Saltmarsh

The Road Back to Saltmarsh
death of a salesman

The party was working at the Dreadwood Trading Post, a ways east of Burle and well off the main road. After months of boredom, days of rain, and just two days past the new moon something interesting finally happened: out of the dark of night, an old man ran screaming in complete panic, collapsing in the mud in front of the barracks where you had been resting.

The old man’s is Hunlaf, from Saltmarsh, and he and his wagon were ambushed on the road up toward Burle. Two of the guards he had hired were killed instantly by arrows to the back, and then it was chaos. Cloaked men drew swords and approached them. He, his son, and the remaining guard all scattered into the night. Hunlaf happened to run up the path toward the Dreadwood, and was sure that his son was with him and that they were being pursued by their attackers. He arrived at the trading post alone, though, and you think that perhaps the heavy rain and panic played with his mind a little.

He would not stop imploring anyone who would listen (you, as it turns out) to help him rescue his son. The paladin insisted on doing the right thing by charging off at once, while the bard ensured that the party was properly remunerated for any help they offered, which Hunlaf agreed to (to the tune of 10 gold pieces each). The paladin agreed to let the bard handle the donation of his share to the Church of Kord.

Your boss Kursac Greyheart, the dwarven owner of the trading post, let you know that if you ran off then you could consider yourselves fired. You secretly think he’s relieved that the more experienced guards at the post didn’t get caught up in the old man’s story. He let you take some rations for the road, and then you set off with Hunlaf, back to the site of the ambush.

Reaching the junction of the trading post’s path and the main road, you found two bodies laying face down in the mud with arrows protruding from their backs. The area was littered with tracks, though the rain was doing its best to obliterate them.

The wagon and horses are gone, and their tracks indicate they were taken onward towards Burle. Also, one set of boot-prints and four sets of prints from “something else” led overland to the southwest, toward a hill. Another set of boot tracks led southeast, back toward Saltmarsh, along with two sets of tracks belonging, again, to “something else”. You chose to take the road back toward Saltmarsh.

About 15 minutes down the road on the dark, rainy night, with the ranger well in the lead, you encountered two cloaked men and they immediately attacked. As you dispatched them, you realized that these were not men, or “no longer men” to be absolutely correct. They were skeletons, which explained the odd footprints you found.

Continuing down the path with Hunlaf’s dread growing, you eventually arrived at a human body laying face down next to a rock. The skeleton tracks stopped a ways shy of the body. The body turned out to be Hunlaf’s son, Cynfrith, a young man of 23. It appeared that in his panic he slipped in the mud and struck his head on the rock next to him. Hunlaf was inconsolable. You agreed to help him transport the body to Saltmarsh for burial.

You traveled the road down toward Saltmarsh for about four hours. Along the way, the rain finally stopped, and the sun rose behind a thick gray blanket of cloud. You first saw the seaside town just as the sun broke through the clouds. You were struck by the obvious opulence of some of the houses, especially on the west side of town. There was activity throughout, with calm smoke rising from several buildings, people walking the streets, children playing, and the business of fish taking place on the docksides.

You were met by a pair of guards at the west end of town. Hunlaf approached and explained the situation. The guards sent for a wagon and some better wrappings for the body, and you then accompanied Hunlaf and his son to the eastern side of the town, to the humble Temple of Fharlanghn.

You were met at the temple by Companion Gerald Isslor, a middle-aged human man. He knows Hunlaf and his family, and looked genuinely saddened to hear about Cynfrith. He, of course, offered to begin the process of preparing the body for burial. You were told that the funeral will take place the next day, and Hunlaf offered for you to attend as guests for the assistance you provided. He also paid you each 10 gold pieces, as promised. Companion Isslor let you know that you are welcome to rest for free at the temple until the funeral, which some of you may have been surprised to learn doubles as an inn. You took advantage of that offer, as you are all quite tired. A girl named Misha, and an unknown young man make sure you have everything you need, including food, drink, and all the comforts of a modest inn.

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Second Son
Just in time for Halloween!

When you wake up in the morning after sleeping through most of the day and the whole night (those who sleep, anyway), you feel refreshed and no longer aching from the long, wet walk down from the Dreadwood Trading Post.

You decide to spend y our morning better getting to know Saltmarsh, and discover a nice little place called the Feet Up Inn, as well as Radric’s General Store.

As he’d requested, you all joined Hunlaf at the funeral for his eldest son, Cynfrith. Arriving at the cemetery, you overhear Hunlaf comforting his wife, Nisha, saying things like “Don’t worry, honey, he’s just taking it very hard.” You asked and were told that he was referring to his young son, Arnal, who you were told was not present at the funeral.

Afterwards, you decided to question Hunlaf and his wife some more regarding the cargo he’d been transporting and the arrangements he’d made with his employer. You learned only that he meets up with his employer shortly after the new moon each month, and that they meet by the river at the north edge of town. His employer gives him information about when and where to find the wagon, but does not reveal his identity at all.

It’s nearly a month until the next new moon.

You then left Hunlaf to explore the town and get to the bottom of the skeletal warriors. Town Hall proved fairly fruitless, as the councilors were not even present, as they apparently meet only once per season under normal circumstances.

You then visited Commander Walthas Kang at the barracks. He was a bit more helpful than the guards at the Town Hall, but mostly offered general knowledge. When prompted, he said he would keep you all in mind if he needed some sort of external strike force.

You then set off for the lavish mansion of Lord Mayor Erolin Timertikos, but noticed activity in the town before you could arrive. You realized that the people of the town seemed to be alarmed and cooperating to some end. A messenger hurrying toward you explained that Hunlaf’s young son, Arnal, had gone missing. He urged you to go to the Feet Up Inn with him, which you did.

Once there, you learned that while the town was being searched door-to-door, Hunlaf had become very worried that his son may have gone east to a “haunted house” (he’s skeptical of it’s nature), which he’d been obsessing over for some time now. Or, as Hunlaf had initially suspected, he might have gone up toward Burle to see where his brother died or to avenge him.

Knowing that none in the town would travel to the well-feared haunted house, he asked you directly to help him by visiting this house and searching for the boy. You agreed to do so, and he then gave you some donated coins (50gp each) to outfit yourselves before setting off if the door-to-door search should come up empty-handed.

When that search did indeed prove fruitless, you set off on rented-horseback, arriving at the house in roughly an hour. It is just before suppertime.

Approaching the house, Taryn heard strange noises coming from the ajar front door. Bursting in, he was faced with four goblins and a hefty bear on a leash.

The bear immediately escaped, and the party valiantly defeated the goblins.

You received a few silver for each of the goblins (totaling around 20sp?), and Taryn and Varis each spotted that the “leader” had a heavily-weighted scimitar pommel. Checking it out, you discovered a 25gp ruby hidden in the pommel of the scimitar.

You each received 40xp for defeating the goblins and avoiding the bear.

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Under The Haunted House
or The Hunt For Licherachi

Tonight picked up with the remains of the battle against the goblin group. The party decided to start with the library Rakik had passed through on the first floor, and in it they found three books which seemed like they might have some value (The Magical Properties of Gemstones by Mage Tenser, The Magical Properties of Herbs and Flowers by Mage Tenser, and The Metaphysics of Mathematics by Mage Nystul… you have no idea how much they might be worth) as well as a water-damaged note in the third one which had two legible words written on it: “…beyond skeletons…”.

Then, you checked the study across the hall, finding only receipts in the locked desk drawer.

The westernmost room gave the paladin a small fright when a voice boomed out, saying “Welcome, fools — welcome to your deaths!” followed by a prolonged burst of insane and fiendish laughter. The paladin then went on to find a nice golden earring (20gp), which helped improve his spirits.

Heading to the east wing, you found a leather pouch concealed in a chimney which contained a potion of vitality (removes exhaustion, cures disease and poison, and maximizes the healing received from hit dice expenditures for 24 hours). The easternmost room was barren. The ceiling in both of the eastern rooms looked to be sagging and ready to collapse.

You then headed to the north wing of the house, where the sorcerer found a large spider who happened to be hiding in the same chimney as a metal box which contained a blue steel dagger.

The dining room across the hall didn’t contain anything of interest.

The kitchen, however, was home to a family of giant centipedes which, while not hard to kill, bite with a strong poison.

Adjoining the kitchen was a scullery with stairs leading down to the cellar.

When Varis stepped onto the top step, screams and howls could be heard from the room below. Taryn immediately charged down to inject himself into the kerfufle. All you found, though, was a wine cellar (with the wine long-since removed or destroyed), a couple of bins of filth, and a platemail-clad body face-down on the floor in the center of the room. A longsword lay near the corpse’s hand and a shield was across its legs. Searching the body, you discovered that he had been infested with rot grubs! The filthy creatures respond well to fire, Rakik recalled, and so the party began cooking the body and the bins of filth to rid them of the vile worms.

While maneuvering around the room, Rakik noticed a very faint breeze coming from what was discovered to be a secret door in the south wall of the room. Opening it, you found a large room lit by burning torches, with enough crude beds and chairs to accommodate 10 people as a living quarters. The room appears to be unoccupied currently.

Taryn spends several minutes carefully removing the platemail from the corpse and examining it. The long sword and shield do not appear to be out of the ordinary.

For your troubles, you each receive 125xp (bringing your running total to 185xp).

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It Was Groundskeeper Gavin the Whole Time!
...and I would have gotten away with it, too...

You started the session in the wine cellar, with Taryn stripping the armour from the body on the floor and putting it on. The others, meanwhile, were keeping watch and taking a scouting interest in the very curious room beyond the secret door.

This curious room differed from the others in the house, in that it appeared to be very recently occupied (though now empty). 10 beds lined one wall, and 12 chairs stood round the long table in the center of the room.

Once dressed, Taryn was ready for action, and the party moved into the next room to check things out more thoroughly. When Varis went to check out one of the beds, he got a better look at the east end of the room and saw two doors: one slightly ajar leading to a candelabra-lit room, and the other with ‘DANGER’ written in chalk on it, and barricaded with a heavy timber.

Following the logic that people always hide good things behind doors marked DANGER, Taryn easily lifted the timber aside and pulled open the door. Inside, he found a largely-empty and dusty room, where a handful of skeletons were slowly rising from the floor to adopt a fighting position.

The ensuing combat did not go very well, with the skeletons making short work of Rakik and Helen, and very nearly killing Taryn as well. Discretion being the better part of valour, Taryn grabbed his fallen comrades and dragged them out of the room while “BoogiestEin” re-barricaded the door. The bodies were dragged back into the wine cellar, where the party spiked the secret door and settled in for a good nap.

Before you’d even had a chance to fluff the pillows, though, you were interrupted by a gnoll coming down the cellar stairs! Varis and “BoogiestEin” pincushioned it with arrows until Taryn charged up the stairs to finish it off with a sword thrust. They then dragged the body down the stairs to be looted (“BoogiestEin” found a very nice golden armband on it, in addition to a large set of leather armor, a short sword, and a longbow with 20 arrows). You then resumed your rest.

Varis did a little investigating in the next room, and managed to find a secret door in the far (southwest) corner of the cellar. A little later, Rakik regained consciousness and began a short rest of their own. “BoogiestEin” kept watch on the cellar through the secret door by holding it open a smidge. She actually witnessed two humans emerge through the other secret door, spot her, and then run back through the door, apparently frightened. The longish rest continued.

After probably three and a half hours, total, Varis started hearing more and more activity in the next room. He got the impression that the gnoll that you’d killed was somehow allied with the humans, and was expected back before now. Fearing that time was running short, Taryn was encouraged to give his healing potion to the still-unconscious Helen, which he did. Thus healed, the party felt it was ready to resolve this situation.

Heading into the cellar once more, you once again found it devoid of life. You gathered near the secret door in the southwest corner, and prepared to open the door and deal with what laid beyond. Varis sneakily snuck up and opened the door to reveal… a large barrel of “FIRE OIL” with a lit fuse almost-completely burned down into it. You each dove for cover.

But it was a trick! Taryn, trying to pull the fuse from the barrel realized quickly that his hand passed right through it! Looking into the area beyond, he saw a large number of humans, armed and ready to charge up towards him. He retreated a little and shut the door. Rakik improvised the roar of a mighty dragon, which seemed to be very convincing as several screams could be heard beyond the secret door. After a moment, you heard a muffled shout of “It’s a trick, get up there! Break down the door!” but nothing seemed to happen. The rest of you regained your composure and verticality and prepared for the onslaught, invigorated by the thought that these enemies were not as fierce as you initially feared.

You prepared to face whatever came through the door, and didn’t have to wait much longer: the first two men through the door were killed instantly by the directed attacks of the party. The rest then filed in, looking quite scared, and began their shaky attacks against you. They were followed after by a gnoll (armed and armoured like the one you’d fought previously) and a decently-dressed man who stood just beyond the secret door from you.

The battle was as long and hard as a euphemism, but in the end you managed to render the “leader” unconscious, and accepted the surrender of the last remaining footsoldier. You tied them both up, and gagged the spellcasting leader. Searching the leader’s room, Varis discovered a loose flagstone covering an iron box. “BoogiestEin” used a key she found on the leader to open the box, but as she turned the key a needle sprang out of the mechanism and poked her fingertip. A blue colour began to spread through her fingertip, and Rakik quickly gave her the Potion of Vitality found earlier. “BoogiestEin” now has a blue fingertip, but otherwise seems fine. The box, once opened, was found to contain 5 vials of liquid: three which appear to be Potions of Healing, one which appears to be a Potion of Vitality, and a silvery liquid which Varis believes is a Potion of Speed.

You are all now catching your breath and preparing for a longer rest.

First, we tally up the spoils:
Wooden box: 3 flasks of oil, a tinderbox with flint and steel, 8 new candles and a piece of parchment (which has some curious marks on it)
Books: a volume of erotic poetry (fully illustrated!), a naval almanac listing tide times for the area of coast containing Saltmarsh (a total of 100 miles of coastline is covered), and a learned volume concerning mesmerism and its effects (inside this book is a sheet of parchment carrying some simple words and phrases in the common tongue, like “Stop”, “Fight”, and “Lift”, and their equivalents in an unknown language). You think the first two books could be worth 10gp each in a place like Saltmarsh, but the third book may be harder to sell (though worth more if you manage it).
First gnoll: large leather armor, short sword, long bow, 20 arrows, gold bracelet (75gp)
Footsoldier #1: Large gold ear-ring in right ear-lobe (15 gp); belt pouch containing 3 gp, 13 sp, 7 cp and a gem worth 200 gp
Footsoldier #2: gold chain with ‘lucky charm’ round neck (60 gp); large gold ear-ring in right ear-lobe (15 gp); belt pouch containing 23 sp.
Footsoldier #3: pair of large gold ear-rings (50 gp the pair); belt pouch containing 15 sp.
Footsoldier #4: gold ring on finger (75 gp); belt pouch containing 6 sp.
Footsoldier #5: gold bracelet (75 gp) on right forearm; belt pouch containing 3 gp.
Footsoldier #6: large gold ear-ring (25 gp) in right ear-lobe; belt pouch containing 9 sp.
Footsoldier #7: ’lucky charm’ on chain round neck (60 gp); belt pouch containing 2 sp.
Footsoldier #8: ’lucky charm’ on chain round neck (60 gp).
Second gnoll: large leather armor, short sword, long bow, 20 arrows
Leader: 2 daggers in belt-sheaths, 1 dagger in wristsheath, a belt pouch containing 7 gp, 5 sp, 3 ep, a key (to the iron box), a set of dice, and three gems each worth 250 gp. A second, smaller, belt pouch contains material components for spellcasting.
Iron box: 3 Potions of Healing, Potion of Vitality, and a Potion of Speed.

Next, we add up the experience gained:

Skeletons: 60xp each
For the humans & gnolls (combined): 120xp each
For solving the mystery of the “haunted” house: 100xp each

This brings each of you to a running total of 465xp, which means…

DING! LEVEL TWO!

For reaching level two, everyone will get more hit points (see below), an extra hit die, and usually one or more class-features which are dependent on the class level you take. Which brings me to this piece of information on multiclassing:

Any time you gain a level in D&D 5th edition, you can choose to either gain it in an existing class, or to branch out by taking a level in a new class, if you are qualified for it. Branching out like this lets you retain your original class(es) and all the abilities and features you already have, in addition to the features from the new class. Qualifying to branch out into an additional class requires having at least a 13 in the key ability score(s) for that new class, which represents you having a natural aptitude for it. Anyway, I’ll leave it at that for now… if you’re interested in being something of a “jack of all trades” rather than a “specialist”, then let me know and I can fill you in on further details.

For those pushing further into their existing classes, some will be gaining spellcasting powers for the first time (e.g. Rangers and Paladins), while the rest of you will be gaining incremental spellcasting ability. (Which reminds me: Thea was supposed to already have access to some spells at 1st level… sorry for that oversight! Ack! I’ll email her with a list of spells to choose from for 1st level.)

Hitpoints: when gaining hit points, you have the choice of rolling a dice old-skool-style, or simply (and safely!) choosing an average value. For example, when a bard or cleric goes up a level, they normally gain 1d8 hit points. They can either roll an 8 sided dice to get a random value, or they can choose to take a non-random 5 hit points (the average roll for an 8 sided dice is actually 4.5, but here we round up to 5). Each time you gain hit points for going up a level, you always add your Constitution modifier to the result. Here’s how to compute hit points for each of your classes:

1d6 (for Sorcerers): roll 1d6, or take 4. Add Constitution modifier.
1d8 (for Bards and Clerics): roll 1d8, or take 5. Add Constitution modifier.
1d10 (for Paladins and Rangers): roll 1d10, or take 6. Add Constitution modifier.

If you have any questions about leveling up, or want to inform me of which class you’ll be gaining a level in, drop me an email and I can offer some advice and/or send you the features and options you’ll have access to at your new level (for those who don’t have access to a Player’s Handbook).

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Rescuing Ned
with help from Mr. Weasel

The party was (ironically?) on the verge of taking a long rest for the night as you started this session. Before bed, however, some of you wanted to interrogate the smuggler who surrendered, a swarthy gentleman named Asher. He speaks with a strange accent. He responded well to Rakik’s questioning, and seemed to be answering honestly and to the best of his ability.

You learned several things:

  • that Asher was been with this operation for around three years,
  • that they are from a distant country (The Hold of the Sea Princes, to the south),
  • that they mostly smuggled brandy and silk,
  • that the goods are brought in by a ship,
  • that a light-based signalling system is used to communicate with the ship,
  • how the light signalling system works,
  • that the ship isn’t expected for a few weeks (he believes),
  • that his leader is named Sanbalet, not Gaven (he doesn’t know a “Gaven”).
  • that the captain of the ship they use for smuggling is named Captain Sigurd “Snake Eyes”,
  • that they rarely leave the basement (though they are occasionally relieved by a replacement crew),
  • that they transport smuggled goods to Saltmarsh at night. They wait outside of town while Sanbalet visits a tavern on the edge of town. Then they travel around the outside of Saltmarsh to bring the goods west of the town where they find a wagon and load it up with the goods. They then return to the ‘haunted house’.
  • that you believe he was lying when he told you he has a wife and three children back home.
  • that he doesn’t know anything about a lost boy,
  • (Added) that the skeletons killed a man named William when they first arrived at the house, years ago, and they barred the door and kept it shut since then.

You gave him some food and water for his help, and proceeded to take watches. George, settling in to the first watch, looked at the barrel of ale and said “I need a mug” at which point a gruff voice said “Here y’go” and a mug appeared in his hand. He filled it, and settled in to “watch”. After a few hours he woke Varis up for his watch, telling him that he’d heard a scratching sound from upstairs earlier but that it hadn’t bothered him enough to cause alarm.

Varis decided to check out the scratching noise, and woke up Rakik to take watch instead while Varis snuck around. He crept upstairs, detected nothing but did notice that one of the centipede corpses had been dragged off by something, leaving a bloody trail. He followed the trail to the large living area room on the west side of the house (the one with the trap door). Going to a window, he noticed a giant albino weasel outside the house a short ways away, near the rock wall. He cast Speak With Animals, and proceeded to have a conversation with him. He learned that:

  • Giant Weasels like to eat Giant Centipedes,
  • a halfling had been at the house a day or two ago, but had left toward the east (toward Seaton),
  • two big people (human-sized) had come to the house a day ago, one of them remaining inside but locked away in an upstairs room where the weasel couldn’t eat him,
  • the other big person had left,
  • there are sometimes Giant Ants in the house,
  • there are sometimes other rodents in the house,
  • there was no sign of a small person other than the halfling,
  • the weasel family numbers at least five, and they all like to eat Giant Centipedes.

Satisfied, Varis returned to the group. The night proceeded without further incident.

The next morning, Helen decided to try to trick Sanbalet by impersonating Asher. Even after being charmed, Sanbalet does not fall for the trickery. Sanbalet seems fairly uncooperative during his interrogation, and doesn’t tell you much until Rakik intimidates him into cooperating a little. He doesn’t provide much information that Asher had not already provided.

Deciding to store the two smugglers (bound and gagged) in the leader’s room, the party set about emptying the room to convert it to a prison cell. Rakik tipped the table a little and discovered Sanbalet’s spellbook, containing a number of wizard spells of 1st and 2nd level.

The party decides then to proceed upstairs to check out the 2nd floor. Following the stairs up through the kitchen, the party proceeds to check each room of the 2nd floor.

You find a room containing non-dusty clothes in a heap, which strikes you as odd. You find a room with a cloak in a cupboard, and Boogiestein uses Mage Hand to avert a possible disaster as dislodging the cloak releases a cloud of yellow mould spores… quite deadly if inhaled. You also find a room containing two large spiders, which Boogiestein and Taryn dispatch easily. Then you find the final room locked.

Taryn kicks open the door, to discover an old man tied up and gagged at the far end of the room. After some unwieldy poking with long sticks, Varis eventually goes in and unties the old man and helps him out of the room. He explains that his name is Ned. After questioning, the party had some suspicions about this fellow, and Boogiestein eventually decided to try to hang him over the balcony in the foyer (with the intention of using featherfall to save him if he actually did fall) to intimidate him into being truthful. He managed to hang onto the railings, though, to keep from being pulled out over the foyer, but during the struggle a dagger fell from around his person onto the floor. Helen examined the dagger, believing the blade might be poisoned. After a 20 minute ritual, he discovered that blade is, indeed, poisoned, but also that there are poison reservoirs in the handle of the weapon.

And that’s where we left off.

For encountering the weasels: 30xp each
Yellow Mould: 10xp each
2 Large Spiders: 20xp each
Total: +60xp each

You found:
Fist-sized chunk of crystal (no value, but pretty)
Deed to the Haunted House (in Gaven Wind’s name)
Scroll of Hold Person

As I mentioned at the end of the evening, if you want to roleplay or discuss things, we can do so via email. For instance, if you have anything you want to discuss with Asher, Sanbalet, Mr. Weasel, or Ned.

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Cold Case Files: Haunted House
So that's where Gaven's been hiding all these years!

While Helen performed the ritual to examine the dagger, the rest of the party questioned Ned some more about what had happened to him. He reiterated that he’s just a guy from Seaton on his way to Saltmarsh to find work, and that he’d been hit on the head just after he entered the house and awoke to find himself bound up. You weren’t quite believing his story, but the bard did stop trying to hang him over the balcony. He made a run for the front door, but Taryn caught him before he could make it more than a step.

Then, Taryn talked to him about the merciful danger of Kord, and Ned gave a passable performance of someone experiencing a change of heart. It seemed to please the paladin, though not to the point of fully trusting him.

Once Helen had discovered the full extent of the poisoned dagger’s abilities, the party decided to explore the attic. Taryn pushed Ned ahead of the party and ordered him to climb up the wall to drop a rope down for the others. He asked for climbing gear and a weapon, but was denied. So he climbed up anyway, looked around, and reported that the place looked pretty empty. He then tied the rope around a beam and dropped it down for you.

One by one you climbed up into the attic, and one by one he offered a hand to each of you to help you up, smiling awkwardly as he did so. You looked around, and discovered that his assessment wasn’t far off. The attic was devoid of much, except a couple of sacks of old, decrepit clothing and rags. Several large holes allowed sunlight in, providing some bright areas and some dim light around them.

You pushed down into the wider southern part of the attic (it being one large ‘room’), and were shocked to discover two things: an injection of stirges and Ned’s long-awaited betrayal!

Yes, Ned took advantage of the momentary chaos to make his move. He used a wooden stake to stab Boogiestein, finding some grim revenge for almost being thrown over the balcony. It was a horrible wound, though in hindsight she’ll feel glad that he no longer had the poisoned blade.

Meanwhile, Varis and Taryn were attacked by stirges, who successfully poked proboscises into each of them. Boogie and Rakik tried to deal with Ned, and Helen caught the attention of a loose stirge while he remained a little closer to the attic stairs.

Ned, having inflicted some painful wounds (and receiving a few himself) headed for the broken attic stairs but stopped to take a stab at Helen on the way. As he then broke away to drop down the hole, the stirge who’d been harassing Helen made an opportunity attack against Ned and attached itself! Ned, with stirge firmly injected, dropped down anyway and ran out of sight.

Rakik followed, hot on his heels, but found him crawling away only 60 or so feet around a corner. The stirge was happily sucking out the last few hitpoints from him. Rakik asked him if he had any last words, to which he responded, “Fuck you all.” He died with one hand flipping the bird towards the group. Like a shitty coffee, he was bitter to the very end.

After dispatching the last stirge, the group decided to take a rest in the attic to recoup. Taryn discovered the stirges’ nest and found an odd stone coin tucked in a cracked, leather purse. He gave it to Rakik, who give it some consideration during their short rest, and was pleased to discover that it had magical properties!

The group then headed downstairs to take care of those dangerous skeletons, once and for all (barring re-reanimation, but that hardly ever happens).

With a plan in place, things went much more smoothly. During the fight, Helen produced Fharlanghn’s holy symbol to turn back the evil used to animate the skeletons, and two of them did indeed run in panic. The first was immediately cut down by Taryn as it ran, but the other reached the secret door at the side of the room and ran beyond, into darkness.

The skeletons dealt with, you proceeded into this new room, where you found a secret alchemical laboratory. Seated in front of a desk, a book open in front of him, was the skeleton of a man in a fancy wizard robe with a pointy wizard hat. In one hand was clutched a very interesting-looking vaguely-glowing stone. The book appeared to involve the transmutation of materials from one form to another, which fit with the whole alchemist vibe you’d previously noted. Two golden objects were on the desk as well: an apple and a rose, both perfect replicas of their real-world counterparts.

Taryn plucked the stone from the dead man’s hand, and discovered to his horror that it was, in fact, a cursed luckstone which attuned to him immediately. Closer inspection gave the impression that the alchemist may have died from a heart attack, as he sat, alone, in his well-hidden secret lab, which was protected by a gaggle of skeletons within the fairly-secret cellar-area of the house. Bad luck, indeed!

And that’s the point where we wrapped for the night.

When you eventually decide to check out the rest of the basement area (from whence the smugglers had emerged) you will discover the following layout:

Haunted_House_Caverns.jpg
The cavern marked “25” has a large—and easily avoidable—green slime living on the ceiling, dropping blobs of itself onto the cavern floor to digest the human waste and other debris that had been thrown there, but the other parts of the cave network do not present any danger. The passages and caverns all decline perceptibly toward the sea, and are wet and slimy with moist floors. Coarse matting has been laid in various places along the main route toward the ocean in an apparent effort to make it more easily passable.

Stacked neatly in a couple of the other caverns are 9 bolts of silk cloth, and 15 casks of brandy. These are identical to the silk cloth and brandy you found in the cellar. In total, you found 10 bolts of silk cloth and 17 casks of brandy (one of which you opened and sampled). These are all fairly heavy (around 50 lbs. per cask, and 30 lbs. per bolt).

As shown, a “jolly boat” (about 12 feet long, with four oars, no sail) can be found pulled up and tied on the small, stony beach astride the ocean. Efforts have been taken to camouflage the boat using gray tarpaulins.

When inspecting the beach area, Varis notes that hand-holds have been painstakingly carved right up to the very top edge of the cliff face, some 70 feet above sea level.

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Ship Shape
Stop, you vitamin-lacking canines!

Having concluded your business with the “haunted” house, you decided to pack up some brandy, silk, and the two prisoners and ride back to Saltmarsh. You had just finished climbing/walking to the front of the house, however, when you heard a cough and noticed an unfamiliar man peeking around the stone wall at you, aside a horse.

The man introduced himself as Erwin, and gave you the good news that Hunlaf’s son Arnal had been found. Fearful of the house, he insisted on riding back immediately, and you followed not long after that.

Arriving in town, you’re greeted (as usual) by the guards at the east gate (gate being a figurative term here). One of them questioned you about your cargo, and when told about smuggled goods suggested that you needed to talk to someone at Whitecap Shipping, since they handle smuggling enforcement for the king in this region.

The guard accompanied you on the way to Whitecap. On the way you passed by the Feet Up Inn and found a celebration going on. Taryn and Boogiestein made their way inside to talk to Hunlaf and he was very happy to see them both. He led them to his house to get the rest of the reward he had promised. With that fulfilled, he returned to the celebration. You noted that he was buying drinks for people.

Then you made your way to Whitecap where you met a woman named Lesley. She listened to your story, and was moved to help ensure you received a good reward for your bravery and honesty. She took posession of the smuggled goods, told you that she’d send some men to collect the rest, and then wrote notes for you to take to the town hall to collect your reward.

The town guard led you to the town hall, where you were met by a man named Wallding. He heard a briefer form of your story, read details from Lesley’s note, and then wrote up additional pages to be sent into the wheels of bureaucracy to get you your reward and to alert the town council of the happenings at the haunted house.

You returned to the Feet Up Inn to join the celebration, and were treated to several drinks by Hunlaf and others. They were astounded to hear your stories of the house and its denizens.

Close to sundown, a guard came to fetch you all and summon you back to the town hall for an emergency session of the council.

Arriving, you were led into the council chambers immediately and seated before the six counsillors (Lord Mayor Erolin Timertikos, Councillor Lord Egan Lassiter, Councillor Lady Lyra Ivessa, Councillor Lady Lira Tolivar, Councillor Lord Hoskin Lahti, and Councillor Lord Toren Aerakin). They questioned you on details of your adventure, and you provided answers.

They gave you a reward of 100 gold pieces each for your acts, and made the offer of an additional reward of 200 gold pieces if you would perform one more task for them: capture the smuggler’s vessel and all contraband aboard.

You agree to take on this task, and a plan was hatched. They would provide you with a cutter, two able men, and whatever other equipment you would need for the job. You took advantage of this to acquire a cart, mattresses, food and drink, and some other goods(?) to make the smuggler’s house more livable while you awaited the ship’s signal.

The two men assigned to you were Corporal Will Stoutly, and his younger brother, Private Tom Stoutly. They seemed like level-headed men, and even spent some time teaching you the basics of handling a cutter and swimming (though honestly, they were barely passable at swimming themselves).

They spent their evenings patrolling the waters near the smuggler’s house, while you waited there, taking turns keeping watch for the ship. On the first night of the new moon, as expected, you spotted a light signal from far out to sea. You gave what you hoped was the correct response and were relieved to get the proper response from the ship.

Rushing to the sea cave, you were met by Will and Tom in the cutter after several minutes. You all set off then towards the lights which continued to signal every few minutes to guide you to them.

The trip to the ship took perhaps twenty minutes altogether, and as you got close you made the decision to swing round to the port side which seemed to be clear of watchful eyes. The starboard side was populated by several figures along the length of the vessel, as well as a crewman up in the crow’s nest.

Varis snuck on board first, climbing the portside ladder. Helen gave Boogiestein the blessing of Fharlanghn to be extra sneaky, but it didn’t help. Stumbling as she came aboard the ship, she attracted the attention of the two crew down on the main deck who approached to find out what was happening. As the human crew stumbled toward you all in the dark, Taryn climbed aboard followed by Helen, Rakik, and the Stoutly boys. The crew decided to go below-deck to find a light source.

As you prepared to fight, Rakik and Taryn moved aft toward several crewmen, while Varis climbed the rigging to surprise the crow’s nest occupant. The rest remained near the forecastle and the mast. You joined battle by having Rakik place Dancing Lights over the heads of each of the four crewmen you could see on the poop deck, while Varis easily shoved the lone crewman from the crow’s nest to the deck far below (he did not survive his injuries). Taking advantage of the surprise created, you attacked and killed two more of the crewmen. As the crew realized what was happening to them, the fight began in earnest. Taryn used his Thunderous Smite to attack the crewman he identified as the captain, and the noise from that spell appears to have alerted some other members of the ship’s crew.

And that’s where we left off.

Treasure:
100gp reward for clearing out the smuggler’s house.

Experience:
You’ll get xps for the ship assault once the fight is over. ;)

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Snakes on a Boat
I've had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking boat!

As we began the evening, you were on a smuggler vessel named the Sea Ghost anchored two miles offshore from the “haunted” house. You had previously attempted to sneak aboard the ship, but attracted the attention of the crew a little early and combat ensued. This evening, you finished that fight.

Taryn and Rakik were on the poop deck fighting the captain and a crewman. Boogie, Helen, Will and Tom were on the main deck fighting the mate and another crewman. Varis was keeping a crow’s-eye view of things from the nest.

After a rough battle during which Will was unconscious and nearly dead, you took a moment to collect yourselves and get Will back on his feet. No sooner had spells been cast and potions been drunk, however, when the remaining crewmen emerged from the forecastle led by an angry bosun!

The hook-handed bosun made straight for Tom, while the four crewmen spread out to attack those nearby. That fight saw Tom rendered unconscious as well while you continued to try to take down the last of the crew.

Snake_Crushes_Cutter.jpgAs the last of the crew were killed, you heard a horrible crunching sound and turned to see a huge snake wrapped around the cutter you arrived in! A moment later the boat was mere splinters and sail cloth floating on the ocean waves, while the snake was nowhere to be seen. You got Tom back on his feet, just as Varis was hearing a hissing sound coming from the front of the ship.

A moment later, the snake had climbed up the port side of the ship and coiled itself on the main deck! Rakik sent a ball of electricity shooting towards it, but missed and instead destroyed a section of railing around the forecastle. The light from that attack revealed two lizardfolk and a crocodile making their way over the top of the forecastle!

Taryn_battles_lizards.jpgThings were looking pretty dark for our beleaguered team, but you pressed on valiantly. The snake (whose head was as large as any of you) lunged and tried to sink its teeth into Taryn, but failed. The lizardfolk moved down onto the main deck, one moving in next to Taryn, and the other confronting Will and Tom. The crocodile slid down the ladder and turned to grasp Taryn in its mighty jaws, succeeding in locking him in a death-grapple.

Pseudodragon.jpgMost of you focussed on killing the snake, while Taryn defended himself from his attackers and Will was once again knocked unconscious. Helen, meanwhile, was holding his position near the poop deck and was thus surprised to find a tiny dragon perched on his shoulders, and the tiny dragon’s poison-barbed tail driven into his neck. Helen lost consciousness at that point, and the tiny dragon flew away into the darkness. It returned several seconds later but was spotted by Rakik and so chose to avoid the drow and fly a slow circle instead. As it was passing, Rakik spoke to it in Draconic and it stared at the drow while projecting an image into Rakik’s brain: the image of a tiny dragon happily eating a morsel of food. Rakik then woke up Helen with a quick kick and returned to killing the giant snake with the others. In the next round, the tiny dragon appeared on Rakik’s shoulders, projected an image of an unhappy tiny dragon starving to death into the drow’s brain, and then injected some poison (though without knocking Rakik out). The tiny dragon then flew away, though was clipped by Rakik’s scimitar as it launched itself into the air.

It wasn’t too much longer before the snake was dealt a death blow, an event which resulted in the snake seeming to pop like a balloon; disappearing with a bang but no other trace!

The team then focussed its efforts against the crocodile and lizardfolk, killing one of each before the final lizardfolk decided to break from combat and leap into the ocean, disappearing into the dark waters below. As the crocodile expired, it began to quickly transform into a lizardfolk (which you assume to be a female, due to the slighter frame and plain appearance).
Lizards_defeated.jpg

Finally, the ship grew peaceful and you were able to collect yourselves, get Will back on his feet again, and move into the aft-castle for some exploration and/or a rest. As he was moving towards the aft-castle, an image appeared in Varis’ mind: of a tiny dragon happily eating a morsel of food. He threw a piece of meat up into the air, and the pseudodragon (for that is what it was) swooped past and gobbled it out of the air. He received an image of a happy pseudodragon, and the tiny creature perched on the rigging above him briefly before hopping down onto his shoulder. Russ, I’ll send you some information on your new pet.

We won’t need to get together to play out the rest of the ship, since there is no combat left to resolve and I assume you will carefully inspect the vessel before taking a long rest. So I will instead post a link to the wiki which will walk you through the various rooms of the ship and describe to you what you find there. If you have any comments, concerns, or actions you’d like to take in response to the wiki, we can resolve them by email.

Experience:
Mate “Bloody” Bjorn = 100xp
Sea Ghost Crew = 25xp each (200xp total)
Punketah (the spellcaster you killed immediately) = 100xp
Captain Sigurd “Snake Eyes” = 200xp
Bosun “Foul” Frithoff = 50xp
Lizardfolk = 100xp each (200xp total)
Lizardfolk Shaman = 450xp
Giant Constrictor Snake = 450xp
Pseudodragon = 50xp
Reward for capturing the Sea Ghost = 500xp
Total = 2300xp split between 7 people (Will and Tom earn xps, of course) = 330xp each

That brings your total experience to-date to 745xp + 330xp = 1075xp. That means… DING! You’ve each reached level 3! Congratulations! Level three is considered to be the first turning point for characters, when they truly begin to embody their chosen classes. Being as it’s so important, I’d like to take some time soon to get together one-on-one to go over each of your characters for an hour or two. I’ll send individual emails about that.

Treasure:
chain shirt x3
leather armor x8
robes
helmet x3
spiked shield
longsword (magical)
longsword (magical)
longsword x2
shortsword x8
dagger x11
iron hook (formerly attached to the arm of the bosun)
light crossbow w/ 8 bolts
shortbow w/ 12 arrows
darts x6
javelin x3
wand (magical)
gold finger ring (15gp)
gold arm-band (20gp) x2
gold chain with ‘lucky charm’ (10gp) x2
gold finger-ring (5gp)
gold ear-ring (5gp)
gold finger-ring with small gems (75gp)
gold finger-ring with small gems (50gp)
gold ear-ring (10gp)
Lizardfolk_Symbol.jpgsilver collar (5gp) with an engraved emblem of a lizard with forked tongue extended.
gem (50gp)
gem (75gp)
gem (100gp)
pouch of spell components
15gp, 67sp, and 23cp in belt pouches on the various crewmen.

Will and Tom had hoped to receive some small amount of treasure for helping with the combat (i.e. a tip), but given how dangerous their roles turned out to be they will politely ask to receive an equitable portion of the loot you take. They each bear scars which may stay with them for a lifetime.

(Note: the treasure listed above only includes what you find on the dead bodies. My description of each of the rooms of the vessel may contain more treasure, which you can decide the fate of.)

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Bullywug Bullies
The perils of a forced marsh

You began on the deck of the Sea Ghost, with Tom Stoutly warning you of inclement weather ahead. Not wanting to chance the strength of an unfamiliar anchor chain, he suggested that you all pitch in and follow orders to get the ship back to Saltmarsh safely. Each taking various tasks, you did your best to keep the ship off the rocks and headed toward the distant light of town.

The weather grew worse with each passing mile, and there were times when it felt like you were struggling for each inch of forward progress. Will and Tom did their best to bark orders, but you could see from their faces that they knew things weren’t going well. Inspiration struck Varis, though, when he realized that someone needed to lead the effort (and that Will and Tom lacked those social skills). Boogiestein stepped up and started coordinating efforts and raising morale, and things started to work as more of a machine. Before the storm had a chance to reach its apex, you rounded the turn into Saltmarsh’s rivermouth “harbour”. Things weren’t all good, though, as the ship had too much momentum and struck the dock with a bone-shuddering scrape, causing an unknown amount of damage to both the ship and dock. The ship seemed stable, at least, which Will took as a “good enough” situation. Lesly Luscomb was less impressed, though she did at least seem happy that you all made it back alive (especially her men).

After a quick debrief, and at your request, she brought you to the Town Hall where you put in a fire and settled in to wait for the Council to arrive. Some time later, with the council in attendance, you recounted your tale in full to those assembled. They were alarmed at the news of lizardfolk arming themselves with advanced weaponry. The thought that a colony arming for conflict could be living so close to the town was something that they could not afford to ignore. They sent the party off to get some sleep and to return in the morning.

In the morning, while the paladin dozed, the elves ran some errands. Eventually, a young man named Alfic came to get you. Oceanus was waiting with him at The Silver Raven where you’d spent the night. You returned to the Town Hall.

The council looked like they had not slept, but welcomed you and had some food set out for you. They gave you each the 200gp you were promised for defeating the crew of the Sea Ghost and capturing the ship and smuggled goods. They then sat you down to discuss their resolutions.

First, they have enacted conscription to call up and arm all capable citizens of the town. This won’t be enough to withstand a full scale attack, but it may slow the assault until help can arrive.

Next, they have notified the soldiers at the Hool Wall (the only line of defense against a land-based attack from the Hool Marsh), as well as dispatching a cutter to Redshore Island which is the seat of the Viscounty of Salinmoor (the region of Keoland you are currently in). They hope the viscount will have soldiers to send to Saltmarsh’s aid.

And finally, they need information on the lizardfolk colony. This is where you come in. They offered you 2,500gp (i.e. 500gp each) to scout the lizardfolk base, learn its troop strength, and discover what their plans are.

You agreed to take on this task, and the council seemed grateful for it.

You set off on foot the next morning, with some assistance from Lady Tolivar (a female halfling who always seems dressed for the road). She suggested that you would want to travel during the low tide, as the marsh becomes very difficult to traverse at high tide. Also, she suggested you only travel during the day, as the marsh becomes enshrouded by thick fog at night.

Setting off into the marsh, with Rose keeping watch from above and guiding you along a relatively steady path, you kept up a fast pace for several hours and closed about half of the distance to the River Dunwater (where you expect to find the lair).

You then slowed to a normal pace and so were able to notice an oddity ahead before stumbling into what might be a trap. Rose sent aerial surveillance pictures to Varis of what appeared to be giant frogs waiting by the path, stealthily. Helen used his new “clone” ability to send a double of himself walking along the path. It was then that the ambush was sprung, as several frogmen leapt out of swampy water and tried to drive their spears into the illusory Helen. Thus sprung, combat ensued. Several bullywugs (for that is what they are called) kept up their attack on Helen’s double, while others fought the creatures from range with arrows and spells. Taryn eventually charged ahead on the path to take on the foes directly.
Bullywug_Twitcher.jpg
Wave after wave of the bullywugs leapt out of the shadows of the swamp and attacked the party, and many of their attacks found the mark. But through skill and determination you cut the creatures down until their bodies sank into the swamp. You rested for several minutes while Helen granted Fharlanghn’s healing power to each of you.

Acting on an educated hunch, you find the bullywug encampment on a dry patch of ground within a grove of weeping willows to the east of the path. At the encampment, you find some treasure (below) gathered into a well-tied sack. The clearing is marked with a ring of beaten down reeds and grass where you believe the bullywugs slept and ate. The sack is found at the very center of that ring, almost as if it held some especial significance for the creatures.

Experience. You receive 950 XP (158 XP each) for defeating the bullywug horde.

Treasure. 110gp, 5 rubies (50gp each), leather pouch containing a spindle-shaped iridescent stone, a leather cap, and a very nice looking quiver. Examining these items leads you to believe that the stone, cap and quiver might be magical. You will need a short rest (i.e. 1 hour) to assess the magic further.

In addition, the bullywug leader wore a breastplate (now scorched) and carried a longsword. Each of the 18 other bullywugs carried spears and wore hide armor.

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Into the Lair of the Lizardfolk
Now, we begin to see the Danger at Dunwater!

The night began with you resting after your fight against the Bullywugs. A short rest revealed the magical nature of the following items:

  • Ioun Stone (iridescent spindle): when orbiting the owner’s head, they no longer need to breathe air. (Taryn, requires attunement)
  • Cap of Water Breathing: while worn underwater, the wearer can speak its command word as an action to create a bubble of air around their head. (Nameless Bard, who found the word “Styx” sewn into the cap’s headband).
  • Quiver of Ehlonna: has three compartments (arrow-sized, javelin-sized, and spear-sized). Currently contains 24 arrows, 10 magical +1 arrows, and what Oceanus believes is a Trident of Fish Command. (Varis)

After the rest, you continued on toward the lizardfolk lair.

Just before reaching the bank of the Dunwater River, you were confronted with an intersection. You followed the path to the east and came to the spot where the river meets the Azure Sea. Across the river to the south you saw a sizeable hill, which fit the general location of the lair shown on the map you’d been following.

The mouth of the river was choked with grassy islands. You sent Oceanus into the water to scout ahead. No sooner had he set out, it seemed, than he reappeared. He charged out of the water in a full run, pursued closely by two gigantic crayfish. They followed him up onto the shore next to the party.

You took care of the creatures with haste, and pushed on again immediately.

Moving back to the west, you passed the intersection and continued on to the inland bank of the Dunwater River. The river at this area looked fordable, with shallows leading to a grassy island in the middle of the stream. You all crossed safely, and found yourselves on the southern bank of the river with the lair hill ahead of you to the south east.

The hour was getting late at this point, and you felt that pushing on would have been unwise. You made a clearing in the high grass off the main path and concealed your tracks. The night watch was only roused once by the sound of many armoured creatures moving along the path toward the east.

The next morning allowed you to confirm that the tracks left on the path were those of lizardfolk, and they seemed to lead to the hill ahead of you.

Rose flew reconnaissance, which allowed you to see a large cave mouth in the western side of the hill. This seemed to be where the tracks were leading, as well, and so you pursued right up to the mouth of the cave.

You had not managed to get far into the muddy cave mouth when you realized that the cave was not, in fact, empty. Several large lizards sprang to life and charged at you across the thick, muddy floor.

During your fight with them, a small group of lizardfolk appeared and moved to join the fight. They demanded your surrender (in the draconic language) as they approached, but they didn’t seem willing to wait long for your answer before launching their attacks.

The fight continued until only two lizardfolk remained. One of them ordered the other to run for help just before he died, and the second tried to make a run for the southern archway. Rose, however, was prepared to intercept him and managed to inject enough poison to knock him out cold.

You tied him up, gagged him, and propped him up in the mud to await some delayed justice.

A battered breastplate was discovered in the mud, on the northern side of the cave (sorry, I can’t remember who discovered it… maybe Varis?). This seemed to be unusable, but beneath it in the mud was found a silvery metallic javelin. The word “Arc” is engraved in delicate script along the shaft of the weapon.

Meanwhile, you all moved on to the stone walkway at the back of the cavern. You first investigated the northern archway (from whence the lizardfolk had come) with the bard sneaking on ahead. She discovered the guard room (now empty), a door (with many lizardfolk voices behind it), and eventually a portcullis. She returned to the group.

Moving to the southern archway, she discovered that it turned east fairly quickly and that the first door to her left also had a number of voices beyond it.

This is where we left things off.

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