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We D&D- LMoP Complete & Hoard of the Dragon Queen #023 The Hunger of Hadar.

Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Three or so years ago I stopped playing D&D with people I met on the interweb, I was fed up of players having too many other commitments (I realised even at the time that this was fairly unreasonable of me), of not knowing who was going to be in game each coming session- no matter how many e-mails etc. got sent and promises made. I gave up on Fantasy Grounds and… well, that was that.

Or so I thought.

Then, maybe six months later I bumped in to a friend (Pete) I used to DM back in the day, he introduced me to another friend of his (Rob) that I had met maybe once before- another gamer. We talked about D&D a lot, and the fact that we had no-one to play with, maybe we could get a little game going with just the three of us.

Then a strange thing happened, Rob’s wife Sandy played a couple of one-off scenarios with us, and she liked it. She liked it so much that she persuaded Jackie, Pete’s partner to give it a go.

That was thirty months ago- we’ve played 98 sessions of D&D since then (as of 21st Nov 2018), it’s like… it’s like… well, not all of my dreams have come true but D&D-wise I’m sorted, and sated.

It helps of course that my gaming friends, like me, are also rated mature, we’re not yet fogies (not quite), but we’re all in our late 40s or early 50s. We have a bit more time to spare- I’ll be semi-retired in the New Year (Woo hoo!)

So, this is a story hour of sorts- less of an in-game narrative, more of a DMs PoV of events- which, fingers-crossed, may make it easier to sustain, to keep on posting. It also helps that a lot of the games I am going to be talking about here have obviously already played out.

I’m posting this stuff here because I love ENWorld and although I am more of a lurker in the shadows here these days, I do want to contribute- I have something to say.

I’m not sure what you (the reader) are going to get out of these posts, although if you are DMing the modules we’re playing then hopefully there’ll be plenty of ideas that you can steal, or else things you should avoid (when things go bad). At the very least anyone reading this will hopefully get some ideas about how to construct a pathway through these adventures, particularly if you are new to the DMing malarkey.

Obviously if you’ve already DMed these modules then this narrative may serve to remind you of those heady times, and make you chuckle or wince a little as this DM falls in to the same traps that you did on your journey.

I’m not an expert (by any stretch of the imagination) but I’m fairly certain that after 30+ years of DMing I can, with the help of a handful of good players, make an adventure come alive- make it a fun experience for all concerned.

But don’t take my word for it, read on- and judge for yourself.

Last bit, I’m a lecturer by trade so forgive me if I sound like I am trying to teach some of the time- it’s a perennial problem, it’s not meant to be patronising, just points to consider for experienced and neophyte DMs alike.

WARNING

Obviously there are going to be spoilers, but that’s not the real problem- asides, that’s going to be the issue, I may go off on one as and when the mood takes me. Forgive me.

Cheers

Goonalan
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
WORK IN PROGRESS


PCs in Game.



Scenario #1 Lost Mine of Phandelver.

Adventuring Party: The Blessed Avengers.


Elvis Pickersgilly (played by Jackie) Male Forest Gnome Rogue (Spy).
Adventuring Party:
The Blessed Avengers.

Elvis is a weasel-faced, sneering, mischievous (and worse) little bugger, whose moral-compass was mislaid many years ago- possibly many generations ago. Elvis is out to fill his pockets, and to make anyone that threatens him bleed.

Elvis is introduced to Myrium & Sildar by Halia Thornton, a hard-talking but pleasant older lady who runs the Phandalin Miner’s Exchange, with a rod of iron- so it is said. Halia is also a member of the Black Network, that’s right- whisper it… the Zhent. Elvis is given the task of accompanying Myrium and friends wherever they go, and then reporting back to Halia everything that the adventurers discover- the gnome is in the Zhent gang too.

Adventure: Lost Mine of Phandelver.
Session #3 Level 2 Zhentarim member, joins the Blessed Avengers in Phandalin to replace fallen adventurer.
Session #6 Level 3 Defeat the Redbrands and save Phandalin from the mercenaries turned bandits.
Session #10 Level 4 Defeat the Green Dragon at Thundertree, and befriend Reidoth the Brown.
Session #14b Level 5 Defeat the Black Spider and clear out Wave Echo Cave for the Rockseekers.


Flint Chippins (played by Pete) Male Hill Dwarf Barbarian (Criminal).
Adventuring Party:
The Blessed Avengers.

Flint is a ne’er-do-well itinerant thug, a paunchy middle-aged dwarf with bad jailhouse tattoos (in many ways he resembles Pete). He has spent the last three decades drifting down the Sword Coast from the frozen north, moving on when he has outstayed his welcome- and thus keeping one step ahead of the law. He is dirty, (very) angry and forthright- a career as an adventurer represents his final chance for glory (for ‘glory’ read money, he needs a hefty payday). Flint has debts, and people who are looking for him in order to make him pay…

Adventure: Lost Mine of Phandelver.
Session #2 RIP Killed by Goblins, bled out on the cold stone floor.


Gaukus Grom (played by Pete) Male Dragonborn Sorcerer (Outlander).
Adventuring Party:
The Blessed Avengers.

Gaukus is an intensely serious, somewhat dour, dragonborn with silver dragon ancestry. Something he is justifiably proud of- honour is vital to Gaukus- his word is bond.

Gaukus is introduced to Myrium & Sildar by Sister Garaele, an elven cleric of Tymora, and on the quiet a member of the Harper’s Guild. Gaukus, who is studying ancient texts at Garaele’s shrine, is asked to help Myrium. The dragonborn swears to provide what aid he can.

Adventure: Lost Mine of Phandelver.
Session #3 Level 2 Harper's Guild member, joins the Blessed Avengers in Phandalin to replace fallen adventurer.
Session #6 Level 3 Defeat the Redbrands and save Phandalin from the mercenaries turned bandits.
Session #10 Level 4 Defeat the Green Dragon at Thundertree, and befriend Reidoth the Brown.
Session #14b Level 5 Defeat the Black Spider and clear out Wave Echo Cave for the Rockseekers.


Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander (Acolyte).
Adventuring Party:
The Blessed Avengers.

Myrium is a headstrong, beautiful young woman with cascading blonde hair. After her time at the seminary she worked with the poor and downtrodden in Neverwinter, bringing succour and enlightenment. Myrium always sees the best in people. She believes that she is destined to serve Lathander as an adventuring priestess, holding back the darkness.

Myrium is the only child of Sildar and Renee (deceased) Hallwinter. Sildar is not at all happy about Myrium’s new career but promised his wife- before she died, that he would not stand in their daughter’s way.

Adventure: Lost Mine of Phandelver.
Session #3 Level 2 Escapes from Cragmaw Goblin lair rescuing Sildar Hallwinter (her father), all of her comrades dead, makes it to Phandalin.
Session #6 Level 3 Defeat the Redbrands and save Phandalin from the mercenaries turned bandits.
Session #10 Level 4 Defeat the Green Dragon at Thundertree, and befriend Reidoth the Brown.
Session #14b Level 5 Defeat the Black Spider and clear out Wave Echo Cave for the Rockseekers.


Nimbus (played by Jackie) Female Tiefling Rogue (Charlatan).
Adventuring Party:
The Blessed Avengers.

Nimbus is young, lithe and agile, and beautiful. She’s cautious and quiet- reserved even. She is Neverwinter born and bred. Nimbus knows of Myrium only slightly, she lifted the priestess’s purse once. Of late her roguish ways have come to the attention of one of the Thieves’ Guilds in Neverwinter, the Shoremen, adventuring represents a chance for her to escape Neverwinter and explore new horizons, while getting paid for doing so.

Adventure: Lost Mine of Phandelver.
Session #3 RIP Killed by Goblins, bled out on the cold stone floor.


Shagga, son of Dorf (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Paladin of Kord (Outlander).
Adventuring Party:
The Blessed Avengers.

Shagga is a very large slice of holy half-orc, fair and even minded- and surprisingly a looker, in a rough-and-ready build-them-big sorta way. He doesn’t say much but he’s all action. His favourite saying being “I am Shagga, son of Dorf”, mainly because Rob loves GoT, and loves delivering the line.

Shagga is introduced to Myrium & Sildar by Daran Edermath, an ex-adventurer and member of the Order of the Gauntlet. The half-orc paladin visits with Daran every now and then, to catch up on old times and also to receive any Gauntlet orders, or gossip. Right now, Shagga’s orders are to help Myrium, and having been introduced to the beautiful priestess of Lathander he is very keen to help her (out of her armour). It would be fair to say from the get-go that he is smitten, which is handy because in real life Shagga (Rob) and Myrium (Sandy) are partners.

Adventure: Lost Mine of Phandelver.
Session #3 Level 2 Order of the Gauntlet member, joins the Blessed Avengers in Phandalin to replace fallen adventurer.
Session #6 Level 3 Defeat the Redbrands and save Phandalin from the mercenaries turned bandits.
Session #10 Level 4 Defeat the Green Dragon at Thundertree, and befriend Reidoth the Brown.
Session #14b Level 5 Defeat the Black Spider and clear out Wave Echo Cave for the Rockseekers.


Shah Mah’ha (played by Rob) Male Eladrin Wizard (Noble).
Adventuring Party:
The Blessed Avengers.

Shah Mah’ha dresses in the finest adventuring gear money can buy and is spotlessly clean. He is tall, very handsome and a charmer, although arrogant by nature- the noble eladrin thinks that high elves are country bumpkins, the other ‘lesser’ races are almost beyond his notice. Dwarves are unspeakably dirty and vile- which if Flint is anything to go by is an accurate assessment.

Shah is slumming it, having arrived by ship from far off lands, he has set himself the task of becoming a great and powerful mage, so that he can return to his homelands and claim his rightful place. In reality Shah is the second son of a very minor noble family, and suitably unhappy (and frustrated) with his lot.

While in Neverwinter he has failed repeatedly to hire on with numerous ‘adventuring’ groups in the last two months or so, finally resorting to paying Gundren to join this group. Side note- Shah believes that he is the god’s gift to the fairer sex (his words), and thus tries it on all the time.

Adventure: Lost Mine of Phandelver.
Session #3 RIP Killed by Goblins, bled out on the cold stone floor.



Scenario #2 Hoard of the Dragon Queen.

Adventuring Party: The Brothers of the First Light (and the Extras).


Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter (Soldier).
Adventuring Party:
The Brothers of the First Light.

Big Bad Bobby, as he’s sometimes (affectionately) known is a large slice of Greenest Guard, a six foot two thick-set man with a voice like a foghorn, just how Pete likes his PCs.

SECRET: Bobby, at present, is hiding well the fact that his wife and kids are still unaccounted for, he watches from the walls of the Greenest Keep while his home town burns, thinking most likely his family are already dead. The thought is like a knife in his heart, and thus he volunteers to join the elite team- to find his family (dead or alive) or to make the bastards pay.

Adventure: Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Session #18 (#004) Level 1 Joins the Brothers of the First Light et al after the death of Ray the Zealot.
Session #19 (#005) Level 2 The Cult of the Dragon raiders leave Greenest, the town is safe.
Session #22 (#008) Level 3 Camp Dragonclaw is infiltrated and information gathered, Leosin is rescued.
Session #24a (#010a) Level 4 Back to Camp Dragonclaw, the Dragon Nursey is investigated and prisoners taken, the Dragon Eggs destroyed.
Session #30 (#016) Level 5 The Cult loot arrives safely in Waterdeep, the Brothers of the First Light et al are still following the cache.
Session #35 (#021) Level 6 Castle Naerytar is taken- the Glorious Lizardfolk Revolution is a success.
Session #37 (#023) Level 7 To the Cloud Giant's flying ice castle, following Talis the White's orders- kill Rezmir.


Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander (Acolyte & ex-Dragon Cultist).
Adventuring Party:
The Brothers of the First Light.

A handsome, wiry half-elf who is much older than he looks. As with all the Brothers of the First Light, Lummins spent time as a member of the Dragon Cult, although he was only two years with the organisation- mostly running errands and attending fervent meetings in dark cellars. Leaving the cult was much easier for Lummins, he had spent little of his time on active duty and was not as committed to the cause as his colleagues, like Ray (Favric, as was). For the last three years Lummins has been shadowing Ray’s moves- travelling between Neverwinter and Waterdeep, a majority of his time has been spent in training for his present occupation.

Adventure: Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Session #19 (#005) Level 2 The Cult of the Dragon raiders leave Greenest, the town is safe.
Session #22 (#008) Level 3 Camp Dragonclaw is infiltrated and information gathered, Leosin is rescued.
Session #24a (#010a) Level 4 Back to Camp Dragonclaw, the Dragon Nursey is investigated and prisoners taken, the Dragon Eggs destroyed.
Session #30 (#016) Level 5 The Cult loot arrives safely in Waterdeep, the Brothers of the First Light et al are still following the cache.
Session #35 (#021) Level 6 Castle Naerytar is taken- the Glorious Lizardfolk Revolution is a success.
Session #37 (#023) Level 7 To the Cloud Giant's flying ice castle, following Talis the White's orders- kill Rezmir.


Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock (Zhent Agent & ex-Dragon Cultist).
Adventuring Party:
The Brothers of the First Light.

A beautiful headstrong woman who has always been drawn to great power. As with all members of the Brothers of the First Light, Lux was a member of the Cult of the Dragon. She joined the organisation in Waterdeep for the simple reason that she wished to quickly develop her own powers- the cult seemed to Lux to offer a way for her to pursue her agenda. For similar reasons she also joined the Zhentarim, serving the Black Network in a variety of ways. Lux has a cruel streak, although now (of course) she has seen the light of Lathander. The last three years have seen a change in Lux- a voice whispers to her and feeds her desire for power. She believes she has been chosen, and that some eldritch entity beyond her understanding is calling out to her. While she worships Lathander she also pays attention to the strange voice in her head. Lux is however ultimately out for herself.

Adventure: Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Session #19 (#005) Level 2 The Cult of the Dragon raiders leave Greenest, the town is safe.
Session #22 (#008) Level 3 Camp Dragonclaw is infiltrated and information gathered, Leosin is rescued.
Session #24a (#010a) Level 4 Back to Camp Dragonclaw, the Dragon Nursey is investigated and prisoners taken, the Dragon Eggs destroyed.
Session #30 (#016) Level 5 The Cult loot arrives safely in Waterdeep, the Brothers of the First Light et al are still following the cache.
Session #35 (#021) Level 6 Castle Naerytar is taken- the Glorious Lizardfolk Revolution is a success.
Session #37 (#023) Level 7 To the Cloud Giant's flying ice castle, following Talis the White's orders- kill Rezmir.


Ray the Zealot (played by Pete) Male Human Paladin of Lathander (Spy & ex-Dragon Cultist).
Adventuring Party:
The Brothers of the First Light.

Six feet tall and thick set, a natural leader with a barking voice. As with all members of the Brothers of the First Light, Ray (or as he was known back then- Favric) was a member of the Cult of the Dragon. He joined the organisation for the thrill of it all- recruited in the backstreets of Neverwinter, he was a Dragon Cultist for seven years, until his conversion by Myrium the Blessed. Ray has seen things and done things that he is now terribly ashamed of. For the last three years Ray has spent his time travelling between Neverwinter and Waterdeep, at first training with and then working for the Church of Lathander, he has also spent considerable time at Helm’s Hold, and there developed a more martial aspect to his religious beliefs, gaining the moniker- Ray ‘the Zealot’.

Adventure: Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Session #17 (#003) RIP Killed by Cultists & (mostly) Kobolds, attempting to secure the Mill in Greenest.


Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard (Entertainer & ex-Dragon Cultist).
Adventuring Party:
The Brothers of the First Light.

A stick thin, tall (six foot six) emaciated figure, fond of jokes and when the occasion suits- story-telling, singing and other entertainments. Raised on the rough dockside streets of Neverwinter, Watt survived by being smarter, and quicker (with jokes or honeyed words) than others, he thus avoided being a victim. As with all members of the Brothers of the First Light, Watt was a member of the Cult of the Dragon. He joined the organisation in Neverwinter for the simple reason that it offered him a way out of his desultory existence, he previously made money as a street-hawker and story-teller. For the last three years he has drifted, earning money on the streets and Inns of the great cities on the Sword Coast, he has however during this time been perfecting his art, and gathering information.

Adventure: Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Session #19 (#005) Level 2 The Cult of the Dragon raiders leave Greenest, the town is safe.
Session #22 (#008) Level 3 Camp Dragonclaw is infiltrated and information gathered, Leosin is rescued.
Session #24a (#010a) Level 4 Back to Camp Dragonclaw, the Dragon Nursey is investigated and prisoners taken, the Dragon Eggs destroyed.
Session #30 (#016) Level 5 The Cult loot arrives safely in Waterdeep, the Brothers of the First Light et al are still following the cache.
Session #35 (#021) Level 6 Castle Naerytar is taken- the Glorious Lizardfolk Revolution is a success.
Session #37 (#023) Level 7 To the Cloud Giant's flying ice castle, following Talis the White's orders- kill Rezmir.


The Extras-


Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid (Emerald Enclave Agent).
Adventuring Party:
Hoard of the Dragon Queen Secondary (Spare) Character.

Derek is small (four feet eleven), fat, bald and getting on a bit- he’ll be six score and two on his next birthdaymass. Derek is proper country folk, “I wuz cobbin lumps at sum scraw badgers till Father Applemash cum callin’. Roiks! I’ll ‘ave ‘em! I sez to ‘e.” That’s the kind of thing Derek says a lot, no-one has a clue what he is on about, even the other country folk hereabouts. Derek has lived in the vicinity of Greenest all of his days.

SECRET: Derek has been an informant and member of the Emerald Enclave for the last three decades. He has one other terrible (and sad) secret- Derek was orphaned at the age of five, his family was killed by a Green Dragon, long enough ago for people to have forgotten. Since that day Derek has made it his life’s ambition to know everything there is to know about dragons, and in particular Green Dragons- he’ll be ready next time one of the bastard’s shows up. Derek is a Dragon Scholar.

Adventure: Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Session #19 (#005) Level 2 The Cult of the Dragon raiders leave Greenest, the town is safe.
Session #22 (#008) Level 3 Camp Dragonclaw is infiltrated and information gathered, Leosin is rescued.
Session #24a (#010a) Level 4 Back to Camp Dragonclaw, the Dragon Nursey is investigated and prisoners taken, the Dragon Eggs destroyed.
Session #30 (#016) Level 5 The Cult loot arrives safely in Waterdeep, the Brothers of the First Light et al are still following the cache.
Session #35 (#021) Level 6 Castle Naerytar is taken- the Glorious Lizardfolk Revolution is a success.
Session #37 (#023) Level 7 To the Cloud Giant's flying ice castle, following Talis the White's orders- kill Rezmir.


Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter (Soldier).
Adventuring Party:
Hoard of the Dragon Queen Secondary (Spare) Character.

Harald, an experienced ex-watch sergeant, now older (and much fatter), he has retired at last, and to the relative peace and quiet of Greenest. He has never married and has no relatives south of Mirabar- and quite frankly he’s glad about that.

SECRET: Harald, as it turns out, is the one (and only) legitimate son and heir of Shieldmaiden Gazunda Hardaxe, who slew the terrible Red Dragon Arcanthraxus, and the fearsome Blue Dragon Cyclosophate, and… she was busy was Gazunda, right up until her mortal end. Harald is certain however that no-one in Greenest has ever heard of his famous mother, and for that he is extremely grateful, he can at last live his life in peace.

Adventure: Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Session #19 (#005) Level 2 The Cult of the Dragon raiders leave Greenest, the town is safe.
Session #22 (#008) Level 3 Camp Dragonclaw is infiltrated and information gathered, Leosin is rescued.
Session #24a (#010a) Level 4 Back to Camp Dragonclaw, the Dragon Nursey is investigated and prisoners taken, the Dragon Eggs destroyed.
Session #30 (#016) Level 5 The Cult loot arrives safely in Waterdeep, the Brothers of the First Light et al are still following the cache.
Session #35 (#021) Level 6 Castle Naerytar is taken- the Glorious Lizardfolk Revolution is a success.
Session #37 (#023) Level 7 To the Cloud Giant's flying ice castle, following Talis the White's orders- kill Rezmir.


Hard Bonk (played Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk (Criminal).
Adventuring Party:
Hoard of the Dragon Queen Secondary (Spare) Character.

An oddity, a placid and peaceful half-orc- Hard Bonk is sleight (five foot two), and nothing much to look at, and yet he is lightening quick and with a punch that can stop a mule. It’s all to do with his ‘chi’, or so he says- when he speaks at all. Hard Bonk was saved from savagery by a wandering monk- Leosin Erlanthar, who the half-orc served (or at least followed and imitated) for some considerable years after, eventually badgering Leosin to share the secrets of his monkish ways. Hard Bonk after completing his training went away from his master- to ‘visit’ the Sword Coast, he has wandered the highways and byways for the past year or so.

SECRET: Leosin has sent urgent word for Hard Bonk to meet him in Greenest, it seems it is time for the half-orc to pay his debt to his master.

Adventure: Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Session #19 (#005) Level 2 The Cult of the Dragon raiders leave Greenest, the town is safe.
Session #22 (#008) Level 3 Camp Dragonclaw is infiltrated and information gathered, Leosin is rescued.
Session #24a (#010a) Level 4 Back to Camp Dragonclaw, the Dragon Nursey is investigated and prisoners taken, the Dragon Eggs destroyed.
Session #30 (#016) Level 5 The Cult loot arrives safely in Waterdeep, the Brothers of the First Light et al are still following the cache.
Session #35 (#021) Level 6 Castle Naerytar is taken- the Glorious Lizardfolk Revolution is a success.
Session #37 (#023) Level 7 To the Cloud Giant's flying ice castle, following Talis the White's orders- kill Rezmir.


Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue (Criminal).
Adventuring Party:
Hoard of the Dragon Queen Secondary (Spare) Character.

A local nuisance- the slight and swarthy halfling is a one-woman crime-wave. Hotlips grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, in a ramshackle abode in the poorest part of town, and to an alcoholic father. Hotlips (a moniker she gained from her incessant chatter- at least that’s what she tells people) never stood a chance, she has however been educated well in the school of hard-knocks, she is (by her own admission) useful in a fight. The halfling terror is hard to pin down, and even when disarmed she can (most times) talk herself out of trouble.

SECRET: Hotlips loves Greenest, and yet above all things she hopes one day to leave the place- when her family’s farm was raided (and destroyed) by orcs (when she was very young) and the Houlihan’s had to flee they found succour in Greenest, the people took them in- gave them food and (fairly squalid) shelter. She would die to save Greenest, although she’s reluctant to let anyone know this, it would mess with her tough-woman image.

Adventure: Hoard of the Dragon Queen.
Session #19 (#005) Level 2 The Cult of the Dragon raiders leave Greenest, the town is safe.
Session #22 (#008) Level 3 Camp Dragonclaw is infiltrated and information gathered, Leosin is rescued.
Session #24a (#010a) Level 4 Back to Camp Dragonclaw, the Dragon Nursey is investigated and prisoners taken, the Dragon Eggs destroyed.
Session #30 (#016) Level 5 The Cult loot arrives safely in Waterdeep, the Brothers of the First Light et al are still following the cache.
Session #35 (#021) Level 6 Castle Naerytar is taken- the Glorious Lizardfolk Revolution is a success.
Session #37 (#023) Level 7 To the Cloud Giant's flying ice castle, following Talis the White's orders- kill Rezmir.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver #0 Character Creation.

What’s this then?


This is a write up of the D&D 5e Starter Set adventure- Lost Mine of Phandelver, a mixture of Fantasy Grounds sessions and real-world pen & paper games. Oddly we sometimes get much more done on Fantasy Grounds, the simple explanation being when we get to together other events often get in the way- children, family, alcohol and the politics of the day. This first adventure is obviously complete, all I have to do is write it up from my copious notes (and the Chat file on Fantasy Grounds), and then post it here.

Just a note to say that there’s a bit of story to be had here, but more often a reflection (from the DM’s PoV) of what happened- where the adventurers went and what they did, and the various way in which I tried to help/hinder or else kill them, that kind of thing. I’m not going to go in to lots of detail- no blow by blow battles (although), just the facts. That’s not to say there won’t be a little humour to be found here and there- usually at my expense.

Who are they?

A quick word about the players, not the PCs, but the players themselves- Pete (playing Flint Chippins) & Rob (playing Shah Mah’ha) have been playing D&D (and other RPGs) for a while now, Rob for the last decade or so- off and on, while Pete has been playing since dinosaurs ruled the Earth. So, for a while then. I used to be Pete’s DM of choice (so he tells me, he’ll lie to your face), back when the dinosaurs were about.

Pete is partnered (in real life) by Jackie (playing Nimbus), while Rob is living in sin with Sandy (playing Myrium). Sandy has played maybe three sessions of D&D previously, this is Jackie’s first venture in to gaming. Keep this in mind when we get to the first session of actual play.

We are mature individuals (average age approx. 50).

In truth, we should know better.

And so on, to the PC creation bit.

How?

Each player was given an hour or so with me on Fantasy Grounds for character creation (including making up a bit of backstory) and the initial interview (roleplayed, briefly) with their patron, also a chance for them to ask any questions about the task ahead.

The PCs.

With just four players in game it was decided ahead of time, via e-mail, that the players would try to cover the core classes/skills needed- so a warrior-type, an arcane spell caster, a healer, and someone a bit sneaky who has access to rogue-like skills (like a rogue).

And so we have-


Flint Chippins (played by Pete)
Male Hill Dwarf Barbarian Lvl 1 (Criminal background)


Flint is a ne’er-do-well itinerant thug, a paunchy middle-aged dwarf with bad jailhouse tattoos (in many ways he resembles Pete). He has spent the last three decades drifting down the Sword Coast from the frozen north, moving on when he has outstayed his welcome- and thus keeping one step ahead of the law. He is dirty, (very) angry and forthright- a career as an adventurer represents his final chance for glory (for ‘glory’ read money, he needs a hefty payday). Flint has debts, and people who are looking for him in order to make him pay…


Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy)
Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 1 (Acolyte background)


Myrium is a headstrong, beautiful young woman with cascading blonde hair. After her time at the seminary she worked with the poor and downtrodden in Neverwinter, bringing succour and enlightenment. Myrium always sees the best in people. She believes that she is destined to serve Lathander as an adventuring priestess, holding back the darkness.

Myrium is the only child of Sildar and Renee (deceased) Hallwinter. Sildar is not at all happy about Myrium’s new career but promised his wife- before she died, that he would not stand in their daughter’s way.


Nimbus (played by Jackie)
Female Tiefling Rogue Lvl 1 (Charlatan background)


Nimbus is young, lithe and agile, and beautiful. She’s cautious and quiet- reserved even. She is Neverwinter born and bred. Nimbus knows of Myrium only slightly, she lifted the priestess’s purse once. Of late her roguish ways have come to the attention of one of the Thieves’ Guilds in Neverwinter, the Shoremen, adventuring represents a chance for her to escape Neverwinter and explore new horizons, while getting paid for doing so.


Shah Mah’ha (played by Rob)
Male Eladrin Wizard Lvl 1 (Noble background)


Shah Mah’ha dresses in the finest adventuring gear money can buy and is spotlessly clean. He is tall, very handsome and a charmer, although arrogant by nature- the noble eladrin thinks that high elves are country bumpkins, the other ‘lesser’ races are almost beyond his notice. Dwarves are unspeakably dirty and vile- which if Flint is anything to go by is an accurate assessment.

Shah is slumming it, having arrived by ship from far off lands, he has set himself the task of becoming a great and powerful mage, so that he can return to his homelands and claim his rightful place. In reality Shah is the second son of a very minor noble family, and suitably unhappy (and frustrated) with his lot.

While in Neverwinter he has failed repeatedly to hire on with numerous ‘adventuring’ groups in the last two months or so, finally resorting to paying Gundren to join this group. Side note- Shah believes that he is the god’s gift to the fairer sex (his words), and thus tries it on all the time.


Note, it’s always best (if you have the time) to get the players to come up with some motivation for them taking the leap in to an active adventuring career- Flint’s debts, Myrium’s crusade, Nimbus’ need to get out of Neverwinter and get on, and Shah’s desire for power. Apologies if I’m teaching you to suck eggs but the players should motivate themselves, the adventure is (most of the time) just the journey- the PCs are already primed and ready for change.

The Interview & the Task Ahead.

The PCs are interviewed individually in a backstreet tavern in Neverwinter by Gundren Rockseeker (dwarf merchant/miner), and his (meat-shield) factotum Sildar Hallwinter (grizzled ex-guard captain).

Sword Coast.jpg

The job is to transport a cart full of mining equipment and other supplies to Phandalin, a three-day journey. Gundren and Sildar will be leaving for Phandalin tomorrow, on fast horses, they are set to arrive at least a day ahead of the adventurers. During the initial interview Gundren also hints that there may be other tasks that the neophyte adventurers could help with- a little light exploring perhaps, the dwarf is however reluctant to go in to detail. Basically should part one (get the cart to Phandalin) go well, then Gundren may have some other work for the adventurers, more lucrative work- perhaps.

Note Sildar Hallwinter is the father of Myrium the Blessed.

Questions?

The adventurers are given the opportunity to ask any questions they have about the task facing them.

Shah & Nimbus have nothing much to ask, although Nimbus is keen to learn the rate of pay- 10gp each as it happens for getting the cart and contents safely to Phandalin.

Flint, in an inspired moment, claims to be a long lost cousin of Gundren, the merchant doubts this but cannot be 100% certain. Flint also plays heavily (during the interview) on the- ‘we’re all dwarves together’ line, he likes to build bridges before (inevitably & often violently) destroying them. He has, however, no questions to ask about the task.

Myrium, over the course of twenty or so minutes, asks more than twenty questions including a great many doozies that put Gundren (and me, your kindly DM) on the back-foot. These include-

What dangers lie ahead on the road to Phandalin?
What’s in the cart?
What’s the value of the items in the cart?
Why are you paying 40gp to transport goods of about the same value to Phandalin?
Why are you two going ahead- and not travelling with the cart which would be a much safer thing to do, and probably save you some money on hired help?
Why do you have to get back to Phandalin so quickly?
Who is waiting for you there that you need to get to in a rush?

And lots more…

Players, gah!

At the end of the fusillade Gundren (and the DM) is sweating, while Sildar is grinning like a loon- a father’s pride.

Eventually Gundren allows a little more of the plot to slip out- he and his two brothers (Tharden & Nundro) have found an old mine. His brothers are at present camped there, and eagerly awaiting his return- they desperately need food and supplies but cannot leave the mine in case someone else finds it.

The dwarf merchant further adds that should the PCs get the cart to Phandalin safely then they will be offered employment exploring the long-abandoned mine, this could prove to be lucrative work.

Myrium is delighted to make some headway- further stating that the ‘mine’ must have been lost for some time and possibly famed in its day for whatever it produced.

Gundren is suitably aghast- how did she know this, he eyes Sildar (Myrium’s dad) suspiciously.

Myrium points out that the dozy DM, in a previous e-mail, mentioned that the module we would be playing was called… the Lost Mine of Phandelver.

Paying attention it seems can get you places.

And so… to Phandalin.
 

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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #1: The Beginning of the End.

Flint Chippins (played by Pete) Male Hill Dwarf Barbarian Lvl 1
Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 1
Nimbus (played by Jackie) Female Tiefling Rogue Lvl 1
Shah Mah’ha (played by Rob) Male Eladrin Wizard Lvl 1


It starts with a three-day cart journey to Phandalin and quickly descends in to bickering, this is the first chance the adventurers have had to get acquainted, which very quickly goes horribly wrong. What is it with players- they roll up their PC, figure their backstory et al and then decide (on a whim) what variety of lunatic persona they are going to adopt?

Shah (eladrin wizard) calls Flint (dwarf barbarian) ‘vile and dirty’ in the opening 30 seconds of play, he also tries to grab Nimbus’ (tiefling rogue) ass, and when that doesn’t go well he makes a play for Myrium (human cleric). Flint meantime hits the bottle, gets pushy and then loud, and then later sleeps one off in the back of the wagon. Myrium slaps Shah, and then gets frustrated and goes all school-teachery (Sandy is a school-teacher in real life). Nimbus threatens to stab Shah- and draws her blade to prove it, and is talked down by Myrium, and then threatened by Flint (after Shah pays the dwarf barbarian over to his side).

In short chaos (almost real-world tears before bedtime), and they’ve only just met- the guys have gone all alpha male with the roleplaying and managed to piss off both of their real-life partners- who are new to the game, remember.

Ten minutes later and the swearing has stopped and the players are at last talking to each other, rather than shouting- a step in the right direction. And so…

Next a ten minute DM interlude with a bit of scene setting- the geography and weather, including a brief chat/encounter with a trio of road wardens- ‘the road ahead is clear’, and lastly sorting out a watch rota for the gang for their first night’s camping.

Then skip the next day’s travel and to the morning of day three, on the Triboar Trail with the Neverwinter Forest to the north, only half-a-day’s journey to Phandalin. Note, I moved the ambush site so that it was closer to the town, it just works better for me.

So, time for the ambush- the adventurers spot a pair of arrow studded dead horses in the road ahead, Flint and Nimbus go check it out. Things go badly quickly, there are two goblins hidden with bows and another two ready to charge out and mix it with the guys. Glory be the DM’s collective goblin stealth check is very high- surprise is achieved.

01 Goblin Ambush 75.jpg

Seconds later both Flint & Nimbus have taken multiple hits- an arrow strike, followed by a close encounter with a charging goblin’s scimitar. The result- Flint is barely standing, while Nimbus is unconscious and bleeding out.

Welcome to your first D&D session Jackie, your partner has upset you already, and the first roll your character is going to make is a death save (alright, after Initiative).

Flint turns the tide, beating the two charging goblins down dead, Shah’s Fire Bolt from the safety of the wagon ends another (with a Crit), while the last goblin standing attempts to flee the scene. Myrium (Sacred Flame) and Shah (another Fire Bolt) make difficult shots to take the miscreant down.

Note I’m playing the goblins fast and loose because- a) they’re on the look out for Dwarves- and Flint is 100% Dwarf and actually the first on the scene, and b) this is the guys first encounter, and there are noobs in our midst. The goblin attackers make poor decisions.

Myrium heals Nimbus, the rogue spends the entire fight (only four rounds) rolling death saves- she fails two of them, the priestess gets to her in the nick of time.

A rest stop is called.

The adventurers discover that the two dead horses were the mounts of their patron Gundren, and his bodyguard Sildar- Myriam’s father remember. The pair were ambushed yesterday, there are no signs of their bodies. Myrium is distraught (but keeps it together), Shah thinks about trying to comfort her but in real life Sandy (Myrium) snarls at her husband-to-be Rob (Shah). Flint finds the goblin’s trail, and then in a moment of reckless idiocy swears to follow it and to find Sildar and his ‘long lost cousin Gundren’ (still a lie).

Flint loves grandstanding, he’s a limelight thief.

The adventurers hide the cart as best they can and then head off, Nimbus leading the way. She locates a snare trap, and then a disguised pit trap- and is soon feeling a whole lot better about herself (and the game of D&D).

Thirty minutes later the goblin trail leads in to a clearing at the base of a rocky scarp, a dark cavern entrance ahead from which a shallow but fast running stream flows.

02 Goblin Lair Guards 75.jpg

Nimbus sneaks closer and spots two more goblins, hidden in the bushes to one side of the cavern entrance. She signals back to her compatriots. Flint attempts to creep forward to join her- not a resounding success. The goblin guards hear the dwarf coming, one charges and stabs up Flint (now badly wounded again). Nimbus leaps out of hiding and kills the second goblin. Shah’s Ray of Frost ends the other. The fight is won- and Jackie (playing Nimbus) now officially loves D&D.

Specifically, she loves Sneak Attack and has now got her confidence back, as it turns out she is (in her own words), ‘tougher than the stinky, and very rude, dwarf’ (aka her husband). Go girlfriend!

The adventurers retreat in to hiding quickly- wait a while watching the cavern entrance- nothing. They briefly discuss the need to take a goblin alive- they need info, if only to find out if (and where) Sildar and Gundren are located within. Myrium applies her healing touch to Flint, Shah Mah’ha feigns hurt in an effort to feel the beautiful priestesses’ hands upon him. Myrium uses some very hurtful and dirty words in reply.

Shah (Rob) is channelling Terry Thomas in-game, “I say… Ding-Dong!” He’s moved on from playing a creepy lascivious pervert to an up-for-it posh English dandy, and it’s working for him.

Some players, IMHO try too hard to make something new with their PCs personalities, or else throw everything at it from the get-go. My advice is to relax in to it- think of someone your PC is like, if it helps (and it probably will)- either someone famous, or that you know about (even only as a bunch of stereotypical, or not, behaviours) and then mould it around your PC. It doesn’t have to be someone famous of course, just someone you know well enough to mimic a little- your mad uncle, or the crazy kid that lives near the shops.

Back to the game.

Nimbus creeps in to the cavern and is immediately spotted (stealth ‘1’) by a trio of wolves located in an otherwise empty cavern close by. The fast-flowing shallow stream rushes down the inclined passage, ahead only darkness.

The wolves attempt to break free- they’re staked and chained. One of the trio escapes (strength check ‘20’) and leaps at Nimbus- she flees to hide behind Flint at the cavern entrance.

Jackie (Nimbus) is immediately rewarded for her ‘stinky dwarf’ comment, and when in doubt hides behind her real-life husband Pete (Flint- the aforementioned ‘stinky dwarf’).

03 Wolf Attack 75.jpg

A second wolf breaks free (I roll a second ‘20’), the pair rush for the exit and the dwarf barbarian there. Flint is bitten, he Rages and then flails incompetently- missing repeatedly (soon enough Pete is raging too). Myriam applies the last of her healing to the dwarf, Shah Mah’ha proves his worth and spreads a carpet of flames, his Burning Hands spell- incinerating one wolf and badly burning the other. Nimbus slices the injured beast down.

The last wolf in the chamber, still staked and chained, is eventually killed (also by Nimbus), after several more rounds of flailing and missing by Flint who just charges in to the beast- no tactics, he’s Raging remember.

And with that the first session comes to an end.

Jackie (Nimbus) loves the game, and the fact she is doing a lot of the wet work (slaying). Pete (Flint), her partner, kinda stomps off at the end of the session- we’ve had four rounds of the dwarf’s Rage and he hasn’t hit once. Rob (Shah) and Sandy (Myrium) are a little more relaxed about things but enjoying the fact that Nimbus and Flint seem to now be in competition.

A few days after the game Pete (Flint) gets in touch with me, he has a confession- he has played this scenario previously, although not a lot of it- it ended very badly. A TPK in the group’s second session at the hands of Klarg, the Bugbear, and his Goblin friends- which is where the guys are now.

Pete has a plan, and he badgers me- he’s insistent, and so foolishly I go for it… you’ll see next time.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
This is great fun!
Thanks very much appreciated, particularly at the start- Thanks.

And so...

We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #2 The End.

Flint Chippins (played by Pete) Male Hill Dwarf Barbarian Lvl 1
Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 1
Nimbus (played by Jackie) Female Tiefling Rogue Lvl 1
Shah Mah’ha (played by Rob) Male Eladrin Wizard Lvl 1


Flint (dwarf barbarian) is Raging you’ll remember and has so far not hit a single enemy (with four attacks), the wolves however are dead- alas the dwarf barbarian’s comrades are unable to calm him. In translation Pete, who plays Flint, is out to do something heroic/stupid (delete as appropriate- time will tell), he’s been looking forward to this all week.

The crazy dwarf spots, sniffs at (dramatically- he even acted this bit out), and then roars and scrambles up a narrow chimney exiting the chamber. Pete has played this scenario before remember, he talked me in to allowing this foolish course of action.

Flint emerges- screaming (he’s roleplaying this at volume 11), in to a much larger cavern chamber furnished with a roaring fire, several bedrolls and lots of crates and barrels. Also present- staring open-mouthed at the newly arrived ‘crazy’ dwarf, are a pair of goblins, a ferocious looking wolf (called Ripper), and an equally terrifying bugbear- Klarg, the leader of the Cragmaw Goblins. Flint (Pete) will have his revenge!

He charges in to melee.

And misses.

He spends his Inspiration Point.

And misses, again.

Back down below his three compatriots swear loudly, profoundly and profusely. Myrium (human cleric) scrambles up the chimney and to Flint’s side- eventually. Shah Mah’ha (eladrin wizard) beats her to it- he Fey Steps to the top of the climb (clever), and then drags himself up the last few feet. Only Nimbus (tiefling rogue- go figure) fails to make any headway up the narrow passage.

04 Klarg Attack 75.jpg

Shah Mah’ha’s second Burning Hands spell incinerates the two goblins and leaves the wolf smouldering, but alive- just. Flint still hasn’t landed a hit (Pete really is Raging).

The wolf bites Flint.

Klarg’s shouts and screams brings the three goblins in the next chamber in to the fight.

At last Flint smashes the badly injured wolf down.

Nimbus takes down another goblin- leaving Klarg and two goblins standing.

Seconds later Nimbus is cut down and left on the cold stone floor bleeding out (again).

Flint hits Klarg, the bugbear hits back.

Shah blasts one of the goblins dead with a Fire Bolt.

Shah repeats the trick, and there’s just a screaming Klarg left.

The bugbear attempts to surrender, Flint is having none of it and refuses to stop the fight- he insults Klarg some more and swings hard again, remember he’s Raging still.

Flint misses.

Klarg thumps Flint and ends the dwarf’s Rage instantly, the barbarian is left sprawled, unconscious and dying.

Nimbus meanwhile has passed three Death Saves in a row- stable, for now.

Shah hits again, another Fire Bolt, and at last Klarg falls.

The fight is won, however…

Myrium checks Nimbus (stable) and then Flint- her Spare the Dying cantrip instantly stabilises the reckless dwarf. She has no healing spells left. Shah quickly moves to the northern exit, he can hear goblin voices, and they’re coming this way.

DM note- there was another goblin drawn to the fracas earlier (the guy on the bridge), this fellow is however loyal to Yeemik, Klarg’s goblin rival. The miscreant has seen and heard, and then reported back. Yeemik and his friends are coming…

The players are having a little bit of a panic, and the recriminations have already started- Pete (Flint) is getting a real-world earful from Jackie (Nimbus), his wife. Their PCs however are both unconscious so I’m mostly ignoring this in-game.

Myrium quickly assesses their options, which are-

1) Find something in the chamber to help them to heal their unconscious colleagues (the DM indicates that this is a distinct possibility).

2) Dump their comrade’s bodies down the chimney, climb down themselves and then attempt to flee with them (difficult, and dangerous- particularly for the unconscious folk).

Shah comes up with another option-

3) Cut and run.

Myrium votes 1) and frantically searches the chamber, Shah Mah’ha votes 3), and moves to the chimney.

Myrium rolls a ‘19’ plus bonuses for perception.

She finds a chest, unlocked and with two labelled Potions of Healing within it (I should have put more potions in it), seconds later Nimbus and Flint are back on their feet, and the players- all of them- are grinning like fools, and ready for action.

Flint has almost been forgiven.

The dwarf barbarian kicks the dead body of Klarg, a lot.

At which point Yeemik (12 HP goblin) and his followers get close enough to start shouting the odds. The two groups exchange unpleasantries for a while. Yeemik lets the adventurers know that he has positioned another group of goblins at the bottom of the chimney (slight bluff, there’s one goblin guarding the bottom of the chimney). Yeemik demands that the adventurers surrender.

Also, during the back and forth chatter it becomes apparent that Yeemik has Sildar (Myrium’s father, remember) held prisoner elsewhere in the complex. Yeemik holds pretty much all of the cards, certainly all of the aces.

The adventurers are now however on a bit of a high, I even allow a little 10 minute break (ostensibly to refresh drinks) while they have a chat about what to do next. Nimbus and Flint are for the killing spree, Myrium has her doubts but Shah is coming over to the dark side, the eladrin has no spells to speak of (only Cantrips) but has not yet taken a wound.

The kindly DM lets the PCs know, after they ask- repeatedly, that there are probably only half-a-dozen goblin enemies facing them. And, as they asked so nicely, that should they manage to kill or incapacitate half of them, or else kill Yeemik then their enemies will surely retreat.

Red rag to a bull…

However, Yeemik and his followers are a little smarter than the other goblins the adventurers have faced (I know, cruel of me)- in Melee they employ a Move-Attack-Disengage-Move Away approach, for Ranged they Move-Fire-Move Away-Hide. Also the little buggers are not going to be lured in to Klarg’s chamber.

The guys are going to have to come to them.

And so, the adventurer’s attack, I even give them a surprise round because Myrium, now onside with the plan, convinces Yeemik (excellent deception roll) that the gang are going to surrender.

05 Yeemik Attack 75.jpg

The adventurers however miss all but one of their opening attack rolls- which is harder to do than you think, particularly with Advantage. The one hit is with Shah’s Fire Bolt- for one fire damage, so there’s that.

The enraged Yeemik orders his followers to “Destroy the Anterlopers!”

And so…

Myrium takes a javelin to the gut (a Crit) and sprawls unconscious and dying.

Shah stops another javelin- the wizard however is only wounded.

Flint, for want of anything better to do, Rages.

And continues to miss.

Myrium, miraculously rolls a ‘20’ for her first death save and is soon after back on her feet again.

Flint is hit by a javelin.

Nimbus cuts down a goblin- one dead. Two to go- or just kill Yeemik.

Note the goblins are hard to get to, scampering backwards and forwards, cutting and slicing while others throw javelins in to the mix.

Flint is slashed and cut down (another Crit)- he’s bleeding out again and dying (again).

Nimbus is hit by a javelin, she falls too.

Shah’s Fire Bolt ends another goblin- that’s two dead.

Myrium, now back on her feet and swinging hard (no spells you see) is slashed, she falls (again).

Yeemik leads the goblin charge and seconds later Shah’s down and dying.

TPK.

Or is it… and that’s the end of the second session.

Remarkably there’s very little in the way of recriminations, it’s all very subdued but the thing about the last fight was the guys made 12-15 attack rolls, only four of them hits. The goblins on the other hand didn’t miss much.

On reflection I could of course have gone much easier on them- more Healing Potions in the chest, the goblins retreat, or else one of the bad guys killed was Yeemik. But I didn’t.

I just thought, I guess, you got yourself in to this mess- I spent a good while warning Pete between sessions that it could happen again, another TPK, but he wanted to try- to put a little extra crazy in his guy.

Also, the second fight- with Yeemik and friends, the guys could have talked their way in to a better position, or even avoided it- they however collectively decided that combat was the way forward, in truth if their surprise attacks (or more of their other attacks) had hit then the goblins would have been done for.

The rest of the evening was spent rolling up new PCs. I am happy to report that none of them were in the mood for quitting, Jackie (Nimbus) was the most upset, she was just getting in to her tiefling rogue, of course everyone (eventually, and repeatedly) blamed Pete.

Which is as it should be (Mu-hahaha).
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #3 The Blessed Avengers.

Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 2


Myrium (human cleric) opens her eyes, all about her is in shadow- the fire glows rather than burns, she shivers- she has only the dead for company.

She quickly determines that all of her comrades have passed over, no signs of life- the chamber of Klarg the bugbear is pretty much as she last saw it, before she fell. Perhaps a little more haphazard, the place has been roughly searched.

DMs note- at the end of the fight (and the last session) there were four goblins left standing, one of them barely standing- Yeemik was down to 1 HP.

One hit point, that’s all that stood between victory and defeat, still the players were not to know this.

Until I told them, repeatedly.

There were also a lot of Death Saves at the end of the last session, and only Myrium managed to clock up three successes before three failures- for Flint (dwarf barbarian), Nimbus (tiefling rogue) & Shah Mah’ha (eladrin wizard) it’s the great hereafter. May Lathander light their path.

Back to the action, such as it is…

Note we played through some of this via e-mail between sessions.

Myrium gets to her feet, and after prayers, and healing- she cautiously explores the rest of the goblin caverns.

The place is deserted, she thinks… that is until she spots, in the last chamber she visits, the still breathing body of a tough grizzled ex-guard captain, Sildar Hallwinter, or as she knows him… dad.

Note the family resemblance in the image below.

06 Dad 75.jpg

Several hours later, after more tears, and more healing- and food & water, the Hallwinter family slowly, in the early dusk, make their way back along the goblin path to the Triboar Trail.

The ox and the supply cart have moved perhaps 500 yards, nothing has been touched.

Four hours later the pair arrive in Phandalin, hand over the cart and its contents to an old provisioner called Barthen, as Gundren had requested, and then started asking questions. The Hallwinter’s it seems are not for giving up.

More later about where Gundren is, keep reading.

Phandalin.jpg

Over the next few days the pair, between bouts of rest and recuperation- and on the down low, meet with concerned citizens of Phandalin- all is not well here (see later) and in the process they recruit fresh blood for the adventure.

The three new members of the group are-

Shagga, son of Dorf (played by Rob)
Male Half-Orc Paladin of Kord Lvl 2 (Outlander background)


Shagga is a very large slice of holy half-orc, fair and even minded- and surprisingly a looker, in a rough-and-ready build-them-big sorta way. He doesn’t say much but he’s all action. His favourite saying being “I am Shagga, son of Dorf”, mainly because Rob loves GoT, and loves delivering the line.

Shagga is introduced to Myrium & Sildar by Daran Edermath, an ex-adventurer and member of the Order of the Gauntlet. The half-orc paladin visits with Daran every now and then, to catch up on old times and also to receive any Gauntlet orders, or gossip. Right now, Shagga’s orders are to help Myrium, and having been introduced to the beautiful priestess of Lathander he is very keen to help her (out of her armour). It would be fair to say from the get-go that he is smitten, which is handy because in real life Shagga (Rob) and Myrium (Sandy) are partners.

Next…

Gaukus Grom (played by Pete)
Male Dragonborn Sorcerer Lvl 2 (Outlander background)


Gaukus is an intensely serious, somewhat dour, dragonborn with silver dragon ancestry. Something he is justifiably proud of- honour is vital to Gaukus- his word is bond.

Gaukus is introduced to Myrium & Sildar by Sister Garaele, an elven cleric of Tymora, and on the quiet a member of the Harper’s Guild. Gaukus, who is studying ancient texts at Garaele’s shrine, is asked to help Myrium. The dragonborn swears to provide what aid he can.

And lastly…

Elvis Pickersgilly (played by Jackie)
Male Forest Gnome Rogue Lvl 2 (Spy background)


Elvis is a weasel-faced, sneering, mischievous (and worse) little bugger, whose moral-compass was mislaid many years ago- possibly many generations ago. Elvis is out to fill his pockets, and to make anyone that threatens him bleed.

Elvis is introduced to Myrium & Sildar by Halia Thornton, a hard-talking but pleasant older lady who runs the Phandalin Miner’s Exchange, with a rod of iron- so it is said. Halia is also a member of the Black Network, that’s right- whisper it… the Zhent. Elvis is given the task of accompanying Myrium and friends wherever they go, and then reporting back to Halia everything that the adventurers discover- the gnome is in the Zhent gang too.

Jackie (formerly Nimbus) desperately wanted to play a rogue again, while Pete (formerly Flint) has swapped his bad to the bone barbarian for a dry and learned sorcerer, while Rob (formerly Shah) has gone a little the other way too- from a flighty eladrin wizard/womaniser to a dependable mooning half-orc paladin.

We’ll see…

DM note- obviously the three new characters don’t tell each other, or indeed anyone else, that they are members of the Order of the Gauntlet, Harper’s Guild and Zhentarim, respectively. This info is for you alone, and it’s safe to tell you because we’ve completed this adventure.

Oh, and Myrium is level two now also, and she may- or may not- be a member of the Lords’ Alliance, like her dad- Sildar Hallwinter.

And so again, back to Phandalin, and the present conundrum.

Phandalin.jpg

The adventurers, after much chatter, have two major issues-

1) Find Gundren.

Their dwarven patron is missing. Gundren’s importance is emphasised by Sildar, the ex-guard captain, he believes that Gundren (and his two brothers- Tharden & Nundro) have located Wave Echo Cave, the lost mine of Phandelver. Further explanations follow- Phandelver was the name of a pact between humans, dwarves and gnomes who together created a magical forge which allowed them to craft magic items. Alas a barbarian invasion of the Sword Coast half a millennium ago put paid to the Phandelver pact, and all those involved with it. The location of Wave Echo Cave was thus lost to time.

Sildar further reasons that a strong Phandalin would be a good thing, a buffer for the great cities of the Sword Coast. Sildar is a member of the Lords’ Alliance, a faction which seeks to bring order and security to the land, and gain access to the magical resources the lost forge could offer. The Lords’ Alliance is therefore offering a substantial reward for Gundren’s return.

Sildar, during his captivity overheard that the goblins were following orders from someone called the Black Spider, and that Gundren was deliberately targeted- it seems the Black Spider is also searching for Wave Echo Cave. It is therefore likely that Gundren has been taken to the Black Spider.

Alas little else is known, and after discreet enquiries no-one in Phandalin can add anything to the story, save more confusion- Tharden and Nundro, Gundren’s brothers, were last seen in town three weeks past. They too are, very likely, missing- sat tight somewhere awaiting Gundren’s return.

In short the adventurers have no clue what to do next to find Gundren.

2) The Redbrands in Phandalin.

A case of out of the frying pan and in to the fire, Phandalin is in the grip of the Redbrands- a mercenary company originally hired to provide security for the town. Of late the Redbrands have taken to demanding protection money from local businesses and roughing up those that fail to pay. Rumour has it the local carpenter- Thel Drendrar, has been murdered by these foul fellows, and his wife and children ‘disappeared’. The Redbrand problem needs resolving now.

The adventurers are provided with more details (and an offer of recompense).

Daran Edermath (ex-adventurer, Order of the Gauntlet) explains that the Redbrands are laired in the cellars beneath Tresendar Manor, the ruined great-house of a long dead local lord. The leader of the bandit gang is a villain called Glasstaff.

Sister Garaele (priestess of Tymora, and Harper) further encourages investigation of the Redbrands, convincing three of the four adventurers to do the right thing and free the people from the foul bandit’s shackles. The unconvinced adventurer (Elvis) nods along, happy to fake his concern for the foul and wretched townsfolk.

Jackie (Elvis, formerly Nimbus) spent the first two sessions badmouthing Flint for his antisocial ways, and then rolled up an antisocial bugger of her own.

Halia Thornton (owner of the Phandalin Miner’s Exchange, and Zhent) will pay handsomely for proof of Glasstaff’s demise, and also for exclusive access to any correspondence the Redbrand leader possesses. Halia believes a larger conspiracy is at hand.

The above facts are enlarged on (slightly) by various members of the local community- it seems that everyone wants the Redbrands gone.

Sildar further confesses that he is the second agent sent by the Lords’ Alliance to Phandalin, the first Iarno Albrek- a bearded human wizard, reported that he had arrived in the town three months past. His task was to set up a defence force. Iarno’s last message to his superiors was received just over two months ago. Sildar’s recent investigations have revealed that the wizard was last seen near Tresendar Manor, he fears the worst. Sildar will pay for Iarno to be found, alive or dead, and for his story to be told.

Much of the above information is gathered, distributed and discussed during a series of secret meetings in the back room of the Inn, during the meetings it also becomes apparent to all that Myrium is now ‘in charge’ of the group, furthermore the adventuring company have a name. Which is either- ‘The Blessed’, or, ‘The Blessed Avengers’, depending on who you ask. Three of the four adventurers think the name is great, the fourth- the new official surly bugger, Elvis, couldn’t give a rat’s ass.

Jackie, playing Elvis, is spamming the obnoxious button at times- it’s great fun to watch from this side of the DMs screen.

And so, early evening The Blessed Avengers pay a visit to a group of Redbrands who spend their time drinking in a spit and sawdust tap house called The Sleeping Giant.

And so back to the action.

The adventurers bust in on a quartet of Redbrands (you can tell they’re Redbrands, they wear red cloaks), Grista the dwarven proprietor of the tavern doesn’t want any trouble, but she’s unlikely to get her wish.

Insults are traded, the Redbrands are not up for answering questions- they are however keen for the adventurers to subsidise their earnings. In short, the conversation turns to armed robbery- with menaces. The peace doesn’t last.

07 Sleeping Giant 75.jpg

Elvis (gnome rogue) creates a Minor Illusion, the paralysing scream of a woman in terror, one of the Redbrands cowers beneath his table. The other three however take it in turns to stab Shagga (half-orc paladin), soon enough he’s bloodied.

Note Minor Illusion obviously shouldn’t leave one of the bad guys paralyzed in terror, however when something like this happens I (your mild-mannered DM) roll a d20 and interpret the results- low is bad for the Redbrands, high is good for them. I rolled a ‘1’, and so one of the Redbrand’s cowered in terror.

Elvis skewers a Redbrand with his rapier, Gaukus’ (dragonborn sorcerer) icy Breath Weapon finishes it off and wounds the other two. Myrium ends another with a mace to the skull- and then demands the last pair surrender. The terrified Redbrand continues to cower (he’s now suitably intimidated). The other swears a lot and then slashes Shagga again, the paladin hits back, hard- the previously feisty Redbrand surrenders.

Two dead and two captured- good work.

An hour or two later, after an extended chat with the prisoners, the adventurers have learned some very interesting things, such as- Glasstaff, the Redbrand leader, is a bearded human wizard- just like Iarno Albrek (the missing Lords’ Alliance agent). Note in-game none of the players seem to make the connection. Also, the Redbrands are working for a mysterious figure called the Black Spider.

Which, of course, makes the players sit up- it seems the Redbrand problem may also be the key to unlocking the mystery of where the missing Gundren Rockseeker resides.

Lastly the adventurers discover that the Redbrands have taken prisoners- the family of Thel Drendrar (the murdered carpenter) are being held within their lair below Tresendar Manor.

The prisoners are escorted to the cells located beneath the town hall, the mayor of Phandalin- Harbin Wester (a nervous ninny) objects, but is swiftly over-ruled by Sildar who has already taken possession of the town hall keys

The adventurers take time to make themselves look like wannabe Redbrands, donning the red cloaks and hiding any symbols of their faith, or station. Somehow in the midst of the dressing up game Elvis manages to persuade Shagga to wear a little eye shadow (who knows), the paladin is going for the half-orc armoured goth look.

Myrium slightly approves of the bad boy look.

Back to the action, and next stop the cellars of Tresendar Manor, after a sneaky investigation of the surface ruins, and so it goes…

The adventurers descend cautiously, Elvis sneaking a little way ahead, in to a well-provisioned cellar. A full cistern, barrels and crates of rations, all lit by a pair of torches. The place is clearly inhabited- there are two exits, a door to the north which the gnome investigates- it leads in to dark and dusty corridor, and a door to the west door- beyond which is silence. Elvis declares the chamber is clear the adventurers begin their search.

Note Elvis rolls a ‘1’ for his perception check, remarkably the gnome rogue has the same problem that Jackie’s previous PC Nimbus (tiefling rogue) had- her dice seem to be broken.

The adventurers make just enough noise to alert the three Redbrands resting up beyond the western door. The Redbrands file out- weapons drawn, the mouthiest of the three challenges the adventurers (who are wearing red cloaks and disguised as Redbrands, remember).

08 Redbrands Cellar 75.jpg

Myrium however has all the answers, the priestess explains that they were told to report here and to seek out Glasstaff. When pressed she describes Glasstaff (or rather Iarno Albrek, she’s a clever lady- none of the other adventurers picked up on this earlier) and states that they were hired three months past in Neverwinter, they’ve been recruiting allies in the city.

Two of the three Redbrands are convinced, the third is subjected to a personal appeal by Myrium (the beautiful priestess, remember), she has been on the road for last tenday with only a gnome, a dragonborn and a half-orc for company. After a chat with Glasstaff she will be looking for someone to show her a good time...

That gets her Advantage on her next roll as she drapes herself over the doubter.

Shagga seethes.

The wavering Redbrand is instantly convinced.

Moments later two of the now polite and attentive Redbrands show the adventurers through the secret door on the western wall, along a natural cavern passage and in to a much large natural cavern chamber, bisected by a deep dark crevasse. Cautioning against the use of the first bridge- it’s rigged to collapse the enamoured Redbrand confides, they continue on to the northern bridge and head over, exchanging pleasantries all the while.

09 Cecil the Nothic 75.jpg

The adventurers are half-way across the ‘safe’ rope and wood slated bridge when a voice suddenly whispers- “I know who you are”, the voice is followed by a sibilant giggle.

All four adventurers come to an abrupt halt- two of them realising immediately that the voice is in their heads only, looking down Myrium sees a shadow shift in the crevasse, this she points out to Gaukus who is also staring hard in to the dark. Meantime Shagga stands like a lighthouse, slowly turning- trying to figure where the voice is coming from; Elvis has his hand on his rapier- in a much more menacing pose, “Who are ya?” The gnome enquires loudly.

The voice, of course, belongs to Cecil (pronounced See-Sil, with all the whispering lisp I can give it). Cecil is a Nothic, and Nothic’s are a gift to DMs everywhere- you’d be hard pushed to make up something creepier than a Nothic. The one eyed telepathic mind-reading, secret snatching monster lairs within the crevasse, and he’s about to put the adventurers on the spot.

The two Redbrand guides meanwhile turn to see the performance, the nearest cautions- “Let’s get out of here, it’s… odd, I sometimes hear voices.” The last part of the sentence is uttered reluctantly, like a confession.

The voice from the dark sounds again in the adventurer’s heads- “You will bring me five bodies, throw them in the crevasse- if you do not I will make it bad for you, I will tell them who you are and what you intend to do. I could be a great help to you, if you help me- I know many things. Swear to it- now!” The voice ends in a hissing gurgling giggle.

I love doing a few voices every now and then- Cecil was a delight, and while the players know where the creature is- in the crevasse dummy, they have no idea what it is.

The Redbrands are still watching the adventurers, wondering exactly what is going on- “Awright!” Elvis states loudly, Shagga nods, reluctantly- after sharing a look with Myrium and Gaukus, who silently reply in the affirmative.

“Careful then, Glasstaff- or as you know him- Iarno, is not to be trifled with. He’s a meanie!” The voice finishes, the adventurers move off at last- following their Redbrand guides, looking about them- and particularly behind them as they exit the chamber.

That however is the end of the third session.

Nice moral conundrum there, what will the goody-two-shoes priestess and paladin do, or for that manner the honourable dragonborn. Elvis, the gnome rogue is suitably spooked but doesn’t give a stuff about throwing a few corpses in to the crevasse.

Here’s the thing though- the players want to know what it is in the crevasse, and that is exactly what I was trying to achieve- they’re officially spooked.

Good session, and the players seemed to have recovered their cool (and delight) after the near TPK last time. They are particularly delighted to be level 2, and to see their hit point total double up. Obviously they’ve not fought anything much yet, so… well, we’ll see how long their new found confidence lasts.
 

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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #4 A Broken Promise.

Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 2
Shagga, Son of Dorf (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Paladin of Kord Lvl 2
Gaukus Grom (played by Pete) Male Dragonborn Sorcerer Lvl 2
Elvis Pickersgilly (played by Jackie) Male Forest Gnome Rogue Lvl 2


And so here we go again, the Blessed Avengers are mid-infiltration of the Redbrand’s lair, and being lead to the gang’s leader- Glasstaff, otherwise known as Iarno (the former Lords’ Alliance agent).

Down a short corridor and to a pair of doors, the first Redbrand guide knocks on the northern portal and then opens it to reveal what looks to be an alchemical lab, “this way”, the fellow adds.

Meantime the second Redbrand barges open the other door- revealing a messy chamber in which four more Redbrands sit at a table and bicker and argue, cards in hand and the pot piled high.

“Damnation!” Myrium (human cleric) hisses- then nods at Shagga (half-orc paladin), pointing the paladin towards the newly revealed enemies with a meaningful glance. Shagga grins and slowly nods back.

Seconds later and the leading Redbrand, three of the adventurers following, heads through the neat alchemical lab and to another door, after knocking once more- only this time waiting to be told to “Enter.” The chamber revealed is a well-lit, and well-appointed bedroom-cum-study. A short middle-aged bearded man in rough robes stands, a staff clutched in his hand.

10 Glasstaff 75.jpg

“Iarno. I mean- Glasstaff.” Myrium states with a wink, which causes the Redbrand leader to rethink what he was about to say, and in the same instant gives the game away.

Too late.

“Go!” Myrium shouts- and the adventurers are in action, the priestess of Lathander mutters a prayer and Blesses her companions. Shagga blocks the corridor behind, draws his longsword and slices the nearest Redbrand who is left screaming- and heavily wounded. Gaukus (dragonborn sorcerer) fills the wizard’s chamber with a gout of swirling cold- his frosty Breath Weapon, Iarno and the Redbrand within are both left shivering and numb. Moments later Elvis (gnome rogue) plunges his rapier in to the same Redbrand’s thigh, the unfortunate fellow instantly folds- clutching the spot, artery severed the fool dies quickly, although far from quietly.

Through the screams Myrium stares hard at Iarno and calls for his surrender. “Never!” is the mage’s hissed reply.

Out in the hall Shagga cuts down a Redbrand, the other four gamblers stagger away from the card table and go for their blades, they’re drunk. Shagga grins. That is until three of the four launch themselves at the paladin- the half-orc is cut twice and bloodied. The fourth drunken Redbrand tries to rush past the half-orc, to get to his leader’s side, Shagga slices him open- shoulder to belly, he dies thirty or so seconds later, whimpering and pleading all the while. Trying to hold himself in.

Back in Iarno’s chamber Gaukus fires a trio of Magic Missiles in to the bandit wizard- he drops, seconds later Myrium is on hand with a Spare the Dying cantrip, she checks Iarno’s pulse- nods at Gaukus, he’s alive, job done.

Meantime the three-remaining drunken Redbrands have forced Shagga to give ground, one of them races past the half-orc and in to Iarno’s chamber, he takes in the situation there and then attempts to repeatedly stab Gaukus- a flickering blue Shield suddenly appears before the sorcerer to block both of his attacks.

Elvis skewers the fellow with his rapier, at which point Myrium shouts in her sternest voice over the chaos- “Glasstaff is captured, the rest of your colleagues are dead- put down your weapons and surrender. NOW!”

The wounded Redbrand facing Myrium, Elvis and Gaukus complies immediately, however out in the corridor the other drunken pair are still swinging furiously at Shagga. Elvis and Gaukus move to help the half-orc, together the trio cut down another Redbrand before the last attempts to run.

It doesn’t get far, Elvis buries a dagger in its back- dead.

Iarno captured, a Redbrand taken prisoner- and four bodies. The adventurers police-up the area and retire to the bandit wizard’s quarters, after grabbing the cash strewn on the card table.

The Blessed Avengers rest up, search the chamber and interrogate, a little, the drunken Redbrand. Iarno, Myrium determines, will not be conscious for a good while- the wizard is gagged, bound and made uncomfortable.

Elvis gets a little alone time with the wizard while the other guys are busy, the darling gnome uses the pommel of his dagger to hammer Iarno’s hands until most if not all of the bones are broken. He’s a piece of work…

The captured Redbrand is a low-level recruit- he knows the bandits have prisoners within their lair- the Dendrar family, wife and kids of the dead carpenter, he is happy to show the adventurers the way. He also knows ‘sorta’ that they are working for someone called the Black Spider- their orders were to look out for adventurers and the like coming to Phandalin, and more specifically to locate a trio of Dwarven brothers- the Rockseekers. The latter were to be captured alive, other than that… the fellow knows nothing. Not even what it is that lurks in the depths of the crevasse and whispers to passers-by.

There’s plenty of incriminating evidence to be found in Iarno’s chamber, including a letter from the Black Spider-

Black Spider Letter 75.jpg

Which confirms what they have already been told. The unconscious wizard also has plenty of coin, and better still a magical staff made of what looks to be glass, “actually a glass-steel compound” Gaukus advises, and then retires with the item to examine it further, muttering “most interesting” every now and then.

An hour or so later- time enough to complete their search and for Shagga to tend to his wounds, the dragonborn sorcerer has attuned the item- a Staff of Defence.

There follows a very brief chat- prior to the adventurers heading out to rescue the Redbrand’s prisoners, the subject of the chat is ‘what do we do about the promise we made to the voice in the crevasse?’ The unanimous answer is, after Elvis withdraws his “shove the dead ‘uns in the ‘ole” with a sheepish grin that they are not going to pander to the voice in the dark. In fact… well, you’ll see.

A few minutes later, back in the crevasse chamber- with Shagga carrying an unconscious Iarno over his shoulder, and the Redbrand prisoner bound and leashed leading the way, the sibilant voice from below comes again.

11 Cecil Revisited 75.jpg

“You promised…”
“That’s as maybe.” Myrium states out loud- mostly for effect, “but we don’t know what you are or what you intend, we will not exchange dead flesh for either your silence or your favour.”
“YOU PROMISED ME!”
“Show yourself then- what manner of creature are you?” Myrium replies sternly.
“YOU… I KNOW THINGS!” The hissing voice is strident now, “I can hear their thoughts, as I can yours- I could tell you their secrets… I can help you?”
“We have the wizard”, Myrium nods at the unconscious Iarno, “we don’t bargain with fiends, or monsters. Show yourself and accept the light of Lathander in to your soul, turn from your dark flesh-eating ways. Show yourself and we will treat with you.”

The priestesses last statement hangs in the air for a good while, there’s no reply- not until the adventurer’s head on their way again, then the voice comes again- quieter, much quieter, and this time full of menace. “You will regret your choice”, the unseen creature hisses, and then is silent.

Fellow DMs don’t give up your Nothic too soon, there’s fun to be had with them- as I will demonstrate. Obviously the key is make sure that your thought stealing Nothic may (or may not) have some deliciously devilish nugget of information that the players are really going to want to learn. Cecil, the Nothic, has told the players this but right now they don’t believe him, or else they’re convinced that they have all the pieces of the jigsaw- they just need to find a bit of edge, or else a corner.

There follows a short-ish debate amongst the players as to whether they should just head down in to the crevasse and sort ‘the voice’ out, popular opinion is maybe after the prisoners have been rescued and the Redbrand’s lair secured.

And so onwards…

The Redbrand guide leads the Blessed Avengers to a blank wall, which turns out to be another secret door, situated in the store room to the north of the crevasse. Through in to a narrow passage, a locked door is opened by Elvis, after the Redbrand is made to tell what lies beyond- a storeroom. Iarno and the Redbrand are shoved within, their bindings secured, the pair gagged and bagged. This after the Redbrand has indicated the route to the prisoners- through the southern door ahead.

The adventurers ready themselves and then head on in, to an unlit crypt- as they had been told, the way to the prisoners- a door in the eastern wall, but first… three skeletons rise from floor of the tomb, their bones dancing in to the air and then knitting together.

12 Crypt 75.jpg

Elvis and Shagga are ready for them- the pair rush to take down the first undead to rise, however both fail to land a blow.

Shagga takes an arrow to his thigh and grimaces, the last undead has fetched out a bow.

Myrium steps in to the chamber, lofts her holy symbol and with great authority says the words- a dazzling light like the first rays of dawn causes all three undead creatures to clutch at their eye-sockets and fall back.

At which point the eastern door is flung open and a cloaked Redbrand rushes out and stabs the priestess twice in quick succession, the first blow cuts deep (a Critical Hit), leaving Myrium gasping for breath. She swings her mace and clobbers her attacker- just as a second Redbrand joins the fight.

Gaukus lights the chamber up with a Burning Hands spell, alas the flames only serve to singe (3d6 fire damage = 5 fire damage, and both Redbrands make their save = 2 fire damage).

Elvis steps in and stabs the Redbrand attacking Myrium in the back (actually in the arse, the gnome is not that tall), the fellow falls. The last Redbrand is sliced by Shagga, he drops to his knees-spills his blades, and begs to be spared.

Meantime the three skeletons clamber and claw at the wall in the furthest corner away from Myrium the Blessed. “Finish them- take them out one by one”, she orders- her three companions make short work of the trio, while the priestess binds and secures their newest prisoner.

Just a DMs note here to say that Sandy, who plays Myrium, is really starting to get the hang of being in charge. What is obviously even odder is that Sandy has been playing D&D now for a little over three month’s maybe (that’s seven sessions). She hasn’t read a book, or bothered to learn any rules beyond what she needs to know to make her PC work. The guys with 20+ years’ experience of the game are eager for her to make the decisions, they’re enjoying the backseat, which is not how the adventure started if you remember back to Flint and Shah (both of whom were fairly loud and obnoxious).

Back to it…

Weak voices filter out when the noise dies down, from the chamber recently vacated by the Redbrands, “help us… please, help us…”. The adventurers cautiously venture in and discover Mirna Dendrar and her two young children- the trio are filthy and have been much abused- for three of the adventurers the sight is all the motivation they will ever need.

Shortly after the trio are released, and tended to, and given food and water; and after the Redbrands and Iarno are all locked up (in different cells), the trio are listened to- they tell their story.

It’s a very common story, a very depressing story- the one about the little folk oppressed and made to suffer by the greedy powerful people. A story we’ve all heard before.

Mirna, with a final sob, and through gritted teeth while clutching her cowering children to her, hisses- “make them pay, all of them- make them all pay!” She is however preaching to the converted, the Redbrands- if indeed any survive, are all going to pay.

Myrium, Shagga and Gaukus swear it.

Elvis, when the other three adventurer’s turn to stare at the unmoving (and unmoved) gnome, finally nods once- shrugs his shoulders in a ‘who me’ sorta way, and then mutters “alwight”.

The adventurers are going to finish what they started, their original plan was to grab Iarno, rescue the prisoners and then be on their way- not any more, they’re all going to pay- all of the Redbrands.

And with that the fourth session of play comes to a close.

A short session, this one was around the table- with a myriad interruptions in play for family affairs- and it must be confessed to top up drinks. I (your glorious DM) do not partake of the foul and noxious substance that is alcohol. The players are however less stoic in their resistance to the demon brew.
 
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Richards

Adventurer
Good call - I never touch the stuff myself.

I'm enjoying the write-ups! 5E's a little different from what I'm used to (we never advanced beyond 3.5), but I'm enjoying the adventure and watching the behind-the-scenes interactions as well.

Johnathan
 

pogre

Adventurer
Getting ready to run this adventure for the 4th or 5th time for some kids in the H.S. D&D club I sponsor - that's what drew me to read it. However, this write up is great fun. I find myself especially enjoying the real world interactions between the partners.

I know writing a story hour like this is a lot of work. I did it for years. Please keep writing. You are doing a great job!
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Good call - I never touch the stuff myself.

I'm enjoying the write-ups! 5E's a little different from what I'm used to (we never advanced beyond 3.5), but I'm enjoying the adventure and watching the behind-the-scenes interactions as well.

Johnathan
Getting ready to run this adventure for the 4th or 5th time for some kids in the H.S. D&D club I sponsor - that's what drew me to read it. However, this write up is great fun. I find myself especially enjoying the real world interactions between the partners.

I know writing a story hour like this is a lot of work. I did it for years. Please keep writing. You are doing a great job!
Thanks to both of you- very much appreciated. I've done a few story hours previously, including a couple that I've really enjoyed- I'm aiming for one post a week with this one, and I've plenty of notes so it's just a case of keeping on with it, and of course I'm enjoying reliving the sessions. I sometimes think I DM just so that I can revisit past sessions in my head and laugh at the fools we made of ourselves.

Do either of you remember the film they made based on this scenario, I think it was called "Phandelving!", or something like that. I remember the opening scene...

FADE IN TO:

EXT. ROCKY HILLSIDE- DAY

Scree and rocks, treacherous underfoot, particularly now with the rain lashing down- rivulets of muddy water cascade down the hillside.

Front and centre a cave entrance set in a broad stone bluff, around the opening scurf and debris signify the place has been inhabited for some time, although the deluge is doing its best to wash the evidence away.

Every now and then the screen flashes as lightning strikes elsewhere. Likewise, every now and then, far off thunder rumbles. The timing of these two atmospheric effects move closer together as the storm approaches our position.

A dwarf suddenly emerges from the dark cave and in to the downpour, this is NUNDRO.

NUNDRO clutches a large iron kettle in his hands, he hefts the kettle skywards- attempting to catch the falling rain in its spout.

He skips and dances, cavorts with the kettle held aloft- the activity seems ill-conceived.

We get close in to NUNDRO, he’s a young male dwarf (although most dwarves look like squat paunchy middle-aged men). He wears rough and dirty clothes, and has a spade strapped to his back. NUNDRO’s face is surrounded on all sides by a shock of wiry ginger hair, beard and scalp- it’s as if his hair is trying to grow away from his gurning visage. The effect is comic.

NUNDRO gurns, pokes his tongue out in concentration, and generally reacts to events via the features of his face, he goes through half-a-dozen emotions in a matter of seconds- Joy, a drop of rain enters the spout of the kettle; Misery, many more drops alas do not; Anguish- see previous; Hope and so on. His features tell us all we need to know about NUNDRO, moment by moment.

NUNDRO is obviously an imbecile.

NUNDRO shakes the kettle, he is by now soaked to the skin, then cautiously lifts the lid- all the while trying to avoid the rain entering through the upper opening, he peers within- the kettle it seems is still mostly empty.

NUNDRO goes back to his kettle-filling dance, only now he (and we) can hear sounds- mostly grunts and groans, coming from the cave opening behind him.

Eventually NUNDRO turns his back on us and stares in to the depths of the cave.

NUNDRO
(Questioning)
Diggy-diggy?​

Over time we will learn that NUNDRO has little in the way of conversation, in fact the only words to emerge from his mouth in all his years are “Diggy-diggy”, always the pair- never a solo “Diggy”. It is therefore all down to intonation for NUNDRO, as we will discover.

NUNDRO
(Determined)
Diggy-diggy.​

NUNDRO hustles in to the cave, still clutching the mostly empty kettle.

INT. CAVERN- CONTINUOUS

A much used and abused camp site a little way in to the cavern, which extends back in to darkness. A cooking fire burns, illuminating assorted bedrolls and backpacks, mining tools and associated gear. Also strewn about the place are the broken or discarded remnants of previous encampments- ripped and torn canvas, a broken tent, a wheelbarrow without a wheel, etc.

The walls, here and there, are scrawled with graffiti- “Pog is a GIT!”, “Halia is a BITCH!”, and “Nundro sucks ROCK!!!”

Of immediate concern (and interest) however is the rolling bolus of dwarves- two of them grappling and groaning on the floor in the middle of the camp site, the pair are engaged in a titanic battle.

NUNDRO watches on, as do we.

The two dwarves locked in unarmed combat are-

GUNDREN, a much older and fatter dwarf, his clothes are a little more expensive but equally dishevelled. His hair and beard in the same style as NUNDRO, although a shock of white.

THARDEN, a few years younger than GUNDREN, his clothes are much much dirtier- ragged in places, he has the same hair, although completely bald on top.

Observant watchers could reasonably assume that the three dwarves are in fact brothers, although there’s a significant gap in ages between GUNDREN, THARDEN & the much younger NUNDRO.

The fat wrestling dwarves do their utmost to dispel the idea that all of their kind are adept at the martial arts, the fight is a mess- akin to a spat between a pair of vigorous but vastly unskilled seven year olds in the school playground.

The wrestling and rolling continues for a while, interspersed with odd gabbled or screeched comment, like these-

GUNDREN
Moradin’s great hairy testicles! Stop it!

THARDEN
You’re a wazzock Gundren Rockseeker, a fat hairy wazzock!

GUNDREN
(Questioning)
Yeah?

THARDEN
(Certain)
Yeah!​

And on it goes.

As the fight continues the atmospheric effects become more apparent, outside of the cave the lightning flashes brighter, more often and for longer; while the volume and the intensity of the thunder continues to be ratcheted up.

Highlights of the fight include the following vignettes-

GUNDREN lines up THARDEN for a haymaker, misses by a mile- spins 360 degrees on the spot and falls in to the campfire, THARDEN looks temporarily concerned and helps to extract a shrieking GUNDREN from the flames. GUNDREN sees his opportunity and attempts a second haymaker, also a complete miss- followed by another 360 resulting in him falling head first in to a growing puddle. His scorched clothes smoke and steam.

GUNDREN and THARDEN in the clinch- mutually assured destruction by headlock, THARDEN rubs his knuckles hard on to GUNDREN’s head. GUNDREN shrieks.

Still in the clinch, GUNDREN puts his first finger in his mouth, swishes it about a bit, and then rams the wet digit in to THARDEN’s ear, and thus breaks the clinch as THARDEN retreats making “ewww” noises and ringing out the offending lughole.

GUNDREN attempts to punch THARDEN, a straight arm jab- mid flurry he lurches and falls forward, connects not with THARDEN’s face but with his genitals.

Moments later THARDEN is bent double, dry-heaving, while GUNDREN pats and rubs his brother’s back. The truce however is temporary, as THARDEN attempts to sweep GUNDREN’s legs, he misses and connects with a full barrel of water- CRUNCH!

THARDEN is next seen hopping furiously, attempting to clutch his now throbbing foot- alas he is too fat to reach his foot. Moments later he falls over.

GUNDREN pointing and grinning at THARDEN, he takes a step back- such is his mirth, stands on the blade of a pick, the handle of the tool catapults forward and slams in to GUNDREN’s knee- he falls.

GUNDREN eventually levers himself to his feet, he has fallen in to and become wedged in a wheelbarrow (without a wheel). He wriggles furiously, dances around trying to dislodge the wheelbarrow, it’s going nowhere. He looks like a portly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

THARDEN sees his opportunity and rushes in, another wild punch which GUNDREN sees in time and turns away from. THARDEN’s fist connects with the GUNDREN’s wheelbarrow carapace and he’s sent dancing away wringing his now smarting hand, yelping.

GUNDREN finally gets free of the wheelbarrow, he rushes towards THARDEN- grabs him, and the pair sink once again to the dirty ground, in exactly the same spot in which we first saw the battling duo.

NUNDRO watches on- all the while pulling faces.

NUNDRO
(Exasperated)
Diggy-diggy.​

A casual observer could easily conclude that the present fracas is an ongoing affair, it has been going on for years, scratch that- decades, and will most likely continue for many decades to come.

The fight, for want of a better word, goes on.

Until…

Script end.

It's been a funny day.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #5 The One-Eyed God.

Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 2
Shagga, Son of Dorf (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Paladin of Kord Lvl 2
Gaukus Grom (played by Pete) Male Dragonborn Sorcerer Lvl 2
Elvis Pickersgilly (played by Jackie) Male Forest Gnome Rogue Lvl 2


The Blessed Avengers are in the Redbrand lair, they have taken prisoners including Glasstaff the wizard leader of the gang, and have also rescued Mirna and her kids from the bandit’s clutches.

The adventurers ready themselves and then head out of the cells and in to the crypt- the plan is to clear the way back to the cellar through which they first entered the Redbrand’s lair, there should be a short cut ahead. That done- Mirna and her kids are to be smuggled out to safety.

The plan lasts less than ten seconds, probably not even five…

The doors at the far end of the crypt clatter open, a bugbear strides in- a monstrous bugbear, wearing an eye patch- this is Mosk. Mosk is accompanied by a rag-tag bunch- another bugbear, a terrified looking goblin- this is Droop, and lastly a nervous looking Redbrand. This guy is just this minute working out that he is very probably the last of the Redbrands- he’s struggling to come to terms with this fact.

Mosk begins his sermon, and believe me I (your faithful DM) deliver the following as a sermon- Mosk has only recently seen the light (or else heard the voice).

“I am Mosk! Prophet of the One-Eyed God*”

*For legal reasons it is important that I make clear that the One-Eyed God referred to is not Gruumsh, beloved of the Orcish races. Oh no, the one-eyed god in question is much closer to hand- at present it, or rather he (probably), is located in the deep shadows of the northern corridor, watching the action and feeding lines, as required, to Mosk.

The One-Eyed God is known to his friends as Cecil, but you had probably guessed this already.

“And you…” Mosk continues, pointing with his hefty Morningstar to each adventurer in turn, “You… Medium the Bastard. You… Shaggy, son of Golf. You… Elfish Picklesilly. And you… Krokus Gorm.”

Mosk grins at the adventurer’s consternation.

“You have been chosen as the first sacrifices to the high exalted, even now the voice of the One-Eyed God orders your death.”

After a second of silence Mosk roars- “KILL THEM!”

Note the players are not exactly sure what’s going on here, however I’m not looking for a debate- I desire blood, their blood.

Just to make clear- Cecil the Nothic has been busy, he’s recently taken up residence in Mosk the Bugbear’s head, he has revealed to the bugbear his deepest and darkest secrets and fears, and in the process got Mosk believing that he is the Chosen One.

And so, back to the action…

13 Mosk 75.jpg

The Blessed Avengers however are ready for the call to arms- Gaukus (dragonborn sorcerer) takes a step forward and unleashes his last remaining spell- Burning Hands, and it’s a scorcher- both bugbears are singed- Mosk badly, the Redbrand is likewise hurt, and the goblin- poor old Droop, is incinerated in an instant.

Shame, the little feller was the only one of the bad guys in the lair who knew the way to Cragmaw Castle, home to King Grol- and at present, Gundren Rockseeker, as I say- shame that.

Although… Cecil the Nothic may of course know the way.

“Form a line” Myrium (human cleric) screams, “Hold them!”

Mosk and the Redbrand get in to action against the priestess, she’s cut- but not badly, a moment later and Mosk also catches Elvis (gnome rogue) with a wild swing- fortunately only a glancing blow. Myrium prays and Blesses her companions. Shagga (half-orc paladin) gets in to action and cuts Mosk- the bugbear leader is very quickly bloodied.

Seconds later Gaukus manoeuvres and unleashes his icy Breath Weapon (for 11 cold damage- good rolls), Mosk and the Redbrand are left barely able to stand, both shivering furiously.

Mosk calls again on his One-Eyed God, and then smashes Myrium down on to the cold stone floor.

The terrified Redbrand however is off and running, as far away as he can get.

A third bugbear shambles in to the crypt, having only just made his way out of the pit trap it fell in to in the previous corridor. The creature arrives just in time to see Elvis, the gnome, stab his rapier in to Mosk’s side, the bugbear leader falls. Elvis then grabs out a dagger with his off-hand and spins it in to the already wounded bugbear’s leg, the creature sags- it too is almost spent.

It does however have enough energy to get off another attack, the bugbear’s morningstar sends Elvis spinning like a top, and to the cold stone floor- unconscious, and dying.

That’s two adventurers on the deck and bleeding out- Myrium and Elvis.

And then… and then… well, the uninjured bugbear joins the fight, his comrade has only three hit points left, and then… and then… well, there’s a lot of missing. Two rounds of it in fact- when dice go bad. When we do get a hit it’s a Ray of Frost from Gaukus, for two cold damage, the badly wounded bugbear is down to one hit point.

Oh, how we laughed, actually now I’m remembering it was only me laughing at the time.

The uninjured bugbear smashes Shagga down, or else he would have done if it wasn’t for the half-orc’s Relentless Endurance.

It’s getting awfully close to a TPK again…

The paladin survives- reaches down and grasps Myrium’s hand- he Lays on Hands and the priestess awakes (having failed two Death Saves in a row).

Gaukus’ second Ray of Frost finally does for the badly wounded bugbear.

Myrium drags herself to her feet and holds her holy symbol up high- she Preserves Life, and Elvis opens his eyes too (having also just failed his second Death Save in a row).

At the time the players were swearing like troopers- they figured they had this fight beat when all of a sudden the dice turned against them, particularly with their Death Save rolls- four made, four failed.

Note Cecil, the Nothic, clears off fairly sharpish- Mosk was his man, once the bugbear leader fell he had no influence on the fight.

The last bugbear standing, sans comrades- and now faced by four opponents (who are all looking a lot healthier), and having already fallen in a pit today, gets the hell out of dodge.

The Blessed Avengers are not in the mood (or health) to pursue the beast. They’re low on spells, hit points and they really need an Extended Rest.

The adventurers don’t hesitate, Myrna and her kids are herded out of the chamber, safely around the open pit in the corridor ahead, and then in to the cellar. Then on to freedom, the adventurers don’t look back, although…

As they are leaving the cellar a whispered voice- familiar to them by now, sends them on their way with a hissing giggle, and some words of wisdom- “I’m right behind you!”

The Blessed Avengers, in a most unsightly way, sprint all the way back to town, with a still unconscious Iarno bouncing over one of Shagga’s meaty shoulders.

They are extremely grateful to get out of the Redbrand’s lair alive, they’re also more than a little concerned that the voice from the crevasse is out to do them harm, and seems to be following them. We break for drinks and a short discussion about who or what the whispering voice is- the guys think it is some kind of invisible creature, or else very sneaky- possibly undead, and with an area ESP effect- it can hear thoughts. They eventually figure out that the One-Eyed God revered by Mosk is most likely (they’re not certain) is also the whispering creature from the crevasse.

Which makes things worse, their enemy is a sneaky bastard with ESP, able to charm others and get this- as far as they know has not attacked them yet. It’s that final fact that scares them the most, their enemy (many of the players speculate) has either got a devastating attack or else- nothing much, and so has to get others to do its killing for it. Either way there’s a great deal of consternation in the ranks.

Note, I didn’t just allow the players to make a monster knowledge check and tell them that they’re facing a Nothic, I did allow them to make checks and then I hinted (only a little) at what sort of creature it could be. It helped that they all rolled about average for their checks, I want to keep Cecil a secret for as long as I can.

Back to town…

Phandalin.jpg

A lot happens in the next two days, that said the Blessed Avengers find plenty of time to relax, level up (their level three now), and to smell the flowers i.e. experience non-life-threatening situations.

The guys have seen a lot of death recently, some of it up real close. Too close- nearly another TPK there.

The Blessed Avengers roleplay their way through a lot of other stuff before the end of the session, and so in no particular order they-

1) Interrogate Iarno Albrek, sorry- Glasstaff, with Sildar’s help. They learn that- the Black Spider is a drow, and that he or she sent the bugbears to help Iarno (the bugbears therefore know, make that knew, where the Black Spider is…). The Black Spider is searching for Wave Echo Cave and the Forge of Spells- tick, they had that figured. And that’s about it, Iarno doesn’t know who has Gundren Rockseeker but he suspects that a bunch of goblins lead by a bugbear called King Grol may be involved. The bugbears sent by the Black Spider had a goblin with them- Droop (incinerated by Gaukus’ Burning Hands spell), this little guy was originally sent by King Grol (Droop therefore knows, sorry- make that knew, where King Grol is laired). Basically, the adventurers discover that everyone that had information about where their enemies are located (and where Gundren Rockseeker is probably being held prisoner) is either dead, or has fled.

The guys also realise that a creature with ESP could indeed prove to be of worth to them… particularly if said creature had read the minds of either the bugbears, or else Droop the goblin. It seems they’re going to be heading back in to the Redbrand’s lair sometime soon, this time in search of the whispering voice.

So, there’s that.

2) The gang go shopping, refresh their stocks and buy a clutch of Healing Potions- the last batch in town. They also take the plaudits, the townsfolk are overjoyed, although equally dismayed about the nest of vipers that had almost destroyed their community. The Blessed Avengers however are the heroes of the hour.

3) Elvis, the sneaky little bastard, reports in to his boss- Halia of the Phandalin Miner’s Exchange. The Black Network likes to keep up-to-date with events. Elvis is rewarded with another Potion of Healing.

Finally, the adventurers muster the courage to go back in to the Redbrand hideout- specifically to recover the two Redbrand prisoners they left in the cells, and to find and hopefully parley with the whispering voice creature. The place is, as far as they can tell, is as they left it- except for the fact that both Redbrand prisoners have been killed and their faces cut off. Actually, the bodies of the pair look to have necrotised very quickly, the adventurers only left them a day-or-so ago, and they look like they’ve been dead for years. The guys also find a little more loot that they missed on their first swoop, the crevasse is of course empty- save for the remains of Thel Dendrar, the dead (and partially consumed) carpenter.

The whispering voice creature (Cecil to you) alas does not answer their calls or requests- it seems to have gone, which the guys find less than reassuring.

The Blessed Avengers return to town, slightly dispirited- they’re still lacking information regarding their missing patron- Gundren Rockseeker.

Just for info while this is going on the rescued Mirna, and her kids, are being looked after by Sister Garaele and some of the goodwives of the town.

The adventurers new found fame has also caused them to be approached by other members of the community, ostensibly with job offers-

4) Daran Edermath, ex-adventurer and Order of the Gauntlet member- who also introduced Myrium to Shagga, has a request. He marks on a map of the area, which he supplies to the adventurers, a place called Old Owl Well, a ruined tower (with a well in it) and compound- local miners have reported the presence of undead in the area. He wants it checked out. Daran also has a gift for Shagga, a magical blade called Talon, a sword he wielded in his adventuring days, the massive half-orc crushes Daran with his hug. The quest is accepted.

5) Sister Garaele (priestess of Tymora) confides that she has been tasked by her Harper superiors to search out a banshee called Agatha, who lairs in the Neverwinter Woods near Conyberry, and ask her about the whereabouts of a long lost spellbook. Garaele wonders if the adventurers could complete the task for her, she’s not really built for adventuring, and she would be most grateful. The Blessed Avengers accept the quest, and are briefed by the good Sister, they’re also given a jewelled necklace to be offered as a reward to the vain banshee, for the information that is needed.

6) Harbin Wester, the mayor of Phandalin, also has a quest to give- miners have reported orcs in the hills south of Conyberry, near a place called Wyvern’s Tor- they need taking care of. The adventurers are hired.

So, that’s lots of things to do, none of which however have anything to do with getting their patron Gundren back, and yet they seem to be at an impasse. Sildar and the adventurers think that Gundren has been taken to Cragmaw Castle, lair of King Grol. They also think that King Grol is working for the Black Spider, as was Iarno/Glasstaff & the Redbrands. They hope the Black Spider has not yet got his or her hands on Gundren, and that the location of Wave Echo Cave is therefore still safe. They hope.

Sildar makes it clear that the Lords’ Alliance will pay handsomely for the location of Wave Echo Cave, he means of course- the safe return of Gundren Rockseeker. Furthermore, the grizzled ex-guard captain has asked every miner in town- Tharden and Nundro, brothers of Gundren, are definitely missing.

Sword Coast.jpg

The adventurers have little choice, and of course they are all keen to impress their new friends, and their individual factions (at least Shagga and Gaukus are), and so the plan is to head out of town on the morrow. A wide arc- first stop Agatha the banshee near Conyberry, then south to the Old Owl Well, and lastly in to the hills to Wyvern Tor. Finally, a meander through the hills- to see if they can find the camp of the missing Rockseeker brothers, all the way back to Phandalin. To help them on their way the adventurers have managed to beg or borrow riding horses, Elvis is the odd one out- he has managed to ‘boost’ (steal) a miniature (Shetland-style) pony.

Myrium isn’t very happy about Elvis’ habit of just acquiring things, but all her efforts to discover who the gnome has stolen his ride from prove fruitless- no-one it seems is missing a miniature (Shetland-style) pony. It is safe to say that the other three party members- Myrium, Shagga and Gaukus (who are all Lawful-something) are not exactly enamoured with Elvis at times.

In reality Elvis has not stolen the pony, he was given it by his boss Halia Thornton, however the gnome rogue has his image to think about, he therefore tells the guys that he stole it. Mostly just to piss them off.

There’s a big drink in the Stonehill Tavern on the night before the Blessed Avengers depart, the community shows its thanks- Myrium gets plenty of offers of a bed for her last night in civilisation but resists temptation.

The offers soon dry up when Shagga parks himself close to the beautiful priestess and glares at anyone that looks like they’re going to chat with Myrium.

The only other thing of note- and this is probably not even worth mentioning, is that Pip- the twelve-year-old son of Toblen and Trilena Stonehill (owners of the Stonehill Tavern), heard a funny voice in his sleep last night, it sang to him and made him giggle.

A few days later (after the Blessed Avengers have departed) Toblen finds that a bunch of slates have fallen off the roof of the tavern, he puts it down to the high winds of late, and not down to the fact that Cecil the Nothic has broken in and is now laired in the attic of the Inn, listening to the thoughts of all those that inhabit the hostelry.

Hardly worth mentioning, that is however the end of the fifth session of play.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #6 The Road to Nowhere

Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 3
Shagga, Son of Dorf (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Paladin of Kord Lvl 3
Gaukus Grom (played by Pete) Male Dragonborn Sorcerer Lvl 3
Elvis Pickersgilly (played by Jackie) Male Forest Gnome Rogue Lvl 3


The Blessed Avengers are all now Level 3, and on the road to further adventure.

And so, the long ride to Conyberry, which proves to be… well, meh. Nothing untoward happens, the only thing worth reporting is the fact that an ancient dwarven tome, acquired from Iarno/Glasstaff- and being read by Gaukus (dragonborn sorcerer), turns out to include a visit by the author to Wave Echo Cave. It also mentions the Forge of Spells, a device within the caves used to craft magic items. The author of the tome, a priest of Lathander- as it transpires, was sent to Wave Echo Cave to pay for a magical mace dedicated to the God of Dawn to be created. Myrium (human cleric (of Lathander, remember)) is obviously very pleased to hear this- all the more reason for the Blessed Avengers to locate the long lost cavern.

Back to the journey- the weather is pleasant, the Triboar Trail proves to be the lonely road- not a soul is upon it, the adventurers arrive at the ruins of Conyberry late in the afternoon of the second day out of Phandalin. Conyberry is not what it once was- all that is left of the place are the ruined shells of three stone buildings, no wall is more than three feet high.

However, there’s no time like the present- the adventurers go searching for trails in the nearby Neverwinter Woods, Sister Garaele has drawn a map of sorts for them. Eventually they find a track and follow it, a good twenty minutes in to the forest, which grows darker and a little more frightening as they go deeper.

14 Agatha 75.jpg

There they find Agatha’s lair, a dome-shaped wooden structure seemingly built within the trunk, roots and branches of a living tree. Cautiously they investigate, with Myrium leading the way and announcing their arrival as politely as she can.

Seconds later the hovering apparition of a once beautiful elven maiden- with her throat torn out and still dripping spectral blood, suddenly appears within their midst. The effect is so traumatic that Elvis (gnome rogue) has an accident in his trousers and flees the banshee’s lair to hide in the woods until it is all over.

It’s good (and silly) every now and then to get the players to roll a random d20, just to see what happens- in this instance when the terrifying banshee appears in their midst. Jackie (playing Elvis) rolled a ‘1’, and chose her own punishment- to make pee-pee.

The sudden departure of the surly Elvis proves to be no bad thing, the three remaining wholesome folk say all the right things, or at least Myrium does- Shagga (half-orc paladin) just nods along, while Gaukus adds nuggets of sage wisdom which are mostly ignored by everyone else. Agatha’s terrifying visage is soon replaced by a crooning smile as the priestess of Lathander hands over the beautiful necklace. A short while later and the adventurers have the information that Sister Garaele needs, they then politely refuse late afternoon tea- Agatha has just baked scones, and as quickly as they can make their way back to the ruins of Conyberry. Obviously picking up Elvis on the way, the embarrassed gnome has cleaned himself up a little.

The Blessed Avengers spend the night in the ruins of Conyberry- nothing untoward comes to pass.

DM note- I’m using the rules for wandering monsters exactly as written in the module.

The very next day they head south through the hills and bluffs- in search of Old Owl Well and following Daran’s map, they make good time and find the place late the same afternoon, there’s another two hours of light- at least, time enough to investigate.

A breached stone wall forms a compound, to the north a once much taller tower- truncated half way up its second storey. To the east within the compound the shell of a much larger stone building- two stories high but again the upper level is all but gone. The adventurers are certain they are in the right place as the ruined tower has a large owl motif carved above its entrance.

The adventurers get close to the compound wall and watch the place for a while, every now and then there’s a smell on the breeze- the scent of carrion, the scent of death. Nothing however moves within.

Elvis is eventually persuaded to go take a look in the closest building (not the tower), using the abundant cover (the courtyard is overgrown) he scoots over as silently as he can to check things out. There’s nothing to see that is until the gnome gets up the courage to take a look inside- at which point he spots the zombie that is standing just to the side of the doorway he’s leaning through. The undead moans and lashes out but the gnome is already off and running- and gibbering like a loon, all the way back to his friends.

The other three adventurers only make sense of what Elvis is saying when three zombies come staggering out of the building, shuffling in their general direction.

Shagga goes to meet the foe, hits hard- Gaukus blasts the same zombie with a Ray of Frost, while Elvis (now very pissed off- mostly with himself) moves in and stabs the same creature multiple times- and still it doesn’t fall.

A while later Shagga cuts the first zombie down, however at this point there are now five of the shambling undead in the courtyard- Myrium has fired up the Bless, and with Shagga formed a very narrow fighting front. The zombies are being (mostly) kept at bay- they have not landed a single hit.

And so it goes for the next twenty or so minutes- at which point the adventurers have managed to cut four of the shambling menaces down, and yet more have joined the fight- another batch staggering out of the ruined tower.

So, thirty minutes (about 5-6 rounds) in and there are still five of the undead left standing. It’s worth noting that the zombies are still yet to land a single hit.

DM note- what the bloody hell to do with 5e zombies? I have two favoured options-

1) Bore the players to death, which involves playing the zombies as written, each one shambles forward makes its to-hit roll and then inevitably, sometime later, rolls its Con save (at 0 HP), and more often than not (seemingly) gets back up to do it all over again- and again- and again. My record for a single 5e zombie is five times back on its feet. Or,

2) Mob one adventurer (the closest) and then aid another to give advantage to half of the attackers. This can work out very badly for PCs, I recommend you use it only when you get one PC properly mobbed, facing at least four enemies (better with six). The surprise element often makes it scarier.

The other obvious bonus to DMing zombies is they are fearless and brainless- so, if the squishy wizard at the back starts firing area effect spells then have all of the zombies left standing run at him/her- who cares about opportunity attacks when you are a zombie. Even if only a few of them get to the wizard, it can get messy and induce a great deal of panic. It’s comedy gold if the wizard runs too. Have other zombies wander off, or just do dumb things- sing & dance, climb a tree, go away and dig a hole (some remnant of their past life buried there). You can be scary, funny or even poignant with zombies. Killing them is so difficult at times (particularly mobs) that you are obliged to have some of them do daft stuff.

Back to it…

Gaukus and Myrium have had enough, the dragonborn unleashes his Shatter spell- only destroying one of the creatures but badly wounding many more. Then the priestess of Lathander lofts her holy symbol and turns a trio of the undead- three zombies turn tail and shamble back the way they came.

15 Owl Well 75.jpg

At which point a portly bald-headed and heavily tattooed human exits the tower screaming and shouting at the adventurers. The fracas is put on hold, the bald fellow- identified by Myrium and Gaukus as a Red Wizard of Thay (not nice), orders his zombie minions to cease fighting.

A barked conversation follows, actually ‘conversation’ is probably not the right word. The Red Wizard, he’s not denying it (but also not confirming it), is very unhappy that the adventurers have killed many of his servants. Servants that keep him safe at night out here in the wilds.

The adventurers, specifically Myrium, Shagga and Gaukus are however of the opinion that the animated dead are inherently evil (or else just plain unnatural/bad) and therefore they should be destroyed.

This coming from a bunch of fellows that have just been trading information with a banshee.

The argument rumbles on until there’s nowhere else for it to go. Myrium and Shagga are insisting that the undead are destroyed, and that the Red Wizard should accompany them back to Phandalin. The Red Wizard is of course having none of it, which is why he tries a Hold Person spell on Shagga (he fails) and then orders his zombies back in to the attack. Note, three more zombies join the fray from the tower.

The Red Wizard (or else the DM) is smart enough to keep the conversation going until Myrium’s Bless spell has expired and the turned undead are now back under his control. Suddenly the boring (and easy) fight is starting to look a little more dangerous (and therefore interesting).

At which point I switch to the mob approach for the zombies.

The adventurers go from doing all they can to not use their best spells, or skills; to unleashing everything they’ve got.

Gaukus fires off another Shatter spell, destroying three zombies in an instant, and wounding the Red Wizard- who is also suddenly having second thoughts. Elvis goes in to a stabbing fury and gets slammed by a zombie, as does Shagga- several times. The paladin however has had enough he dodges through the shambling undead (taking AoO’s as he goes- all alas misses) and cuts down the Red Wizard with a Divine Smite.

There follows a slaughter, with Myrium’s Spiritual Weapon never missing, eventually the zombies are destroyed, even the ones that take to wandering off.

The Red Wizard’s gear is searched- lots of nice things including a ring which turns out to be magical, some sort of defensive magic (+1 Ring of Protection). Myrium decides that Elvis should have it, which the gnome finds somewhat odd. The little fellow is having a bit of a crisis of confidence, he is by nature a nasty piece of work (and a Zhent), and yet his companions regularly look after him- with loot, and healing, and help when he’s in trouble.

Elvis’ loyalties to Halia Thornton (his Zhent contact) are being stretched, against his better judgement he is beginning to like his new-found friends.

The adventurers thoroughly search the ruins- it seems the Red Wizard was not lying to them- he explained during the earlier argument that he was excavating and exploring the area, all the evidence they discover points to this being true.

After they set a watch, as they do every night, and then bed down inside the tower.

Second watch, around midnight, a pair of humanoid-shaped creatures are spotted by Elvis sniffing around the courtyard, the gnome is not sure what they are but is disconcerted by the fact that one of them seems to be eating the Red Wizard’s body.

16 Owl Well Ghouls 75.jpg

Elvis attempts to silently wake his companions, alas he manages to make rather a lot of noise doing so- he kicks his canteen over. One of the creatures rushes directly in to the tower, and at him. Up close he can see it is a ghoul, he starts screaming.

Note, Jackie (who plays Elvis) has a strange habit (exhibited so far) of rolling ‘1’s when she least needs them, most often in the Dice Tower on Fantasy Grounds for her Stealth checks.

Then, miraculously, the gnome manages to skewer the undead beast with his rapier (and a Critical Hit), killing it instantly.

The second ghoul lopes over to investigate, just in time to bump in to Shagga, the half-orc launches himself out of the ruined tower, and with another Divine Smite decapitates the ghoul.

Twenty minutes later the four now wide-awake adventurers are certain that there are no more enemies around, they re-set the watch and then get back to resting.

In the morning Elvis attunes his new magical ring, and feels all the better for it.

That however is the end of the sixth session- due to real life intrusions we only got to play for two to three hours.

Another good session but the players (and the DM) are chaffing to be back to the business of finding Gundren Rockseeker, it makes sense (a little) to take on these extra (mostly) faction based side quests but the guys are wanting to be on with things.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #7 Horse Power.

Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 3
Shagga, Son of Dorf (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Paladin of Kord Lvl 3
Gaukus Grom (played by Pete) Male Dragonborn Sorcerer Lvl 3
Elvis Pickersgilly (played by Jackie) Male Forest Gnome Rogue Lvl 3


Warning- this was a long session.

The adventurers move on early in the morning, leaving Old Owl Well behind them- through the hills, crags and tall grasses in which anything could hide. The journey soon becomes a search- they are looking for Wyvern Tor, a high scarp which is purportedly the lair of the orc gang that has been raiding mine camps in the Phandalin area.

Elvis (gnome rogue) spots smoke late on in the afternoon, an hour or so later and the adventurers close in on a lone orc guard dozing next to a cave mouth- the rumours were right.

The gnome gets as close as he dares, unheard and unseen, and then attempts to assassinate the foul brute, his first ever assassination attempt- Elvis misses his target (Jackie rolls ‘2’ & ‘3’ with advantage).

Gaukus (dragonborn sorcerer) scrambles and slams three Magic Missiles in to the orc who roars and then jumps to his feet, attempting to flee in to the cavern- and making a lot of noise in the attempt. Myrium (human cleric) and Shagga (half-orc paladin) rush to cut it off- both however fail to connect with their wild swings.

Gaukus’ second wave of Magic Missiles takes the creature down just as it dives in to the gloom of the cavern- however seconds later there’s an answering call from within. Shagga precis the situation “…they come.”

The adventurers move in to the cavern, effectively blocking the only entrance/exit (they hope)- Shagga to the fore, a massive orc dashes out of a passage ahead and buries its greataxe in to the half-orc paladin. A second orc joins the fray- “Hold the line”, Myrium screams and Blesses her companions, a moment later her Spiritual Weapon, a glowing mace, appears and thumps one of the orcs.

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Shagga cuts the wounded orc down, as a third orc rushes out of the dark and flails wildly at Gaukus, Elvis appears out of the shadows and stabs his rapier in to the beast- it dies, and then for good measure he throws a dagger in to the side of the last orc standing.

A javelin spears out of the darkness and thunks in to Shagga’s chest- that hurt (a Critical Hit and the half-orc paladin is now very heavily wounded). Another javelin sails high and wide.

Myrium is quickly to Shagga, she Cures his Wounds, the paladin continues to fight while muttering a prayer of his own- Shield of Faith. The two javelin flinging orcs grab out their greataxes and join the melee.

Gaukus launches a Shatter spell, which causes the cavern to shudder and shake, one of the orcs is killed outright, the other two left wounded, but only slightly. Elvis suddenly appears again, scampers out of the shadows and cuts another orc down.

Then, at last, Brughor the Axe (the furious chief of this gang), and Gog the Ogre make themselves known- the pair come rushing from different passages, and straight in to the fracas.

Elvis, at the last moment, tumbles and evades the Ogre’s massive club.

Myrium’s Spiritual Weapon smashes the last of the orc rabble down- there’s just Brughor and Gog left standing, the priestess Cures Shagga again. The paladin of Kord, employing his Hunter’s Quarry, cuts Brughor.

Gaukus unleashes a Thunderwave- the effect is terrible, a large section of the cavern ceiling collapses- three of the four adventurers have to sway and dodge falling rocks (and miraculously do so)- Brughor and Gog are less agile, the pair suffer additional wounds (Brughor is hurting bad) and are pushed back by the blast.

DM Interlude- just to say in game this was a staggeringly good fight with the players screaming with delight and frustration in equal measure as it unfolded. I went to town with some of the descriptions- think action movie.

Elvis spins out a dagger, the blade sinks in to Brughor’s chest- burrowing in to the orc chief’s heart- dead.

Gog roars and swings, the only way out of this mess is through the adventurers, Shagga however deflects the Ogre’s titanic blow. Myrium hits with her mace, and then again with her Spiritual Weapon, while Shagga uses a Divine Smite to tear in to the beast- Gog is roaring in pain and fury.

Gaukus’ icy Breath Weapon sets the Ogre’s teeth to chattering, Elvis dashes in and stabs the huge humanoid repeatedly, and yet still the beast is not finished- it’s greatclub nearly flattens Shagga, the half-orc only just clings on to consciousness (down to 3 hit points).

Myrium’s Spiritual Weapon scuds in and thumps Gog again, while the Blessed Cures Shagga once more. The half-orc slices furiously, severing one of the Ogre’s legs- Gog roars, totters, and then falls.

Shagga poses by the dead massive humanoid, like he’s expecting one of his compatriots to capture the moment in charcoal or paint. He’d love that.

DM Interlude- actually what Rob (who plays Shagga) said was something like- “that would be a great selfie”, he’s in his mid to late 40’s- he’s the (cool?) teenager of our group.

And then rest.

A while later the adventurers explore the remainder of the cavern, there’s money and several vials that turn out (disappointingly) to contain perfume, all hidden away in a large unlocked chest in the farthest chamber.

The adventurers however are done for the night, time to get some rest- they guide their mounts (eventually- Shagga has to forcibly persuade two of the beasts of burden) in to the cavern and corral them there, and then set watch in the entrance.

Alas the Random Encounters Table has other ideas, only an hour in to their quiet time a whole swarm of bats boils out of a dark chimney towards the rear of the stunted cave complex- the adventurers come awake in the midst of the fury, the bats are making their way to the surface for their nightly feed.

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The moment is made worse when half-a-dozen stirges swoop in to the cavern, looking to feed on the bats, the bloodsucking avians however spy much larger prey- the Blessed Avengers.

Gaukus is savaged, or else bled- and left heavily wounded as two of the creatures alight upon him and begin to drink their fill. The dragonborn sorcerer makes great use of his Magic Missiles- each missile bursts one of the bloody flying buggers. Elvis manages to shoot another down, while the remainder are destroyed moments later by another salvo of Gaukus’ Magic Missiles.

The fight is short and bloody, Shagga is lightly wounded, while Gaukus is barely able to stand (reduced to 3 hit points).

The adventurers spend a while healing, and watching and waiting, before finally settling down once again for the night, and with no more disturbances.

The next day they head back out in to the light, the plan is to take a wander through the hills at the foot of the Sword Mountains, this is where the miners from Phandalin come to dig, or at least those that are brave enough to camp so far away from the safety of the town. Perhaps they can find the Rockseeker’s camp, the adventurers however realise that their chances are slim- they are literally looking for a hole in the ground.

The first day out of Wyvern Tor they encounter nothing- and nobody, there’s not a soul to be seen, an abundance of natural flora and fauna, but no miners and no hidden camps.

The group are despondent, the adventurers have discovered nothing on their journeys so far to help them to find Gundren Rockseeker.

To break up the boredom the DM, with a little help from the Random Encounters Table, decides to liven things up, and so.

On Shagga’s watch, just after midnight a trio of stirges decide to investigate the adventurer’s camp, the half-orc paladin is dozing, he sees nothing. Nothing that is until Gaukus starts screaming- there are two of the bloodsuckers leeching the dragonborn (one with a Critical Hit). A second or two later and Elvis is yelping in pain too- he is also being bled.

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One salvo of Magic Missiles later and the three stirges are toast. Gaukus is not happy, although soon after apologetic for his harsh words to Shagga, Elvis is less amenable- and much more sweary. There is dissention in the ranks- which calls for a team talk from Myrium, after the horses are checked over for bloodsuckers.

The new plan is- continue through the hills to Phandalin, interview the people of the town again- perhaps they have missed something, and then head back to the goblin lair- there may have been another clue there. Myrium (& Sildar) didn’t get much of a chance to look around.

The rest of the night passes without incident.

A day and a half later and the adventurers are back in Phandalin, the only encounters on the rest of the journey are with miners and mining camps, however no-one they talk to has seen or heard of the Rockseekers for the best part of a month.

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And so… Phandalin, first stop to check in with the various folk that set them their recently completed tasks.

Daran Edermath, the ex-adventurer (and Order of the Gauntlet member), listens intently to the adventurer’s version of events at Old Owl Well, he has nothing but praise for their actions- one less Red Wizard in the world is a step in the right direction as far as he is concerned. Same goes for the clutch of zombies they put to the sword. Alas Daran has no new clues to the bigger mystery- the location of Gundren Rockseeker.

Next stop is Sister Garaele, priestess of Tymora (and Harper member), who is delighted with the information that Agatha, the banshee, has provided- she passes over three Healing Potions for distribution. Further questioning with regard to Cragmaw Castle and the whereabouts of Gundren Rockseeker alas proves to be fruitless- the priestess knows nothing about the goblin’s location. She does however have a message to pass on- Mirna, the widow of the town’s carpenter- recently rescued by the adventurers from the Redbrands, has asked to see them- to thank them personally. The widow is staying with Qelline Alderleaf, a helpful halfling farmer; the adventurers noncommittedly murmur their thanks, they’ll try to make time to see her.

For now however they have people to interview- next stop is the Town Hall, to see the mayor Harbin Wester (& Sildar, who is by now encamped there). Harbin rewards the adventurers- with money and thanks, and also apologies for not making a better fist of the Redbrand problem. There follows lots more chatter- with Harbin, with Sildar and then with the Redbrand prisoners in the cells beneath the Town Hall.

The result of it all is… nada. Nothing.

Not a clue, the sum total of their knowledge is- Gundren was captured (with Sildar) by Klarg’s goblins, with help from some hobgoblins- the same hobgoblins took Gundren to… where exactly? Best guess is to the lair of King Grol, a place called Cragmaw Castle- probably in the Neverwinter Woods, which is a massive place. It is also possible that Gundren was taken directly to the Black Spider who is located… unknown. If Gundren wasn’t taken directly to the Black Spider it is likely that King Grol has since sold the dwarf to the drow.

The rest of the day is spent chasing shadows, by the end of it the adventurers have agreed to head back to the goblin lair that Myrium (& Sildar) so narrowly escaped- to search for clues and the merchant goods of the Lionshield Coster here in Phandalin. It seems a shipment of theirs was hijacked on the Triboar Trail only a few months past. The guys will also recover the bodies (or what’s left of them) of the three adventurers that fell there- Flint, Nimbus & Shah Mah’ha.

It’s not much of a plan but it will have to do.

The players are stuck- they’re really scratching their heads here.

The adventurers also make the time to call in on the people and places that they loaned their mounts from- they have taken to riding (rather than walking) places. They negotiate prices for their new rides- and once paid for fit them out with saddles et al. They then, inevitably, name them (although Gaukus has to be repeatedly cajoled in to doing so). Shagga rides ‘HP’ (Horse Power), Myrium rides ‘Dawn’s Glory’, Gaukus rides ‘Grom-Taib’ (Draconic translates as ‘Grom’s ride’) and Elvis’ (Shetland) Pony is ‘Dobbers’. The players, for some reason, insisted this information appear in their story.

Note it requires a twenty minute break and much chatter to name the horses, this is by far the most important event to take place this session. Bloody players.

Much later Elvis sneaks out of the Stonehill Tavern and goes to visit his boss Halia- he gets her up to date with events, Elvis is told in no uncertain terms that his task is to find Gundren, and then Wave Echo Cave- screw the Black Spider the Black Network wants a piece of the action. This, Halia informs the gnome, could be the making of him…

Note the Black Network, the Zhentarim (in my campaigns), are the equivalent of the present-day Mafia (as depicted in cheesy films) of our world.

The next morning and the adventurers are about to depart when Sister Garaele pays them a visit- she’s here to remind them to stop off at the Alderleaf Farm, and talk to poor Mirna. Somewhat reluctantly the adventurers decide to get this done now.

There follows a good twenty to thirty minutes of thank you’s and tears, at which point the adventurers declare that they really have to get on… Mirna has however one more request for them, it seems her family moved to Phandalin from a village called Thundertree- they had to leave in a hurry, after a minor undead invasion. In their haste the family’s great treasure was left behind, a beautiful necklace- buried beneath the hearthstone of their herb shop, if only the adventurers would recover it. More tears follow, it is clear that while Mirna has plenty of friends she now has no husband, and no money- and two children to raise.

Myrium understands, Shagga understands, Gaukus understands- all three swear that they will see it done, just not right now…

Elvis doesn’t understand, therefore Elvis explains- letting a few secrets out of the bag in the process, the gnome snappily recounts the adventurers situation- the loss of Gundren (& his brothers), and the possibility that a drow (perhaps lots of drow) are searching for (or may have already found) a cavern in which there is a forge that can be used to make terrible magic items. Furthermore, this is all happening right on Phandalin’s doorstep, very likely.

Myrium and Gaukus (mainly) try to get Elvis to shut up- but the gnome is very eager to have his say, his final statement neatly sums up the situation, “we have to find Cragmaw Castle, find Gundren ‘bloody’ Rockseeker, and then find Wave Echo Cave… your poxy necklace is at the bottom of the list.”

It gets tetchy for a good while, it takes another hour or so to clear up the hurt, at which point- as the adventurers are leaving, still apologising for their gnome companion, that Qelline (the halfling farmer) says matter-of-factly that her friend Reidoth the Brown would certainly know where Cragmaw Castle is, if it is in Neverwinter Woods- he knows the place like the back of his hand.

“Reidoth the what?” Myrium asks.
“Where can we find Reidoth the Brown, and who or what is he?” Gaukus cuts to the chase.
“He’s a druid, he lives in Thundertree. Now don’t come back until you have Mirna’s jewel, that woman has suffered enough”, Qelline adds.

The whooping with joy comes later, the adventurers rush back to the Stonehill Tavern- grab their gear, check in with Sildar to tell the tale, and then hit the road- next stop Thundertree.

All is well with the world.

It’s a long session this one, we played on in to the wee small hours, the players were keen to get to Thundertree, and to meet Reidoth the Brown.

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The adventurers, with their newly named mounts, make haste for Thundertree- initially following the track to the Triboar Trail, then north to the limit of Neverwinter Woods, following the forest again to the north. They ride hard and fast, aiming to supplement rest with healing spells for their mounts.

Two days later they are encamped at the edge of the forest no more than ten or twelve miles south of Thundertree, they’ll be there by midday tomorrow- best estimate. Now, however, to rest- all is well with the world.

That is until me and my Random Encounter Table get to work- the wolf pack hits during Elvis’ watch, and again the watchman is found wanting- three of the beasts manage to close in on the adventurers without being noticed by the gnome. It gets bloody very quickly- two of the wolves savage the reclining Elvis, while Gaukus (wouldn’t you know it) almost gets his throat ripped out (with a Critical Hit).

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Seconds later and Elvis is on his feet and screaming (mostly for healing), he stabs frantically at the nearest wolf and savages it, Gaukus is the next to his feet- his Shield spell keeping the wolf on him at bay. Shagga’s Divine Smite ends one of the beasts- a fourth wolf joins the fight instantly replacing the fallen beast. Gaukus’ Font of Magic is used to shape his Shatter spell around his allies- the blast sends another wolf down and injures and terrifies the other two canis. Myrium Cures Elvis’ Wounds and then thumps her Spiritual Weapon, a glowing mace-remember, in to one of the wolves, it has suffered enough- it flees.

Gaukus’ Shield fails him, the last wolf bites him and drags him down to the earth (he’s on 2 hit points), Elvis rushes over and continues his maelstrom of rapier and dagger, the gnome cuts the last beast down.

Which is the moment that Shagga hears the noise of his beautiful black stallion- HP, making his last frantic sounds in this world. The half-orc rushes to the mounts and cuts down another wolf with a Divine Smite fuelled attack. Gaukus takes care of the last of the sneaky beasts- after Myrium Cures his Wounds and helps the dragonborn to his feet- it takes four Magic Missiles to end the last wolf.

HP is dead, Dawn’s Glory and Grom-Taib have both been bitten and in trying to escape their stays have further bloodied their mouths. Only Dobbers is unharmed- and unflustered, further inspection reveals the corpse of a seventh wolf, kicked to death it seems by Elvis’ pony.

In the midst of despair, at least for Shagga- the half-orc is not at all happy, Elvis grins and slaps Dobbers flank- “that’s my gal”, the gnome declares- and then backs away as Dobbers kicks violently at the spot the rogue occupied less than a second earlier.

Dobbers is not a “gal”, nor does he belong to anyone- it seems. He (perhaps) suffers the gnome rogue to perch upon him.

Myrium strikes up the Prayer of Healing, as the session- finally, comes to a close.

It seems we’ll get to Thundertree and Reidoth the Brown next time.

We went from despair- the various faction-based side quests- which were fun but served little purpose; to even deeper despair- with no further clues as to the whereabouts of Gundren and Cragmaw Castle; to joy (eventually) with the news that Reidoth the Brown in Thundertree knows the way to Cragmaw Castle. I almost had to insist that the guys go meet with Mirna, they wanted to get off- in short they had stopped asking questions and were certain that they would figure things out for themselves. In truth I would have probably planted some clue in the Cragmaw Goblin’s lair that would have lead them to Thundertree (as I say, probably). That said the side quests, as in other play throughs of this adventure proved to be a bit of a distraction, I still haven’t figured the best way to get these done. Obviously, I could just drop them but I do like getting value for my money by getting the players to experience everything that the module has to offer.

Oh, and Rob (who plays Shagga) was really unhappy that Horse Power, his horse (obviously), got killed.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #8 The Cult of the Dragon

Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 3
Shagga, Son of Dorf (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Paladin of Kord Lvl 3
Gaukus Grom (played by Pete) Male Dragonborn Sorcerer Lvl 3
Elvis Pickersgilly (played by Jackie) Male Forest Gnome Rogue Lvl 3


Shagga (half-orc paladin) is still not happy, his mount- ‘HP’ (‘Horse Power’), was slaughtered by wolves last night. He is therefore forced to switch between jogging alongside his companions and riding behind Myrium (human cleric). Which he quite likes of course, Shagga has a thing about Myrium (his wife to be in real life). Shagga however, in all of his armour, weighs a bit over 250lbs- he’s a hefty slice of life, Myrium’s mount- Dawn’s Glory, is not as keen on the extra weight.

Eventually the foursome make their way to Thundertree, or at least they presume this is Thundertree…

A sign staked at the side of the choked trail reads- “DANGER! Plant monsters AND zombies! Turn back now!” Beyond the sign the track leads towards a cluster of ruined buildings, abandoned and over grown by vines and shrubs. Thundertree is a ruin, the adventurers are not sure what they expected to find- certainly, not this.

As if to test the veracity of the sign Elvis (gnome rogue), with Shagga following close behind, dismounts and wanders in to the nearest ruin- the pair are swiftly attacked by a clutch of knee-high twig-like creatures, which are ferocious- although easy to kill. The rest of the gang rush to help out.

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All of the adventurers except for Myrium suffer cuts and scratches, although only minor wounds, while half-a-dozen of the strange creatures- twig blights they later learn, are accounted for. The ruin is briefly searched- there’s nothing to find, although Gaukus (dragonborn sorcerer) spots something different, an intact cottage a little way up the choked path. What’s more there’s the drift of smoke coming from the chimney there.

Myrium makes for the place, strides over and knocks loudly on the door- a minute or so later a wizened old geezer dressed in what looks to be sackcloth opens up, the druid- for this is Reidoth the Brown, is immediately assaulted- by words. Myrium, after very briefly checking the fellow’s identity, tells the druid everything- about Gundren, about Wave Echo Cave, and most of all about the Black Spider. A great outpouring- almost a confession, the question she finishes with is however…

“Do you know where Cragmaw Castle is?” Myrium, and her companions, all strain to hear the answer.
“Yes! Of course! Come on in.” Reidoth brings joy.

An hour or so later and the situation has developed complexities- Reidoth knows where Cragmaw Castle is, the home of King Grol, he’s also willing to show the adventurer’s the way. However, first he has a favour to ask- ain’t it always the way.

In short Thundertree is home to a bunch of bad things- mostly zombies and dangerous plant-life, however of more concern is the fact that-

a) A bunch of masked and cloaked fellows have moved in to one of the buildings on the far side of the ruined village, and
b) There’s a dragon recently laired in the tower on the hill- the dragon arrived a month or so ago, Reidoth thinks, the masked men only a tenday past.

Reidoth is happy to help- providing the adventurers help him first- the druid wants the masked men and the dragon gone. Simple as.

The adventurers chat amongst themselves for a while, and eat soup- Reidoth makes great soup, the talk is really only for forms sake, the answer was always going to be ‘yes’, they’ll do it.

So, thirty minutes later- and in the last light of the day, the adventurers take to wandering around the ruins, their plan this evening is to try to find the herbalist shop and Mirna’s lost treasure, and also to pay a visit to the masked and cloaked men.

First port of call is another ruined building, there are lots of webs in here- Shagga has to cut his way in, Elvis is sent in to scout out the inside. There are many more webs within, and in a darker chamber signs of life- a giant spider nestles in the far corner, guarding the dried and withered remains of a humanoid- possibly an elf. The adventures spring their attack as the spider launches itself at them.

The fracas is short and to the point, the giant spider tries and fails to bite Shagga- the paladin and his companions unleash hell. The result- one dead giant spider.

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At which point the second giant spider which has been tracking the adventurers from its perch on the ceiling descends at speed and tries to bite Gaukus- the dragonborn, remarkably, evades the arachnid’s attack (I rolled ‘3’ and ‘4’ with advantage). Moments later the adventurers unleash hell for a second time, and the second giant spider meets its inevitable end.

The place is searched- the dead elf gives up its treasure, which turns out to include another Potion of Healing, which is nice.

The adventurers move on, next stop a more solid looking stone building which turns out to be a long-abandoned smithy- Elvis is the first to enter, although Myrium follows quickly behind. A pair of emaciated figures pick themselves up from the floor and lurch towards the adventurers- zombies.

Myrium decides not to Turn Undead (there are only two of them) and so is somewhat dismayed when she, and then all of her colleagues, fail to beat the zombies’ initiative rolls (yep, you read that right- the shambling undead are quicker to the punch). Seconds later the priestess is taking hits. Then Gaukus makes things worse by slamming a salvo of Magic Missiles in to one of the undead, the zombie is swiftly surrounded by a cloud of choking dust- Myrium suffers further, she’s left heaving and retching (and at disadvantage on all her attacks for a minute).

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Enough is enough, the priestess lofts her holy symbol and sends the undead skittering back to claw at the walls. The adventurers switch to ranged attacks and one at a time, shoot the undead down. Thus, the smithy is cleared.

The fights are however taking their toll, the kindly DM informs the group that the next short rest will signal the end of the light for the evening, their exploring will be in the dark- and therefore more dangerous thereafter.

It is therefore all the more rewarding that the next ruined building the adventurers investigate turns out to be the remains of Mirna’s family’s herbalist shop, after a thorough search the missing necklace (and family heirloom) is located. Myrium takes it for safe keeping- to give back to Mirna on their return to Phandalin.

The adventurers move on, through another ruined building (empty) and to a building which looks to be inhabited- the walls and ceilings are intact, and the doors and window shutters have been recently repaired.

“How can we help you friends?” The voice is attached to a face, a hooded male human who leans out of one of the windows. There follows a bunch of chatter, with Myrium doing most of the talking for the adventurers. Elvis, in the meantime, completes a circuit of the construction- there are more shuttered windows and a back door- the gnome decides to watch the other exit, just in case.

Myrium is making little headway with the face at the window, her tactics however leave a lot to be desired- she’s brutally honest. She simply states that she and her companions are adventurers for the Light (Lathander) tasked with clearing Thundertree- it is therefore time for the people she is addressing to leave. Basically, get out- NOW!

There’s nothing that the dragon cultists, safe in their lair (they think), can say to persuade Myrium to soften her stance. They don’t want trouble- neither does Myrium she assures them, but if it comes to trouble she will be happy to oblige.

It’s a stalemate, therefore Myrium asks Shagga to break the door down, this goes badly- very quickly (the half-orc starts with a Strength check ‘3’, followed by a ‘1’- against the recently repaired and barred door, with two cultists pressed against it on the other side).

DM Interlude- Rob, who plays Shagga delights in the fact that Myrium has asked him to complete this task, he preens a little before making his rolls… there was much laughter. Very impressive.

Shagga has to step away for a while and Lay on Hands on his smarting and bruised shoulder, soon after Elvis pitches up to offer his advice- the gnome is fed up of just watching and waiting, he wants to get closer to the action. Shagga however is not giving up yet, the half-orc paladin commits to the task, with a ten-yard headlong dash to the door (and rolls a ‘20’). The portal is smashed clean off its hinges, the two cultists previously holding it shut are both left partially crushed against the far wall of the scruffy room revealed.

It gets nasty, Elvis- just in time spots the two scimitar wielding cultists that are creeping up on him- out of the back door of the building, the trio get busy.

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Back at the front door Myrium follows Shagga in to the rough and untidy chamber and orders those within to surrender, for good measure she thumps the haft of her mace in to the fellow doing the talking at the window and knocks Favric (the cult leader) clean out (another ‘20’). All but one of the cultists surrenders, the feisty fellow slices Myrium with his scimitar (only a scratch). Gaukus steps in to the door way and fires a Ray of Frost in to the fool, who changes his mind about fighting instantly- apologising profusely, he too quickly surrenders.

Meanwhile there are screams coming from the outside of the building- Elvis is failing badly to keep the two cultists attacking him at bay, the gnome is hit twice (one of them a Critical Hit) and already heavily wounded. Shagga comes running, knocking cultists out the way as he rushes to Elvis’ side, the sudden proximity of the substantial paladin is enough to turn the tide. Elvis cuts one of the cultists down and then stabs the other- who instantly surrenders.

Back in the main chamber there are now three cultists (one unconscious) and only two adventurers, one of the trio of bad guys dodges past Gaukus and makes a break for freedom. Myrium is not impressed, she conjures her Spiritual Weapon and thumps the fleeing fellow in the back of his head- he immediately surrenders.

The remaining cultists are tied, gagged and bagged- and then after a brief search of them and their lair, they’re dragged back to Reidoth’s cottage. Time for a chat- that’s the end of exploring for the day.

The rest of the evening is spent in conversation with their new-found friends (after soup- even the bad guys remark upon how good the soup is). The four dragon cultists are interviewed one-by-one, and for the most part kept apart (and gagged and bagged). There are a few attempts at lying but enough facts emerge for the adventurers to figure out that these fellows are indeed dragon cultists, who have come to welcome the green dragon laired in the tower to its new home. Gaukus knows a little about these foul fellows and enlightens his comrades- Shagga and Myrium are suitably appalled. The latter however has a plan, she always has.

And so, the morning after four dragon cultists- with masks and cloaks, head out for the green dragon’s tower on the hill. One of the cultists is particularly short, Elvis has had to rip three or more feet of material off his cloak. To the tower they go, but not in- Myrium casts her spells- Protection from Poison on the gnome and Bless on her comrades- only then the trio enter. Elvis meantime quickly chugs his Potion of Flying and silently makes his way up the side of the tower- the roof is mostly missing.

Myrium leads her comrades swiftly in to the main chamber, in which sitting atop a sprawl of broken stone and wooden beams is a sizeable (young) green dragon.

“WHO…” The dragon bellows and draws back its head- ready to unleash its pestilent poison breath.
“Lord of the stars and of the moons, of the earth and the sea- light of the world, we bring you tribute” Myrium begins, while Shagga- hefting a large chest moves forward and bowing low lays the box at the dragon’s feet, opening it to reveal a slick of gold coin (all of the adventurer’s wealth, except for Elvis’ who does not contribute).

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The adventurer’s Deception and Performance checks are all better than average to good, while Myrium’s Persuasion check is exceptional (23). It helps that they have Gaukus with them, who has made particular study of his draconic ancestry. It further helps that they have also observed, and then mimicked, the gestures and sayings of the dragon cultists they interrogated earlier.

How could I (your humble DM) refuse them their moment in the sun- they’ve worked for it, and then got the rolls.

“Oh… I see… That is…” The dragon grins, and then dips a taloned claw in to the chest- the gold runs deep.

Up above the draconis a grinning be-cloaked gnome descends silently, entirely hidden in the shadows, towards its prey.

The only flaw with the plan is this- the trio of pretend dragon cultists cannot see where Elvis is, so good is the gnome’s Stealth check (26).

Shagga shrugs, grabs out his longsword gabbles his Vow of Enmity and then slices the drake with a Divine Smite, in the same moment Myrium’s Spiritual Weapon thumps the beast- although her Guiding Bolt (with advantage) is off target. Gaukus employs a Quickened Spell in order to get himself two attacks, six Magic Missiles in total thump in to the startled green dragon.

Myrium and Gaukus are smart enough to retreat out of the central chamber, making it difficult for the draconis to know where they are and therefore target them with its breath weapon.

At which point Elvis reaches his target and misses with his rapier assassination attempt (advantage- ‘2’ and ‘4’, this happens a lot), his dagger however is on target- and finds a vulnerable spot on the beast- it’s backside.

The green dragon roars in pain, and then claws- and bites, sinking its teeth in to Shagga, but the paladin is made of sterner stuff, he hacks again at the beast with another Divine Smite, which is more than enough. The young green dragon spreads its wings and leaps up and in to the air- Elvis stabs the beast again and then flies aside at the last instant (more good rolls).

The dragon is hit again by Myrium’s Spiritual Weapon, which follows the beast as it ascends, her follow up Guiding Bolt bathes the creature briefly in radiant energy, the dragon flees the encounter. The dragon is on 7 HP when it escapes the tower- it started on 136 HP.

That, after a much-extended session, is the end of events for the evening- all of the PCs now have enough XP for 4th level, although in the next session they wait a while before levelling up.

I’ve played this scenario five times now- the young green dragon in the tower has in all but one of these play throughs suffered considerably. The first time I DMed the scenario the dragon TPKed the party, since then I have had no luck. It seems the adventurers, armed with foreknowledge- and having developed a plan, are more than a match for the beast. I’ve even had a group kill the dragon, and I make a point of getting the beast up and out of its lair as soon as it’s bloodied. I promise you I’m trying to kill (or at least reduce to 0 HP) a few (if not all) of the PCs but almost every time… this play through was particularly bad, the guys inflicted lots of damage in their surprise round, and then followed up with more of the same (and with good initiative rolls), the dragon had one round of actions before it had to expend all of its efforts to get out of its lair alive. The only PC to take damage (although he took plenty of it) was Shagga- I should have started with the breath weapon but even then, with all PCs on full hit points... the bugger’s had me.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #9 The Brothers of the First Light

Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 3
Shagga, Son of Dorf (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Paladin of Kord Lvl 3
Gaukus Grom (played by Pete) Male Dragonborn Sorcerer Lvl 3
Elvis Pickersgilly (played by Jackie) Male Forest Gnome Rogue Lvl 3


All the PCs have enough XP for level 4, all they need is a long rest, however the bastards are so cocky they chose instead to, well… annoy me (your mostly benign DM).

The young green dragon is vanquished, time to find its treasure- soon after there are whoops of joy coming from a spinning Elvis (gnome rogue), cloak a-swirl, this after Myrium (human cleric) and Gaukus (dragonborn sorcerer) confirm that the beautiful rapier he has located is indeed magical.

After gathering up and then picking through the rest of the dragon’s treasure- which also includes a few nice scrolls, the adventurers rest for a while and then head back out of the tower and down the hill. The consensus is they are going to investigate a few more of the ruins- see what else they can find in Thundertree. The adventurers are also strutting a little, after kicking my dragon’s backside (literally) in the last session.

DM Interlude- a couple of things 1) Elvis away from the influence of Halia and the Zhent is actually starting to be a team player, he’s getting on with everyone and has almost stopped making snide remarks about his companions. Success seems to have turned his head. Also 2) the players have obviously had a chat between sessions, it seems my dragon was too easy, for the rest of the session they are pointedly putting their PCs in to danger, supremely confident that they have the resources to fight themselves out of any tight spots.

They are definitely getting cocky.

The Blessed Avengers move on…

First up a ruined cottage which turns out to be the lair of more twig blights, the fight is unworthy of the name- Shagga (half-orc paladin) is clawed once (for 3 HP damage), the plant creatures are decimated in double quick time.

26 More Twig Blights 75.jpg

Then, after a brief sojourn in the village square to admire the statue there, they head on to another more substantial, and intact, building- it’s arrow-slit windows, and crenelated upper section, make clear the place was once a garrison.

Elvis heads in, and then heads back out again- quickly, the place is full of zombies (actually the gnome spots two zombies). The adventurers take a step back from the doorway as the shambling undead shuffle out.

Myrium warns her companions to stay out of range of the undead but neither she, nor her colleagues, choose to heed the advice (basically they all move one square, five feet, back). Ten seconds later, after scoring a few ranged hits- but not enough to drop one of the shamblers, the adventurers find themselves with three of the ash zombies in their midst.

27 More Ash Zombies 75.jpg

Inevitably Myrium is the first of the adventurers to get caught in a zombie created ash cloud, and for the remainder of the fight she is at disadvantage on all of her attacks. Shagga suffers the same fate soon after.

DM Interlude- Ha!

The paladin has to resort to his Divine Smite, Myrium her Spiritual Weapon, and Gaukus more Magic Missiles, only Elvis has an easy time of it- the gnome backs off a good distance and settles for shooting pinpoint accurate arrows in to the heaving mass of (dead and alive) humanity.

The fight is a shambles. Inevitably the adventurers win through, but at a cost- Myrium is slammed repeatedly, while Shagga is also left badly wounded.

The disgruntled adventurers search the garrison- nothing of interest is found, and then take a short rest to heal their wounds, and generally bemoan their lot.

Another vote is called for- should the adventurers finish their grand tour of Thundertree, or should they just get on with rescuing Gundren Rockseeker. The vote is three to one, and thus- after a breather- the killing spree in Thundertree continues.

Only this time the DMs mood is less amenable.

The adventurers head back over to the east side of the ruined village, to the buildings just north of Reidoth’s cottage, there they trigger an encounter with a bunch more twig blights (eight in total). The bad to the bone DM however decides to activate the clutch of ash zombies that inhabit the ruined Brown Horse Tavern over the road from the present fracas, and thus in the midst of slaying the twig blights four ash zombies stroll in to the action.

DM Interlude- Revenge is a dish best served cold, and it tastes like ash in the mouth.

It all goes to hell for the Blessed Avengers remarkably quickly- thirty seconds in to the fracas and Myrium is critically wounded (and choking on ash again), Gaukus has gone through his spell repertoire- and is surrounded in one of the ruins by twig blights and zombies, and Shagga has taken a beating.

28 Blights & Zombies 75.jpg

Elvis, as previous, has got the hell out of dodge and is continuing to prove himself to be deadly accurate with his bow. When the wailing and stabbing has finally been concluded (which takes a good while, the fight went on for nearly an hour on Fantasy Grounds) the gnome is rightfully proud of the fact that he accounted for three of the four zombie attackers.

Thankfully there’s a little treasure hidden in one of the ruins.

That however concludes the killing spree, the PCs (and players) are sated- and spent, their resources entirely depleted.

With all of the adventurers plum out of spells, and healing (save Potions), the next inevitable stop is Reidoth’s cottage. The druid is informed of their activities, he goes out to check for himself on the dragon’s lair and returns in an hour or so over-joyed.

Preparations are made for the journey through the Neverwinter Woods to Castle Cragmaw, they’ll be heading out tomorrow. But for the rest of the day and night it’s more soup, more rest, and more chatter with the captured dragon cultists.

The latter takes a very odd turn.

Reidoth states that he is inclined to let the cultists go, but before doing so he is going to try to persuade the wretches of the error of their ways, and so over the course of several hours he attempts to do so.

Myrium decides however to get in on the act, this mainly brought on by the fact that Reidoth is not doing very well with his attempt. After a while Myrium takes over the sermon- and tries to introduce the teachings of Lathander in to the dragon cultist’s miserable lives.

Basically, for the next fifteen or so minutes Sandy (who plays Myrium) attempts to badger and cajole the rough young men (the cultists) about the foolishness of their wonton ways (remember Sandy is a school teacher- once she gets on one…)

Then the moment, she makes four Persuasion checks which are listed below in the exact order they happened (and unadjusted)- ‘16’, ‘18’, ‘19’ & ‘20’, and she’s at +4 from memory on those rolls). The ‘20’ of course was for Favric, the former dragon cultist leader, his conversion is the most dramatic. There are tears, both of joy and terrible regret for what has passed before, Myrium is in a messianic mood.

And the players, and the DM are laughing like drains- it almost gets happy-clappy at one point, “Lathander row the boat ashore, Hallelujah!” etc.

Just glorious- one of those moments in-game, nothing much to do with the plot or anything else going on- just a daft idea that comes to splendid fruition.

Cut to the chase, in the morning nine individuals set out for Cragmaw Castle- Reidoth the Brown, Myrium the Blessed, Shagga son of Dorf, Gaukus Grom, Elvis Pickersgilly and the recently confirmed Brothers of the First Light- Watt, Lumen, Lux and the zealot- Ray (formerly Favric).

The rest of the session (a very short session at that) was spent levelling the characters up, they’re level 4 now- and reliving (with much laughter) Myrium’s conversion of the cultists, and thus the ninth session draws to a close.

It was a cracker, and still makes my eyes glisten even as I write this up.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #10 Elvis the Killer.

Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 4
Shagga, Son of Dorf (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Paladin of Kord Lvl 4
Gaukus Grom (played by Pete) Male Dragonborn Sorcerer Lvl 4
Elvis Pickersgilly (played by Jackie) Male Forest Gnome Rogue Lvl 4


The Blessed Avengers are all over it in this session.

After an excellent night’s sleep, Reidoth the Brown and the adventurers (including the Brothers of the First Light) head off to Cragmaw Castle, the home of King Grol- and they hope their long-lost patron Gundren Rockseeker. Alas the adventurer’s mounts will not be making the journey, the Neverwinter Woods is no place for skittish riding horses. Reidoth whispers a while with Dobbers (Elvis’ (gnome rogue) Shetland Pony-style ride), the spirited (but diminutive) equine neighs once for yes- presumably, and then canters off- Myrium’s (human cleric) & Gaukus’ (dragonborn sorcerer) riding horses follow on after. Reidoth briefly explains (mostly to open-mouthed stares)- “the Lord of Horses, or as you know him Dobbers, will guide your mounts safely back to Phandalin.”

“Right!” Myrium offers, and then… “Excuse me, did you say- the Lord of Horses? Dobbers?”
“Aye.” Reidoth nods, and then strides off in to the woods.

Eventually the others follow on, Elvis all the while grinning like a loon.

DMs Interlude- it’s good to mess with their heads every now and then.

The trip through the woods is fraught with danger- at least that’s the way Reidoth tells it, and yet a day and a half later the assembled troop find themselves unmolested on the outskirts of a ruined castle, of ancient elvish construction, perhaps.

DMs Interlude- remember I’m using the Random Encounter Tables exactly as written in the module.

Cragmaw Castle, a wide clearing surrounds the remains of the once massive building, there’s no way to approach it that is unobserved, there are a variety of arrow slits and windows on every side. If there are goblins watching then even under the cover of darkness the adventurers are likely to be observed (with Darkvision), particularly as several of them are really not adept at moving stealthily.

And so, the plan- it’s as simple as this, Elvis volunteers to observe and then infiltrate the redoubt, or as he puts it “I’ll ‘ave a mooch abaht abit.”

Note Jackie (who plays Elvis) often lapses in to really bad cockney when she’s voicing her guy, I’ve not asked but I think she’s channelling the Artful Dodger (from Oliver), or else Dick Van Dyke’s Chimney Sweep from Mary Poppins (or should that be ‘Maori Poppings’).

Myrium is about to catalogue her objections when Elvis grabs out a small vial (Invisibility Potion) and swigs down the contents. The gnome rogue disappears.

“If I’m not back in an ‘our come and git me.” Elvis’ voice tails off as the gnome moves towards the ruined Castle Cragmaw.

It seems Jackie, who only started playing the game ten sessions ago, is due her time in the spotlight- she’s also now confident enough to fly solo.

A circuit of the ruins reveals three things to Elvis- there’s a front door, with goblins close by (they’re noisy); there’s a locked postern gate- also with goblins close by (very noisy here); and lastly- there’s a secret way in around the other side of the ruin. A simple, unguarded walkway through a massive pile of rubble hidden by a painted tarp. Easy really.

Elvis ventures in and discovers a pair of rubble-strewn empty chambers- with a variety of exits. To the west a door leads in to a high-ceilinged dark hall- empty, while a second western door leads in to a very noisy chamber, which must contain a gang of goblins. There are also two doors to the east- one leads in to a chamber with two hobgoblin guards, behind the other door is an argument- a pair of raised voices. Elvis doesn’t know the goblin tongue, and yet he understands four words that are used often- ‘Gundren Rockseeker’, that’s two- and ‘Black Spider’, that’s four.

29 Elvis Sneak 75.jpg

“Bingo!” The gnome rogue whispers to himself and then makes his way back out of Cragmaw Castle and all the way back to his friends.

And so, back in the Neverwinter Forest, thirty minutes (in-game time) after he departed, Elvis returns- he doesn’t announce his presence, he just tells his story.

Ten minutes later and the adventurers (with the Brothers of the First Light in tow) have made their way around to the other side of the ruin, following as best they can the instructions of the still invisible gnome. A few minutes later and the Blessed Avengers (only) are safely inside the ruins, and to the door beyond which the argument still rages. The Brothers of the First Light are left in the forest, watching the secret entrance for their saviour’s return.

“Dis is it”, Elvis hisses and then grabs Myrium’s hand and manoeuvres it to point to a thick curtain draped across an entrance no more than fifteen feet away from where the adventurers stand- “Hobgoblins”, Elvis hisses.

Suddenly the curtain is pulled halfway open, light spills out of the newly revealed chamber, a hefty hobgoblin stands in the entrance with its back to the Blessed Avengers- it mumbles at someone unseen, and then changes its mind and draws the curtain closed again.

The adventurers stand statue for a second longer, holding their breath- and then with grins visibly relax.

At that exact moment the curtain is torn open- the hobgoblin revealed screams and hollers and rushes to attack.

So close, just to say the guys (and particularly Elvis) did some great exploring accompanied by very many good or great skill checks- and then, just at the last moment, their dice done gone broke on them.

Lots of things happen at once.

Elvis (still invisible) ignores the rushing hobgoblin and opens the door ahead to reveal a well-appointed tower chamber, with a roaring fire- a fat bugbear (King Grol), with a snarling wolf (called Snarl) at his side and standing only five feet in to the room- a drow. Elvis’s thoughts are ‘Drow’, ‘Black Spider’ & ‘Kill’; and so he does, or at least attempts to. The gnome blinks back in to vision with both of his blades embedded deep in the now critically wounded drow’s gut.

30 King Grol 75.jpg

Less than a second later and Elvis has tumbled back out of the chamber and has hidden himself behind an armoured friend or two.

At which point the screaming hobgoblin charges in to Shagga (half-orc paladin) and slashes him, Myrium’s Bless spell momentarily lights up the chamber, while her Spiritual Weapon thumps the staggering drow in the chest, remarkably it still lives.

Shagga calls down Kord’s fury and with a Divine Smite decapitates the hobgoblin, there’s another in the chamber beyond, clambering to its feet, and intent on getting away. However, the half-orc paladin has another purpose- he rushes in to the newly revealed tower chamber and spots a dwarf sprawled on the floor, he moves to protect the fallen (dead or just unconscious?) figure- and in doing so gets a good look at the fellow- “Gundren?”

The unconscious dwarf alas is not in a position to confirm his name; and remember the only member of the Blessed Avengers who has met Gundren is Myrium.

At which point Gaukus moves in, the dragonborn’s Thunderwave, followed by a Quickened Shatter spell, causes the enemies within the tower chamber to crouch, scatter, snarl & whine, or else desperately find a way to block their ears. The drow is killed outright, Snarl (the wolf) whimpers- while King Grol looks like he’s already had enough.

The only way out for Snarl however is through Gaukus, the wolf tries to make it happen but the sorcerer’s Shield spell deflects the beast, moments later Myrium’s Spiritual Weapon smashes its skull (with a Crit).

Shagga shouts his Vow of Enmity at the quivering bugbear, King Grol, and then slices the fat old bastard (with yet another Crit). What’s left of the bugbear is on its knees and pleading for its life.

The situation in the tower chamber is under control.

“Stop that Hobgoblin!” Myrium shouts at Gaukus and Elvis, the pair scurry to comply, after the last fleeing hobgoblin guard- the gnome rogue gets close enough to spin a dagger in to the creature’s back (with… bloody hell, another Crit). Not enough however to kill it, that honour falls to Gaukus with a trio of Magic Missiles.

DM Interlude- three Crits in two rounds from the PCs, if it carries on like this I may as well take up cross stitch.

The adventurers grab the bodies of the fallen and drag them in to Grol’s chamber- the bugbear chief meantime has been gagged and bagged, with his hands tied- this after a couple more shots across the chops from Shagga to make him a little more personable.

At this point it also becomes clear that the drow killed earlier is not the Black Spider, the creature is not even a drow- the corpse has assumed a whole different form, a grey skinned sexless humanoid, identified by Gaukus as a doppelganger. Bastards!

The players are gutted! They thought all of their birthdays had come at once.

The Blessed Avengers are however in a rush. Less than a minute later and Myrium has Gundren on his feet- the dwarf has cuts and bruises but for the most part responds well to the adventurer’s chatter (and healing). It’s time to go, although perhaps not before a quick look around, Gundren is quickly back to being himself- he’s not leaving until his map is found, the map to Wave Echo Cave. Thirty seconds later and Grol’s treasure and the aforementioned map are found- hidden, badly, beneath the bugbear chief’s bed.

Now it’s time to depart, back the way they came- signalling for the Brothers of the First Light to come and help them with their new charges- a stumbling King Grol, and a staggering Gundren Rockseeker.

It is at this point, in the open ground between the woods and Castle Cragmaw that Targor Bloodseeker, hobgoblin boss, and his troops (another half-a-dozen hefty hobgoblins), accompanied by a pair of snarling wolves put in an appearance.

The two groups stand statue staring at each other for perhaps ten seconds.

Targor is a practical hobgoblin, and smart enough to know when chat is the better option.

“Kill Grol”, Targor points at the bugbear king, “then go, quickly.”
Myrium takes a moment to catch up on events. “You want us to kill Grol?”
“Yes.” Targor simply states.
“You want us to kill this wretch, while he is gagged, bound and cannot see to defend himself- that would be…” Myrium splutters in anger.
“That would be the best time to kill him.” Targor finishes the priestess of Lathander’s statement, and then nods- three of the hobgoblins that follow him back away, heading for the front door of Castle Cragmaw, reinforcements will soon be on their way.

31 Targor 75.jpg

DM Interlude- time for another moral dilemma.

“Can we go now?” Elvis asks, all eyes turn to watch King Grol, previously being held aloft by Lux and Watt- now gargling his last on the floor. Elvis wipes his blade (that was his best, and easiest, assassination by far).

DM Interlude- moral dilemma over, that didn’t take long.

“Go now. Don’t ever return.” Targor states and winks at Elvis.

Elvis winks back- it’s always good to have friends.

The adventurers, save for Myrium, are off and running- back in to the woods. Even Shagga. Myrium just stands there- frightened that she is in fact doing all of this for nothing.

About an hour or so later, during the first rest stop- the arguments start, mostly between Myrium and Elvis, but there’s also a little bit of player on player. The sticking point can be summed up by the following two statements-

Myrium- “We don’t kill creatures that are tied up, gagged, et al. That is bad. Very bad.”
Elvis- “I do, because I am capable of doing bad things.”

The argument circles for a good while but is momentarily forgotten as Gundren has a story to tell, and the DM wants to get on.

DM Interlude- Sandy (playing Myrium) and Jackie (playing Elvis) are heating things up with snidey in and out-of-game comments. I’m attempting to get the game rolling again…

Anyway, Gundren-

“The Black Spider is a drow, he- I think he’s a he, is after Wave Echo Cave- he already has a copy of my map. The doppelganger you slew was an envoy of the Black Spider. The Black Spider is either in Wave Echo Cave already, or else he’s on his way there. You have to help me- my brothers, Tharden & Nundro, are there… you must help us?”

Gundren has no need to plead, the adventurers are on it- and so with the Brothers of the First Light in tow it’s quick march back to Phandalin, and then on to Wave Echo Cave.

Only not yet, the group end the day on the very edge of the Neverwinter Forest, and there make their camp for the night. All is well until the last watch, when Ray the Zealot spots a creature in the half-light, and then another- ghouls!

32 Ghouls 75.jpg

His cries wake the gang, who are quick to take up arms (and spells), the ghoul’s attack (there are four of them) is blunted as Myrium lofts her holy symbol and sends all of the undead scurrying off.

The priestess of Lathander then orders the Blessed Avengers NOT to stray from the camp- basically not to go chasing off in to the forest after the undead.

Elvis (of course) disobeys orders and hunts down one of the fleeing ghouls and slays it, the gnome returns to the clearing just in time for the arguments to start up again.

And boy do they get going…

That however is the end of the tenth session of play, another short one.

Fingers-crossed the 11th session will prove less fractious.

However, a little later- via e-mail, I instigate a chat about alignment and in-game play, and the business of giving orders. The discussion is almost entirely mature, by which I mean there’s very little fruity language and name calling, there’s some, but not too much.

As previously the discussion boils down to-

Myrium (Sandy)- “We don’t kill creatures that are tied up, gagged, et al. That is bad. Very bad.”
Elvis (Jackie)- “I do, because I am capable of doing bad things.”

The other issue mentioned (often) is of course-

“Who are you to say what I/we do or don’t do?”

There’s a bit of me that believes that the two players arguing are taking all of this far too seriously, but it’s a good discussion in places. In summary the outcome is-

Jackie (Elvis)- “My PC is a nasty bastard, maybe he’ll change, but for now he likes the fact that he can do bad things (if and when needed) in order to move the plot/story on.”
Sandy (Myrium)- “My PC is good, she wants to find a way to move the story/plot on without doing despicable things, and of course she’s going to be angry if one of her companions behaves badly.”

Although my summary, for the players, was something like-

“It’s just a game. You are roleplaying (very well, at times) complex characters which you have created. There’s no use upsetting/insulting each other (out-of-game) because of things you have done when you are playing your character as you see fit. The actions of your PCs do not reflect your own beliefs (obviously). By all means have a pop at each other in-game but don’t drag it out in to the real world.”

It’s slightly odd (for an old DM like me), and yet also enervating- the two players in question are most definitely riled, and on the defensive (mostly by attacking), but they both care enough about the game- and the kind of story they want to tell (I guess) to start the argument.

The other thing that needs to be borne in mind is the two players in question have only been gaming for a very short time, this real world versus game world stuff may take a little bit of getting used to. I guess when I started playing then the moral maze was less apparent, the dualistic nature of the game world (Good vs Evil) was either writ large and therefore easy to read, or else just assumed/subsumed- we killed stuff and just got on with it. We weren’t good or evil, we were ravenous for sweet times slaying red dragons in thirty-foot square rooms as part of the latest Monty Haul dungeon our 14-year-old DM had dreamed up and populated by flicking to random pages in the MM.

Ah, the halcyon days of summer.

Normalcy returns (briefly) in the next session.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #11 It’s called Wave Echo Cave, you idiots!

Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 4
Shagga, Son of Dorf (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Paladin of Kord Lvl 4
Gaukus Grom (played by Pete) Male Dragonborn Sorcerer Lvl 4
Elvis Pickersgilly (played by Jackie) Male Forest Gnome Rogue Lvl 4


And so, the best part of a day later and the Blessed Avengers and their entourage arrive back in Phandalin, to a mostly joyous welcome. However, the guys are all business, they have decided to get a few jobs done with what’s left of the day, they’ll head out to Wave Echo Cave at dawn the next morning.

Phandalin.jpg

The adventurers also discover that their three remaining mounts are already stabled at the Inn, they returned to Phandalin a day-and-a-half-ago, unscathed- seemingly being led by Dobbin. This last fact brings a tear of pride to Elvis’ (gnome rogue) eye.

Things to do and people to see, the Blessed Avengers accomplish the following-

a) A visit to Mirna and the return of her family heirloom from Thundertree, tears and blessings from the broken woman and her children, also a pair of Healing Potions from Sister Garaele. Good work.

b) A little light shopping to top up the equipment, alas there are no more potions of anything for sale in Phandalin- the Blessed Avengers have already purchased all that are available in the town. The DM thinks they have enough.

c) A series of meetings with various faction bosses (Daran, Sister Garaelle & Sildar), mainly to catch up with events and plan the next stage of the operation.

d) Elvis also catches up his boss- Halia Thornton of the Phandalin Mining Exchange, oddly the gnome is somewhat subdued, being an adventurer has perhaps taken some of the fun out of being a member of the Black Network. The gnome may also be developing a conscience.

e) There’s a long chat with the Brothers of the First Light- basically they are not going to Wave Echo Cave, the four new found followers of Lathander are gutted. The DM has a half-baked idea already taking shape… we’ll see these guys again, promise.

And that’s about it- Sildar and Gundren are heading out with the Blessed in the morning, however the pair are not going to be allowed to venture in to Wave Echo Cave, further interrogation of Gundren reveals that he and his brothers have only explored a little way in, they don’t know what dangers lie beyond.

There’s one other odd moment in Phandalin to report, early evening Pip Stonehill, the young son of the Stonehill Innkeepers, has an odd(-ish) conversation with Gaukus Grom (dragonborn sorcerer).

Pip is interested in finding out how the dragonborn knew he had magical powers, alas the young lad does not have the vocabulary to make himself fully understood. Pip, as far as Gaukus can make out, can hear ‘the magic in his head’- in short, the young lad thinks he is going to be a wizard.

Gaukus is obviously very happy for him and makes reassuring comments.

The players are momentarily confused, and perhaps confounded by the event- which is pretty much what I wanted to happen but I’m not hanging around- and so we dash on to the morrow, and their trip to Wave Echo Cave.

As it turns out Wave Echo Cave is only ten miles outside of town, the route however is torturous- and made worse by Gundren’s paranoia, constantly checking and rechecking that they are not being followed. And so, nearly three hours later the Blessed Avengers and their patrons arrive at Wave Echo Cave, and enter in…

The first chamber, a high-ceilinged cavern used it appears by generations of miners as a base camp, the place is a mess… and then Gundren spots the lifeless body of his brother, Tharden. Much wailing and gnashing, and the swearing of revenge follows.

33 Wave Echo Cave 75.jpg

Eventually, after the cavern is thoroughly searched and investigated, Sildar and Gundren are persuaded to take the body of Tharden back to Phandalin, this after Gundren first bequeaths Tharden’s magical boots (Striding and Springing) to Elvis, who has been the most sympathetic to his plight. Actually, all Elvis (Jackie) did in game was make lots of threats and promises of bloody vengeance, the rest of the guys went for the sympathy angle, go figure.

Sildar states that he will return to the cavern later today with a gang of hired miners and ‘rough fellows’ to make camp, should the adventurers need to retreat then they will be waiting here for them.

And so, the Blessed Avengers head in after checking out both possible passages- the one north seems to lead in to a mine, the eastern leads to stone flagged corridors. They head east and are rewarded only moments later when a great crashing sound echoes down the passage, their initial trepidation is however soon put to rest.

I swear it went a little like this-

“What the hell was that?” Myrium (human cleric) asks and grabs out her mace.
Shagga (half-orc paladin) grunts and draws his blade, ready for anything.
“I have no idea, but I don’t like the sound of it.” Elvis answers, the gnome rogue also draws his bow (at present his favourite weapon).

After about thirty seconds of silence.

“It’s called Wave Echo Cave, you idiots!” Gaukus states (or rather Pete who plays Gaukus does, and in a most unsympathetic way).

“Oh yeah.” Is the consensus.

The adventurers, after a brief chat, decide to follow the sound- this after it repeats itself only a few minutes later, as their discussion continues. The theory is the sound may indeed be made by a ‘wave’ (which indicates water), but what is making the wave; the theory concludes that whatever’s making the wave is something to do with magic et al and will probably prove to be the site of the finale of this adventure.

Not a bad theory.

Wrong, of course, but who am I burst their bubble.

The Blessed Avengers stalk the halls, the Darkvision equipped gnome rogue and half-orc paladin to the fore, although- as it turns out, that doesn’t help much either.

The stirges nested on the ceiling of the first cavern intersection they enter, which is littered with the skeletal remains of at least two dozen humanoids- dwarves and orcs it seems, roll particularly high for their collective Stealth check (‘20’).

34 Stirges 75.jpg

Half of the stirge population (five) get in to action, a surprise round later and Shagga is being bled by one of the beasties while Elvis is lying on the cold stone cavern floor unconscious and being feasted upon by the other four stirges. That was quick.

The Blessed Avengers get in to action, or at least 75% of them do, Gaukus’ icy Breath Weapon accounts for four of the creatures, as more stirges flutter towards the dragonborn sorcerer.

Myrium lofts her holy symbol and Preserves Life, and Elvis opens his eyes- Shagga meantime clears the blood-drinking stirges off the fallen gnome, except for one which Elvis wrestles off- eventually. Gaukus opens up with the Magic Missiles and seconds later there are only a pair of the winged miscreants left, they don’t survive long.

Elvis is however still badly wounded (it took him three rounds to detach the last stirge on him).

The guys have been in Wave Echo Cave for less than ten minutes and they already feel like they are on the back foot, a feeling that is going to stay with them for a few sessions, at least.

After a little more healing the Blessed Avengers head south (this after a momentary lapse in which two of the four are convinced that the Wave Echo sound is coming from this direction- it isn’t, they just rolled really badly).

Down another flagged corridor strewn with the ancient dead, ending in open doors leading in to a pair of chambers, both containing more skeletal remains. The chamber to the west seems to be an ancient guardroom, Elvis scouts ahead and inadvertently triggers the ancient guards to rise up- skeletons, lots of them (there are nine). Worse still several of the ancient defenders are back out in the corridor, the Blessed Avengers are effectively surrounded.

Of course, it could be much worse- some of the skeletons could have missile weapons.

They have shortbows.

35 Skeletons 75.jpg

Elvis is hit by two arrows, and then surrounded by three Skeletons with short swords, the gnome- so recently healed, is back to below ten hit points in a matter of seconds.

Gaukus unleashes his Thunderwave, Shagga starts swinging- as does Elvis with his magical rapier and dagger combo, while Myrium- who doesn’t have access to her Turn Undead (she just Preserved Life) conjures her Spiritual Weapon and then takes to melee.

The skeletons start to fall, but not before Shagga is heavily wounded- Gaukus has to up his game- a Shatter spell accounts for most of the skeleton artillery.

Shagga’s Shield of Faith lasts mere seconds, the half-orc paladin’s concentration is broken when another skeleton gets to him and cuts him badly (with a Crit). It gets desperate quickly.

Myrium has to spam the Cure Wounds spells, in-between directing her Spiritual Weapon, however all her work is for nought when Shagga soaks up another big hit (and another Crit- the half-orc is down to five hit points).

The half-orc is not alone, another skeleton gets to Gaukus and slices the dragonborn sorcerer (even with Shield from his Staff of Defence- yet another Crit).

The adventurers however, finally, win through- the last skeleton double-teamed to flinders by Shagga and Elvis.

There’s a very brief heated moment when Myrium (Sandy) snaps at Elvis (Jackie) for wandering ahead, but it’s short-lived and followed very quickly by an apology, wandering ahead is what the gnome rogue does.

The guys have seen enough, the door to the chamber is pulled too- and wedged shut, time for a short rest, Myrium and Gaukus are already low on spells, and several Healing Potions have been quaffed. It’s tough going.

An hour or so latter and resolved to me more cautious the Blessed Avengers emerge from their temporary lair, first stop is the chamber opposite- a skeleton strewn chamber with a counter, soon after a set of scales is discovered- this is an assayer’s office. Myrium states that there’s nothing to be gained from further searching and is proved wrong in a matter of seconds- Elvis finds the cash box and then a minute later gets it open- there are lots of coins within.

Even Shagga is impressed, and he’s always siding with Myrium against the gnome rogue.

Soon after the adventurers head north again, this time certain that the Wave Echo sound is coming from the north east, which is correct.

A natural passage heads in the right direction, and there are lights ahead- or else a sickly green glow, the guys (very cautiously) head off, and discover a much larger chamber over-run with all manner of fungi, the passage continues on beyond the chamber.

36 Poison Fungi 75.jpg

Myrium is about to head in but is stopped by Elvis, the gnome is not sure the chamber ahead is safe (he called for an active Perception check and then rolled a ‘20’, I provided just the merest hint that something was untoward). Several Nature checks (and other skills) later and three of the four PCs are now convinced that the chamber ahead is somehow ‘wrong’. Only Myrium is inclined to press on, however with three against one, even she has to bow to pressure.

DMs Interlude- all of the guys rolled high enough for me to hint about the sickly smell, and/or colour of the fungi’s glowing furze, but none of them rolled high enough for me to just tell them that the way ahead was dangerous, the fungi poisonous and the air thick with their toxic spore.

The Blessed Avengers back-track again and find another passage- actually to a doorway in to a chamber to the north. Elvis creeps in to take a look and discovers a trio of ghouls crunching ancient bones to lick out the marrow, the gnome rogue is as silent as the grave- he also spots another entrance to the chamber, a long forgotten barracks.

The gnome creeps back out (no Stealth roll below 20) and gets the team up to speed, a few minutes later and Elvis and Myrium have crept around to the second door in to the chamber- time for the ambush.

37 Ghouls 75.jpg

The attack goes perfectly to plan- Myrium hits a Ghoul with her Sacred Flame, as it turns to face the pair Elvis fires an arrow through its throat, assassinating the foul undead. Gaukus’ Fire Bolt leaves another screaming (rolls maximum damage), Shagga races in and cuts the burned beast down.

The last ghoul has barely registered events when Elvis’ second arrow (and second assassination attempt- surprise round followed by high initiative) thunks in to and then through the undead creature’s chest, it too expires.

Now that’s more like it.

A search of the chamber reveals nothing much of interest, the passages to the west lead back in to the mines, not the direction the Blessed Avengers want to be going, another flagged corridor is discovered however, this one heading north- that’s more like it.

A little way along the ancient broken passage yet another chamber is found, and another door- again cautiously investigated, the door leads in to a storeroom containing crates and barrels- long spoiled rations and rusted and broken tools. The place however can be secured, the door is still sturdy and can be barred from the inside.

The Blessed Avengers have discovered their bolt hole, the chamber they will flee too if things get too dangerous.

That however is the end of the session, the first two fights really knocked the wind out of the players- and Myrium (Sandy) in particular who suffered a string (in her eyes) of failures. The last fight against the ghouls however seemed to see the guys getting their mojo back, that and with the discovery of the storeroom they’re starting to believe that they have at last made some progress in Wave Echo Cave.

The adventurers should not however be too quick to congratulate themselves, the DM has been busy- while the entrance cavern to Wave Echo Cave has been unguarded a pair of very inquisitive creatures have passed through and in to the lost mine.

One of the newly arrived creatures is Cecil, the nothic, the other is not.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #12 Pip.

Myrium the Blessed (played by Sandy) Female Human Cleric of Lathander Lvl 4
Shagga, Son of Dorf (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Paladin of Kord Lvl 4
Gaukus Grom (played by Pete) Male Dragonborn Sorcerer Lvl 4
Elvis Pickersgilly (played by Jackie) Male Forest Gnome Rogue Lvl 4


And so here we go again, Wave Echo Cave and the Blessed Avengers have decided that they need to head north east, towards the sound of well… the Wave Echo, and so after securing their new-found base- a long-abandoned storeroom, the adventurer’s find another passage which heads north.

Elvis (gnome rogue), as always, leads the way- in to what appears to be a massive cavern, with a pair of ancient great stone tables ahead. The rogue heads east, scurrying cautiously on to a raised area- there’s another table here, like a high table in a feast hall- there’s also another passage leading north, which is good to know, the place however seems to be long deserted.

That is until Elvis heads west, there’s another raised section- and crouched up there four more ghouls, the gnome can hear the quartet crunching on ancient bones. The rogue observes the undead terrors for a short while and then heads back to his companions (with four Stealth checks in total- the lowest 17 adjusted, nice work).

Soon after a plan is formulated- Myrium (human cleric) and Shagga (half-orc paladin) hang back, neither is particularly stealthy. Gaukus (dragonborn sorcerer) moves forward with Elvis to the western stairs, and then finds a place to Hide himself.

39 Ghouls Again 75.jpg

Then Elvis gets to work- the plan begins with an assassination attempt on the nearest ghoul, which results in a wild shot (advantage ‘2’ & ‘4’), the gnome has to act up his disappointment in order to get the ghoul’s attention.

Seconds later Elvis departs at speed, the four ghouls racing after the gnome rogue- down the stairs and straight in to Gaukus’ range, the sorcerer’s Shatter spell kills one of the quartet, leaves another only just clinging on to undeath- the last two ghouls are also wounded. At which point the waiting Myrium comes striding forward and blasts a ghoul with her Sacred Flame, Shagga races past the priestess of Lathander and buries his longsword in the same creature- killing it.

Just two ghouls left alive, or so the Blessed Avengers believe, that is until a fifth ghoul scampers down the stairs- which foxes the adventurers for a short while, where did the bugger come from?

Elvis, from Hiding, launches another arrow- this time deadly accurate (a Crit) and another ghoul falls, meantime Myrium and Shagga are going toe-to-toe with the undead, while Gaukus snipes with his Fire Bolt, remarkably the sorcerer never misses.

However, the adventurers don’t have things all their own way- there were seven ghouls in the upper section, four spotted by Elvis, and three more out of sight. The last two ghouls come skittering down the rough stone of the western ledge and straight at Shagga- the half-orc paladin is clawed badly (one a Crit) but manages to avoid the undead foe’s paralyzing poison.

Shagga cuts another down (with yet another Crit).

Myrium has to fire up her Spiritual Weapon, Gaukus emerges from hiding and unleashes his icy Breath Weapon- the three ghouls left standing barely notice. Shagga soaks up another Crit- the paladin is wavering, down to six hit points.

Myrium’s Spiritual Weapon is deadly accurate (yet another Crit), and another ghoul falls; Gaukus takes down the second to last with yet another Fire Bolt (he hasn’t missed once in five attacks).

The last ghoul attempts to flee, it doesn’t get far- Shagga cuts it down, and the battle is won.

That was a lot tougher than the guys thought it would be, forty-five minutes of knife edge stuff- I got in 5-6 hits with the ghouls but every time the PCs made their save, if I could have paralyzed just one of them… if only…

Shagga has taken a beating, the Blessed Avengers withdraw from the chamber, briefly, and fire up the healing- they’ve not got a lot left, although they all still have at least one potion of Healing left.

Then back in to the massive chamber for a thorough search.

At which point your beneficent DM wonders whether this wouldn’t be a good time to have a roll on the Wandering Monster Table, after all the battle was hardly a silent affair- with Fire Bolts, a Shatter spell and plenty of screaming.

What do you know- the Wandering Monster Table conjures up a lone ghoul.

And so, the Blessed Avengers split up and complete their search of the chamber, Myrium heads up on to the eastern raised section, and there- hiding behind the table is the aforementioned lone ghoul.

40 Lone Ghoul 75.jpg

A chance to redeem myself, a surprise attack and… (‘4’ & ‘4’). What is it with surprise attacks and advantage? The priestess begins screaming for her comrades in arms- while all the time hammering the undead beast with her mace. It takes a couple of rounds for the other Blessed Avengers to get to her, but the DMs dice are broken- no hits. Gaukus finds the target with another Fire Bolt, Myrium connects again with her mace (with a Crit) and the ghoul is shot in the back by Elvis. It dies.

The battle, such as it was, is won- and the players are feeling pretty good about themselves, they keep winning.

The DM however is content, he knows what comes next (if the guy’s head north), and he’s also aware that the players are almost through their reserves of everything- spells, powers etc.

True to form the Blessed Avengers head north, as per usual with Elvis leading the way, only this time the passage is much shorter, and the chamber beyond- which is soon illuminated and investigated contains a blast furnace and smelter. However, of greater import are the scattered remains of maybe half-a-dozen dwarves, particularly when the zombies begin to drag themselves to their feet, there are eight of them, seconds later battle is joined.

Only zombies- the players are supremely confident; how does it go- Mwa-ha-ha, they’re about to get a lesson.

The zombies shuffle closer as the Blessed Avengers move back to the entrance of the chamber in order to present a solid front. Elvis gets in a shot with his bow (a Crit, when will it end) and the first zombie falls.

41 Zombie Smelter 75.jpg

Myrium presents her holy symbol and sends five of the shuffling undead shambling back the way they came- leaving only a single zombie in the fight. The priestess is slammed but with Shagga now in action the lone zombie doesn’t last long, the half-orc paladin decapitates the foul creature.

At which point a fiery skull (human-sized, a flameskull) flies up from within the depths of the blast furnace.

“Death to the intruders!” The flameskull screams and then fires two arcing fiery blasts at Shagga and Myrium- the front line, alas both bursts are off target… and we pause play.

“What the hell is that?” Is the consensus in game, and we switch to a brief round of Monster Knowledge checks. Alas the Blessed Avenger’s rolls are mostly low, Shagga sums up their collective knowledge- “Flameskull, dead wizard- fires… well, fire!”
“You don’t say.” Elvis replies with a smirk.
“Take it down!” Myrium screams.

Elvis fires his bow, the arrow thunks in to the flameskull and leaves not a mark, the rogue skitters behind the blast furnace- in cover and out of sight of the monstrosity. Myrium conjures her Spiritual Weapon and sends it flying up to menace the flameskull, and… and… nothing much works.

In reply the flameskull belches forth a pea-sized red pellet which unerringly lances down and in to the midst of the Blessed Avengers, it explodes- a Fireball, which is big enough to engulf all of the adventurers, including the hidden Elvis.

DMs Interlude- Fireball = 8d6 Fire, I roll 27 damage- only one of the PCs makes their save.

Seconds later Elvis (on 8 hit points- he made his save), still screaming and stumbling all the way flees the chamber. A moment later from the billowing smoke of the corridor follows Gaukus (on 1 hit point), his clothes still on fire in places.

Staggering after the pair comes Shagga (also on 1 hit point), the half-orc paladin has to use his Inspiration Point to generate an extra action to grab up the unconscious Myrium and hoist her on to his shoulder.

The flameskull, of course, gives chase- at least for a short while, to the end of the passageway in to the great feast hall, it arrives just in time to see Shagga, still carrying the unconscious Myrium, disappear in to the southern corridor of the chamber.

“EXTERMINATE!” (Delivered in best Dalek voice) The flameskull’s screams echo after the Blessed Avengers, all the way back to the storeroom they discovered earlier.

Although Shagga doesn’t make it there for a while- Myrium suddenly convulses, begins to shudder and shake (having just failed her second Death Save), the half-orc stops running long enough to fire his last spell in to the dying priestess- Cure Wounds (he’s out of Lay on Hands).

Myrium lives.

Later the burnt and broken Blessed Avengers brood and bicker in the storeroom.

That was very close.

DMs Interlude- the players were very quiet for a while, we had a break here- for drinks and pizza, but the fare was accompanied by lots of glum looks with grunts for replies- they take this stuff to heart it seems. I think I’m off a few Christmas card lists.

The Blessed Avengers take an extended rest, after first using up whatever healing spells and powers they have left (save a few potions, they’re trying to preserve these). They have a long chat about things and come to the following conclusion- let’s try the mines, let’s go the other way.

During their downtime they also dream up an audacious plan to deal with the flameskull, the scheme involves Shagga Misty Stepping on to the top of the blast furnace, Elvis following him up using his Boots of Striding and Springing. Atop the furnace the pair aim to attack the flameskull with all they have got (and using their magic weapons) as and when it emerges from its lair.

Obviously, the entire plan hinges on the flameskull having retreated back in to the depths of the blast furnace, and even if it works- can they do enough damage before the flameskull lets loose with another fireball (or worse)? Can the flameskull generate more than one fireball? How long does it take to recharge? The Blessed Avengers have lots of questions, and no answers.

Nobody’s happy with the plan, including Shagga- and he came up with 90% of it.

The next day, after an uninterrupted Extended Rest, the Blessed Avengers head west, in to a low-ceilinged mine, they’ve not gone far- with Elvis scouting ahead, as usual, when the rogue brings the column to a halt. He’s seen something ahead, but what was it?

“It was a goblin, or maybe a halfling, or even… a gnome.”

A few seconds later, with all the adventurers watching, a small humanoid darts out of a tunnel ahead and races off, further west- away from the watching Blessed Avengers.

“That was…” Elvis starts.
“A small human child.” Gaukus adds, and frowns.
“The kid from the Stonehill Inn that spoke to you, Gaukus.” Myrium finishes, to stares from her companions.

DMs Interlude- the guys are correct, it is the kid from the Stonehill Inn, unfortunately they cannot remember the name of the child (Pip).

Myrium is reduced to shouting, “Young boy”, as she rushes after Pip, the rest of the Blessed Avengers in tow- what the hell is going on here, is the consensus.

The sneaky DM choses this moment, as Gaukus, last in the line of adventurers to pass, to let loose the mine’s premier scavenger, an Ochre Jelly- pressed tight against the ceiling- the ooze forms a club-like pseudopod and attempts to batter (and acid burn) the dragonborn.

42 Ochre Jelly 75.jpg

I roll a ‘2’ & ‘4’ (with advantage), that’s not a hit (why does this seem to happen every time I get advantage on one of these buggers?). Gaukus doesn’t even notice the attack. The sorcerer runs off leaving the embarrassed ooze forlornly swinging back and forth from the cavern ceiling.

DMs Interlude- this was another long session, I was aiming to stop at the Extended Rest, then after the ochre jelly fight, but the guys just wanted to keep on going, they were desperate to find out why the Stonehill kid (Pip) is in Wave Echo Cave.

The Blessed Avengers manage to locate half-a-dozen dead ends in the mine, alas the Wandering Monster Table fails to play ball- no encounters. Eventually the team locate a passage to the north, they follow it with Elvis (as always) leading the way.

In to a larger, high-ceilinged natural cavern- three quarters of the chamber is open water- fresh and clear by the look of it, to the north east an exit from the cavern- steps up to flagged stone floors, and standing in the exit is Pip Stonehill.

The Blessed Avengers are cautious, also temporarily at a loss- they have lots of questions- the first of which is whether the child is some sort of illusion, or else a magical conjuration- however there’s nothing to indicate this.

43 Pip at the Pool 75.jpg

“Young boy, you need to come with us- you need to leave this place.” Gaukus offers, with a little more cajoling from Myrium.

If only one of them could remember Pip’s name.

Pip grins, as if he has heard a joke- he has, Cecil the nothic is sharing his thoughts and keeping the young lad amused.

“I’m going to be a wizard!” Pip states, beaming with pride, and then adds, “the black elf is going to teach me.”

Which causes all manner of consternation in the ranks of the Blessed Avengers, Myrium and Shagga move closer in an attempt to grab the lad (although without scaring the child).

Pip has other ideas, the young lad scurries out of sight, racing along the stone flagged northern passage.

The Blessed Avengers move forward at speed, in pursuit- there’s also lots of chatter, and lots of questions- mostly WTF variants.

“Wait. You must come with us! It’s not safe.” Gaukus chides.
“Please don’t run away- please, stop and talk to us.” Myrium whines.
“Halt!” Is about as helpful as Shagga gets.

While Elvis arrives at the point much more speedily- “Bugger me, the drow’s already ‘ere. This is messed up.”

The adventurers filter in to the northern corridor- Pip waits at the end of it, maybe thirty or forty feet ahead of the party. There’s also a door across from where the Blessed Avengers stand- Shagga moves directly to it and wrenches it open- within a well-lit barracks chamber, with four bugbears warming themselves at a flaming brazier, a fifth bugbear sits on his bunk.

44 Bugbears 75.jpg

The large goblinoids go for their weapons, as do the adventurers…

At which point a sing-song whispering voice- a voice known to the adventurers, sounds in their collective heads- “I said that I was right behind you, it seemed I misspoke- or else you dawdled. Now, I am ahead of you.”

That however is the end of the twelfth session, which the players loved and hated in equal measure.

DMs Interlude- you know when you’ve got it right as a DM, all week I had to suffer a series of ridiculous e-mails as all of the players had questions, suggestions, rules adjudications et al. I wish the buggers would talk more to each other (collectively- they seem to do this as couples) rather than just spamming my inbox with their every enquiry.

Funny story- Rob (Shagga) and his wife to be Sandy (Myrium) were discussing the Pip situation with Rob’s aged mother earwigging (listening in) in another room, she thought their (sometimes heated) discussion was about a real-life situation (somehow)- young child, voices in his head, dungeon full of monsters (!) needing to be rescued etc. She wanted to know all of the details… in the end Rob had to tell her about our game, it was an odd conversation- she couldn’t quite understand why anyone would play such a ‘dark’ and ‘disturbing’ game.

D&D = Dark & Disturbing, that could work.

Anyway, more of this next time.
 
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