Fletch- Dwarf barbarian
Stephen- Halfling barbarian
Chuck- High elf sorcerer
John- Wood elf rogue
Lisa- Human ranger
After the tragic demise of the cleric in the last session and the brutal fight the ensued to drop the vile Ankheg, the group decided to travel about a mile away from the creepy house and sleep under a weeping willow that rested on a large hillock. After the sleeping order was decided I rolled on a few tables to determine if something fun happened. The group decided no fire would be made- they would wait in total darkness.
Two of the four watches went off without a hitch, however during John and Lisa’s fun stuff happened.
In the middle of the night during John’s watch a scream pierced the night, issuing from the creepy house of the demon sorcerer Gargamel, and a bright light could be seen blinking from the second story window. John said, “Wow… that’s fucked up! We’re actually gonna go IN THERE…” but did nothing.
During Lisa’s watch, she heard a faint growl and quickly looked around. However being that she is human and can’t see in the dark, she was pretty screwed. She did, however, see glowing eyes and let out a cry to wake everyone up. The creatures got an attack before anyone could rise (which I rolled poorly on). When the group came to and saw what was going on, they were greeted by hideous anthropomorphic hyena men… the group sprang into action and after taking a few hard knocks, brought down the beasts. They explored down the hill and found a large bag that was squirming. When they opened it they found a fair-haired young man who was headed to Saltmarsh to help the temple of Pelor.
One of the members sighed, “Oh thank fuck, we have a new cleric!”
The young man took on a strange Hugh Grant style muttering, “Umm.. I’m a man of faith, but I cannot yet perform the miracles of a cleric. I have not been blessed by Pelor to aid his followers in that way yet.”
The group looked at me, “You son of a bitch.”
After a few extra hours of sleep the group ventured back to the mansion
Into the Haunted Mansion… of Boring…
Aside: I purchased the Sinister Secrets of Saltmarsh when WotC first released all the original D&D goodies on Drivethru RPG (as it was highly recommended as an amazing module). I have no doubt that at the time it was really good (and indeed, probably groundbreaking, etc.), but I found it pretty cut and dry and boring. There wasn’t much going on in it and the random encounters really didn’t make sense to me… it felt like “let’s have a random encounter just for the sake of having one in here” kinda thing… I know it’s supposed to a nod to sword and sorcery stuff where the actually villain is nothing but mankind rather than actual spooks, specters, and goblins… but I wanted more… I’ve also admittedly become spoiled by amazing modern adventures like: Scenic Dunnsmouth, Death Frost Doom, Forgive Us, Sailors on the Starless Sea, etc.
I beefed up things in the module and I also linked it to my own machinations of what I want to happen in this campaign.
First- I nixed the random encounters entirely. I had goblins in one room on the second floor with a bunch of crates that was their living quarters in room 17 on the second floor- this also gave validity to the assassin’s story who was pretending to be attacked and tied up by goblins.
Second- the room in the basement that the smugglers just boarded up because they were scared of the skeletons (which is rightfully so- because it’s a six skeleton combat) is boring and cliche- so I nixed that as well… I’ll have to explain the change in recap six however, because my players have two rooms left to investigate in the whole mansion.
Third- I changed the motivations (slightly) of the assassin. He was still there to stop the players from investigating, but he had other reasons (aside from the smuggling operation) to want the adventurers dead.
Fourth- I added a captive down in the final confrontation area. A woman, badly beaten, lashed, and suspended from the ceiling.
Sixth- I added a few potions, gold, and a magic item to the mix.
I won’t give a room by room blow of the module, but will give a few highlights:
- Room 13- Giant spiders attacking the group from the ceiling because they forgot to look up when checking out the room. This prompted many “I look up!” reactions in the next several rooms.
- Room 15- Ned the Assassin- the group debating about taking him as if he wasn’t even there.
- Room 17- Stephen raging and going berserk at the goblins, toppling over or smashing any box he could see.
- Room 19- The betrayal of Ned the Assassin. It never ceases to amaze me how butthurt and eager for vengeance players get when they are betrayed… Ned knocked out the NPC they had rescued from the gnolls and then thrown a sleeping potion on Lisa, knocking her out cold. He failed his back attack on Stephen. The group then went into uber-vengeance mode. Chuck won initiative and cast magic missile at him and killed him.. The holes created by the missiles seeped green goup, and Ned fell dead.
- Room 20- The rot grub was fun. Chuck was the one who checked the corpse and got a grub crawling up his arm and disappearing into his marrow. Lisa succeeded on a knowledge nature check and identified that only holy remedies or fire would like the rot grub. Chuck Fire Bolted his arm, almost killing himself (8 damage), but dammit!! He killed that grub.
- Hallway outside Room 27- The final battle. This was a pretty brutal fight. The players fought against 2 gnolls, 3 bandits, and a level 3 wizard. I had the wizard cast invisibility before showing up to the fight and observe who would be the biggest threat- it was Chuck (as a caster). The wizard materialized and launched a magic missile at him (lvl 1). This prompted a “who’s wand is bigger” duel between Chuck and the enemy wizard… Chuck nuked the evil wizard hard, but in the end was unable to drop him. The wizard retaliated with a level 2 magic missile that dropped Chuck (and almost killed him from sheer damage output). The group did their best to kick the ass of the bandits and the gnolls.
- Aside: Poor Lisa was rolling TERRIBLE during this part of the session- she failed every single attack roll… However she did kick ass at the end- the wizard was dropped to 2 HP and turned to flee. She gave chase, caught up, and smashed a vial of acid on the wizard’s head for max damage- melting his head bye bye.
- Room 27- The group found a young girl suspended from the ceiling, naked, lashed, and beaten badly. The group got her down, clothed, her and made her comfortable.
This is where we ended the session. The group decided that they were going to go back and explore the last two rooms that they passed up because they were giving a bandit (room 20) chase- this lead to the final fight in room 27.
While I think that much of Sinister Secrets of Saltmarsh was boring for my spoiled modern adventure mind- it was still fun to run the players through and see their reactions… so in the end it was a win.