Danger at Dunwater

My boys and I continued our second campaign, following up their leads from the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh.  Knowing that the bullywugs were buying weapons, and were closeby, the party was sent by the Saltmarsh town council to recon the bullywugs and to assess if they were a threat.  A reward of 5,000 gp was offered to undertake the mission.

Our party consists of 4 members.  Each of my sons is playing two characters, who are now 4th 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 party was once again joined by Tom and Will Stoudtly, a little extra muscle provided by the council.  Oceanus, an aquatic elf fighter that they rescued from the raid on the Sea Ghost has also joined them.
They took one of the small boats instead of the ship.  They don’t have the crew to successfully sail the Sea Ghost at this time, and are waiting for the merchant season to hopefully be able to hire some sailors.
They spotted some cave entrances as they approached the shore, and decided to land on a small island in the mouth of the Dunwater River, just east of the lair.

While discussing (arguing) over a plan to scout, they were ambushed by a group of wandering lizardfolk who approached from under the murky water.  Attacking with surprise, they landed a few hits, but Ander quickly turned the tables with a command on the largest lizardfolk, “Flee“.  It did, and disengaged and swam away.  The others, not sure what to do, followed suit.  

Finally settling on a plan, Garret and Ander approached first to what turned out to be the

main entrance to the bullywug lair.  A small cave lead to a door, which Garret quietly opened.  Once entering, a bullywug approached from a side guard room, croaking out a challenge.  “What are you doing here”.

“We’re lost. Trying to find the town of Saltmarsh.”

“It’s to the east.  Begone.”

So they left.  They checked out another, larger cave going around the hillside.  Thick mud around the entrance made for difficult terrain, so they avoided that entrance and went back to the boat.  Henk and Faen went to the first cave.  When they entered, a group of bullywugs was there.

“Now what are you doing?”

“We’re lost.  Trying to find the town of Saltmarsh.”

“What, did you get separated from your fellows?  You landfolk are quite worthless around the water.  Har har!”

So Henk and Faen went back to the others to figure out a plan.  It was decided that Ander, Garret and Oceanus would swim around to the water cave that was further around the shore.  They entered, seeing it opened into a cavern, with a ledge above, and extending further in.  As they swam in, a group of bullywugs surrounded them, and a group of kaolinth  entered.  The bullywugs demanded their surrender.  Outnumbered at least 3 to 1, they had no choice.  They were tied up and marched to a holding area.

After waiting for a while, the bullywug chief came in and confronted them, asking what they were doing.  Garret told the truth, about capturing the smugglers and the council sending them here to see if the bullywugs were a threat.  The chief told them that the town was of no concern of theirs, that they had been driven from their home by sahuagin, the sea devils, and that they were buying weapons and seeking alliances with the kaolinth, merfolk and locathah to fight the sahuagin.  They did not consider the land dwellers at all, figuring that they could be of no help.

Oceanus offered the aid of the aquatic elves, the sea devils being one of their most hated enemies.  Garret and Ander pledged their support as well.  The chief, not sure if they could be of help, had a suggestion of how they could prove themselves.  North of here, upriver, they was a giant crocodile, the Daggermaw.  The Daggermaw had been attacking their patrols and thinning their ranks.  Normally their shamans have some empathatic control over crocodiles, but have no effect on Daggermaw.  Crocodiles are sacred to the bullywugs, and to attack it would be taboo.  With the threat of a sahuagin attack, they cannot leave that area unpatrolled.  If the party were to defeat Daggermaw, they would prove themselves worthy.

The Dunwater being a small, shallow river, their boat would not make it upriver, having too deep of a draft.  So they walked up, until finding another group of marshy islands, and there, Daggermaw.

They spread out, around the huge croc in a semicircle, and launched their attacks.  Henk going in with his magic greatsword he claimed from the captain of the Sea Ghost, hacking away.  Garret going in with a sneak attack, while Oceanus, Wil and Tom approached it from behind.  Faen firing off a scorching ray, missing with 2 of the 3 shots, but Ander using guiding bolt, hitting solidly, and the glow of the radiant damage giving the next attack Advantage.  Daggermaw snapped back, biting Garret, hard, and holding him in his jaws, taking him out of the rest of the fight.  With a sweep of his mighty tail, he knocked Tom down to 0 hit points, and a series of death saves followed.  As the battle dragged on, 2 successes and 2 failures alternated until Ander cast spare the dying, banking against another failure.

Henk rolled high for initiative, and thanks to the Advantage from the guiding bolt, hit critically.  The dice went cold for Daggermaw, his tail flailing wildly as the party continued to hack away.  Cold dice plagued Faen as well, missing once again with 2 of his 3 scorching rays.

Green Hag, by prodigyduck

Things were looking bad for Daggermaw, but the reason for the bullywug’s lack of control showed itself, a green hag!  A vicious mockery targeting Faen failed to land (a nice roll for him on his save).  While Henk and Oceanus finished off the croc, Faen and Ander hit the hag hard with a combo of guiding bolt and thunderstrike.  Loosing half it’s hit points and its croc in one round the hag turned invisible, and used its pass without trace ability to run, but not before using a minor illusion to show footprints in the mud leading away in the other direction.  Our heroes tried to follow, but the hag was not to be found.

The bullywugs were suitable impressed with the results of the battle, but are concerned about a hag loose in the swamps.  Still, they agree to an alliance with the people of Saltmarsh, and send an officer as well as a shaman back to town with the party to formalize the deal.

Conversion to 5e was pretty standard here.  All of their opponents coming straight from the Monster Manual.  I did swap the roles of bullywugs and lizardfolk in this adventure, just as a personal preference.

Overall, I was impressed with the way a pair of 9 year old boys handled the challenge.  I was half expecting them to enter the lair and start hacking and blasting away.  Instead, they proceeded with caution and understood the scouting nature of their mission, and instead made some allies.

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