The Song of Saqua: Back to D&D

It has been a while since I last did a write up of my D&D shenanigans. Part of it has been motivation, part of it has been that the more interesting stuff has been in the form of one-shots, rather than long campaigns. I actually DMed a three session sequel to my Galadriel’s Hair outing (, this time called Across the Ice. Yes, I sent my players through the Darkening of Valinor, the Kinslaying, and finally the trek across the Grinding Ice. It even ended on the poignant death of Turgon’s wife, Elenwe*.

*Who had previously been asked by one of the players: “why the hell did you decide to bring your daughter along?” An extremely valid point…

But now I’m back to playing in a lengthy campaign again, as DMed by someone else. And three sessions in, I think it is time to resume the write-ups.

Enter Saqua. The aquatic Dhampir, who has lived in a community of sea-vampires (the Sanguinists) all his life, but now wants to find his human father. Cue jokes about Blood being thicker than Water.

At the time of writing:

  • Name: Saqua El-Tomoth
  • Race: Dhampir (Human/Vampire)
  • Class: Sorcerer
  • Level: 2
  • Stats: 11 Strength, 12 Dexterity, 18 Constitution, 12 Intelligence, 8 Wisdom, 18 Charisma
  • Spells:
  • Cantrips: Chill Touch, Shape Water, Prestidigitation, Frostbite
  • First Level: Command, Inflict Wounds, Fog Cloud, Silent Image, Comprehend Languages

(In case you were wondering about the peculiar stats… this is a sub-class that enables you to trade HP for sorcery points).

Session I:

We started off in a prison in the city of Neverwinter (which just lends itself to Narnia jokes about whether it is Always Christmas). Saqua was there because he was the unfortunate fall-guy for a gang of burglars and arsonists. Specifically, he’d turned up at a tavern, and obligingly agreed to act as look-out for some apparently friendly gentlemen. So he did, and waited, just as instructed. Then he got arrested by the City Guard, and found himself under sentence of death once they found out he was a half-vampire (turns out humans really don’t care about the “half” part). And now he’s in a prison cell, munching on rats.

Anyway, his companions in these cells (i.e. the party):

  • Sir Goatslayer (Golliath Monk)
  • Milly (Human Ranger)
  • Droxl (Lizardfolk Vessel)

Goatslayer actually has a squire, Oryk the Halfling. The party keeps insisting this squire is an equal member of the party, to the point where he’s basically a DMPC. He gets equal shares of loot and food.

Droxl proved able to craft a pair of bone keys, using his teeth and an available skeleton. Saqua, who is a fellow Bonecrafting artisan, was deeply impressed by this, and more than a bit jealous that his own teeth were unsuitable. But he insisted that Droxl join the Guild of Os Sculptura, the local multi-ethnic, multi-species, governing body for bone sculpting. Saqua’s actually a paid-up member, on account of trading ventures with the Drow and Sea-Elves in certain sea-side caverns. He doesn’t want his new lizard friend to fall foul of Guild enforcers.

So Droxl got us out of the cells, Milly cast light, and Sir Goatslayer found a secret back-passage out into some tunnels. So far so good. Except that these tunnels were inhabited. By giant spiders.

Not trivial for a group of Level 1 (as we were then) adventurers. Luckily, even at that level, Saqua has the ability to climb along the walls. Milly fell into a hidden pit, but our Dhampir showed his usefulness by killing a Giant Wolf Spider with Chill Touch. Then we encountered a guardroom with a dog.

There was much discussion on what, exactly, to do with the dog. Milly has talk-with-animals, but struggled to convince the creature that we were friendly, and not desperate Escaped Prisoners. Luckily, prestidigating a smell came in handy, and we were able to recover our items, including non-prison clothing. Saqua was, however, under strict instructions not to drink the dog’s blood. We also picked up a couple of random potions.

Then it was back into the tunnels. And this time, there was an Ettercap, with quite the collection of spiders. It wanted us to bring food for its family, in return for it letting us past. Saqua thought this was a perfectly sensible arrangement… Milly less so.

But the deal with the Ettercap became rather moot when (after evading traps) we ran into some aggressive arachnids further down the line. Droxl’s fire-casting was highly effective at killing hatchlings, and at incurring the wrath of the Ettercap. And this time round, Saqua proved quite useless, since he was swiftly webbed to the wall of the tunnel, and just could not break out.

The fight ended when Droxl decided to throw those potions, and hope for the best. One of the potions was enlarge (oh dear). But the other? It turned the Ettercap into a fine mist. And thus we were able to escape both prison and tunnel.

Session II

Technically we weren’t quite done with the tunnel. We found an ornate bone-chest with a painting inside. Sir Goatslayer successfully stealthed and knocked out a guard, and Saqua made off with the keys. Then, courtesy of some official bribery, we were able to regain the city. It then turned out Sir Goatslayer had a mission in a far-off land, and needed to board a ship called the Voyage. Under a Captain Greysail.

Everyone decided to go with him. The city was no longer safe for us (prison-break!) and we all quite liked Sir Goatslayer. Alas, Droxl disappeared this session…

After that, it was meeting with the Harbour Master, purchasing items, and treating ourselves to fine and (thoroughly discreet) entertainments. Good food (described in luxurious detail), good wine… Sir Goatslayer and Milly partook in gambling, with the latter cheating and the former emphatically not. Saqua proved quite the spendthrift, splashing out for the best room and best food. Then there were the other, more debauched, entertainments.

Milly hired someone to talk to all night. Sir Goatslayer hired a goliath and a dwarf. Saqua – rather struggling to grasp the notion of paying for such things – wound up organising an orgy in his room. With extra chocolate sauce. All told in fade to black, of course. But Saqua is easily the most debauched D&D character I have ever played – rather different from Annalax, the tight-fisted, sexually masochistic (but vaguely socially conservative) Drow Rogue who dominates my past history with the game.

The following day, we were out at sea. We discovered that Oryk might have killed someone in an alley… but, well, what happened last night stays last night.

Saqua is a sea-vampire, so he found it more natural to leap off the ship, and mess around in the water. As such, he was first to know we were under attack from sea-snakes… and a sea-serpent.

(As an aside, we played this on a DM-provided map, with the monsters as confectionary).

This was a case of Saqua coming in handy, in a way he didn’t expect. After we’d had a few rounds with these critters (and the DM resolved against a TPK), Saqua rolled a 3 on Insight, and decided that the sea-serpent just needed to be Intimidated. With his high Charisma, he rolled an excellent Intimidation score… and the sea-serpent rolled terribly. So it fled.

Later on, we encountered a Nereid, seemingly offering a strange boon. Saqua did not trust it, but Sir Goatslayer rose to the occasion, and wound up with both a trippy dream and a magical weapon.

Session III

Droxl returned this session, swimming out with a live pig. As one does. He came in handy too. The first part of the session was a pirate attack (yes, also represented by confectionary). Saqua dived into the sea, and flung a Fog Cloud at the ship, which seems to have helped out his friends. Mostly. He was also able to drain blood from a stray pirate who had also made the mistake of jumping overboard.

(But he wasn’t able to use Shape Water to up-end the enemy ship by lifting a block of ice under the hull. Fair enough, Master DM).

Sir Goatslayer got into a tense duel with a large female ogre. So tense that our goliath made a point of doing non-lethal damage. He wanted to make a new friend. But the ogre was less keen, and having been knocked down to 1 HP, she fled back to the pirate ship with her captain. Saqua finished her off with a hit-and-run Inflict Wounds, before diving back into the sea. But the remaining pirates were able to fling some ballista bolts at him, and knocked him down to 3 HP. Ouch. But this was at least the point where Level 1 became Level 2.

(Also, Oryk was not particularly keen on letting a vampire lick the blood off him. For some reason).

The next part of the session involved landing on an island. A small island, as represented by a map the DM had painted himself. On this map was a large stone building, with a warning out front. An ancient vampire – a foul, ancient vampire – was entombed here.

Saqua had heard stories of this mysterious Melcior, and his long-ago disappearance. His initial reaction was to suggest that he return to his home beneath the sea, to pass on this information to his elders. Let them deal with it. But Sir Goatslayer was not having it. And in his infinite wisdom, he decided to cut down the tree that sprouted from the building.

This, alas, proved pointless. The axe bounced off harmlessly. Meanwhile, Milly poking around at a bush summoned forth vampiric blights – that took the form of cacti and vines and random bushes. The cacti needles were thirsty for blood (not Saqua’s, of course!), and did a fair amount of damage. 28 HP at Droxl. They all rushed Sir Goatslayer in the aftermath of the axe attack too. But eventually the party mopped them all up, and ventured inside.

There, they encountered three stairways, and a mysterious message in celestial cipher. Out of game, we had a fair amount of fun cracking the cipher, which read:


A suitably aquatic prayer later, and a door opened…

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