Fletch- Dwarf barbarian
Stephen- Halfling barbarian level 1/fighter level 1
Chuck- High elf sorcerer
John- Wood elf rogue
NPC- Benedict (Level 0 NPC)
We ended last session with the group pretty much completing the Sinister Secrets of Saltmarsh modulem, save for the two remaining rooms.
A Surprise Conversation…
The group went to the first unexplored room back in the barracks area, which belonged to the mage leader, and ransacked it- finding a spellbook, three potions of healing, a potion of Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, and another potion (but I forget what it is at this point), and a book of erotic poetry (fully illustrated).
Then next room was boarded up. Stephen used his crowbar and plied off the planks and opened the door. Inside the room there was a long table with seven skeletons sitting at it (think the One-Eyed Willy scene in Goonies). The room was covered in cobwebs and dust.
When Stephen entered the room a candelabra on the table flickered to life with eerie blue flames. The skeleton seated in the most ornate chair coughed dust and hitched on its jaw as yellow pin pricks of light began to glow in its eye sockets.
“Ah.. Guests… It’s been a long time since anyone has been brave enough to venture into this room.”
The group stood wary- waiting for all the skeletons to attack.
“I am Gargamel- or at least I used to be. Owner and leader of this mansion.”
“What are you doing here?” Asked Stephen.
“My apprentice betrayed me- killing me and the others. Somehow my spirit was trapped in this form, and in this room! I cannot leave. I yearn to be free. If you destroy the Ruby Eye of Shazal- then I shall be free.”
“We’re not in the habit of negotiating with skeletons… On general principal- undead things of any nature.” Said Stephen.
“That’s a good principal… however if you agree I will give you the password to my apprentices “secret lair” (he made quotation marks with his bony fingers) and you can help yourself to whatever spoils you find there… also you can have whatever you want from my laboratory…”
“How do we know you are trustworthy?” Chimed in Chuck.
“Yeah- and once free won’t do undead stuff and be evil?” Added Stephen.
Gargamel chuckled, “well you don’t… The word of a skeleton isn’t much. And I wouldn’t say I’m the most noble of people. I dabble in magic, am greedy, bitter, miserly… Oh and I make drugs.”
“Fair enough.” Everyone said.
In the end the group agreed to help. They went into the laboratory and found several potions of healing, a rare book on the philosopher’s stone, a vile of SMURF, and a pouch of 250gp.
When they came out of the laboratory Gargamel handed them a shriveled mummified eye and said to drop this at the base of the weeping willow one mile west from his manner. Then they would know when to speak the password, which is “Starlight.”
The group then left Benedict and the unconscious woman that the found last session with Gargamel. They gave Benedict a short sword and a shield. Once again he took on an awkward Hugh Grant manner, “I’m.. well.. I’m afraid I don’t know how to use a sword. It’s never come up at my training with the clergy of Pelor. It’s rather embarrassing you see…”
Fletch grabbed him and said, “You swing it at things and make them die- so you don’t die.”
Stephen said, “You hold this end (pointing to the pommel) and put the pointy end into bad things. You use the shield to help you not die.”
Bennedict took the weapons and struck a warriors pose, “I FEEL MIGHTY!!” The group chuckled and left.
Aside: This is severely altered from what actually was supposed to be in that room in the Sinister Secrets of Saltmarsh module. In the original it’s just a room with six skeletons that attack and there’s a fight and ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz… My group really liked it when I came up (jokingly) that the owner of the manner was named Gargamel and was creating a strange blue drug called SMURF… So I kept it. I figured it’d be fun to actually have them meet him (and also get them some SMURF). This ended up being a great little role-playing spot in the middle of a dungeon dive, and I’m happy that I made the alteration.
Into the “Secret Lair”…
The group made it to the weeping willow, placed the mummified eyeball in the ground and watched a skull emerge from the ground and the eye going into its left socket. The eye became gooey and normal looking. The skull looked around at all the party, “Guests of the master? It’s been a long time since we’ve had–”
“STARLIGHT” Stephen shouted.
“Oh- well if you’re going to be rude… then fine.” The skull sunk back into the earth, and a passage way opened beneath the weeping willow (which them prompted Fletch to compare this to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban).
Fletch decided he would go down the stairs first and not, you know the rogue, and immediately set of a fire trap that burnt off what little hair he had. The group then put John out front to check for traps as they went.
The group went into a room and found animal cages that lined the room… but in the corner was a strange sight. There was an octopus in a cage filled with sand. In the corner of the cage was a little magical sun that kept it warm. The octopus pointed to tentacles at the lock on the cage imploringly.
Fletch went over to investigate the octopus and was immediately attacked by a hidden lightning memphit. This was nasty little fight (there isn’t one of these creatures in the MM- so I used the ice memphit as a base and just made it up). The creature did thunderclap and any melee attack that hit him caused 1d4 damage to the attacker. John was knocked unconscious (or damned near) and Fletch was severely hurt, but in the end they dropped the little bastard.
After the fight Stephen went and let the octopus out of its cage. Stephen felt an empathic link between himself and the octopus. Stephen now has a sand octopus animal companion.
The group found a huge treasure chest in another room that was swirling with magical energy. They decided to leave it alone for the time being. They went a ruined and dilapidated library and found three skeletons. Stephen threw a hand axe at one and then shut the door on them, figuring he’d open the door and throw axes at them, wearing them down. This would have worked if a door at the end of the hall didn’t burst open, disgorging 5 more skeletons. Another brutal fight- Fletch was knocked unconscious and John and Stephen were badly hurt.
After the fight the group decided to go in the library to look around and take a short rest to regain some HP. The group didn’t find any books of interest, but there was a humanoid body in the corner of the room covered in a strange brown moss. The group kept clear of it… except Fletch decided to throw a torch at it to see what happened. The thing exploded in a cloud of brown spores. Everyone had to make a Constitution save. Stephen rolled a natural 20 (so he was motherfucking-fine), John and Chuck failed and Fletch rolled a critical failure.
Some Friend Die Nobly, Some Die Stupidly
John and Chuck were dropped to ZERO HP and I told them to start rolling their death saves, but Stephen acted fast and dumped two of their few remaining healing potions down their throats, saving their lives and bringing them back into the land of consciousness.
Fletch’s dwarf, on the other hand, was dead. Deader than dead dead. Dead. Now I know that in the mantra of 5e what I SHOULD have done is have him at ZERO HP and have one (or two) fails on his death saves… but no.. I’m of the mind that you critically fail a save- bad shit happens. I like my meat hot, my coffee black, and my D&D fucking deadly.
The group said a few not so kind words at the dwarf who almost ended them all and then looted his body. Chuck noticed that some of that moss was growing on the cheeks of the dwarf and began casting ray of frost at the body until it was a block of ice- figuring that would keep the moss at bay.
The group rested and then continued up the path into a large room. The room was empty except for an alabaster pedestal was a skull with a single ruby eye.
John went to check to see if the pedestal was trapped, and failed to realize that the skull was rising off of it, uncoiling a large bony serpentine body.
I had altered the bone naga a little bit to be more inline with a party of 4-5 2nd or 3rd level party members. I was a little nervous after Fletch left (because it still was a hard battle). Even with the tricks up its sleeve, the group eventually beat the naga down and gathered up the ruby eye.
We left off there with Stephen and John gaining level three. John choose the Assassin rogue path.
The group still has a few more rooms to explore in the dungeon… then back to Gargamel… then back to SALTMARSH!