5E SH D&D5 Lost Mine of Phandelver & Beyond!

mikeawmids

Villager
Knolan Knorth: Human hero/fighter, wields huge a two-handed maul with great enthusiasm (he took the Great Weapon Master feat at character creation, the maul does 2d6 bludgeoning damage and the feat allows him to re-roll either/both if they come up 1 or 2).

Korbin Nineflagons: dwarf barbarian. Formerly a ranking officer in the army, discharged in disgrace after he disobeyed a direct order that would have (in his opinion) likely resulted in the death of the men under his command. Now Korbin fights for himself and will accept orders from nobody else.

Gemma Stone: earth genasi wizard. Rest of her backstory is forthcoming.

Elgin Jist: gnome rogue with greasy black hair (painstakingly combed back into a ponytail) and a copper eye. His disfigurement gives Elgin a mean look and he has the disposition to match.

Session One

The adventure begins in the cirty of Neverwinter, where four novice adventurers are hired by a dwarven prospector called Gundren Rockseeker to escort a wagon-load of mining supplies to the frontier town of Phandalin. Most dwarves are taciturn by nature, but Rockseeker seems particularly cagey with the details of his new claim. He does indicate that his two older brothers have already gone ahead to secure the site and he will be joining them there shortly. Korbin asks if the brothers Rockseeker will need any further clearing out the mine, but Gundren also has this covered. He introduces his bodyguard, a lanky human called Sildar Hallwinter from the Lord’s Alliance, whose long hair has turned prematurely white. Rockseeker and Hallwinter will leave Neverwinter a few days prior to the party, advising they will await their arrival in the town of Phandalin.

Several days later, the heroes are also on route, trundling slowly along the Triboar Trail with the oxen-led wagon laden with Rockseeker’s provisions. Knolan is steering the beasts of burden, insofar as they deem to allow themselves to be steered and the rest of the group have ensconced themselves amongst the jumble of barrels and crates in the bed of the wagon. The road ahead is blocked by a pair of dark shapes. Knolan slows the oxen as he realises he is looking at a pair of dead horses, buzzing with flies. He dismounts and approaches warily, while the rest of the party prepare to defend the wagon. Knolan notices that the horses were felled by arrows and that someone has broken off the shafts to try and hide this fact from the casual observer. He is drawing breath to warn his companions when the ambush is sprung.

A motley band of four goblins emerge from the dense roadside foliage, two are busy stringing black arrows into their bows whilst the other two are brandishing chipped and rusty scimitars! Knolan raises his maul and wades into melee combat, whilst the rest of the party hunker down around the wagon and return fire at range. Three of the goblins are slain outright and the fourth is knocked unconscious. While Elgin is securing the prisoner with rope from the wagon, Knolan and Gemma check the area around the ambush site and find an empty scroll case bearing the initials G.R. The party surmise that their employer and his erstwhile bodyguard have met with misfortune on the road to Phandalin. None of the heroes speak goblin, so they cannot ask their prisoner for his input. However, they are able to pick up the goblins’ trail leading away from the road and into the forest. They pull the wagon off the trail and conceal it as best they can amidst some bushes, hoping that it will still be there when they get back.

Knolan leads the way, but slows the pace after stumbling upon the first tripwire. After this, they bring the goblin to the front of the line and it grudgingly points out the next (pit) trap before anyone falls in. The tracks lead to a dark cave mouth, from whence springs a shallow, fast-flowing stream. Elgin sneak up to take a closer look and hears goblins whispering in the bushes on the other side of the water. He tosses a stone into the stream to draw them out, then opens fire with his bow, taking them both out in two rounds. The rest of the party move up to join him and Gemma claims one of the goblin shortbows to give herself some ranged alternatives to depleting her spell slots or spamming her cantrips.

Just inside the cave, in a dark antechamber, three scraggly, underfed wolves had been chained to a large stalagmite jutting from the stony earth. Standing well back, the heroes heroically shoot the helpless animals dead and chain their goblin prisoner up next to the bodies. Elgin spots a narrow fissure in the rock and hears faint goblin chatter from above. He tries to climb, but the smooth stone defies his clever fingers and he takes a nasty tumble back to the ground.

Dusting himself off, Elgin continues scouting. He fails to spot the goblin perched on the wooden bridge overlooking the tunnel; but likewise, the goblin fails to spot him either. It does not fail to see the rest of the party as they amble after the oblivious gnome. Moments later, the sound of roaring water fills the tunnel as the goblins activate the flood trap up ahead. Elgin, Gemma and Korbin scramble into a side tunnel to avoid the deluge, but Knolan is swept away by the wall of water and unceremoniously dumped back outside the cave. Half drowned and decidedly unhappy, he picks himself up and trudges back inside to join the others, who are advancing cautiously towards the source of the flood water. A goblin pokes his head up to see if anyone is still standing. Elgin snaps off a shot and puts an arrow between the goblin’s eyes. The other two goblins rush off to rouse their bugbear boss.

The heroes find themselves facing off against the bugbear Klaarg, his furry friend Ripper and five assorted goblins. Gemma tries to fire her goblin shortbow, rolls a natural 1 and it immediately breaks. She resorts to casting Catapult and Acid Splash (Catapult is a really cool spell). Ripper rushes at Elgin, but the gnome crits with his rapier and kills the wolf with a single stab! This does not sit well with Klaarg, but he has his own problems as Knolan and Korbin press their assault. Ultimately, the party emerge triumphant, although Knolan is knocked unconscious during the fray. The party have a short rest around the bugbear’s fire before continuing the search for their missing employer.
 

mikeawmids

Villager
Session Two

The heroes cross the bridge where the lookout had been positioned (until Elgin shot him in the face). They enter a smoky cavern teeming with yet more goblins. Amongst the sea of snarling green faces, the heroes spot the familiar visage of Sildar Hallwinter, battered and bloodied but apparently alive. The goblin chieftain agrees to release the bodyguard if the party kill Klaarg and deliver his head. Conveniently, the party have already slain Klaarg and Korbin pops back to dismember the bugbear’s corpse. Inconveniently, the goblins decide not to honour their bargain and attack the heroes anyway. None of the goblins live long enough to regret this hasty decision. The party rescue Sildar and recover the stolen trade goods from the depths of the cave.

The heroes recover their wagon and continue on to Phandalin. They secure lodgings at the Stonehill Inn and deliver the trade goods to a man called Barthold who runs the general store. The merchant warns the group to watch out for the Redbrands, a gang of roguish ruffians terrorising the township. This becomes a common theme with almost everyone the party interact with until they decide to do something about it. Everyone in town knows that the Redbrands hang out in the Sleeping Giant tavern, but a retired adventurer living on an outlying farm reveals that their real base of operations is hidden in the cellars of the old, abandoned Tresandor Manor on the outskirts of the village.

Elgin approaches the Redbrands, claiming he represents the Zhentarim and wants to discuss business with their boss. His criminal background and surly demeanour sells the story and the thugs lead him to their lair. Reaching the entrance, the Redbrands insist on putting a bag over Elgin’s head, so that he does not learn the secret route they take to reach Glasstaff. Elgin well remembers what happened the last time he allowed himself to be blindfolded and swore never to let that happen again. As the thugs fumble with the bag, he slowly slips his daggers from his belt and lunges for the nearest opponent. His blades sink deep into the man’s side, inflicting a mortal wound. The other Redbrand calls for help and a further three ruffians emerge from an adjacent guard room to help subdue the truculent gnome. Elgin is knocked unconscious and dragged away….

Several hours pass and the rest of the heroes realises that something has gone wrong. The approach the ruins of Tresandor Manor and find the not-very-well-hidden entrance to the secret basement. Someone has made an effort to clear up the blood from Elgin’s ill-fated scuffle, but enough bloody footprints remain to lead the heroes to the hidden door in the western wall. This leads to a large, underground cavern split by a deep, dark crevasse. The crevasse is spanned by a pair of rickety wooden bridges. Knolan hears a scratchy voice in his head, begging for food. The party cannot spot the creature, but it claims that is can be sustained by either fresh meat or dark secrets. Without waiting for permission, the unseen creature starts rifling through Knolan’s memories and picks out a few juicy morsels. Knolan experiences a flashback from his youth, of the jealousy he felt when his older brother became an adventurer and no longer had any time for him. He remembers the shame of cutting the straps on his brother’s shield and hearing how it had failed at a crucial moment, resulting in serious injury for his brother and the death of a party member he had been defending. The unseen creature seems pleased with this secret and directs the party toward the secret door leading to the prison.

The heroes find the secret door where their sinister benefactor promised it would be and warily advance along the dark passage beyond. They enter a crypt littered with bones that immediately reform into argumentative skeletons! The heroes defeat the skeletons but make enough noise doing so that they alert the Redbrands in the next room, who prepare a hasty ambush. Knolan and Korbin are both incapacitated in the melee, leaving just Gemma standing when the dust settles. The prison contains two locked cells; one is occupied by a weeping woman and her two traumatised children, the second is occupied by her dead husband’s body and a battered gnomish rogue. Gemma melts through the bars with acid splash and releases the prisoners. Knolan and Korbin regain consciousness and the group unsteadily stagger back to Phandalin to recover.

(I realised later that the fight with the Redbrands had been so tough because I accidentally read their AC as 16 instead of 14).

However, the party are unable to enjoy the benefits of a long rest as a group of four Redbrands come looking for them in the middle of the night and smash their way into the Stonehill Inn in pursuit of revenge for their fallen brothers!
 

mikeawmids

Villager
Session Three

The party’s rest is rudely interrupted by the sound of a violent altercation in the common room of the inn. A small band of vengeful Redbrands have come looking for the trespassers who invaded their headquarters. They are threatening the innkeeper for information about his guests. All that racket also wakes up Sildar Hallwinter, who wades into the fray wielding his trusty longsword. Now that their AC has been corrected, the heroes make short work of the ruffians. The last thug realises that things are not going well for team Redbrand and makes a run for it, but Elgin takes careful aim and shoots the coward down before he can get away. Most of the ruffians are killed outright, but Sildar makes a point of dealing non-lethal damage, leaving one Redbrand alive to answer his questions. The party learn that the leader of the gang is a wizard called Glasstaff who turned up a few months back. The description of this wizard leads Sildar to believe it is Iarno Albrek, the same man he was sent to Phandelver to find.

Sildar offers to stand watch while the heroes complete a long rest, but the remaining Redbrands do not mount a second offensive and the night passes uneventfully. In the morning, the heroes enjoy a hearty breakfast and help tidy up some of the damage from the night before. Then they gear up and return to the Redbrand headquarters to finish off the gang.

The Redbrands have mounted their defence at the crevasse where Knolan and the others encountered the unseen whisperer. A bugbear has been positioned at each bridge across the gap and several more human thugs linger in the background. Korbin rages and charges across the nearest bridge, failing to notice it has been rigged to collapse. He lands amidst a jumble of mouldering bones at the bottom of the deep crevasse. An emaciated figure with one huge, sickly green, glowing eyeball looks up in surprise as the dwarf tumbles into his gristly domain. Above, Gemma casts grease on the one remaining bridge, but the bugbear manages to retain his footing on the slippery crossing. The two Redbrands decide it will be quicker to jump across the 10ft gap. One makes it, the other misjudges the distance and joins Korbin at the bottom of the hole. Sildar leaps across the other way to engage the bugbear on the opposite side of the crevasse.

The second bugbear charges to reach Knolan, shoving his own comrade into the crevasse in order to reach the human fighter. Down in the pit, Korbin fights the two Redbrands, while the nothic casts his rotting gaze upon all three of them, hitting his own allies more often than not. Were Korbin not consumed with mindless berserker fury, he might have been more disturbed by the sight of grey flesh sloughing from his opponent’s bones in sodden sheets. After dealing with the Redbrands, Korbin turns his indiscriminate rage upon the nothic, attacking recklessly to inflict great damage!

Redbrand reinforcements (two more thugs and another bugbear) appear from the north (they had been guarding the crypt area until they heard the sounds of combat). The heroes defeat all enemies on the battlefield, although Knolan is knocked unconscious yet again. After the red mists clear, Korbin realises the bottom of the crevasse is the sight of an ancient battleground, where a single swordsman held off a horde of savage orcs before finally succumbing to their greater numbers. The bones of the doomed warrior still lie where he fell, gripping the hilt of an enchanted longsword. Sildar remembers the name of the blade is ‘Talon’ and Knolan claims the blade and vows to avenge the fallen hero on the next orcs he chances upon in the wilderness. The rest of the dungeon is empty, the Redbrands having spent their forces in the battle for the crevasse. There is no sign of Glasstaff, who seems to have fled. Sildar curses, but is mollified by the sight of all the lovely loot that the party gather from the Redbrand’s treasury. The heroes also find a note addressed to Lord Albrek, implicating him in the abduction of the dwarven prospectors. He was acting on the orders of someone calling themselves ‘The Black Spider’. The note mentions a ruined castle to the north of Phandalin, where Gundren Rockseeker and his two brothers may still be being held.

(The players advanced to level 3 at the end of this session. Knolan became a Fighter 3 [Champion], Elgin became a Rogue 3 [Assassin], Korbin became a Barbarian 3 and chose the Path of the Berserker and Gemma became a Wizard 3 in the school of evocation.)
 

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