After a few sessions of testing one of my adventures for GaryCon, we embarked upon our next D&D campaign: Ghosts of Saltmarsh!
Persaadi Norixius, Dragonborn Ranger
Grothsoron DeNalia, High Elf Artificer
Inanna Bes, Halfing Rogue
Lord Darius Thornwell, Half-Elf Cleric of Kord
Biri Esstyrlynn, Dragonborn Fighter
While walking through Saltmarsh, our group gathered at the town’s bounty board. People in town went about their business, including the representative of the Faithful Quartermasters of Iuz, Captain Xendros. Her presence caused Lord Darius to huff in disgust, but she paid them no mind and went about her business. As he grumbled about the presence of representatives of Iuz in Saltmarsh, one of the town council members, Anders Solmor approached them. Having done business with Grothsoron in the past, he was familiar with the group regarding the bounty board.
The exchanged pleasantries with the councilor and he bemoaned folks harassing him about the “haunted house” down the coast. Everyone in town knew about it, of course, but whether or not it was truly haunted was a matter of debate. After a brief conversation, he informed them the town council had money set aside as a reward for anyone who investigated the house and got to the bottom of the so-called haunting. They agreed to check it out after they visited Ferrin Kastilar in the nearby Sea Grove of Obad-Hai about a monster hunt for which he was hiring.
Ferrin, the town druid, met them at the grove. He wanted them to investigate reports of arboreal grapplers in Silverstand, a forest several leagues to the northwest. Ferrin confirmed there were conflicting rumors about the nature of the haunted house, as well. Since Silverstand was essentially the opposite direction from the house, and significantly further, they chose to go there instead. A pair of children followed them out of town, bombarding them with question, especially once they learned the group traveled to the haunted house.
The grounds around the house were overgrown, choked with weeds, evidence of decades of neglect. All the windows were broken, allowing the wind to blow freely through the mansion. A quick investigation of the grounds revealed fresh tracks leading into the house. They followed the tracks through the dining room, withdrawing room, kitchen, and scullery, dealing with disgusting swarms of oversized vermin along the way. In the scullery, they saw the track led down the stairs toward the wine cellar.
In the wine cellar, they found the corpse of a knight. Their vigilance served them well when rot grubs exploded out of their corpse, and no one became infected as they dealt with the vile terrors. After cleansing the body, they noticed doors leading out of the wine cellar. Something more than wine was below the house….
And we’re off and running with Ghosts of Saltmarsh. In a way, this brings this blog full-circle. When I started it, back in 2011, the idea was to play a set of adventures under one edition of D&D, then play the same adventures with the next edition, then the next, and so on, comparing on contrasting the various editions. Well, that fell apart pretty quickly. Before it fell apart, however, we started a game of Basic D&D (defined in this blog as the Moldvay B/X, the Mentzer BECMI, and the Rules Encyclopedia variants I first started playing RPGs with; while there are differences between those three “editions,” you can pretty much mix & match stuff from them like you’re on a salad bar and it just won’t matter that much especially at low levels). The adventure: U1 – The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh. We played the first session on February 10, 2012 and the first blog post covering the session went live February 14, 2012. We played the first session of Ghosts of Saltmarsh on February 14, 2020. Two players have been with the group that entire time: my wife and Grothsoron’s player.
The last time, Sinister Secret ended when the group burned down the entire house right after the rot grubs. They’d explored more of the house itself by then, but hadn’t explored enough to know anything other than it was an old, vermin-infested house (if there was, indeed, anything else to learn ;)). Had I been more committed to the blog’s concept, I would have rolled that back instead of allowing it to derail the entire “experiment,” or ruled that stuff in the dank cellar was just too wet to start that type of conflagration. I’ve never been really good at ad-libbing. But, had I done that, it would have affected everything we played after that point, and I had too much fun with the Star Wars games and my Spelljammer campaign to want to casually wipe those away. Also, this time, I asked them ahead of time “Please, do not burn down the house,” even though the player who was responsible for that was the first to leave the group and essentially ghosted on us… heh maybe her character’s ghost will appear in Ghosts of Saltmarsh.
Next time, we go into unexplored territory as the PCs pressed forward into parts of the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh no one in the group has played, hopefully.