Adventure Writeup: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh Part One



Based on the TSR adventure of the same name written by Dave J. Browne and Don Turnbull. Tweaked to fit in the Hyperborean setting.

Year 576 (Tempest), Month II, Day 26
Cast of characters:


  • Aaron Cèampach, Kelt Warlock
  • Hoom Feethos, Hyberbrean Thief
  • Morrow, Pict Druid
  • Saratos Ochôziakos, Ixian Fighter
  • Sarukê thugatêrOchôziakos, Ixian Witch
  • William "Billy" Welsh - Common Human Pyromancer
Henchmen hired by Saratos and Sarukê:
  • Tai, Medium Infantryman
  • Zell, Heavy Infantryman

Zell told his employers about the legend of a haunted house near his hometown of Saltmarsh, a fishing town located about.a day's sail from Kromarium. There might even be a reward from the town council.

Seeking adventure, the band traveled to Saltmarsh, a moderately sized town of approximately 2,000. To quote the original adventure...


Four miles east of Saltmarsh, just inland of the old coast road and looking out to sea, stands the Haunted House. Until twenty years ago it had been the residence of an aged alchemist/magician of sinister reputation, and even then had been shunned by reason of its owner's mysterious occupations. Now, two decades after the sudden and unexplained disappearance of its occupant, the house has acquired an even greater air of evil and mystery with the passing years.  
Dilapidated and now long-abandoned, the house presents an unwholesome appearance to the eye. Those hardy souls who have on infrequent occasion sought entry to it (for rumours of a secret hoard of alchemical gold have persisted since the old man's disappearance) have all returned with naught save grim tales of decay presided over by monstrous perils. In more recent years there have been reports of fearsome hauntings —ghastly shrieks and eerie lights emanating from within the dismal place. Now not even the bravest dare so much as to approach the house, leave alone enter it. Indeed, such is the reputation of the house that the fields around it, though prime agricultural land, remain untended and rank with weeds.
Some discussion with locals revealed a would-be adventurer who briefly visited it, going so far as the back door and kitchen/scullery area. However, noises frightened him away. The town council wasn't quite willing to give a reward for exploring the house, but they were willing to let the adventurers keep the house should they clear it of any menace (though it was clearly a fixer-upper).

The ground floor of the house didn't challenge our adventurers too much, giving them encounters such as:

  • A huge spider and a metal box, both in a chimney. The box contained a single ring, apparently enchanted...
  • A living room with some sort of enchantment causing a magical voice to cry "Welcome fools - welcome to your deaths!", followed by maniacal laughter. Investigating further they found a hidden trap-door to the basement. But they decided to continue exploring (plus having discovered another stairwell to the basement in the kitchen area).
  • A library with a number of valuable books by mages Tenser and Nystul.
  • A study with a locked desk. Later they made use of Ned Shakeshaft to force it open, finding it contained a rose-colored potion of neutralize poison (which proved handy).
Traveling upstairs they found a number weakened floors. In one bedroom they found a pair of large spiders, one of which poisoned Morrow. The poison wasn't extreme but it did render him ill and unable to do anything but curl into a ball and empty his insides. They left the henchmen with him as they continued on. In another room they found a man bound and gagged. Questioning him he told the his tale. Again quoting the original adventure...
He was simply that he is a thief from Seaton who entered the House under cover of darkness the previous night to find a place to sleep during his journey to Saltmarsh where, he had heard, there was possible work for adventurers. He entered through the back door and had only reached the kitchen when he was attacked from behind, overcome and knocked unconscious. He awoke some hours ago — bound, gagged and stripped of his possessions — in this room. He did not see his attackers nor, until the party came along, had he heard any sounds in the House. Now he would like to be released and to join the party in their adventure.
Deciding to test him out, they brought him downstairs to open the locked desk - Hoom had been unable to. Ned wasn't able to either, though Hoom could tell he was indeed trained in the arts of subterfuge. Ned eventually opened the desk where they found the potion which they used to treat Morrow.

In another room they found Ned's gear which he was glad to get back. 

Having explored the ground and upper floors, the band debated whether to tackle the attic or the basement next...

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