Monday, February 3, 2014

"The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh" Chapter 6 of the Xanthus River Campaign

First bit of business. During the carnage that was the near TPK last week, everyone forgot that you could spend Luck points to modify your death save. I offered them a chance to retroactively do that. Plus, it was a very unfair scenario and one I was not happy with so I ret-conned a little bit of what happened.

In that light, Nip the turnip farmer did not die. He regained consciousness in the cellar piled with several other bodies waiting for interment. He was assumed dead but had somehow survived! 

The root cellar under the barn showed no evidence of cult activity, nor any sign of a giant skeletal snake demon! It was nothing more than a dark root cellar. Emerging into the light, Nip was told that there was a fight between some out-of-town merchants in the cellar and some smugglers over some bad deal or something. The smugglers were all dead and the merchant and his entourage were getting ready to leave town on their boat. He rushed down and rejoined the boat crew and off they went. 

There was no mention of a cult or battle with the snake demon. It was an odd omission. Was it all a nightmare? An illusion? A cover-up? And what of Gwen the Elf? Her body was nowhere to be seen among the dead. Definitely a mystery for a later date! (and the seed for a future adventure)

Our party now consists of:
Valerius (Level 1 Warrior)
Absalom (Level 1 Cleric)
Nip (Level 0 Turnip Farmer)
Babu (Level 0 Merchant)
Jack (Level 0 Cheese maker)
Shau (NPC)

When we left our intrepid band, they had reached Thither and journeyed on through the night to the mansion of Saltmarsh on the coast of the Smaragdine Sea, where Shau promised a wealthy uncle, a reward, a warm house, fine food, and a comfortable bed in which to sleep. 

Unfortunately, the grounds were overgrown by what look like twenty years of neglect and the house was a decrepit shambles.


The party entered the house, asking Shau about the layout and nature of the rooms. Shau admitted that she was feeling disoriented and that her memory was mysteriously hazy, but that living areas were in the east wing, studies and libraries in the west wing, and kitchen and servants quarters in the north wing, bedrooms were upstairs.

The team went west, carefully exploring each room in turn. They found a study with a desk and an iron stove. Within the desk they found an unmarked potion. They noted the room as a possible place to rest for the night. Next they explored a living area which had obviously been looted long ago. When approaching the north end of the room, they were startled by a loud ghostly voice hearalding their imminent doom! Several members of the party were frightened out of the room. In a pile of debris they found a large gold hoop earring. The next room was a library, in which they found a few treatises on magic and alchemy. 

Having finished the west wing, they took on the east wing. They found two empty living areas, devoid of interest.

They then entered the north wing. In a drawing room, while searching around the inside of a chimney, Nip was attacked by a large spider the size of a small dog. The party quickly dispatched the arachnid horror. Inside the chimney was a metal box holding a fancy ring.

Next they found the dining room, in which nothing of import was discovered.

In the kitchen they encountered five large aggressive centipedes which scurried from rotted cupboards. In the scullery they found stairs descending to the cellar. When they approached the stairs, they were once again met by a frightening ghostly voice screaming in pain.


At the bottom of the stairs they found the wine cellar. All of the wine had long ago been eaten. In the center of the room was the body of a warrior in plate mail, dead 3 weeks. While investigating the body, Valerius was swarmed by 7 rot grubs! The rest of the party applied fire to the beasts, burning Valerius in the process. Afterwards, Nip found an emerald hidden in the dead warrior’s boot.

While searching the cellar, they noted that the fireplace was made of cemented riverbed stones. A few of the stones appeared to have been chiseled out. Very odd. It was then that they noticed that the back of the fireplace was made of plywood. Even odder!

The plywood easily fell when pushed, revealing a passage through the fireplace. Beyond was a large space filled with beds, barrels of grog, food, and other supplies. It was obviously a well-used living area for up to ten men! Nervous of their chances, the party backed out and returned upstairs to rest.

They nestled down in the study with the door closed. Absalom cast Detect Magic on the party, making note of Valerius' dagger, newfound plate armor, and glowing globe as well as Nip's ring and potion. Afterwards, they went to sleep. In the middle of the night, Nip, who was on guard duty, heard the shuffling and murmuring of voices in the hall. The sounds came closer, then tried to open the door. He quickly woke the others. They opened the door to reveal a small group of four goblins! One goblin was immediately dispatched. At the sight of his dead comrade, another goblin fled. The remaining two goblins stayed and fought. When the second goblin was killed, the forth goblin fled in terror. The goblins, as it happened, were simply scavengers who happened upon the house and were exploring it themselves.

Upon completion of the melee, Nip heard the call of Yigdrassl, the Goddess of Nature. He has decided to become a druid (Level 1 cleric)!

The party returned to their rest.

Next week, the party returns to the hidden cellar chamber, and g…g…g…ghost pirates!!!


I'm running the AD&D module U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, with some significant story changes. The 1st level monsters are very uninspiring. A spider! Five centipedes! GASP! The rot grubs were a little scary. I don't think any of my players, who are long-time D&D players, had ever encountered rot grubs. I was a little confused how they worked at first. Do they attack? They have an AC of 9 (11 in DCC). Does that mean you have to hit them to apply fire damage? In the end, I ruled that you had to hit them, but just in case I doubled the number of rounds before Valerius would die.

Which leads me to my other failing: turns, turns, TURNS!

Turns != Rounds. Turns equal 10 minutes. Why am I so bad at remembering that distinction! Detect magic lasts two TURNS = 20 minutes, not 20 seconds. Rot grubs kill their host in 1-3 TURNS = 10-30 minutes, not 10-20 seconds.

It's very old school, and I know and understand the distinction, but damned if my brain keeps forgetting.

Similarly, I kept forgetting to invert the armor class of the AD&D monsters. I saw the goblin AC of 6 and thought "wow! pushover!" then I suddenly remembered, "No! 20-6 = a DCC AC of 14!"

I must remember that next week when the party takes on the pirates and their allies!