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D&D 5E First time Lost Mines of Phandelver DM'ing and player experience

Fellentos

First Post
I DM'ed my first D&D 5e game last night, with 3 friends, also first time D&D'ers. We played the Lost of Mines of Phandelver adventure and we finished the session in the Cragmaw Hideout, in the Goblin's Cave where the party got TPK'ed...

We started poorly because I was having trouble getting MapTool (a tabletop tooling aid) to get the maps and tokens to move and kept getting stack overflows... I got it too work long before on a my normal PC and I thought it would no sweat to get it to work on the laptop+tv screen. My players were really interested in it though and encouraged to get it to work. I quickly killed it because it took too much time and the rest was getting impatiënt. I was personally a bit stressed out because I tried all kinds of things to get it too work. Bad start of the session, and I should have tested the exact setup beforehand.

Anyway we started with the Goblin Ambush, after the players introduced their premade characters (I created a premade for each class, with a backstory linking it to Phandelver adventure) to eachother on the wagon which was a bit hard for them to play. They picked: A devotion human paladin with greatsword, a revised Protection dwarf cleric and a elven ranger (hunter, ranged). I let them start at level 2 because the adventure recommended 4 players. I quickly continued with the ambush which they dealth with pretty well, hardly any hits and the Ranger was killing them left and right (he also had favored enemy goblin). They ran after the fleeing goblin and so got on the trail to the Hideout. They saved on the traps and then went straight for the cave. They dealt with the first camp and wolves very well (Ranger used an ability on the wolves to make them not attack).

Things got out of hand when the human paladin (with a lighted torch) alerted the goblin on the bridge. They suffered the full brunt of two water deluges and received bludgeoning damage. The cleric pushed for a long rest because he was out of spells, the rest agreed although the paladin protested. However the goblins were already alerted (he was getting reinforcements to check out if the PC's survived). They decided to use the camp outside of the entrance for a resting place. I rolled a d6 to determine the ambush, and they got attacked mid-rest by 2 goblins. They had a ranger guarding the party, but the rest was surprised. I decided not to deal with putting on armor rules. Anyway they killed the goblins when the Ranger asked for a doubleshot with 2 arrows. I let him do it but he had to roll a 20, and he rolled a natural 20!!! Both goblins got instantly killed by the damage! After that they went straight for the Goblin Cave but they were quickly going through their spells/abilities. Now since they are a 3 man-party I lowered the amount of goblins to 4 (according to Kobold Fight Club a medium/hard encounter). The Ranger used to stealth and managed to suprise the goblins and attacked first, which was a good start for the combat, but after that everything went to hell. The players suddenly had bad rolls, and the goblin rolls were through the roof. Without anymore usable abilities they got overwhelmed and all died in the cave to 2 remaining goblins. There was no way I could justify getting them imprisoned or something after such an attack, and we were already over time so we decided to end it.


However my players enjoyed the session and they would definately play again. I learned a lot from my first DM experience, especially in the use of the tooling which nearly botched the evening because I was so adamant to get it to work. In the end pen-and-paper saved the day, but next time I will probably consider using Roll20. My players seemed to enjoy the visual aid, and the cool maps of Mike (the artist used for the campaign). We recognised that we forgot some stuff during the event: Two-Weapon 1 rerolls, Iniative order after surprise, Divine Smite. Hopefully next time will be a smoother event with the experience of this session.

Anybody have any DM recommendations for the next session?
 

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OB1

Jedi Master
[MENTION=6921414]Fellentos[/MENTION] - Hi there and welcome to the boards! Sounds like a fantastic first session. I'm sure your players will be a bit more cautious with their PCs in the next session. Here are a couple of recommendations.

1. You can always justify getting them imprisoned when dealing with sentient opponents! The goblins could have had instructions to interrogate anyone who came snooping around, as the Black Spider is paranoid about people interrupting his plans. If you feel it would be more interesting to have the players imprisoned rather than killed, do it! And if it's better to kill them off, do that! Just don't limit your choice before hand.

2. Given that the players believe their characters are dead, what could be interesting though would be to have them use new characters and then find one or more of their old characters in the next part of the adventure imprisoned by the bad guys. You could probably start them at level 3 and have them begin their investigation in Phandelver. If they rescue their former PCs, perhaps give them the choice to continue on with one or the other.

3. Try a session using Theatre of the Mind rather than a grid. 5e is built to be run this way and I've found it tends to lead to much easier flow between the three pillars while also encouraging more creativity from the players both in and out of combat.

4. Have them create their next set of characters. Might help them get more invested in their safety, and besides, it's one of the best parts of playing D&D!

Have fun and good luck! Interested to hear how the next session goes.
 


BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
I DM'ed my first D&D 5e game last night, with 3 friends, also first time D&D'ers. We played the Lost of Mines of Phandelver adventure and we finished the session in the Cragmaw Hideout, in the Goblin's Cave where the party got TPK'ed...

We started poorly because I was having trouble getting MapTool (a tabletop tooling aid) to get the maps and tokens to move and kept getting stack overflows... I got it too work long before on a my normal PC and I thought it would no sweat to get it to work on the laptop+tv screen. My players were really interested in it though and encouraged to get it to work. I quickly killed it because it took too much time and the rest was getting impatiënt. I was personally a bit stressed out because I tried all kinds of things to get it too work. Bad start of the session, and I should have tested the exact setup beforehand.

Anyway we started with the Goblin Ambush, after the players introduced their premade characters (I created a premade for each class, with a backstory linking it to Phandelver adventure) to eachother on the wagon which was a bit hard for them to play. They picked: A devotion human paladin with greatsword, a revised Protection dwarf cleric and a elven ranger (hunter, ranged). I let them start at level 2 because the adventure recommended 4 players. I quickly continued with the ambush which they dealth with pretty well, hardly any hits and the Ranger was killing them left and right (he also had favored enemy goblin). They ran after the fleeing goblin and so got on the trail to the Hideout. They saved on the traps and then went straight for the cave. They dealt with the first camp and wolves very well (Ranger used an ability on the wolves to make them not attack).

Things got out of hand when the human paladin (with a lighted torch) alerted the goblin on the bridge. They suffered the full brunt of two water deluges and received bludgeoning damage. The cleric pushed for a long rest because he was out of spells, the rest agreed although the paladin protested. However the goblins were already alerted (he was getting reinforcements to check out if the PC's survived). They decided to use the camp outside of the entrance for a resting place. I rolled a d6 to determine the ambush, and they got attacked mid-rest by 2 goblins. They had a ranger guarding the party, but the rest was surprised. I decided not to deal with putting on armor rules. Anyway they killed the goblins when the Ranger asked for a doubleshot with 2 arrows. I let him do it but he had to roll a 20, and he rolled a natural 20!!! Both goblins got instantly killed by the damage! After that they went straight for the Goblin Cave but they were quickly going through their spells/abilities. Now since they are a 3 man-party I lowered the amount of goblins to 4 (according to Kobold Fight Club a medium/hard encounter). The Ranger used to stealth and managed to suprise the goblins and attacked first, which was a good start for the combat, but after that everything went to hell. The players suddenly had bad rolls, and the goblin rolls were through the roof. Without anymore usable abilities they got overwhelmed and all died in the cave to 2 remaining goblins. There was no way I could justify getting them imprisoned or something after such an attack, and we were already over time so we decided to end it.


However my players enjoyed the session and they would definately play again. I learned a lot from my first DM experience, especially in the use of the tooling which nearly botched the evening because I was so adamant to get it to work. In the end pen-and-paper saved the day, but next time I will probably consider using Roll20. My players seemed to enjoy the visual aid, and the cool maps of Mike (the artist used for the campaign). We recognised that we forgot some stuff during the event: Two-Weapon 1 rerolls, Iniative order after surprise, Divine Smite. Hopefully next time will be a smoother event with the experience of this session.

Anybody have any DM recommendations for the next session?

I think it's actually easy to see justifying taking them alive. Klarg might want information on who sent them, and in addition to the Spider being a crafty Devil, Glass-staff may want to know who from Neverwinter is on his trail too.

When my group did this, we climbed up the back way to Klarg first and did the whole cave "backwards" it was much easier that way. We had two Fighters and a Rogue (the premades from the adventure) but still managed it without the DM having to adjust. Just goes to show you how things can go different ways.
 

aco175

Legend
We were playing a campaign, Age of Worms I think, and at 2nd or 3rd level we ended up fighting someone we were not ready for and all died. DM gave us an option of starting over with new PCs or just rewinding the game to before the fight and move on. We backtracked and moved on to no problem with the rest of the adventure.
 

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