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


Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #006 Monsieur Buggelz.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Buggles (played by Stu, confusing isn’t it) Male Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 1/Rogue Lvl 1
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 #6, and here we go again- last we left the Dark Squad they were holed up in an out of the way chamber in the subterranean section of the Sunless Citadel- the Twilight Grove, although maybe not quite yet.

In the last hour (and in the week between sessions) Ramshambow (or at least Kev, playing him) has translated the ancient dwarven scroll they found in Cornflake’s lair, the scroll says-


That which is sort first is found last

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

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

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

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

High Wizard"

Then, silence- the group pass around Ram’s translation… until, eventually (after a little chivvying from yours truly) the penny drops.

“What comes first is found last?” Garumn grunts, and then repeats the last line of the translated message- “Hotter now?”
And then the dwarf says the word again, only grinning this time- “Hotenow! Khundrukhar’s somewhere near Mount Hotenow!”

The big dwarf gambols to his feet, about to break into a celebratory reel (as if there were any other kind), when the door to the chamber is yanked open, which causes quite a bit of consternation. The Dark Squad scramble to their feet en masse, and then grab for their weapons.

Standing in the doorway is a dishevelled and somewhat plain looking elf- dressed either for the woods, or for adventure- possibly both. “I am Buggles and I seek heroes… I believe you are they.”

The newly arrived stranger, soon after (and thereafter) referred to (constantly) as Monsieur Bugglez by Vincenzo, is guided through the Dark Squad admissions procedure- it’s very thorough. First of all he’s asked to surrender his weapons, and then he's thoroughly searched (get the gloves, Vincenzo is looking for signs of taint and corruption), and finally he is required to explain himself.

A full explanation of Monsieur Buggles’ motivations can be found in his character profile (way) above, but in precis- lots of bad things have happened in and around Buggles’ village in the Neverwinter Forest (he’s a wood elf). The cause of these bad things were eventually tracked back to an evil druid- styling himself as the Outcast. The Outcast’s trail (in a round-about way) has lead Buggles to the Sunless Citadel, he entered the ruin and then followed the Dark Squad’s path of destruction to this location.

Buggles’ goal, to kill the Outcast for what he has done to his home, his friends and his family...

The chatter continues for a good while, Vincenzo and New Tricks have lots of questions to ask, however everything checks out- Buggles is further interviewed to ascertain where his skills lie (he’s cagey), the wood elf also has his own questions to ask.

So, Stu’s back- playing Buggles, his Tuesday night has become free again- but he wanted a new PC, a voila- but we’re also keeping Garumn for now. The Dark Squad are still the Dark Squad- only now there are five of them.

Introductions done- time to get on, but be prepared there’s lots of fighting this session.

[Intro & interview with Buggles 100 XP]

Rested the Dark Squad head out again, this time following the crevasse to the north east- Ram, thinks the passage will lead them back to the goblin chambers they snuck into earlier, and so it proves.

The rogue (full time = Ramshambow) leads the group back into the dragon-columned goblin chambers. Alas mere moments later Newt manages to almost kick a table full of gardening equipment over as he’s stealthing (‘1’) into a ready position.

Several green or brown smock wearing goblins come rushing out of their rooms to see what the noise is all about- the shouting and screaming starts, and then, of course, the bloodletting.

Note, the goblins down here, the Dark Squad observe during the fracas, are acting funny- they’re fearless, but not foolhardy. They jabber away in their filthy tongue (which none of the PCs can understand) but also- every now and then they take it in turns to yelp the word “Tree!” in the common tongue.

As I say, most odd.

Now back to the action…


Note- the players are sending me screenshots now, so that I don't accidently reveal unexplored parts of the map here on ENWorld in my piccies. The above image should be properly viewed while accompanied by a bright-eyed Julie Andrews singing "Getting to Know You".

Vincenzo’s features shift to the feral and the sometime wine merchant, other times ferocious killer, rips the throat out of the nearest screaming goblin.

Garumn throws a hand axe into the chest of the next chirruping goblin, but the bastard takes the hit and keeps on screaming- more goblins are exiting the chambers all the while.

Note there are fourteen goblins distributed between the many chambers here- although ten of them are goblin commoners (low AC, maybe 4-6 HP each and armed with clubs = 10 XP each).

So, the fight gets busy quickly.

Ram sidles up to a goblin and skewers the little bastard dead with his rapier, Buggles swings into action with his longbow and another goblin falls- gargling briefly on its own blood- dead.

Garumn stalks the hall warhammer in hand- he smashes a fourth goblin down dead- and my bad guys have still not landed a hit.

Newt Eldritch Blasts a fifth to a boneless mess.

Then, at last, the goblins get into action- Garumn is clubbed twice in quick succession (both Crits but for only 8 damage in total- still, it’s a start), seconds later Ram is left clutching his right arm after a stinging blow.

The rogue is offended- he skewers his attacker dead, and then slices and badly wounds another goblin with his off-hand dagger attack.

Buggles switches to his scimitar and guts a seventh goblin dead.

And the players are grinning and making jokes- too soon.

A goblin pops his head out of a doorway, clutched in his hand a shortbow- he fires, and another Crit- Ram is struck mid-chest and flops to the floor, unconscious and dying. The goblin ducks back into the chamber and a moment later is replaced at the doorway by a similarly bow-armed comrade, he pulls the trigger (lets go of the bowstring) and sinks an arrow into Newt’s left thigh.

Concentration levels go up around the VTT- also, it gets quiet for a bit.

The feral Vincenzo tears into a goblin but the creature somehow survives the ordeal, and then moments later stabs the shifter right back (with yet another Crit- that’s my fourth so far).

Newt backs off quickly, he’s in too close- the tabaxi is clubbed again as he retreats, he eldritch blasts his attacker dead as he finds cover, and then with an inspiration point he repeats the act- and another goblin is atomised (rolls max damage).

Ram uses his inspiration point to trigger a healing hit dice (house rule) and opens his eyes, there’s a goblin stood over the rogue and beating on Vincenzo (who‘s clubbed again), the rogue attacks from prone- stabbing up with his rapier and… well, he pierces a place best left unpierced (subject to the reader’s particular peccadillos).

The goblin dies and Ram scrambles back to his feet and then quickly retreats- getting the hell out of dodge.

Buggles goes snicker-snack with his twin scimitars (I’ve read that somewhere before, Stu?) accounting for two more of the goblins- who are now very thin on the ground, although still not for surrendering- oddly.

The last goblin hold outs- both warrior variants- the pair with the bows, now switched to scimitars are chased down and slaughtered, the final honours going to Vincenzo and Garumn respectively.

The fight is over- that got tense, briefly.

[Lots of goblins 300 XP]

The dragon carved columned chamber, and the six rooms off it are investigated- thoroughly, believe me this mob do thoroughly. The following things are discovered/learned/noted-

1) The goblins had a little silver- snaffled.

2) The goblins are all marked on their foreheads with the image of a gnarled and twisted tree- carved into their skulls- it’s in deep. Several of the goblins display signs of a bark-like growth around the ritual wounds- most odd. Vincenzo and Newt are very interested.

3) The various goblin chambers contain- a fungus brewery, sleeping quarters, a repair room, a very limited armoury and lastly a room in which a giant rat is strapped to a table and seemingly being fed some strange poultice. Can you guess which one of the rooms elicits the most interaction?

[Initial investigations 25 XP]

While Newt and Vincenzo get on with their autopsies (you read that right- see below) Garumn, Buggles & Ram either stand guard, heal, search and/or chatter.

First under the knife is the already strapped down giant rat, second is one of the tree-etched goblins- it takes a while, nearly an hour, but eventually Vince and Newt are done. Their conclusions, some combination of magic and tainted nature have been joined to affect both creatures, the giant rat experiment seems to be in its infancy, the goblins have been much more profoundly affected by whatever malady rules here. The Outcast, the pair suspect, has created some way to infect the goblins and by doing so to control them- to bend them to his will.

The various members of the Dark Squad take it in turns to reiterate their individual reasons for wanting the Outcast to pay (with his life) for his perverted nature.

[Further investigations and examinations 65 XP]

After a quick chat it’s time to move on- Ram leads the way through a pair of doors and an anteroom into a long barrel-ceilinged chamber, it has the look of a place of worship- although perhaps in ages past. The warm and damp chamber is illuminated by swathes of glowing fungi and is home to many more growing beds from which sprout a variety of dwarf and stunted shrubs and plants.

Newt takes a peek through a close-by door, to the north is yet another of these chambers (and they’re big rooms- see the map), also (as far as he can see) uninhabited.

Then Ram, back in the first chamber, almost manages to slip and slide onto his backside while attempting to silently approach another door to the east. His yelp brings company- the Gardener (imagine Steven Segal saying it).


Titchmarsh, the Bugbear Gardener, spots Buggles messing with his hydrangea, "It's weeding time!"

The Gardener is a bugbear, in a smock and bee-keepers hat, but wielding a scythe almost as tall as he is (over six feet). The creature starts screaming and shouting up a storm in its foul tongue- which none of the PCs understand. Ram quickly retreats- while calling for his friends, and we swing into action.

Moments later a pair of bow wielding goblins race into the chamber from a door far to the south- but not, alas for Ram, too far away. The artillery open fire and the rogue takes an arrow to the shoulder. Only just recovered from his last dirt nap Ram is almost down in an instant.

Garumn (he rolls ‘19’ for initiative approx. 50% of the time) trundles forward and puts his Warhammer in the bugbear’s face, Buggles follows the dwarf paladin in and slices the beast- that hurt, but not as much as… THIS!

The Gardener scythes Buggles right back and almost guts the wood elf- from full (19 HP) to 1 HP in a bloody second.

There’s a lot of ‘oh sheeeeee…” going on around the VTT.

Newt fires up the feline agility, skirts the bugbear fracas and goes racing for the goblin artillery, and then with a burning hands incinerates one of the pair and leaves the other scorched and regretting its life choices.

“Zmite it, monsieur Garumm. ZMITE IT!” Vincenzo yells, and so Garumn does- and that’s all she wrote for the bugbear gardener.


Buggles meantime gets his second wind (3 HP back, a minor victory) while Vincenzo helps the wood elf out with the last of his spells- a cure wounds (for another 4 HP back, them dice).

Suddenly, down the southern end of the chamber Newt starts shouting for help- three more goblins (they’re only commoners, don’t panic) emerge from the chamber there and rush the tabaxi, hoping to beat him down with their wooden clubs.


New Tricks calls up a 'tank'- just prior to departing at speed, Garumn trundles forward- it's what he does.

Ram grabs his bow out and shoots one of the newly arrived goblins dead, Newt however is taking hits.

Garumn continues to trundle forward, en route to saving the tabaxi, he smashes another goblin down and then offers himself to the remaining irate goblins as an alternative target, while Newt gets the hell away. The paladin meantime gets clubbed (he’s AC 19 for Moradin’s sake, and these buggers- goblin commoners, are only +1 to hit) repeatedly.

Buggles rushes to the dwarf’s side and cuts another goblin down- there’s just one of the little bastards left, and its smart enough to dodge in and out of the southern chamber to fire its bow- Garumn stops an arrow- the paladin is left staggering (on maybe 2 HP).

Only the next time the goblin dodges out of the room there are three adventurers lying in wait for it, and more importantly with readied actions- the last goblin warrior doesn’t last long, an eldritch blast from Newt snaps the creature’s head clean off.

The fight is won.

[Bugbear gardener and a bunch of goblins 330 XP]

Garumn has to use the last of his spells/cures (on himself) to go on, the Dark Squad are pretty beaten up, and save for maybe one healing potion between the five of them, have nothing more in the way of healing.

The newly revealed chambers are investigated- two of them, the one the bugbear came out of- to the east, and the one the goblins exited to the south. Both prove to be densely populated growing areas- more plants and fungi. Although, Ram- sneaking about, quickly realises that the chamber to the east bears more signs of the presence of a fire worm, investigations here are therefore swiftly curtailed.

[Avoid the fire worm 25 XP]

However Vincenzo determines to attempt to find some form of healing plant or fungi in any of the (safe) chambers- after a long search, with help from several of his colleagues, the druid finally finds several doses of a fungi called ‘brewbark’. A poison of sorts, with a minor healing ability.

Note Vince’s nature check was a 22, and the players were desperate for a little help… so, what the hell- although Brewbark is indeed a poison- anyone chewing the stuff for ten minutes has to make a DC 10 Con save (else something untoward happens, I’m not telling you what- see below) but also recovers 1-3 HP.

Vincenzo finds enough for five doses- that’s one each, funny that.

Garumn (two doses), Buggles and Ram all benefit from chewing the fungi, and none of them are affected by the poison.

[Finding healing fungi 50 XP]

That done the Dark Squad heads on- north, into the mirror chamber- another long thin barrel-ceilinged growing chamber, and with yet another growing chamber to the east. Ram, stealthily pokes his head around the door into the eastern room- he spies four robed skeleton gardeners at work on the plants here.

After a short debate it is decided to leave these new enemies to their own devices, the Dark Squad are still too beaten up, and very low on resources- they can’t afford anymore big hits.

[Leave the skellies be 25 XP]

The Dark Squad move on- north yet again, and into yet another growing chamber- the theme here is much damper, and much warmer, and therefore more fungi-orientated. The room is a riot of sickly coloured mushrooms and toadstools (et al).

There’s a fair amount of trepidation for a short while here- Ram just doesn’t like the look of the place, eventually Vince reassures the rogue- Ram heads on- nothing untoward happens, phew. There’s another door out of the chamber, this one to the south.

Onwards and into a much spookier chamber, a short corridor opens out into a high-ceilinged, half-domed room- the walls are dragon tiled, and in the centre of the space a fifteen foot tall statue of a red dragon rearing over a circular tile before it. The statue dragon’s eyes exude a red mist, which also illuminates the aforementioned tile.


Most of the areas explored so far- there can't be that much left to find...

But that’s all we have time for this week, another session done and the Dark Squad are much (much) close to the end of this adventure (I tell them this), and they also need less than 100 XP each to reach level 3.

They understand (I think) my reason for making this last statement.

See you next time.

Stay safe.

Cheers goonalan.
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Playa Playa
The ‘Ranger’ – A Haiku

Fleet-footed dash.
Deadly twin blades flash.
Hides in a bush.

From the pen of Ramshambo

DM Note- in the last session Buggles stated that he was going to hide in some foliage, the DM pointed out that the foliage in question was very low to the ground- maybe only three feet tall or so, and sparse, and very twiggy- so not an ideal hiding spot. The wood elf therefore needed to roll well... he rolled an adjusted (obviously) '27' and duly disappeared from sight.

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


Every time I see Buggles mentioned I get "Video Killed the Radio Star" running through my head. (For those unaware of the reference, that was a song made popular in the late 1970s by a band called...the Buggles. If memory serves, it was the very first video shown on MTV, back when they actually showed music videos. Yeah, I'm old.)



Those moments are always some of the most fun to me as a player.

I also love your addition of the brewbark fungi. Great way to give the players a little hand and keep it tailored to their strange environs!

You're so right, love those lulls and loud exhalations- VTT catnip.

Thanks for the kind words.

Stay safe.

Cheers goonalan


Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel

Session #007 New ‘Dangerous’ Tricks.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Buggles (played by Stu, confusing isn’t it) Male Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 1/Rogue Lvl 1
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 #7, and here we go again- last we left the Dark Squad they were investigating a fifteen-foot-tall dragon statue with glowing red eyes, this in an otherwise dark and empty chamber- save for the circular red tile positioned ominously before the statue.

Investigators discover draconic text on the aforementioned tile, which is translated by Ramshambow- “Let the sorcerous power illuminate my spirit.” Then for quite a while the adventurers take it in turns to try to make sense of the situation- they get it, stand on the tile- say the words, it’s just what happens next? Bane or boon?

Newt and Vincenzo chat a while longer, while the roguish pair skulk in the shadows and Garumn guards the door.

However, mid-debate Newt and then Buggles spot a flickering shadow moving behind the wings of the dragon statue- and then drifting down towards a painfully unaware Ram. The pair are not sure what they are seeing, and then seconds later- they are, as is Ram- the rogue is screaming, or trying to as the shadow snakes its arm around his neck and squeezes- it strangles.

Buggles, scimitars drawn slashes the undead creature horribly (his first two attacks of the session are- ‘20’, a pair of Crits) although the wood elf’s blades seem to have a much-reduced effect on the terror.

Ramshambow meantime feels the strength draining from him, heavily wounded and yet he has the nous to stab behind him with his dagger, he scores a hit, but the shadow doesn’t flinch. That is until Newt makes space for himself and fires an eldritch blast into the undead strangler’s back. The force of the magic ripping a gaping hole in the foe, the shadow fades from unlife.

[Shadow destroyed 100 XP]

The fight is won, although Ramshambow is blowing hard- he gulps down a healing potion, the last the group has in their possession. The only healing they have left- spell, scroll, potion or anything else for that matter, is one mildly poisonous piece of brewbark, so- they’re close to the wire here.

But danger is Newt's middle name, or so it seems- the tabaxi is now determined to figure out what the dragon statue does- firstly by clambering all over the thing, including sticking his head in the dragon’s maw, reaching around inside and all about. There’s nothing to be found- at least no mechanical element to the device, Vincenzo is of the opinion, after a ten minute detect magic ritual, that transmutation magic is involved in this transaction.

[Preliminary dragon statue investigations 55 XP]

Newt bites the bullet, stands on the red tile and with the help of Ram’s coaching (in Draconic) says the words- “Let the sorcerous power illuminate my spirit” and is duly engulfed in spectral flame (although he tried to dive aside- and even spent an inspiration point failing his save twice in a row- DC 12).

The tabaxi however, and to his delight, is unharmed- better than unharmed, he’s full of grinning glee and confidence, he grabs his lute out and regales his colleagues with an impromptu cheery song- and earns a few silver pieces from his new giggling (and impressed) friends.

Note- Newt now has advantage on all of his charisma-based checks (and for a good long while), he’s preening.

Also note when Newt sings, Bear (playing Newt) sings- usually just two lines and always (so far) to the tune of ‘Greensleeves’, there’s a Christmas record in here somewhere- possibly one of those wretched ones that guilt you into buying them.

[Activating the statue 100 XP]

The next chamber on is cautiously entered and then investigated- a small, ancient and broken library- stone shelves mostly shattered and collapsed- the sodden remains, the mulch of long-lost books. Although with the help of Vincenzo’s detect magic spell several serviceable scrolls are found, also an ancient tome of dragon lore.

Then on again, following an extensive series of passages- firstly into a lower corridor filled with two feet of scummy water- which Newt reacts badly to. The tabaxi attempts to make his way through the fifty-foot watery passage without once making contact with the wet. Newt is not at all fond of water. Alas the cat man’s avoidance technique is also a little shoddy- culminating in Newt doing a sprawling, sliding forward roll through the last ten feet of the muck and sop. He emerges dripping and yowling (very unhappy)- and then stalks off ahead of the party to get away from the laughing eyes of his companions.

And the giggling players on the VTT.

[Newt makes us laugh 20 XP]

Note it would have been nice to have some pictures to show you here- particularly the fight with the shadow, maybe the library chamber, or the passages traversed- but no, no screen shots from the players, what's a DM to do- except remind them.

The rest of the Dark Squad move forward quickly to catch up with the now dry (prestidigitation) but still scowling tabaxi, there are two doors at the end of the corridor- the first however has a superb lock, which Ram simply cannot fathom.


Ram's '1' streak continues. Oh look- here they all are!

Note Ramshambow, in the last three or so sessions, has been really rolling high (see previous write ups) but this session his dice are mostly broken- of his first ten rolls, four of them are a ‘1’.

The second door in the corridor however is unlocked, and there are voices beyond it- goblin voices. Ram grins a while and then pats the door like a long-lost friend- he’s happy now, and then signals his comrades to ‘shush’, and then to the slaughter.

There’s rather a lot of slaughter this session- be aware.

The Dark Squad bust in and unleash hell on the five smock wearing goblins within- serves them right, they were attempting to make a rockery. A rockery!


The Dark Squad are on the goblins like Dennis Wise in the Blue Peter garden (that's a very niche joke, soz).

Newt eldritch blasts one of the goblins- alas (for the goblin) it survives. Garumn charges in and smashes a goblin down- Buggles fires an arrow through another goblin’s throat- it too expires. Ram rushes in and skewers a third goblin dead (with a Crit).

The two remaining terrified goblins (one still clutching a watering can), both already heavily wounded, begin screaming for help in their filthy language, Newt atomises one of the pair with yet another eldritch blast (and yet another Crit).

Just to note the PCs got a surprise round, and then they all had the initiative scores to go again before my goblins even appeared in the tracker- some days you are the statue.

The chamber the adventurers are fighting in is an empty unremarkable room, except for the fact that the south wall has collapsed to reveal a massive fungus lit plant-filled cavern beyond- the Twilight Grove proper.

Darting out of the natural cavern come a quartet of twig blights- Vincenzo is clawed- repeatedly, Garumn smashes one of the twig demons down, while Ram stabs the last goblin dead, Buggles’ dice however are broken…

The fight rumbles on with lots (and lots) of missing.

Odd sometimes to watch it happen- the Dark Squad have overcome some fairly fearsome foes along the way- at one point here they missed seven attacks in a row, they were being held at bay by three (4 HP each) twig blights.


The twig blights keep the force flinging, snarling savage, multiple-attacking Dark Squad at bay- for an entire round, I'm claiming that one.

Eventually Ram swats down a twig blight, Vincenzo’s snarling primal savagery accounts for another while Garumn ends the last with his warhammer.

The fight is won.

[Goblins and twig blights in the Twilight Grove 350 XP]

The Dark Squad however are even more beaten up, and tired, and out of healing, and spell slots, and all of their other powers. There’s a door to the north, with an equally good lock (as it turns out)- which Ram also cannot get open. The (low rolling) rogue manages to drop and then kick his favourite lockpick under the door in the attempt (‘1’). Monsieur Buggles steps in and seconds later the door is open (with a ‘20’, naturally).

Within is what is later dubbed ‘the office of the Outcast’, a desk with papers on it and bookcases full of scrolls and tomes. The Dark Squad get down to searching- finding several interesting books and also a bag shoved in the back of a cubby full of gold and gems- over 300gp.


The office of the Outcast.

Yowzer- we’re rich.

Newt plays a song to celebrate their success, he’s on fire with his performance checks (more Grensleeves, tbh looking at Bear I was expecting the Metallica back catalogue).

[Investigate the office of the Outcast 100 XP]

There follows an extended debate, the subject is- what should we do next? The options being- one, get in a short rest here and then get a move on; and two- retreat and get a long rest and then get back to it… note the PCs have enough XP for level 3.

The debate rumbles on, and its an impassioned debate- Newt is for the short rest followed by the let’s get on with it option. Vincenzo is for the retreat and long rest. Garumn needs a short rest, at the very least- he makes that clear. While, Ram and Buggles are on the fence.

So, no-one is deciding.

The chatter goes on… and on.

Eventually the decision is made, long rest and recuperate- the adventurers file back the way they came, after clearing up the place a bit. Newt expends some of his unspent energy by making the fifty-foot watery passage by only putting his foot down once (into the wet) for the entire journey- winning yet more plaudits from his colleagues.

The Dark Squad hole up in one of the goblin chambers they cleared out earlier, and then set watch- they will awake healthy and well and all at level 3.


But not yet, during the last watch- Ram’s, the rogue hears noises from the dragon columned central chamber- goblin voices, he wakes his friends (eventually). At which point the goblins hear movement within the (PCs) room- there follows a scramble at the door- the goblins trying to push their way in, Ram (still slightly weakened) and Buggles holding the door shut.

Eventually the Dark Squad rogues, after exchanging thieves’ cant messages, suddenly let go of the door- a quartet of goblins come squawking and tumbling into the chamber. Vincenzo recognises the fact that these are not the smock wearing Outcast goblins, these are the ugly buggers from upstairs, Grenl’s mob.


Oh look- it's Grenl and the goblins from upstairs, I wonder what they want- all armed to the teeth and sneaking about?

There follows a bit of strained chatter, although Vincenzo is marvellously calm throughout- the druid calls out to tell Grenl that they (the Dark Squad) are within the chamber, and on with their work, before politely enquiring why it is that Grenl and the goblins are here? Afterall, it was decided earlier that it would be best for the goblins to depart the Sunless Citadel- for good.

Grenl is left prevaricating, shouting back her stuttering answers, she claims that the goblins had entered the area to see if the Dark Squad needed any help. Note, Vincenzo is happy to call Grenl’s bluff- but more so to let the moment pass.

However, the other members of the Dark Squad are much less impressed, particularly Ram who makes his feelings known, the chorus has heard enough- and Garumn, Ram, Newt and Buggles are really not keen on the goblins. So, it’s time to switch to massacre mode which begins with Newt spraying a carpet of flames (burning hands) out of the doorway- two goblins are incinerated in an instant, while two more slightly crispy goblins attempt to flee screaming.

They don’t get far- Ramshambow cuts them both down, and then dodges back into cover. Garumn charges out of the chamber- spots Grenl, already singed a little by Newt’s burning hands, and shuffles over and smashes the goblin shaman down- dead.

There are still another half -a-dozen or so goblins in the central chamber, most of them now screaming and rushing towards the exits.

They don’t make it.

Newt dodges out of the chamber and launches a second burning hands- two more goblins die screaming and on fire, and another two are left very badly wounded.


The massacre unfolds.

One of the four remaining goblins decides to fight back and slices the tabaxi fire-starter- seconds later Buggles lands his only hit of the encounter and cuts the goblin down dead. Another goblin is chased down and then smashed down by Garumn, a third flees screaming, while the last- still smouldering goblin, assumes the foetal position and curls into a corner of the room- seemingly trying to will itself invisible.

Warning- look away if you are of a nervous disposition.

I said massacre earlier, for that is what this is.

The fleeing goblin, a moment later- just as it is about to escape the Dark Squad’s fury is caught in the back by Newt’s eldritch blast and smeared against the far wall- turned to shattered limbs and paste.

While Ram, with cooing sounds and friendly gestures eventually gets the last mentally shattered (and physically broken) goblin to uncurl from its bloody smoking burnt ball- and when it does, he stabs it in the heart, while still making comforting chirrups.

That got dark.

Vincenzo is incensed, for a while there’s a touch of unease- did we go too far, the druid certainly thinks so…

[Grenl and a dozen goblins- half and half, common and warriors 410 XP]

After a brief Vincenzo lead chatter/debate entitled- “Was that a War Crime?”, which is mostly met with replies of- “they’re just goblins” and the like, or else… well, ‘I don’t care’ shrugs; the Dark Squad get on.

The goblins have a little treasure, including a few scrolls on the shaman which are distributed, after which the adventurers get the last hour they need for their extended rest, and then we spend the rest of the session levelling up the PCs.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Buggles (played by Stu, confusing isn’t it) Male Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 1/Rogue Lvl 2
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 3
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 3
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 3

Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 3

But, that’s all they wrought, for now.

Just to note, it took us a while with the levelling up in FG towards the end, also there was much more chatter in this one, not chatter with NPCs but inter-party by-play, a few more differences of opinions (PCs not players, you understand).

I, of course, thought about bringing the climax of the adventure to the PCs- while they were resting, but the climax is where it is for a reason, so I let it be.

They’ll get to it next week, they’ve nowhere else to go…

Note, after the session I did a count back- don’t ask me why, actually- a body count back of the last 24 hours with the Dark Squad, since Newt’s arrival- just to see how many of my enemies this mob have slaughtered.

Note, I’m not saying that Newt’s arrival has prompted this violent approach- it was just a handy time to start the body count from.

Drum roll.

In the last 24 hours the Dark Squad have accounted for the following enemies-
15 x goblin commoners
13 x twig blights
2 x dire rats (Rip & Fang)
19 x goblins
6 x skeletons
5 x hobgoblins (including Durn, the chief)
1 x shadow
2 x bugbears (including Ballsack)

That’s 63 souls gone to heaven, all in a day’s work.

Stay safe.

Cheers goonalan
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Playa Playa

The Massacre in the Spa

The wicked Kat-Witch burns our peaceful brethren alive

With bow and blade the Ranger further lives doth deprive

Our beloved Grenl’s life ended by the Dwarf’s hammering blow

Even the surrendered and unarmed receive the Rogue’s stiletto

The Druid, calmly and uncaringly watches on from afar

Surely the true mastermind behind The Massacre in the Spa!

From the pen of Ramshambo

DM Note- the players took to calling the chambers in which they encountered the goblins experimenting on rats, pressing fungus booze and mending clothes et al, as... the Goblin Spa.

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 #008 Dark Squad versus The Outcast AKA Lockdown Combat.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Buggles (played by Stu) Male Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 1/Rogue Lvl 2
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 3
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 3
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 3

Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 3

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

So, session #8, and here we go again- last we left the Dark Squad they were holed up back in the ‘goblin spa’ (for which read goblin work rooms) this after taking an extended rest and ringing the level 3 bell.

Outside of the chamber in which the brave adventurers rest are the scattered and/or burnt remains of a dozen goblins- the site of last week’s/session’s massacre. The stench is horrific and may haunt a few of the Dark Squad for quite a while.

But possibly only Vincenzo as the other guys really don’t give a stuff.

Then onwards- to victory, the Dark Squad lead by a stealthy Ram cautiously make their way back to the Twilight Grove proper, the massive cavern, at the entrance to which they previously fought more smock wearing goblins and a clutch of twig blights.

A little more chatter- how are we going to play this, follows- now they’re facing the thing. Note the Dark Squad take the time to examine the vegetation within the massive cavern (stunted snarly briars) and are of the opinion that moving slowly, and stealthily, and cautiously is the order of the day.

However, to begin with Vincenzo will scout ahead- hang on, what’s that, Vincenzo?

Well, may I introduce to you Vincen G. Spider, the druid wildshapes into a terrifying giant arachnid, and then scuttles up the wall of the cavern and from there onto the ceiling forty feet overhead, and then eight-legs-stealthy he creeps ahead.



Down below the rest of the Dark Squad slowly, carefully make their way into the fungus and briar choked cavern, every now and then Newt using a message cantrip to make contact with Vincen G. Spider up above to take direction.

The first obstacle, as spotted by Vincen, are a clutch of twig blights- all heading in the Dark Squad’s general direction- the adventurers are therefore forewarned of the impending attack, although that doesn’t seem to help their cause.

Note, there are some real bad rolls from the PCs at the start of this session (and continuing throughout, a little). Even the players were snarling and gnashing their teeth at the number of ‘1’s and ‘2’s flying by. At one point the PCs rolled four ‘1’s in a row- nice.

And so a clutch of twig blights get into action, Newt gets clawed and then attempts to get away from his attacker by using a nearby wall and his cat-like reflexes to leap up and over the enemy, he succeeds only in demolishing the wall and then only just managing to stay on his feet (‘1’).

Less than a second later Vincen G. Spider shoots a web down onto a twig blight but misses by a mile and ends up covering Garumn in his sticky offering, the dwarven paladin is left screaming/mumbling his fury (that’s another ‘1’).

Newt gets a hit in with his eldritch blast, but not with enough force to kill a twig blight (damage ‘1’+).


Look Out! Tree Demons!

Buggles, alas is not the most stealthy (‘1’) but his twin scimitars are by far the most effective in these opening moments, he Crits a twig blight to death. Ram, with his bow however, is much less effective (and another ‘1’).

Then normal service is resumed- Newt blasts another twig blight dead, Garumn escapes Vincen G. Spider’s webs- still grumbling and moaning, Buggles carves another twig blight- but not enough to kill it, the little beast scratches the wood elf right back.

Then, after another turn of mostly missing, Garumn rumbles forward and smashes down the last of the little scratchy bastards.

Note, Vincen G. Spider- still up above, watches several more twig blights in retreat- heading deeper into the cavern, towards the twenty foot ruined walls of some ancient fortress or keep (perhaps) further in to the chamber.

[More dead twig blights 100 XP]

The Dark Squad re-orientate themselves, and then press on- spider-Vince leading the way, with more messages being sent by Newt to the druid.

And remarkably their collective stealth check is bloody marvellous (lowest roll an adjusted ‘13’), the Dark Squad spot enemies ahead- within the compass of the ruins, also present there is a massive dead-looking tree.

This is the Gulthias Tree, although introductions come a little later.

Spider-Vince silently scouts ahead, the enemies present include, he’s certain- the Outcast (a crazy looking robe and staff guy), the two missing adventurers- the expensively robed Sharwyn and the heavily armoured Sir Braford- this pair are standing statue, they also look wan and ill. Also present are at least two more of the scratchy twig blight bastards.

He’s seen enough, and so the druid scurries down the cavern wall- out of sight (he thinks) and then transforms back into, well… himself.

At which point he drops a spike growth spell onto the largest group of enemies he can see from his present position back on the cavern floor. Sir Braford and a clutch of twig blights are now cut off from their allies, and surrounded by a sea of hostile spikey vegetation.


And the Lockdown begins.

In the chat window on FG, meantime, Ram is counting down, and we get to ‘1’- the attack is launched, this as several twig blights emerge from hiding and start moving towards Vincenzo (who’s last stealth check was a… no, not a ‘1’, a ‘2’- 100% better, but still not enough).

Ramshambow scurries forward to help the druid and then misses his opening attack (‘1’) but manages to slash the twig blight with his off-hand dagger, it still lives.

Buggles destroys a twig blight in an instant with a deadly accurate arrow shot from his longbow- at which point the Outcast begins shouting and calling for parley from the centre of the ruined fort/tree clearing.

“You know not what you do. I mean you no harm, I have caused you no offense- why do you attack me so?”

We go back and forth for a while (over twenty minutes), the Outcast letting the Dark Squad know the origins of the beautiful tree that is his life’s work. The Gulthias Tree grew from the wooden stake that was hammered through a vampire’s heart on this spot a millennia (or thereabouts) ago. The crazy druid introduces the twig blights, and tells how the tree produces the magical apples, he even takes the time to introduce his latest pride and joy- the supplicants. Sir Braford and Sharwyn, who have been ‘accepted’ by the sentinel plant monstrosity.

Several of the PCs also make their feelings known- primarily Vincenzo, of course, because he is the most outwardly offended by the spectacle before him- the perversion of nature, the tyranny of the Outcast- to fashion new beings for evil. A few of the other PCs snipe and make threats culminating in Vincenzo’s threat-finale, basically the shifter druid is going to destroy the Outcast and his tree, and then return this place to nature.

The Outcast makes his own threats, of course, he’s going to either- feed the Dark Squad’s blood and broken bones to the soil, or else he’s going to get himself a few new supplicants- nice.

It gets to fighting again, as we drop back into initiative.

And just to say ahead of time, how I work this magic (the write up here) is I just copy the text from the chat window in FG and translate, so apologies ahead of time but this one has a lot of he did… she did… etc.

It’s not meant to be literature, just writin’.

Back to the action…

But also just to say that over the course of the next few (10+) turns another ten or so twig blights emerge from a variety of locations and get into action against the Dark Squad. I’m topping up the enemies as I go on.

Buggles is the first to suffer from the little scratchy bastards.

Then however Belak, the Outcast, settles an entangle spell over a clutch of the PCs- and Newt, Vince and Ram all fail their saves and are grasped by the snarly vegetation.


Working for the Clampdown.

The trio are going nowhere fast- that’s not an idle brag, I was there to witness it- around the VTT (real-time) Newt was still struggling to get away from the plants nearly an hour later.

The tabaxi however has enough about him to blast another approaching twig blight, but again the creature doesn’t fall.

Note, I maxed the hit points of every enemy creature in this combat, and so the twig blights have 7 hp each (they’re tanks), Sharwyn 20 hp, Sir Braford 30 hp, Kulket (the giant frog- he’s biding his time, we’ll meet him soon) 30+ hp, and the Outcast 45 hp. The big bad. Note I also gave the Gulthias Tree a few extra hp- 45, same as Belak.

Meantime a pair of twig blights and Sir Braford, all caught within the Vincenzo’s spike growth, attempt to escape the spell’s compass- the twig blights are left badly wounded, while Sir Braford even more so- he takes 20 hp damage escaping the terrain horror (and is down to 10 hp), the ex-paladin scurries to the Outcast’s side for healing.

Vincenzo fires an Ice Knife at the Outcast, high wide an handsome- another ‘1’.

Ramshambow fails to escape the entangling plants, and fails with his flailing off-hand dagger to make a mark on one of the twig blights that are gathering at the spot to tear the restrained adventurers apart (he rolled a… ‘1’, funny that).

To make matters worse Sharwyn fires a ray of frost into the rogue- that hurt, and chilly.

Buggles however is still in action, he cuts down another twig blight and then finds a hiding place for himself.

He rolls a ‘1’ for his stealth check.

And keep in mind that a lot of these rolls are made in the tower on FG, so the players can’t see the results- they can however hear me giggling and snorting- so unbecoming, but I enjoyed it.

Another twig blight gets its claws into Ramshambow, and now the rogue is bloodied.

Note, throughout all of this the Outcast is adding his commentary track- a mixture of dire threats and exhortations to the adventurers to surrender to the inevitable.

The Outcast hits Garumn with a poison spray, although the tough dwarf barely notices.

Newt fails to escape the entangling plants, as does Vincenzo, and Ram- and so the rogue spends his inspiration point, and… fails again.

Note the entangled adventurers also can’t get a bead on their enemies, who are dodging back into cover behind the ruined walls of the former fortress.

Buggles however is now making his way around the action (and unseen, at times)- with the Outcast and his associates concentrating on the entangled bunch. The wood elf therefore has the time and space to manoeuvre, his twin scimitars go snicker-snack, and another two twig blights are turned to tinder.

Note, throughout the above Garumn is surrounded by twig blights- with his back to the entangled area, he’s also flailing and missing repeatedly.

The paladin of Moradin usually never misses- most odd.

The Outcast meantime heals Sir Braford and sends him forward to face the foe, and to give himself some cover.

At which point Vincenzo stops concentrating on his first spike growth spell, it fades, and then casts his second spike growth spell- which now encompasses the Outcast and his two supplicants (Sir Braford and Sharwyn).

Oh bother, the DM sighs, they’re (the PCs) stuck, and now my guys are stuck again- send in more twig blights.

Then seconds later Vincenzo casts a Moonbeam spell from a scroll (after spending an inspiration point to do so) and briefly bathes Sir Braford in the power’s glorious radiant light- the ex-paladin falls, broken.

A moment later Ram, at last, escapes the entangle and slices a twig blight down and destroys it.

Sharwyn, now defending the Outcast, fires a trio of magic missiles into the attackers- one force missile each for Ram, Garumn and Newt (the DM was feeling generous).

Buggles however is now in place, he lets an arrow fly- a Crit (for 14 damage) and now the Outcast is really screaming threats, no more Mr Nice-Guy-Crazy-Druid.

Garumn meantime smashes down a twig blight- at last, however the dwarf cannot charge forward- as the way ahead, to Sharwyn and the Outcast, is all spike growth.

The Outcast cures himself, while all the time making more dire threats.

Newt continues to fail to escape the entangle spell (‘1’).

Alas, for Buggles, the wood elf is now out in the open- Kulket, the Outcast’s Giant Frog, leaps down out of the Gulthias Tree and bites the wood elf, grappling and restraining him.


Frog Attack!

Vincenzo has had enough, he wildshapes again- this time into a brown bear (Vincenbear) and then rips his way free of the entangling vegetation.

Meantime more twig blights are emerging from the wild and heading over to slash and cut at Buggles.

Ram, also free of the entangle, scurries over and attempts to skewer the Outcast with his rapier, alas- a miss (‘2’), he attempts to retreat but is caught in Sharwyn’s colour spray and left staggering aimlessly and blinded.

Buggles meantime escapes the close attentions of his attackers (Kulket, the giant frog & two twig blights) by leaping over them and away (acrobatics ‘20’), and then heading back into cover and hiding some more.

Garumn, at last, trundles forward and warhammer in hand attempts to end the Outcast (he’s ready and waiting with his divine smite option) but he misses, and so uses his inspiration point to… miss, again.

The Outcast needs to get away, and so thunderwaves Garumn and (the blind and broken) Ramshambow back the way they came- the result a bloodied and beyond Garumn (on 8 HP) and Ram bleeding out and taking a dirt nap.

Newt, finally escapes the clutching vegetation, and then immediately launches three scorching rays at the Outcast- two of which connect with the ranting druid. The big bad is bloodied, at last.

Meantime Vincenbear stomps into the mess of enemies that were formerly in Buggles’ grill, he tears into Kulket the giant frog- the creature is very quickly critically wounded.

Ramshambow makes his first death save- success.

Sharwyn conjures again and seconds later Garumn hits the dirt, the dwarf paladin of Moradin however is only sleeping.


Sleepy-Sleepy Time. Shhh… Don't wake the Paladin.

Buggles stealthily creeps from his hiding place and settles himself just behind the Outcast, his twin scimitars cut and slice, and Belak is left critically wounded (and on 3 HP), but only for a moment as the evil druid casts an enhanced cure wounds on himself (and the grinning DM rolls just short of max healing).

Newt, now unleashed, changes tack and fires three more scorching rays- this time at the Gulthias Tree (two hits) the evil plant sentinel is left smouldering (from 45 HP to 15 HP- vulnerable to fire). Then the wild tabaxi uses his feline agility to get in the Outcast’s face and scream a few threats of his own.

Vincenbear meantime gets clawed repeatedly by a pair of twig blights, the wildshape creature is now bloodied too.

Kulket the giant frog, tries to leap to his master’s side, Vincenbear however swats the loyal amphibian out of the air- it crashes hard into a nearby ruined wall and lies silent and unmoving- dead.

Note, at this point- with the Gulthias Tree on fire, Sir Braford gone- over half the twig blights spent, his giant frog dead- the Outcast is shouting threats at every instance, he’s losing it man!

And this DM thinks that the end is mostly very nigh.

Vincenbear claws and bites yet another twig blight dead, but another of the scratchy bastards emerges from hiding and claws the roaring ursine.

Note I kept adding one more twig blight from hiding every round, until I had added an additional ten of the little bastards to the mix.

Ramshambow succeeds on another death save- that’s two.

Sharwyn, still protecting the Outcast- fires three more magic missiles at the nearest enemy, that’s Newt- and now the tabaxi is well beyond bloodied, and making a screechy din. He’s not happy.

This however is going to the wire.

Ram & Garumn are down- the latter however is only sleeping, but the paladin is also low on HP, Newt- likewise- low HP, Vincenbear- also low on HP. The ace in the Dark Squad’s hand is, of course, that bad bastard wood elf- Buggles.

And so it comes to pass…

Buggles gets two more shots at the Outcast with his scimitar, alas the first blade is a miss (and another ‘1’) but the second cuts deep- and the evil druid is back to screaming in fury and pain (and back on 3 hp).

So, he heals himself- there’s nothing much else he can do to stay alive, what d’you know (and I’m making these rolls out in the open) Belak’s enhanced cure wounds is only one off maximum. The Outcast is soon back to grinning and making threats.

I did say it went back and forth.

Newt tries to get some distance from his enemies, the warlock finds himself stood right next to Sharwyn and the Outcast- he (in his own words) got far too close to the action.


Newt realises he's too close to the action, just prior to getting AoO'ed unconscious as he attempts to slip away.

Alas the tabaxi’s retreat doesn’t go to plan- Sharwyn stabs the warlock, while the Outcast catches the cat-man with his flailing staff, and a second later Newt is sprawled head-ringing and dirt napping, unconscious and making death saves.

That’s three of the PCs down.

Keep Winnie the Pooh busy with the twig blights, and that just leaves the Outcast and Sharwyn vs Monsieur Buggelz.

I nearly got this.

Vincenbear is still taking hits, and now down to 6 hit points. The ursine however ploughs on, he destroys another twig blight, and then bounds over to the smoking Gulthias Tree and tears at the evil giant plant.

Just to say guys- if you had taken the Gulthias Tree down, then… all of the bad guys still standing would have turned on the Outcast- there was an insight DC available, if you had asked about this…

And when you hit the Tree with the flames, I had the Outcast plead with you to not harm it, amid his ongoing threats.

The Gulthias Tree was the key, although destroying it would, of course, lead to problems later (with the supplicants).

Vincenbear is scratched again, as the last (ever) twig blight is flushed from its hiding place behind the great tree.

The Gulthias Tree has resistance to piercing damage, and so is only taking 50% damage from Vincenbear’s attacks.

Still, at this point the Tree has 3 HP.

So, very close…

A second later and Ram is back on his feet, although clearly not in great shape (death save ‘20’ = 1 hit point back), the rogue however has it in him to stumble forward and skewer the Outcast some more- and now it’s Belak’s turn to stagger (he’s on 1 hit point).

Sharwyn has one last spell- she evokes a trio of magic missile, the first of which slams into Ram and sends the rogue back down into the dark place. he'd dying again.

The second two force missiles hurtle into, and knock the wind right out of, Buggles- the wood elf is now heavily wounded, and angry- he makes his threats and then stabs at the almost dead Outcast with his twin scimitars, and misses, and then misses again.

There follows cruel haunting laughter on the VTT, from memory- my laughter.

The fight goes on…

The Outcast has one spell left- another cure, or… he thunderwaves Buggles back again, the wood elf staggers and almost falls (now below 10 HP).

But suddenly Vincenbear scents the Outcast’s blood, the great ursine turns from the Gulthias Tree and bounds over to the druid, he bites and tears and the evil Outcast falls. For good measure the big bastard also manages to claw (and bloody) Sharwyn.

That happened very quickly.

The last twig blight scurries after Vincenbear and claws the beast again, the ursine is down to 4 hit points, Sharwyn (out of spells) stabs it with her dagger, and the druid’s wildshape fades as Vincenzo suddenly stands in the creature’s stead.

Buggles, desperate, gets his second wind and then slashes wildly at Sharwyn- but, yet another miss.

Vincenzo manoeuvres and gets to Newt with a cure wounds, the tabaxi blinks open his eyes- he’s alive.

Ramshambow meantime begins to fit and splutter as he fails his first death save.

Then, at last, Buggles’ scimitar comes again- the flat of the blade making a loud clonking sound as it connects with Sharwyn’s head- the Hucrele is left sprawled and unconscious.

The last twig blight is incinerated, moments later, by Newt’s burning hands.

Victory, it only took 12 rounds to play out, and nearly two hours to play through around the virtual tabletop, although that included a ten minute rest break and over twenty minutes of collective threats and ranting.

[Everything is dead (or similar), including 15 twig blights, a giant frog, the Outcast and the supplicants (sorta) 1325 XP]

Vincenzo is quickly over to Ramshambow with the cure, Buggles meantime gets to Garumn and kicks the snoring dwarf paladin back awake.

But the Dark Squad just don’t stop- first up Sharwyn and Sir Braford are examined, extensively (medicine and nature checks, with a bit of arcana for good measure). The findings being both creatures live, although- and this after more investigations of the Gulthias Tree, the woody pair are linked (in life) to the strange plant monstrosity.

[Primary investigations 100 XP]

Kill the tree and the supplicants die too… probably, is Vince’s thinking- which is right on time as the Dark Squad were just about to fire the Gulthias Tree.

Vincenzo and Newt’s investigations continue apace, and eventually a woody knot on the tree is discovered, and then reaching in- a rosy red apple is found.

[The apple 250 XP]


Making sense of the Gulthias Tree.

Which leads to more checking and cross-checking, for which I mean another half-a-dozen, mostly guidance enhanced, skill checks. This until the solution is at hand- the solution being stewed apple, which is fed to the now restrained supplicant pair.

It takes an age, over an hour, with the Dark Squad breathing hard after a little light healing, and after Monsieur Buggelz has taken all he can find from the fallen, but… eventually, the flicker of life. It seems Sir Braford and Sharwyn are for the land of the living.

Just to note Newt had a real go at persuading the other members of the Dark Squad about the potential value of the apple, basically should we be wasting this healing magic on the no-mark supplicants. I’d like to tell you that this suggestion was met by scorn and derision, it mostly wasn’t- several members of the Dark Squad took the time to do the maths.

How much do we earn if we sell the apple versus how much do we earn if we take the supplicants home, alive?

The reward is greater if the supplicants are hale and hearty.

Actually, Garumn has the last word, and its life.

Sharwyn and Sir Braford are fed the healing apple stew.

I loved this chatter by the way, the Dark Squad are toting round an NPC paladin, Vincenzo is for the light, and the right, and what is good etc. The other three- Ram, Newt and Buggles are (for different reasons) a little more flexible with their approach.

So, the supplicants are awake, but broken- inside and out, incoherent and, well… broken, about covers it.

[The supplicants are cured 250 XP]

Note during Sir Braford’s lie down Garumn took the opportunity to have a look at the supplicant paladin’s blade- this as he was asked to do so by Rurik, the dwarf smith back in Thundertree. The dwarf paladin shows the blade to his companions, the weapon (a longsword) was made by Durgeddin the Black- coincidence?

Remember, the ancient scroll the Dark Squad found here, pointed to the location of the long lost holdfast of Durgeddin the Black, it’s somewhere near Mount Hotenow.

There are conversations to be had, if and when Sir Braford is back to being compos(t) mentis.

Also, here’s a thought for the Dark Squad which they have not asked themselves (or anyone else, as of yet)- where is Karakas, the missing ranger that accompanied the Hucrele’s? Sharwyn and Sir Braford are all present and correct, Talgen was killed by Durn the goblin chief, that’s known. What then happened to the missing ranger?

Ram has been asked to find out and report back.

Also, and I’m writing this for the PCs/players to read, where’s the light that doesn’t go out? The one you need to find to access the dragon key?

But that’s for next time, probably… possibly, we’ll see.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan.
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Playa Playa

Truth & Legend


Tangled and held tight

In death they almost unite

The Dwarf snores all night

Stumble, trip and pick their way at the pace of a snail

As erosion, only through the wearing of time do they prevail.


Dazzling magical might

Brilliance of the divine smite

The grace of a feline birth right

Heroic charge like a mighty storm raining blows

The enemy is no match for these noble foes

Belak the Outcast – a Haiku

Below ground he lived

Beloved frog and apple tree

Killed frog, ate apple

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 #009 Apres le Outcast: Cherchez le big Dragon-feller.

Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Buggles (played by Stu) Male Wood Elf Fighter Lvl 1/Rogue Lvl 2
New Tricks (played by Bear) Male Tabaxi Warlock Lvl 3
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 3
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 3

Garumn Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 3

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

So, session #9 and the Outcast is dead, as are all of his pesky minions, also the former supplicants- Kerowyn Hucrele and Sir Braford have been rescued, and thanks to the magic apple from the Gulthias Tree- returned to some semblance of humanity. Point of fact the two newly revived adventurers are, at present, somewhat zombie like- the pair are like coma patients coming back to the world- only possessed of vivid dreams of their previous ‘supplicant’ horrors.

In summary Sharwyn and Sir Braford are a little under the weather, they can understand what the PCs are asking, and the adventurers have plenty of questions, but they’re limited mostly to gesture and single word replies.

The Dark Squad learn a little from the saved pair, it seems Karakas, the missing ranger was not a turncoat (as the PCs- mostly Vincenzo) suspected, he in fact gave his life fighting giant rats in the Sunless Citadel above, to save his comrades. The ranger was a hero. The adventurers pledge to find Karakas’ remains (or else his ring) and return it/them to Thundertree (part of Ram’s secondary quest).

[Chatting with Sharwyn & Sir Braford 75 XP]

After the chatter, and a short rest, the Dark Squad take the time to properly search the enormous Twilight Grove cavern- alas there’s nothing new, or of interest, to be found. There are however a few items looted from the body of the Outcast, including a wand of entangle (taken by Vincenzo) and a few healing potions to distribute.

Time to head out, although calling in on a few chambers on this level of the dungeon during the retreat. Gingerly guiding the rescued pair the adventurers return to the plant-filled halls, and once there decide to pay a visit on the skeleton gardeners they encountered (and ignored) during their previous wanderings here.

They find the energy of the undead gardeners has all been spent, the skeletons are no longer animated- no threat here- and so onwards.

Next port of call is to play dare with a fire worm in its lair, the three sneaky folk (Ram, Buggles & Newt) stealth into the garden chamber they discovered (and also ignored) earlier, home to burnt and smouldering vegetation. A very quiet, and very cautious search of the area is conducted- and within one of the myriad two foot wide scorched tunnels burnt into the stone they discover- a fire worm, contentedly tunnelling its way through the rock. The three sneaky PCs stealth checks range from 15 to 23, therefore they observe the creature for a while, and using either thieves’ cant gestures, or else Newt’s message cantrip communicate silently. The decision is made, actually by Vincenzo- Newt makes very good use of the message cantrip, the Dark Squad the druid insists have ‘sans boeuf wiz zer fire wurm”, and so they retreat some more.

[Leave the fire worm alone 50 XP]

Next to another unexplored area within the subterranean chambers, the lair- they suspect, of yet another fire worm, and so it proves- after more excellent sneaking about (checks 18 to 25, jeez- these three, on a good day, could go most anywhere without getting spotted- that should be kept in mind). Newt, once again, confirms the presence of another fire worm about its business. The sneaky three, very sensibly, decide- once again, to leave it be.

[Leave the other fire worm alone 50 XP]

Just to say the PCs here, after a bit of player chatter- are still trying to work out what ‘the light that never goes out is’, they need this, of course, so that they can get the dragon key from the dragon altar- all the way back in the kobold’s lair. They need the dragon key to open the dragon door- their prize lies within, supposedly. Remember the kobolds believe the Dark Squad are the chosen ones.

The Dark Squad want that key.

More chatter follows, and then back to the vine filled chamber with the shaft in the ceiling, the way to the level above- the adventurer’s rope still hangs here. Then up, which takes a while, the rescued pair are still incapable of significant action, they therefore need to be winched to the relative safety above.

Back into the former chambers of the goblins, and time aplenty for the Dark Squad to search and scout around, a couple of items of interest are discovered in the goblin junk pile- an nice looking statue and a chain shirt, but nothing else.

Note the goblins, there were plenty of non-combatants still up here, have since abandoned the Sunless Citadel- they're gone for good this time.

[Investigate goblinville and the junk pile 50 XP]

Onwards some more.

To an intersection beyond the goblin’s former territory, which both Kerowyn and Sir Braford recognise, this is where they lost Karakas, the ranger- the fallen adventurer’s remains, they believe (unless he survived) must be somewhere to the north. But first a warning, hissed by both of the former supplicants, “ratsss!”

The Dark Squad cautiously head down the dank and musty corridor, there are many doors (east and west) ahead, and from them spring- giant rats, no surprise here.


Alas the advent of the Giant Rats was too quick for the Players- I have a screenshot taken just prior to their arrival, and this one- just after the Dark Squad made the Giant Rats go away, permanent like.

Buggles slices the first giant rat attacker down with his twin scimitars, and while his comrades continue the fight, and after spotting shiny things in the rat’s nest, he gets to work collecting the coin.

Meanwhile Vincenzo produces flame and singes a second giant rat, but just a little (1 fire damage) he explains he likes his rat rare. Ram steps in and skewers the vermin dead, while Newt peers into another one of the small chambers, within he spots a third giant rat and so swiftly eldritch blasts it dead.

There’s a little more rat treasure to be had from the rat’s nests, and so the Dark Squad have it.

[Kill giant rats and take their shiny things 100 XP]

Then north again, into a much larger high-ceilinged chamber, there are two spiked open pit traps here (Sir Braford confirms that they did this) however also within the chamber is another dragon fountain- like the one the Dark Squad found much earlier in their adventures. The previous fountain gave up a potion of fire breath, so… more investigations follow.

The fountain has more ancient draconic text carved into it, same as the last one, although the text here states- “let there be death”, a mite suspicious, but the text on the previous fountain read- “let there be fire”, and so… Ram dares.

The other members of the Dark Squad (except for Garumn) take evasive action, and get the hell back and away. Ram, with empty potion flasks in hand- ready for a refill, says the magic words. The fountain makes a choking sound (as did the last one) like there’s some mechanism at work- or else trying to work, and then explodes- sending pebble sized stones and a roiling cloud of dust and worse out to engulf Ram and Garumn.

The dwarf paladin grunts and shouts a bit, “whatchya doo tha’ fur yer krazy bluddy rowg?” but is otherwise unharmed. Ram alas takes a hit of poisonous vapours and is feeling more than a little woozy now.

When the smoke and dust clears Vincenzo goes over to check him out, the rogue is poisoned, although not for long- after a long swig from his elixir of health he’s feeling much better, thank you very much.

[Investigate the second dragon fountain 75 XP]

While the dragon fountain was being investigated Buggles has found another unsanitary chamber. The place is full of filth, the remains of formerly alive things- gnawed body parts (kobold and goblin) and the skeletal left-overs of scores of giant and normal-sized rats. A stinking filth pile, six feet deep in places, cautiously the Dark Squad enter, and are mobbed (a little) by another gang of giant rats.


"Sacre bleu! Look at zer size of zer beast! We will feast zis evening, mes amis! Monsieur Gar-Umn fetch ze Warhammer, it iz time fur zer tenderizing!" When Vincenzo met Guthash, it was love at first sight/bite.

There are four enemies here, three tough giant rats and their big moma- Guthash, six feet long and two hundred pounds of greasy malevolence, and with a bite you’d remember (and just short of 30 HP). Although the effect of the first sighting of the monstrous Guthash is lessened slightly when the salivating Vincenzo (just to make clear- he eats rats, whenever he can get his hands on them) begins begging his comrades to preserve the fleshy parts of the titanic rodent for his repast.

Buggles’ twin scimitars account for the first giant rat, Ramshambow’s rapier (with a Crit) ends the second. A moment later and the rogue also skewers Guthash with his blade, while Vincenzo shouts some more about ‘not spoiling zer meat’. The druid gets the bar-b-q going, with his produce flame spell searing the formidable rodent a little.

Alas the shifter’s supper treat is instantly removed from the menu as Newt eldritch blasts the beast into steak-sized chunks, which the force of the spell liberally distributes about the chamber.

Vincenzo is distraught.

The last giant rat scurries forward and breaks through Buggles’ defences, and then takes a big bite of wood elf, a Crit. Ram however is on hand, the rogue steps in and skewers it dead.


[Guthash and the giant rats killed 125 XP]

The Dark Squad get to work searching the area, it takes a while- and its grisly stuff, but eventually the remains of Karakas are found, identified by the ranger's ring- Ram was told what to look for. The ring, of course, is taken- as are a few more items including a healing potion found in the dead man’s pack.

[Find Karakas’ remains and take his ring 50 XP]

That done the adventures retreat tout suite, the rat lair is a horrible place, they head all the way back to the domain of the kobolds, time for a brief breather. The ex-supplicant pair are also made comfortable after the ministrations of the gnome priest of Tymora, Erky Timbers, who has been waiting patiently with the kobolds for the Dark Squad’s return.

Note Erky also provides some healing for the ever-bloodied (or so it seems) Ram.

There follows a mite more chatter- with Yusdrayal the kobold queen, it seems all the tasks she set the Dark Squad have been achieved, point of fact the adventurers have gone the extra mile- not only are the goblins dead, but the threat of the Outcast is also ended.

Yusdrayal is delighted, but the DM wants to get on, the PCs therefore collect their last two rewards from the altar, a pair of low level magical scrolls.

The adventurers have also worked out how to open the door they discovered earlier which bore the legend (in draconic, as always) ‘rebuke the dead, open the way’- they need a priest to do so.

Erky is a priest, and so a while later the Dark Squad head out again, to the hard to open door. Erky brandishes his holy symbol, says the words (turn undead), and click- the portal is unlocked.

[Get the door open 50 XP]

The newly revealed chamber is illuminated by the light of a single candle, situated (along with a few more small items) on a black obsidian dragon carved altar over on the far side of the chamber. Alas the route to the altar requires the PCs to venture past five upright elf carved sarcophagi.

Cautiously the sneaky guys take a nose around, and when nothing much happens Garumn is persuaded to stomp in, and then a moment later the burly dwarf is likewise persuaded to wrench one of the sarcophagi open. Of course, and as predicted by everyone around the VTT, a clutch (five) of skeleton enemies emerge- and are straight into the fight.

Garumn smashes his warhammer into the first skeleton to exit its sarcophagi, and almost ends the thing in an instant. Ram stabs another, while Newt spreads a carpet of flame before him- destroying one of the already wounded skeletons, and scorching two others.

Garumn, alas, gets stabbed- that hurt (a Crit), while Vincenzo and Buggles are way off target with their attacks.

Garumn gets stabbed again, and now the paladin is really hurting, the dwarf smashes one of his attackers into bone flinders.

That’s two down, three skeletons left.

Vincenzo does his best Mr. Benn impression (look it up if you have to) and dashes out of the chamber for his wildshape quick change, a second later a long rubbery tentacle snakes into the room and attempts (but fails) to grab one of the remaining undead.


Skeletons to smush- check, that's a given. But what the hell is that thing? The first (and last for a while- Level 4 Druid for the swim speed) appearance of Vincen G Octopus, give them rubbery tentacled hell soldier.

The druid's wildshape quick change procedure causes a little consternation in the ranks of the Dark Squad- what just happened? Vince it seems neglected to tell his comrades prior to his quick change quite what to expect. Newt therefore leaps out of the chamber to see what new tentacled aberration awaits the adventurers, the tabaxi finds himself facing a giant octopus.*

*Can you turn into a giant octopus James, it has a swim speed, I shouldn’t have allowed this- my/our bad. See Druid

Vincenzo, of course, is not present and so Newt, after a message cantrip to the cephalopod (Vincen G Octopod) confirms that the flailing rubbery beast is in fact the druid.

Back in the room Garumn is sliced for a third time, the dwarf paladin is on 3 HP and now screaming in his dulcet Scottish tones for his comrades to “get yer arses in gear”, there’s a lot of swinging and missing going on.

Buggles dashes the length of the chamber and then acrobatically leaps onto the black obsidian dragon altar, stabbing the skeleton that last sliced Garumn. The wood elf spies the smaller items on the altar- between his feet, he spots a strangle looking whistle and so he swipes it.

Garumn, after yet another miss- followed by an inspiration point hit, shatters the skeleton before him, just two undead left- one of which makes its presence felt by cutting Ram, the rogue is now also heavily wounded (as usual).

A scant second later and the probing tentacle of Vincen G Octopod comes again, grabs hold of a skeleton and crushes (shatters) it, the last of the undead is skewered and stabbed into unlife by Ram.

The fight is won.

[Skeletons mostly shattered 250 XP]

Ram heads back out with Buggles to find Erky, the pair beg the last of the gnome priest’s healing, while Garumn uses his lay on hands to at least get back up to bloodied.

Meantime, back in the newly revealed chamber, investigations continue- the candle’s flame does not go out, nor does it burn- it’s exactly what the Dark Squad have been looking for.

There’s also an unidentified (as of yet) potion flask on the obsidian altar, taken by Vincenzo, now back in shifter form.

Also Buggles’ black crystal dragon inscribed whistle has davek (dwarven) script upon it, Garumn has a look- “it sez ‘Night Caller’” the dwarf mutters and shrugs- he’s no idea what it means. The strangle whistle is pocketed by the wood elf, he’s not going to just blow it… that would be a ridiculous thing to do (see later).

The Dark Squad are suddenly in a rush, they hot foot it back to the kobold hall, and to the dragon altar there- a mere minute later and the candle is situated inside the screw top head of the dragon, and the show begins.

012 Yusdrayl and the Dragon Altar.jpg

Just a reminder, this is the dragon head altar, the candle goes into a secret hollow space on the top- the light is projected out of the various openings in the stone (eyes, mouth and nose). Look, it's magic- just nod to yourself and read on.

A flickering light is projected out from the various orifices (eyes, mouth and nose) of the dragon head at the altar, the light encompasses the entire chamber before the adventurers. The PCs, Yusdrayal, and a clutch of other kobolds stand mesmerised. The hall before them is suddenly as it was- as new, perhaps centuries or millennia past, flickering torches illuminate to attention tall elven (perhaps) guards, in beautifully crafted armour. The guards stand statue- the light flickers, and the image jumps- in the same instant the entire chamber lurches hard left and then back again- Buggles, Newt and a number of the kobolds are all thrown to the floor. The shaking and shuddering doesn’t stop- the elven guards in the image likewise react to, and suffer, the same effect.

The PCs swarm into action- Newt trying to discern what the hell is going on here- is this real, is the chamber about to collapse, an insight check later and he’s convinced and screaming for his colleagues to “get out of the room.” The gang mostly do as they’re told… mostly, Vincenzo still wants the dragon key, he ducks back in and to the altar to see if the device has come free.

Suddenly appearing before the druid is a nine foot tall dragon-like/elf-like (some strange combination of the two?) robed figure. The strange apparition reaches into his robes and grabs out the dragon key, and then places it into the mouth of the dragon head at the altar. Then as the chamber shudders some more the figure dashes for the exit. Note, at this point all of the other members of the Dark Squad have scrambled their way out of the chamber, they have also dragged Kerowyn and Sir Braford (both still mostly broken) after them and away from the danger.

Vincenzo does a double take, one of many, and then follows after the racing robed figure.

The other strangeness that the rest of the Dark Squad are at present experiencing is that outside of the central chamber the halls and corridors are exactly as they should be- a tattered and somewhat stinky kobold lair. The projection/apparition/image (the PCs are unsure of what’s going on here) only extends (and encompasses) the central chamber.

Suddenly the nine foot tall elf/dragon combo comes racing down the corridor in which the rest of the Dark Squad stand- it pays no heed to the witnesses, its spectral (perhaps) form dashing through the adventurers- creepy, and then on.

Less than a second later and all of the Dark Squad are in pursuit of the strange creature.

It’s at this point that Buggles, for reasons unknown, blows the strange whistle he found earlier on the black obsidian altar- the night caller. Seconds later a dwarven skeleton appears at a spot ten feet away from the wild elf. “Do I command you?” Buggles gasps, still running- still in pursuit, the skeleton nods, “follow”, is the grinning wild elf’s response.

Gwen, the skeleton, (name supplied later) follows her new master, monsieur Bugglez.

The ragtag and bobtail chase snakes through several chambers and finally to… of course, the dragon door.


The race to the Dragon Door.

The nine foot tall dragon/elf races through the door, which for a second seems to be open, Newt- close behind (tabaxi are fast) dashes to follow, and almost knocks himself out. The door is quite definitely shut, although seconds later Vincenzo discovers that the dragon key is in the keyhole of the dragon door, all he need do is turn it. But first Ram is called up to give the portal the once over.

Ten seconds later, no traps found- or noises heard beyond the door, and it’s open. A large chamber with a door opposite, and dusty- the air stale; to the north three alcoves each containing a pedestal, atop each a fist-sized lump of rock. To the south the same set up, although only a single alcove and pedestal, and the rock here glows with a soft blue light.


Adventure awaits...

The rock also seems to be the source of… it could be song- most odd.

[Chase to, and then open the dragon door 250 XP]

What lies within?

Well, that’s for next time…

That was a cracking session fellers.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan.
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