The 8th full game session. Dean (Thic Duc), Larry (Michael), and new player Matt (character name to be determined).
As we left the party, a number of them had fallen victim to a gas cloud released from the chest in the wizard's cabin. Due to player absences, characters without players were declared victims of the cloud and would wake up when their players return.
Discussing their options, the party decided to do their best to clear the rest of the ship before the shore party returned. First up was the hold, from which loud banging noises could be heard. Interrogation of the remaining crew revealed that there were additional people on the ship, but not in the hold immediately below where they had been captured.
The party decided to use the surviving captured crew as guinea pigs, sending them into the wizard's cabin to try to open the window and let the gas out of the room. They failed, but Thic Duc was able to climb down the back of the ship and open the window from the outside. This eventually resulted in clearing the air from the cabin. Discussions of dangling the captured crew over and into the cargo hold as bait to see if there was anything hungry down there were reluctantly discarded.
Descending into the hold, the party discovered that layout matched the ship above for the non-cargo spaces. Two rear cabins matched those above, and a large front room appeared to be similar to the crew quarters on deck. The door to the front compartment had been spiked to hold the door closed, however. Loud banging noises were coming from within the front compartment. Later, Daphne sort-of admitted she had spiked the door.
As it turned out, the front compartment held a lizard man, who had been trying to get out the door... with an axe. The party helped, opening the door to let him out, and he did not immediately attack. Instead, noting the armed party members, the dead bodies on the ship, and the party with bloody weapons, the lizard man demanded an explanation via hand gestures and very loud hissing. The language barrier prevented one.
The lizard man examined the bodies and then climbed up to the deck, seeing more unfamiliar faces and more dead bodies. He grew visibly more agitated and soon fled belowdecks. The party let him go for the moment, but he returned from the front compartment with three more lizardfolk, all armed. With little time to react, Chesty took up a stance blocking the way out of the hold, and the rest of the party gathered around to fight off the lizard men while the marines took up positions fore and aft to watch for the return of the shore party.
Chesty's valiant stand at the top of the stairs out of the hold served the party well, but he was felled by an axe to the leg in the process. The leg could not be saved, but Michael jumped into his place and kept the lizard men bottled up.
After several minutes of combat the lizard men were all in bad shape. Two were dead, and the remaining two fled out of sight below. The party let them go for the moment, but upon hearing splashes over the side of the ship, they saw the two lizard men swimming away. Thic Duc's last javelin made one of them an ex-lizard, but the other escaped -- swimming towards the shore party's rowboat, now visible making its way back to the Sea Ghost.
In it were four sailors, a man in a fancy suit with a hook hand and peg leg, and the first mate -- looking a bit worse for wear. The party prepared their ambush, fetching barrels of brandy from the hold, setting up the two whole marines at each end of the boat with crossbows, and generally readying what missile weapons they have available.
They allowed the shore party's boat to approach within missile range, and opened file on the first mate, knowing he was a spellcaster. Almost all of the attacks landed, and his body fell into the water, resembling a porcupine. Will Stoutly, expert marine, shot himself in the other foot and is considering a career change to something that doesn't involve pointy objects.
The sailors and the captain rowed on, under continued fire from the party, while the captain yelled about pirates stealing his ship. The party concentrated their fire on the captain, striking again and again, but the distance and his armor appeared to weaken the strikes. He continued to yell threats until the boat pulled up near the anchor chain, and began climbing up to the anchor chain to the deck. His surviving crew followed.
Missile fire from the marines and the party took out two of the sailors before they reached the ship. The third died as soon as he got on deck, and the captain lasted a few rounds cutting into various party members before diving off the deck. No ticking noises were noted in his presence, and he was not eaten by an alligator before climbing into his rowboat.
He was, however, summarily knocked unconscious by a barrel thrown from the ship. The party recovered his body, and the prisoner they had found hidden in a secret compartment on board ship was barely prevented from slitting the captain's throat outright. However, while the party searched his body and argued over division of treasure, he died from blood loss.
Searching the rest of the ship turned up a number of interesting items.
The captain's cabin contained papers which included a crude navigation chart showing a rendezvous point on the shore near Saltmarsh. It bore a mark resembling a crudely-drawn lizard with a forked tongue, as did a letter written in crude common requesting "more goods" according to previously agreed terms. A small chest contained 1,000 ep and a trap, which the party found ahead of time but failed to disarm successfully.
The compartment on the right at hold level contained a bearskin rug. Below the rug was a trap door leading into a long, narrow compartment below the hold, filled with crude iron and steel weapons. Another trapdoor was present in the roof of that room, leading into the captain's cabin.
The front compartment in the hold was obviously set up for the lizard men to use as quarters, and contained a trapped chest with 1,000 ep. The chest exactly matched the one found in the captain's cabin.
The cabins on the hold level each contained a narrow prisoner compartment disguised as a chest. Within those compartments, the party found (Matt's as yet unnamed character), who claimed he had been kidnapped from Rookroost for reasons unknown, and Velma, a member of the Mystery Squad. When Velma was found she was unconscious and clearly much the worst for wear. The party has not yet thoroughly interrogated either of the captives to learn what they may know. However, (Matt's character) did admit that there are rumors among the thieves of Rookroost that their guild has a mint capable of producing electrum coins with the Rookroost markings.
The party, with the help of the marines, sailed the Sea Ghost back to Saltmarsh and made their plans for the future. They discussed the possibility of offering Chesty the captain's slot on the Sea Ghost (using her cargo to pay the adventuring tax on her value), and what to do with the smuggled cache of weapons. The proposals were to turn it over to the town authorities, sell it to the intended destination (the lizard men, probably?), or sell it elsewhere. Inquiries directed to the Dockmaster revealed that, basically, it's legal to transport and sell weapons so long as the recipient of the weapons isn't at war with Rookroost. Being "at war" with a kingdom of bandits is sort of a nebulous concept, however, as is a small kingdom being able to stop a ship that trades on the open waters without docking within its borders. This is perhaps best summarized as "don't get caught".
To be continued...
Because we had only three players and a large cast of NPCs to help seizing the boat, for experience purposes I am awarding Chesty, Will, and Tom (the three marines) and the useful members of the Scooby Gang (Daphne and Fred) full shares in experience from the battle and seized goods. The party may make whatever arrangements they can get the marines and the gang to accept regarding the division of actual treasure, but the experience value will be shared.