The 5th full game session. Dean (Thic Duc), Larry (Michael), and Todd (Phil).
As we left the party, they were preparing to camp in the forest overnight, but they quickly thought better of that idea and chose to return to town instead. They set off down the road, in the dark of night, with naught but a bullseye lantern for light... and were promptly ambushed by bandits.
As it turned out, ex-sailors don't make good bandits and don't use shortbows with proficiency. The party quickly closed the distance, despite scattered arrows landing in the road. The bandit leader took a hit from Michael's hammer and a poke from Thic Duc's spear in the first round, and was promptly skewered on the spear in the second round. With the bandit leader wounded and bleeding, the party demanded their surrender. After brief negotiations, the rest of the bandits surrendered in return for a small amount of coin and the promise to head inland and try their luck as actors on the world stage, or something like that.
Their leader (Larry the Pirate) agreed, at spearpoint, to assist the party in return for being set free without punishment. Thic Duc promised to release him if the council would not honor the deal, and in return, they got his story: the ship Sea Ghost was once an honorable vessel plying the waters of the Nyr Dyv, but the captain could never quite make ends mean on his trading ventures. As the financial pressure mounted, he replaced good crew with bad, and bad crew with worse, and began to seek out smuggling opportunities. Saltmarsh manor was one such: the captain put aside his first mate and those of his crew with some honesty left in their hearts, asking them to set up a hidden landing and base within the manor. From there, goods could be brought to land without the Saltmarsh docking fees or taxes and sent on to Rookroost.
According to Larry the Pirate, it's possible those goods are no longer being merely smuggled, but may in fact be pirate loot. Those of the crew set ashore at Saltmarsh were the last of those to object to outright piracy. Remaining on the Sea Ghost are the crew of somewhere between one and three dozen sailors (Larry's skill is sailing, not math). Possibly on the Sea Ghost or possibly lurking nearby are the actual unloading crew, some sort of humanoids with dog heads. One of the party identified them as an "intermediate form of werewolf" based on Larry's description and suggested they give more credence to the rumors of The General baking children into pies with his crew of werewolves.
Larry the Pirate also explained the lantern signaling system, as written out on the parchment found in the First Mate's quarters.
The party arrived at Saltmarsh near midnight, and went straight to the local herbalist and healer's shop. Their minor wounds were tended to, and a gentle interrogation discovered that Daphne had been seen earlier that evening driving the Mystery Machine through Saltmarsh at high speed. Witnesses were not clear where she was headed, though "out of town" seemed to be the consensus. There may have been someone in the back of the cart, but if so, they could not be identified with any certainty.
After staying overnight in town without incident, an impromptu meeting of the Saltmarsh council was convened. Mayor Lenny, Dockmaster Holofax, and Militia Captain Miriam met at the lighthouse to discuss the smuggling ring revelations. Despite much concern among the party, no one immediately revealed themselves to be a traitor working with the pirates. That said, Rookroost is one of the bandit kingdoms, so it's entirely possible the rulers of Rookroost are in bed with the pirates. (Probably not literally, but you never know with pirates and politicians).
The council agreed to send a message to Rookroost asking for reinforcements to capture the Sea Ghost and end the smuggling. One of the party is to draft a letter with the evidence and requested time of arrival.
The party (and their new guide Larry the Pirate) then returned to the manor, where they heard a terrible animalistic screeching from quite a distance away. Closer investigation revealed that the giant weasel had been caught in their trap, and was still there, hanging from the ceiling like a pinata... that is, like a frenzied, writhing, furious pinata that managed to disarm two attackers despite being suspended helplessly above the floor, unable to attack, before finally being beaten unconscious in a 30-minute travesty of honorable combat. (It's probably a good thing we have no rangers in the party). The weasel corpse still hangs from the trap, its presumably valuable pelt still attached.
The party then descended into the basement, where Larry the Pirate demonstrated (without opening) the mechanism the would reveal the secret door into the cave system used to unload the Sea Ghost. Michael cast Detect Evil, and reported 4-5 small evils and one medium evil somewhere in the cave system. No venti evils were detected. Finally, the party retrieved the brandy from their aborted forest camp, and set Ned and Ed up with a space on the 2nd floor of the manor to watch for signals.
To be continued...
To whom it may concern,
In short, a smuggling operation has been discovered on the outskirts of Saltmarsh. Steps have already been taken to disrupt the future of the operation in that area, but assistance is requested to capture the leaders and prevent the criminals from moving their operation to a different location.
After receiving a tip from Tom of Seven Sevens in Dunwitch, we went to investigate a disturbance at a manor near Saltmarsh. During the harrowing travails, it was discovered that the disturbance was of a more human origin than supernatural. Later, we were set upon by the land based guards of the operation. After overcoming them, we interrogated the survivor and discovered the extent and history of the criminal activity.
As this criminal enterprise fails to pay the appropriate fees, it is stealing money from both Saltmarsh and The General. We request aid in the form of a troop of soldiers to capture the captain of the enterprise when he next comes to Saltmarsh. Our best estimate predicts his return on the nights surrounding the next new moon, starting in three days from the date of this letter.
The Band of Misfits
In cooperation with: Mayor Lenny
Guard Captain Miriam
No additional sheep were harmed producing sheepskin on which to record maps during this adventure.