Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Dirty Secrets and Nightmares is a Dungeons and Dragons (DnD 5e) game set in a Ravenloft Domain of Dread, New Solamnia. Play takes place every Friday night at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club in Chislehurst, South East London. The Dungeon Master is Sam. Five people previously unknown to each other have found themselves strangely transported to a land none of them are familiar with, and banded together to investigate what has brought them here - and survive. According to the locals, it is usually a peaceful place. This is not the party's experience, as strange happenings surround them and monsters stir. The party consists of:
Sir Gerigold - A Male Half-Elven Oath of Redemption Paladin of the Morninglord (played by Paul)
Hazard Darkstar - A Male Human Rune Knight Fighter (played by Alexander)
Greynen Falstaer - A Male Half-Elven Warlock of the Archfey, Pact of the Tome (played by Mark)
Morgaen Nightbreeze - A Female Half-Elven Bard of the College of Spirits (played by Imogen)
Ragnar son of Bjorn - A Male Human Tempest Cleric of Odinson (played by Alex)
After a mind- and body-scarring experience in the crypts beneath the church of Saint Terragnis, in the town of Tenbrim, the party need time to recover and to consider their next move.
The evening was still just drawing in when they left the sad scene in the church. Tenbrim’s central square still looked peaceful – but a certain air of apprehension had seeped into the town. The party saw a new caution in the way people watched them as they crossed the square towards the Code of Honour inn.
Sir Gerigold halted, suddenly, outside the inn and ran a hand over his face – he asked Ragnar again if he really did have flesh and skin over his jaw again. Ragnar told him it looked like he’d developed an issue with dry skin, but nothing worse than that.
“I’ll take that,” the paladin said, happily, and led the way inside.
Emmalina the innkeeper did not seem to have been affected too much by what had happened at the church – perhaps she had been too busy to pay much attention to anything going on outside.
“Oh, hello,” she said, cheerfully, before looking taken aback at the state of them. “What happened to you?”
“We have fought a great evil in the crypts beneath the church of Saint Terragnis,” Sir Gerigold said solemnly. “It was a hard fight, and an excessively unpleasant place. We are much in need of a night here to recover.”
“It must have been very unpleasant, you are all a bit stinky… The rooms you had before are free, and the bathhouse is out the back near the stables. I’ll get the water heating while you bring your horses round.”
“The exact rooms we were in before, you say?” Sir Gerigold asked hopefully.
He got a sidelong look.
“The ones you hired last time are free, as I said… don’t ask me any more questions until after you’ve got in and cleaned up, yes?”
After stabling the horses and visiting the bathhouse, the party spread themselves out around the inn and sought some relief from the stress they had been under in their different ways.
Sir Gerigold flirted determinedly with Emmalina, seeking further clarification of the sleeping arrangements.
Ragnar got drunk.
Morgaen and Hazard went up to their rooms early – Hazard to conduct one of his extensive private rituals, which he had so far refused to explain to the others. Morgaen wanted to distance herself from recent events by continuing to read the book, Tamalain and Other Poems, where she had found the information about the realm of Azarumme which had built the crypts.
Greynen, still down in the common room, became restless. Trying not to think too much about the crypts, his mind went back to the overwhelming question that he only ever escaped for short periods of time. The locals were more withdrawn than they had been the last time they were here – but a few old regulars had still come in. And this was the first time he had been in Tenbrim since he had started wondering if his patron Cyone, the Lady of Dreams, had arranged somehow for him to be here – since she had promised to help him find his sister.
He went over to the locals, who stiffened, but then relaxed a little when they realised that he did not want to talk to them about the disturbing thing that had just happened in the church. Instead, he talked to them about a woman called Olaria – looking rather like him, with silver hair that had been long the last time he saw her. Nobody had heard of her – but one man mentioned that there were a few alehouses around town, less reputable than the Code of Honour, where someone travelling alone and short on money might have stayed the night. He suggested that Greynen go there the next day and ask around – taking one of his friends to watch his back, since the places concerned were frequented by Tenbrim’s dregs rather than its respectable citizens. Greynen thanked him, privately wondering whether travelling with the muscular and well-armoured Sir Gerigold, Ragnar and Hazard was making him look comparatively fragile – he had never had anyone question his ability to handle himself in a rough dive before – or whether the respectable citizen just had such a poor opinion of the alehouses that he would have recommended taking a bodyguard to anyone.
Anyway, he would not be bothering the others to go with him to get some answers from those kind of places – his kind of places.
The next morning, the party all felt stronger, somehow – as if their experiences in the crypts had tested them and helped them to grow in strength, skill or magic. They agreed to meet up back at the inn later to go over to the church of Saint Terragnis, then separated. Sir Gerigold, Hazard and Morgaen visited the blacksmith, Donnegan, while the other two set off alone. Morgaen purchased a rapier – the fights at close-quarters in the church and the crypts had made her feel the lack of a melee weapon – before the other two had the final fittings on their new splint armour and then attempted to negotiate a price for handing in their old armour. Donnegan proved as hard-headed as before, despite their new status as protectors of the church, and Hazard’s best persistence did not get him the price he wanted. Sir Gerigold had succumbed to an expensive impulse and traded in his old armour for some nice-looking jewellery Donnegan had taken in payment from a previous adventurer, which he intended to give to Emmalina.
After acquiring the rapier, Morgaen visited Ruby’s Rubies, the jewellers, and bought an expensive pearl. She had studied the spell she needed it for at bardic college, but as with many of them, studying did not mean that you could cast them reliably. However, her increasing familiarity with the spirits that she could sense and speak to was making her feel a greater affinity for divination magic. She sat down in her room, upstairs in the inn, to cast a divination to identify magical properties on the various magical items they were collecting. First, she identified the benefits of Father Reginald Baird’s former amulet – giving a limited advantage against being charmed or frightened, or otherwise affected by external forces – before moving on to the silver raven she had found at the Valkyr Mausoleum. She learned the figurine’s command word, and that it would turn into a raven for twelve hours at a time once every three days, during which time it would be friendly to her and act as a help and a messenger.
The final magic item she needed to look at was the black book. When she opened it, the book again showed her the vision they had had from the most recent brass disk, down in the crypts – the fate of the knight’s family. Casting her divination on the book gave her one thing other than its known property as a magical storytelling book – its name. This book was called The Chronicles of Raistlin Majere.
Morgaen noted the name and returned the book carefully to her rucksack, with Tamalain and Other Poems, and the silver raven to her belt pouch. She hesitated for a moment – it had been years since she had felt religious, opportunistic prayers to the gods of stealth and deception hardly counted – but did put the amulet on. In New Solamnia, she felt she would need all the help she could get, and protecting people was supposed to be Saint Terragnis’ role. She headed off to find Ragnar, and the strange knife he had been carrying around, which gave him darkvision at the expense of ominously misty eyes.
Ragnar had retrieved from his pack a well-wrapped but still by now rather sad-looking piece of dark purple fungus. He hadn’t wanted to tell the others that he still had it – but he was still curious about the plant-monsters they had fought at the Valkyr Mausoleum four days ago. Asking around for people who knew about plants had got him the advice that the best person to ask was the doctor, but further questioning had established that wherever the doctor had gone after his visit to Baron Rennet, he was not back in Tenbrim yet. Patiently and persistently, Ragnar refused to be fobbed off with advice to wait for the doctor – and despite the townsfolk’s surprise at this intransigence, he was eventually directed to a florist’s shop, Florence’s Flora. She welcomed him enthusiastically, as there was nobody else in the shop, but she did stay polite when he explained that he was looking for information rather than flowers and leant over with interest as he unwrapped the fungus.
He looked up at her, enquiringly, after revealing it.
Florence poked the fungus with a small pair of scissors.
“The juices don’t look healthy – some kind of poison, maybe?”
“I’ll say,” Ragnar agreed with feeling, remembering the damage that the fungi’s tendrils had done to some members of the party.
“Well, I don’t recognise this, perhaps if you describe the whole plant?”
Ragnar launched into the tale of exactly what the purple fungus creature had looked like in life – including that it had been moving. Florence was shocked – but intrigued, unlike the way many of the locals were dumbfounded at how strange and terrifying events could happen so close to their peaceful life. She propped both elbows on the counter and demanded to know more. Ragnar told her the whole story of the Valkyr Mausoleum.
“My goodness, you have an exciting life,” she said, a little wistfully, when he finished. “I’m sorry – I still can’t tell you anything about your plant creatures. They’re like nothing I’ve ever encountered in New Solamnia.”
“Nor anything I ever knew in Midgard,” Ragnar said fervently. “We have proper plants there! But some of my travelling companions said their world sometimes has plant monsters too.”
“Yes, we all come from other worlds – the other four from a world called Far Run or somesuch, but I am from Midgard. I serve our god of thunder, Odin’s son, but somehow I have been summoned here.”
“Wait one moment!” Florence said imperiously. She turned, and produced two tall stools – one for herself, one for Ragnar. “Now – please, tell me all about it!”
“Oh – what would you like to know?”
“I have never heard anything about other worlds before – please, tell me everything about your world!”
Ragnar was, admittedly, rather homesick. And Florence had already shown herself to be a very good listener. He sat on the stool and told her all about Midgard.
“You must be so sorry to be this far from home,” Florence said, at the end, putting one hand over his.
“Oh – well, a little,” the cleric admitted, with considerable understatement. “But I am sure that my god has some purpose in my being here, and in that case, I am sure that he will also eventually lead me home. When I work out how to get there, you should come and see my world,” he added.
“Oh, is that an invitation?” Florence asked, smiling with her head on one side. She twisted her other hand through her hair. “I’m not very holy, perhaps your god would not approve.”
“Yes, it is an invitation. We are great hosts, we love to have guests,” Ragnar assured her, quietly wondering why she had not understood the first time that it was an invitation. “And you do not have to be holy to be a guest! Just merry and cheery.”
“Well, I’ll think about it,” Florence said archly, “but I do have this business to run.”
“Yes, you do!” Ragnar said, struck. “And I have taken up so much of your time –”
“What? Oh, no, I have enjoyed our talk!”
Ragnar looked about.
“I should buy a flower – ah! That is also something I have never seen in Midgard!” he said, pointing. The flower that had caught his eye had a very large round centre, surrounded by bright yellow petals – it was set on a tall, strong green stem. “What is it called?”
“That one? That is a sunflower,” Florence said, smiling. “They come from somewhere to the south, they are brought here by traders from the coast. They are very rare in this area – they are one of my favourites!”
“Please, how much for the – sun flower?”
Florence went over and selected the largest and brightest bloom.
“Have it as a gift,” she offered, holding it out. “From a new friend in a strange place, Ragnar Bjornsson.”
Ragnar attempted to insist on paying, but Florence held firm – and Ragnar walked out of the shop, rather bemusedly clutching the large bright bloom.
There he jumped – Morgaen had been standing there, silently. She was grinning at him and seemed to have been eavesdropping for some time.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, surprised.
“People watching,” the bard said. “It’s a hobby as well as a job, for me. Besides, you didn’t want a third wheel in there, did you?”
“Third wheel? What are you talking about?”
Morgaen grinned more broadly and shook her head.
“Made a new friend, Ragnar?”
“Yes, perhaps, she is a good listener and I talked a lot – I tried to buy this flower but she made me take it for free!”
“What did you want it for?”
“To give to Emmalina, to apologise for trying to steal beer from her our first night here –”
“Keep your voice down!”
“Oh, Ragnar… Never mind. Never mind. Let’s just – I have a new spell I can use to find the properties of magical items; would you like to know about your dagger?”
“Yes, of course I would! Why did you wait outside the shop if you were coming to talk to me about that?”
“I… you know what, I think it would take too long to explain. Come on. Let’s find a quiet corner and find out what exactly your dagger does.”
Back at the Code of Honour, Sir Gerigold had presented Emmalina with a beautiful pair of earrings he had purchased by trading in his old armour. She was flattered, and after telling him so, asked carefully if he was planning to stay in the area.
“I think not – my friends and I must still find out what has brought us here. We can get no more information in Tenbrim, so we must consider leaving and looking elsewhere,” Sir Gerigold said. “We will have to discuss our next steps today, once the others have returned.”
“Yes… And your other friend, who just came back with you?” Emmalina asked, carefully.
Sir Gerigold winced.
“I am sure he will join us for that discussion…”
Morgaen and Ragnar arrived back at that point – via the back door, as there was an alleyway which led to the inn more directly from the florists’ than going by the main square. Ragnar was proudly holding both his dagger – in its sheath – and a strange bright flower.
“It is called Ghost Eye,” he said, showing Sir Gerigold the dagger. “And it is not cursed, despite what everyone thought. It is spelled to be better at attacking as well as to give me darkvision.”
“That is good to know,” the paladin said gravely. “What is the flower for?”
Ragnar walked up to Emmalina and held out the flower.
“It was very kind of you to have us again despite my behaviour last time I was here, pretty lady,” he said. “Thank you.”
Emmalina’s smile shone out.
“Ah, that is sweet of you! I have seen these flowers at Florence’s, they are beautiful but it is not an expense I could justify for myself – thank you!” She took the flower