5E Problems with Lost Mine of Phandelver (Errata & Suggestions)
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    Problems with Lost Mine of Phandelver (Errata & Suggestions)

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    Spoiler:

    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    First off, I love the adventure. They wrote a great how-to-DM adventure with a fun and rewarding story. I'm running two separate groups through the adventure in a week. 
     
    Unfortunately, I've noticed that there are a few problems with the adventure itself. I've listed them here. If anyone has any information or ideas about these, please let us know.
     
     
    WARNING: contains adventure spoilers
     
    [p.08] Kennel
    text says that two wolves are chained up, but there are actually 3 wolves in the room.
    I suppose one wolf could have been hidden from view when the Box Text was read, but it seems unfair to describe seeing two wolves, then all of sudden there are 3 fighting them.
     
    [p.20] Cellar
    There are two doors leading out of this room, but the Box Text only mentioned ONE of them. The unmentioned door belongs to Area 2 and they can possibly ambush the PCs in Area 1. Sounds like this is an important detail to leave out.
     
    [p.29] Old Owl Well.
    The quest guy said: “find out who’s there and what they’re up to”. It does not say "slay whoever you find." So WHY then does this encounter give PCs four times the XP for defeating the Evil Mage NPC in combat instead of parleying successfully? On page 12 it says "If the adventurers come up with a non-violent way to neutralize the threat that a monster poses, award them experience points as if they had defeated it". Certainly succeeding at diplomacy against an evil mage and his dozen zombies represents a neutralized threat.
     
    [p.30] Blighted Cottages
    Text says to award 50 XP for defeating the Twig Blights here, but it should be 150 XP. There are 6 Twig Blights at 25 XP each. 
     
    [p.31] A Druid’s Watch
    There are no combat notes for the NPC Druid. What if the players convince him to help try to drive off the Dragon? He might have useful spells.
     
    [p.31] Ash Zombie sidebar
    The text never actually explains what the Zombie “Ash Puff” ability is suppose to do, in terms of the story. I suppose we could guess that damaging an Ash Zombie causes a cloud of black ash to appear from the wound, choking anyone in the cloud unless they succeed on a DC 10 Con save. But it doesn't say anything like that at all. Since the story is that this whole village was overrun by Ash Zombies, the Adventure text should at least give them a little spotlight and actually explain the thing that makes them special.
     
    [p.32] Blighted Farmhouse.
    There are 8x Twig Blights and it says 2 blights go for the north door and 2 blights go for the south door for every round for 3 rounds. But it should only take them TWO rounds, not 3 rounds, since there are only 8 monsters. 
     
    [p.33] Venomfang, the Green Dragon.
    Why are there no roleplaying notes for the Dragon?!!? One of the PreGen characters has a specific personal goal to drive away the dragon. There's a quest or two to deal with the dragon. They're going to want to talk to the Dragon at some point. Seems like an unfortunate oversight not to include personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws for the Dragon.
     
    Actually, it would be cool if the PCs came up to the Dragon’s Lair right as the Dragon Cultists were trying to make an alliance with it. They could have over heard some NPC dialogue which would lead to some interesting roleplaying situations later on.
     
    [p.35] Wyvern Tor
    The Orcs here are scouts for the Many Arrows tribe….but the orc use javelins and not bows? Fail.
     
    [p.35] Orc Camp
    The text says the PCs can attempt one check per hour to see if they find the camp…but says nothing about what happens in the meantime. So basically the players are just supposed to keep rolling every hour until they find it? Feels like a hastily written part of the adventure.
     
    Here are some ideas for encounters at Wyvern Tor:
    * The PCs find signs of the orcs. A stray bloody arrow. Old campsites. Hacked trees. This means they're getting closer to the main camp.
    * The PCs come across a butchered animal. It was clearly killed for sport and not food. Builds tension about how savage these orcs are.
    * The PCs encounter a single orc carrying two large bucket of water. The orc (named Krokk) looks pretty wounded and has a bad limp. He only has 5 hit points left. Krokk lost some sort of tribal contest and is now being hazed, bullied, and picked on. The Ogre Gog is especially tough on him. Gog sent Krokk to fetch him some water from a nearby stream. Krokk is muttering curses in Orcish as the PCs encounter him. Unless the PCs were specifically being stealthy and their checks beat his Passive Perception score, then neither side is surprised. Krokk's weapon is on his belt but he doesn't immediately go for it because he REALLY doesn’t want to spill any water. The Ogre will surely beat him up good for that. This opens up a possible alliance between Krokk and the party! If the party promises to kill the Ogre and the current leader Brughor, and help support Krokk for the new band leader, then Krokk promises to move the tribe to a new location. Diplomacy instead of Brute Force. This would be a great way to run the mini quest.
     
    [p.41] Gundren Rockseeker
    This one is by far the worst problem in the adventure. There  is no advice for how to roleplay Gundren Rockseeker!!! He gave the party their first quest. The party's first encounter shows the scene where he was captured. One of the major plot hooks is searching for him and his map. And yet, there are no notes for how to roleplay him!??! That's a real shame.
     
    [p.49] Temple of Dumathoin
    The Drow is described as wearing black leather armor…but the Drow’s stats don’t mention or include any armor…And Mage Armor (which is listed in the Drow stat block) specifically doesn't function if the target is wearing armor. Sooo....yeah.
     
    [p.59] Drow
    The Drow has the Faerie Fire spell but it's not included in the starter set rules. (I know this is already a known issue)
     
    [p.63] Wolves
    The wolves have a Passive Perception of 13, but also Keen senses. Shouldn’t this improve their Passive Perception score by 5? Having Advantage on your Perception roll gives you a +5 bonus to your Passive Perception. (source: Hiding, Basic Rules pg 60)
     
    Discuss.


    Originally posted by Brimleydower:

    Can't say much about the rest, but I can clarify the Many Arrows tribe of orcs owe their name to King Obould Many-Arrows, who established their orcish kingdom, rather than it being a tribal name alluding to orcish archery.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Brimleydower wrote:Can't say much about the rest, but I can clarify the Many Arrows tribe of orcs owe their name to King Obould Many-Arrows, who established their orcish kingdom, rather than it being a tribal name alluding to orcish archery.
    Ah, interesting. I didn't know this came from Forgotten Realms lore. Thanks for that.
     
    I think I'll have mine use bows anyway, for flavor.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    No one else has any comments on these things? Has no one else run into these problems when playing or reading through the adventure?


    Originally posted by Leugren:

    Some of the obvious errata you mention doesn't really bother me too much, since it's easily detected and corrected.  The lack of roleplaying notes for some of the more important villains and NPC's is more troubling, though I can fill in the blanks here as well.  I haven't attempted to run the adventure yet, but from the sessions I have seen online, most DM's are managing just fine, improvising certain details and adjusting certains things as good DM's are wont to do.


    Originally posted by Emanuele_Galletto:

    The thing that bothers me the most is the absence of RP info for the dragon. I mean, Dragons are in the very logo next to Dungeons: it's logical then that, as exploring a dungeon is a complex experience, so should be interacting with a dragon. I mean, The Desolation of Smaug sucked big time (at least for me), but Smaug himself was powerful and intimidating BECAUSE he was more than a monster.


    Originally posted by Keen_Man:

    [p.08] Kennel
    I noticed that one too on my pre readthrough. probibly a typo
     
    [p.29] Old Owl Well.
    Leaving a guy with zombie to wander around seems like a threat still and I would give the pc's less xp too
     
    [p.30] Blighted Cottages
    I thought that was bonus xp for the situation but maybe a typo. 
     
    [p.31] Ash Zombie sidebar
    I was curious on that too. figured it was just visual
     
    [p.41] Gundren Rockseeker
    A small block of personality trates would be nice here I agree.
     
    [p.63] Wolves
    Ahh I missed that one good catch. 
     


    Originally posted by Istbor:

    Yeah, I too am mostly concerned with the lack of notes for the Dragon.  Maybe he just isn't talkative? Lol.
     
    I really haven't run into any major issues while running the starter though, even with some errors in the pack.  I ended up just running the dragon like you would expect, he is trying to claim this region and tower as his domain, so he is aggressive and arrogant.  I even had him try to enlist the players as his agents, as he tries to bring this place under his control.  One of the players really wanted to buy in to his offers of power, but was voted down.
     
    All in all so far my first group's experience has been hard and bloody.  My second group never ceases to do things entirely differently.  I loving it.
     
    Did I mention this is the first published adventure I have ever run as a DM? So far so good.


    Originally posted by Fellstrike:

    I've gotten through part 2 so far (meaning the pcs went right to bandits than wandered around talking to friggin everyone and picking up plot hooks.) the wolves I just said 3 when describing the room. Most other things I'm not to worried about. The dwarf could use some rp notes but I'll have an easy enough time w/him. The dragon has some motivations buried in the text at least. So that should be fine to.


    Originally posted by Aldente:

    I noticed many of the same things, and I share your take on most of the issues. Here are a few specific thoughts:
     
    I agree with Keen_Man on the Old Owl Well. I wouldn't consider the peaceful resolution to be equivalent to the combat one in this case because they're resolving different things. If you just notice the situation then head back to town, you've satisfied the questgiver's curiosity. If you kill the guy, you've probably performed an additional good deed. I usually like to reward alternative resolutions similarly, but I don't think it makes sense here. As an aside, if you do go with negotiations, can't you earn extra xp by completing one of the two tasks for the mage? I don't have my book in front of me. I suppose you could do that then kill him for the most xp, but that's starting to go all murderhobo.
     
    For A Druid's Watch, I think they specifically left out the druid's stats because they want to keep him as a pacifist. Note that his description says something about him learning to avoid all the baddies in the ruined town. Also note that if the PCs attack, he transforms himslef into a squirrel and scampers off until they leave. I think the dude just doesn't do conflict. I agree with you that this is limiting. I'd rather have more options for the PCs.
     
    I really like your ideas for both Venomfang and the Orc Camp. Those are nice (and simple) ways to bring some color to those encounters. I'd ask permission to steal the ideas for my own game, but unless you're with the NSA, I don't think you'll know if I do. You're not with the NSA, are you?
     
    If I recall correctly, the wolves only gain advantage on Perception checks if they're using scent or hearing, so it wouldn't help them spot a trip wire for instance. I guess I wouldn't add it to the passive Perception listed in the stat block directly, but I would make a note of it there. Phrasing it as "passive Perception 13 (18 if using scent or hearing)" probably works. I would definitely include it for determining success of stealth in any case.
     
    Cheers!


    Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:

    Thanks for summing them up Ramzour.  I will try poking one of the Devs about this.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Plaguescarred wrote:Thanks for summing them up Ramzour.  I will try poking one of the Devs about this.
    Plaguescarred, that would be great!
     
    I really do love the adventure over all. It would just be nice to have some more roleplaying tips on the NPCs, mostly. Most of the other problems were easy fixes for a DM to implement (like switching Orcs from javelins to bows, or describing room detail better). 


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Aldente wrote:I agree with Keen_Man on the Old Owl Well. I wouldn't consider the peaceful resolution to be equivalent to the combat one in this case because they're resolving different things. If you just notice the situation then head back to town, you've satisfied the questgiver's curiosity. If you kill the guy, you've probably performed an additional good deed. I usually like to reward alternative resolutions similarly, but I don't think it makes sense here. As an aside, if you do go with negotiations, can't you earn extra xp by completing one of the two tasks for the mage? I don't have my book in front of me. I suppose you could do that then kill him for the most xp, but that's starting to go all murderhobo.
    Ok, see the difference. Just talking to him and finding out his situation is the lower XP value. But, I still think that if the party was able to convince him to get out of town without killing him (and his zombies), I'd still award them full XP as if they did.
     

    Aldente wrote:For A Druid's Watch, I think they specifically left out the druid's stats because they want to keep him as a pacifist. Note that his description says something about him learning to avoid all the baddies in the ruined town. Also note that if the PCs attack, he transforms himslef into a squirrel and scampers off until they leave. I think the dude just doesn't do conflict. I agree with you that this is limiting. I'd rather have more options for the PCs.
    I did notice that, yeah. Still, it feels weird to have an NPC like that without stats.
     

    Aldente wrote:I really like your ideas for both Venomfang and the Orc Camp. Those are nice (and simple) ways to bring some color to those encounters. I'd ask permission to steal the ideas for my own game, but unless you're with the NSA, I don't think you'll know if I do. You're not with the NSA, are you?  
    Please, by all means steal those ideas for your game! Anything here on the forums is fair game.
     

    Aldente wrote:If I recall correctly, the wolves only gain advantage on Perception checks if they're using scent or hearing, so it wouldn't help them spot a trip wire for instance. I guess I wouldn't add it to the passive Perception listed in the stat block directly, but I would make a note of it there. Phrasing it as "passive Perception 13 (18 if using scent or hearing)" probably works. I would definitely include it for determining success of stealth in any case.
    Yes, I think phrasing it like that would be perfect.


    Originally posted by VanRicter:

    What stuck out to me was that none of the monsters have their saving throws pointed out?  So do all monsters just save based on their stat bonus' or are they supposed to have proficient saves like the PC's?


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    VanRicter wrote:What stuck out to me was that none of the monsters have their saving throws pointed out?  So do all monsters just save based on their stat bonus' or are they supposed to have proficient saves like the PC's?
    Unless otherwise specified, a skill or saving throw is just an ability check. 
     
    Some monsters (the Dragon, the Zombie, and the NPCs) have certain saving throws indicated with a higher bonus than the corresponding ability modifier.


    Originally posted by Be3Al2:

    About the Blights going to doors I read it several times and concluded that it probably means 2 go to one door while for three rounds 2/round go to the other door.


    Originally posted by Sturmunddrang:

    VanRicter wrote:What stuck out to me was that none of the monsters have their saving throws pointed out?  So do all monsters just save based on their stat bonus' or are they supposed to have proficient saves like the PC's?
     
      They also don't give their AC when using their ranged weapon and not using their shield, I guess you can always assume it's -2.  Likewise they don't give you the average damage for a crit, so monsters with a bonus you have to *2 then subtract their bonus.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Thanks for pointing these out, Ramzour. I'll keep an eye out for them (and any others too) when I get my Starter Set and give the adventure a read-through.
     
    By the way, there's a similar thread to yours over at EN World: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?357099-Lost-Mine-of-Phandelver-comments-and-complaints-after-read-through-(spoilers)&prefixid=dndnext


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:Thanks for pointing these out, Ramzour. I'll keep an eye out for them (and any others too) when I get my Starter Set and give the adventure a read-through.
     
    By the way, there's a similar thread to yours over at EN World: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?357099-Lost-Mine-of-Phandelver-comments-and-complaints-after-read-through-(spoilers)&prefixid=dndnext
    Thanks for the link! Just read the OP. Man, that guy sounds like he finally found a soap box after years of searching. Lots of really petty complaints and criticisms. It's like he was trying to critique the adventure's story for a homework assignment. 
     
    Maybe there are some good posts somewhere in the 6 pages though. I'll flip though.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Be3Al2 wrote:About the Blights going to doors I read it several times and concluded that it probably means 2 go to one door while for three rounds 2/round go to the other door.
    I re-read it and I don't think your intrepretation is correct. It says "each round for 3 rounds". To me that says "the following happens 3 times in a row". 


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:Thanks for the link! Just read the OP. Man, that guy sounds like he finally found a soap box after years of searching. Lots of really petty complaints and criticisms. It's like he was trying to critique the adventure's story for a homework assignment.  
    Maybe there are some good posts somewhere in the 6 pages though. I'll flip though.
    I have not received my copy of the Starter Set from the Book Depository yet, so I cannot speak to the validity of his concerns. It does sound like the dragon encounter could do with a bit of beefing up in terms of set-up and stuff. It wasn't 6 pages when I looked at it last night. The OP and one other poster seem to be going at it hammer and tongs, particularly over the idea of a video game-style "reset". Incidentally, I tried that once in a SWSE game and it was not popular. I don't know that I'd try it again. 
    EDIT: One potentially worthwhile complaint that was raised somewhere (can't remember if it was in the EN World thread or somewhere else) is the idea that NPCs are used as hostages not once but three times in the adventure. That does seem a bit boringly repetitive.
     
     
    On a side note: how do you find the opening goblin ambush? Personally, I'm a little tired of opening adventures with ambushes. 4e's introductory adventure (Keep on the Shadowfell) did the same thing, only with kobolds. I saw someone elsewhere suggest reworking the opening so that the goblins have either posted a sentry who may be spotted by the PCs or else they are caught red-handed hacking up the horses for meat. I may do something like that myself when I get a chance to run the adventure ~ if for no other reason than it seems a bit bizarre to me that goblins would just hang around in the bushes waiting for the off-chance that someone else might come down the road and stop to examine the dead horses. By the sound of it, it is not a particularly well-traveled road, so I would imagine the goblins would be better off just taking the horses for food and being done with it.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:Thanks for the link! Just read the OP. Man, that guy sounds like he finally found a soap box after years of searching. Lots of really petty complaints and criticisms. It's like he was trying to critique the adventure's story for a homework assignment.  
    Maybe there are some good posts somewhere in the 6 pages though. I'll flip though.
    I have not received my copy of the Starter Set from the Book Depository yet, so I cannot speak to the validity of his concerns. It does sound like the dragon encounter could do with a bit of beefing up in terms of set-up and stuff. It wasn't 6 pages when I looked at it last night. The OP and one other poster seem to be going at it hammer and tongs, particularly over the idea of a video game-style "reset". Incidentally, I tried that once in a SWSE game and it was not popular. I don't know that I'd try it again.
    The Dragon encounter gets about a half page of text in addition to its 1/4 page dragon art and its stat block. They do give you some clues about the dragon's personality/background, but it's not very clear. It would have been great to have an actual paragraph or two dedicated to the Dragon's motivations and tactics.
     

    pukunui wrote:EDIT: One potentially worthwhile complaint that was raised somewhere (can't remember if it was in the EN World thread or somewhere else) is the idea that NPCs are used as hostages not once but three times in the adventure. That does seem a bit boringly repetitive.
    I actually didn't notice that when I read the adventure, until this thread pointed it out. Now it seems kind of obvious. Anyway, I think it's nice to have a "rescue the hostage" mission. Very classic. But it also lets them introduce more NPCs as the story goes along, even while inside the dungeon. I think that's a good thing because it breaks up the constant combat and gives room for some Interaction tier play.
     
     

    pukunui wrote:On a side note: how do you find the opening goblin ambush? Personally, I'm a little tired of opening adventures with ambushes. 4e's introductory adventure (Keep on the Shadowfell) did the same thing, only with kobolds. I saw someone elsewhere suggest reworking the opening so that the goblins have either posted a sentry who may be spotted by the PCs or else they are caught red-handed hacking up the horses for meat. I may do something like that myself when I get a chance to run the adventure ~ if for no other reason than it seems a bit bizarre to me that goblins would just hang around in the bushes waiting for the off-chance that someone else might come down the road and stop to examine the dead horses. By the sound of it, it is not a particularly well-traveled road, so I would imagine the goblins would be better off just taking the horses for food and being done with it.
    Hmm, interesting thought. I admit I found it a bit odd that the goblins were just waiting there for the ambush. However, later in the adventure (p26) it does say that the Black Spider (the BBEG in this adventure) had learned of your involvement and wanted you put out of the way. So, retconning that a bit, here's how you fix the Goblln Ambush. You give one of the goblins a letter from the Black Spider that basically says:
     
    "Kill the adventurers!
    Signed, 
    [picture of a black spider]"
     
    This sets up an immediate mystery from the first encounter. "Wait, who wants to kill us? Who is this black spider guy? I thought this was a simple guard the caravan job...." And it also serves as foreshadowing for future story lines.
     
    I think I'll make this change in my game this weekend, actually.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:The Dragon encounter gets about a half page of text in addition to its 1/4 page dragon art and its stat block. They do give you some clues about the dragon's personality/background, but it's not very clear. It would have been great to have an actual paragraph or two dedicated to the Dragon's motivations and tactics.
    Indeed. I'll have to have a good think about how to handle the dragon, should my players decide to approach it. I'm hoping to be able to run the adventure for both some newbies (including my wife) and my more experienced regular D&D group. I think the latter will be wary enough of the dragon to not rush in heedlessly, despite what one pregen character's background hook says. Not sure about the former group. 

    I actually didn't notice that when I read the adventure, until this thread pointed it out. Now it seems kind of obvious. Anyway, I think it's nice to have a "rescue the hostage" mission. Very classic. But it also lets them introduce more NPCs as the story goes along, even while inside the dungeon. I think that's a good thing because it breaks up the constant combat and gives room for some Interaction tier play.
    Sure, but is there some way to rework the second two hostage encounters so that they are slightly different? I'm not a big fan of repetition. 
    Hmm, interesting thought. I admit I found it a bit odd that the goblins were just waiting there for the ambush. However, later in the adventure (p26) it does say that the Black Spider (the BBEG in this adventure) had learned of your involvement and wanted you put out of the way. So, retconning that a bit, here's how you fix the Goblln Ambush. You give one of the goblins a letter from the Black Spider that basically says: 
    "Kill the adventurers!
    Signed, 
    [picture of a black spider]"
     
    This sets up an immediate mystery from the first encounter. "Wait, who wants to kill us? Who is this black spider guy? I thought this was a simple guard the caravan job...." And it also serves as foreshadowing for future story lines.
     
    I think I'll make this change in my game this weekend, actually.
    But if the adventurers are just starting out on their very first quest, why would anyone know who they are and therefore want to kill them?


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Add the following to the Goblin Ambush encounter.
     
     
    Treasure. The goblins each carry 10 copper. One goblin has a parchment that contains a message written in Goblin:
     
    “Mighty King Grol, please distribute copies of this letter to your scouts. A group of young adventurers is coming south
    from Neverwinter with a supply wagon. Kill them and steal the wagon supplies for Cragmaw Castle.”
     
    The letter continues with a brief description and drawing of each of the PCs. The letter is signed with no name, but the symbol of a black spider.
     
     
    =========
    This immediately kicks off the adventure with a mystery. Can any of the characters read Goblin? If not, then they might have to find someone in Phandalin that speaks Goblin (Daran Edermath would be perfect for this).
     
    (OR)
     
    Oh good, someone in the party speaks Goblin? Quick, what does it say? Who is the Black Spider? Who is King Grol? What and Where is Cragmaw Castle? Why do they need so many supplies? What have we stumbled into?!
     
     


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Sounds good. But again, how would the BBEG have learned about the adventurers and why do they matter to him? Has he got spies in Neverwinter who were watching Gundren Rockseeker? Are they carrying something in the wagon that the BBEG doesn't want to have reach Phandalin? Or is it just an opportunistic thing ~ "The dwarf hired some people to cart a wagon full of supplies to Phandalin for him. Feel free to divulge them of the contents of the wagon, even if you have to kill them to get it."
     
    I suppose another option would be to simply have the goblins acting as actual bandits. Maybe they've felled a tree and are standing guard, waiting for travelers to come along so they can "tax" them. Perhaps Gundren and Sildar refused to pay. There's a similar scenario early on in Dragon Age: Origins, where you come across some bandits on the highway who are looting some supplies. They try to get you to pay a toll for the maintenance of the highway or something (I forget exactly), and you can of course either pay or challenge them. You can kill them or, if you're particularly clever, intimidate them into giving you money.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:Sounds good. But again, how would the BBEG have learned about the adventurers and why do they matter to him? Has he got spies in Neverwinter who were watching Gundren Rockseeker? Are they carrying something in the wagon that the BBEG doesn't want to have reach Phandalin? Or is it just an opportunistic thing ~ "The dwarf hired some people to cart a wagon full of supplies to Phandalin for him. Feel free to divulge them of the contents of the wagon, even if you have to kill them to get it."
    Supply wagons of this size don't head to Phandalin that often. The Cragmaw Tribe (mostly goblins, led by Bugbear King Grol) recently moved into the Phandalin region and they're trying to expand. The food and mining supplies on the wagon would certainly help them get established.
     
    Why the adventurers specifically? Because why not!! The PCs are lowly level 1 heroes, but they are still Heroes! It almost doesn't matter why them specifically. Maybe the BBEG's spies reported "Gundren isn't hiring common porters anymore. He's hired a holy soldier, a criminal thug, a nobleman, a sage wizard, and some local folk hero. Gundren must be onto something really big!" From here the BBEG logically decides to put a hit out on the PCs to gauge their strength.
     

    pukunui wrote:I suppose another option would be to simply have the goblins acting as actual bandits. Maybe they've felled a tree and are standing guard, waiting for travelers to come along so they can "tax" them. Perhaps Gundren and Sildar refused to pay. There's a similar scenario early on in Dragon Age: Origins, where you come across some bandits on the highway who are looting some supplies. They try to get you to pay a toll for the maintenance of the highway or something (I forget exactly), and you can of course either pay or challenge them. You can kill them or, if you're particularly clever, intimidate them into giving you money.
    That's also a pretty cool alternate idea. I wonder if that could be incorporated into my idea at all. I'll think on it.


    Originally posted by Aldente:

    pukunui wrote:Sounds good. But again, how would the BBEG have learned about the adventurers and why do they matter to him? Has he got spies in Neverwinter who were watching Gundren Rockseeker? Are they carrying something in the wagon that the BBEG doesn't want to have reach Phandalin? Or is it just an opportunistic thing ~ "The dwarf hired some people to cart a wagon full of supplies to Phandalin for him. Feel free to divulge them of the contents of the wagon, even if you have to kill them to get it."
     
    I suppose another option would be to simply have the goblins acting as actual bandits. Maybe they've felled a tree and are standing guard, waiting for travelers to come along so they can "tax" them. Perhaps Gundren and Sildar refused to pay. There's a similar scenario early on in Dragon Age: Origins, where you come across some bandits on the highway who are looting some supplies. They try to get you to pay a toll for the maintenance of the highway or something (I forget exactly), and you can of course either pay or challenge them. You can kill them or, if you're particularly clever, intimidate them into giving you money.
    That is basically what's happening. The goblins are raiding travelers along the Triboar Trail. This is part of a larger effort to sow unrest in the area to keep folks away from the mines. Because they were already in place for this purpose, the BBEG used them to pick up Gundren as well. The goblins don't know that the PCs have any relationship to Gundren when they attack them.
     
    Btw, two of the hostage situations are related. One of those "they took that one to the big boss" scenarios. I don't mind those two, but I think the third one is unnecessary.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:Supply wagons of this size don't head to Phandalin that often. The Cragmaw Tribe (mostly goblins, led by Bugbear King Grol) recently moved into the Phandalin region and they're trying to expand. The food and mining supplies on the wagon would certainly help them get established. 
    Why the adventurers specifically? Because why not!! The PCs are lowly level 1 heroes, but they are still Heroes! It almost doesn't matter why them specifically. Maybe the BBEG's spies reported "Gundren isn't hiring common porters anymore. He's hired a holy soldier, a criminal thug, a nobleman, a sage wizard, and some local folk hero. Gundren must be onto something really big!" From here the BBEG logically decides to put a hit out on the PCs to gauge their strength.
    Yeah, that could work. Good thinking.  
    That's also a pretty cool alternate idea. I wonder if that could be incorporated into my idea at all. I'll think on it.
    I will as well. Does the adventure give stats for Gundren and Sildar at all? I'm just wondering whether it's feasible that a bunch of goblins that the 1st level PCs are expected to defeat could have bested them so easily. Obviously there were more goblins at the scene originally, as some would be needed to take Sildar and Gundren away.
     
    Does the adventure talk about whether Sildar and Gundren put up a fight at all? I'm wondering if perhaps there should be bloodstains on the road ~ maybe even a slight trail of blood leading towards the goblin path. Perhaps even some dead goblins lying around somewhere.
     

    Aldente wrote:That is basically what's happening. The goblins are raiding travelers along the Triboar Trail. This is part of a larger effort to sow unrest in the area to keep folks away from the mines. Because they were already in place for this purpose, the BBEG used them to pick up Gundren as well. The goblins don't know that the PCs have any relationship to Gundren when they attack them. 
    Btw, two of the hostage situations are related. One of those "they took that one to the big boss" scenarios. I don't mind those two, but I think the third one is unnecessary.
    Good to know. Thanks. I hope my copy of the Starter Set arrives soon!

    Originally posted by Aldente:

    pukunui wroteoes the adventure give stats for Gundren and Sildar at all? I'm just wondering whether it's feasible that a bunch of goblins that the 1st level PCs are expected to defeat could have bested them so easily. Obviously there were more goblins at the scene originally, as some would be needed to take Sildar and Gundren away.
     
     
    Does the adventure talk about whether Sildar and Gundren put up a fight at all? I'm wondering if perhaps there should be bloodstains on the road ~ maybe even a slight trail of blood leading towards the goblin path. Perhaps even some dead goblins lying around somewhere.
     
    There are stats for Sildar but not for Gundren. Sildar is a CR 1 human fighter. I don't recall anything about how well they fought off the goblins.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    OK. Sounds like the goblins shouldn't have too much trouble overwhelming the two NPCs then. I can't see Sildar being taken hostage by a bunch of goblins that easily.
     
    I think I may still include a few signs of a struggle should the PCs take the time to investigate the scene. Maybe some bloodstains and signs of something being dragged off the road in the direction of the goblin path. Maybe a dead goblin hastily shoved behind a bush. Maybe some of the goblins still at the scene have some of Sildar's and Gundren's belongings.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:
    That's also a pretty cool alternate idea. I wonder if that could be incorporated into my idea at all. I'll think on it.
    I will as well. Does the adventure give stats for Gundren and Sildar at all? I'm just wondering whether it's feasible that a bunch of goblins that the 1st level PCs are expected to defeat could have bested them so easily. Obviously there were more goblins at the scene originally, as some would be needed to take Sildar and Gundren away.
     
    Does the adventure talk about whether Sildar and Gundren put up a fight at all? I'm wondering if perhaps there should be bloodstains on the road ~ maybe even a slight trail of blood leading towards the goblin path. Perhaps even some dead goblins lying around somewhere.
    Gundren? Nothing at all for him, sadly. I'm very unhappy about the lack of anything written about Gundren.
     
    Sildar, on the other hand, has lots of roleplaying tips, gives out a few quests, and has his own monster stat block! He's a 5 HD warrior type monster.
     
    The text was vague about what happened during the attack. However, I definitely think Sildar would have killed a few goblins before getting captured. As a result, I'm adding a few dead goblin bodies near the horses. These are the goblins Sildar killed before he reluctantly surrendered.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    That's disappointing about Gundren. He's the PCs' patron, after all. I can't believe they didn't flesh him out. Some of the decisions WotC makes with their published adventures really boggle my mind sometimes.


    Originally posted by Psikerlord:

    Ramzour wrote: 
    [p.31] A Druid’s Watch
    There are no combat notes for the NPC Druid. What if the players convince him to help try to drive off the Dragon? He might have useful spells.
     
    [p.31] Ash Zombie sidebar
    The text never actually explains what the Zombie “Ash Puff” ability is suppose to do, in terms of the story. I suppose we could guess that damaging an Ash Zombie causes a cloud of black ash to appear from the wound, choking anyone in the cloud unless they succeed on a DC 10 Con save. But it doesn't say anything like that at all. Since the story is that this whole village was overrun by Ash Zombies, the Adventure text should at least give them a little spotlight and actually explain the thing that makes them special.
     
    [p.33] Venomfang, the Green Dragon.
    Why are there no roleplaying notes for the Dragon?!!? One of the PreGen characters has a specific personal goal to drive away the dragon. There's a quest or two to deal with the dragon. They're going to want to talk to the Dragon at some point. Seems like an unfortunate oversight not to include personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws for the Dragon.
     
    Actually, it would be cool if the PCs came up to the Dragon’s Lair right as the Dragon Cultists were trying to make an alliance with it. They could have over heard some NPC dialogue which would lead to some interesting roleplaying situations later on.
     
    [p.35] Orc Camp
    The text says the PCs can attempt one check per hour to see if they find the camp…but says nothing about what happens in the meantime. So basically the players are just supposed to keep rolling every hour until they find it? Feels like a hastily written part of the adventure.
     
    Here are some ideas for encounters at Wyvern Tor:
    * The PCs find signs of the orcs. A stray bloody arrow. Old campsites. Hacked trees. This means they're getting closer to the main camp.
    * The PCs come across a butchered animal. It was clearly killed for sport and not food. Builds tension about how savage these orcs are.
    * The PCs encounter a single orc carrying two large bucket of water. The orc (named Krokk) looks pretty wounded and has a bad limp. He only has 5 hit points left. Krokk lost some sort of tribal contest and is now being hazed, bullied, and picked on. The Ogre Gog is especially tough on him. Gog sent Krokk to fetch him some water from a nearby stream. Krokk is muttering curses in Orcish as the PCs encounter him. Unless the PCs were specifically being stealthy and their checks beat his Passive Perception score, then neither side is surprised. Krokk's weapon is on his belt but he doesn't immediately go for it because he REALLY doesn’t want to spill any water. The Ogre will surely beat him up good for that. This opens up a possible alliance between Krokk and the party! If the party promises to kill the Ogre and the current leader Brughor, and help support Krokk for the new band leader, then Krokk promises to move the tribe to a new location. Diplomacy instead of Brute Force. This would be a great way to run the mini quest.
     
    [p.41] Gundren Rockseeker
    This one is by far the worst problem in the adventure. There  is no advice for how to roleplay Gundren Rockseeker!!! He gave the party their first quest. The party's first encounter shows the scene where he was captured. One of the major plot hooks is searching for him and his map. And yet, there are no notes for how to roleplay him!??! That's a real shame.
     
    [p.49] Temple of Dumathoin
    The Drow is described as wearing black leather armor…but the Drow’s stats don’t mention or include any armor…And Mage Armor (which is listed in the Drow stat block) specifically doesn't function if the target is wearing armor. Sooo....yeah.
    I agree with all your points above. Love your orc camp ideas. The no background/personality/roleplaying hooks for the green dragon Venomfang is just woeful!! Of all the creatures the PCs encounter, this should be a memorable one. 
    I do think the module is very good overall. There are lots of options for quests and the PCs can simply wander around if they wish, exploring where they like. Those few things above would have been nice, but are easily sorted out by the DM with a bit of prep, which is inevitable really.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Perhaps we should ask WotC to consider a Starter Set web enhancement with some stats for Gundren and some roleplaying tips for both him and the dragon.


    Originally posted by THEMNGMNT:

    A web enhancement is a great idea. I'm still reading through the adventure so I'll withold my opinions for now. General sentiment seems to be that it's a good adventure...but I'm in agreement that for an adventure aimed at new players, NPC personalities and roleplaying tips are absolutely essential.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:That's disappointing about Gundren. He's the PCs' patron, after all. I can't believe they didn't flesh him out. Some of the decisions WotC makes with their published adventures really boggle my mind sometimes.
    Yeah. And since you never really meet him, when he goes missing the PCs are like "okay, bummer" not "oh no! Our first NPC friend is in danger!" 
     
    Ah well, it's an easy enough fix with a little DM prep. In my notes I've described him as jolly, excited, and rotund, with a massive red beard. He carries a masterwork quality mining hammer. I'll have the PCs meet him and talk for a bit at the beginning of the adventure.
     
    The adventure starts in a dock-side bar in Neverwinter. The PCs have responded to a call for adventurers and are meeting Gundren for the first time (except for the Dwarf Cleric who is a fellow clan member). Gundren asks them to introduce themselves and explain why they're qualified for the job. This also gives the players an opportunity to introduce their characters to the group and forces them to come up with at least one reason why their character is awesome. I think that sets the right tone for the starting adventure. Sildar will also be there, as another recruit. He'll introduce himself as well.
     


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Good idea!


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Psikerlord wrote:I agree with all your points above. Love your orc camp ideas.
    Thanks! I really think the Wyvern Tor location needs more meat to it. I think it can become a really great encounter(s) with a little bit of DM work.
     
     

    Psikerlord wrote:The no background/personality/roleplaying hooks for the green dragon Venomfang is just woeful!! Of all the creatures the PCs encounter, this should be a memorable one.
    Read through the enworld thread that Pukunui linked a few posts back. If you wade through all the whining and crying, there's actually some good ideas in there for improving LMoP.
     

    Psikerlord wrote:I do think the module is very good overall. There are lots of options for quests and the PCs can simply wander around if they wish, exploring where they like. Those few things above would have been nice, but are easily sorted out by the DM with a bit of prep, which is inevitable really.
    Same here. I do like the adventure. It's just there are a few glaring oversights. Nothing I can't fix, but I didn't expect to have to do some of these things myself.


    Originally posted by ren1999:

    Maybe all future prints of the starter set should include these fixes.

    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:Perhaps we should ask WotC to consider a Starter Set web enhancement with some stats for Gundren and some roleplaying tips for both him and the dragon.
    Yes, that would be cool. Maybe it can be presented as one of the weekly articles. Like an "NPC Spotlight", where they give a whole bunch more background and personality to an existing NPC. That could be a way for them to provide more information to us without saying "ooppss, we forgot some things, here's a supplement."
     

    THEMNGMNT wrote:A web enhancement is a great idea. I'm still reading through the adventure so I'll withold my opinions for now. General sentiment seems to be that it's a good adventure...but I'm in agreement that for an adventure aimed at new players, NPC personalities and roleplaying tips are absolutely essential.
    I read through the adventure once quickly, then again while taking DM notes. Now I'm going through it a third time and prepping for this weekend's double adventure. I'm running a group through on Saturday and another group on Sunday. Should be interesting to see how things change between the two groups!
     
    If you have any notes or suggestions about the adventure, please feel free to leave them here.


    Originally posted by hunterian7:


    Ramzour wrote:No one else has any comments on these things? Has no one else run into these problems when playing or reading through the adventure?
     
    My money is on that few here have ran the adventure as far as you have...


    Originally posted by MonsterEnvy:

    Ramzour wrote: 
    Brimleydower wrote:Can't say much about the rest, but I can clarify the Many Arrows tribe of orcs owe their name to King Obould Many-Arrows, who established their orcish kingdom, rather than it being a tribal name alluding to orcish archery.
    Ah, interesting. I didn't know this came from Forgotten Realms lore. Thanks for that.
     
    I think I'll have mine use bows anyway, for flavor.
     
    Despite Oboulds name he never used arrows ether always prefering his greatsword and close combat. (I think it was said he title many arrows cause he grabbed a handful of arrows and stabbed them into an opponent at one point but I may be thinking of somthing else.) He was also one of the few that can be said to have been stright up a better combatent then Drizzt. (They fought twice with Obould winning pretty easily first time around and forcing Drizzt to run. Second time Drizzt had a cool magic sword that let him get through some of Oboulds defences but a 3rd party caused Obould to lose his armor and still Obould had a slight advantage and the fight was interupted by a 3rd party.) 
     
    Obould claim to fame however is creating a stable Orc Kingdom that lives in relitive peace with those nearby. The Orcs in this adventure are rengades that don't reprecent the Kingdom of Many Arrows. It shoud be noted that it looks like the peace with Many Arrows is going to end in the next Forgotten Realms book however.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    hunterian7 wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:No one else has any comments on these things? Has no one else run into these problems when playing or reading through the adventure?
    My money is on that few here have ran the adventure as far as you have...
    To be clear, I have not yet run the adventure. I'm running two separate games this weekend. But right now I'm doing my DM prep work for the adventure, so I'm noticing these things.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    MonsterEnvy wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:
    Brimleydower wrote:Can't say much about the rest, but I can clarify the Many Arrows tribe of orcs owe their name to King Obould Many-Arrows, who established their orcish kingdom, rather than it being a tribal name alluding to orcish archery.
    Ah, interesting. I didn't know this came from Forgotten Realms lore. Thanks for that.
     
    I think I'll have mine use bows anyway, for flavor.
    Despite Oboulds name he never used arrows ether always prefering his greatsword and close combat. (I think it was said he title many arrows cause he grabbed a handful of arrows and stabbed them into an opponent at one point but I may be thinking of somthing else.) He was also one of the few that can be said to have been stright up a better combatent then Drizzt. (They fought twice with Obould winning pretty easily first time around and forcing Drizzt to run. Second time Drizzt had a cool magic sword that let him get through some of Oboulds defences but a 3rd party caused Obould to lose his armor and still Obould had a slight advantage and the fight was interupted by a 3rd party.) 
     
    Obould claim to fame however is creating a stable Orc Kingdom that lives in relitive peace with those nearby. The Orcs in this adventure are rengades that don't reprecent the Kingdom of Many Arrows. It shoud be noted that it looks like the peace with Many Arrows is going to end in the next Forgotten Realms book however.
    Cool! Thanks for the additional background info. You know, I read a lot of those Drizzt books but that was....uh, many years ago. I probably read the encounter between Drizzy and Oboulds but forgot.
     
    With the full story explanation, I take back my complaint about the Many-Arrows Orc Clan not using bows....but without the background, I think you can see how that's confusing, you know? Oh well, they can only fit so much text into a starter set book.
     
    And that's exactly why an online supplement would be a good idea! There could be a weekly column dedicated to spot-lighting the various NPCs and Organizations in the Starter Set world. Who are the Harpers? What's the deal with the Many Arrows Clan? How did the brothers Rockseeker discover Wave Echo Cave? I'd love to know more about all of these things.


    Originally posted by Psikerlord:

    Ramzour wrote: 
    pukunui wrote:That's disappointing about Gundren. He's the PCs' patron, after all. I can't believe they didn't flesh him out. Some of the decisions WotC makes with their published adventures really boggle my mind sometimes.
    Yeah. And since you never really meet him, when he goes missing the PCs are like "okay, bummer" not "oh no! Our first NPC friend is in danger!" 
     
    Ah well, it's an easy enough fix with a little DM prep. In my notes I've described him as jolly, excited, and rotund, with a massive red beard. He carries a masterwork quality mining hammer. I'll have the PCs meet him and talk for a bit at the beginning of the adventure.
     
    The adventure starts in a dock-side bar in Neverwinter. The PCs have responded to a call for adventurers and are meeting Gundren for the first time (except for the Dwarf Cleric who is a fellow clan member). Gundren asks them to introduce themselves and explain why they're qualified for the job. This also gives the players an opportunity to introduce their characters to the group and forces them to come up with at least one reason why their character is awesome. I think that sets the right tone for the starting adventure. Sildar will also be there, as another recruit. He'll introduce himself as well.
     
    yes this is all good stuff.

    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:And that's exactly why an online supplement would be a good idea! There could be a weekly column dedicated to spot-lighting the various NPCs and Organizations in the Starter Set world. Who are the Harpers? What's the deal with the Many Arrows Clan? How did the brothers Rockseeker discover Wave Echo Cave? I'd love to know more about all of these things.
    Absolutely! 
    By the way, I quite like this suggestion (from the EN World thread) for dealing with the dragon:
     

    I haven't read the module yet (although I will soon as I just offered to run it for my group) but prior to the dragon they meet a druid of undefined powers who has an agenda to get rid of the dragon, yes? 
    So use his lack of definition to cover whatever fix you need in the aftermath of the dragon encounter, you just have to set it up first.
     
    Before he sends them off he offers to perfrom a ritual to help them. They sit in a circle, he chants, purple smoke appears, they walk off to the encounter. You are now prepped for all eventualities.
     
    TPK? They wake up back in the circle surrounded by purple smoke and the Druid asks "So? Did the divinatory trance show you how to beat the dragon?"
     
    Half the party dead but the rest surrvived? The bodies *POOF* into purple smoke and can be found alive and shaken back at the Druids circle, apparently it was a contingency spell.
     
    They succeed? Either pass the Druid off as crazy or he can brag about how his magic was the only way they were able to defeat such a beast.
     
    No meta-gaming required, no immersion shattered.
     
    Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthr...#ixzz38BqDabam
    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:By the way, I quite like this suggestion (from the EN World thread) for dealing with the dragon:
    I haven't read the module yet (although I will soon as I just offered to run it for my group) but prior to the dragon they meet a druid of undefined powers who has an agenda to get rid of the dragon, yes? 
    So use his lack of definition to cover whatever fix you need in the aftermath of the dragon encounter, you just have to set it up first.
     
    Before he sends them off he offers to perfrom a ritual to help them. They sit in a circle, he chants, purple smoke appears, they walk off to the encounter. You are now prepped for all eventualities.
     
    TPK? They wake up back in the circle surrounded by purple smoke and the Druid asks "So? Did the divinatory trance show you how to beat the dragon?"
     
    Half the party dead but the rest surrvived? The bodies *POOF* into purple smoke and can be found alive and shaken back at the Druids circle, apparently it was a contingency spell.
     
    They succeed? Either pass the Druid off as crazy or he can brag about how his magic was the only way they were able to defeat such a beast.
     
    No meta-gaming required, no immersion shattered.
     
    Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthr...#ixzz38BqDabam
    I saw that and thought of a related but slightly different story and quest. Here's how it goes:
     
    Thundertree has been apparently plagued by ash zombies and twig blights for a long time now. The land itself is cursed. Even after the monsters are killed, they reappear the following midnight, in full force! Luckily, Reidoth the Druid thinks he found a solution....but he needs help!
     
    Reidoth needs to perform a special cleansing ritual that will prevent the zombies and twig blights from regenerating once they are slain. He asks the party for help on this task. He will begin the ritual while the PCs slay all the monsters. After killing a monster, the party also needs to sprinkle some magical components over the dead monster. The party needs to hurry because the druid can only maintain the ritual for so long....
     
    As they are clearing the town of monsters, they might encounter the Dragon Cultists. Will they try to avoid them and just kill the zombies and twig blights? Or will they risk their valuable time and deal with the cultists now?


    Originally posted by Revenant07:

    Dragon Idea 1:
    Turn Venomfang into a very young or wyrmling dragon, reduce (or not) its treasure hoard (i.e. the young dragon stumbled upon it or collected it over a period of time).
     
    Dragon Idea 2 (this only works if the PCs meet Venomfang before the cultists):
    Venomfang has just woken up from a slumber and is very hungry. It threatens to eat the PCs, but says that it is willing to spare their lives if the PCs can successfully deceive the dragon cultists into an ambush, where the green dragon will eat the cultists. Why not just eat the PCs? Venomfang finds it very funny and ironic to think that these cultists who venerate dragons will be eaten by one. Should the PCs fail to do so, their next encounter with Venomfang will not be a friendly one.
     
    @ramzour: I really like the ritual idea. Thanks, I think I might use that.


    Originally posted by Prom:

    This is going to be very helpful, thanks.


    Originally posted by Akeisha:

    Many thanks to Ramzour for pointing these rough spots out and to everyone for their awesome idea contributions!!
     
    I have just finished putting all of this into a document and will be printing it out as a permanent 'notes addition' to my Starter Set.


    Originally posted by Psikerlord:

    Revenant07 wroteragon Idea 1:
    Turn Venomfang into a very young or wyrmling dragon, reduce (or not) its treasure hoard (i.e. the young dragon stumbled upon it or collected it over a period of time).
     
    Dragon Idea 2 (this only works if the PCs meet Venomfang before the cultists):
    Venomfang has just woken up from a slumber and is very hungry. It threatens to eat the PCs, but says that it is willing to spare their lives if the PCs can successfully deceive the dragon cultists into an ambush, where the green dragon will eat the cultists. Why not just eat the PCs? Venomfang finds it very funny and ironic to think that these cultists who venerate dragons will be eaten by one. Should the PCs fail to do so, their next encounter with Venomfang will not be a friendly one.
     
    @ramzour: I really like the ritual idea. Thanks, I think I might use that.
    hehehe love idea 2!

    Originally posted by Regin_Vargtass:

    Ramzour wrote: 
    I'll have the PCs meet him and talk for a bit at the beginning of the adventure.
     
    The adventure starts in a dock-side bar in Neverwinter. The PCs have responded to a call for adventurers and are meeting Gundren for the first time (except for the Dwarf Cleric who is a fellow clan member). Gundren asks them to introduce themselves and explain why they're qualified for the job. This also gives the players an opportunity to introduce their characters to the group and forces them to come up with at least one reason why their character is awesome. I think that sets the right tone for the starting adventure. Sildar will also be there, as another recruit. He'll introduce himself as well.
     
    This is a very good idea in order to build a connection and a sense of urgency and relevance when Gundren is captured. I would, however, run it as a quick flashback after starting in medias res:
     
    "In front of you on the road lies a toppled wagon, its horses slaughtered in front of it, two goblins with vicious scimitars slicing away chunks of meat from the carcasses (I liked that idea too. The remaining goblins keep watch). You instantly recognize Gundren's belongings in the rubble of his wrecked cart, but your employer and his bodyguard Sildar is nowhere to be seen.
    You all remember when you first met, a couple of days ago, at 'The Yawning Pike', a small dockside inn when you applied for this mission ..."
     
    In this way, I think it is easier to maintain the focus and tempo, you keep introductions short, and - very importantly - you avoid players going of on a tangent, refusing the assignment in the first place, etc.
    I would also take the opportunity to have Sildar making his pitch first, so the player's get an idea of the format so to speak, and also have an opportunity to 'win' a probable boasting contest.
     
    Good luck with your first sessions - I, for one, look forward to learning how it went!
     
    - Vargtass


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    In his livestream game, Greg Bilsland had everyone introduce their characters during the initial journey before they got to the ambush site. I wonder if it would be better to "play" the flashback at that point ~ so they've already accepted the mission, but you're immediately flashing back to the start to give them a sense of context. I like your idea - I'm just thinking that many players won't want to sit through an introductory flashback if they know there are goblins waiting to be fought.


    Originally posted by Regin_Vargtass:

    pukunui wrote:In his livestream game, Greg Bilsland had everyone introduce their characters during the initial journey before they got to the ambush site. I wonder if it would be better to "play" the flashback at that point ~ so they've already accepted the mission, but you're immediately flashing back to the start to give them a sense of context. I like your idea - I'm just thinking that many players won't want to sit through an introductory flashback if they know there are goblins waiting to be fought.
     
    It would depend on the group, of course. But exactly because the players want to get back to the action is why they will keep their introductions and dealings brief and to the point.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Revenant07 wroteragon Idea 1:
    Turn Venomfang into a very young or wyrmling dragon, reduce (or not) its treasure hoard (i.e. the young dragon stumbled upon it or collected it over a period of time).
    Honestly, I think they purposely didn't use a very young or wyrmling dragon because dragons are supposed to be scary! They wanted the dragon to be extremely powerful relative to the party's level.
     
    The good news is that it opens up future story hooks after the adventure is completed. The Heroes will be level 5 and can use the Basic Rules to level up to 6 and beyond. By level 6 or 7 they should be able to take on the dragon....maybe.
     

    Revenant07 wroteragon Idea 2 (this only works if the PCs meet Venomfang before the cultists):
    Venomfang has just woken up from a slumber and is very hungry. It threatens to eat the PCs, but says that it is willing to spare their lives if the PCs can successfully deceive the dragon cultists into an ambush, where the green dragon will eat the cultists. Why not just eat the PCs? Venomfang finds it very funny and ironic to think that these cultists who venerate dragons will be eaten by one. Should the PCs fail to do so, their next encounter with Venomfang will not be a friendly one.
    I like this idea. I'm not yet sure how it would work, but I'll think on it.
     

    Revenant07 wrote @ramzour: I really like the ritual idea. Thanks, I think I might use that.
    Thanks! Let me know if you have any suggestion on improving it.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Akeisha wrote:Many thanks to Ramzour for pointing these rough spots out and to everyone for their awesome idea contributions!!
     
    I have just finished putting all of this into a document and will be printing it out as a permanent 'notes addition' to my Starter Set.
    Glad I could help! Let me know if you find anything else to add to the list.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Regin_Vargtass wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:I'll have the PCs meet him and talk for a bit at the beginning of the adventure.
     
    The adventure starts in a dock-side bar in Neverwinter. The PCs have responded to a call for adventurers and are meeting Gundren for the first time (except for the Dwarf Cleric who is a fellow clan member). Gundren asks them to introduce themselves and explain why they're qualified for the job. This also gives the players an opportunity to introduce their characters to the group and forces them to come up with at least one reason why their character is awesome. I think that sets the right tone for the starting adventure. Sildar will also be there, as another recruit. He'll introduce himself as well.
    This is a very good idea in order to build a connection and a sense of urgency and relevance when Gundren is captured. I would, however, run it as a quick flashback after starting in medias res:
     
    "In front of you on the road lies a toppled wagon, its horses slaughtered in front of it, two goblins with vicious scimitars slicing away chunks of meat from the carcasses (I liked that idea too. The remaining goblins keep watch). You instantly recognize Gundren's belongings in the rubble of his wrecked cart, but your employer and his bodyguard Sildar is nowhere to be seen.
    You all remember when you first met, a couple of days ago, at 'The Yawning Pike', a small dockside inn when you applied for this mission ..."
     
    In this way, I think it is easier to maintain the focus and tempo, you keep introductions short, and - very importantly - you avoid players going of on a tangent, refusing the assignment in the first place, etc.
    I would also take the opportunity to have Sildar making his pitch first, so the player's get an idea of the format so to speak, and also have an opportunity to 'win' a probable boasting contest.
     
    Good luck with your first sessions - I, for one, look forward to learning how it went!
     
    - Vargtass
    Varglass, those are some really cool ideas! I'm tempted to use the flashback now. 
     
    Hmm...I just had another idea that could work in conjunction with yours. The adventure starts as you suggest above, then I do a quick flashback to Gundren and Sildar talking for a second, then flashforward to the present and roll for initiative. Then, when a player's initiative first comes up, the flashback resumes and they introduce themselves before they take their turn. This let's you go back and forth between the action and the introduction. Not sure if it would actually work in person, but it's an idea.
     
    I agree that it's important to show that the goblins are trying to butcher the horse meat (whether by describing large chunks missing, or actually showing them in the process). Maybe it happens like this: 
     
    The goblins are very wary and automatically hear/spot the party coming along the road. They draw straws (or some other "not it" kind of game). The losing goblin has to stay out in the open, hacking away at the horse, while the rest of the goblins hide. The poor lone goblin is bait for the ambush. The party can try to talk to the goblin, which is always fun. The goblin is actually quite nervous about being bait and an easy Wisdom (Insight) check might reveal he's hiding something and glancing into the bushes a lot. If attacked from range, the goblin takes the full dodge action and uses the horses for 3/4 cover. If the ambush is not spotted, then the other goblins spring the ambush once the Heroes close into melee with the lone goblin. 
     
    I like this because it shows a lot about goblin nature and behavior, just by their actions (greedy, sneaky, selfish, kinda clever but not quite). It starts the adventure off with a Combat, but it's disguised as a Social Interaction. And one of the PCs might choose to scout ahead and see if there's an ambush. That gives you Exploration. So in the first few rounds of the session, you've already hit all three tiers of play.


    Originally posted by Regin_Vargtass:

    Thanks, glad to help!
    Going too much back and forth could be detrimental to the focus and tempo, though, so there is that to consider. Otherwise, I like the goblin bait idea - perfect plan for everyone but one; typical of goblins!
     
    - Vargtass


    Originally posted by Akeisha:

    Ramzour wrote:Glad I could help! Let me know if you find anything else to add to the list.
     
    I will, but it may be a bit yet before the adventure is run through here. I have the Starter Set, but at the moment everything is in more of a 'read thoroughly, do the prep work, etc.' stage.
     
    I also plan to continue watching this thread and adding relevant notes/ideas to my document.


    Originally posted by tallric_kruush:

    MonsterEnvy wrote: 
    Ramzour wrote: 
    Brimleydower wrote:Can't say much about the rest, but I can clarify the Many Arrows tribe of orcs owe their name to King Obould Many-Arrows, who established their orcish kingdom, rather than it being a tribal name alluding to orcish archery.
    Ah, interesting. I didn't know this came from Forgotten Realms lore. Thanks for that.
     
    I think I'll have mine use bows anyway, for flavor.
     
     
    Despite Oboulds name he never used arrows ether always prefering his greatsword and close combat. (I think it was said he title many arrows cause he grabbed a handful of arrows and stabbed them into an opponent at one point but I may be thinking of somthing else.) He was also one of the few that can be said to have been stright up a better combatent then Drizzt. (They fought twice with Obould winning pretty easily first time around and forcing Drizzt to run. Second time Drizzt had a cool magic sword that let him get through some of Oboulds defences but a 3rd party caused Obould to lose his armor and still Obould had a slight advantage and the fight was interupted by a 3rd party.) 
     
    Obould claim to fame however is creating a stable Orc Kingdom that lives in relitive peace with those nearby. The Orcs in this adventure are rengades that don't reprecent the Kingdom of Many Arrows. It shoud be noted that it looks like the peace with Many Arrows is going to end in the next Forgotten Realms book however.
     
    The "Many Arrows" epithet comes from the "Battle of Many Arrows". In 1054 DR, the dwarves of Citadel Felbarr vacated their holdings, and the citadel was garrisoned by humans out of Silverymoon. The humans, in turn, lost the citadel to orcs following a lengthy siege. This took place in 1104 DR and was dubbed "The Battle of Many Arrows". The orcs renamed their new stronghold "The Citadel of Many Arrows".
     
    Obould Many-Arrows was chieftain and lord of the keep in 1367 DR when it was besieged by a large, rival Orc horde out of the north. The beseigers eventually breeched the keep. Obould may have won, but Emerus Warcrown and his kin attacked at that key moment, reclaiming Citadel Felbarr for the dwarves. Obould escaped north, bided his time, built alliances and eventually led the invasion that led to the formation of the Kingdom of Many Arrows.
     
    Long story short, Obould took his name from his keep, which took its name from the Battle of Many Arrows. The kingdom is named after its founder, Obould Many-Arrows.


    Originally posted by Chimpadin:

    Thanks for the tips. I'll probably print out this post when I run the adventure next week.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    My Starter Set arrived in the mail today! Woohoo!
     
    I'm going to read through the adventure and then I'll come back and post any (new) thoughts of my own here.


    Originally posted by Akeisha:

    pukunui wrote:My Starter Set arrived in the mail today! Woohoo!
     
    I'm going to read through the adventure and then I'll come back and post any (new) thoughts of my own here.
     
    Congratulations!!!!! Mine arrived this past Saturday and I have been "savouring it like a fine delicacy"...



    Originally posted by pukunui:

    My initial thoughts:
     
    1) Black Spider: Now that I've actually read the intro for myself, I see that the BBEG has been following the Rockseekers' activities. I think it stands to reason that he might have sent someone to Neverwinter to watch them and would thus know that a group of well-armed people is heading towards Phandalin with a wagonload of supplies. I don't know that it makes sense for any of the ambushing goblins to have a note, but it would make sense for there to be a note from King Grol to Klarg somewhere in his lair indicating that the Black Spider wants these would-be adventurers eliminated before they can pose a threat (and that the Cragmaws are free to help themselves to the contents of the wagon as a reward).
     
    2) Goblin Ambush: Given that the Cragmaws are set up as bandits preying on travelers on the Triboar Trail, I think it does make sense that they'd either ambush the PCs or set up a roadblock. What doesn't make sense is them leaving perfectly good horsemeat in the middle of the road for a whole day (nor does it make much sense that they'd only just be cutting it up as the PCs come along).
     
    I think if I change anything about this encounter, it'll be the initial setup: instead of two whole horses lying dead in the middle of the road, there will be a fallen tree or some such thing blocking the way. Anyone who looks closely will see signs of a struggle in the road in front of the tree, including blood stains and signs of large things being dragged off the road in the direction of the hidden trail. Anyone who takes the time to look around in the bushes will also find the carcasses of two horses* buzzing with flies (the goblins decided it was too much bother trying to drag two whole horses back to the cave, so they just pulled them off the road into the bushes, cut them up for meat, and then left the rest to rot).
     
    EDIT: Another option ~ for those worried about the fragility of 1st level PCs ~ might be to have the PCs be part of a larger caravan. When the goblins spring their initial ambush, they could target several of the NPCs instead. Having red shirts suffer the initial surprise attack serves to a) show the players what goblins can do and b) prevent any PCs from going down in the surprise round. I might actually do something like this myself ~ it makes sense that merchants and travelers would band together, given the context that the Cragmaws have been raiding the trail for a few months now.
     
    At the very least, you could have an NPC driving the wagon, with the PCs along for the ride (or walking alongside it). The driver gets taken out by a goblin arrow, while more arrows thunk into the side of the wagon or sail harmlessly overhead. Just because the goblins can potentially take out one or more PCs in the opening surprise round doesn't mean they have to. "Surprise! You're under attack!" as opposed to "Surprise! You're bleeding to death!"
     
     
    *Wouldn't Gundren have preferred a pony rather than a horse?


    Originally posted by Fellstrike:

    Just found another error getting through Cragmaw Castle.
     
    Hobgoblin's statblock list their longbow as a melee or range attack.  It should just be a ranged attack.


    Originally posted by iserith:

    pukunui wrote:2) Goblin Ambush: Given that the Cragmaws are set up as bandits preying on travelers on the Triboar Trail, I think it does make sense that they'd either ambush the PCs or set up a roadblock. What doesn't make sense is them leaving perfectly good horsemeat in the middle of the road for a whole day (nor does it make much sense that they'd only just be cutting it up as the PCs come along). 
    I think if I change anything about this encounter, it'll be the initial setup: instead of two whole horses lying dead in the middle of the road, there will be a fallen tree or some such thing blocking the way. Anyone who looks closely will see signs of a struggle in the road in front of the tree, including blood stains and signs of large things being dragged off the road in the direction of the hidden trail. Anyone who takes the time to look around in the bushes will also find the carcasses of two horses* buzzing with flies (the goblins decided it was too much bother trying to drag two whole horses back to the cave, so they just pulled them off the road into the bushes, cut them up for meat, and then left the rest to rot).
     
    EDIT: Another option ~ for those worried about the fragility of 1st level PCs ~ might be to have the PCs be part of a larger caravan. When the goblins spring their initial ambush, they could target several of the NPCs instead. Having red shirts suffer the initial surprise attack serves to a) show the players what goblins can do and b) prevent any PCs from going down in the surprise round. I might actually do something like this myself ~ it makes sense that merchants and travelers would band together, given the context that the Cragmaws have been raiding the trail for a few months now.
     
    At the very least, you could have an NPC driving the wagon, with the PCs along for the ride (or walking alongside it). The driver gets taken out by a goblin arrow, while more arrows thunk into the side of the wagon or sail harmlessly overhead. Just because the goblins can potentially take out one or more PCs in the opening surprise round doesn't mean they have to. "Surprise! You're under attack!" as opposed to "Surprise! You're bleeding to death!"
     
     
    *Wouldn't Gundren have preferred a pony rather than a horse?
     
    For anyone concerned about the lethality of Goblin Arrows as written or just wants a different spin on the encounter, feel free to check out my reworking of that situation here(x).


    Originally posted by iserith:

    I don't know if this bit is a "problem" per se, but the Goblin Trail snare and pit are examples of really pointless scenes. Best I can tell, it's a way to teach a new DM to learn marching order. Otherwise, these scenes offer basically nothing but some gotchas and miniscule damage with no real tension or drama.
     
    Unless someone can clue me in to what the point of these things are, I'm going to rework them and make them into better situations. (I may do that anyway, heh.)


    Originally posted by Noon:

    If the players are required to follow the railroad, then those traps don't do much.


    Originally posted by MonsterEnvy:

    iserith wrote:I don't know if this bit is a "problem" per se, but the Goblin Trail snare and pit are examples of really pointless scenes. Best I can tell, it's a way to teach a new DM to learn marching order. Otherwise, these scenes offer basically nothing but some gotchas and miniscule damage with no real tension or drama.
     
    Unless someone can clue me in to what the point of these things are, I'm going to rework them and make them into better situations. (I may do that anyway, heh.)
     
    It's to teach the new players about looking for traps and marching order. As it is likley going to the first example of traps for a lot of people. Just an alert that says you should keep your eye out.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    MonsterEnvy wrote: 
    iserith wrote:I don't know if this bit is a "problem" per se, but the Goblin Trail snare and pit are examples of really pointless scenes. Best I can tell, it's a way to teach a new DM to learn marching order. Otherwise, these scenes offer basically nothing but some gotchas and miniscule damage with no real tension or drama.
     
    Unless someone can clue me in to what the point of these things are, I'm going to rework them and make them into better situations. (I may do that anyway, heh.)
     
    It's to teach the new players about looking for traps and marching order. As it is likley going to the first example of traps for a lot of people. Just an alert that says you should keep your eye out.
    This. 
    I agree with the posters in the EN World thread that the wording for discovering the traps is confusing. I think what they were trying to say is that the traps can be detected automatically by the person in the lead if their passive Perception score is high enough; otherwise, the traps can only be discovered if the person in the lead makes an active Perception check and rolls high enough.
     
    Speaking of Perception, I've read through part of the Redbrand hideout section, and so far the only Investigation check I've seen in the adventure is the one for determining that the southern bridge over the crevasse in area 8 is shoddy. Everything else has been Perception-based, including the secret doors in the hideout. I'm still inclined myself to say that Perception would only clue the PCs into the idea that there might be a secret door in the area, but they'd still need to make an Investigation check to actually find it.
     
     
    As an aside, one thing I like is how on page 24, it says that if the DM doesn't think the players are doing a good job roleplaying their PCs' deception as Redbrands when interacting with the bugbears, then the DM can call for a Deception check. I like that the check isn't assumed or presented as the first course of action. Instead it says, "Let them roleplay it out and just use the check if you feel like the PCs might be able to do a better job than the players are."
     
    As another aside, I was looking through my old 2e FR Atlas, and I came across a section talking about Drizzt and Wulfgar breaking into Agatha the banshee's lair to steal a magical mask. I wonder if they included Agatha as a nod to The Halfling's Gem ...


    Originally posted by AaronOfBarbaria:

    iserith wrote:I don't know if this bit is a "problem" per se, but the Goblin Trail snare and pit are examples of really pointless scenes. Best I can tell, it's a way to teach a new DM to learn marching order. Otherwise, these scenes offer basically nothing but some gotchas and miniscule damage with no real tension or drama.
     
    Unless someone can clue me in to what the point of these things are, I'm going to rework them and make them into better situations. (I may do that anyway, heh.)
    The "point" is to establish that bad guys protect their hide outs by setting traps to reduce the chances that someone just stumbles upon their hideout unnoticed, and to harm anyone actively seeking the hideout that isn't welcome there - the goblins would rather find that scouting ranger dangling upside down or with a broken leg in the bottom of their pit than find their hideout's location compromised by nothing more than "Hmm... goblin tracks on the road here, but where do they lead?."

    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Fellstrike wrote:Just found another error getting through Cragmaw Castle.
     
    Hobgoblin's statblock list their longbow as a melee or range attack.  It should just be a ranged attack.
    Good catch! I'll updated my OP to include that.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    That's a problem that was spotted back when they previewed the hobgoblin statblock. I'm sure they will have fixed it for the MM, since they're still working on it.
     
     
    Regarding the dragon: The folk hero PC knows the dragon is there (well, they've heard rumors that a dragon has moved into their old town at least). Other than that, though, there's no indication that there is a dragon in Thundertree until the PCs arrive and either talk to the druid or stumble upon the dragon. I know the text says that the dragon is lying low in the tower, but I'm thinking I might have him fly overheard while the PCs are traveling towards the ruins. He'll be high up and I'll just describe his shadow passing over them and giving them butterflies in their stomach. Just a little clue to remind them that there really is a dragon up ahead.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    iserith wrote:I don't know if this bit is a "problem" per se, but the Goblin Trail snare and pit are examples of really pointless scenes. Best I can tell, it's a way to teach a new DM to learn marching order. Otherwise, these scenes offer basically nothing but some gotchas and miniscule damage with no real tension or drama. 
    Unless someone can clue me in to what the point of these things are, I'm going to rework them and make them into better situations. (I may do that anyway, heh.)
    They add as much tension or drama as you make of them. Should the adventure text have been more explicit about this? Maybe, but page count is an issue. But even taken at face value, they still serve a purpose to the story. 
     
    Here are several reasons why they are a good addition to the adventure:
     
    1) Suppose one of the goblins flees the ambush and runs away along the Goblin Trail. The Heroes are hot on its tail, probably making Wisdom (Perception) checks with Disadvantage (or a -5 to their PP score). The traps potentially slow down the Heroes long enough for the Goblin to escape!
     
    2) It teaches the DM and the players about traps, including how to detect them (Wis check) and how to avoid them if they trigger (Dex save). Unfortunately, the text doesn't actually give mechanics for disabling the trap, which is a shame. If the Rogue in my group wants to disable on, I'd probably make it a DC 10 Dex (Thief Tools) check. 
     
    3) It teaches the players that the world is dangerous and they shouldn't just run blindly through the forest. If they fail to be cautious enough, they could suffer 1d6 falling damage. 1d6 damage is definitely NOT miniscule damage for level 1 PCs.
     
    4) It gives the DM two ideas for traps that they could use later and gives general rules for how to deal with them. This is great for a DM tutorial.
     
    5) It shows a little insight into Goblin nature. Goblins like to make traps and they're clever enough to make simple ones at least. It shows this cave is worth protecting to the Goblins. It hints to the players that there must be something good in this direction!


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:Regarding the dragon: The folk hero PC knows the dragon is there (well, they've heard rumors that a dragon has moved into their old town at least). Other than that, though, there's no indication that there is a dragon in Thundertree until the PCs arrive and either talk to the druid or stumble upon the dragon. I know the text says that the dragon is lying low in the tower, but I'm thinking I might have him fly overheard while the PCs are traveling towards the ruins. He'll be high up and I'll just describe his shadow passing over them and giving them butterflies in their stomach. Just a little clue to remind them that there really is a dragon up ahead.
    Yes indeed! That sort of foreshadowing is awesome stuff.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Noon wrote:If the players are required to follow the railroad, then those traps don't do much.
    The first part of the adventure is a bit railroady, yes, but it's supposed to be an introduction and tutorial. The rest of the parts are definitely more sandboxy.
     


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote: 
    pukunui wrote:Regarding the dragon: The folk hero PC knows the dragon is there (well, they've heard rumors that a dragon has moved into their old town at least). Other than that, though, there's no indication that there is a dragon in Thundertree until the PCs arrive and either talk to the druid or stumble upon the dragon. I know the text says that the dragon is lying low in the tower, but I'm thinking I might have him fly overheard while the PCs are traveling towards the ruins. He'll be high up and I'll just describe his shadow passing over them and giving them butterflies in their stomach. Just a little clue to remind them that there really is a dragon up ahead.
    Yes indeed! That sort of foreshadowing is awesome stuff.
    I'm glad you like it! 
    Old Owl Well: I have to admit that this seems like a fairly lame quest. If you don't kill the wizard and his zombies, you've gone all that way just to learn that a Red Wizard of Thay is searching the tower for arcane lore. That's it. And if you've already been to see Agatha the banshee, the only way you'll learn that second bit is if you then go and clear out the orcs at Wyvern Tor. I wonder if there's some way to spice this quest up a bit more. [To be honest, the quest to see the banshee is little better, since she'll only answer one question. I might play her up as a bit of an oracle and if the PCs please her, she'll answer one question for each of them rather than one question in total. Also, I note that she appears not to have bothered to rebuild her maze of illusory mirrors after Drizzt and Wulfgar came a-calling so many years before.]
     
    Redbrands: I'm having a bit of trouble with the relationship between the halfling rogue pregen and the Redbrands. For one thing, it would appear the rogue would have been the only non-human member of the gang. For another, since Phandalin is such a small town, how on earth did the halfling manage to keep his/her activities secret from the aunt? Lastly, the adventure states that the Redbrands have only been operating for two months. The rogue must have been framed for something almost straight away, and, despite fleeing all the way to Neverwinter, s/he seems pretty keen to go straight back again. The whole thing just seems a bit ... rushed ... perhaps? I dunno.
     
     

    pukunui wrote:Speaking of Perception, I've read through part of the Redbrand hideout section, and so far the only Investigation check I've seen in the adventure is the one for determining that the southern bridge over the crevasse in area 8 is shoddy. Everything else has been Perception-based, including the secret doors in the hideout. I'm still inclined myself to say that Perception would only clue the PCs into the idea that there might be a secret door in the area, but they'd still need to make an Investigation check to actually find it.
    Furthermore, I feel like active and passive Perception is used inconsistently in the adventure. Take Thundertree, for example. In the first instance, in area 1 it says two hiding twig blights make Stealth checks against the PCs' passive Perception scores, but in area 2 it says that the PCs have to make Perception checks vs the twig blights' Stealth checks to spot them. 
    Wouldn't it make more sense just to say at the beginning of the module that you can deal with hiding creatures in one of two ways: if the PCs aren't actively looking for monsters, then the monsters make Stealth checks against the PCs' passive Perception scores; whereas if the PCs are actively searching the area for hidden creatures, then they would make active Perception checks, either contested by the monsters' Stealth checks or just against a passive Stealth score. And vice versa, if the PCs are trying to hide from monsters.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:I agree with the posters in the EN World thread that the wording for discovering the traps is confusing. I think what they were trying to say is that the traps can be detected automatically by the person in the lead if their passive Perception score is high enough; otherwise, the traps can only be discovered if the person in the lead makes an active Perception check and rolls high enough. 
    Speaking of Perception, I've read through part of the Redbrand hideout section, and so far the only Investigation check I've seen in the adventure is the one for determining that the southern bridge over the crevasse in area 8 is shoddy. Everything else has been Perception-based, including the secret doors in the hideout. I'm still inclined myself to say that Perception would only clue the PCs into the idea that there might be a secret door in the area, but they'd still need to make an Investigation check to actually find it.
    I don't think it's confusing according to the RAW, but confusing because we are all used to the Intelligence (Search) skill being the go-to for finding things. I think this will get easier once we're more confortable with the 5e system.
     
    R.I.P. Intelligence-based searching
     

    pukunui wrote:As an aside, one thing I like is how on page 24, it says that if the DM doesn't think the players are doing a good job roleplaying their PCs' deception as Redbrands when interacting with the bugbears, then the DM can call for a Deception check. I like that the check isn't assumed or presented as the first course of action. Instead it says, "Let them roleplay it out and just use the check if you feel like the PCs might be able to do a better job than the players are."
    Agreed that was a nice way to put it and suggests to DMs when they should and shouldn't call for a check.
     

    pukunui wrote:As another aside, I was looking through my old 2e FR Atlas, and I came across a section talking about Drizzt and Wulfgar breaking into Agatha the banshee's lair to steal a magical mask. I wonder if they included Agatha as a nod to The Halfling's Gem ...
    Good catch! Man, I read those books so long ago that I've forgotten most of the story. 


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:I don't think it's confusing according to the RAW, but confusing because we are all used to the Intelligence (Search) skill being the go-to for finding things. I think this will get easier once we're more confortable with the 5e system. 
    R.I.P. Intelligence-based searching
    I'm just so confused as to what the point of Investigation is now! I mean, if Perception is the go-to skill for noticing things like secret doors and traps, why wouldn't it also be the go-to skill for noticing that the bridge is crumbly? Since there's no "architecture & engineering" skill, wouldn't it just be a straight-up Intelligence check to determine why it's crumbly once you notice that it is? I'm just having trouble picturing anyone actually electing to use Investigation to look at the bridge to make sure it's sound. It just sort of feels like they've got it all backwards ~ I'd use Investigation to actively search for a trap or secret door, but Perception to clue the PCs into something like a bridge that's about to collapse. 

    Agreed that was a nice way to put it and suggests to DMs when they should and shouldn't call for a check.
    I've noticed it a few more times later on in the adventure too. 
    Good catch! Man, I read those books so long ago that I've forgotten most of the story. 
    Me too.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:Redbrands: I'm having a bit of trouble with the relationship between the halfling rogue pregen and the Redbrands. For one thing, it would appear the rogue would have been the only non-human member of the gang. For another, since Phandalin is such a small town, how on earth did the halfling manage to keep his/her activities secret from the aunt? Lastly, the adventure states that the Redbrands have only been operating for two months. The rogue must have been framed for something almost straight away, and, despite fleeing all the way to Neverwinter, s/he seems pretty keen to go straight back again. The whole thing just seems a bit ... rushed ... perhaps? I dunno.
    I'm glad I'm not the only one having trouble making sense of this! I've also been trying to make sense of this. Actually, I re-worked the rogue's backstory a little bit last night and came up with this. Tell me what you think:
     
    ================================================== ========================
    ROGUE BACKSTORY
    You moved to the new town of Phandalin, built on the ruins of an older settlement, drawn by the stories of gold and platinum in the nearby hills. You joined a gang calling itself the Redbrand Ruffians and made some decent coin as a burglar and pickpocket around the town. The traveling merchants and traders were also easy targets and business was good.
     
    But one day the vault in the Redbrand Hideout was robbed. A fellow gang member named Glasstaff (a young male Human Wizard) fingered you for the crime you didn’t commit. Your own friends turned on you and the gang sentenced you to death for crossing them. How could they do that to you? There had to be some magic involved. The Glasstaff must have charmed them against you!
     
    By the grace of Tymora (goddess of luck) you escaped with your life, but just barely. You fled Phandalin and spent the past year doing “freelance work” in Neverwinter, vowing to one day return to Phandalin and get your revenge…
     
    Personal Goal: Get Your Revenge. You burn to get revenge on the slimy wizard that betrayed you. Rumor has it that the Wizard Glasstaff is now the leader of the Redbrand Ruffians. Getting revenge is not going to be easy. But as Halfling Luck would have it, you recently overheard something interesting on the streets of Neverwinter city. Halia Thornton, the mining guildmaster in Phandalin, also has it out for the Redbrands. You want to hear what she has to say. Maybe the two of you could work together on this. Be careful though. Showing your face around Phandalin again is bound to lead to trouble if Glasstaff is in charge of things…
     
    Alignment: Neutral. You tend to do whatever seems best at the time. Sure, you’ve done some things you’re not proud of, and you’re not personally committed to making the world a better place. But you also have no interest in causing suffering on others….unless they cross you.
    ================================================== ========================
     
     
    Discussion of the changes:
    <ul><li>Glasstaff is now a proper villain! I'm also giving him the 2nd level Enchanter Wizard ability called Hypnotic Gaze. (As an Action, a target within 5 ft of you makes Cha save or is charmed and enthralled by you for 1 round. You can maintain the effect by using another Action.) Uh, don't ask where I got that from. But this ability and Charm Person is how Glasstaff managed to convince the Redbrands to turn on the Rogue...and also how he became their leader!</li>
    <li>Glasstaff has been a member of the Redbrands for over a year, but only recently became their leader two months ago (when he fully "disappeared").</li>
    <li>The mystery of WHO set up the rogue is gone, but the WHY still remains.</li>
    <li>This change also leads to another interesting twist of events. Suppose that Glasstaff really did charm the Redbrands into doing what he wanted. They used to be just petty thieves, skimming off the top of the lucrative mining business. But NOW Glasstaff has turned them into full-fledged evil thugs. So, if the Rogue can manage to defeat Glasstaff, then maybe the Rogue can become the new leader of the Redbrand Ruffians!  Optionally, this "charm curse" might not be dispelled until they shatter the wizard's Glass Staff. Breaking the staff also breaks the enchantment. If they do this in battle, then maybe the Redbrands will turn on the evil wizard right away! There's lots of potential here.</li>
    <li>I opted to ignore the implications of how this connects to Qelline Alderleaf (the aunt). I tried to write her into the story, but it really muddled things. I really love the idea of a Criminal with a Heart and taking care of his family...but it just doesn't work too well in this particular story I don't think. I left the Aunt as the Rogue's Bond (I give her some of my loot) and Flaw (she must never know what I did as a Redbrand), but I'm not completely satisfied with it.</li>
    <li> </li>
    </ul>
     
     
    While I was at it, I also the Cleric's story a bit. The Cleric now has a personal goal to get rid of the Orcs at Wyvern Tor. Sounds like a pretty Dwarven thing to do and is a throwback to the classic "Dwarves really freaking hate Orcs" trope. Plus, that was the last major quest objective that didn't have a character personally motivated to complete.
     
    ================================================== ========================
    CLERIC BACKSTORY
    Trained as a soldier on the island of Mintarn, you traveled to Neverwinter as part of a mercenary company that serves as both army and city watch. You grew disillusioned with your fellow soldiers, who seem to enjoy their authority at the expense of the people they’re supposed to protect. Everything came to a head recently, when you disobeyed an order and followed your conscious. You were suspended from active duty, though you kept your rank as Sergeant and your connections with the mercenary company.
     
    Since then, you have devoted yourself to Marthammor Duin, the Dwarf God of Wanderers, Travelers, and Outcasts. You wear his symbol (a boot overlaid with a hammer) emblazoned upon your shield. You also wear his symbol on a silver and iron necklace. You now travel the realm yourself, looking to help the weak and punish evil.
     
    Personal Goal: Drive off the orcs! As a dwarf of Rockseeker Clan, you have a natural hatred for orcs. Orcs killed your mother. They killed your brother. They killed 5 of your best friends. Now you’ve heard that the Orcish Many-Arrows Tribe has moved near the town of Phandalin. This cannot stand! Seek out Daran Edermath in the town of Phandalin for more information on dealing with these menacing orcs.
     
    Alignment: Neutral Good. Your conscience, not the law and authority, will guide you to do the right thing. Power is meant to be used for the benefit of all, not to oppress the weak.
    ================================================== ========================
     
     
     


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Oh I'm glad that bothered you too! I must admit, I initially thought that the Redbrands were a larger outfit and that the rogue had been a member of a different chapter. I didn't realize they were unique to Phandalin.
     
    Also, it seems to me like there should be some kind of turf war going on between the Redbrands and the Cragmaws. Even though the drow now has them both working for him, I can't believe the two groups would tolerate each other much. I'm thinking Bloods vs Crips type stuff. Why would the Redbrands let a bunch of goblins muscle in on their territory (and vice versa ~ it's not entirely clear who was there first).
     
    Regarding the back stories themselves, my one issue is with the connection to the quest-giving NPCs. Why would people in Neverwinter know the names (and goals) of relative nobodies in a small frontier town? If someone as far away as Neverwinter knows that Halia wants to get rid of the Redbrands, surely they'd know that too and would do something about it (unless they somehow know she's a Zhentarim and believe that harming her would bring trouble). Why would the cleric PC know to seek out Daran Edermath?
     
    One other thing before I forget again: Why must WotC persist in using boring castles with no real defensive capabilities? Where are the cliffs? The moats? The embankments? The winding paths? The gatehouses with murder holes? 
     
    Cragmaw Castle is so bland!


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:
    pukunui wrote:Speaking of Perception, I've read through part of the Redbrand hideout section, and so far the only Investigation check I've seen in the adventure is the one for determining that the southern bridge over the crevasse in area 8 is shoddy. Everything else has been Perception-based, including the secret doors in the hideout. I'm still inclined myself to say that Perception would only clue the PCs into the idea that there might be a secret door in the area, but they'd still need to make an Investigation check to actually find it.
    Furthermore, I feel like active and passive Perception is used inconsistently in the adventure. Take Thundertree, for example. In the first instance, in area 1 it says two hiding twig blights make Stealth checks against the PCs' passive Perception scores, but in area 2 it says that the PCs have to make Perception checks vs the twig blights' Stealth checks to spot them.
     
    Wouldn't it make more sense just to say at the beginning of the module that you can deal with hiding creatures in one of two ways: if the PCs aren't actively looking for monsters, then the monsters make Stealth checks against the PCs' passive Perception scores; whereas if the PCs are actively searching the area for hidden creatures, then they would make active Perception checks, either contested by the monsters' Stealth checks or just against a passive Stealth score. And vice versa, if the PCs are trying to hide from monsters.
    Hmm, another good catch. That does come across as confusing. I wonder if there is a mechanical reason for the Passive Perception vs Active Perception, or if they just mix it up to show that you can do both?
     
    Reading the text a bit closer, there is a little difference between the two encounters.
     
    Area 1: 2x Twig Blights are hiding. Compare their Dex(Stealth) check against the PP score of the PCs.
    "The blights do not attack on their own (except in self-defense), but quickly come to the aid of the twig blights in Area 2."
    These blights are just neutral creatures standing here on either side of the doorway. As such, they're within sight if you're observant enough.
     
    Area 2: 6x Twig Blights are hiding here among the thick overgrowth. The Twig Blights are hostile and hungry and fight to the death. Spotting them requires an opposed roll.
     
     
    The Basic Rules (p60) state that you should use Passive Perception when there's a chance that someone will notice a hidden creature even if they aren't actively searching for them. So maybe the Twig Blights in Area 2 have no chance of being passively noticed because of the thick overgrowth? Eh, I'm not sure. It does seem arbitrary.
     


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:Oh I'm glad that bothered you too! I must admit, I initially thought that the Redbrands were a larger outfit and that the rogue had been a member of a different chapter. I didn't realize they were unique to Phandalin. 
    Also, it seems to me like there should be some kind of turf war going on between the Redbrands and the Cragmaws. Even though the drow now has them both working for him, I can't believe the two groups would tolerate each other much. I'm thinking Bloods vs Crips type stuff. Why would the Redbranda let a bunch of goblins muscle in on their territory (and vice versa ~ it's not entirely clear who was there first).
    Hmm, that might be fun to include! Although, I'm not sure how the Heroes would play into it. Maybe that conflict happens behind the scenes and doesn't matter much for the adventure itself? Good to keep in mind as a DM though. Clever players might be able to take advantage of this situation.
     
     

    pukunui wrote:One other thing before I forget again: Why must WotC persist in using boring castles with no real defensive capabilities? Where are the cliffs? The moats? The embankments? The winding paths? The gatehouses with murder holes?  
    Cragmaw Castle is so bland!
    Well, in the castle's defense (pun intended), it does have some decent sentries. The goblin archers in area 3 north and south both have good visibility of intruders and they have arrow slits! And there are a lot of reinforcements nearby if a combat breaks out.
     
    I think this castle is meant to be the "sneak past the guards" type of infiltration mission. Clearly sieging the front doors is a terrible idea because they are out numbered by A LOT. I guess they didn't need to include any physical fortifications. And if there were fortifications in the original castle, they might have eroded to nothing over the years. It describes the original castle being constructed in "an ancient realm". /shrug


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Yeah, I get that. It's just annoying that it's yet another thick-walled building surrounded by open space. Cragmaw doesn't look like it would have been particularly defensible even in its heyday.
     
    I'm not saying the castle should be more heavily defended or harder to get into; just that it could use some more external features. It could have been built on a hilltop, or at the edge of a cliff. It could have had a reed-choked moat.
     
    As it stands, it's more like a glorified manor house than a castle (or maybe a keep without the rest of the castle).
     
    In fact, they could have included a drainage grill or some secret emergency exit accessible via the moat that would've made it easier for the PCs to sneak into the castle undetected. I might have to add something like that myself.


    Originally posted by AaronOfBarbaria:

    pukunui wrote:Yeah, I get that. It's just annoying that it's yet another thick-walled building surrounded by open space. Cragmaw doesn't look like it would have been particularly defensible even in its heyday.
    That sounds like an explanation why it is a ruin, rather than a structure that stood the test of time, to me.

    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Perhaps. But my complaint is that it is yet another bland, indefensible castle. WotC seems to love them.
     
    EDIT: The hunting lodge and elven castle in Scourge of the Sword Coast are the only two exceptions that spring to mind.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote: 
    pukunui wrote:Oh I'm glad that bothered you too! I must admit, I initially thought that the Redbrands were a larger outfit and that the rogue had been a member of a different chapter. I didn't realize they were unique to Phandalin. 
    Also, it seems to me like there should be some kind of turf war going on between the Redbrands and the Cragmaws. Even though the drow now has them both working for him, I can't believe the two groups would tolerate each other much. I'm thinking Bloods vs Crips type stuff. Why would the Redbranda let a bunch of goblins muscle in on their territory (and vice versa ~ it's not entirely clear who was there first).
    Hmm, that might be fun to include! Although, I'm not sure how the Heroes would play into it. Maybe that conflict happens behind the scenes and doesn't matter much for the adventure itself? Good to keep in mind as a DM though. Clever players might be able to take advantage of this situation.
    I guess they didn't want to include anything like this so that the PCs can try to bluff their way into Cragmaw by pretending to be Redbrands (as per the "Disguised Characters" sidebar on page 36). 
    I suppose the drow could have brokered a truce between the two. If so, it could lead to some awkward moments should the PCs try to pose as Redbrands. You know, like the goblins let them in, but it's pretty obvious they're on edge and looking for any excuse to pick a fight (with only their fear of the Black Spider holding them back)


    Originally posted by Aldente:

    I've been struggling with the connection between the rogue and the Redbrands as well. As you folks have pointed out, there are a few issues that seem to be difficult to reconcile. Here are a few of my general interpretations.
     
    The Black Spider (Nezznar) is using the Redbrands to keep the Phandalians preoccupied so that they stay away from the mine, and the Redbrands have been controlling Phandalin for two months. I interpret those two facts as allowing for the Redbrands to have existed in the town for a longer period of time but for Nezznar to have influenced them to become more active recently.
     
    My take is that when the rogue was a member, the gang was all about burglary and pick pocketing. Nezznar needed the gang to be a more visible threat to the townsfolk, so he used his doppleganger compatriot to infiltrate the gang, ostracise members who were likely to object to becoming more violent (e.g., the PC rogue), and set Glasstaff on the new path. The doppelganger is the one who betrayed the rogue.
     
    A fair number of the original Redbrands have been removed from the gang through the doppleganger's machinations and been replaced by more thuggish folks, so only a few of those who remain (including Glasstaff of course) will recognize the rogue. This allows for some tension as the rogue's player won't know which Redbrands might be able to divulge the secret. The townspeople know the rogue but are unaware of the connection with the Redbrands because the rogue never functioned as an enforcer.
     
    The hideout under the manor is a relatively new thing for the Redbrands, part of Glasstaff getting obsessed with the new nature of his gang. He's seeing himself as something of a bandit king. The rogue was never in the hideout so doesn't have any special knowledge of the layout or such.
     
    The rogue is very familiar with the town and many of the inhabitants, but Phandalin has grown quite a bit (relatively), so some NPCs may have come after the rogue fled. Given that the rogue left before the Redbrands fully transitioned into their thuggish incarnation, at least two months have passed and perhaps several more than that.
     
    Oh -- I'm also adding in some racial diversity on the Redbrands just for flavor.


    Originally posted by Revenant07:

    Here's another attempt at explaining the ash zombies: in Area 7, dragon's tower, it is briefly mentioned that the tower formerly belonged to a wizard who died fighting the ash zombies. Change that wizard to a necromancer who lost control of his magic and was killed by his own creations. If the PCs ever ask Reidoth why zombies are here he can rely that information.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Revenant07 wrote:Here's another attempt at explaining the ash zombies: in Area 7, dragon's tower, it is briefly mentioned that the tower formerly belonged to a wizard who died fighting the ash zombies. Change that wizard to a necromancer who lost control of his magic and was killed by his own creations. If the PCs ever ask Reidoth why zombies are here he can rely that information.
    Oo, I like it! The Necromancer tried to raise a few zombies from the dead, but didn't realize that there was a mass grave of volcano victims in the area as well. The spell surged in strength and he animated ALL of them. They were too much for him to control and he got overrun by his own zombies. 


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    Aldente wrote:The hideout under the manor is a relatively new thing for the Redbrands, part of Glasstaff getting obsessed with the new nature of his gang. He's seeing himself as something of a bandit king. The rogue was never in the hideout so doesn't have any special knowledge of the layout or such. 
    The rogue is very familiar with the town and many of the inhabitants, but Phandalin has grown quite a bit (relatively), so some NPCs may have come after the rogue fled. Given that the rogue left before the Redbrands fully transitioned into their thuggish incarnation, at least two months have passed and perhaps several more than that.
    I actually thought that it would be cool if the Rogue character knew at least a little bit about the Redbrand Hideout. Not everything, of course, because things have changed since the rogue left, but enough to really make it seem like they used to be a part of this gang.
     
    Here's what I think happens: The Rogue knows the names and general purpose of Areas 1-6. However, the Rogue has no knowledge of the monsters, secret doors, or traps currently inside of them. So when the Heroes enter Area 1, you say to the Rogue, "You are in the cellar now. It looks familiar. The door across the way leads to a storeroom, but they use it as a barracks. The door to the north leads to the crypts, slave pens, and armory."
     
    If the party enters from the secret tunnel instead, then the Rogue's knowledge of the place doesn't kick in until they reach areas 1-6.
     

    Aldente wrote:Oh -- I'm also adding in some racial diversity on the Redbrands just for flavor.
    That's a good idea.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Aldente wrote:Here are a few of my general interpretations ... 
    Oh -- I'm also adding in some racial diversity on the Redbrands just for flavor.
    Yes! 
    And maybe the Redbrands and the Cragmaws used to have a bit of a turf war going, but the Black Spider has not only forced them to form a truce, he's also made sure they don't cross paths much by refocusing the Redbrands on the town.
     
     

    Revenant07 wrote:Here's another attempt at explaining the ash zombies: in Area 7, dragon's tower, it is briefly mentioned that the tower formerly belonged to a wizard who died fighting the ash zombies. Change that wizard to a necromancer who lost control of his magic and was killed by his own creations. If the PCs ever ask Reidoth why zombies are here he can rely that information.
    Good idea! 
    On a side note, I'm going to describe the "ash puff" as a cloud of volcanic ash that causes a character in the area to choke and sneeze and get stinging eyes on a failed save. When one of them dies, they'll crumble into a pile of ash as well.
     
     

    Ramzour wrote:I actually thought that it would be cool if the Rogue character knew at least a little bit about the Redbrand Hideout. Not everything, of course, because things have changed since the rogue left, but enough to really make it seem like they used to be a part of this gang. 
    Here's what I think happens: The Rogue knows the names and general purpose of Areas 1-6. However, the Rogue has no knowledge of the monsters, secret doors, or traps currently inside of them. So when the Heroes enter Area 1, you say to the Rogue, "You are in the cellar now. It looks familiar. The door across the way leads to a storeroom, but they use it as a barracks. The door to the north leads to the crypts, slave pens, and armory."
     
    If the party enters from the secret tunnel instead, then the Rogue's knowledge of the place doesn't kick in until they reach areas 1-6.
    That's good too, although since it says that the Redbrands have only recently added slaving to their repertoire, I don't think the rogue should know about that. 
    EDIT:

    pukunui wrote:I agree with the posters in the EN World thread that the wording for discovering the traps is confusing. I think what they were trying to say is that the traps can be detected automatically by the person in the lead if their passive Perception score is high enough; otherwise, the traps can only be discovered if the person in the lead makes an active Perception check and rolls high enough.
    Incidentally, I believe they got it right for the trap on page 36: "Spotting the tripwire requires a [passive Perception] score of at least 20, or a successful [Perception] check if characters are actively searching for traps in the area." I reckon that's how it should have been worded for the snare and pit traps on the goblin trail. 
     

    Ramzour wrote:
    pukunui wrote:As an aside, one thing I like is how on page 24, it says that if the DM doesn't think the players are doing a good job roleplaying their PCs' deception as Redbrands when interacting with the bugbears, then the DM can call for a Deception check. I like that the check isn't assumed or presented as the first course of action. Instead it says, "Let them roleplay it out and just use the check if you feel like the PCs might be able to do a better job than the players are."
    Agreed that was a nice way to put it and suggests to DMs when they should and shouldn't call for a check.
    As an addendum, I'll also add that there are a couple of places where a check seems mandatory, in which case roleplaying the interaction well can get the players advantage on the check.

    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Further thoughts:
     
    ~ The magical statuette hidden in the coal in the brazier in the dark hall in Cragmaw Castle is going to be easily missed. I'm thinking if the PCs have a light source when they enter the room, I'll give them a chance to see a glimmer of something metallic shining out from amidst the coal.
     
    ~ Goblin Shrine: "A stone altar stands ... covered with bloodstained black cloth." If the cloth is black, how would you be able to tell it's bloodstained?


    Originally posted by Prom:

    pukunui wrote: 
    Ramzour wrote:I don't think it's confusing according to the RAW, but confusing because we are all used to the Intelligence (Search) skill being the go-to for finding things. I think this will get easier once we're more confortable with the 5e system. 
    R.I.P. Intelligence-based searching
    I'm just so confused as to what the point of Investigation is now! I mean, if Perception is the go-to skill for noticing things like secret doors and traps, why wouldn't it also be the go-to skill for noticing that the bridge is crumbly? Since there's no "architecture & engineering" skill, wouldn't it just be a straight-up Intelligence check to determine why it's crumbly once you notice that it is? I'm just having trouble picturing anyone actually electing to use Investigation to look at the bridge to make sure it's sound. It just sort of feels like they've got it all backwards ~ I'd use Investigation to actively search for a trap or secret door, but Perception to clue the PCs into something like a bridge that's about to collapse.
     
     
    Agreed that was a nice way to put it and suggests to DMs when they should and shouldn't call for a check.
    I've noticed it a few more times later on in the adventure too.
     
     
    Good catch! Man, I read those books so long ago that I've forgotten most of the story. 
    Me too.
     
     
    I would suggest you treat situations as either Perception or Investigation check can be made. A Perception check to notice a trap, secret door or crumbling bridge can come first. Or a Investigation check to notice much more detail like: the exact position of the secret door and it's opening device, the exact position and nature of the trap and what the best method would be to disable it, the locations on a bridge that are save to walk on without falling. Let the Investigation check do the heavy lifting for the situation, but allow the Perception check spot the hidden environmental factor.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:On a side note, I'm going to describe the "ash puff" as a cloud of volcanic ash that causes a character in the area to choke and sneeze and get stinging eyes on a failed save. When one of them dies, they'll crumble into a pile of ash as well.
    "When". lol
     

    pukunui wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:I actually thought that it would be cool if the Rogue character knew at least a little bit about the Redbrand Hideout. Not everything, of course, because things have changed since the rogue left, but enough to really make it seem like they used to be a part of this gang. 
    Here's what I think happens: The Rogue knows the names and general purpose of Areas 1-6. However, the Rogue has no knowledge of the monsters, secret doors, or traps currently inside of them. So when the Heroes enter Area 1, you say to the Rogue, "You are in the cellar now. It looks familiar. The door across the way leads to a storeroom, but they use it as a barracks. The door to the north leads to the crypts, slave pens, and armory."
     
    If the party enters from the secret tunnel instead, then the Rogue's knowledge of the place doesn't kick in until they reach areas 1-6.
    That's good too, although since it says that the Redbrands have only recently added slaving to their repertoire, I don't think the rogue should know about that.
    Ah, I missed that part. You're right, that's new. I guess we could just call it another storage room, or perhaps the old crypt preparation chamber.
     
     

    pukunui wrote:Incidentally, I believe they got it right for the trap on page 36: "Spotting the tripwire requires a [passive Perception] score of at least 20, or a successful [Perception] check if characters are actively searching for traps in the area." I reckon that's how it should have been worded for the snare and pit traps on the goblin trail.
    Yes, I think that's the new "trap finding meta" in D&D. First you see if your Passive Perception beats the trap's hide score. If so, then you automatically notice it. If not, then you don't see anything unless you actively look by making a Wisdom (Perception) check.
     


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Prom wrote:I would suggest you treat situations as either Perception or Investigation check can be made. A Perception check to notice a trap, secret door or crumbling bridge can come first. Or a Investigation check to notice much more detail like: the exact position of the secret door and it's opening device, the exact position and nature of the trap and what the best method would be to disable it, the locations on a bridge that are save to walk on without falling. Let the Investigation check do the heavy lifting for the situation, but allow the Perception check spot the hidden environmental factor.
    That's more or less how I'm going to play it. Perception will give you a clue but you'll need Investigation to figure out what it means. So like if there's a secret door, maybe you'll feel a slight breeze coming from a section of the wall or see a faint glimmer of light through a crack, but you'll still need to use Investigation to ascertain where exactly the secret door is and how it opens and that sort of thing. 

    Ramzour wrote:"When". lol
    I meant the zombies. 
    Yes, I think that's the new "trap finding meta" in D&D. First you see if your Passive Perception beats the trap's hide score. If so, then you automatically notice it. If not, then you don't see anything unless you actively look by making a Wisdom (Perception) check.
    I think I'm still going to roll a concealment check for things like traps and secret doors. I don't like the idea of comparing a static DC to a static score. Mike has said that's what he does, and I had assumed that meant it was going to be the default method in the rules, but it doesn't appear to be that way after all.
     
     
    EDIT: The boxed text says that the spectator greets people by telepathically saying "hello". The description following allows for PCs attempting to trick the spectator. The problem is that the spectator only knows Deep Speech and Undercommon. Granted it might know the word "Hello" despite being unable to speak Common, but that aside, how are the PCs supposed to communicate with it?
     
    Also, Wave Echo Cave just seems too small. I think I might have to make it bigger and just use the various numbered sections as locations of interest within the mine. This will help make the dungeon's ecology a little more believable and help explain why Nezznar has not yet discovered the back passage that would allow him to circumvent the various undead.


    Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:

    Ramzour wrote:Unfortunately, I've noticed that there are a few problems with the adventure itself. I've listed them here. If anyone has any information or ideas about these, please let us know.
    [p.22] Armory
    text says that the redbrands have been stockpilling arms and armors but the racks only contain weapons.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Good catch, Yan!
     
    Forge of Spells: I have to admit I find the Forge of Spells somewhat underwhelming. I was picturing something more along the lines of the Anvil of the Void from Dragon Age: Origins.


    Originally posted by MonsterEnvy:

    pukunui wrote:Good catch, Yan!
     
    Forge of Spells: I have to admit I find the Forge of Spells somewhat underwhelming. I was picturing something more along the lines of the Anvil of the Void from Dragon Age: Origins.
     
    It used to be better. It was stated that it's magic has weakened. It use to make permenat magic items instead of ones that only last about a day. 


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    I was talking more about the look of the thing. It's just a little brazier in a small manmade room. It should be grander than that.


    Originally posted by 5Shilling:

    I kind of like the irony that the Forge of Spells (which I am renaming by the way, terrible title), the cause of all this trouble, turns out to be so small and unassuming. Even small things can hold great power!
     
    Thanks very much to Pukunui, Aldente and Ramzour for discussing the Halfling Rogue's Redbrand connections. This was this biggest hole for me (see the Halfing Rogue's Secret thread) and I like what you came up with. I will likely go a similar way with it
     
    My impression of the Ash Zombies is that they, along with the Twig Blights, were created by the cursed ash of the Hotenow eruption itself. It wasn't just an natura event (according to the FR wiki it was triggered by a primordial). It's like a fantasy equivelent of a radioactive nuclear-winter mutant zombie holocaust!
     
    Regarding the Spectator, although it can only speak Deep Speech and Undercommon aloud, don't mis it's telepathy ability (easily done as it is at the top od the next column); this allows it to communicate with any creature that can understand any language.
     
    I'm not bothered by the minor erata, but I'm enjoying the deeper discussions in this thread. Keep it up!
     
    (oh, and my stance on perception/investigation: your perception is your eyes and ears and other senses, investigation is your brain. So with perception you might notice the outline of a secret door, but if it is opened by a secret switch or trigger you might need to investigate to figure out what that is - eg the old fake candlestick lever. If the secret door is so well hiden as to be effecitvely invisible, the only way you will find it is by investigation of clues - a mechanical contraption built into the wall that doesn't seem to do anything, odd scuff marks on the floor etc. Perception is what and where, investigation is how and why)
     


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    5Shilling wrote:I kind of like the irony that the Forge of Spells (which I am renaming by the way, terrible title), the cause of all this trouble, turns out to be so small and unassuming. Even small things can hold great power!
    Fair enough! 

    Regarding the Spectator, although it can only speak Deep Speech and Undercommon aloud, don't mis it's telepathy ability (easily done as it is at the top od the next column); this allows it to communicate with any creature that can understand any language.
    Yeah, but I took that to mean that you'd just hear it speaking in either Deep Speech or Undercommon in your head. I didn't think telepathy meant it could turn its language into your language. I think the "understand any language" clause is just meant to indicate that telepathy doesn't work on beasts and such. 
    Besides, the other issue with the spectator is that it's supposedly insane. What's it doing calmly broadcasting "Hello" into people's minds in the first place? If anything, it should be saying something like "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!"
     

    (oh, and my stance on perception/investigation: your perception is your eyes and ears and other senses, investigation is your brain. So with perception you might notice the outline of a secret door, but if it is opened by a secret switch or trigger you might need to investigate to figure out what that is - eg the old fake candlestick lever. If the secret door is so well hiden as to be effecitvely invisible, the only way you will find it is by investigation of clues - a mechanical contraption built into the wall that doesn't seem to do anything, odd scuff marks on the floor etc. Perception is what and where, investigation is how and why)
    That's more or less my thinking on it.

    Originally posted by iserith:

    MonsterEnvy wrote: 
    iserith wrote:I don't know if this bit is a "problem" per se, but the Goblin Trail snare and pit are examples of really pointless scenes. Best I can tell, it's a way to teach a new DM to learn marching order. Otherwise, these scenes offer basically nothing but some gotchas and miniscule damage with no real tension or drama.
     
    Unless someone can clue me in to what the point of these things are, I'm going to rework them and make them into better situations. (I may do that anyway, heh.)
     
     
    It's to teach the new players about looking for traps and marching order. As it is likley going to the first example of traps for a lot of people. Just an alert that says you should keep your eye out.
     
    I have reworked the Goblin Trail scenes here(x). Feedback welcomed.


    Originally posted by 5Shilling:

    Re-reading the adventure (first actual play session has been delayed by weeks due to being grown-ups with jobs and other boring stuff  ). Another thing is niggling me a little.
     
    Does anyone think that the Cragmaw Hideout is too small? The scale says 1 square = 5 feet, but that means in most of the areas there is barely room for everyone to fit in. Area 6 has 6 goblins, potentially 5 PCs and an NPC, and the room is split in 2. There will be queues forming! Areas 2 and 3 are even worse.
     
    On the other hand, maybe it is meant to be tight and cramped.
     
    I might just assume that 1 square  = 10 feet. What do you think?


    Originally posted by Aldente:

    5Shilling wrote:Re-reading the adventure (first actual play session has been delayed by weeks due to being grown-ups with jobs and other boring stuff  ). Another thing is niggling me a little.
     
    Does anyone think that the Cragmaw Hideout is too small? The scale says 1 square = 5 feet, but that means in most of the areas there is barely room for everyone to fit in. Area 6 has 6 goblins, potentially 5 PCs and an NPC, and the room is split in 2. There will be queues forming! Areas 2 and 3 are even worse.
     
    On the other hand, maybe it is meant to be tight and cramped.
     
    I might just assume that 1 square  = 10 feet. What do you think?
     
    The map isn't really optimized for grid play. For folks playing ToTM, the room sizes are probably reasonable. The Kennel, for instance, is about 15x25 or so (just on an angle). That would probably accomodate 5 people and a couple of wolves if you think about it. It just gets wonky when you add in the 5x5 spacing requirements for grid play. If you set up that room with minis, it looks odd because the folks are taking up more space than they would probably do in a real life scenario.
     
    If you treat every square as 10 feet, grid play will work out better, but the sizes of some rooms may seem excessive. I suppose you could render it as 1 square = 2 inches = 5 feet, and then allow folks to squeeze together and share a square. Basically, you'd be giving on the 5' space requirement which is essentially what you'd end up doing by default with a ToTM approach.
     
    My plan is to do a bit of hand waving. My group prefers to use minis, so I'll run it that way, but I'll let them crowd their minis together and play outside the lines at times. Sort of a middle ground between grid and ToTM.
     
    Cheers!


    Originally posted by iserith:

    5Shilling wrote:Re-reading the adventure (first actual play session has been delayed by weeks due to being grown-ups with jobs and other boring stuff  ). Another thing is niggling me a little.
     
    Does anyone think that the Cragmaw Hideout is too small? The scale says 1 square = 5 feet, but that means in most of the areas there is barely room for everyone to fit in. Area 6 has 6 goblins, potentially 5 PCs and an NPC, and the room is split in 2. There will be queues forming! Areas 2 and 3 are even worse.
     
    On the other hand, maybe it is meant to be tight and cramped.
     
    I might just assume that 1 square  = 10 feet. What do you think?
     
    Yes, I think it's a bit small, but perhaps appropriate for Small-sized creatures. I'm going to rework the map. I like that it has a circular design which makes it less linear, but I think it's missing a secondary entrance/exit (perhaps secret that the PCs can find and use). I'm thinking I might do a hidden "water level" that leads from the outside into a pool of water inside. The water flowing through the place is clearly there to allow for discrete combat encounters since it impacts hearing. I think I might get rid of that as well.
     
    I'm also pondering making it entirely abstract with individual areas as set pieces and the connections between them routes with tradeoffs. In this case, it'll be an abandoned termite mound they've taken over which fits the theme I'm going for a little better, I think. Some kind of alertness mechanic that builds up to alarm/counterattack based on the PCs' actions would be used as well.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    5Shilling wrote:Re-reading the adventure (first actual play session has been delayed by weeks due to being grown-ups with jobs and other boring stuff  ). Another thing is niggling me a little. 
    Does anyone think that the Cragmaw Hideout is too small? The scale says 1 square = 5 feet, but that means in most of the areas there is barely room for everyone to fit in. Area 6 has 6 goblins, potentially 5 PCs and an NPC, and the room is split in 2. There will be queues forming! Areas 2 and 3 are even worse.
     
    On the other hand, maybe it is meant to be tight and cramped.
     
    I might just assume that 1 square  = 10 feet. What do you think?
    Honestly, I think it was supposed to feel like a small and cramped cave. Just a tiny little dungeon cave. It also means one torch is enough to illuminate a whole room without trouble.
     
    However, if you want to double the size of the map scale, I cannot forsee any problems arising. Do what works for ya!


    Originally posted by Prom:

    I had a chance to run the adventure yesterday. So regarding the error on page 8, the kennel for the wolves. I presented a description of only two wolves stacked and chained up. Once the PC's started throwing food and meat into the cave for the wolves, I revealed a third wolf that was behind a rock. This worked fine.


    Originally posted by Chimpadin:

    Ramzour wrote: 
    Revenant07 wroteragon Idea 1:
    Turn Venomfang into a very young or wyrmling dragon, reduce (or not) its treasure hoard (i.e. the young dragon stumbled upon it or collected it over a period of time).
    Honestly, I think they purposely didn't use a very young or wyrmling dragon because dragons are supposed to be scary! They wanted the dragon to be extremely powerful relative to the party's level.
     
    The good news is that it opens up future story hooks after the adventure is completed. The Heroes will be level 5 and can use the Basic Rules to level up to 6 and beyond. By level 6 or 7 they should be able to take on the dragon....maybe.
     
     
    Revenant07 wroteragon Idea 2 (this only works if the PCs meet Venomfang before the cultists):
    Venomfang has just woken up from a slumber and is very hungry. It threatens to eat the PCs, but says that it is willing to spare their lives if the PCs can successfully deceive the dragon cultists into an ambush, where the green dragon will eat the cultists. Why not just eat the PCs? Venomfang finds it very funny and ironic to think that these cultists who venerate dragons will be eaten by one. Should the PCs fail to do so, their next encounter with Venomfang will not be a friendly one.
    I like this idea. I'm not yet sure how it would work, but I'll think on it.
     
     
    Revenant07 wrote @ramzour: I really like the ritual idea. Thanks, I think I might use that.
    Thanks! Let me know if you have any suggestion on improving it.
    My idea is that the dragon has been poisoned and is weakened (perhaps by the druid), causing it to deal half damage. I would indicate the dragon is looks palid and shakey. I would reduce the XP in this case.
     
    Regardless of the encounter, if the dragon escapes, this is a great hook for a future adventure.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Looks like no dice on the web enhancement idea. I tweeted Mike about it earlier and Greg replied that it sounded like something for a "dedicated fan" to do.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:Looks like no dice on the web enhancement idea. I tweeted Mike about it earlier and Greg replied that it sounded like something for a "dedicated fan" to do.
    I guess that's what this thread is for! =)


    Originally posted by basilbur:

    An interesting thread.  Helps with DM prep.
     
    One small thing that I noticed: the map on page 5 shows the goblin lair in the middle of "plains" hex.  The dead horses on the Triboar trail are on a pinch point in the trail though: surrounded by thickets with steep embankments on either side.  Sounds rather hilly and forested.   Not to mention that the goblins are in a cave complex.  Seems rather like hills, not plains.
     
    Like I said, small detail.  
     
    Also,on page 6, it says that the players can leave the oxen tied off on the side of the road.  They then trek 5 miles away, beat on goblins and trek 5 miles back.  Factor in resting.  We are talking, what? a day's elapsed time with the poor oxen tied off?  100 g.p. worth of supplies hanging in the wilderness.  Definitely an argument for the players to go to Phandalin first before heading to the Cragmaw caves.
     


    Originally posted by basilbur:

    Another issue.  Thundertree is no joke.   A dragon. Totally cool and all.  But I don't see Phandalin being the base camp for the Thundertree portion of the assualt.  More likely the players will base out of Neverwinter for that endeavor.  Especially if they are challenged.  Is there any information online about Neverwinter as a city?
     
    Also, the scale of Thundertree feels too small.  Especially with a dragon esconced in a tower on a hill.  Seems to me that a party that is smashing and crashing its way through buildings that are, for the most part, 50 feet away, is bound to draw the attention of the dragon in the tower.  I'd almost want to make each square fifty feet on an edge.


    Originally posted by AaronOfBarbaria:

    basilbur wrote:Also, the scale of Thundertree feels too small.  Especially with a dragon esconced in a tower on a hill.  Seems to me that a party that is smashing and crashing its way through buildings that are, for the most part, 50 feet away, is bound to draw the attention of the dragon in the tower.  I'd almost want to make each square fifty feet on an edge.
    How far away is your nearest neighbor? 
    Mine has their front door facing the side wall of my house, and is no more than 20 feet away.
     
    They never hear my friends and I laughing raucously while some side-joke during a gaming session has incapacitated every last one of us. They never hear my friends and I playing Rock Band turned up loud enough so that we can hear more than the dull thud of drumstick on drumpad. They never hear me playing videogames or watching movies turned up just loud enough that I can feel the explosions.
     
    And believe it or not, the thick stone walls that appear to be present in thundertree are even better at blocking sound than modern construction (outside of sound-proofing baffles).
     
    It is entirely believable that the dragon doesn't even remotely concern itself with whatever noises it might hear, which would be muffled and unclear at best (and easily confused for normal wilderness noise when one lives in a world filled not only with the normal animals of our world, but also the fantastical creatures that inhabit the Forgotten Realms besides).


    Originally posted by iserith:

    basilbur wrote:Also,on page 6, it says that the players can leave the oxen tied off on the side of the road.  They then trek 5 miles away, beat on goblins and trek 5 miles back.  Factor in resting.  We are talking, what? a day's elapsed time with the poor oxen tied off?  100 g.p. worth of supplies hanging in the wilderness.  Definitely an argument for the players to go to Phandalin first before heading to the Cragmaw caves.
     
    They could easily leave the Cragmaw Hideout for later. I set up the first encounter(x) to have it where the goblins try to steal supplies and get away rather than kill PCs, which may create more impetus for them to go to the Cragmaw Hideout first.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    basilbur wrote:An interesting thread.  Helps with DM prep. 
    One small thing that I noticed: the map on page 5 shows the goblin lair in the middle of "plains" hex.  The dead horses on the Triboar trail are on a pinch point in the trail though: surrounded by thickets with steep embankments on either side.  Sounds rather hilly and forested.   Not to mention that the goblins are in a cave complex.  Seems rather like hills, not plains.
     
    Like I said, small detail.  
    I don't see any "plains" hexes in the legend. I think the small black marks are supposed to represent hills. And there can definitely be forested areas in the hills!
     

    basilbur wrote:Also,on page 6, it says that the players can leave the oxen tied off on the side of the road.  They then trek 5 miles away, beat on goblins and trek 5 miles back.  Factor in resting.  We are talking, what? a day's elapsed time with the poor oxen tied off?  100 g.p. worth of supplies hanging in the wilderness.  Definitely an argument for the players to go to Phandalin first before heading to the Cragmaw caves.
    Agreed. I never thought it made much sense to abandon their precious cargo for a day either. FWIW, all of the groups I've run through the adventure went to town first before exploring Cragmaw Hideout. 
     

    basilbur wrote:Another issue.  Thundertree is no joke.   A dragon. Totally cool and all.  But I don't see Phandalin being the base camp for the Thundertree portion of the assualt.  More likely the players will base out of Neverwinter for that endeavor.  Especially if they are challenged.  Is there any information online about Neverwinter as a city? 
    Also, the scale of Thundertree feels too small.  Especially with a dragon esconced in a tower on a hill.  Seems to me that a party that is smashing and crashing its way through buildings that are, for the most part, 50 feet away, is bound to draw the attention of the dragon in the tower.  I'd almost want to make each square fifty feet on an edge.
    I'm okay with Thundertree being Dragon territory. I like that the adventure presents a very difficult situation. I don't see it as a death trap, but more of a gateway to more adventures when they finish up with Wave Echo Cave. An evil Dragon on the loose? Perfect plot hook for campaigns beyond the Starter Set!


    Originally posted by Lumenbeing:

    pukunui wrote: 
    5Shilling wrote:I kind of like the irony that the Forge of Spells (which I am renaming by the way, terrible title), the cause of all this trouble, turns out to be so small and unassuming. Even small things can hold great power!
    Fair enough!
     
     
    Regarding the Spectator, although it can only speak Deep Speech and Undercommon aloud, don't mis it's telepathy ability (easily done as it is at the top od the next column); this allows it to communicate with any creature that can understand any language.
    Yeah, but I took that to mean that you'd just hear it speaking in either Deep Speech or Undercommon in your head. I didn't think telepathy meant it could turn its language into your language. I think the "understand any language" clause is just meant to indicate that telepathy doesn't work on beasts and such.
     
    Besides, the other issue with the spectator is that it's supposedly insane. What's it doing calmly broadcasting "Hello" into people's minds in the first place? If anything, it should be saying something like "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!"
     
     
    (oh, and my stance on perception/investigation: your perception is your eyes and ears and other senses, investigation is your brain. So with perception you might notice the outline of a secret door, but if it is opened by a secret switch or trigger you might need to investigate to figure out what that is - eg the old fake candlestick lever. If the secret door is so well hiden as to be effecitvely invisible, the only way you will find it is by investigation of clues - a mechanical contraption built into the wall that doesn't seem to do anything, odd scuff marks on the floor etc. Perception is what and where, investigation is how and why)
    That's more or less my thinking on it.
     
    From the new Basic Rules for DMs released today:
    Telepathy is a magical ability that allows a monster to communicate mentally with another creature within a specified range. The contacted creature doesn’t need to share a language with the monster to communicate in this way with it, but it must be able to understand at least one language. A creature without telepathy can receive and respond to telepathic messages but can’t initiate or terminate a telepathic conversation.

    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Lumenbeing wrote:From the new Basic Rules for DMs released today:Telepathy is a magical ability that allows a monster to communicate mentally with another creature within a specified range. The contacted creature doesn’t need to share a language with the monster to communicate in this way with it, but it must be able to understand at least one language. A creature without telepathy can receive and respond to telepathic messages but can’t initiate or terminate a telepathic conversation.
    Yeah, I saw that. I don't really get how that's supposed to work but whatever.

    Originally posted by PinkRose:

    Am I reading something wrong? It says the nothic speaks telepathically to the group, but I don't see any where in the adventure nor in the monster manual where nothics have telepathy. Thoughts?

    Originally posted by iserith:

    Its "weird insight" ability is something of a psychic interface with another creature, so I was having it communicate with the characters as it stole secrets. The players would tell me a secret, recounting the tale of what happened in their life, and I would describe a dark shape in the corner of their eye in the scene with them that wasn't there when the event happened in their life. It would talk to them while watching the character recall the secret.


    Originally posted by AaronOfBarbaria:


    PinkRose wrote:Am I reading something wrong? It says the nothic speaks telepathically to the group, but I don't see any where in the adventure nor in the monster manual where nothics have telepathy. Thoughts?
    The nothic in the adventure has learned a nifty trick not common to others of its kind.

    Originally posted by pukunui:

    AaronOfBarbaria wrote:The nothic in the adventure has learned a nifty trick not common to others of its kind.
    Yeah, I'm inclined to just roll with it. Without telepathy, the nothic would be unable to communicate with most PCs, since it can only speak Undercommon normally. 
     
    As I've been prepping the Redbrand Hideout section for tonight's session, I've noticed some more complications:
     
    1) Further to the issue with the halfling rogue PC's relationship with the Redbrands, since he knows Glasstaff, he ought to recognize him from Sildar's description, which could potentially shortchange that little mystery. (For the "Finding Iarno" sidequest, Sildar explains that Iarno is "a short, dark-bearded human wizard in his thirties".)
     
    2) The bugbears in the Redbrand Hideout know where Wave Echo Cave is. The text does say that they won't willingly give up this info, but if the PCs do manage to get it out of them, what's stopping them from going straight there? I suppose it's not that big a deal, especially if they've already rescued Gundren (and if they haven't, one would hope his rescue would be next on the agenda anyway). Nevertheless, it seems to me like it would make more sense for the bugbears to have come from the Cragmaw tribe and therefore not know where Wave Echo Cave is.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:[p.29] Old Owl Well.
    The quest guy said: “find out who’s there and what they’re up to”. It does not say "slay whoever you find." So WHY then does this encounter give PCs four times the XP for defeating the Evil Mage NPC in combat instead of parleying successfully? On page 12 it says "If the adventurers come up with a non-violent way to neutralize the threat that a monster poses, award them experience points as if they had defeated it". Certainly succeeding at diplomacy against an evil mage and his dozen zombies represents a neutralized threat.
    I've just figured this one out. The XP for dealing with the red wizard in a non-violent way doesn't include the XP for the zombies. For a non-violent resolution, you get 200 XP, which is how much an "evil mage" is worth, according to the statblock in the back of the book. There are 12 zombies, each of which is worth 50 XP, which is where the extra 600 XP comes from if you go with the combat option.

    Originally posted by zeim:

    OK, am I the only one who can't seem to find it? The module states that Iarno (Glasstaff) "wields a staff of defense (see Appendix A)". There is no Appendix A, and if you look at the DM's Basic Rules that come along with the module (which are really nothing more than a Monster Manual and a short Magic Item list) there is no Staff of Defense listed. Am I missing it?


    Originally posted by Akeisha:

    zeim wrote:OK, am I the only one who can't seem to find it? The module states that Iarno (Glasstaff) "wields a staff of defense (see Appendix A)". There is no Appendix A, and if you look at the DM's Basic Rules that come along with the module (which are really nothing more than a Monster Manual and a short Magic Item list) there is no Staff of Defense listed. Am I missing it?
     
    The Staff of Defence is listed on page 53 of the LMoP adventure book.


    Originally posted by TheGimper:

    Ramzour wrote: 
    [p.20] Cellar
    There are two doors leading out of this room, but the Box Text only mentioned ONE of them. The unmentioned door belongs to Area 2 and they can possibly ambush the PCs in Area 1. Sounds like this is an important detail to leave out.
    The problem isn't just that there's a door that isn't described, but that there's no real way for the bandits in that room to suprise the party. This is particularly true if you print out and use the map (which for some of my players is a requirement). I'm thinking of having that room be empty and adding those bandits to another encounter.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    TheGimper wrote: 
    Ramzour wrote: 
    [p.20] Cellar
    There are two doors leading out of this room, but the Box Text only mentioned ONE of them. The unmentioned door belongs to Area 2 and they can possibly ambush the PCs in Area 1. Sounds like this is an important detail to leave out.
     
    The problem isn't just that there's a door that isn't described, but that there's no real way for the bandits in that room to suprise the party. This is particularly true if you print out and use the map (which for some of my players is a requirement). I'm thinking of having that room be empty and adding those bandits to another encounter.
    I agree. I can't figure out how the bandits in Area 2 are supposed to be able to open the door without a PC noticing.

    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:[p.29] Old Owl Well.
    The quest guy said: “find out who’s there and what they’re up to”. It does not say "slay whoever you find." So WHY then does this encounter give PCs four times the XP for defeating the Evil Mage NPC in combat instead of parleying successfully? On page 12 it says "If the adventurers come up with a non-violent way to neutralize the threat that a monster poses, award them experience points as if they had defeated it". Certainly succeeding at diplomacy against an evil mage and his dozen zombies represents a neutralized threat.
    I've just figured this one out. The XP for dealing with the red wizard in a non-violent way doesn't include the XP for the zombies. For a non-violent resolution, you get 200 XP, which is how much an "evil mage" is worth, according to the statblock in the back of the book. There are 12 zombies, each of which is worth 50 XP, which is where the extra 600 XP comes from if you go with the combat option.
    Ah! Good catch!
     

    pukunui wrote:
    TheGimper wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:[p.20] Cellar
    There are two doors leading out of this room, but the Box Text only mentioned ONE of them. The unmentioned door belongs to Area 2 and they can possibly ambush the PCs in Area 1. Sounds like this is an important detail to leave out.
    The problem isn't just that there's a door that isn't described, but that there's no real way for the bandits in that room to suprise the party. This is particularly true if you print out and use the map (which for some of my players is a requirement). I'm thinking of having that room be empty and adding those bandits to another encounter.
    I agree. I can't figure out how the bandits in Area 2 are supposed to be able to open the door without a PC noticing.
    Quietly. That's what opposed Stealth vs Perception checks are for!


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:Quietly. That's what opposed Stealth vs Perception checks are for!
    Yes, but it's out in the open. Unless you can be sure none of the PCs are looking in that direction, someone's going to see the door opening, even if they don't hear it.

    Originally posted by Nilonym:

    My issue is tha that the pre-gened rouge is a former Redbrand, so shouldn't that mean he knows everything about the Glasstaff and the layout of the Redbrand hideout under Tresendar Manor?


    Originally posted by iserith:

    Nilonym wrote:My issue is tha that the pre-gened rouge is a former Redbrand, so shouldn't that mean he knows everything about the Glasstaff and the layout of the Redbrand hideout under Tresendar Manor?
     
    Nothing's ever a "should" or "would," only a "could." So the character could know everything about Glasstaff and the layout of the Redbrands hideout, but perhaps he doesn't. He could have been a member before Glasstaff took over and at that time the Redbrands were road agents that had some camps outside of Phandalin. Or he could know a few things about their hideout that are just enticing enough to be interesting to the players and useful if they can figure out how to make it so.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    iserith wrote:Nothing's ever a "should" or "would," only a "could." So the character could know everything about Glasstaff and the layout of the Redbrands hideout, but perhaps he doesn't. He could have been a member before Glasstaff took over and at that time the Redbrands were road agents that had some camps outside of Phandalin. Or he could know a few things about their hideout that are just enticing enough to be interesting to the players and useful if they can figure out how to make it so.
    The rogue's backstory explicitly states that Glasstaff tried to have him killed. I've ruled - based on earlier discussions in this thread - that the rogue is familiar with the eastern portions of the Rebrand hideout but everything else is "new". So far the guy playing the rogue hasn't put 2-and-2 together (if the rogue knows Glasstaff tried to have him killed, then you'd think he'd know what Glasstaff looks like and would recognize him from Sildar's description of his missing comrade).

    Originally posted by iserith:

    pukunui wrote: 
    iserith wrote:Nothing's ever a "should" or "would," only a "could." So the character could know everything about Glasstaff and the layout of the Redbrands hideout, but perhaps he doesn't. He could have been a member before Glasstaff took over and at that time the Redbrands were road agents that had some camps outside of Phandalin. Or he could know a few things about their hideout that are just enticing enough to be interesting to the players and useful if they can figure out how to make it so.
    The rogue's backstory explicitly states that Glasstaff tried to have him killed. I've ruled - based on earlier discussions in this thread - that the rogue is familiar with the eastern portions of the Rebrand hideout but everything else is "new". So far the guy playing the rogue hasn't put 2-and-2 together (if the rogue knows Glasstaff tried to have him killed, then you'd think he'd know what Glasstaff looks like and would recognize him from Sildar's description of his missing comrade).
     
    Who cares what the backstory "explicitly states?" Change it if it is not what the DM wants.
     
    And again, he could have no idea what Glasstaff looks like even with the backstory unchanged. Perhaps only an inner circle of these thugs meets personally with Glasstaff.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:Quietly. That's what opposed Stealth vs Perception checks are for!
    Yes, but it's out in the open. Unless you can be sure none of the PCs are looking in that direction, someone's going to see the door opening, even if they don't hear it.
    According to the map, there are a lot of barrels and stuff near the door. I think it's plausible that the bandits could use the barrels for cover, potentially going unnoticed. 
     

    Nilonym wrote:My issue is tha that the pre-gened rouge is a former Redbrand, so shouldn't that mean he knows everything about the Glasstaff and the layout of the Redbrand hideout under Tresendar Manor?
    This issue came up at our table too. I actually thought this was an awesome twist. The Rogue PC did actually know a good deal about the Redbrands. We decided that the PC had also spent a little time in Redbrand Hideout and knew about areas 1-6. So he knew the general layout of those rooms (this room is used for storage, this room was the manor's old crypt). However, he did not know about any of the secret doors or traps or monsters. It had been a year or so since he fled the Redbrands (after Glasstaff tried to kill him) and things had changed since then. Worked great in our game.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:According to the map, there are a lot of barrels and stuff near the door. I think it's plausible that the bandits could use the barrels for cover, potentially going unnoticed. 
    I don't think the barrels block line of sight to the door, though. The Redbrands will have to get really lucky if they want to get through that door without the PCs seeing it open. 
    Perhaps they keep the door slightly ajar and can therefore peek out of it into the room and wait for an opportune moment when no intruders are looking to be able to slip through the door and hide amongst the barrels. That could work.
     
    Keeping the door ajar makes sense as otherwise the Redbrands have no guards posted. The guys in the room could be instructed to keep an ear out for intruders coming down into the cellar.
     

    iserith wrote:Who cares what the backstory "explicitly states?" Change it if it is not what the DM wants.
    Wow. Really? I had no idea I could change it. Thanks for pointing that out. 
    Sarcasm aside, what if you haven't changed it? What if you're not experienced enough to see it might be an issue ahead of time? That's the whole point of this thread. Just saying "Who cares? Change it." isn't particularly helpful. Frankly, I'm rather surprised by the dismissiveness of your response, iserith, as I've come to expect more from you.
     

    And again, he could have no idea what Glasstaff looks like even with the backstory unchanged. Perhaps only an inner circle of these thugs meets personally with Glasstaff.
    It's possible, but given the context of the group, unlikely. This is a small-time operation, not some vast metropolitan crime network. As written, there is no "inner circle". Yes, you are free to add one, and in fact, that's not a bad suggestion. Thank you, and I mean that most sincerely this time.

    Originally posted by iserith:

    pukunui wrote: 
    iserith wrote:Who cares what the backstory "explicitly states?" Change it if it is not what the DM wants.
    What if you haven't changed it? What if you're not experienced enough to see it might be an issue ahead of time?
     
    It's only an issue if it is made into an issue. I see it as an opportunity. So what if the character knows that Iarno is Glasstaff? What if they have a perfect map of the hideout? The dramatic question remains: What will they do with that information?
     

    pukunui wrote:
    And again, he could have no idea what Glasstaff looks like even with the backstory unchanged. Perhaps only an inner circle of these thugs meets personally with Glasstaff. 
    It's possible, but given the context of the group, unlikely. This is a small-time operation, not some vast metropolitan crime network. As written, there is no "inner circle". Yes, you are free to add one, and in fact, that's not a bad suggestion. Thank you, and I mean that most sincerely this time.
     
    I find it's easy to say "Yes" when we stop looking for reasons to say "No." That's the basics of improvisation.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:According to the map, there are a lot of barrels and stuff near the door. I think it's plausible that the bandits could use the barrels for cover, potentially going unnoticed. 
    I don't think the barrels block line of sight to the door, though. The Redbrands will have to get really lucky if they want to get through that door without the PCs seeing it open.
     
    Perhaps they keep the door slightly ajar and can therefore peek out of it into the room and wait for an opportune moment when no intruders are looking to be able to slip through the door and hide amongst the barrels. That could work.
     
    Keeping the door ajar makes sense as otherwise the Redbrands have no guards posted. The guys in the room could be instructed to keep an ear out for intruders coming down into the cellar.
    The map doesn't show the barrels blocking LOS, but that's something quite easy to improv.
     
    Maybe the barrels or the little half-wall on the north casts a shadow on the door. The door opens into the small room, so they can hide in darkness with the door ajar without being too conspicuous. When the time is right, they shoot a volley of arrows from the slightly open door. They use it as 3/4 cover until the fight comes to the door. Then use all the barrels in the room to barracade the door, and wait inside to ambush the first person to come through the door.
     
    I dunno. Just brainstorming. I think it can work if you want it to. 
     

    pukunui wrote:Sarcasm aside, what if you haven't changed it? What if you're not experienced enough to see it might be an issue ahead of time? That's the whole point of this thread. Just saying "Who cares? Change it." isn't particularly helpful. Frankly, I'm rather surprised by the dismissiveness of your response, iserith, as I've come to expect more from you.
    Agreed, that was kind of the point to the thread. There are some weird things in the adventure that don't make to much sense at first glance. Hopefully, this thread has come up with possible solutions to the identified problems!
     


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Aldente wrote:There are stats for Sildar but not for Gundren. Sildar is a CR 1 human fighter. I don't recall anything about how well they fought off the goblins.
    I just noticed that there are stats for Gundren! He is described as a "dwarf commoner", with the bold indicating that we're supposed to use the commoner stats provided in the back of the booklet for him. 
    Also, I made up some quest cards to help my players remember their options, and I discovered that Daran does not offer a reward for finding out who is at Old Owl Well. Does that seem fair, or should I have him offer them 50 gp or something?


    Originally posted by iserith:

    pukunui wrote:Also, I made up some quest cards to help my players remember their options, and I discovered that Daran does not offer a reward for finding out who is at Old Owl Well. Does that seem fair, or should I have him offer them 50 gp or something?
     
    Completing the Old Owl Well quest is half the things the PCs need to do to receive an invitation to join the Order of the Gauntlet. So the reward is the invitation.
     
    In my game, Daran was a gnome who ran an agave farm and tequila distillery and was a former member of the Tinkerton Detective Agency. The reward for completing the Old Owl Well quest was that the PCs could ask a one-time big favor of the agency at some future date.


    Originally posted by shpelley:

    pukunui wrote: 
    Ramzour wrote:Quietly. That's what opposed Stealth vs Perception checks are for!
    Yes, but it's out in the open. Unless you can be sure none of the PCs are looking in that direction, someone's going to see the door opening, even if they don't hear it.
     
    I dunno. I surprised the hell out of one player when they came over close to the door and had the door kicked open in his face. The person next to him was also pretty surprised. Surprising *some* members of the party, not all, is still a possibility isn't it?


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:
    Aldente wrote:There are stats for Sildar but not for Gundren. Sildar is a CR 1 human fighter. I don't recall anything about how well they fought off the goblins.
    I just noticed that there are stats for Gundren! He is described as a "dwarf commoner", with the bold indicating that we're supposed to use the commoner stats provided in the back of the booklet for him.
     
    Also, I made up some quest cards to help my players remember their options, and I discovered that Daran does not offer a reward for finding out who is at Old Owl Well. Does that seem fair, or should I have him offer them 50 gp or something?
    I took inspiration from the fact that Daran Edermath owns and operates an Apple Orchard in Phandalin. He has some special brews of magical cider that he can hand out. You can decide what the brews do. Potions of Healing are the most obvious. But they could also be Heroism, Vitality, Haste, Flying (red cider gives you wings!) or whatever else you like. 


    Originally posted by TheGimper:

    I'm not thrilled with the way the doppelgangers are used, but I'm not sure what to do with them. They really serve no purpose in the story at all, other than the authors apparently thought it would be cool. The problem is, they don't do anything. The first one, in Cragmaw castle basically just attempts to escape, and in so doing, is never revealed for what he is. After he escapes from the boss fight in Cragmaw castle, we are never told what happens to him. At first, I thought he reappears in Wave Echo Cave, but the doppelganger there has a different name. It seems to me that having the one in Cragmaw castle disguise himself as one of the PCs, or as Gundren would have been the thing to spotlight how cool they are. But the encounter setup doesn't really lend itself to that.
     
    And in both cases, their presence isn't explained. Why are they working for the Black Spider? Why does he feel the need to use them? Why do they disquise themselves as drow?
     
    I'd love to hear how others used them. Did you change anything about them?


    Originally posted by iserith:

    TheGimper wrote:I'm not thrilled with the way the doppelgangers are used, but I'm not sure what to do with them. They really serve no purpose in the story at all, other than the authors apparently thought it would be cool. The problem is, they don't do anything. The first one, in Cragmaw castle basically just attempts to escape, and in so doing, is never revealed for what he is. After he escapes from the boss fight in Cragmaw castle, we are never told what happens to him. At first, I thought he reappears in Wave Echo Cave, but the doppelganger there has a different name. It seems to me that having the one in Cragmaw castle disguise himself as one of the PCs, or as Gundren would have been the thing to spotlight how cool they are. But the encounter setup doesn't really lend itself to that.
     
    And in both cases, their presence isn't explained. Why are they working for the Black Spider? Why does he feel the need to use them? Why do they disquise themselves as drow?
     
    I'd love to hear how others used them. Did you change anything about them?
     
    This is what we have on Vyerith:
     

    LMoP wrote:...a doppelganger disguised as a female draw. The doppelganger, Vyerith, is a messenger from the Black Spider, come to collect Gundren Rockseeker and the map of Wave Echo Cave from King Grol. Grol wants to sell the map instead of surrendering it, and he and the draw are negotiating a price. Vyerith first wants to question Gundren to find out if anyone else knows the location of the mine. Then the doppelganger intends to kill the dwarf and destroy the map.
    If the villains have been warned that an attack is imminent, Vyerith hides behind the door to the northeast, leaving it open a crack and hoping to attack an intruder from the rear...
     
    If Grol is killed, Vyerith tries to kill Gundren and flee with the map, heading toward area 11 and escaping through the concealed canvas door. If cornered, the doppelganger fights to the death rather than allow itself to be captured.
     
    This is what we have on Vhalak:
     

    LMoP wrote:A doppelganger named Vhalak supervises the operation in the guise of a male drow... 
    If two or more bugbears are killed, the doppelganger tries to retreat to area 19 to warn Nezznar...
     
    If the doppelganger from area 18 retreated to this area, it assumes the guise or Nundro Rockseeker so that Nezznar can use the "dwarf" as leverage to force the party's surrender (although the drow won't actually harm the doppelganger).
     
    That seems to be pretty well-explained to me. Two doppelgangers take the form of drow and work for a actual drow. In any encounter with the PCs, I would suggest that they try to use their Read Thoughts ability to get some juicy information off the PCs it can exploit later. This would make for a fun scene in which the doppelganger pretends to be a PC or NPC that has been captured, fingering the real PC or NPC as the doppelganger. (Classic trope.)


    Originally posted by JohnLynch:

    I removed the doppelgangers. I have replaced the drow with necromancers from the "Far East". I've changed the climax a fair bit building up Glasstaff and setting it up with Marrus' friendship to him (the players don't know that Marrus' friend is Glasstaff yet). So my big villain for LMoP will actually be Glasstaff (using Nezzaner's stats) with future adventures potentially being to chase down the necromancers and stop their plot in invading the land with their legions of undead (if the players consider that to be a serious threat). So in place of the doppelgangers are low level necromancers.
     
    Doppelgangers in my world have their own kingdom (mentioned in a very few obscure texts as the Hidden Kingdom) that exists in secret amongst all the civilised races. I could have used their presence in the adventure to introduce that element of the world but felt it didn't further the plot and would have either been a distraction or even a red herring.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    TheGimper wrote:I'm not thrilled with the way the doppelgangers are used, but I'm not sure what to do with them. They really serve no purpose in the story at all, other than the authors apparently thought it would be cool. The problem is, they don't do anything. The first one, in Cragmaw castle basically just attempts to escape, and in so doing, is never revealed for what he is. After he escapes from the boss fight in Cragmaw castle, we are never told what happens to him. At first, I thought he reappears in Wave Echo Cave, but the doppelganger there has a different name. It seems to me that having the one in Cragmaw castle disguise himself as one of the PCs, or as Gundren would have been the thing to spotlight how cool they are. But the encounter setup doesn't really lend itself to that.
     
    And in both cases, their presence isn't explained. Why are they working for the Black Spider? Why does he feel the need to use them? Why do they disquise themselves as drow?
     
    I'd love to hear how others used them. Did you change anything about them?
    I think part of the problem was a simple formatting issue. The NPCs should have an obvious section of text about them. Maybe even a boxed text section. The way LMoP is now, many of the NPC descriptions are buried somewhere in the adventure.
     
    I used the dopplegangers as decoys and red herrings. All the Heroes knew about the Black Spider was that he was a Drow. When they saw a Drow working with the Cragmaw Tribe, they assumed it was the Black Spider. This led to some interesting roleplaying and mistaken identities. After they finally found the REAL Black Spider, they were suspicious to the point of paranoia! In fact, they now assume that some Drow are "shapeshifters" and when a new player with a Drow PC wanted to join their party, they practically interrogated him first.
     
    I think the dopplegangers are there to deepen the mystery, really. If you use them as is (with the descriptive text in the adventure, which Iserith kindly posted), then I think it works.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    On a side note, I treated the Black Spider as a 3rd party. An independent contractor, if you will. I said he was hired by Frulam Mondath (NPC villain from HotDQ) in order to better connect the two adventures. In fact, during the Black Spider encounter in WEC, the party didn't actually kill him. They parleyed instead. The Black Spider revealed that he was working for the Cult of Dragon, but just for coin. They gave him a choice: leave now and stop helping the cult....or die now. The Black Spider opted to leave.
     
    As a token of his honesty, the Black Spider even told them the location of Glasstaff because the PCs had been unable to find him. During the Redbrand Hideout Dungeon, Glasstaff heard the PCs coming and fled. He ended up at Old Owl Well and was working with that other mage, who I made a Cult of Dragon necromancer (again tying the adventures together).
     
    The result of all of this was a multi-faction NPC array.
    <ul><li>Cragmaw Tribe with King Groll and Klarg and the other Bugbears.</li>
    <li>Glasstaff. Leading the Redbrands, but also working with the Cult of Dragon on the side.</li>
    <li>Black Spider, working with Cult of Dragon afte being hired by Frulam Mondath</li>
    <li>Two doppelgangers, working directly with the Black Spider as his agents in the field.</li>
    <li>Frulam Mondath, another NPC villain on the horizon, leading them south to Greenest</li>
    <li>The Many-Arrows Orc Tribe, representing another threat to the region</li>
    <li>Venomfang, a green dragon trying to be recruited by the Cult of Dragon</li>
    <li>Reidoth the Druid, a helpful NPC Druid. He knows Venomfang and Agatha the Banshee</li>
    <li>Agatha the Banshee, Ghost of Neverwinter Wood. She is mostly neutral and has a lot of information.</li>
    <li>Rockseeker Brothers, leading the mining efforts in WEC</li>
    <li>Sildar Hallwinter, paladin, Lord's Alliance, working with Rockseeker brothers but with loyalties back in Neverwinter and Waterdeep.</li>
    <li>Mormesk the Wraith, an old wizard turned wraith. Working against The Spectator</li>
    <li>The Spectator, a monster hired to guard the Forge of Spells</li>
    <li>The Flameskull, a guardian monster created by Mormesk before his death to protect the forge, but has since gone rogue</li>
    <li>Plus all the NPCs in Phandalin</li>
    </ul>
     
    Whew! What a list! As you can see, there are lots of plots going on. Sometimes they intertwine, sometimes the conflict. That's the beauty of LMoP.
     


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    In my LMoP campaign, the PCs fought the ambushing goblins and then went and rescued Sildar from the cave. They took him back to Phandalin, where they took stock of the situation in town and chose to deal with the Redbrands. Even though they've picked up on all the sidequests on offer, they then decided to go straight for Cragmaw Castle to rescue Gundren, as that seemed to be the most urgent quest in the players' minds. They didn't know its precise location, so they got lost in the woods for a few hours but did eventually manage to find it.
     
    In reviewing the section on Cragmaw Castle for tonight's session, I notice that it says that if they succeed in rescuing Gundren, he asks them to "escort him back to Phandalin and then venture to Wave Echo Cave to learn the fate of his brothers ..." My concern here is that the players will end up skipping all those sidequests because they just don't seem all that important compared to the "main quest" and will thus be too low level to face the threats in the mine.
     
    I personally feel this way when playing CRPGs like Dragon Age: Origins. Why would my character want to chase after some lost pigs in a dwarf city when my homeland is being overrun by foul creatures and I'm supposed to be helping the dwarves elect a new leader so they'll agree to help stop the foul creatures? From a metagame standpoint, I get that the incentive to go on sidequests is earning XP, but from a story standpoint, when you've got this seemingly urgent main quest, most sidequests come off as being unimportant things that will only delay you from achieving your more time-sensitive goals.
     
    Now I get that in LMoP's case, some of the sidequests can actually result in the PCs learning the exact location to Cragmaw Castle; however, there are multiple ways to learn its whereabouts, including from the little goblin in the Redbrand hideout, so choosing to do one of the sidequests in order to learn the location of the castle isn't strictly necessary, as my group has demonstrated.
     
    Maybe I'm overthinking it ... I mean, it's nice that the adventure contains all these sidequests, as it helps flesh the location out more, but I just can't help but feel like they end up being extraneous when compared to the main storyline.


    Originally posted by kaitoujuliet:

    Here's my problem/question:  Just why does Mormesk the Wraith want to get rid of the Spectator?  What is his problem with it being there?
     
    I'm thinking of saying the Spectator was (in his perception) rude to him on the morning of his last day of life, and he's been brooding on it beyond the grave until it's become a fixation.  But I'd be interested in hearing other people's solutions as well.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Tonight we got to the part where the pregen wizard could achieve her goal of cleansing the old chapel in Cragmaw Castle. The module doesn't say how to go about doing that, so I ruled it was just like casting a spell as a ritual - that is, it would take 10 minutes of prayer at the altar. My wife, who is playing the wizard, had her character use prestidigitation to clean some of the objects in the room before kneeling before the altar. The others withdrew beyond the curtains to give her some privacy, taking the goblin acolyte who'd surrendered with them.
     
    I declared that after the ten minutes was up, a sort of wave of good vibes washed through the chapel, after which everything seemed cleaner and brighter. Since some of the PCs were a bit bruised, I gave anyone who needed it a free cure wounds effect as well. [In retrospect, giving everyone Inspiration might have worked just as well.]
     
    I also thought I should give her some extra XP for completing her character's personal mission. Does 100 XP sound reasonable for that? Too much? Not enough?


    Originally posted by JohnLynch:

    100 XP seems reasonable to me.
     
    To get around Gundren sending the players directly to the mine I had him take a couple of days to recuperate before sending them on. This won't work if you run the world as PC rules = NPC rules. I do for the most part except in this instance where I ruled Gundren's time in captivity required a longer rest then normal.
     
    I've also had the added benefit that most things were on the way to the mine (I ported the region over to my homebrew world) and most of the tasks (except for Cragmaw Fort) were on the way to the mine.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    JohnLynch wrote:100 XP seems reasonable to me.
    Thanks. 

    To get around Gundren sending the players directly to the mine I had him take a couple of days to recuperate before sending them on. This won't work if you run the world as PC rules = NPC rules. I do for the most part except in this instance where I ruled Gundren's time in captivity required a longer rest then normal.
    I sort of got the impression that that is what happens anyway, since the text says that Gundren sends them to Wave Echo Cave to see what's happened to his brothers. 

    I've also had the added benefit that most things were on the way to the mine (I ported the region over to my homebrew world) and most of the tasks (except for Cragmaw Fort) were on the way to the mine.
    Lucky. Doesn't really work for me since I'm running it as-is and have already established that the sidequests are all over the place. :/ 
    EDIT: On a side note, I thought it was interesting that after the session, my wife commented that it seemed pointless to reconsecrate a shrine in a ruined castle in the middle of nowhere. She asked if her PC was now supposed to rebuild the castle so that people could actually come and visit the shrine.


    Originally posted by BRJN:

    pukunui wrote:EDIT: On a side note, I thought it was interesting that after the session, my wife commented that it seemed pointless to reconsecrate a shrine in a ruined castle in the middle of nowhere. She asked if her PC was now supposed to rebuild the castle so that people could actually come and visit the shrine.
    Have somebody from her church show up for an important meeting with her (specifically and personally her).  He tells her that some Famous Item was last known to be in the shrine.  (Maybe it was hidden in a secret compartment underneath the altar?)  If she could disassemble the place and move all the stuff back to Town - he offers to send carts and laborers and a priest to help - it would (1) make this stuff available to the faithful again (2) bring in tourists / pilgrims / to HIS church. 
    If the Famous Item is best kept on display, that can be done; but if the Famous Item just happens to be a +1 Magic Item that is right up her character's alley, she can "borrow" it (a proper reward for the one who did all the hard work) for a length of time yet to be determined...
     


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:In my LMoP campaign, the PCs fought the ambushing goblins and then went and rescued Sildar from the cave. They took him back to Phandalin, where they took stock of the situation in town and chose to deal with the Redbrands. Even though they've picked up on all the sidequests on offer, they then decided to go straight for Cragmaw Castle to rescue Gundren, as that seemed to be the most urgent quest in the players' minds. They didn't know its precise location, so they got lost in the woods for a few hours but did eventually manage to find it.
     
    In reviewing the section on Cragmaw Castle for tonight's session, I notice that it says that if they succeed in rescuing Gundren, he asks them to "escort him back to Phandalin and then venture to Wave Echo Cave to learn the fate of his brothers ..." My concern here is that the players will end up skipping all those sidequests because they just don't seem all that important compared to the "main quest" and will thus be too low level to face the threats in the mine.
     
    I personally feel this way when playing CRPGs like Dragon Age: Origins. Why would my character want to chase after some lost pigs in a dwarf city when my homeland is being overrun by foul creatures and I'm supposed to be helping the dwarves elect a new leader so they'll agree to help stop the foul creatures? From a metagame standpoint, I get that the incentive to go on sidequests is earning XP, but from a story standpoint, when you've got this seemingly urgent main quest, most sidequests come off as being unimportant things that will only delay you from achieving your more time-sensitive goals.
     
    Now I get that in LMoP's case, some of the sidequests can actually result in the PCs learning the exact location to Cragmaw Castle; however, there are multiple ways to learn its whereabouts, including from the little goblin in the Redbrand hideout, so choosing to do one of the sidequests in order to learn the location of the castle isn't strictly necessary, as my group has demonstrated.
     
    Maybe I'm overthinking it ... I mean, it's nice that the adventure contains all these sidequests, as it helps flesh the location out more, but I just can't help but feel like they end up being extraneous when compared to the main storyline.
    I think it's actually more realistic this way. Not all threats are created equal, right? Sure they might find the location of Wave Echo Cave early and they might be "too low level" for the dungeon. Good! That shows that the world isn't always finely tuned to their current power level. (that's a 4e-ism that 5e avoids). Now you might say that the side-quests are just "XP Grinding", but they don't have to be viewed that way. It could be something like this: "Man, the first room of this dungeon really kicked our butts. Maybe we should approach the next room with more caution. Or maybe we should learn more about our enemies and come back later." Because really, "learn more about our enemies" is just a fancy way of saying "earn XP and level up". 
     
    In summary: screw encounter level guidelines!


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    kaitoujuliet wrote:Here's my problem/question:  Just why does Mormesk the Wraith want to get rid of the Spectator?  What is his problem with it being there?
     
    I'm thinking of saying the Spectator was (in his perception) rude to him on the morning of his last day of life, and he's been brooding on it beyond the grave until it's become a fixation.  But I'd be interested in hearing other people's solutions as well.
    I like your idea!
     
    In my game I explained Mormesk's behavior in a journal they found. The journal contained the angry notes written by a haughty human necromancer named Mormesk. Many many years ago, Mormesk traveled from afar to visit the Forge of Spells. He traveled to the Forge of Spells in order to gather special ingredients for a ritual to bring his lost lover back to life. He was very angry about her death and was desperately trying to bring her back. He also writes how angry he is that the Dwarves haven’t made proper accommodations for a human of his stature. Later on it says how he had the Dwarves build him some custom rooms, sized for a human. After all this anger in life, Mormesk was transformed into a Wraith upon his death.
     
    As for why he hates the Spectator....the Spectator killed him in the final battle. Mormesk, seeing the place under attack, tried to sneak into the Forge of Spells and take some magic away for his ritual. The Spectator treated him as a hostile and zapped him dead.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:Tonight we got to the part where the pregen wizard could achieve her goal of cleansing the old chapel in Cragmaw Castle. The module doesn't say how to go about doing that, so I ruled it was just like casting a spell as a ritual - that is, it would take 10 minutes of prayer at the altar. My wife, who is playing the wizard, had her character use prestidigitation to clean some of the objects in the room before kneeling before the altar. The others withdrew beyond the curtains to give her some privacy, taking the goblin acolyte who'd surrendered with them.
     
    I declared that after the ten minutes was up, a sort of wave of good vibes washed through the chapel, after which everything seemed cleaner and brighter. Since some of the PCs were a bit bruised, I gave anyone who needed it a free cure wounds effect as well. [In retrospect, giving everyone Inspiration might have worked just as well.]
     
    I also thought I should give her some extra XP for completing her character's personal mission. Does 100 XP sound reasonable for that? Too much? Not enough?
    In my games, Clerics and Paladins can use the spell Bless as a 10-minute Ritual spell. When cast in this way, it doesn't give a d4 to anything. Instead, the spell acts as a "cleansing ritual". The caster can ritual-Bless an object or an area to do things like consecrate altars or make holy water. 
     
    For completing a personal mission, I would award Inspiration and award XP as a Deadly Encounter of her level. 


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:In my games, Clerics and Paladins can use the spell Bless as a 10-minute Ritual spell. When cast in this way, it doesn't give a d4 to anything. Instead, the spell acts as a "cleansing ritual". The caster can ritual-Bless an object or an area to do things like consecrate altars or make holy water. 
    Cool. 

    For completing a personal mission, I would award Inspiration and award XP as a Deadly Encounter of her level. 
    A deadly encounter? That seems like a lot! Any particular reason?

    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    JohnLynch wrote:100 XP seems reasonable to me.
     
    To get around Gundren sending the players directly to the mine I had him take a couple of days to recuperate before sending them on. This won't work if you run the world as PC rules = NPC rules. I do for the most part except in this instance where I ruled Gundren's time in captivity required a longer rest then normal.
     
    I've also had the added benefit that most things were on the way to the mine (I ported the region over to my homebrew world) and most of the tasks (except for Cragmaw Fort) were on the way to the mine.
    I did the same thing wityh Gundren, but I gave him 4 levels of Exhaustion! Remember, each Long Rest only removes 1 level of Exhaustion. So if you've got several levels of exhaustion, it could be days before you're at 100% again. 


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:I did the same thing wityh Gundren, but I gave him 4 levels of Exhaustion! Remember, each Long Rest only removes 1 level of Exhaustion. So if you've got several levels of exhaustion, it could be days before you're at 100% again. 
    Not a bad idea. The trouble is that the text says Gundren sends the PCs to the mine to check on his brothers. That implies he doesn't go with them. So I think it's important for him to "not remember the way" somehow, thus forcing the PCs to seek out either Agatha or Reidoth or whoever to find the location of the mine.

    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:In my games, Clerics and Paladins can use the spell Bless as a 10-minute Ritual spell. When cast in this way, it doesn't give a d4 to anything. Instead, the spell acts as a "cleansing ritual". The caster can ritual-Bless an object or an area to do things like consecrate altars or make holy water. 
    Cool.
     
    For completing a personal mission, I would award Inspiration and award XP as a Deadly Encounter of her level. 
    A deadly encounter? That seems like a lot! Any particular reason?
    I guess it depends on how much weight you give the Personal Goal. If you make Personal Goals that are really meaningful to your character, then accomplishing that goal should give a nice reward! 
     
    A Personal Goal should be something that really defines your character. Obviously, it should be something more than just "I make it my personal goal to kill that monster over there." It should be something you and the DM discuss and agree upon. 
     
    That said, all Personal Goals were not created equal. So maybe "Slay the Evil Dragon that killed my parents" is a Deadly-difficulty goal, while "Cleanse the evil altar" is only a Medium-difficulty goal.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:I did the same thing wityh Gundren, but I gave him 4 levels of Exhaustion! Remember, each Long Rest only removes 1 level of Exhaustion. So if you've got several levels of exhaustion, it could be days before you're at 100% again. 
    Not a bad idea. The trouble is that the text says Gundren sends the PCs to the mine to check on his brothers. That implies he doesn't go with them. So I think it's important for him to "not remember the way" somehow, thus forcing the PCs to seek out either Agatha or Reidoth or whoever to find the location of the mine.
    You're right, it does! However, I played it a bit different.
     
    I said Gundren needed 4-5 days to rest up (due to exhaustion) and that he wanted to go to the mine straight away after resting. That gave the PCs a few days to complete some side quests. Then I had Gundren go WITH the Heroes. After all, he wanted to find his brothers and check out the status of the mine himself. He can't do it alone, so he hires the PCs to help him. The PC's don't bring Gundren. Gundren brings THEM. This presented many great roleplaying situations because they had to defend Gundren all the time. Also, the Doppelganger appeared in the form of Nundro (his brother) and tried to lure Gundren away from the party. That was fun! 


    Originally posted by Ramzour:


    pukunui wrote:EDIT: On a side note, I thought it was interesting that after the session, my wife commented that it seemed pointless to reconsecrate a shrine in a ruined castle in the middle of nowhere. She asked if her PC was now supposed to rebuild the castle so that people could actually come and visit the shrine.
    Evil altars are sources of power and their very existence attracts monsters like flies to a Otyugh. Leave one un-consecrated for too long and you'll just attract more monsters! Cleansing the altar is like killing the queen so the whole nest dies.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:I said Gundren needed 4-5 days to rest up (due to exhaustion) and that he wanted to go to the mine straight away after resting. That gave the PCs a few days to complete some side quests. Then I had Gundren go WITH the Heroes. After all, he wanted to find his brothers and check out the status of the mine himself. He can't do it alone, so he hires the PCs to help him. The PC's don't bring Gundren. Gundren brings THEM. This presented many great roleplaying situations because they had to defend Gundren all the time. Also, the Doppelganger appeared in the form of Nundro (his brother) and tried to lure Gundren away from the party. That was fun! 
    Yeah, that does make more sense and is probably how I'll end up doing it myself.

    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Last night, my players decided to go to Thundertree. I foreshadowed the dragon's presence by describing it flying overhead as they approached the ruins, causing butterflies in the PCs' stomachs. I know we've discussed the issues around low-level PCs facing off against this dragon before, and I think I've come up with a solution thanks to the MM! My wife is playing the book nerd wizard, and so she's always asking what she knows about various things. She rolled really high on her knowledge check about green dragons, so I read out a good chunk of the green dragon entry in the MM, which includes this little gem:
     
    "It never slays all its foes, preferring to use intimidation to establish control over survivors .... Green dragons occasionally release prisoners if they can be ransomed. Otherwise, a creature must prove its value to the dragon daily or die."
     
    Later, it says that a green dragon favors as treasure sentient creatures it can bend to its will.
     
    So if any DMs are having trouble with foolhardy PCs taking on the dragon and losing, there's no need for a TPK. Venomfang can just take them prisoner, and then you can allow them an opportunity (or two) to escape before the dragon kills them. You could even have Venomfang attempt to ransom the pregen noble fighter.


    Originally posted by THEMNGMNT:

    Thanks, Puk! Would love to get more updates on how this campaign is going!


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    It's going pretty well! I'll post an update later today.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Ramzour wrote:* The PCs encounter a single orc carrying two large bucket of water. The orc (named Krokk) looks pretty wounded and has a bad limp. He only has 5 hit points left. Krokk lost some sort of tribal contest and is now being hazed, bullied, and picked on. The Ogre Gog is especially tough on him. Gog sent Krokk to fetch him some water from a nearby stream. Krokk is muttering curses in Orcish as the PCs encounter him. Unless the PCs were specifically being stealthy and their checks beat his Passive Perception score, then neither side is surprised. Krokk's weapon is on his belt but he doesn't immediately go for it because he REALLY doesn’t want to spill any water. The Ogre will surely beat him up good for that. This opens up a possible alliance between Krokk and the party! If the party promises to kill the Ogre and the current leader Brughor, and help support Krokk for the new band leader, then Krokk promises to move the tribe to a new location. Diplomacy instead of Brute Force. This would be a great way to run the mini quest.
    Out of curiosity, Ramzour, how did you envisage this playing out? I like the idea, but I'm having trouble believing that the orcs would accept a guy who needs to get others to fight his battles for them as their chief. If Krokk isn't strong enough to beat Brughor himself, I can't see why any of the others would support him. They'd most likely murder him at the first opportunity - assuming any of them even survive. I can't really see them standing by while the PCs butcher Brughor and Gog. Krokk could easily end up being the leader of a band consisting of just him. 
    EDIT: On a side note, am I the only one having a hard time believing that wyverns would nest in a cave at the bottom of a ravine? I would've thought they'd be more inclined to nest near the top of the tor, rather than down at the bottom. I'm thinking I might either change it so it's called Wyvern Tor because the rocky outcrop resembles a wyvern, or that the wyverns once nested near the top of the tor and the cave the orcs are living in is just a "random" cave and not a former wyvern nest.
     
    And yes, I have a tendency to overthink things like this.


    Originally posted by Ramzour:

    pukunui wrote:
    Ramzour wrote:* The PCs encounter a single orc carrying two large bucket of water. The orc (named Krokk) looks pretty wounded and has a bad limp. He only has 5 hit points left. Krokk lost some sort of tribal contest and is now being hazed, bullied, and picked on. The Ogre Gog is especially tough on him. Gog sent Krokk to fetch him some water from a nearby stream. Krokk is muttering curses in Orcish as the PCs encounter him. Unless the PCs were specifically being stealthy and their checks beat his Passive Perception score, then neither side is surprised. Krokk's weapon is on his belt but he doesn't immediately go for it because he REALLY doesn’t want to spill any water. The Ogre will surely beat him up good for that. This opens up a possible alliance between Krokk and the party! If the party promises to kill the Ogre and the current leader Brughor, and help support Krokk for the new band leader, then Krokk promises to move the tribe to a new location. Diplomacy instead of Brute Force. This would be a great way to run the mini quest.
    Out of curiosity, Ramzour, how did you envisage this playing out? I like the idea, but I'm having trouble believing that the orcs would accept a guy who needs to get others to fight his battles for them as their chief. If Krokk isn't strong enough to beat Brughor himself, I can't see why any of the others would support him. They'd most likely murder him at the first opportunity - assuming any of them even survive. I can't really see them standing by while the PCs butcher Brughor and Gog. Krokk could easily end up being the leader of a band consisting of just him.
    The short answer: I didn't really think this one all the way through. In fact, my party ended up slaughtering all the orcs anyway, and Krokk became chief of his own tribe (of one). Should have known that would happen, haha!
     

    pukunui wrote:EDIT: On a side note, am I the only one having a hard time believing that wyverns would nest in a cave at the bottom of a ravine? I would've thought they'd be more inclined to nest near the top of the tor, rather than down at the bottom. I'm thinking I might either change it so it's called Wyvern Tor because the rocky outcrop resembles a wyvern, or that the wyverns once nested near the top of the tor and the cave the orcs are living in is just a "random" cave and not a former wyvern nest.
     
    And yes, I have a tendency to overthink things like this.
    I think either of your solutions are good ideas. Or both! Maybe the mountain is shaped like a wyvern on purpose by some dragon deity (Tiamat?). Maybe this is the birthplace of wyverns and Tiamat created them here.


    Originally posted by janosicek:

    Page 49, Room 19 (Temple of Dumathoin)
     
    Second text box mentions: "Two bugbears stand by the table, flanking a dark elf..."
     
    However the monsters in the room are: Drow + 4 spiders
     
    Where did the bugbears come from?


    Originally posted by Zoglug:

    Hi everyone!
     
    Im sorry that this contains spoilers  but you can stop reading now!!!  Then you will not read them!
     
    I am currently dming the LMOP and so far it has gone pretty well. The four of us playing have never played D&D before so it has been an experiment from start to finish and such a good one that we will be moving on to HotDQ once we have finished. The group have just got back to Phandalin after rescuing Gundren. Snarl almost ripped out Gundren's throat but the quick thinking of the groups Wizard meant he got to fight another day. 
     
    Now however,  I have a problem as mentioned here of how do I play Gundren! I have  made such a big fuss how family is everything to them, that there is no way they will leave Gundren in Phandalin and they know he will not leave hand over his map (now half burnt, again due to the Wizard). I am trying to come up with a stat block for him, weapons etc but am struggling and wondered what others did? Give him Sildar's stats or create a character, maybe a dwarven fighter? 
     
    Once into the cave, im going to take a few ideas from here i think. First, i thought I would have him stay in area one after what he finds there, but I really like the idea of the group trying to protect him throughout the cave. It also allows me  to bring in the drow that  has been following them throughout trying to convince Gundren to follow them.  How else you bring the drow into play? Id played on someone following them throughout, seeing shadows, strange feelings during night watches of someone following them and a failed assasination attempt. Im thinking the first as Nundro to try and lead Gundren off, the second as a false blackspider or even as a fake Iarno out to exact revenge after escaping his prison  escort to Neverwinter. 
     
    Any tips on either point would be fantastic!


    Originally posted by iserith:

    Zoglug wrote:Hi everyone!
     
    Im sorry that this contains spoilers  but you can stop reading now!!!  Then you will not read them!
     
    I am currently dming the LMOP and so far it has gone pretty well. The four of us playing have never played D&D before so it has been an experiment from start to finish and such a good one that we will be moving on to HotDQ once we have finished. The group have just got back to Phandalin after rescuing Gundren. Snarl almost ripped out Gundren's throat but the quick thinking of the groups Wizard meant he got to fight another day. 
     
    Now however,  I have a problem as mentioned here of how do I play Gundren! I have  made such a big fuss how family is everything to them, that there is no way they will leave Gundren in Phandalin and they know he will not leave hand over his map (now half burnt, again due to the Wizard). I am trying to come up with a stat block for him, weapons etc but am struggling and wondered what others did? Give him Sildar's stats or create a character, maybe a dwarven fighter?
     
    Use a Commoner NPC stat block. Give it dwarf traits and racial stat bumps.
     

    Zoglug wrote:Once into the cave, im going to take a few ideas from here i think. First, i thought I would have him stay in area one after what he finds there, but I really like the idea of the group trying to protect him throughout the cave. It also allows me  to bring in the drow that  has been following them throughout trying to convince Gundren to follow them.  How else you bring the drow into play? Id played on someone following them throughout, seeing shadows, strange feelings during night watches of someone following them and a failed assasination attempt. Im thinking the first as Nundro to try and lead Gundren off, the second as a false blackspider or even as a fake Iarno out to exact revenge after escaping his prison  escort to Neverwinter.  
    Any tips on either point would be fantastic!
     
    Do you mean a doppelganger is following them? If so, have him impersonate one of Gundren's brothers.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    It's easy to miss, but the adventure even states that Gundren is a commoner, with the word in bold (meaning you're supposed to use the commoner statblock for him).


    Originally posted by RMcD94:

    It also says at the start of Phandalin chapter that all NPCs should be treated as commoners if you need to:
     
    "The characters have no reason to fight ordinary townsfolk.
    Hence, no game statistics are provided for them. If
    statistics become necessary, use the commoner stat block
    to represent an adult NPC of any race."
     
    Edit: Which is weird because dwarves don't get darkvision, gnomes aren't small, etc, etc


    Originally posted by donosaur:

    Over a year after it came out, is anyone still playing the starter set, other than my group? Who knows. 
     
    My contribution is some NPC info for Gundren from my campaign that I think dovetails with the adventure as provided:
     
    Gundren Rockseeker. A dwarf commoner, 120 years old, rugged and active. Thinks highly of his abilities as a miner and surveyor, isn’t wrong about them. His family is without a stable clan or home ever since Phandelver was destroyed 500 years ago. 
    <ul><li>Trait: Proud, jovial, an entrepreneur.</li>
    <li>Ideal: "Don’t leave money on the table, and make the best of any situation."</li>
    <li>Bond: Cares deeply about family, both his family name and his living brothers.</li>
    <li>Flaw: Cannot pass up an opportunity to gain riches or grow his business operation. Sticky-fingered.</li>
    </ul>
    His traits make him a good foil to the serious, noble minded Sildar. His ideal helps him see opportunity for a business partnership with the party, just like he did with Sildar. Depending on how other Phandalin NPCs play out in your story, Gundren may have side-hustles worked out with Barthen, Halia, even Harbin Wester. Gundren wheels and deals. His bond gives him motivation for finding his brothers and making sure they're okay, and can provide some drama when he finds Tharden is dead. This also helps cement his relationship with his cousin, the dwarf pre-gen, and lets you have Gundren be protective or preferential to his kin over the rest of the party. His flaw explains why he didn't get out of the lost mine when things got out of control, and why even with dark forces involved he can't walk away. His desire to keep the mine secret and involve so few people made it easy for Nezznar to take it from him, and results in the death of at least one of his brothers. On a lighter note, Gundren's flaw may give him an interest in side quests (and the possiblity of treasure), giving you an NPC who can urge the party in different directions. I have used Gundren to flat out steal and pocket treasures from locations the party wasn't investigating.
     
    I hope this is of use to somebody!


    Originally posted by ChelseaNH:

    I'm currently running this for a group that was previously using a modified version of AD&D, using the five pre-gen characters plus a monk.  We started on New Years Day, meet about twice a month for a few hours.  They're currently in Thundertree and will be heading to Wave Echo Cave next.
     
    The rogue's backstory:  I figured the rogue's goal of hiding her past from her aunt has to be achievable, so I decided that she was working in the hills around the town, locating and pilfering from prospectors.  She joined the Redbrands figuring the added manpower would let her ambush the prospectors, but didn't tell them about her relationship with Qelline.  Glasstaff found out and figured she wouldn't go along with his plans to take over the town, so he ordered her killed.  Nezznar encouraged him, fearing the rogue had stumbled on the Rockseekers' mine while skulking around the hills.
     
    Party intros:  Gundren hired everyone, put his cousin in charge and rode off with Sildar.  Happily, the cleric's player put on her manager's hat and started interviewing the other characters about their ability to defend the wagon.
     
    After the ambush, for some reason a couple of the party members were convinced that Sildar and Gundren had been kidnapped for ransom, so they continued to Phandalin in the expectation of finding a ransom demand.
     
    Banshee:  The noble did an excellent job of role-playing the flattery and rolled really well for Persuasion, so I let them have two questions.  And then it took them forever to realize that the second question didn't have to be about Bowgentle's book, and they could get the location of Cragmaw Castle from the banshee.
     
    Doppelganger:  The party was split up with half of them dealing with the boss and the other half holding the rear.  (They came in through the hole in the wall,so they found the boss right away.)  The doppelganger hid in the bathroom waiting to attack someone from behind but didn't have a good target, and then the boss was clearly losing, so the doppelganger figured it would just wait, steal the map and sneak away.  The others went to help with the rearguard, leaving Gundren and the wizard in the boss room.  Gundren retrieved his map from its hiding place.  The doppelganger assumed Gundren's form and emerged, planning to sow confusion.  The wizard cleverly used prestidigitation to mark the new arrival.  The doppelganger attacked him, Gundren ran out of the castle with the map, the doppelganger chased him, the wizard chased the doppelganger... 
     
    Meanwhile, the rest of the party was fighting with the goblins/hobgoblins for several rounds and had no idea what was happening elsewhere.  The wizard tried to fight it out with the doppelganger and got dropped, Gundren circled back toward the castle.  The party emerged to see two dwarves running through the woods, one glowing.  Unfortunately for the doppelganger, it didn't speak dwarvish, which made it easy to figure out the real Gundren, so the folk hero finished the doppelganger with a couple of arrows.  Luckly, the wizard stabilized (using advantage from inspiration on his last roll) and after everyone else rolled perception checks, he was eventually spotted and retrieved.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    donosaur wrote:Over a year after it came out, is anyone still playing the starter set, other than my group? Who knows.
    It's meant to be an evergreen product, if I'm not mistaken, so I'm sure plenty of people are still playing it - particularly new groups just getting into D&D for the first time. I can see myself running it again at some point. Thanks for sharing.

    Originally posted by Scruffy68:

    donosaur wrote:Over a year after it came out, is anyone still playing the starter set, other than my group? Who knows. 
     
    Thanks.  I am taking a small group through this right now.  They just got to Wyvern Tor.  I may use that bit about Gundren.
     
    I have ordered Out of the Abyss and am waiting for that to show up.  I am hoping to tie LMoP in with OotA.  Maybe with the Spider guy being a drow and with the drow being involved in OotA?  I don't have OotA yet, so I am not too sure.


    Originally posted by donosaur:

    Scruffy68 wrote: 
    I have ordered Out of the Abyss and am waiting for that to show up.  I am hoping to tie LMoP in with OotA.  Maybe with the Spider guy being a drow and with the drow being involved in OotA?  I don't have OotA yet, so I am not too sure.
     
    I don't know what kind of drow options OotA provides, but there's a couple ways you could connect it. Since he's a male drow with no apparent supervisor, I'm playing the Black Spider as a rogue agent, but you could easily have him be working in the service of some character in OotA. His ultimate plan is to seal the mine off from the surface for good once all the interlopers are dead or enslaved, and then extend the mine down into the Underdark so he can supply the drow with magic ore and weapons. Maybe the weird geyser in Wave Echo Cave actually leads out into a subterreanean lake that he'll use to ferry goods. Maybe the Black Spider knew that the demons were coming and wanted to arm up with goods from Phandelver so the drow could fight back? The Black Spider is really a blank slate.
     
    I'm a sucker for contrivance, so I'd have him pop up again in OotA. After he is defeated, he escapes, get kidnapped or his body goes missing; either way he turns up somewhere in the underdark having been transformed into a drider for his insubordination or his failure. I'm assuming there's a drider in OotA someone since Perkins used one in the Acquisitions Inc game at Pax, just replace that drider with a mutated, maybe mindless Black Spider who has a bone or two to pick with the party.


    Originally posted by donosaur:

    ChelseaNH wrote:The doppelganger assumed Gundren's form and emerged, planning to sow confusion.  The wizard cleverly used prestidigitation to mark the new arrival.  The doppelganger attacked him, Gundren ran out of the castle with the map, the doppelganger chased him, the wizard chased the doppelganger... 
     
    Meanwhile, the rest of the party was fighting with the goblins/hobgoblins for several rounds and had no idea what was happening elsewhere.  The wizard tried to fight it out with the doppelganger and got dropped, Gundren circled back toward the castle.  The party emerged to see two dwarves running through the woods, one glowing.  Unfortunately for the doppelganger, it didn't speak dwarvish, which made it easy to figure out the real Gundren, so the folk hero finished the doppelganger with a couple of arrows. 
     
    Nice usage of the doppelganger! Every instance I've thought to use them to cause confusion in combat, I've gotten hung up by the fact that their clothes and gear don't change. They're suited to long-con identity theft more than on-the-spot switcheroos.
     
    My favorite change I made to my campaign was to have one of the doppelgangers kill and take the place of Harbin Wester. This gives fake-Wester a better reason to allow the Redbrands to occupy town than just plain cowardice. It also gives the party a good fright when they find go into the Nothic pit and find the long dead, chewed up body of a guy they were just talking to an hour ago. 
     
    Of course, my party went back and killed doppel-wester immediately, but that's why the adventure gives you two doppelgangers.


    Originally posted by Scruffy68:

    donosaur wrote: 
    Scruffy68 wrote: 
    I have ordered Out of the Abyss and am waiting for that to show up.  I am hoping to tie LMoP in with OotA.  Maybe with the Spider guy being a drow and with the drow being involved in OotA?  I don't have OotA yet, so I am not too sure.
     
     
    I don't know what kind of drow options OotA provides, but there's a couple ways you could connect it. Since he's a male drow with no apparent supervisor, I'm playing the Black Spider as a rogue agent, but you could easily have him be working in the service of some character in OotA. His ultimate plan is to seal the mine off from the surface for good once all the interlopers are dead or enslaved, and then extend the mine down into the Underdark so he can supply the drow with magic ore and weapons. Maybe the weird geyser in Wave Echo Cave actually leads out into a subterreanean lake that he'll use to ferry goods. Maybe the Black Spider knew that the demons were coming and wanted to arm up with goods from Phandelver so the drow could fight back? The Black Spider is really a blank slate.
     
    I'm a sucker for contrivance, so I'd have him pop up again in OotA. After he is defeated, he escapes, get kidnapped or his body goes missing; either way he turns up somewhere in the underdark having been transformed into a drider for his insubordination or his failure. I'm assuming there's a drider in OotA someone since Perkins used one in the Acquisitions Inc game at Pax, just replace that drider with a mutated, maybe mindless Black Spider who has a bone or two to pick with the party.
     
    Some good ideas.  Thanks.  I don't have OotA yet, but it is my understanding that, early in the adventure, the PCs are taken prisoner/kidnapped by a group of drow and taken to the underdark.
     


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    OotA's opening hook is that the PCs are prisoners of the drow, yes. How this happened is up to the players to determine.


    Originally posted by ChelseaNH:

    Nice usage of the doppelganger! Every instance I've thought to use them to cause confusion in combat, I've gotten hung up by the fact that their clothes and gear don't change.
     
    Thanks!  It was definitely a hasty improvisation that wouldn't hold up to much scrutiny, but at that point it was just a wizard and Gundren in the room, so it seemed worth the risk.
     
    I am finding that it helps to have the MM now; the monster descriptions in the adventure booklet are somewhat lacking for anything other than combat.


    Originally posted by Greenstone.Walker:

    Donosaur casts raise thread!

    donosaur wrote:Over a year after it came out, is anyone still playing the starter set, other than my group? Who knows. 
    Yes, I am still running it. The party are in Wave Echo Cave (and taking a long time to clear it) and only have Thundertree to go. I've thrown a few extras into the mix as well as redrawn the map of the mine but otherwise have kept close to the boxed set. It's a really nice adventure.
     
    Gundren is dead, because the players messed up their raid on Cragmaw Castle. Vyerith got the location of Wave Echo Cave from him before she killed him. The characters found the mine by asking the baneshee. Glasstaff got away (the players had an really clever plan, but it involved bribing a small animal - an animal that turned out to be the mage's familiar). Halia is now townmaster and Sildar is the leader of the local militia. There will be a showdown between those two but not for a year or two. The Black Spider has escaped his first encounter with the characters. Mormensk hasn't.


    Originally posted by Mistwell:

    I still have not gotten a chance to play it.  I hope to some day.  Our group skipped it - homebrew campaign that started with the beta test. And I did start into the Adventurers League but by then it was well past this adventure.  I understand you can still play it for AL though.


    Originally posted by pukunui:

    Mistwell wrote:I understand you can still play it for AL though.
    Yep. It's the evergreen AL adventure.

    Originally posted by Stonechewer:

    Aldente wrote:I've been struggling with the connection between the rogue and the Redbrands as well. As you folks have pointed out, there are a few issues that seem to be difficult to reconcile. Here are a few of my general interpretations.
     
    The Black Spider (Nezznar) is using the Redbrands to keep the Phandalians preoccupied so that they stay away from the mine, and the Redbrands have been controlling Phandalin for two months. I interpret those two facts as allowing for the Redbrands to have existed in the town for a longer period of time but for Nezznar to have influenced them to become more active recently.
     
    My take is that when the rogue was a member, the gang was all about burglary and pick pocketing. Nezznar needed the gang to be a more visible threat to the townsfolk, so he used his doppleganger compatriot to infiltrate the gang, ostracise members who were likely to object to becoming more violent (e.g., the PC rogue), and set Glasstaff on the new path. The doppelganger is the one who betrayed the rogue.
     
    A fair number of the original Redbrands have been removed from the gang through the doppleganger's machinations and been replaced by more thuggish folks, so only a few of those who remain (including Glasstaff of course) will recognize the rogue. This allows for some tension as the rogue's player won't know which Redbrands might be able to divulge the secret. The townspeople know the rogue but are unaware of the connection with the Redbrands because the rogue never functioned as an enforcer.
     
    The hideout under the manor is a relatively new thing for the Redbrands, part of Glasstaff getting obsessed with the new nature of his gang. He's seeing himself as something of a bandit king. The rogue was never in the hideout so doesn't have any special knowledge of the layout or such.
     
    The rogue is very familiar with the town and many of the inhabitants, but Phandalin has grown quite a bit (relatively), so some NPCs may have come after the rogue fled. Given that the rogue left before the Redbrands fully transitioned into their thuggish incarnation, at least two months have passed and perhaps several more than that.
     
    Oh -- I'm also adding in some racial diversity on the Redbrands just for flavor.
     
    My group has only just started this adventure and I had the same issues with the rogue that others have cited: if he was in the Redbrands, why didn't he know everyone and the layout of the hideout, etc. 
     
    My solution has a number of similarities to Aldente's. The Rogue's parents died when he was young, so he was raised by his aunt and traveled with her in a band of gypsy halflings (hence the strong connection to family and friends but stealing from "outsiders" is ok.) The NPC Quelline Alderleaf  in the town is NOT his aunt. (If he grew up there, he'd know everyone thhoroughly and know the layout of every nook and cranny, including the ruined manor house.) The pregen character's aunt is Quelline Alderlead (with an d) .  The rogue learned to be a pickpocket and thief and excelled at it during the gypsy entertainment shows as they travelled throughout the area (which helped the rogue establish his criminal contacts throughout the area). He struck out on his own when he came of age and was drawn to Phandelver by rumors of riches. His aunt always taught him to take only from those who who could afford it (wealthy) or those who were arrogant or who deserved it through greed or avarice, never from the common folks. When he moved to Phandelver, he was taken in by the local woodcutter family due to his dexterity and he joined the local militia, the Redbrands. At that time, the Redbrands was a local mercenary group made up primarily of farmer's sons who hired out to guard shipments and do light law enforcement. Then Glasstaff showed up and joined the group. He quickly rose to power due to ruthlessness and connections to folks from out of town that were willing to pay big coin for more questionable deeds. Locals started to drop out of the Redbrands as the character of the jobs they took changed. While in the past, they might rob an arrogant noble who cheated a local, Glasstaff directed the group to rob from everyone, even farmers and common folks. The rogue went along for a while and ended up doing things in which he's now embarrassed to have participated. When they started to threaten and extort locals openly, the rogue objected. That night after a round of drinks with some newer recruits, he was drugged and taken to the goblins. Though groggy, he heard the Redbrands tell the goblins that they had permission to do whatever they liked, but the rogue must die. The goblins took him back to their hideout and beat him, but while they argued over the proper seasonings, the rouge slipped his bonds, escaped and fled to Neverwinter.
     
    The Redbrands claimed and started to clean out/establish a base only after the rogue left, which is why he doesn't know the layout. Most of the folks that he started with in the Redbrands quit or were run out by more violent thugs which is why he doesn't know anyone in the Redbrands and doesn't mind slaughtering them. He knows some people in town, but not everyone because he only lived there for a few months before things went south. (I gave the player some cards with some limited names and fact about a subset of the town residents, mostly shopkeepers and innkeepers). He also got the map of town since he should know where everything is. I established the bond with the woodcutter to entice swift action when the woodcutter is killed and his family captured. 
     
    So far it's worked pretty well. The party initially came into town and dropped off supplies. Everyone's first question? "Cade (the rogue)! We thought you were dead! Where have you been?" They ended up leaving town to clear out orcs and visit Agatha before much could develop with the Redbrands, so when they started heading back to town, they met with a group of refugees. The Redbrands have gone crazy looking for Cade. They killed the woodcutter and kidnapped his family and are threatening to burn down the village unless he's produced. (Unknown to the party, Cade's execution order came from BlackSpider for reasons having to do with his dead parents, not because he objected to their newly nefarious line of work, but that will develop over the next few sessions. I'm developing something like a lost prince storyline for the rogue which will intersect with the other pregen storylines in mysterious ways. I'm also weaving in plotlines from the elemental storylines since they want to do Princes of the Apocalypse next.)
     
    If they catch Glasstaff, they may learn that the hit came from higher up. If not, maybe from the leftover correspondence. We'll see. Should be a fun ride!


    Originally posted by Stonechewer:


    Aldente wrote:I've been struggling with the connection between the rogue and the Redbrands as well. As you folks have pointed out, there are a few issues that seem to be difficult to reconcile. Here are a few of my general interpretations.
     
    The Black Spider (Nezznar) is using the Redbrands to keep the Phandalians preoccupied so that they stay away from the mine, and the Redbrands have been controlling Phandalin for two months. I interpret those two facts as allowing for the Redbrands to have existed in the town for a longer period of time but for Nezznar to have influenced them to become more active recently.
     
    My take is that when the rogue was a member, the gang was all about burglary and pick pocketing. Nezznar needed the gang to be a more visible threat to the townsfolk, so he used his doppleganger compatriot to infiltrate the gang, ostracise members who were likely to object to becoming more violent (e.g., the PC rogue), and set Glasstaff on the new path. The doppelganger is the one who betrayed the rogue.
     
    A fair number of the original Redbrands have been removed from the gang through the doppleganger's machinations and been replaced by more thuggish folks, so only a few of those who remain (including Glasstaff of course) will recognize the rogue. This allows for some tension as the rogue's player won't know which Redbrands might be able to divulge the secret. The townspeople know the rogue but are unaware of the connection with the Redbrands because the rogue never functioned as an enforcer.
     
    The hideout under the manor is a relatively new thing for the Redbrands, part of Glasstaff getting obsessed with the new nature of his gang. He's seeing himself as something of a bandit king. The rogue was never in the hideout so doesn't have any special knowledge of the layout or such.
     
    The rogue is very familiar with the town and many of the inhabitants, but Phandalin has grown quite a bit (relatively), so some NPCs may have come after the rogue fled. Given that the rogue left before the Redbrands fully transitioned into their thuggish incarnation, at least two months have passed and perhaps several more than that.
     
    Oh -- I'm also adding in some racial diversity on the Redbrands just for flavor.
     
    My group has only just started this adventure and I had the same issues with the rogue that others have cited: if he was in the Redbrands, why didn't he know everyone and the layout of the hideout, etc. 
     
    My solution has a number of similarities to Aldente's. The Rogue's parents died when he was young, so he was raised by his aunt and traveled with her in a band of gypsy halflings (hence the strong connection to family and friends but stealing from "outsiders" is ok.) The NPC Quelline Alderleaf  in the town is NOT his aunt. (If he grew up there, he'd know everyone thhoroughly and know the layout of every nook and cranny, including the ruined manor house.) The pregen character's aunt is Quelline Alderlead (with an d) .  The rogue learned to be a pickpocket and thief and excelled at it during the gypsy entertainment shows as they travelled throughout the area (which helped the rogue establish his criminal contacts throughout the area). He struck out on his own when he came of age and was drawn to Phandelver by rumors of riches. His aunt always taught him to take only from those who who could afford it (wealthy) or those who were arrogant or who deserved it through greed or avarice, never from the common folks. When he moved to Phandelver, he was taken in by the local woodcutter family due to his dexterity and he joined the local militia, the Redbrands. At that time, the Redbrands was a local mercenary group made up primarily of farmer's sons who hired out to guard shipments and do light law enforcement. Then Glasstaff showed up and joined the group. He quickly rose to power due to ruthlessness and connections to folks from out of town that were willing to pay big coin for more questionable deeds. Locals started to drop out of the Redbrands as the character of the jobs they took changed. While in the past, they might rob an arrogant noble who cheated a local, Glasstaff directed the group to rob from everyone, even farmers and common folks. The rogue went along for a while and ended up doing things in which he's now embarrassed to have participated. When they started to threaten and extort locals openly, the rogue objected. That night after a round of drinks with some newer recruits, he was drugged and taken to the goblins. Though groggy, he heard the Redbrands tell the goblins that they had permission to do whatever they liked, but the rogue must die. The goblins took him back to their hideout and beat him, but while they argued over the proper seasonings, the rouge slipped his bonds, escaped and fled to Neverwinter.
     
    The Redbrands claimed and started to clean out/establish a base only after the rogue left, which is why he doesn't know the layout. Most of the folks that he started with in the Redbrands quit or were run out by more violent thugs which is why he doesn't know anyone in the Redbrands and doesn't mind slaughtering them. He knows some people in town, but not everyone because he only lived there for a few months before things went south. (I gave the player some cards with some limited names and fact about a subset of the town residents, mostly shopkeepers and innkeepers). He also got the map of town since he should know where everything is. I established the bond with the woodcutter to entice swift action when the woodcutter is killed and his family captured. 
     
    So far it's worked pretty well. The party initially came into town and dropped off supplies. Everyone's first question? "Cade (the rogue)! We thought you were dead! Where have you been?" They ended up leaving town to clear out orcs and visit Agatha before much could develop with the Redbrands, so when they started heading back to town, they met with a group of refugees. The Redbrands have gone crazy looking for Cade. They killed the woodcutter and kidnapped his family and are threatening to burn down the village unless he's produced. (Unknown to the party, Cade's execution order came from BlackSpider for reasons having to do with his dead parents, not because he objected to their newly nefarious line of work, but that will develop over the next few sessions. I'm developing something like a lost prince storyline for the rogue which will intersect with the other pregen storylines in mysterious ways. I'm also weaving in plotlines from the elemental storylines since they want to do Princes of the Apocalypse next.)
     
    If they catch Glasstaff, they may learn that the hit came from higher up. If not, maybe from the leftover correspondence. We'll see. Should be a fun ride!
    Last edited by Koren n'Rhys; Thursday, 29th October, 2015 at 03:17 PM.
    XP El Mahdi, BookBarbarian, GX.Sigma, TarionzCousin, deryn gave XP for this post

  2. #2
    Was anyone else disappointed with the actual Lost Mine? The magic forge was underwhelming and pretty forgettable. The "Black Spider" was also a let down after the amount of mystery built up around his identity earlier.

    With regard to the dragon in Thundertree:

    The group of brand-new players I ran through the adventure used custom characters and no pregenerated bonds. They ran into the cultists first. The cultists convinced the party to help them to talk to the dragon (the cultists were vague about thier actual purpose and pretended to want to negotiate for the safety of people in nearby towns). The party went with them. There was a Dragonborn in the party so at the tower, the cultists decided to "post a watch" of one cultist and the Dragonborn character outside (in reality they didn't want the Dragonborn understanding what they were saying to the dragon in Draconic). Inside the tower during the "negotiation" the cultists basically offer up the party as sacrifices, while the lone cultist outside tried to murder the dragonborn character. The character managed to killed the cultist and ran into the tower to warn the party of the trap. Due to some skillful negotiation (in part helped by the dragonborn's Draconic and natural skill at parleying with Dragons) the party convinced the dragon they could be of future use and the dragon (who had no real use for the cultists), decided to kill the cultists instead. After that, the dragon became a recurring element of the story, with foreboding appearances and whispered messages in the night, leading to him finally demanding assisstance finding a new lair. That became an entire new story arc after the "lost mine" adventure wound down. Eventually it came down to an epic battle between the party and the dragon.
    XP Davelozzi gave XP for this post

  3. #3
    @Koren n'Rhys, thanks for rescuing this thread! It was very useful to me when I ran this adventure for my group.

    Quote Originally Posted by MG.0 View Post
    Was anyone else disappointed with the actual Lost Mine? The magic forge was underwhelming and pretty forgettable.
    I've seen this complaint a lot, actually, but I don't really get it. The mine has been inactive for centuries; of course it's going to need some work to fix it up and get it running again. I never expected anything else, though apparently lots of people did.

    (And from a mechanical standpoint, you don't want your level 5 PCs stopping to make themselves +3 armor and weapons before finishing the adventure.)

    The "Black Spider" was also a let down after the amount of mystery built up around his identity earlier.
    Eh, my group heard the name and immediately shouted, "Drow!"
    Last edited by jayoungr; Wednesday, 28th October, 2015 at 09:54 PM.

  4. #4
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    You're welcome! I've not had a chance to run Lost Mine yet, but am starting up either tonight or next Wed, running it at a brand new FLGS. We'll try to do it AL-legal, and transition from it to Princes afterwards. I'm not a huge Underdark fan, so the Rage of Demons season isn't really appealing to me but I liked PotA on my readthrough.

    I wish I'd gotten this opportunity sooner - now I wonder what else I could have gleaned from WotC that will be lost now. :-(

  5. #5
    I want to note that many of the problems described in the original post were actually fixed by WotC, so if you buy the Starter Set now, you might not find these "bugs".

    Eh, my group heard the name and immediately shouted, "Drow!"
    Haha, mine too!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by jayoungr View Post
    I've seen this complaint a lot, actually, but I don't really get it. The mine has been inactive for centuries; of course it's going to need some work to fix it up and get it running again. I never expected anything else, though apparently lots of people did. (And from a mechanical standpoint, you don't want your level 5 PCs stopping to make themselves +3 armor and weapons before finishing the adventure.)
    Valid reasons, but the players were expecting something a bit better than a small brazier that can make a weapon temporarily magical for a day or so. They (and I) would have been happy with perhaps a single common/uncommon permanent magic item for each character. The story could have been adjusted to accomodate the 1 per character limitation. As it was, the players just kind of ignored it and moved on.


    Quote Originally Posted by jayoungr View Post
    Eh, my group heard the name and immediately shouted, "Drow!"
    This particular group had never played D&D before. The problem wasn't the reveal as to what he was (which didn't really play into anything anyway), but rather the lack of any depth as a villain. It was also kind of annoying that the entire time the party is trying to rescue Gundren and prevent the Spider from getting the map and finding the mine, he's already there and doesn't even need it. There's no real build up of suspense. I felt the early parts of the adventure were better thought out, with the ending just sort of tacked on.

    Overall the players enjoyed the game but I feel it could have been better written. I ended up customizing it pretty heavily.

  7. #7
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    Regarding the Black Spider, I added what I feel was an interesting element to him. He has a torc and a belt that clearly don't look comfortable. They are fashioned like a row of spiders biting into him and are indeed locked into his flesh. The torc has a ring on it too that makes it look like a slave collar.

    He is an out of favour male under a curse/geas by a powerful matriarch. He will either bring this mine under her control or suffer the effects of failure. The PCs can realise this with a detect magic, artifact lore or excellent perceptive skills. It is not outside the realm of possibility that they could aid him in getting rid of those cursed magic items and free him. He is an evil guy, but the diet coke of evil as far as drow are concerned and he would be genuinely grateful. He could also give info on the matriarch who could be a real threat in the future.

    More likely though, they smite him down. At the point at which he is beaten, or it is clear that he has failed, the magic items bite into him. He is engulfed in a black poisonous mist, stopping PCs approaching or getting a good line of sight for attacks. The torc sends pulsating black poison through his vains, distorting his facial features terribly and making his eyes grow huge and turn black. The belt bites and bites until it has literally cut him in half. His legs fall twitching to the ground and then the spider belt fuses with his torso and mutates. He sprouts spider legs and is revived as a dryder.

    He is appalled by this and wishes to take out his rage on the PCs. This makes for a much tougher and much more memorable fight for the PCs. They may in fact flee, or he might. Either way they would end up in a terrible game of hide and seek in the mines with a very annoyed spider monster.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by MG.0 View Post
    It was also kind of annoying that the entire time the party is trying to rescue Gundren and prevent the Spider from getting the map and finding the mine, he's already there and doesn't even need it.
    Well you could just play it this way:
    1. Black Spider doesn't know location of mine.
    2. Gundren gets captured by Cragmaws and brought to Cragmaw Castle with map.
    3. Black Spider meets up with Cragmaw leader (while the PCs are in the Cragmaw Hideout or Phandalin), retrieves the map and moves to the location of the mine.
    4. Party probably wastes a lot of time before going to Cragmaw Castle, though if they really rush they only barely miss him. (Usually as DM I would just give the players the impression that they could have made it but did waste too much time with short and long rests. 90% of the groups like to do rests more often than they need anyway.)

  9. #9
    There's something about this thread that makes the Tapatalk app on my phone shrivel up and die. Scrolling back up the thread hangs the process. Sorry for not being more precise than this.

  10. #10
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    When I ran the adventure, I did note that the first half was really cool and exciting - sidequests! talking to dragons! sneaking around bandit lairs! - whereas the second half is kind of a bunch of dungeon crawls. That makes the second half really easy to run, but it also meant that the final fight against Nezznar was fairly underwhelming. He was just a guy, and not much harder than anyone else that they had fought. Were I to run this again, I might think of ways to really beef him up, in both danger and in story role. Simply making him a mad Drider is possibly the easiest way to make him more memorable, with irate orders sent by him lying around the place.

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