Robin P. set up a one-shot Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition and 5 adventurers joined her.
5 interesting characters:
- Aimee - Variant Human Twilight Cleric of the Celestial - The Far Wanderer
- Taevar - Outlander Human Eldritch Knight - Grizzled ex-mercenary
- Vaden Soultorn - Gloomstalker Ranger, wood elf, solo adventurer until he met the ‘urchins’
- River Heartgem - High elf Wizard, curious about the world and talked her only other friend and fellow urchin into leaving their village to travel the world
- Arrow Storm - Wood elf Ranger, still an urchin but quiet and deadly with a bow
Session 22nd February
The Lost on the Long Road
Story as told by Taevar.
I joined a merchants caravan guard, nothing special, just a job, and that’s where I met them. Aimee a short, unkempt cleric who followed the Celestial, and a group of three elves. Seems the older one, not that I can tell an elf’s age - Vaden - had found the other 2, urchins he called them, and taken them under his wing. Vaden and Arrow were rangers, whilst River was a wizard. Useful companions, and decent enough as far as I could tell.
The caravan stopped at Triboar, a small town, 1 of the many similar places on the Sword Coast. That’s where we picked up talk of people going missing on the journey North to Longsaddle, and it was well worn path the Long Road, so a large number of people vanishing smelt like trouble.
So we joined a different caravan heading for Longsaddle, but the trip was quiet, so we decided to return South without the caravan. That’s when the weather took a weird turn, a thick wet fog appeared suddenly and we ended up losing the road and found ourselves in a swamp. A swamp that we had no recollection of being near the Long Road.
The night and cold seemed to be closing in fast, and the fog made seeing each other (or much else) beyond about 10 feet impossible. But cutting through the fog, somehow, we glimpsed a light off in the distance.
The rangers tried to scout stealthily ahead, but the marsh made that difficult, so we all just trudged towards the light. We eventually found a large iron gate in a high bramble covered wall, with a bright lantern hanging nearby giving off its eerie glow.
Through the gate the mists thinned and allowed us to glimpse a large manor house atop a rise. River decided, with help, to climb atop the 10 foot wall to get a better view. Whilst Aimee checked if the gate was locked and then opened it and slipped through! River scanned the area ahead using her hawk familiar and told us that between us and the house were 3 large dog-like shapes patrolling the grounds.
We all decided that getting out of this wet fog and swamp was better than staying in it, even if this place didn’t smell right. Going through the gate quietly and closing it, the elves then heard splashing coming from the swamp the way we had come. Just in case it was a fellow traveller, or occupant of the house we called out, but the reply was guttural and aggressive.
That’s when a lumbering humanoid figure lurched out of the fog and we knew it was undead. Arrow quickly fired off his bow hitting it and making it stagger. River followed that with a firebolt, which closely missed it due to it lurching to the side. It got to the gate and started clawing at it to get through. Meanwhile, Vaden, who was worried about the dogs hearing the commotion, managed to get off 2 arrows which each hit a dog, but didn’t take them down. I readied a throwing axe, but we had surprised the dogs so they were still too far away to throw. Aimee cast ‘toll the dead’ at the thing at the gate, but that didn’t seem to slow it much trying to get in.
Arrow sent another flight into the walking corpse and it went down, now just feebly clasping at the air. Aimee turned her attention to the dogs and sent magic missiles flying into the unhurt dog. Vaden sent another arrow at the dogs, but then they were upon us, and they were huge. They stank of sulphur and the air around them was hot, and their breath was like the heat of a forge. I sent my hand-axe into the nearest one causing a spray of blood that then evaporated in the air, but still it kept coming. Aimee summoned a spiritual weapon that looked like a log, which I later realised was a large rolled up paper! She used the weapon to hit the most wounded looking dog, but still the creature stayed up.
Thereafter, the battle became fierce with rapiers, long swords, frost rays, as well as the magical paper roll, against the vicious attacks of these hounds of hell. Aimee’s summoned weapon finally took 1 down - cracking its spine - another went down from a fierce rapier blow by Arrow, and finally Vaden skewered the last and only just managed to withdraw his sword before it went white hot. We hadn’t come out unscathed - Aimee, Vaden and myself had taken some savage blows, so Vaden handed around some good berries to take the edge off. River investigated the smoking and dissolving corpses finding name collars - Cuddles, Fluffy, and Grim - this spoke of some dark twisted mind.
River’s familiar then noticed that someone in the house had seen us from a window, and shortly after the door to the manor opened spilling light into the ever growing gloom. A welcoming voice called out to us to come into the house and have some food and shelter. We couldn’t make out who or what it was, but I decided to shout out and ask where we were as we had lost our way. Saltmarsh Manor was the reply, which surprised us as we hadn’t heard of such a place. I then decided I was fed up of the swamp, the fog and the encroaching dark, and even if this was some evil doing, I would prefer to be in the Manor so stomped off up the hill with the rest of our party following.
We found ourselves face to face with a gnome called Grundy who beckoned us in. He didn’t want to answer our questions, and was unconcerned when Aimee told him about the dogs unfortunately dying at the hands of a ghoul. I noted for a Cleric she was adept at twisting the truth. He took us through the hallway which was bedecked with suits of armour, weapons, and trophies, and into the great hall, which was laid out with a sumptuous meal. At the head of the table sat Lord Gideon Mistmoor of Saltmarsh Manor, who invited us to sit down and eat.
Due to the good berries eaten earlier we weren’t that hungry and anyway, we were still somewhat suspicious. Aimee discerned that the food held an illusion and confronted the Lord, who withdrew the illusion to show that it was a more simple fare of oat cakes and water, with the excuse that times are hard and with so many travellers visiting they have little to offer. Asking to know why he uses such dangerous dogs as guards, the lord replied that the swamp is treacherous and they need such protection, and they are easy to purchase from Luskan. I had had enough of these word games, so stated to my companions we should just search this place, even if he states the travellers stay a night and then leave without harm the next day. He seemed taken aback by this demand, but relented as long as we took Grundy as a guide.
Session 8th March
Strange happenings at Saltmarsh Manor
Lord Gideon demanded that we wait until morning before we have a search through the house, and invited us all to sit down. Reluctantly we decided to sit, as we were weary from the last battle, with Aimee asking for some bandages to see to her wounds. Grundy was sent to fetch some.
A somewhat stilted conversation followed, in which Lord Gideon learned very little, and was slightly agitated by our lack of responses and Vaden’s toying with his darts. He suddenly smiled and clapped his hands and said it was time for some sport! A huge scarred brute of a human walked into the end of the dining room and Lord Gideon announced this was “Magnus” and would anyone want to try wrestling him - looking at Vaden and me.
To Gideon’s surprise, River the high elf said that she would be up for it. What happened next was a joy to watch, even though she was lithe and small compared to the huge muscled creature that was Magnus, she swiftly managed to evade his lunges and attach herself to his back where he couldn’t quite grab her. River deftly unbalanced him bringing him crashing to the ground and she pinned him for a while. He managed to regain his footing, but River again evaded and attached herself like a limpet - soon a minute was up and she was declared winner!
Gideon tried to look happy at the contest and suggest some one else could have a go. Instead River suggested a game of Dragon Chess, which he agreed would be a fine follow up, so he dismissed Magnus and got Grundy to bring in a huge ornate set from a side room. Aimee suggested it should be for a wager and managed to strike a bargain with Gideon for the full plate mail in the great hall. With the stakes set, the game began. It was soon apparent that River had the best of him, as Gideon got more and more frustrated. In the end, another win for River and Aimee was in her debt for winning the new armour!
I decided it was time to do some scouting and asked for the way to the dunny, and Grundy was tasked with showing me. We had to go back out the front door and round the left-side of the building round to the back courtyard. On the way back I decided to stop and look in the windows we had passed - one was a sumptuous bedroom, the next couple had people working inside on making things. I knocked on one window and the man inside was startled and then looked visibly shaken after seeing me, but returned to his work ignoring me. Grundy came back looking for me, as he had wandered round the corner of the house, not noticing me stop.
The next window round the front was dirty, so I just stopped and cleaned it with a rag. Grundy was following me this time and was apoplectic about it but could not do anything to stop me. He started racing back to the front door and then returning unsure how to cope with the situation. Ignoring him, I saw inside that the room had manacles above a bed, with someone maybe chained under some covers. I decided I had seen enough to report back to the others.
On my return, Grundy immediately reported my behaviour to Gideon, but Aimee was so excited by her new armour, she demanded to go to the outhouse and put it on. So off Grundy went again with her. Whilst waiting, Vaden had come up with a plan, which we only found out about later. He had been trying to do some scouting of the doors, and finally exited out of one, causing Gideon to exclaim that he should come back! But when Vaden didn’t return Gideon followed. He came back very quickly with a confused look on his face followed by Magnus. He told Magnus to go look for the elf, and berated him for wandering the house. At this point Gideon’s happy demeanour was strained. He demanded we either go to rest for the night in some rooms he has, or to go back out to the swamp.
When we agreed to rest, Gideon brightened and led us our rooms upstairs, the way Vaden had gone. But instead of finding Vaden we only met Magnus again who reported that he had not found the elf, so Gideon dismissed him angrily. There were 3 rooms with 2 beds in each. They overlooked the back courtyard, where we managed to see Aimee resplendent in her new armour making her way back to the house with Grundy. Gideon left us to get settled in when Aimee returned and we all wondered where Vaden had got to, as we were in what looked like a dead end of the house with no other doors we had passed.
We didn’t have to wonder long as Vaden reappeared from downstairs saying he had been disguised as Magnus, and had successfully caused some misdirection as Grundy was tasked with finding him (Vaden). I then told them of what I had found on my window cleaning expedition and so we hatched a plan to try and surprise Gideon and subdue him, just in case he was the only way out of this mysterious swamp!
River sent off her raven to keep an eye on the outside of the house, including the windows I had looked in. I invoked my eldritch power to turn Vaden invisible in order to allow him to follow Gideon and scout out his rooms. Aimee called on her god to bless us. We made our way downstairs to just outside the dining hall. Vaden moved ahead and opened the dining hall door Gideon had exited from, which he had seen as Magnus. It turned out to be a cosy room with book cases and some chairs by a fireplace. There was only 1 exit, so Vaden knocked over a bookcase to make enough noise to draw Gideon out.
Lord Gideon looking flustered, wet and wrapped in a towel came out of the door, upon seeing the mess he immediately called out for Grundy. At that moment an amulet caught the fire light as it swung from Gideon’s neck, before he quickly tucked it behind the towel.
That’s when we decided to strike!