat’s on Fire

From the pen of Ramshambo

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.


Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #005 Durn Um Batty Whim-Wham.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 2 (see below)
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 2
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 2

Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 2

Left back with the Kobolds
Erky Timbers Male Gnome Priest of Tymora

So, session #5, and here we go again- when we left the Dark Squad they were fighting their way through the goblin’s territory, and making short work of the enemies there- although Vincenbear was getting stabbed up good and proper (and on low HP).

But that doesn’t last- from the door ahead a voice and a strange visage appears- Grenl, the goblin shaman- she looks like a concertinaed version of your nan (three and a half feet tall, adorned in all manner of strange symbols and brooches, and mostly made of wrinkles).

016 Grenl a.jpg

Durn is "um batty whim-wham", while the Outcast is described as "dik-dik", at least according to Grenl.

“No fighting! No fighting!”, Grenl calls- and then grabs the goblins attacking the adventurers, slaps them about a bit and flings them back into the chamber behind her.

Much (sometimes odd) chatter follows- the Dark Squad, obviously hold-off their attacks and, after twenty minutes of back and forth, they do a deal with Grenl, during this time they learn-

1) The goblins are not enamoured of their new chief Durn, who is a “hobnob” (= hobgoblin) and is “um batty whim-wham!”, which after a short mime translates as a ‘big fat arsehole’. More chatter reveals that Hogwash the previous gobnob (= goblin) chief preferred “boom-boom!” (= sex) to “bang-bang!” (= fighting). Durn, alas, is very (very) “bang-bang”-orientated, and keen (it seems) to spend goblin lives like water.

2) Grenl and the goblins will have further ‘talk-talk’ with the Dark Squad, if and when they rid them of Durnn- 'quick-quick'. Grenl points the way to their chief- north, and then slams the door shut.

The Dark Squad obviously have more questions but Grenl’s not saying anything else until the goblin’s freedom is won.

[Confrontation with the goblins- mostly last session 148 XP]
[Chatting with Grenl and doing a deal 100 XP]

The Dark Squad catch a quick breather (and lay on hands), Vincenbear reverts to Vincenzo, and then the group head north- cautiously lead by Ramshambow, all the way to the tower chamber of Durn and his ‘hobnob’ lieutenants.

Note Ramshambow has started up with his digitally magnetised dice, here’s a warning ahead of time he rolled below ‘10’ maybe seven times in the session (and he makes a lot of rolls)- the rest of his checks are ‘15’ on the dice or higher. At one point the rogue rolls- 20, 17, 20, 20, 19- and in quick succession.

While we’re talking about dice rolls- pretty much for the entire session Newt’s dice are broken. I’ve just checked back through the Chat file from FG and in one consecutive streak the tabaxi made seven rolls in a row, the highest of them was a ‘4’.

The law of averages?

Sorry, I have a bit of a thing about dice rolls, the seemingly non-random (and yet entirely random) nature of the things. It makes me chuckle, best just to leave me be.

Back to it.

Stealthily Ram opens the door into Durn’s lair, spies inside- a large tower chamber with a central shaft (like a fifteen foot wide well) ringed by a low stone wall, with creepers and vines reaching out of the dark descent. Around the outside of the well-lit chamber are four hefty hobgoblins, including the easily identifiable (nearly seven feet tall) Durn. The big chief is sprawled on a crude stone throne with his feet up on a substantial iron chest. The rogue reports back to his comrades and then seconds later the Dark Squad unleash their surprise attack.

017 Durn.jpg

Thanks to Bear for some of the FG images tonight- it's always good for me to see what the players are seeing, in this one Ram's spying in on Durn and his entourage.

Ram dodges through the enemies and skewers Durn leaving the screaming hobnob chief heavily wounded, Garumn follows in and smashes a hobnob down with one hit (rolled max damage).

Vincenzo lights up the chamber, briefly, with his faerie fire- leaving Durn glowing like one of the Ready-Brek kids.

Ram stabs Durn again, and the chief is left spluttering and screaming at his comrades to defend him, to keep him alive- note none of the PCs however can speak or understand the goblin tongue. Garumn heads over and smashes Durn down- that was quick.

017a Durn.jpg

Durn, the DM under-hit-pointed again, I'll learn- and then they'll learn. Full disclosure- Durn started with 18 HP (and was AC 19) in truth I thought he would survive a little longer- woe is me.

The two remaining hobgoblins attempt to fight their way out of the fracas and into the nearby goblin chambers, the pair think the goblins there will help them…

At this point the twig blight, hidden in a pot by Durn’s throne, launches itself from its ceramic home and scratches and cuts Ram’s legs and feet.

Ramshambow however sticks to skewering hobgoblins and savages the nearest, it’s almost dead. The second hobgoblin wrenches open the door into the goblin’s lair and begins screaming for help- that doesn’t work, Grenl rushes in and tags the hefty goblinoid with an inflict wounds spell (and then rolls spectacularly low). Grenl didn’t account for that… the hobgoblin survives- she therefore scampers off, back into the goblin crowd.

Newt, after missing with three eldritch blasts in a row, finally connects and flames the twig blight menacing Ram, who winks his thanks and then cuts the hobgoblin he’s fighting down.

The last hobgoblin flees the scene, heading at pace through the goblin’s chamber and towards the exit. Vince meantime goes all primal savagery with fangs and snarls and then chases the last enemy down, diving on to the creature's back, bearing it to the floor and then reaching around to bite the throat out of the hobgoblin.

Witnessing this spectacular kill are Grenl and the rest of the goblin tribe- they’re very quickly left terrified of the shifter.

The fight is over.

[Kill Durn, three hobgoblins & a twig blight 400 XP)

Just before we move on, I’d just like to make clear that in the above fight the PCs spent five inspiration points between them, that’s a lot, which made things a easier. Note PCs can have a max of two inspiration points in my game.

Two things happen thereafter, firstly the Dark Squad continue their chat with Grenl (now complete with miming along goblin chorus) this effort is lead by Vincenzo, while Ram and Newt (mostly) search Durn’s lair et al.

Ramshambo finds the trap on Durn's footrest-chest, disarms it and unlocks it- all done in about thirty seconds (yet more high rolls) before Newt finds the key to the metal box. Within are gold and gems- the Dark Squad are semi-rich (over 50gp each).

Durn has a few more items of interest on his corpse including a potion of healing, and more importantly he’s wearing scale armour emblazoned with the Hucrele symbol, and on his hand a Hucrele signet ring. The other hobgoblin corpses are (oddly) wearing very nice jewellery- a pair of fancy earrings & a jewelled necklace.

The chatter with Grenl meantime reveals the following-

1) The three missing adventurers who were prisoners of the goblins (Talgen, Sharwyn & Sir Braford) we supposed to be sent below- to the Twilight Grove, the Outcast demanded this. Durn however had other ideas and in a fit of pique slew Talgen, and then took Sharwyn’s jewels before sending her and Sir Braford below.

2) The Outcast is a crazy fellow ('dik-dik')- he grows odd things down below, in the Twilight Grove, and takes goblins for his ‘workers’. He’s also the source of the magic apples.

3) The way below is guarded by a ‘bugnob’ (= bugbear) called Ballsack who is ‘dik-dik’ (= crazy) and terrifying.

Note, all of the above is extracted slowly- Grenl doesn’t know the names of the missing adventurers- and so she has to mime each, the PCs have to translate her pidgin-common and her other (comic) mimes.

[More chatter with Grenl 100 XP]

The finale with Grenl and the goblins goes like this- they (the goblins) have to leave the Sunless Citadel, Vincenzo makes this very clear- the subtext to this is the Dark Squad have promised Yusdrayl and the kobolds that they will ‘get rid’ of the goblins. ‘Get rid’ means kill- to Yusdrayl and the kobolds, Vince is of the opinion that clearing the goblins out also constitutes ‘get rid’.

Obviously, the goblins are very unhappy at the suggestion but, alas (for this DM), Vince’s persuasion check is a… “20”, and it is preceded by some great RP. Eventually, after a lot more moaning- “do we have to… But… Oh, but can’t we… Pleeeeeease, let us…”, the goblins depart, ostensibly to find a new home.

After a bit more chatter, the Dark Squad are firming up their idea about what’s going on here- in precis they think, somewhere below in the Twilight Grove is the Outcast, he has the two missing adventurers, he’s an evil druid and is growing the magic apples, although to what end…

They’re very keen to find out.

Last bit, the adventurers are convinced that Karakas, the local guide the missing adventurers employed- described back in Thundertree as a loose cannon, and a drinker- opinion is this guy is working with the Outcast.

That's some clever thinking, right there- these guys are the A Team.

Chat done, Garumn is lowered down the great hole and into the Twilight Grove, the thinking being all of the other PCs can climb down the vines, the armoured dwarf cannot- also, he’s the meat-shield.

The dwarf paladin descends nearly 100 feet into a large square chamber, the floor of which is filled with soil and mulch- the area is a garden (of sorts) sporting fungi and pale shrubs and saplings. The area is illuminated by various glowing fungi emitting a slightly unnerving pale blue-green furze.

A pair of robed skeleton gardeners go about their business, and studiously ignore the dwarf.

Thus situated, Garumn calls the guys down- which is fortunate as mere seconds later one of the nearby shrubs comes alive and claws at him- a twig blight, and then seconds later, another attacks. At which point the two skeleton gardeners grab their spades and also wade into the dwarven paladin.

018 Twilight Grove intro.jpg

Garumn's continues with his meet and greet tour, the other PCs are on their way down the shaft.

Moments later and Garumn is heavily wounded (note the paladin is now AC 19- that’s at least three more points than anyone else, and yet he’s always taking a beating, although that may be because he’s always getting in the bad guy’s grills).

Newt is the first down the shaft, and once situated he eldritch blasts a twig blight into flinders, meantime one of the skeletons clonks Garumn again (with a Crit, the players hold their breath, their scrambling here- for only 3 damage). The paladin is chuntering, and staggering- he smashes the offending skeleton down in an instant.

Ramshambo scrambles down the shaft and into the chamber next, a second later and the rogue cuts the second twig blight to pieces. The remaining skeleton slams its shovel into Newt, merely a glancing blow. In the next instant Vince descends into the room, as screaming from a cavern entrance over the far side of the chamber comes Ballsack the bugbear, and his two snarling giant rats- Grip and Fang.

018 Twilight Grove intro.jpg

Ballsack has (sorry, had) 45 HP, I thought he'd hang around- but no.

It just got nasty.

The strange looking Ballsack- he has antlers growing from his head, keeps up a litany of threats- but again, the PCs cannot understand the goblin tongue.

Garumn smashes the last skeleton down, just in time for the three new attackers to swarm the surly and badly wounded dwarf paladin.

Ram meanwhile steps out of the action, grabs his bow out and sinks an arrow into one of the giant rats, Vince grabs a scroll out and cures Garumn’s wounds, although seconds later the second snarling giant rats also sinks its teeth into the paladin (ah, pack attack).

Newt capers around the action, circling the fight using his feline agility, and then launches a burning hands into the three enemies, alas the flame produced only singes- although enough to consume the already wounded giant rat.

Ballsack seems to be terribly upset by this last event, Ramshambow refocuses the bugbear’s mind by stabbing the brute repeatedly (for 19 damage), although he's not even bloodied.

Just for info Ballsack started with 45 HP, I wanted him to be a threat.

A moment later, and once again sporting his fangs (primal savagery) Vincenzo grabs up and basically bites/swallows the last of Ballsack’s pet giant rats, and now the bugbear is really (really) unhappy.

It doesn’t help that Ram savages the great brute again- and then Garumn connects with his warhammer, Ballsack is critically wounded, but still not giving up the fight- seconds later he’s bitten by Vince, and teetering on the brink (he had 3 HP when Vince bit him, for 2 damage).

At last- it’s all the motivation he needed, Ballsack hits- and with his morningstar, he leaves Vince critically wounded in an instant.

That's what I'm talking about!

And other odd statements the youth of today sometimes mutter.

Note, while this fight seems from the write up above (possibly) to fly by, be aware there was lots of swinging and missing going on, the two encounters rolled into one took nearly forty minutes to get through.

At last, Ram steps in and skewers Ballsack dead with his rapier, the bugbear's last words, directed at the rogue- "whim-wham!"

The fight is over.

[Skeletons & twig blights 148 XP]
[Ballsack & giant rats 248 XP]

Vincenzo chugs down a potion of healing, while Garumn expends the last of his lay on hands.

There follows a tad more chatter, and then a close inspection of the chamber, the plants down here seem to be frail and wan versions of the local flora- most odd!

[Plant chatter and investigations 20 XP]

Ramshambow meantime has a look around the chamber, checking out the various exits- two doors and the cavern entrance that Ballsack emerged from. One of the doors (to the south) has no signs of traffic, therefore it is ignored- for now.

Then there’s time for a bit more chatter here, as the Dark Squad recalibrate their ideas about what’s going on here in the Sunless Citadel/Twilight Grove- this after Vincenzo determines that the strange antlers growing from Ballsack’s head are shaped, and feel like, the withered branches of a dead tree. The bugbear also bares ritual scars (on his forehead) a spindly gnarled and spikey ancient tree is depicted, actually cut deep into the creature’s flesh.

[Ballsack strange physiognomy and other info 32 XP]

The second door (to the east) is investigated, and after many more checks a stealthy Ram, and then also Newt, sneak into the large barrel-ceilinged chamber beyond. There are three doors from the chamber heading north, and three more to the south. The closest two chambers are investigated- the first (to the north) holds three sleeping goblins, the second (to the south) contains two more goblins barely visible within a large wooden tun (mash tub) and hard at work.

019 More Gobbos.jpg

"Freeze!" Newt hisses as he kicks a stone into the leg of a nearby table, causing the contents to shudder, teeter (briefly) and wobble- the PCs make their collective stealth check by... one.

The sneaky pair, after a slight mishap- Newt nearly alerting the goblins to their presence (bad roll), retreat back out of the chamber, and chat for a while. A decision is made, leave this chamber for now- Ram even manages to lock the door.

[Sneaking about the goblin’s lair 48 XP]

Then on, into the cavern formerly inhabited by Ballsack and the giant rats, which is empty- save for their sleeping pits of the previous inhabitants, and a display of weapons taken from the bugbear’s fallen foes (probably). Note every longsword the PCs come across is examined closely- Garumn is looking for the blade worn by Sir Braford, part of his secondary quest.

Newt finds Ballsack’s treasure, a box of mostly silver coins, and then Ram leads the Dark Squad on- down a narrow passage which descends rapidly into… the Underdark, possibly, certainly away from the Twilight Grove.

The Dark Squad eventually turn back, and return to the printed adventure.

[Investigate Ballsack’s stuff, and briefly head into the Underdark 12 XP]

More chatter follows, and then the southern door is opened, Vince confirms that nothing much has been this way for a while.

Newt leads the Dark Squad down a flagged dusty corridor, severed a while further along by a crevasse (of sorts) several skill checks later and the Dark Squad are convinced that this happened in the ancient past, and as the result of tectonic activity.

The ravine is only a step down, heading north east to south west, Newt investigates further and discovers a number of large holes in the ravine floor, walls and ceiling- this to the south west only.

020 the other ravine.jpg

"A snake that burns through rock- by Moradin's hairy testicles, that's obscene!" Garumn shakes his head, what is Toril coming too?

More investigations follow- all very cautious, Vincenzo discerns (with a ‘20’) that the holes were made by a flaming fiery worm-like being- burrowing and burning its way through the stone. Then the druid is more specific- “zis iz sign of zer spawn of zer salamander, a fire worm.”

The Dark Squad turn tail- they’re not going this way.

[Fire snake investigations 48 XP]

Finally the southern corridor continues on, a step up out of the ravine and with Newt scouting ahead, the adventurers discover another empty chamber, an ancient and abandoned dragon shrine, sans traps or anything else interesting.

The Dark Squad have found a chamber to take a much needed breather- and Garumn and Ram are still wounded, the rogue significantly, a short rest is therefore taken.

Although during this period Garumn takes the time to explain to his colleagues the ancient dwarven (Davek) runes used in the scroll the PCs found earlier- in the chamber of Cornflakes the dragon.

The Dark Squad (actually just Ram, so far) use the rest period to translate some of the scroll they found there.

018 Dwarf Runes.jpg

You'll note it says Khundurkhar on the title of all of the images, there's a clue there... also, I'm a lecturer by trade- homework for players is essential.

It says-

“Khundrukhar”, on the outside of the scroll tube.

Khundrukhar, Garumn explains- eyes full of wonder, was the name of the ancient holdfast of Durgeddin the Black, a master dwarven smith- actually, a master bladesmith. Ostracised by his kind nearly a millennia ago, Durgeddin and his clan headed south from the Spine of the World mountains, and found a new home.

That however, was the last that was ever heard of the famous smith- the lost clanhold- Khundrukhar, has been sort ever since, and presumed lost forever.

Garumn further explains, depending on what lies within this scroll it could prove to be very valuable (worth over 5,000 gp), the dwarf paladin (and trained smith, as was his father, and his father before him, etc.) would however rather not sell the scroll- but instead translate it, and… well, see where it leads.

Ram continues with his translation, and just for info the players have to do this with pen and paper, and the help of FG to access the dwarven alphabet, they have to translate it word for word from screenshots/photos they've taken in game.

The next part of the translation, from the scroll within the case, reads-

“That which is sort first is found last.”

Followed by-

“Seek the stone tooth
Climb to the mountain door
Descend the grand stair
Pass the tombs of the ancients”

There’s more to come, the above only dropped into my in-box after the session, so- more of this next time, probably.

Until then, stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan.
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Playa Playa

Ramshambow's translations of the ancient dwarven scroll, found in with Cornflakes' treasure.

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #01.jpg

Trans: Khundrukhar

And Garumn knows what Khundrukhar is...

It is, or rather was (perhaps)- the last redoubt of Durgeddin the Black, possibly the greatest dwarven bladesmith that has lived in the last twenty centuries.

Durgeddin fled the Spine of the World and headed south, and- it is said- settled his clan and went back to smithing, he- alas- was never heard of again, whatever happened to Durgeddin and his clan- no-one made it out, or else they're still wherever they settled.

Dwarves that know, or else want to get to know, good blades have been looking for Khundrukhar for generations.

This scroll, Garumn thinks, would sell for a small fortune, in excess of 5,000gp- easy.

Depending, of course, on what the rest of it says.

Then again, Garumn also thinks- it'd be nice to check it out for ourselves...

And so the rest of Ram's translation-

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #02.jpg

Trans: That which is sort first is found last

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #03-06.jpg

Seek the stone tooth
Climb to the mountain door
Descend the grand stair
Pass the tombs of the ancients

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #07-10.jpg

To the glory of the glitterhame
Wary of the sinkhole
There you find the door
Within… the foundry of Durgeddin the Black

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #11-13.jpg

By the sword by the flame
By the hammer by the forge
By the axe by the fire

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #14-16.jpg

Dumathoin content sits by the fire
Feet almost in the flames
Hotter now

And the last bit-

Sunless Citadel Khundurkhar #17-18.jpg

High Wizard

Just to note Garumn has also explained that-

Dumathoin is second in the dwarven hierarchy of gods (after the All Father- Moradin). He is known as the King Under the Mountain, the Secret Keeper, but more often he's called the Secret under the Mountain. He's the god of dwarven miners, who always leave an offering to him before starting their shift.

Note the use of secret in dwarven terms doesn't quite mean the same as in human terms- it's not about keeping secrets as such, the secret referred to is the hidden wealth and wonder that the dwarves seek to extract from the ground.

Dumathoin, many believe hides the earth's secrets (minerals and treasures) in the deep dark places, almost as a dare to the dwarves to go find them.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.


Playa Playa

The Bugbear

There once was a Bugbear named Ballsack

With morningstar he wanted us to whack

So he and his rats

We turned into splats

And now his balls are stowed in my pack

From the pen of Ramshambo

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the DM.

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