We D&D- Tyranny of Dragons Part 2: The Rise of Tiamat #24b Strike Team 1 Part 2 A Ton of Undead.


We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #13 We Need To Talk About Kevin.

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

There’s a fair amount of chatter this session, or at least there’s not ‘loads’ of action- this was mainly because the Blessed Avengers had a lot of things to say to a variety of NPCs, and even more things to say to each other, ah well… you’ll no doubt see.

And so, the Mexican standoff-

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The Blessed Avengers can see Pip (and now they’ve remembered his name, or else one of the buggers has been online and looked it up- I know which my money is on), but they can’t see Cecil (the nothic remember). They can also see the five bugbears- throughout the following conversation (such as it is) Shagga (half-orc paladin) exchanges unpleasantries with the bugbears. Shagga is very keen on a rumble (fight) and keener still to let the bugbears know this- he ain’t frightened of them.

So, Myrium (human cleric), Gaukus (dragonborn sorcerer) and even Elvis (gnome rogue) have lots of questions for Cecil, Cecil however has a prepared speech- I slipped it to him earlier, so he ignores all of their questions. The speech goes like this (and in his lisping sing-song voice)-

“The Black Spider has an offer for you, although ‘offer’ is perhaps not the correct term- as you will hear. He wants you to locate a magical forge to the east of here, it is through the lair of the fiery guardian (the flameskull- cue collective sigh from the Blessed Avengers).”

Gaukus is taking notes.

“Find the magical forge- destroy its guardian, and then learn how it works, bring back proof that you have done both of these things.”

“If you accomplish just one task then only one of you friends gets to live- you can chose which is to die- the child or the dirty dwarf, accomplish both and the Black Spider swears he will allow both to leave this place alive.”

“You have 24 hours to see this done, return here at that time to report your successes, or else do not return at all. Their lives are in your hands…”

Cecil the nothic ends his speech with a giggle, and then mentally nudges Pip.

“I’m going to be a wizard!” Pip grins and capers with glee.

It’s enough to break your heart.

There follows an avalanche of questions, a fair few provocative statements, a dozen-or-so insults (alas nothing original), and… well a ton of other chatter. It takes a good thirty minutes to resolve the situation.

The two schools of PC/Player thought can be summarised thusly-

1) Elvis says (although Shagga is leaning this way also), simple- kill them all now, let the Gods sort them out. The caveat is of course that Pip is liable to get killed, and that the Blessed Avengers don’t believe for a second that the five bugbears and the unseen Cecil (they still don’t know that Cecil is a nothic) represent the full extent of the Black Spider’s resources. They fear there are more bad guys close to hand, they therefore also fear for their own lives.

2) Proposed by Myrium and Gaukus, say ‘yes’ to the challenge and buy some time, check out what needs doing and then return here armed and dangerous, and possibly having accomplished both tasks.

Proposal 2) obviously wins the day, but it goes back and forth for a good while- particularly when Myrium begins to think that the blaze of glory ending might be the way to go. Oddly at about this point Elvis starts to get cold feet and switches to option 2) as well- and thus the consensus comes about.

In the end it’s Gaukus that makes their reply.

“We will return in 24 hours with proof that the guardian is gone, and as many details as we can find about this magical forge- at which time you will release the child- Pip, and the dwarf- Nundro Rockseeker (they remembered the name of this guy).”

And with that the Blessed Avengers head off, back in to the mines- still chatting (grouchily) about the task ahead, and in particular the prospect of meeting the flameskull again, they’re less than keen.

Obviously, something bad happens next…

And so, it’s Myrium’s turn to be attacked by the patient ochre jelly- she’s bloodied in an instant and screaming as the ooze’s acid burns.

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We pause briefly for Monster Knowledge Checks, this is becoming a regular thing now- Gaukus rolls a ‘20’ and tells his comrades everything he knows about the creature as the fight progresses.

Back to the action.

Myrium conjures her Spiritual Weapon and then gets to work with her mace- two hits, Shagga meanwhile unlimbers his maul and smashes the jelly beast (with a Crit), and my beautiful ooze is more-or-less broken already.

In slow-motion the ooze attempts to flee the scene (because it’s funnier this way) it doesn’t get far (obviously), Gaukus’ Fire Bolt and an arrow from Elvis’ bow curtail its existence, the large jelly SPLATS on to the floor of the mine passage.

After a brief stop for cursing (mostly by Myrium) and a little light Healing the adventurers head on- back to their base, the ancient storeroom- time for more chatter.

The issue is, in summary- we don’t wanna fight the flameskull again. Myrium has an idea-

“Why don’t we try the fungus chamber?”

And as ideas go… ten minutes later and the Blessed Avengers are back at the entrance to the aforementioned fungus chamber, the chamber they previously believed was somehow ‘dangerous’. Today is a new day, and after a good look about (from the entrance only) it’s time for some new checks.

Good rolls follow, and now the adventurers have something to hang their suspicions on, they’re convinced (Shagga, Gaukus and Elvis- again) that several of the varieties of fungi within the chamber are poisonous- airborne toxins.

The Blessed Avengers fashion face masks, wet them, and then in a headlong rush (after another ten minutes worth of chatter) dash through the chamber in the hope that going this way circumvents another trip to the flameskull’s lair (it does, good work).

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The fungi sensing the adventurer’s approach burst and blast more of their noxious spores in to the air, the Blessed Avengers keep running- and then make their Poison Saves. The result of which is all four of them emerge in to a much larger cavern on the other side of the fungus chamber completely unharmed, the ceiling of the great cavern glistens like a cloudless night sky- that’s nice.

Also the sound of the Wave Echo is much louder- it’s coming from the north.

They’re not even out of breath.

Myrium is delighted- now where the heck are they? More importantly where the heck is the magical forge.

There’s a fairly intact building nearby, expertly built in to the walls of the cavern- dwarven work, no doubt. The building however is blackened and battered, a pair of closed double doors are cracked and scorched. After a brief Investigation by Elvis and Gaukus, Shagga eventually barges one of the doors open.

A living chamber come office, all within is burnt and broken (and ancient) there was a major fire here sometime in the distant past.

Gingerly the adventurers take a look around, of particular interest is another closed door to the south- as Myrium and Shagga approach it a shadowy black figure floats up through the cold stone floor, blocking their progress.

“Your presence is offensive to me.” Mormesk the Wraith states, darkly and with menaces.

Elvis pops his head around the corner to spy the undead and then replies- “then leave, before you get hurt.”

Gaukus attempts to reason with Mormesk (after the guys make Monster Knowledge Checks and determine the creature is some terrible undead spirit), the dragonborn tells the truth- they are looking for a magical forge and the wherewithal to make it work.

Gaukus’ dice are broken, he attempted two or three checks (I forget which, but Persuasion was in there) but doesn’t manage to break ‘8’. Myrium doesn’t help either- she rolls a ‘1’.

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“You shall never have my treasure!” Mormesk screeches and then grabs at Myrium, it’s her turn to take the beatings this week. The priestess of Lathander is almost dead in an instant (down to 4 HP- she manages to make her Con check however, her hit points will return).

The Blessed Avengers fight back- Elvis with magical rapier and dagger (a ‘2’ followed by a ‘1’- not good), Myrium with her mace (another miss), and… Shagga with Talon his magical longsword, with added Divine Smite for good measure. The half-orc paladin bastard hits and rolls ‘8’, ‘8’, ‘8’ and ‘6’ on his 4d8 damage, then there’s his bonuses.

Seconds later Gaukus fires a cluster of Magic Missiles in to Mormesk and the wraith fades from existence.

There’s a lot of joy to go around- the saps are even high-fiving in their pairs (we’re on Fantasy Grounds).

The chamber is thoroughly searched, a bunch of coin found- and some other treasures, and BINGO a yard of ancient texts that seem to be all about the Phandelver Pact, it’s members and… hopefully the properties of the magical forge, including how to use it.

Gaukus (rolls high) spots a section of the ancient text which talks about a magical guardian of the forge- an ‘eye monster’ summoned centuries past.

The phrase ‘eye monster’ doesn’t go down well with the Blessed Avengers for a variety of reasons- the bugbear Mosk way back in the Redbrand lair described Cecil (the guys think- correctly) as the ‘one-eyed God’. Also, a little out-of-game knowledge from the experts (Pete and Rob) and soon after Jackie (Elvis) can be heard asking “What’s a beholder?” Consensus is (again supplied by Pete and Rob) a beholder is trouble.

However, the Blessed Avengers will check the books thoroughly later on but for now they need, and want, to get along- treasures stowed they head north (after more healing for Myrium), up on to an escarpment which is home to another battered and broken ancient building.

The sound of the Wave Echo is louder still.

Again, after another series of checks, Shagga put his shoulder to the doors- and they’re in.

A workshop, ancient and badly damaged- the site of another long-ago battle. A small stone brazier in the middle of the room casts an eerie green flame and crackles with energy. However, of greater import (and interest), is the aforementioned ‘eye monster’.

A floating monstrosity- a ball of scaled flesh with a large central eye, a gurning toothy maw beneath, and four probing eyestalks which snake and dance.

48 Spectator 75.jpg

“That’s a beholder.” States Shagga (because he rolled a ‘1’ on his Monster Knowledge Check), however Gaukus puts the paladin right- “actually that is a spectator- a lawful magical guardian, a protector- no doubt.”

“Hullo” The spectator states and floats towards the Blessed Avengers, “my name is Kevin”, Kevin adds.

The adventurers (and players) are stunned in to silence for a while, finally Myrium starts up… and when I say starts up, I mean she tells Kevin everything, from the cart ride to Phandalin and the capture of Gundren and her father, right up to Cecil’s threats.

It takes a good ten to fifteen minutes to get it said, with asides from a variety of her comrades, Kevin is content to float, blink (he does that a lot) and grin.

Finally, she falls silent, the Blessed Avengers await Kevin’s reply.

“Hmmm… That’s a pickle!” Is the considered opinion of the spectator, somehow the Blessed Avengers hoped for more?

The DM hints that they should therefore figure out a way to get more from Kevin.

The questions begin, there follows an hour long (way over an hour) conversation with Kevin, and also with each other- dipping in and out of character. There are some good Skill Checks, and some bad- just as there’s some great roleplay, and some less great.

The Blessed Avengers learn the following, pretty much in this order-

1) Kevin thinks the mine is still up and running- outside dwarves, gnomes and human wizards are about their business. He’s dismayed when he is told, and then shown, that the Phandelver Pact was all a very long time ago. Remarkably Kevin remains up-beat (he rolled a ‘20’ on my Random What Happens Next D20). Kevin is open, it seems, to new experiences.

2) The brazier is the magical forge, and the books the Avengers carry do indeed hold instructions for the forge’s use. Alas the magical power of the forge has waned considerably, all effects granted by it are temporary, Kevin has watched the magic deteriorate.

3) Kevin isn’t guarding the forge- I know- it was a shock to the PCs too.

4) Kevin is guarding a pair of magic items created in the forge when it was still running on full power, a (+1, and more) Breastplate- Dragonguard and (+1, and more) Mace- Lightbringer. Both items were crafted for the church of Lathander.

5) Kevin has been patiently waiting (500+ years so far) for a member of the church of Lathander to turn up and collect the items, thereby ending his watch.

Personally, I think I played a blinder here.

The rest however is more complicated than you would think.

Obviously Myrium the Blessed introduces herself properly, displays her holy symbol (of Lathander) and even sings a few verses of her favourite Lathanderite hymns “Sunrise, she come in de morning etc.”- Kevin believes her.

The spectator is mid-goodbye speech when Elvis stops the show, there follows a whispered conversation between the gnome and Myrium. At first the priestess is reluctant; her reticence however doesn’t last long- so good is Elvis’ idea.

Myrium has new instructions for Kevin, the spectator must continue to guard the aforementioned magical items, which she will be wearing, until she (and the items) exit Wave Echo Cave.

The dice rolls, and Kevin is, after a few reassurances (see below), good with the plan.

Good, because Myrium- her colleagues, and the two magical items will be leading the charge at the bad guys, they are intent on rescuing Pip and Nundro, and in the process doing considerable harm to the Black Spider and Cecil (whatever he is).

Kevin thinks about this, and… agrees to this too.

The dice rolls and the roleplay are all good.

Even Shagga chimes in at one point- “all these years stuck in here, don’t you want to get out for a bit, and do some good?” And then, “are you chicken, Kevin? Are ya?”

Kevin, as it turns out, is not chicken, or any other genus of poultry.

The Blessed Avengers will be accompanied by the spectator until they exit Wave Echo Cave, or until someone tries to take the magic items from Myrium’s (probably) cold dead body.

There follows a lot more giggling, and a lot more chatter- Gaukus spends another three or four hours, as the conversations continue, making a fairly thorough investigation of the Phandelver Pact ancient tomes. The dragonborn figures out how to use the forge to glamour items with a temporary magical varnish (as it were)- basically turning items in to short-functioning +1 items.

All is well with the world, the players are on cloud nine, and up for it- next session, so they say, is the attack- the showdown.

That however is the end of this session- I did say at the start there was going to be a lot of chatter.

It’s good to see that the players are all, at last (but for how long), singing from the same song-sheet, they’re getting on (by which I mean of course- Myrium and Elvis are playing nicely).

More next time.

This one was a cracker.
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We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #14a Cunning Plans.

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

Remember last session- the big attack on Cecil and the Black Spider, well… that’s been put on hold for a bit, it seems there’s been a whole lot of chatter between the last session and this one. The Blessed Avengers figure they have got time to spare, they were given 24 hours to complete their tasks, they’ve only used about 8 hours so far- that means they have 16 more hours including time for another Extended Rest before they have to go and face their newest patron (of sorts) Cecil (the nothic, remember).

Oh, and this session went on for a while, we even had to stop to order food in- break for a couple of hours, and then get back to it. There was no-way anyone was leaving, however due to the length of the session I have had to break this narrative in to two parts.

48 Spectator 75.jpg

And so the Blessed Avengers have a list of things to achieve (I told you they had been chatting between sessions), over the next few hours (in-game time, obviously) they accomplish the following-

1) Gaukus (dragonborn sorcerer) gets practical with the magical forge, it takes him five-or-so minutes to turn Elvis’ (gnome rogue) dagger in to a +1 dagger (temporary). Soon enough all of the Blessed Avengers are fishing out a variety of items that need enhancing, Shagga (half-orc paladin) even strips down to his smalls to get his armour magicked, Myrium (human cleric) just gets her shield done. All told over the course of an hour or so about ten items are temporarily en-magicked (I know I’ve made up that word, but I like it).

2) While this is going on Myrium (and others) have a good long chat with Kevin the spectator, the winsome eye-monster is questioned about his capabilities; of particular interest is the creature’s ability to deflect spells, although several of his other powers also fall in to the wondrous range. The Blessed Avengers are starting to feel very positive about the latest turn of events.

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Next up is a visit to Wave Echo Cave proper, the group head north in to a huge high-ceilinged natural cavern containing a large body of water. The Avengers watch to see what happens- right on cue, two minutes since the last time, a sudden rumbling wave of water rolls in to the cavern from the north east and surges to the shore- crashing in to the rocky scarp and making… well, one hell of a noise.

That’s it however…

The passage alongside the watery fury goes on, as usual Elvis is sent ahead with his comrades following on a little way behind. The rogue wends his way down the tunnels as quietly as he can and eventually comes to the end of the passage- interesting.

The passage ends in a high cave opening which looks down in to a crevasse, in the crevasse are a pair of bugbears- the duo seem to be looking for something, digging through the rocks and debris. The gnome stays hidden, and silent, and continues to watch- every now and then comes a voice from the far side of the crevasse. Eventually Elvis spots a pair of rope ladders leading up and out, and at the very edge of the crevasse on the far side is… it’s hard to be sure from this distance, and what with the lack of light- but it could be an elf, or more likely… a drow, and perhaps another hefty creature, a third bugbear?

50 Crevasse Bugbears 75.jpg

Elvis reports back to his comrades and then leads them forward one at a time to take a look- although for those lacking darkvision (Myrium & Gaukus) there’s little to see.

The Blessed Avengers are not buying it however, they’ve seen drow before- the last one turned out to be a doppelganger, the players debate this for a short while but the subject seems to be mostly academic. It would be a hard ask for them to get from the cavern passage, down in to the crevasse- fight the bugbears there, and then get back up the other side and attack the drow et al. Certainly the task would be difficult to accomplish with stealth and/or speed.

Which leads us to the next objective…

But before that a quick word about the Random Encounter Table, during the end of the last session and continuing on in to this one I have made maybe ten rolls on it- nothing. I like to play things RAW unless I have a better idea or the RAW is just plain broke. I’m telling you this because I want you to know… I’m still rolling, as it turn out I’m still rolling low.

Now back to their list-

3) What to do about the flameskull, a short debate follows- very short because the Blessed Avengers have now all got a spring in their step, it seems this is the end of a conversation which has been going on all week. In short Myrium & Shagga are of the opinion that they should try to destroy the flameskull in its lair- if things go badly they will flee to safety (their storeroom) and rest up, after all they have plenty of time to do so. However, if things go well then they have a way through to the eastern side of the caverns that doesn’t involve running through the (poisonous) fungus filled cavern. Last point- there was another exit out of the flameskull’s cavern (Shagga remembers- I think he drew a bit of a map), this could prove to be a short cut to somewhere advantageous. Moments later a consensus is reached- check it out, and if it looks good- ATTACK! The flameskull is going down.

Elvis, as always, is sent ahead- the gnome doesn’t venture in to the smelter chamber, he hides in the entrance passage and watches- the zombies are where they were the last time the Avengers were here, in a pile after fleeing from Myrium’s holy aura. As to the flameskull- Elvis cannot see the creature, he therefore presumes it is back in its smelter lair (he’s correct).

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Thirty seconds later, after the plan is reiterated, the Blessed Avengers are green for go- Myrium, Gaukus and their new friend Kevin the spectator head in and start firing in to the prone zombies, which soon after are struggling to get to their feet. Meanwhile Shagga and Elvis head for the smelter, the half-orc paladin reads his Misty Step scroll (and then rolls well), and in a blink of an eye he reappears atop the machine- Talon in hand and ready to strike. Elvis makes use of his Boots of Striding & Springing, he joins the half-orc moments later.

The zombies meanwhile are taking a beating.

Then the flameskull arrives, exactly as the Blessed Avengers planned, it floats up from within the dark depths of the smelter, shouting and screaming dire warnings and threats, only… Shagga slices with Talon (with added Divine Smite), while Elvis lances with his magical rapier (with added Sneak Attack). The flameskull goes from full to 4 HP in a matter of seconds. The fiery foe stops screaming and casts Blur upon itself then flies swiftly up and away from its attackers.

Down below the crowd control trio continues to wade through the zombies.

Back atop the smelter Shagga drops Talon, grabs out a spear (he made sure that one of his spears was magicked in the forge) and then flings it- the flameskull shatters, consuming itself in a fiery explosion. Soon after all of the zombies are dead too.

That was remarkably easy.

It also generated a lot of joy- much whooping follows.

The Blessed Avengers are however all business- the chamber is searched, even the inside of the smelter- Elvis is lowered in, disappointingly there’s no treasure to be had.

There is however a corridor heading from the smelting chamber to the west- it ends in a door, which Elvis determines is barred and maybe barricaded from the other side, there’s also the sound of creatures in the chamber beyond the door- goblins, or else… bugbears.

After another brief chat (and another roll on the Random Encounter Table- I’m determined, but nothing) the Blessed Avengers have a plan. Shagga puts his shoulder to the barricaded door and starts shoving, it’s opening- however the bugbears on the other side of the door are clearly perturbed by this activity, they start pushing back- and there are a few of them it seems (at least three different voices Elvis reckons). The half-orc paladin however is making little headway (even when Myrium gives him a hand), therefore the Avengers decide to halt the attempt. In a marvellous piece of improvised theatre Elvis uses his Minor Illusion ability to conjure the groans and moans of zombies at toil. The panicked bugbears go full fury to barricade the door again, convinced the undead are trying to break in.

A good idea from the PCs, and well-covered up when the plan proves beyond them (or else beyond their dice rolls), the adventurers move on, back in to the mines, and from there back to their storeroom hideout.

Shagga, it seems, has had another ‘great’ idea- he’s full of them, and so five minutes later (no Random Encounters- damn!) the Blessed Avengers get to hear Shagga’s latest plan, put simply-

“We shud kill them all- NOW!” Obviously it’s short on detail but the half-orc paladin is quite obviously enthused. The other players (the fools) however do not instantly grasp the merits of the new plan, Shagga therefore adds a few details.

Shagga’s New Plan take two- “We are strong (not injured, not expended lots of powers). They say back in 24 hours- we go now catch them pants down (basically they’re not going to be expecting the Blessed Avengers to be back so soon). We have eyeball terror with big bad magic (Kevin). We kill them quick-quick, rescue little people (Pip and Nundro).”

Remarkably it all makes sense, and there are no dissenters, it seems we are on for the finale this session after all, and so an hour later- after a Short Rest, the Blessed Avengers- with Elvis (as always) sneaking ahead, head off to war.

The gnome rogue sneaks back in to the chamber the Blessed Avengers are supposed to meet Cecil later, a rough cavern containing a large body of water, the place is guarded by a pair of bugbears who are hardly paying attention. One seems to be throwing stones in to the water, the other is sat on the stairs that lead in to the flagged passages north. Elvis reports back, and then a few minutes later (after further Myrium lead discussions) the attack begins.

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Myrium Blesses the troops- Elvis, deadly accurate as (nearly) always with his bow, assassinates the bugbear sitting on the stairs- the one furthest away from the Blessed Avengers, the other bugbear doesn’t even notice that his companion is dead- it carries on throwing stones in to the water. That is until Shagga breaks cover, the half-orc paladin runs behind the bugbear (who turns to see) and straight to the stairs- Shagga knows there’s a bugbear guardroom here, the door is wide open to the chamber, and he can see at least two more bugbears within.

Suddenly Kevin the spectator flies in to the chamber, which causes the bugbear there some consternation (although we’re still in the surprise round), Kevin blasts the creature with his Wounding Ray, but (alas) fails to paralyze it. Gaukus hits the creature with his Fire Bolt, while Elvis finishes it off with another deadly accurate arrow-strike, ah the joys of high initiative rolls- my bad guys are dead before they know what’s going on.

The Blessed Avengers move up in to the corridor, the alarm has not yet been sounded, the plan is to get as far as they can in to the bad guys territory, as quickly as they can- and in the process take down as many enemies as they can.

Alas their progress does not go unnoticed, one of the bugbears in the guard chamber looks up and sees Shagga making his way forward, the half-orc paladin attempts to hide but… well, he’s a massive slice of humanity and noisy with it. The shout goes out and suddenly all three bugbears within the chamber are shouting and screaming- and moving towards the adventurers.

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Shagga and Elvis position themselves to block the corridor north, the bugbears are trapped in their room (unless they’re going to dismantle the barricade they reinforced earlier to prevent the undead from getting in). Seconds later Kevin the spectator appears and blasts a bugbear with his Wounding Ray, and then paralyzes another. Myrium smashes the wounded bugbear down, while Elvis stabs the paralyzed one- that hurt- seconds later Shagga finishes it off. The last bugbear standing flings a javelin in to Shagga and then slams the door to the chamber closed, and then holds it shut. Shagga moves to shove and wrestle the portal open but the large goblinoid prevents the paladin from getting in.

“Keep moving! Keep moving!” Myrium hisses to her companions and then races down the northern passage, Gaukus following on behind the priestess. The pair arrive at a T-junction, stairs lead down eastwards in to a natural cavern, or so it seems from what little light there is (Gaukus’ lantern), while to the west the corridor continues on- the pair head west.

Alas neither of the adventurers are particularly stealthy (they’re also moving at pace), they are of course trying to be stealthy, but they’re not succeeding (Myrium rolls ‘1’ and Gaukus ‘3’). Only twenty or thirty feet away from where they stand a drow (actually another doppelganger) overseeing the search of the crevasse (which the adventurers observed earlier) hears something odd and sends a bugbear to investigate.

54 Here's a Drow 75.jpg

Less than ten seconds later the bugbear, having climbed the stairs in to the corridor, spots Gaukus and Myrium creeping up the corridor. The bugbear flings a javelin in Gaukus’ back, and almost kills the dragonborn (a Crit, Gaukus goes from full to 7 HP), and then starts screaming and shouting (the bugbear, not Gaukus- the dragonborn is a stoic chap).

Meanwhile Shagga and Elvis, who are still trying (and failing) to get to the last bugbear in the guardroom, hear Gaukus’ screams- the pair abandon their task and come running. Elvis arrives just in time to punish the javelin flinging bugbear with a Sneak Attack.

Myrium is quickly to Gaukus, she heals the dragonborn (Cure Wounds Level 2) as best she can- Gaukus is pissed, the sorcerer strides purposefully towards the bugbear- hits it with a Scorching Ray, then another (it expires) and then continues on down the stairs in to the crevasse chamber.

Which turns out to be an ill-judged move, hidden in the shadows at the bottom of the stairs is the drow (still a doppelganger), the foul creature leaps at Gaukus with its twin shortswords (and misses both attacks, and with Advantage on both). Gaukus grins at the drow (doppelganger) and at very close range (and therefore at Disadvantage) unleashes his last Scorching Ray (and hits and rolls just short of max damage). The doppel-drow looks terrified, it disengages- screams blue murder and rushes off north- further in to the cavern.

“He’s getting away!” Gaukus calls back to his comrades.

Meanwhile the two bugbears that were down in the crevasse are making their way up the ladders, and towards the action.

Shagga rushes forward, grabs out his magicked spear and flings it in to the back of the retreating doppel-drow, Kevin catches up with events and hits the same villain with his Wounding Ray, Elvis flings a dagger- the creature is critically wounded but still alive and screaming (and still fleeing).

Myrium (who has only just arrived on the scene) and Gaukus let loose the artillery, a Sacred Flame followed by three more Scorching Rays- all way off target. Gaukus has to convert some of his Magic Font Points in order to get himself another second level spell.

The two bugbears climb out of the crevasse and charge in to action- one slashes Elvis- the gnome is trying to get to the doppel-drow, while the other flails wildly at Shagga. The doppel-drow however is still intent on fleeing, it doesn’t get far- Elvis gets his man/drow/doppelganger, and cuts the beast down.

Just two bugbears left in the fight, and neither of the pair look keen on making a stand- and then less so when Kevin paralyzes one and hits the other with his Wounding Ray.

Note I’m not playing the spectator full on, Kevin has once or twice headed off in the wrong direction, and then had to double move the next round to get back in to position. I’m using the creature’s full repertoire of powers but inconsistently, I don’t want the spectator to grab all of the limelight.

Elvis kills the badly wounded bugbear and then menaces the paralyzed individual, however Myrium- as always, is in charge, and still directing operations.

“Leave it, the drow (doppelganger) was heading this way (north)- COME ON!”

The priestess of Lathander races off, Shagga and Gaukus rush after her- which of course just leaves Elvis with the paralyzed bugbear.

55 Yer Dead Mate 75.jpg

“You’re dead, mate.” Elvis states to the bugbear, and when he’s certain that his colleagues can no-longer see him, the gnome guts the hefty goblinoid and then rushes after his friends- grinning like a loon (or else like a homicidal maniac, you decide).

At which point we had been playing (around the table) for nearly four-and-a-half hours, and so a break was called for- food ordered after the decision is made that we would play to the end. However, I’ll continue the final instalment in Session 14b next time.

Just to say that the fight to the Black Spider’s HQ has taken about fifteen rounds long already- Myrium’s Bless spell has long since faded; Myrium, Shagga and Elvis have all taken hits- but nothing significant, while Gaukus has taken a beating but been healed (mostly- about 75% to full) by the priestess. Kevin hasn’t got a scratch on him.

For the bad guys seven bugbears have met their maker, the lone survivor is back in the guardroom still holding the door shut, the only other casualty is the drow (doppelganger) overseer, cut down by Elvis just in the nick of time.

The finale comes next.

Oh and the players are absolutely loving this session, there was zero chance that they were going to stop now- one of the players (no names, Pete) had to text work colleagues to explain that due to a family emergency he wouldn’t be attending the office meal/party, the lies we tell in order to spend evenings giggling like loons and fingering odd shaped dice.

Last note, it was glorious to watch Myrium (Sandy) keep the buggers in line- always moving forward, when the leader thing works- it works incredibly well, or else she’s very good in the role (she’s a teacher by trade).

See you next time.
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We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver Session #14b The Black Spider.

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 finale, this is a continuation of the narrative from Session #14, which turned out to be a titanic effort- we ended up playing for 6.5 hours (with a two hour break for food, drink and excited shouting). The last write-up ended with the Blessed Avengers having fought their way through the lesser bad guys (bugbears aplenty, and a drow/doppelganger), now they’re in a rush to get to the end.

56 Finale 75.jpg

Myrium (human cleric) leads the Avengers in to a flagged stone corridor, two sets of stairs lead up in to a massive chamber ahead, peeking over the top of the last flight and best-guess the area ahead is an ancient dwarven temple, at least that’s what Elvis (gnome rogue) thinks. There’s a door to the north in the passage also, but after listening at it for a brief while Elvis is convinced that there’s nothing moving about within the chamber beyond, also its locked.

Elvis reports back and is then sent ahead again, more info is needed- the gnome sneaks up the stairs and has a proper look- the temple is indeed dedicated to some ancient dwarven deity, the northern wall is home to a massive stone statue (with gemstone eyes!) of some fat brooding dwarf. The temple is a huge high-ceilinged chamber, with great stone pillars- here and there it has been made in to a HQ cum bedchamber, with a desk, bedrolls et al.

Of greater concern to the sneaky gnome are the temple’s present inhabitants, there are plenty of them- in the north end of the chamber, before the great statue a male drow holds court, seated on a camp stool and flanked either side by a pair of hefty bugbears. The drow seems to be playing fetch with a pair of monstrous giant spiders, the arachnids scurrying to wrestle each other for the skeletal leg of some ancient fallen warrior. Standing before the drow, in the centre of the chamber is a most unholy sight- a vaguely humanoid creature although hunched and crouched, and scaled and clawed like some aberrant lizard figure. Most frightening is the creature’s visage- one great eye accounts for three-quarters of its face, the rest is a snarling maw filled with fanged-teeth.

Standing next to the terrible creature, playing every now and then with a twig-like wand, is Pip- son of Phandalin’s Innkeepers, the gnome rogue has seen enough- he sneaks back and reports his findings.

DM’s note- and so we’re ready for it, the finale- the guys after some great rolls from Elvis have all the info they need, and a surprise round to work their magic- they are all however low on spells and powers, and all except for Shagga (half-orc paladin) at least a little bit injured (they’ve been at the Healing Potions again).

Oh and they’ve finally figured out that the strange creature in the centre of the chamber is Cecil, and that Cecil is a nothic (good Monster Knowledge check by Gaukus (dragonborn sorcerer)).

And so, after a brief chat from Myrium to outline objectives- and to ensure that all of the Blessed Avengers understand that Pip needs to be kept alive and well (and obviously rescued), it begins…

Oddly with Shagga- the fool rolled a ‘20’ on his Initiative and then didn’t know what to do with it, until… the half-orc paladin of Kord strides in to the chamber, sword drawn- straight to a gawping Pip and then slams the hilt of his blade in to the young child’s skull- knocking the lad unconscious. Shagga grabs Pip as he falls, slings him over his shoulder and marches straight back out of the chamber again and dumps the unconscious young human on the stairs- “Rescue complete!” Shagga grunts at his companions.

However the rest of the Blessed Avengers are already in action, as is Kevin the spectator, the eye-monster whizzes in to the chamber and then gets some elevation, fires a Wounding Ray in to Cecil and leaves the creature screaming. Myrium follows up with a Sacred Flame, and then conjures her Spiritual Weapon- both attacks directed against Cecil, both of them alas misses.

Meanwhile Elvis has positioned himself in the shadows at the base of one of the huge stone pillars, bow at the ready- he fires, and almost manages to assassinate the Black Spider (for it is he) at his first attempt, the screaming drow leader is down to 7 HP. Alas, too late the gnome spots the danger from above, a third giant spider fires down a sticky web and leaves poor Elvis Restrained and effectively stuck to the pillar. The gnome takes to screaming…

Gaukus is much less sneaky- the dragon sorcerer strides in to the chamber and unleashes a Shatter spell on the drow, bugbears and giant spiders arrayed before the great statue- and the Black Spider is down, and unconscious.

DM Interlude- but I’m not going to let that happen.

Chaos ensues- one of the bugbears grabs the fallen drow and drags him to a safe-ish spot, behind the north-west pillar, once there the large goblinoid grabs out one of the dark elf’s potions of Healing and feeds it to the fiend.

The Black Spider will be back up and in business very soon.

The second bugbear screams and charges in to Gaukus, the dragonborn’s Mage Armour and Shield combo fail him again, alas, a Crit and Gaukus is very quickly reduced to 5 HP.

Kevin the spectator fires his Paralysis Ray and leaves Cecil rooted to the spot, he follows up with his Wounding Ray and the nothic is fighting for his life, after also taking a hit from Myrium’s Spiritual Weapon. The priestess meanwhile rushes to Gaukus’ side and swings hard at the bugbear threatening the dragonborn- another hit.

Elvis is stuck to the pillar, and no matter what he tries he can’t get free. Shagga is fighting two giant spiders, and even with his Vow of Enmity is missing by a mile (two attacks in a row with advantage, both misses- with his bonuses he only needs to roll something like an ‘8’- highest ‘6’ in four dice rolls).

Gaukus unleashes a Thunderwave, a giant spider and a bugbear suffer, Myrium manages to keep all of the attackers away from the sorcerer. However there’s a fourth giant spider that has yet to join the action, the arachnid shoots a web from its ceiling top perch and manages to Restrain Kevin the spectator, the eye monster is effectively tethered to the ceiling.

The spider that webbed Elvis descends the pillar it is on and attempts to sink its fangs in to the Restrained gnome rogue- and misses (with Advantage, of course).

The Black Spider suddenly dodges out from behind a pillar- screams for his allies to kill the adventurers and then dodges back in to hiding- this after quaffing another potion of Healing and firing up his Mage Armour. The second bugbear, who helped the drow back to life, also emerges from behind the pillar- the furious goblinoid charges in to Gaukus and smashes the dragonborn down.

So, Gaukus is unconscious, Elvis is almost bloodied and is also Restrained- Kevin has taken no damage but is also Restrained. Myrium is nearly bloodied, and almost out of spells (as is Gaukus), while Shagga doesn’t have a scratch on him. As to the bad guys then they’re all still in play- some healthier than others, the nothic is paralyzed, there are four giant spiders, two bugbears and the Black Spider- it could go either way.

Shagga slices a giant spider- and hits at last, Kevin fires his Wounding Ray in to the same arachnid, Myrium directs her Spiritual Weapon to smash the beast and the first enemy falls- hurrah! In the same instant Myrium preserves life and Gaukus opens his eyes, the sorcerer quickly gets to his feet grabs out his scroll of Lightning Bolt and reads it- the magic fizzles and fades (failed check to cast the spell- the cursing sorcerer uses his Inspiration Point to repeat the roll- and fails again).

There’s an awful lot of cursing going on- a Lightning Bolt would have definitely tipped the fight in favour of the good guys.

Cecil, badly injured and mostly forgotten about, at last manages to shake the paralysis off- the nothic is about to make his break for freedom, he’s not hanging around.

Elvis, still Restrained, spins out a dagger and catches another of the spiders- it too is critically wounded.

The giant spider that has Kevin webbed and Restrained descends from the ceiling and in to the action. Meantime the giant spider menacing the Restrained Elvis at last gets through the gnome’s defences and bites the rogue, Elvis is on 9 HP- the Poison stings.

At which point the Black Spider steps out from behind his pillar and fires a clutch of Magic Missiles in to Kevin, Magic Missile isn’t (my reading) subject to the spectator’s Spell Reflection, the drow (for which read DM) is a smart feller. Although if he was nastier he’d be firing the Magic Missiles at Myrium or Gaukus.

Shagga, with a Divine Smite (last spell) cuts down one of the giant spiders- only two of them left. Kevin blasts Cecil with his Wounding Ray and kills the fiend, just as the nothic was about to escape, for good measure the spectator paralyzes one of the two spiders still standing.

Elvis is no-longer trying to escape the webs, he contents himself with throwing daggers and screaming for one of his colleagues to come and rescue him- note his colleagues are mostly ignoring him, or else have worries of their own.

Gaukus unleashes his last spell- another Thunderwave, and then rolls 4 damage, the giant spider and bugbear within the compass of his mighty magic barely notice…

The last giant spider still in action (the other one is paralyzed) gets to Myrium and bites the priestess, and now she’s in pain and screaming (down to 10 HP), all PCs except Shagga have 10 HP or less.

However it is at this point that the DM figures that enough is enough, the Black Spider casts Invisibility on himself and begins to creep around the outside of the chamber making for the nearest exit, he’s keen to survive this encounter- and the DM likes the idea of a drow recurring villain.

Shagga and Kevin double team the paralyzed giant spider- and kill it.

Which just leaves one giant spider, and two bugbears in the fight.

Then Myrium smashes one of the bugbears down.

Then Elvis spins out another dagger in to the last giant spider.

Then Gaukus hits the same giant spider with a Fire Bolt- it expires.

At which point the bugbear that the players abandoned back in the guard room walks past the recumbent body of Pip on the stairs and straight in to the fight, this is what he sees.

A Restrained Kevin covered in webs and effectively tethered to the ceiling; Shagga & Myrium facing down a bugbear (the creature is actually uninjured- hasn’t taken even one hit), while Gaukus scurries around looking for a better angle to let loose his Fire Bolts. However nearest to the large goblinoid is Elvis, the gnome is wrapped in webs and Restrained- what comes next?

The newly arrived bugbear grabs out its Morningstar and smashes the gnome unconscious.

Shagga and Kevin combine again to take down the bugbear already in the fight, Shagga with a Crit- just when it was needed, the pair then turn to start screaming threats at the newly arrived bugbear. The large goblinoid is now having second thoughts, it runs- but not before Myrium clonks it with her Spiritual Weapon, and then with her last spell fires a Cure Wounds in to the recumbent Elvis.

And… the fight is won.

Although about a minute later it’s Gaukus that says- “Erm… What happened to the Black Spider?” At which point there’s a lot of activity and frenzied running about a bit.

Over the course of the next five minutes (and after a hefty number of varied skill checks) the PCs determine that the Black Spider has obviously done a runner, possibly teleporting away (Gaukus’ suggestion), or else turning invisible and sneaking off (Elvis’ suggestion). Either way the drow is gone.

To say they are infuriated would be putting it mildly, Myrium enters what can only be described as a swear-fury, the air is blue for a good 2-3 minutes.

That however is the end of the session, or at least the bit around the table, after 6.5 hours of gaming real life has to be engaged with again.

And so over the course of the next few days, and mostly via e-mail the PCs finish off the narrative/adventure such as it is, the following events take place-

a) Nundro Rockseeker is found safe(-ish) and well, he’s reunited with his brother Gundren.

b) Pip Stonehill, the young lad, awakes to tears and upset- his special friend (Cecil) is gone (the guys had the good sense to clear the body away). A good five years of psychological counselling will see him right. His parents however are overjoyed to have their son back- the PCs have free food and lodge for as long as they like at the Stonehill Tavern. Note in the interest of full disclosure this is how it played out- Cecil the nothic followed the PCs back to Phandalin, and to the Stonehill Tavern, there he kept hidden and sent out his thoughts to find a responsive victim, which turned out to be young Pip. Cecil eventually broke in to the attic of the Tavern and from there kept up his whispering campaign on Pip, sharing the young lad’s hidden secrets, talking to him and eventually persuading him that he can help him to become a great wizard (Pip’s dream). From there it was a short step (taken over a tenday while the adventurers were out adventuring in Thundertree etc.) to persuade Pip to venture in to Wave Echo Cave, the last location garnered from the thoughts of Gundren Rockseeker… Just a bit of backstory to explain how and why Pip ended up in the finale.

c) The Black Spider had some treasure hidden, the PCs help themselves to it, and also recover a few more items from Wave Echo Cave after another nose around the place to see if they’ve missed anything.

d) The Blessed Avengers are all level 5.

e) Elvis later returns to the dwarven temple in Wave Echo Cave on his own and attempts to recover the gemstones from the eyes of the great statue there- alas things go badly, the gemstones are trapped. The gnome escapes with his life- just, courtesy of an Inspiration Point and some quick thinking, alas the temple itself is buried under a thousand tons of rock and rubble (the aforementioned trap causes the ceiling to collapse). Elvis decides not to tell anyone about his close call here, he’s also extremely pissed to discover that the one gemstone he manages to recover is in fact made of glass.

f) Gundren and Nundro bury their brother Tharden in a touching ceremony presided over by Sister Garaele & Myrium the Blessed.

g) The inhabitants of Phandalin, and in particular the various faction leaders, are overjoyed with the outcome, particularly when the Rockseekers start taking on workers to explore the mines further, and to try to get the forge running. The PCs are rewarded with a 10% share of any future finds.

h) Alas the re-opening of Wave Echo Cave doesn’t go entirely to plan, the flameskull is back- or else it has never been away, it rejuvenates- three miners are killed in the encounter. Later the PCs return, this time armed with the knowledge necessary to take the creature down (holy water sprinkled on its remains once reduced to 0 HP). The adventurers battle hard and win the day.

And that was the Lost Mine of Phandelver, we loved it.
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Nicely done! That was an enjoyable read. It sounds like your players had a blast with this - thanks for taking the time to write up their exploits.



Nicely done! That was an enjoyable read. It sounds like your players had a blast with this - thanks for taking the time to write up their exploits.


They did- we all did, save for the odd moment of tension here and there. So much so we carried on...

Thanks Johnathan, appreciated.

Cheers Paul


We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver #14c Review.

I just wanted to say a few words about the scenario, and the hits and misses I/we encountered along the way, also a chance to talk briefly about how the players handled things as they went along. The information presented here is not only my thoughts but also those of the players, I generally give out a short questionnaire/feedback sheet at the end of each adventure (or for larger adventures at the end of each chapter) to get the players to comment on the things they dis/liked et al. I’m a lecturer remember, it’s what we do and if we don’t do it ourselves then someone else (at work) will do it and they’ll have their own agenda.

So, in the order it happened-

1) Goblin Ambush.

Nice opening, if you play the goblins sneaky then this can be a hell of a tough fight- particularly if they get a surprise round and as with our group there are just four PCs in action- we had a PC unconscious and another on very few hit points after the goblin’s opening salvo. Likewise if one of the goblin buggers gets away and heads back to the lair to tell his friends then this too can prove fatal a little further along the track. If you like that kind of thing then that’s all good, if however (like me) you had a couple of noobs aboard then pull your punches.

In fact when you’re playing the goblins- you’re probably going to have to pull your punches a lot, if you start using their Nimble Escape to its fullest then… well, things can get difficult for the PCs very quickly.

The problems in our game came before this encounter, the guys (Pete & Rob) decided to play their PCs as… ‘difficult’, that’s the polite version of events, they conspired (seemingly) to piss off their other halves (the other two PCs), which almost broke the game in the first session.

I am happy to report that by the end of the adventure harmony had been achieved, the fellers figured out that this particular adventure was about their partners having fun and finding out for themselves how the game they love works. Pete & Rob took a back seat for a majority of this scenario, allowing the ladies (the noobs) to make lots of decisions and lead the way.

2) Cragmaw Goblin Lair.

Again, all good- I didn’t get a chance to pull the tsunami trap- obviously things went badly for the PCs here because Flint (Pete) decided to seek revenge for a previous play-through of this adventure. Foolishly (perhaps- you decide) I allowed him to do this. The weird thing is it almost worked, if the PCs had just managed to land a few more hits, or else stay on their feet a little longer then they would have won through. As it was we ended up with a 75% TPK.

The problem with this section is how much of the plot to reveal, when (and if) the guys rescue Sildar then you (the glorious DM) have to decide how much to tell them about where Gundren is at, and what’s going on. I am of the opinion (in hindsight, and having played this scenario a few times) that it’s probably best not to tell the PCs too much- Gundren has been taken, where is he? Let them figure the rest out as they go on.

The issue for us was that the PCs, after being told about the Black Spider et al by Sildar, were entirely concentrated on recovering their dwarven patron, which made what comes next a whole lot less exciting. Perhaps not less exciting, but certainly less to do with the overall plot, and therefore at times frustrating for the players.

3) Phandalin & the Redbrands Lair.

Again, all good- although on reflection if I hadn’t had fired up the PCs with the quest to find their missing patron Gundren then this section would perhaps have been more engaging. Or else if the Redbrands themselves were more involved with the Black Spider’s plot to discover Wave Echo Cave. It didn’t help that the only creatures who knew more about the main plot- Droop the goblin, and Mosk and the bugbears, were either killed, or else fled the lair. In short the PCs had great fun (and were terrified in parts) by Cecil the Nothic, the fight with Glasstaff, and the rescue of Mirna and her kids- they loved all of this but it didn’t get them anywhere with the main plot.

It was marvellous to see the amount of roleplaying going on, Sandy (Myrium) is a silver-tongued so-and-so (a teacher by trade) and thinks quickly on her feet, at times the other PCs just hung on and waited to see what she was going to come up with next.

If I was to play it again then, as stated above, I’d give less of the main plot away in the Cragmaw Goblin lair, make things a lot more confused- where is Gundren? I’d also play the Redbrand sub-plot a lot slower, with a few encounters with the bad guys in Phandalin (bullying the residents et al) before the PCs decide to head in to their lair to kick ass. I’d also try to incorporate some more of the faction-based side quests that are available here (see below).

4) Phandalin faction-based side quests.

I still can’t get these to work properly, as above if I had given less away at the start and played the Redbrands slower, then… maybe. I think the side quests need to be tied in better to the main plot, my suggestions are, and in the order I’d try to play them-

a) Two dwarf miners kidnapped/taken by the Wyvern Tor Orcs, let the PCs believe (after interviewing other miners who witnessed the kidnapping) that the dwarves are Nundro and Tharden Rockseeker. Obviously, this will turn out to be untrue, the kidnapped dwarves are just miners, but they may know something- if the PCs manage to rescue them, perhaps the pair had a drink with Gundren before he departed for Neverwinter to hire the PCs. This could be the first time Wave Echo Cave is mentioned- Gundren let something slip while he was in his cups.

b) Old Owl Well and the Red Wizard, in truth I like this side-quest as it is- it could be made to feel a little more relevant with reports of the Red Wizard poking around in the region, but… I’d leave it in and leave it be. I like to play the Red Wizard as chatty and have him debate the PCs- his zombie servitors keeping him safe in the wilds et al.

c) Conyberry & Agatha’s Lair, again try to fold it in to the main plot- the PCs go here to help Sister Garaele, why not ham it up with a séance (or similar), or just have Agatha drop in to a trance and start mumbling stuff about ‘the lost Rockseeker’, or, ‘the dark elf seeker’, or… well, anything else semi-plot related that can give the PCs a clue as to what is going on.

5) The Ruins of Thundertree.

The players loved this section, mainly because they were stuck for a good while and once they were given the name of Reidoth the Brown, and the fact that he knew where King Grol and the Cragmaw Goblins are laired, well… they were very keen to make the Druid’s acquaintance. It also helped that Thundertree had some of the grooviest villains the guys had encountered so far- Twig Blights, which proved to be weird but easy foes; Zombies with ash clouds; and by far the best- the Green Dragon and the Dragon Cultists.

In-game the battle and roleplay with the Dragon Cultists played out really well and cumulated in the PCs pretending to be cultists in order to get close to the dragon. Simply put the PCs loved Thundertree- they also liked that they had to buy Reidoth’s favour by overcoming the foes here.

Obviously, the conversion of the Dragon Cultists by Myrium also played well, of all of the events in this play-through this is by far the most repeated piece of in-game action, which is a refreshing change.

6) Cragmaw Castle & King Grol.

At this point in our play-through the guys were starting to see better ways of doing things, i.e. not just barging in through the front door, in many ways I would have enjoyed the guys going toe-to-toe with the inhabitants of Cragmaw Castle, some titanic sprawling melee. I like to get good value for my bad guys, the PCs however were already displaying signs of being smarter than the average bears, and as good at roleplaying as they are fighting, if not better.

Odd thought but when I DM mature players (ages 40+) and the group is not all male, then there’s lots more roleplay, I don’t have any proof for this statement, but it certainly appears to me to be the way of things. Thinking back, I’ve not DMed too many groups that have been 50% Male/Female, this may actually be a first. The noobs/ladies don’t have a firm grip on all of the rules (why would they), and so rely on things that they already know about, and that work- therefore they talk more, to NPCs, to monsters, to each other. A revelation at times.

At third level the players are by now pretty tooled up for skills and hit points, in other play-throughs I’ve had groups grind their way through the entire castle, more or less. This then was the smart play version, King Grol and his Drow/Doppleganger friend didn’t last long at all. Targor Bloodsword and his band of merry men allowed me to reciprocate, Hobgoblins can be smart too- kill Grol and go! At least one of the PCs was on board with that plan- thanks Elvis.

Oh, and the moral dilemma thing- in-game for a good while Myrium (Sandy) and Elvis (Jackie) have been in opposite corners with regard to how to play a situation; Myrium- nobody gets hurt, Elvis- kill ‘em all. This is the point when the sniping came out of the dark and in to the open, and once again the group spent a while trying to tear itself apart. On reflection a lot of this stuff is/was just growing pains, once the air had been cleared and everyone had their rant then it was back to business as usual.

7) Wave Echo Cave & the Black Spider.

The guys hated this place at first, mainly because everything they met seemed to be very dangerous, Jackie (Elvis) commented ‘it was like being first level again’, she clarified this statement comparing the first encounter- Goblin Ambush, with her encounter with the Stirges in Wave Echo Cave. In both encounters her PC was on the floor and unconscious by the end of the monster’s surprise round. Next up was the encounter with the Skeletons- nine of them, which also caused consternation. Then from there in to a fungi-filled chamber which looked/felt odd- in short, the guys were on the back foot from the get-go in Wave Echo Cave. It didn’t help that they had no idea where they were going, or that one of the Rockseeker brothers they had come to rescue was already dead in the first chamber. Pete (Gaukus) said later that he thought Wave Echo Cave was both more ‘grown-up’ and ‘bigger’- not just in its size, but also in the amount of ‘stuff’ there was to explore, or discover, or battle, or else just have to deal with. Sandy (Myrium) echoed his thoughts saying that there was ‘more going on here’, it was as if the PCs had wandered in to someone else’s action (the Black Spider, Mormesk the Wraith, Kevin the Spectator, Cecil the Nothic and the crazy Flameskull). The other parts of the adventure Rob (Shagga) stated were rated PG, Wave Echo Cave was an ‘18’, maybe a ‘15’ in places, but mostly ‘18’.

That said the PCs certainly had the wherewithal to stand toe-to-toe with a lot of the enemies, and the smarts (when needed) to resort to roleplay to get themselves out (or in) trouble when they wanted to. In short Wave Echo Cave proved to be an excellent climax, except for the fact that the Black Spider managed to escape them. Which is hardly surprising for keen observers of other fantasy fiction, if you have a half-decent villain then the potential for a sequel is high.

The Black Spider will be back, probably.

That was Lost Mines of Phandalin, words of wisdom- read it thoroughly and then react to what your PCs are doing, or else what they want to do next. Don’t give away too much (plot) too soon. Make it last a for two or three tendays in-game time, not one tenday- slow burn, make the players scratch their heads a while.

In conclusion-
- Four PCs is tough, remarkably tough in comparison to when there’s five PCs in game, daft thing to say but I didn’t plan for this to begin with.
- If you have Noobs in-game then give them plenty of chances to get it right, the first encounters can easily prove to be fatal, play the Goblins semi-dumb if you have to.
- Don’t give the players too much info at the start, if they are desperate to find Gundren then a lot of the side quests in Phandalin can prove to be a distraction.
- Slow play at the start, crank the tension up bit by bit, let the guys settle in to Phandalin for a while maybe before bad things happen- bad things being the Redbrands.
- If the bid bad guys are smart then they should always be thinking that they want to survive this- the Black Spider, the Green Dragon in Thundertree, Glasstaff, King Grol etc. they’re not going to give their lives to the cause.
- Get the PCs talking, there are plenty of friendly NPCs in this adventure, and they come in all shapes and sizes, there are a couple of fantastic characters in Wave Echo Cave- the Spectator and Mormesk the Wraith, and earlier- Agartha the Banshee, (Cecil) the Nothic etc. make them shine. They should all get speaking parts.

Cheers Paul


We D&D.

Lost Mine of Phandelver #14d Next?

The plan from the very start was that we would play Lost Mine of Phandelver as a sort of a one off, maybe we’d look at other adventures for the Blessed Avengers, but the Lost Mines was really about making sure that people (particularly the noobs- Sandy & Jackie) were in to it (D&D) enough to play on.

I’ve DMed Lost Mines maybe 5-6 times so far, so it was just a very easy scenario for me to run, one that I was confident I could make a fun story for the guys, and so all the time- while the sessions were going on, I was thinking- what next?

Then some things happened in-game that got me thinking, they were-

1) The conversion of the Dragon Cultists in Thundertree by Myrium, four NPC/bad guys that see the light in a road-to-Damascus style conversion, and take to worshiping Lathander, and following Myrium around like lost puppies. They become The Brothers of the First Light- Watt, Lumen, Lux and Ray the Zealot. I enjoyed this moment (almost as much as the players did), it however started me thinking.


2) Not so much one event as multiple events, on a variety of occasions the Blessed Avengers proved themselves to be very adept at the chat, by which I mean roleplay. They seemed to enjoy RPing their way through various situations- pretending to be Redbrands, pretending to be Dragon Cultists, et al. I’m not saying they are the world’s greatest but because all of the players know each other well (and are sufficiently aged to not give a stuff) they are much more likely to risk playing the giddy-goat (making fools of themselves) in order to roleplay well, or else just to play their part. They do voices, impressions even- talk in character quite a lot, particularly when we are in a scene, and generally have no issue with going toe-to-toe RP-wise with NPCs and enemies alike. I think it helps that three out of the four players work jobs that involve them getting on their feet in front of other folk on a regular basis.

Last bit- I wanted to DM one of the WOTC epic campaign modules…

So, I have players that like roleplaying, and a bunch of ex-Dragon Cult members who have recently seen the error of the wanton ways.

Obvious really, of course I didn’t tell the players which scenario they would be playing next but I sold the idea well to them- a large campaign, multiple chapters- travel all over the Sword Coast, a terrifying enemy, intrigue and adventure aplenty, money and experience, also a chance for the PCs to meet high ranking officials- faction leaders, Lords etc. and possibly (in the end) to save the Sword Coast from destruction.

Of course, they went for it.

However they were more than a little disappointed/weirded out when I told them that their PCs for this next adventure would be The Brothers of the First Light, but we’ll get to that in the first session.

Keep reading, there’s more…


We D&D.

Session #15a Hoard of the Dragon Queen #1a Intro & PCs.

Note, this is session #15 of our game but (obviously) only session #1 of our Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

And so to begin with a little intro, although if you have read the previous section then you’ll know some of this. The players, in this session, started by rolling up their PCs- two each, one member of the Brothers of the First Light, and one spare PC- just in case.

I decided that each player should have a spare PC for several reasons-

1) In the last scenario the guys suffered a 75% TPK, three of the four adventurers were slaughtered in the Cragmaw Goblin lair, I therefore figured it would be easier if each player had an extra pre-loved PC to hand, one that could just slot in at the next convenient juncture.

2) Also, I wasn’t sure that the players would take to the Brothers of the First Light, so I wanted to give them an option, if they were not ‘in’ to playing an ex-Dragon Cultist now worshipper of Lathander, and they wanted something different then… hey presto, they already had a second PC that was built to their specifications.

3) Having read Hoard of the Dragon Queen I thought it would be nigh on impossible to run all of the missions in the first chapter with just one first level PC each, there’s a lot going on and I like to get my money’s worth out of these books- so I’m skipping nothing. Therefore it is likely that the secondary PCs are going to get a moment (brief perhaps) in the spotlight.

Also the players didn’t know ahead of time which scenario I had chosen for them to play, they worked it out pretty quickly however, particularly Pete and Rob who follow events in 5e world.

Last bit before the intro to the adventure proper, I have DMed this scenario twice before-

1) Attempt #1 double TPK in Chapter 1- all four PCs killed on the way to the Keep, new PCs rolled up in the Keep and then sent out on missions only to get TPKed again in the Save the Mill scenario. Game abandoned.

2) Attempt #2 party disintegration- player A no longer talking to player B, player C can no longer play on a Tuesday etc. we got as far as the start of Chapter 3 before things fell apart.

And so, at last (after the caveats), we begin.

Session #15a Hoard of the Dragon Queen #1a Intro & PCs.

Three years (game time, obviously, about two weeks in the real world) after the action presented in Lost Mine of Phandelver, the Brothers of the First Light are reborn. The PCs are rolled up around the table with all players present using the PH approved point buying method. The PCs are all worshippers of Lathander (and ex-members of the Cult of the Dragon- that works), they have in the last three years done a variety of things and taken up their present professions (for which read Classes). I allowed the players to do what they wanted with regard to the race of their PCs (after all Dragon Cultists come in all shapes and sizes), although I counselled them that ‘chatty’ PCs would be good- at least a few of them should have some social skills.

And so we have-

Ray the Zealot (played by Pete)
Male Human Paladin of Lathander Lvl 1 (Spy background also ex-Dragon Cultist)

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’.

Lummins (played by Rob)
Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 1 (Acolyte background also ex-Dragon Cultist)

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.

Lux (played by Sandy)
Female Human Warlock Lvl 1 (Zhent Agent background also ex-Dragon Cultist)

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.

Watt (played by Jackie)
Male Human Bard Lvl 1 (Entertainer background also ex-Dragon Cultist)

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.

And the four ‘spare’ PCs-

Note the SECRET section of each of the secondary PCs profiles, these were added after the first few sessions of play, when the guys realised which module we were playing (mostly using the details in Appendix A of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen module).

Further note the PCs below start the game already in Greenest, some of them are citizens of the town- see below.

Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy)
Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 1 (Criminal background)

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.

Hard Bonk (played Rob)
Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 1 (Criminal background)

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.

Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete)
Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 1 (Soldier background)

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.

Derek Pilch (played by Jackie)
Male Human Druid Lvl 1 (Emerald Enclave Agent background)

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.

And so…

Next section for the actual action.
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We D&D.

Session #15b Hoard of the Dragon Queen #1b Enter the Dragon (Cultists).

Starring the Brothers of the First Light-
Ray the Zealot (played by Pete) Male Human Paladin of Lathander Lvl 1
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 1
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 1
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 1

Note, this is session #15 of our game but (obviously) only session #1 of our Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

Episode 1: Greenest In Flames.

The four secondary PCs (Hotlips Houlihan, Hard Bonk, Sgt. Harald Hardaxe & Derek Pilch) are in Greenest, and probably having fun already (see below), we’ll encounter them as and when they’re needed.

All four Brothers of the First Light (Ray, Lummins, Lux & Watt) have each received a message from the Church of Lathander asking them to meet in Greenest, and to talk to Eadyan Falconmoon, the priest of Lathander, there. The messages are marked urgent, and thus the Brothers meet up in Baldur’s Gate and from there take transport to Greenest, arriving at dusk…

Slightly different start than in the module, I wanted the PCs to arrive in a town that was suspiciously quiet (at first), and then slowly discover the bad things that are going on. So, no dragon to begin with, no screams, the place seems… well, deserted.

And so…

The Brothers of the First Light get down from the coach that has brought them here and soon enough start to wonder what’s going on- Greenest seems to be unnaturally dark, perhaps there’s even the smell of smoke, and every now and then a sudden sharp noise on the wind- people crying out?

Then the screams get suddenly louder as a bunch of townsfolk rush out from an alley way, a husband and wife (the man badly wounded and dragging one leg), and three young children (also screaming and crying)- the quintet are clearly terrified as racing after them come a bunch of Kobolds.

Neither group has seen the Brothers of the First Light- time to act.

01 Kobolds vs Villagers.jpg

There’s going to be less detail in this write up- no blow by blow account of the fights, just the significant details.

The Brothers of the First Light get in to action, and in particular Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) who bathes the Kobolds in fire- Burning Hands, the result of which is five of the eight little buggers are incinerated, Linan Swift (the female villager) turns and throws a spear in to another Kobold (a Crit) and it dies, Lux (Human Warlock) repeats the feat with an Eldritch Blast (with Crit), and three-for-three Watt (Human Bard) fires an arrow (with a third Crit- the two PC attacks are at advantage but still- three ‘20’s in a row). In short less than ten seconds later and there are eight dead Kobolds, that works.

Oh, and Ray the Zealot (Human Paladin) didn’t even get an attack roll, initiative ‘3’, what was he thinking?

There follows a frantic chat with Linan Swift and her family- in hysterical summary (actually she’s the calm one- her husband Cuth is panicked, and bleeding badly from his leg) “the town is taken, they’re everywhere, we have to get to the Keep!”

Which results in a WTF moment.

Linan insists the group finds cover, and there patiently (but quickly) explains “there are men in Greenest, rough-looking men- bandits and worse, and those creatures (points to dead Kobold). The bastards have torched the old Town Hall, I saw them kill at least five watchmen, and… others, lots of others. The only safe place is the Keep- we have to get there… we have to! My children!”

The Brothers have other questions but Linan (true to her name) is moving swiftly, the PCs get cursory answers (also because I don’t want to give too much away too soon).

Note, I wanted a nastier version of the Dragon Cultist’s invasion of Greenest, so I thought I’d use the Episode 1 Encounters table for the encounters on the way to the Keep, and also to show the PCs some of the sights- other things that are going on in town (see below).

The group moves off however they’ve not gone far when ahead a bunch of rough-looking men exit a building (Cultist x4 & Guard x2) and almost walk in to the PCs.

The Brothers of the First Light go for the chat, or else Watt does, approaches and remarkably (after two skill checks over ‘20’) the bad guys stop to listen. Beyond the sextet the Brothers can see in to the building the bad guys are exiting- there are dead people on the floor, recently slaughtered.

02 Dragon Cultists.jpg

Watt is polite and wants to know what’s going on, while the Cultists want to know why Watt and his friends are not running from them right now, and also trying to work out if they can take our guys, but mainly just buying time.

As soon as Watt gets in toe-to-toe with the lead Cultist he hits the Thunderwave button (and I fail every one of my saves- DC 13), all six bad guys are killed in an instant.

The sound of the player’s laughter as I failed my sixth save in a row will haunt me for many years.

The Brothers grab the bodies and drag them in to the house- at which point they discover that worse has been done to the former inhabitants of the place before they were slaughtered. Ray (played by Pete) explodes in fury- there’s a lot of “we’re going to kill all of them”, only with far more swear words.

The Brothers take a moment to investigate the slaughter, and in particular to examine the bodies of the bad guys- after a few good rolls they’re convinced that four of the guys are soldiers (clean-shaven, a bit more professional-looking) and two are mercenaries or bandits.

And so, we go on… or rather the Brothers and the Swift family do, to the Keep.

En route they observe more of the (Cultist) invaders, too far away for the PCs to intervene, led by a spell-caster (possibly a Cleric- they see the guy use a Command spell to stop a fleeing man, or else that’s what Lummins thinks- he’s spot on). They drag the screaming captive away. The DM is cranking up the nasty- and the players are not happy about it.

A short while later however the Brothers sight a quartet of Kobolds leading a large lizard (Ambush Drake) down one of the streets, Ray (Pete) gets his wish- or at least the other players are keen to appease him (or over-confident after the first two fights). The PCs get the drop on the Kobolds and attempt to smush the bad guys quickly.

03 Kobolds & Drake.jpg

Things do not go entirely to plan, two of the Kobolds and the Drake survive the Brother’s surprise attack, the two Kobolds go running off in to the night screaming, while the Ambush Drake (which is a whole lot tougher than the PCs figured) is eventually hacked to pieces.

The Brothers and Linan family get on again towards the Keep, and on the way get to see (at too greater distance to affect, again) a bunch more townsfolk falling in to the clutches of half-a-dozen or more rough-men (more Cultists). The Brothers can do nothing about this, they do however observe that the townsfolk are being dragged away towards (Linan tells them) the centre of the town. There could be something going on there…

Soon after they spot a bunch more townsfolk who also spot them and in panic flee in to a nearby house, the Brothers enter with Linan ahead trying desperately to calm the townsfolk down. Their honeyed words work! The Brothers have four more potential survivors to get back to the Keep (that’s nine), worse still one of the new batch is a decrepit old man, “I’m seventy-four! No, ratty Kobold is going to eat me!”, the old geezer shouts repeatedly.

The house they’re in has a second floor, the PCs head upstairs to see if they can see where the townsfolk are being taken, they can- in the centre of Greenest a huge number (over 50?) invaders- bad men and Kobolds have gathered, the captured townsfolk are being herded in to a building (the Greenest General Store, Linan informs them). As they watch a robed figure steps forward from a smaller group (a Command Group?) and Fireballs the building, incinerating the majority of the townsfolk in an instant. Half-a-dozen human torches escape the ruins and stumble about a while before being consumed by the flames.

For a better depiction of this scene see Klimov’s ‘Come and See’- the flame-thrower scene, it’s a harrowing film- that’s what I was aiming for in-game.

The Brothers are incensed, the players motivated, and Ray (Pete) apoplectic.

They also make sure they get a good look at the robed guy that just killed the townsfolk, this is Rath Modar, we’ll meet him much later- the Brothers commit his likeness to memory (although they’re viewing the scene from quite a distance).

The sad (and maddening) moment is dispelled in an instant when a flying Kobold (an Urd) suddenly alights on a window ledge and begins screaming threats (in Draconic) at the Brothers et al. Watt instantly replies (all of the Brothers speak Draconic- I think) stating that he and his companions have just captured the townsfolk here present (making out that the Brothers are with the bad guys- very prescient of him). He goes on to invite (with help from his Friends spell) the Winged Kobold in. Oddly, the Urd accepts the offer and enters through the window (a ‘20’ will do that).

04 Urd.jpg

Seconds later Lux hits the Kobold with an Eldritch Blast, Ray stabs it but Lummins misses with his Sacred Flame. The Urd starts screaming and suddenly there are more (Draconic) shouts on the stairs- a bunch of Kobolds (six of them) and a rough-looking fellow (a Cultist), are accompanying the Urd- now they’re coming upstairs to see what the noise is all about. The Brothers cannot talk their way out of this one…

The fight is frenetic, Linan Swift is stabbed and badly wounded while another of the townsfolk is clubbed to death, Ray the Zealot gives it all he’s got- he decapitates three Kobolds (including the Urd), the ferocious Paladin of Lathander never misses. Watt takes a Kobold out with his bow, Lux kills another with an Eldritch Blast, while Lummins kills the last pair of little terrors, and badly burns the rough fellow (Cultist) with his favourite Burning Hands.

The heavily wounded bad guy (Cultist) attempts to flee back down the stairs and out of the house, screaming all the way. We make opposed checks for the chase, with the bad guy (Cultist) being one double move ahead of the PCs- I roll a ‘1’, and then another ‘1’ for my guy, it takes us five minutes of rolls and chatter to get to my second ‘1’, at which point I retire the D20 in question (I throw it out of the window and in to the garden). The bad guy (Cultist) is grabbed, dragged back in to the building and then pumped for info (which is clever of the PCs).

They learn (with help from a Friends spell or two- Watt & Lux both have it in their repertoire) the following-

a) The fellow is a member of the Dragon Cult, which causes uproar in da ‘ouse!
b) The Dragon Cult is in the process of “collecting a great horde to usher in the reign of the Queen of Dragons.”

A little more chatter and it becomes clear that the Dragon Cultists are in Greenest for money and valuables, the killing of the townsfolk is just for pleasure.

And this is the moment when Pete, and then Rob (with a little help from Pete) figure out which scenario we are playing- Hoard of the Dragon Queen.

Very clever Mr. DM, Sir. We’re ex-Dragon Cultists who are going to have to put an end to the evil machinations of… well, the Dragon Cult (and Dragons, of course).

There follows a fifteen-minute break in play for Rob and Pete (and me a little) to catch the other two players (Jackie & Sandy) up on a variety of issues that arise, like- Who is the Dragon Queen? What’s a Tiamat? Why has she got five heads? And a bunch of other stuff. Basically Jackie & Sandy have little interest in D&D or the D&D milieu, or indeed RPGs in general, or even the Fantasy Fiction genre, the pair have never read Tolkien- nor have they any desire to do so. They like playing this game- “It’s like a board game, only without a board… and there’s bad stuff to kill, and treasure, and you get to do stuff- and Paul (that’s me) decides how well we do when we roll the dice”, which is how Jackie described it to a friend, I think the marketing people have missed a trick there.

The filthy Dragon Cultist is put to the sword by Ray the Zealot, and with the townsfolk watching on, that however is the end of the first session of play- we went on for a good long while (remember they also rolled up two PCs each in this session), no-one wanted to stop playing. The fights were really one-sided at the start with the Brothers getting up-close to the bad guys, followed by some great spell attacks- and better rolls (although my dice were broken). The last two fights were much more dangerous, the Ambush Drake took quite a beating (but didn’t land a single hit), while in the last fight the Cultists & the Kobolds (& Urd) even managed to connect a few times, and also slaughtered one of the townsfolk, and left the heroic Linan bleeding.

The roleplay was brilliant in places- these guys have all the skills (they’re very good at just making up stories that are convincing) to make the most of their special status- ex-Dragon Cultists turned to the side of Light (Choose Light!), and in the best position possible to help Greenest and its citizens.

The players loved it, they’re pumped for the next session.

Turn 15b Greenrest 40.jpg

KEY: A= Arrive in Greenest, Kobolds attack Linan Swift & Family. B= The Dragon Cultists are killing the townsfolk. C= Kobolds & the Ambush Drake. D= The Urd and Friends. E= Burning the Townsfolk. F= Greenest Keep.
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We D&D.

Session #16 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #2 To The Keep.

Brothers of the First Light.
Ray the Zealot (played by Pete) Male Human Paladin of Lathander Lvl 1
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 1
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 1
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 1

Note, this is session #16 of our game but only session #2 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

The Brothers of the First Light have picked up nine townsfolk survivors as they sneak & fight their way through the mean streets of Greenest in an attempt to get to the town’s fortified Keep. Alas along the way one of the townsfolk has been killed, two badly wounded, while another is a geriatric old man that’s not too quick on his feet and keeps shouting at his rescuers.

They have also got themselves a dead Dragon Cultist and have discovered that the Cultists are in town to rob and kill. Odd that, because the Brothers of the First Light are all ex-Dragon Cultists themselves.

And so… on to the Keep.

It comes as no surprise then that on the home straight, with the Keep in sight- doors still open, the Brothers and company run in to the last line of defence, a lone Cultist (the Brothers rightly suspect) and a trio of Kobolds step out of an alley and bar their way. “Where do you think you’re going?”, the Cultist wants to know, and for the first time so far, the PCs dice- and chutzpah, fail them.

05 Before the Keep.jpg

Fighting erupts, actually what happens is Ray the Zealot (Human Paladin) who when it becomes obvious that the bad guy is not buying the PCs story gets to deliver all of his nastiest threats, then gets selected for target practice by the Kobolds, the Paladin takes a hit from a sling shot, and would have taken another if it wasn’t for Lummins’ (Half-Elf Cleric) Warding Flare*.

*Yeah, that’s not how Warding Flare works at Level 1, we worked this out eventually…

Watt (Human Bard) shoots the Cultist dead, and at this point I would have had the Kobolds flee the scene, but Ray the Zealot instead charges in to the midst of the little buggers and flails ineffectively, the DM shrugs (and with a little help from Pack Attack) stabs the Paladin of Lathander in to unconsciousness, never look a gift horse in the mouth and all that. Feeling good about themselves the Kobolds almost manage to repeat the feat, soon after Lummins is bloodied (same tactic, DM shrugs- boy, the players are rolling low, whereas my dice…).

My joy is short-lived, the Brother’s dice come back on-line and moments later the last Kobold standing, although very badly wounded, manages to flee the scene.

At which point a larger force of Kobolds, lead by a Dragonborn Warrior (perhaps, the Brothers are about 200 feet away and its dark, actually this is Langdedrosa Cyanwrath- we’ll meet him properly a bit later) wearing electric blue scale armour charges the main gates of the Keep, which at the very last-moment clang shut.

The Brothers of the First Light are locked out, as are the eight citizens of Greenest who are now even more reliant on our heroic foursome. Cue a little frantic roleplay, which results in- “I know a way in!” the doddering member of the townsfolk states (Old Man Markguth). After a bit more chatter it turns out that there’s a secret way in to the Keep, a sewer pipe used by members of the Watch (past and present) if and when they fancy a trip in to town for something to quench their thirst (all manner of thirsts are catered for).

However, the Brothers are badly beaten up, two of them heavily wounded (below bloodied), and with no spells (only Cantrips) left for Watt and Lummins- the talk is should they go on. All this, of course, after getting the unconscious Ray back on his feet. The kindly DM informs the players that should they attempt to hide up for an hour then I will be forced to roll for a Random Encounter, or two (I’ll make a second check if I don’t get one the first time around). The players take the risk- Lathander shines his light upon them, no encounters.

Twenty or so minutes after their rest and the group are in the Greenest River, knee deep in the waters hugging the shore as Old Man Markguth grumbles and leads them on towards the hidden culvert, alas it seems the secret is out, sniffing around the sewer entrance pipe is another (larger) group of Kobolds (x6) & Cultists (x2).

06 River Encounter.jpg

The company backtrack out of sight to plot, Old Man Markguth points out they can’t let the Cultists find the secret way in to the Keep, the PCs are fretting however- they’re still very low on resources. After a series of stirring (but whispered) speeches (and four out of four successful Persuasion checks) the townsfolk agree to help out, all able-bodied personal are up for the fight. First step however is to get in close, and once more (with the help of a Friends spell or two) the Brothers approach the Cultists and Kobolds, and sweet talk their way closer to the bad guy’s.

The attack is signalled by Ray, who screams “For the Light!” and stabs one of the Cultists dead, seconds later the townsfolk emerge from hiding and attempt to overrun the Kobolds, remarkably the plan works a treat- it’s a slaughter. Only one of the Kobolds survives for long enough to attempt to flee the scene, Lummins takes the miscreant down with a Sacred Flame, and the only injuries sustained are to the civilians- all minor cuts and bruises. The bodies of the bad folk are pushed out in to the middle of the river and taken away by the current.

That felt good. The players are delighted, and only a few minutes later the grate to the sewer has been levered off, and the gaggle of survivors guided in, the sewer entrance is hidden (as best they can) and the grate wedged back in place, not ideal but the best the Brothers can do.

The group, with regular input from Old Man Markguth, wade through the sewer pipe and towards the Keep and safety. Suddenly a little way ahead of them Rats Swarm (x2) out of concealed tunnels either side of the stinking wet thoroughfare, effectively blocking the passage on.

07 Rat Pipe.jpg

At the same time, and just as suddenly there are lights and voices ahead, four adventuring types carrying torches appear in the sewer passage. The Brothers of the First Light react instantly and proclaim their innocence loudly- “We’re worshippers of Lathander!”, and, “We’re the good guys!”, and, “We’re rescuing townsfolk!” they shout repeatedly. The four adventuring types (the PCs secondary characters if you’ve not figured it out yet) decide to help out with the Rat problem and then ask questions later (sensible fellows).

Both Rat Swarms are dealt with quickly and efficiently (it helps that the Rat Swarms had initiative scores of ‘4’ and ‘2’). Derek Pilch (Human Druid) hits the first Swarm with a Poison Spray, then Ray the Zealot & Sgt. Hardaxe (Dwarf Fighter) smush many of the survivors- as per the module when bloodied the Rat Swarm dissipates and flees. The second Rat Swarm quickly goes the same way, Lux (Human Warlock) hits it with her Eldritch Blast (lots of Force damage, that should do it), Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk) stamps on a few survivors, while Hotlips Houlihan (Halfling Rogue) skewers a few more with her rapier and dagger.

It only takes a minute, and the mad barking of Old Man Markguth for the adventurers to accept the Brother’s story, they and the eight rescued citizens of Greenest are welcomed in to the Keep.

And relax… although, the players are aware (and excited) that they should have enough XP for Level 2 now (particularly because they’ve just been given 400 XP for getting the townsfolk safely back to the Keep), how am I going to break it to them?

Discussion time- I tell the guys that XP doesn’t count in the same way in this scenario, we are using a system called Milestones, basically when the module says that the PCs gain a level then, they gain a level (subject to my machinations, of course- see later). There are a few sad faces around the table, particularly when I explain that what follows is a series of missions, at the end of which their PCs will be elevated to Level 2.

In short they’ve a while to go yet at Level 1.

I further explain however that the players can instead spend their hard-earned XP on ‘stuff’, I even offer a few examples-

Potion of Healing costs 50 XP (Max 1 Potion/PC)
Cure Wounds Spell (cast on PC) costs 50 XP
Recover use of one 1st Level Spell costs 150 XP (Can only recover 1 Spell/mission completed)
Any item in PH (subject to availability) costs same XP as GP price (minimum cost 1 XP)
Other benefits/items etc. XP cost on request.

For roleplay purposes the items gained by the PCs (for example a Potion of Healing) are gifted from one of the many grateful townsfolk in the Keep (or similar). However, each PC can only possess one Potion of Healing- that’s all that the townsfolk can spare at that time. Also a PC can only recover one Spell at a time.

The rest of the first chapter: Greenest in Flames consists of a series of missions, the players can choose which of their PCs they wish to use for each mission, but only one PC each.

After each mission the PCs can spend their XP, but only when they are in the Keep.

Finally, prices (and the rules) are subject to change if we use this system again (which we do) later on in the module, and when the PCs are at higher levels- costs will inevitably go up, although more ‘stuff’ may become available.

A little bit gamist I know, but it worked out.

The Brothers therefore spend some of their hard-earned XP to heal wounds, buy potions and recover used spell slots, as they are celebrated by the happy townsfolk whose lives they have saved.

And so, after a Short Rest, the Brothers of the First Light are spotted and then approached by a very large Greenest Guard Sgt, as it turns out the fellow is called Sgt Markguth- they’ve just saved his dad, he’s very happy to see them, and thanks them profusely. However, that’s not all of the story- he’d also like to invite them to a secret meeting with the higher ups.

The Brothers are up for a secret meeting.

They follow Sgt Markguth up through the Keep and on to the highest battlements, there they meet Governor Nighthill (who runs Greenest), and the Castellan Escobert the Red (the Dwarven master of the Keep). Also present are at least a dozen guardsmen, and another half-dozen rough adventuring types (including the four guys that helped the Brothers in the sewers, the player’s secondary characters).

Governor Nighthill speaks urgently about the situation in Greenest, down below the fighting is mostly over- the townsfolk still outside of the Keep are either dead, or Lathander be praised- hopefully hidden safely. The Governor points out that their seem to be two distinctly different varieties of enemies- Kobolds and Bandits (the latter category only a presumption at this point). Nighthill needs information, he therefore needs prisoners.

The Brothers butt in and tell him what they know, which is that the Bandits are actually Dragon Cultists (they’re fairly insistent about this). Also, that the Cult are here for treasure, and are gathering a great horde- they miss off the detail that the horde is for Tiamat, not wanting to spread panic. Nighthill has heard all about the Brothers and commends them to the host, who cheer our heroes (so they should).

Nighthill finally states that he has several important missions that need to be undertaken and that he is looking for volunteers- actually he is hoping that all present will volunteer. His hopes are met. The Governor makes it clear that during the missions, if the opportunity presents itself, then prisoners should be taken, they need more information about the Bandit’s, or Cultist’s, intentions. Prisoners should be brought back to the Keep for interrogation.

Soon after the PCs receive their first mission, which is to make their way back out of the secret sewer exit, follow the river down to the water mill, and secure the building- if the grain stores are stolen or burnt then Greenest- should it survive, will inevitably run out of food.

The Brothers also get a little extra time with the Governor and Escobert, the pair promise to help them with resources- when available, they also answer questions. The Brothers ask whether the Priest of Lathander they were sent to meet (Eadyan Falconmoon) is in the Keep, alas neither Nighthill nor Escobert has seen him, they will look in to it (info when they get back from their first mission). Hard Bonk also asks about his master, the Monk Leosin Erlanthar, who he has also come to meet with- the Half-Orc receives the same answer as previous.

Time for the first mission, only…

Suddenly out of the drifting pall of smoke swoops a great Blue Dragon, the air is filled with electricity as its lightening breath hits the tower on which the host is standing…

And that’s the end of the second session.

The guys were really looking forward to hitting second level, and were gutted when it didn’t happen, they are however loving the story- and the situation, ex-Dragon Cultists vs the Dragon Cult.

And now a Dragon!

Turn 16 Greenrest 40.jpg

KEY: A= PCs Start this Turn. B= Kobolds & Cultist Block the Way. C= The Greenest Keep. D= A Short Rest. E= Kobolds & Cultists Find the Secret Keep Sewer Pipe.
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