So, after the finale of the Dragon Island saga, our gaming group had some changes in real life. One of the players was moving out of town, one seemed to be more interested in running a Mage campaign, and so on.
That put me back to the unenviable position of having to rebuild the group. Luckily, I did have one player still around (Mike), and after a couple of months of searching I had one more.
I was hoping to get at least three to restart the game, but rather than keep the two I did have waiting around (and potentially dropping out before I even got started), I decided to start with just two PCs (along with an NPC character I would run as needed).
Even though Mike already had a character in the game (Hunter, a 7th level ranger), I didn't want to start this game at such a high level, so I asked Mike if he would bring in a new 1st level character for the time being. The idea was that when this new party (along with any new players) reached a high enough level, we could have the Mike's new character leave the group to be replaced by Hunter.
Another change I was planning was to move this campaign from Flotsam to a new location. Rather than build a new town from scratch, I decided to drop Saltmarsh into the Dragonlance setting in an area I hadn't previously used. Since I wasn't planning on running the original U series of modules, I opted for the version of Saltmarsh presented in the 3.5 DMG II. All the city needed was a few cosmetic changes, swapping out the default deities for their Dragonlance equivalents, and adding a few details to the city based on a module I was planning to run far in the future and we were all set to start...
Starting the game were the following characters:
Duncan - A cleric of Kiri-Jolith
Ataraxia - A monk of Majere
Worried that something was amiss, Cole sought out the aid of the high ranking clerics of Kiri-Jolith in town.
Cole was well known to the clerics of Kiri-Jolith for supplying low cost weapons and armor to their warriors, and when he came to them asking for help, they were only too willing to assist. The clerics assigned one of their younger, newly confirmed members (Duncan), the task of accompanying Cole to the village of Sandyford. They also arranged for a monk of Majere (Ataraxia) to accompany the group to Sandyford.
It should be noted that the monks and the clerics of Kiri-Jolith often trained together and had formed close alliances in Saltmarsh.
The journey to Sandyford was mostly uneventful. Along the way, the trio did encounter a small group of refugees, not from Sandyford, but from Pinehurst, a town further north. These refugees mentioned that Pinehurst had suffered frequent attacks from local kobold tribes. They knew nothing of the fate of the town of Sandyford, so the trio bid them goodbye. Privately, Duncan and Ataraxia felt they might want to investigate the events in Pinehurst after checking in with the folks in Sandyford.
When they arrived in Sandyford, they found a village ravaged by disease. Many were already dead, and the rest confined to bed with shaking fever sickness. One woman, Mara, while just as sick as the rest of Sandyford, was at least coherent enough to shed some light on the situation.
The shaky fever, as she called it, started over a month ago. At first it was just a few of the men who worked the nearby mine, but it soon spread throughout town as well as the local livestock. Aid was sought from Solanthus, but never arrived.
When the first of the townsfolk to get sick started dying, some tried to flee, while others sought to find answers within the mine where the sickness appeared to start from. These few, the last healthy and able bodied men of town, were never heard form again. Mara begs the party to find the lost husbands, daughters, and sons of Sandyford.
Without delay, Duncan, Ataraxia, and Cole set forth to the mine just a few miles outside of town. They soon found themselves standing before the mine entrance. All around the entrance, tools and some crude weapons seemed scattered around, but no living or dead bodies could be found. A recent snowfall covered any tracks around the mine.
Curious about the missing townsfolk, the party ventured into the mine. Traveling down a descending hallway, the three soon found themselves in a small roughly rectangular room. Chunks of ore were scattered about while two overturned ore carts lay in the center of the room. Under one of the carts was a motionless body. Blood smears covered the walls telling of a fierce battle that took place here recently.
Heading down the east hallway from the room with the overturned carts, the party soon entered the deep central cavern where the miners worked. Here they encounter more kobolds, but worse still were the zombies lingering down one of the main spurs off the cavern. The party soon encountered the reanimated corpses of several of the townsfolk, along with several undead kobolds as well.
Grak, as he called himself, seemed to be infected with the same disease that he was inflicting on the town, but had not yet succumbed to its full effect. Even in his weakened state, the cleric of filth put up a good fight against the trio, but soon fell to their combined might.
With the death of the draconian, the magically talisman that was infecting the water supply was rendered inert.
In the following days, some of the townsfolk started getting better, and Duncan was able to send word back to Saltmarsh that clerics of Mishakal, the Healing Hand, would be needed for the very worst cases. Duncan and Ataraxia stayed on in Sandyford till reinforcements arrived. Afterward, the pair headed north to Pinehurst to follow up on the rumors of other kobold activity in the area, while Cole stayed behind to assist the recover of the townsfolk.