Arriving at Saltmarsh

Upon arriving at the city gates, the merchant offers up a Primeval Crumbling Longsword as a thank you for helping him and his daughter. (This was determined at random from rolls at the table.)

With address in hand from Omin Dran, the group make their way through the city streets and find the house they’re looking for. No obvious signs of forced entry or disturbance from the outside of the house. They pick the lock and go inside – thankfully succeeding in their constitution check to not vomit at the smell inside.

The house is the second from the left, top row.

Inside there’s spoiled fruit and such, but again, no real signs of disturbance. The general feeling is the crew here had left and intended to be back in a short amount of time. Searching the desk they find a ledger and a lockbox. There are several entries in the ledger describing various activities, their take for each, and the portion set aside for their franchise fees. They find the fee money inside the lockbox. The last entry in the ledger reads “Investigate Haunted House”.

Upstairs are 4 bedrooms, 2 with single beds, 2 with bunk beds. There are some clothes, clean and dirty, but nothing else of any real value or interest in the house. After checking with the neighbors, they learn the crew has missing for at least a couple of weeks, probably 3 or 4 altogether.

Heading to the nearby tavern, they grab some ale and ask the barkeep what they know about a haunted house in the area. Before she can answer, an old poacher at the end of the bar says he can tell them all about it, while looking sadly at his empty mug. Kosh springs for an for him as well and he tells his short tale.

Hard on his luck, the poacher went through the back door of the house hoping to find some food. Thinking there may even be some wine in the cellar, he started to descend the stairs, heard ghastly shrieks and piercing wails, and ran, frightened out of his wits. He describes the backdoor near the well, and a rough outline of the kitchen by the stairs.

The house is located down the shoreline road, about 3 or 4 miles. A couple of interested townfolk accompany the group for a bit of the walk, telling what they know of the place (not a lot), but as they get close to the house, they all leave the adventurers to their mission and return to town.

The road to the house winds through the rocky coastal terrain, often offering a view of the sea below. Low clouds press upon you; occasional patches of sunlight appear out over the water. A stiff wind blows off the waves, carrying the briny stink of churning salt water.

The decrepit house sits on the highest ground in the area. Around it, a stone wall has crumbled in many places, exposing the interior grounds. An ornate metal gate lies open at the end of the road, swaying slightly in the wind. Wild flora grows throughout the inner yard, but all the years cannot hide the evidence of a well-tended garden that once sat here. Near the house, the rotted wooden roof of a water well rises out of the tall grass.

A 6 foot wall encloses the garden and is partially collapsed in several places. A single rosebush near the gate has overgrown the wall and choked out most of the other plants. With a strong perception check the group notice a burrow under the rosebush made by something large. Gaarz approaches the bush and is attacked by a family of 4 giant weasels. A couple of quick rounds of combat take care of the weasels and Gaarz scavenges teeth and claws from the remains.

Approaching the well they notice a cluster of small mammal remains in the tall grass around the well (primarily mice, squirrels, and the like). Kosh goes back and collects some meat from the weasels and tosses it in the well. There’s splashing – more than accounts for the meat hitting any water inside. Zard casts light and Kosh again tosses meat in, this time with everyone watching what happens. 2 giant poisonous looking snakes come out of the crumbled and crevice-ridden walls of the well shaft and attack the fallen meat. The group also notice the glint of several, silvery looking coins at the bottom of the well.

Deciding to leave the snakes alone for now, they continue on to the backdoor of the house and enter the kitchen area. (I only roughly remember the order of the rooms as they were explored from this point…)

9 and 10 are on the North side of the house. 4 is to the West, 6 to the East.

9) Kitchen – This kitchen is dirty and damp, with patches of gray mold and cobwebs on the floor, walls, and ceiling. In the southwest corner is some iron cooking equipment with a chimney above. Next to it, under the window, is a cracked and discolored stone sink.
To the right of the sink, a small, closed wooden cupboard is fixed to the wall about five feet above floor level.
Against the far wall, a flight of wooden stairs leads upwards from west to east; the woodwork of the staircase is decayed, and few of the treads are missing.

The group notice tracks from the hall leading to these stairs. When they investigate the sink and cupboard and are attacked by 4 giant centipedes.

10) Scullery – This room displays the effects of damp and decay more than most. Mold grows in patches on the floor, walls, and ceiling. A large copper cask, split, discolored and empty, stands under the window, with a small heap of crockery shards on the floor beside it. Stairs lead down into what is presumably a cellar.

7) Dining Room – At one time a long table stood in the center of this room; now it lies broken on the floor. A broken chair sits against the wall between the windows, and there is a heap of broken dishes in the the northwest corner.

8) Withdrawing Room – Two stuffed armchairs stand near the fireplace of this room. The covers of both have been torn and the stuffing has been pulled out, but the wooden frames are intact. A broken table lies on the floor near the north wall.

Gaarz inspects the chimney and finds a stone out of place, revealing behind it a hidden compartment containing a wooden box. As it’s uncovered a swarm of spiders flow out in obvious irritation at the disturbance. Inside the box are 30 coppers and two small pouches of alchemical powders (5gp each).

1) Entrance Hall – The front door opens onto a musty, dirty entrance hall. To your left, a corridor leads in the the west wing of the house. The walls are bare and bits of smashed furniture lie upon the floor. Ahead of you, another corridor leads toward the rear of the house.
A staircase on the eastern wall climbs to the next story, reaching it at a balcony that overlooks the entrance hall along its north and west sides; the stairs appear safe to climb, through the balcony rail is broken in several places. Under the stairs at the north end of the hall, a third corridor leads east.

Footprints lead from the entryway back towards the kitchen, another set lead off toward room 4.

3) Study – This room was once a writing room or study. Against the wall under the windows sits a large wooden writing desk, partially broken and riddled with damp rot. There are three drawers in each side of the desk and a large central drawer; the latter is closed, but the others are all open – and two of them have been broken open forcibly.

A successful thieves check opens the drawer containing nothing but old, valueless documents, all written in Common – receipts for purchases of various chemicals and laboratory equipment. With a successful investigation check the group uncovers a secret compartment – inside, wrapped in cloth, is a glass vial containing two doses of potion of healing.

2) Library – This room was once a library with bookshelves around the walls. Most of the shelves are broken, and in many places they have come away from the wall. The few shelves still intact are empty, but a pile of books rests in the southwest corner.

The fourteen books in the heap untidily thrown into the corners are covered with cobwebs, vermin droppings, and harmless mold. All are partially ruined but are still legible. Most of the books are dull (histories, collections of romantic poems, and so forth), but three are quite noteworthy. These three books bear clear titles on their spines:

  • The Magical Properties of Gemstones by the archmage Tenser
  • The Magical Properties of Herbs and Flowers by the archmage Tenser
  • The Metaphysics of Mathematics by the mage Nystul

Inside the third volume lies a piece of parchment torn from a larger sheet, containing a few lines of handwritten text in the Common tongue. Dampness has spoiled it so that only two words are legible: “beyond skeletons”. Each book can be sold for 7 gp each.

4) Living Area – A door in the north wall leads onto a small patio, the paving cracked and overrun with weeds. Other than a pile of refuse in the southeast corner, the room is bare.

The group notices a trapdoor (marked by the “S”) in the floor and that the tracks from the front room seem to lead to it. As they get within 5 feet of it a loud and malevolent voice is heard: “Welcome, fools – welcome to your deaths!”. Booming, fiendish laughter follows the spoken message. Anyone failing a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw has disadvantage on all ability checks for 1 hour unless immune to the frightened condition. They can repeat the saving throw every 15 minutes.

5) Living Area – The only thing of note in the room is a clump of tiny red mushrooms growing around a fireplace in a semicircular formation. Otherwise, the room is bare.

Searching the chimney the group discovers a loose stone about 3 feet above the top of the fireplace that conceals a small cavity. Inside is a small leather pouch containing two cut pieces of blue quartz (10 gp each).

6) Living Area – Aside from a large amount of plaster that has fallen from the ceiling, this room is bare.

The floor in the room above is considerably weaker than elsewhere judging from the condition of the ceiling.

The group goes back to the kitchen to go up the stairs.

19) Attic – A gaping hole in the floor shows where the top of the staircase used to lead before it collapsed. There are grimy cobwebs on the walls and ceiling, and the floor is covered with broken furniture and other rubbish.
Several holes in the roof allow dim light to enter this large room that extends the length of the house. Two large sacks lie heaped in the northwest corner.

The sacks contain old clothing and rags. A group of six stirges drop on the party as they investigate them. Sifting through the rubbish they find a porcelain doll costumed to look like a sailor. The doll’s eyes are made from two pieces of jade worth 10 gp each.

18) Landing – Along the north wall of this area, a staircase descends to the ground floor of the rear of the house. The treads appear to be loose and perilous.
Another staircase along the east wall climbs to the upper level. This stair has mostly collapsed – only the lowest six steps are still intact, and there is no easy access to the hole in the ceiling to where the staircase used to lead. A heap of rotten timber lies in the northeast corner.

17) Box room – This room appears to have been used for storage. A large, ill-made oak chest stands under the window, its lid closed. Elsewhere in the room lie three broken wooden chairs, two splintered wooden buckets, and a mildewed sack. Just inside the door is a heap of clothing; these garments have collected little dust, appearing to have been placed here only recently.

The chest is empty and the sack contains drab, rotted clothing soiled long ago by the house’s former owner. The group also finds an inordinate number of wool socks.

To be continued…

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