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 raven 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!
Session 22nd March
Note: This was concluded outside of the club on 29th March.
What happened next seemed like a strange co-ordinated deadly dance. Vaden, using his gloomstalker double attack, fired off arrows before dashing back into the great hall. Arrow then replaced him by running into the library and using his surge to shoot off 2 more arrows. River ran past the library door and launched a firebolt, which unfortunately impacted into the doorway behind Gideon only showering him with splinters. Aimee then marched up and took up position in the doorway to the library channelling her divinity to give everyone a health benefit. Gideon suffering from 2 major arrow wounds retaliated against those in the library with 4 bolts of negative energy - 1 hit Arrow, but 3 fizzled out hitting Aimee’s new armour!
Gideon then called out for aid using a voice that managed to reverberate around the house, before retreating into his rooms and slamming the door behind him.
I then ran in to help and finding Gideon gone, I charged into the door. Even though it had been weakened, it steadfastly refused to cave in. Suddenly I found myself pushed out of the way as Vaden hit the door and made it burst open to find a bedroom with no sign of Gideon but an open window. Arrow shortly followed through and managed to catch a glimpse of Gideon edging away below the height of the window and into the darkness. On a cry from Arrow that he had spotted him, I bundled through the window and raced after him. Unfortunately my senses weren’t as good as the elves and, as he was now wearing a dark set of clothes, I lost him round the corner of the Mansion.
Meanwhile, River and Aimee were bringing up the rear, and even though Aimee had managed to bolt the library door, it burst open and 4 of Gideon’s goons piled in with crossbows and maces. River’s mage armour saved her from a crossbow bolt, but Aimee was bashed by several mace blows. Aimee shouted that she could handle these ruffians and instead we should go after Gideon.
So Vaden came flying out the window to look for Gideon with me, but I could tell he was confused by Gideon’s absence because his hunters mark said he was close. Back in the bedroom, Arrow fired and left 1 of his namesakes in a goon before chasing after me and Vaden. River leapt out the window and called upon her raven to look for Gideon, also without success.
Aimee swayed and sang and invoked the sanctuary of her god, which makes anyone think twice before being able to hit her. She took up position in the bedroom blocking anyone to follow us, just as Magnus strode into the library obliterating what was left of the door. He then tried to brain Aimee with a huge bar of metal he wielded but at the last moment he had to change his aim and it crashed into the door frame instead.
From the darkness near the house a ball of light appeared, before exploding and capturing all of us outside in its blast. The fireball had severely shaken Arrow and myself, but we were still standing. Gideon had used our trick of invisibility, and now he tried to run past us, getting a glancing blow from Arrow. I drew on my second wind strength and engaged Gideon, but the darkness confounded me again and I missed. Vaden and Arrow joined me and had better luck with their blows in the dark. Finally River sent 3 heat blasts at Gideon, 2 of which just missed, and unfortunately the third fizzled, but then she joined us to surround Gideon.
With Gideon surrounded, Vaden swung his short-sword and made a non-lethal blow against Lord Gideon who was felled like a tree, but Vaden grabbed his amulet as he collapsed. River deftly took the amulet with a “Thank you” and cast identify - finding it was an infernal magical spell focus.
Meanwhile, Aimee was gallantly weathering blows from Magnus and the goons back in the house. Magnus swung again and was compelled to not attack due to the magical aura around Aimee. He smashed his fist into the door frame in and sobbed in rage and frustration as plaster rained down. Aimee told him to “Go and find another way round” and cast healing word on herself. Suddenly the 4 goons looked at each other and decided to run out of the door, just as Arrow appeared at the bedroom window and vaulted in firing off an arrow and missing Magnus.
Vaden and I carried Gideon back to the house after tying him up and shoving a rag in his mouth. River ran on ahead and managed to fire off 3 magic missiles at Magnus who swatted them away from his face before failing again to attack Aimee. When we got to the window, I cast hold person on Magnus and as it was successful Vaden leapt in and pushed in prone. We managed to identify Magnus as a flesh golem and Arrow dispatched him with a mighty blow to the chest whilst he was paralysed.
After tying Gideon to his bed, Aimee found a key and a Warlock’s Book of Shadows on him. As we needed to know more about Gideon, we found the key opened a door to a small study with books, a desk, and a chest. Aimee discovered a lot of books on occult magic on the shelves, whilst River investigated the chest and unfortunately triggered a poison trap, but luckily was resilient enough to not succumb. There was huge amount of gold and even some platinum in the chest, which we had never seen before, and 3 magic potions, helpfully labelled healing, flying, and speed. Arrow rifled through the desk and managed to find, in all the reams of papers, a strange note written in some form of infernal language. Aimee could only make out 3 words: Mother, Child, and Destroy.
We confronted Gideon with the letter and had little success in getting anything useful out of him, so I set off with Aimee and Arrow to search the house for the travellers, leaving Vaden and River with Gideon. We found a barricaded room belonging to the goons who turned out to be hired mercenaries who were trapped by the mists. They warned us not to venture into the room with the thing chained in the bed. We later learned it was a ghoul chained up for Gideon’s amusement with the servants. Instead we went and found the servants quarters, who were a diverse mix of hired people who were now prisoners of the house and swamps. They told us about a dreadful thing in the basement and how all the travellers ended up down there, never to be seen again.
Meeting back up in Gideon’s rooms, we told River and Vaden what we had found out and decided to have a short rest, and let them go and find Grundy to see if they could get any more leverage on Gideon. The gnome was hiding under his bed and flatly refused to come out, but he did tell them that Gideon is a twisted shadow of his former self and has made a dark bargain with some infernal beings. Grundy was unclear on the details but it involved the death of Gideon’s wife in mysterious circumstances and that now Gideon feeds travellers to something called the offspring in the basement. rundy finally suggested that even Gideon would be terrified of this fate.
A plan was hatched! We carried Gideon into the basement without telling him anything. He grew more and more agitated as we got further into the foul smelling basement, as he understood what his fate might be. We were trudging through muck and effluent the deeper we went until we found a chamber where over 70 people were kept behind bars and opposite them was a hideous creature - luckily chained to a wall - the offspring! We quickly freed the travellers, River helped them upstairs and got the servants to help clean them up and get them ready to leave. Arrow told Vaden that we should give Gideon one last chance, so he confronted him and Gideon was all too willing to help us get out of this swamp. So Arrow and Vaden took him upstairs.
Whilst the party upstairs readied everyone to leave this cursed place, Aimee and I took it upon ourselves to send the offspring back to its infernal plane, using toll of the dead and firebolt to help it on its way. We got messaged by River that everyone was out and the house had been looted of anything useful for the travellers, so Aimee and I set the mansion ablaze as we left.
Standing outside the mansion we removed Gideon’s rag from his mouth and he stated that to let everyone out of this pocket plane, he needed untying and his amulet back. Wearily we agreed, but kept a close eye on him as he said a few words. Suddenly the Long Road was before us and much closer than we expected. After relieving Gideon of his amulet again, we decided to take him to the authorities for trial, but as we approached the Long Road he became incorporeal and we lost our grip on him. He was caught in in his own swampy trap!
With some of the travellers, mercenaries, and servants already heading off, we left Gideon some provisions and decided he would have to fend for himself. Signalling to the remaining folks and our party I announced that I could really do with a bath and marched off back towards Triboar.