Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, part 3, The Sea Ghost

My boys and I continued the game with the three of us where we are playing through the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh.

After defeating the smugglers that were hiding at the old abandoned house outside of Saltmarsh, the adventuring group was hired by the town council to take care of the sea bound side of the smuggling operation.  Lacking proper funds to pay the heroes, the council offered that if they killed or captured the smugglers, and handed over any contraband, the party could keep the smuggler’s ship and any personal goods found aboard.  Lacking other means to get out of this small backwater town, they readily agreed.

Our party consists of 4 members.  Each of my sons is playing two characters, still at 3rd level.  We’ve used some backgrounds and subclasses from around the blogosphere, and I’ll be linking them…

Henk.  Half orc raider barbarian with the duelist background.

Garret Tealeaf.  Lightfoot halfling con artist rouge with the criminal background.

Faen Firegem.  Half elf pyromancer alchemist with the tinkerer background.

Ander Highhill.  Stout halfling water domain cleric with the pilgrim background.

The Saltmarsh town council provided the services of 8 excise men from the town.  Six will stay on shore, acting as lookouts for the ship’s signal.  The other two, brothers Will and Tim Stoudtly, will help sail the party out in the jolly boat to meet the ship.  According to plans they found, the ship would send their own jolly boat to shore, loaded with silks and brandy, while the smugglers in the house will sail out to load up.  If the men left on shore outnumber the smugglers, they would attempt to capture them.  If even strength or outnumbered, they will unload the boat and play along.
Garret used his disguise kit to make up Faen to look like Ned, a “prisoner” that they had rescued at the house that was part of the smuggling group.  They would sail out, hoping the disguise would get them on board, when they would start loading their boat and attack if they time was right.  Luckily for them, Bjorn, the first mate met them.  He was familiar with Ned, but didn’t really know him, so the plan was working.  Will stayed in the jolly boat, to secure the goods, while the others climbed aboard to load, assisted by four smugglers on the main deck.  More smugglers were in the hold below passing goods up.
About half way through the loading, Garret slipped away and went below decks to the cargo hold.  Sneaking around, he saw six smugglers below, as well as Frithoff, the bosun.  He attempted to slip through a door and I rolled a natural 1 on his Stealth check.  The hinges shrieked loudly, catching Frithoff’s attention.  “Hey!  What are you doing over there?” the bosun called.  Garret slipped through the door quickly, shutting it behind him.  Seeing he was in the barracks, he counted up another 10 sleeping smugglers, before finding a ladder back up to the main deck.  Frithoff and another smuggler ran up on deck, chasing him.  Garret hid behind Henk, but Frithoff was agitated and pressing the issue of someone sneaking around below decks with Bjorn.  Garret stepped out, and used his con artist smooth talker ability on Bjorn, having the effects of a charm person, pretty much explaining that he got lost looking for the head.  Bjorn bought the story and shooed Frithoff away.  Needless to say, Garret stopped further exploration.
Once their jolly boat was nearly loaded, they attacked, gaining a surprise round.  Faen started off with a thunderwave, clearing most of the crewmen on deck, while Garret attacked Bjorn.  Ander ran to the door that lead below deck and barred it to keep the crew from coming up, while Henk slammed shut the hatch to the cargo hold.  Tim attacked the last standing crewman on deck.
The next round Henk, Garret and Tim finished off Bjorn and the last smuggler from the main deck, while Will climbed aboard.  Suddenly, crossbow fire started hitting the group, one smuggler on the for’castle, one in the crow’s nest, and another smuggler and the Captain firing from the rear deck.  Punketah, the ship’s mage, fired a web spell, blocking the deck from the mast to the railings, covering Faen, Henk and Tim.  The barred door did not hold, with four smugglers rushing out, with more huddled behind, waiting to get out.  Fain blasted them with another thunderwave, killing most of them, and blocking the ladder with bodies.  The jolly boat lashed on deck was destroyed in the blast.

Then the smugglers started to gain some ground.  Crossbow fire peppered the group, as well as magic missiles from Punketah.  Will, reduced to 1 hit point, climbed back over the railing and back to the boat.  Four bullywugs came hopping out of a cabin, leaping around the deck and attacking.  Their bites and spears hurting everyone.  Cap’n Sigurd lept from the for’castle and started hacking with his greatsword, dropping Garret.  A failed death save kept everyone on edge until Anders cast word of healing, healing up the entire party.  Will climbed back up to join the fray.  Henk, in his rage, went toe to toe with the captain, but thanks to his damage reduction, was able to stand up to the attacks.  Faen loaded up a scorching ray to target Punketah, while Tim scurried up the mast to take on the smuggler in the crow’s nest, grappling and throwing him onto the deck below.

Punketah, severely wounded, backed away from the railing and out of sight on the rear castle, while the party focused on the bullywugs and Cap’n Sigurd, dropping them.  The main deck temporarily cleared, Frithoff the bosun and the remaining nine smugglers came out on deck and saw the carnage, and promptly surrendered.  They were taken into custody and tied up, to be turned over to the Saltmarsh council.

A search of the ship turned up some valuables, Punketah’s spell book, and the captain’s magical greatsword.  A few healing potions were also found.  Letters in the captain’s cabin shed light on the bullywugs on board.  Seems that the smugglers had taken on a contract to smuggle weapons to the bullywugs, arming them for war.  An aquatic elf prisoner was also found, Manaan, who was sent by his tribe to check up on the Sea Ghost, since it had been acting suspiciously near the elves’ colony.  Thankful for the rescue, Manaan has agreed to join with the party for the time being.

Once the Sea Ghost had been explored and looted, the party found that their jolly boat, which had been loaded with contraband silks and brandy, was missing.  Seems that Punketah, gravely wounded, cast spider climb on himself, shimmied down the side of the ship and into the jolly boat before casting off and sailing away.  He may have lost his spell book and been forced to flee, but a boat full of goods will provide a fresh start and a chance to plot his revenge…

Sailing back to Saltmarsh, the remaining smugglers were imprisoned to stand trial, and the contraband turned over.  The Sea Ghost needs some minor repairs from the battle, and a crew needs hired before the party can sail off.  Unfortunately, none of the characters have any background in sailing, and in such a small town there are not enough willing sailors to get even a skeleton crew.  They’ll have to just wait until the next merchant ship comes in and hopefully can hire some sailors away.  Until then, they may just have to investigate the goings on of the bullywugs.  The council fears that the bullywugs are planning an attack on Saltmarsh!

Overall, this was a pretty easy conversion to 5e rules.  I used bullywugs instead of lizardfolk because I like bullywugs.  Same CR, so an easy change to make.  Punketah I just sort of lowered the power of the Battle Mage NPC, making him the equivalent of a 3rd level caster, and using the spell list from the original adventure.  For Cap’n Sigurd I used the Knight NPC, and First Mate Bjorn and Bosun Frithoff I used Thugs.  The rest of the smugglers I used Bandits.  For Tim and Will, who joined the party, used the Guard stats.

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