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Monday, 22 August 2016

The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (U1): the adventure begins.

One of the coolest things about Stranger Things is that it's rekindled my kids' interest in DnD, and ever the opportunist I've planned out a campaign from level 1 to 12, squeezing in all the classic modules in the Greyhawk setting. And what better place to begin than U1- The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh.

The characters, 6 in total are:
Loren: half-elf Paladin of Pelor (a Crusader) from Celene
Loki: human ranger from Duchy of Geoff
Emelia: half-elf thief-magic user from County of Ulek
Vicdak: half-Orc fighter-cleric of We Jas. His mother was Suel, hailing from the Wild Coast
Crue: elf Magic-user, from County of Ulek
Elangos: half-elf drow assassin (Flan origins on human side, from Duchy of Tenh, then onto Greyhawk city)

A rather bizarre group, with Elangos obviously masquerading as a fighter-thief type, with the dark Flan skin hiding his shameful Drow connection. Plenty of fun stored up for later in the campaign there (especially when they get to D1-3).

So the premise is that they are accompanying a cleric of Pelor called Gideon, who is delivering a secret message from the church in Ulek to some merchants in Hold of the Sea Princes, at Bale Keep. The first five are comrades, with Elangos employed by the Sea Prince merchants to guard the message. Gideon leads them overland through Keoland, via Dreadwood, to the marshy land on the edge of the Azure Sea.

The camp is disturbed by (apparent) bandits whom the party defeat but the horses scatter. Gideon's message is taken by a dark garbed figure, who calls an illusion of a stone dragon to cover his escape. Then he disappears into thin air!

Irritated by this Scooby-Doo style villain, the gang descend into the fishing town of Saltmarsh. Initially staying with the Blacksmith and his family, they sneak around and spy on a council meeting hearing an old sailor rattling on about ghosts and flashing lights at t'old manor. Eager to question him, Elangos and Emelia kick off a tavern brawl so as to snatch the sailor. He reveals the mysterious going on up at t'manor. The local constabulary give chase, and the pair do a runner over the rooftops.

Next day the fuzz turn up where they're staying, and after some Paladin sweet talking, go to the Council. They argue a fair bit, but ultimately offer to fund the characters to nose around the Haunted House. And so into the adventure!

It's soon apparent there's more going on than simple Scooby-Doo, and giant spiders and bugs. They go to the cellar pretty quick, find a secret passage into rooms used by smugglers. The legacy of the alchemist, a bunch of skeletons, and some golden apples. Then they find a passage and stairs to the hidden caves wherein an illusionist (the dude from earlier), with two gnolls, and a bunch of smugglers are laying in wait...

A great scrap ensues, with the characters victorious and they retrieve their message as well as clues about the Sea Ghost, the smugglers ship. The Council pay them to seek out the smugglers, and on the night the boat arrives they arrange signalling from the house whilst they row out. Gideon uses silence o mask their covert approach, and they board the ship via portholes. Sneaking through the rear of the ship, they tackle a bunch of crew in the hold, and then storm the deck. The battle is pretty close up above, but helped by a Sea Elf Oceanus. Just when the battle is almost won, three lizardmen burst out, and they win by a slim margin, but with no deaths on their side.

The adventure ends with a victorious return to Saltmarsh and a bundle of cargo to sell. And, of course, curious information about the  lizardmen and their purchase of weapons from the smugglers. Which leads neatly into the next module in the series, U2- Danger at Dunwater.

All in all a totally great time with old school AD&D, and one we hopefully will continue through until the Giants-Descent-Drow modules!

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