It was midday when the Spirit of Winter came into view of their target - the derelict ship Emperor of the Waves. The sky boiled with dark gray-green clouds, threatening a coming storm. The wind was up and the sea was choppy.
Captain Windrune, the dwarven captain of the Spirit of Winter, was hesitant to take his ship closer than 500 feet to the Emperor of the Waves. He had lost half his crew to a vicious sahuagin ambush two nights ago and was nervous about putting the remainder of the crew or his ship in further jeopardy.
He put out a ship's boat and the A-Team rowed their way to the drifting hulk.
The Emperor of the Waves bobbed half-submerged and listing to port. Its masts were broken and tatters of sails draped over parts of the rotting sideboards. Its figurehead had been ripped off leaving broken splinters. The deck and rails were covered in dried palm fronds, seaweed, and long stringy moss. Long drapes of spiderwebs fluttered like gossamer pennants.
Auric grimaced and warned the others. "Look out for spiders."
"SALVAGE OPERATION"The A-Team:
- Avastana "Aella" Kádár - Neutral, Half-Elf Outlander and Sorceress from Ket.
- Annor Whalerson - Lawful Good, Human Marine and Fighter from Saltmarsh.
- Marlin Whalerson - Chaotic Good, Human Seeker and Rogue.
- Auric Ravenson - Neutral Good, Aasimar Shipwright and Cleric of the Raven King.
Special Guest Star:
- Alot Aname - Warforged Fighter.
Auric took a deep breath and cleared his mind. He could sense the nearby presence of the undead. There weren't many but they were near, beneath them in the bowels of the ship.
The Navigator's Cabin
Auric, with his background as a shipwright, told the others that on this type of ship the fore cabin would belong to the ship's navigator.
Annor tried the door into the fore cabin. It was held tight by some elastic force. Marlin checked the door for traps or mechanisms but found naught. People took up readied positions around the door with prepared spells, aimed crossbows, etc. Annor took out an axe and chopped the door down.
The cabin was dark and filled, floor to ceiling, with thick sheets of gossamer webs. Annor retreated from the door to avoid any attackers.
Auric said, "See? Spiders!"
Alot Aname cautiously entered the room. He had difficulty seeing through the curtains of webbing that limited his vision. He made his way to the front of the ship.
Suddenly he was covered in thick webbing! Luckily, the webbing didn't catch and he was still able to move. Almost immediately after, a strange humanoid spider-thing rushed out of the gloom and attacked! Alot dodged the blow and counter-attacked. Just then the hulking form of a massive spider the size of a cow heaved into view! He was surrounded!
Annor charged into the room to support his mechanical companion. Marlin took a position in the corner of the cabin and fired his crossbow at the arachnoid monsters.
Suddenly a hundreds of small spiders swarmed out of an open hatch in the floor behind the giant spider, climbing over Annor.
Annor, Marlin, and Alot made short work of the giant spider and humanoid spider-thing. Annor then used his massive flamberge like a spear to stab the smaller spiders to the floor. With Alot's help the small spiders were likewise soon destroyed.
The Captain's Cabin
Small spiders continued to pour out of the hatch so the team backed out of the fore cabin and turned their attention to the aft cabin, which Auric identified as the belonging to the captain.
The cabin was likewise obscured by thick cobwebs. Once again Alot moved inside. At the back of the cabin he found a makeshift altar to some dark arachnoid goddess. Human skulls were piled around the shrine and the entire display was crawling with spiders.
Alot was once again attacked by webbing as before. He cleaved the giant spider in one attack as Annor rushed in to aid. Alot and Annor made short work of the spiders humanoid-spider hybrid companion.
Alot searched the room and found pages ripped from the captain's log.
I gave Alot's player the handout that came with the DM's Resources for Ghosts of Saltmarsh Chapter 4: Salvage Operation, available on Dungeon Masters Guild
The pages told how the ship encountered a terrible storm which separated it from its escort. The ship became lost and eventually came into sight of an uncharted island. The ship's crew was attacked by the island's monstrous inhabitants. They were saved by a half-orc druid named Krell who sought passage off the island.
They took Krell with him but soon ran into another problem. The ship came under attack by a titanic octopus! Krell kept the octopus at bay and tended to those injured in the attack. The captain suspected that the foul broth Krell served the survivors was not what it appeared!
The team descended the stairs from the captain's cabin to the deck below. There they found what used to be the ship's galley. The door leading forward was spiked closed and the galley had been ransacked. There was evidence of a battle but the room was otherwise empty.
The Flooded Deck
The team found a hatch and descended the ladder into the dark belly of the ship's lowest deck. The deck was half-submerged under water. Trash and debris bobbed on the surface. The water was fetid and reeked of rotting flesh and sewage.
Annor and Alot moved forward along the port side of the ship where the water was only waist deep. Disturbances in the surface of the thick brown water gave indication that something moved beneath the surface.
Suddenly four foul creatures burst from the water and attacked! The creatures were formerly crew-members who had died by drowning and reanimated through dark magic! They were waterlogged and showed signs of decomposition. Their flesh was covered in small bite marks from crabs. When they opened their mouths to attack, sea water laden with wriggling hagfish poured out.
While the team battled these undead atrocities, a powerful force rocked the ship. Something had slammed the ship from without, causing the ship to further list to port.
The Giant Octopus Attacks!
The four animated corpses were soon defeated.
Annor scanned the debris for anything that might be Ander's magic chest. Marlin cast a spell to detect the presence of magic and soon identified the correct crate. Marlin carefully opened the crate, revealing the blue metal chest within emblazoned with the seal of the house of Solmor.
At that moment, the ship was slammed by another massive attack. Timbers splintered and water began pouring in. Massive tentacles snaked their way through breaches in the hull. The ship's hull creaked and groaned as it was enveloped by the crushing embrace of a a monstrous octopus!
The water level of the flooded deck began to rise precipitously. Thrashing tentacles, having pierced the hull, flailed blindly and knocked the adventurers into the side of the hull and into each other.
Marlin tried to move the chest but it was too heavy. He enlisted the help of Alot. The two together could carry it with difficulty. Annor waded over to them and asked them to step aside, "Don't worry. I've got this."
He produced his magical bag of holding. The crate fit neatly within, along with several gallons of water. He closed the bag which now weighed only fifteen pounds.
A Difficult Escape!
Each of the members of the A-Team made their way through the rising water to the hatch. The ship careened to port and lurched violently as it was manipulated and crushed by its titanic attacker! Moving through the rising water and climbing the ladders and stairs while the ship bucked and heaved proved difficult and the team became separated.
Annor was the first to make it back to the captain's cabin with Aella and Auric were the first to make it to the main deck while Alot and Marlin followed closely behind.
An Unexpected Foe!
The deck was tilted at sixty degrees and the second deck was already flooded. Water was beginning to pour out of the hatch into the captain's cabin. Annor staggered onto the main deck and was startled to find the deck covered in swarms of spiders forced from the lower decks by the rising water. Among them were three spiders of massive size! One of the giant spiders had a strange translucent quality.
The water around the ship was a boiling mass of writhing tentacles. Many flailed into the sky like massive rubbery tree trunks before crashing into the ship and splintering the wooden deck!
The small boat the team had used to row over from the other ship had been smashed to tiny pieces by the crushing tentacles. They'd have to swim to the Spirit of Winter!
Two of the giant spiders made their way to the sterncastle to escape the rising water. The third charged Annor and attacked!
A figure emerged from the smashed door to the navigator's cabin. It was a half-orc wearing tattered robes made of sheets of spider web. He carried a staff topped with a carved spider. He was accompanied by two demonic creatures. The torso of each of the creatures was split down the middle to form a massive fanged mouth!
The half-orc shouted at order at the translucent spider, "Goil! Destroy the infidels!"
To Be Continued...