I have more then a minor obsession with U1 Sinster Secret of Saltmarsh by Dave J.Brown with Don Turnball. Coming out in 1981 I've run this adventure numerous times including with other systems such as Call of Cthulhu & Jason Vey's Amazing Adventures. But I wanted to get back to my roots. So between doing a bit of shoving & lots of work I read up on the wiki entry for U1 & ran across the following; "Freelance gaming author James Maliszewski calls it "one of the best low-level modules ever written for Dungeons & Dragons" and "a superb example of adventure design". He listed the positive elements of the module as "the very matter-of-fact way it portrays a fantasy world" and the new spin it gives to "the standard low-level D&D tropes""That's not really what I wanted.. Hmm so my notes on when I ran U1 with the Call of Cthulhu rpg were open. There were lots of questions about the alchemist in those notes. The adventure concerns the ghostly ship that has been terrorizing the town of Saltmarsh and haunted mansion of an evil alchemist.
What was the prequel information on the alchemist himself? What was the network of smugglers & pirates that the Sea Ghost was a part of? U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh was one of the first Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventurers I cut my teeth on.
A couple of years ago I ran the adventure with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. That's really where Saltmarsh & the alchemist started to come together for me. The Alchemist an early story by H.P. Lovecraft gave me the NPC of Count Antoine de C a man obsessed with the Exiler of Life & who was actually one of the Slave Lords of A0- A4 Against The Slave Lords trilogy fame.
Count Antoine de C at the end of the short story by HP Lovecraft takes up his ancestor's quest for the Elixir of Life. But as he lives he finds himself drawn deeper & deeper into the underworld of dark alchemy. Hyperborea offers him the opportunity to study the forbidden works of Hyperborean alchemy. The cost of alchemy is staggering & so his associations with the unsavory elements of the Slavers & their networks of assassins, thieves guilds, & black market necromancers.
Miguel Hernandez Najera's Alchemist & my NPC artwork for Count Antoine de C
Smuggling, fencing, etc. all became second nature to Count Antoine de C with not even death able to keep him away from the quest. He discovered the secrets of undeath but continued on even after becoming something far less then human. His correspondences with Drelnza, the vampiric daughter of long-deceased archmage Iggwilv allowed him certain insights into his condition of undeath. When the opportunity came to expand the operations of the slave lords to Hyperborea Count Antoine de C jumped at the chance. The Green Death had left the extensive alchemical ruins & factory works of the Lizard Coast. Count Antoine de C has had paid agents & adventurers exploring those ruins. But his dealings with the Deep Ones has yielded some incredible advances. But recently there's been a souring of relations with both the lizardmen & the Kuo Toa clans of Deep Ones. There are rumors of war coming.
The town of Saltmash was a casualty of the Green Death and its never quite recovered from the plague in AS&SH. Recently rumors among high tier royals of Hyperborea place the alchemist off world & he has not been seen in quite sometime. Adventurers are begining to want to creep in to check out the mansion despite its fearsome reputation.
This version of UK1 The Sinster Secret of Saltmarsh has an operative of the Slavers checking in with the alchemist & selling arms to the lizard men. The alchemist is entering a delicate cycle of his undeath state over the last ten years. His agents are pouring through Hyperborea for rare herbs & occult items of power. Hence why the place has fallen into disrepair & yet there are rumors of his agents upon X1 The Isle of Dread.