Preparing for the second session as DM in Lost Mine of Phandelver
I survived! Yes the first session as DM happened and I only looked awkward and like I didn’t know what I was doing 9 or 10 times! Success!
Summary of Session 1
I think the role play bits at the beginning of the adventure went really well. I felt like my players really took to them. They ended up staying the night in a tavern instead of on the road and had a drink together.
It can be really difficult getting the balance right between giving your players clear direction and them doing whatever they find fun. It took them a LOOONG time to decide to set off despite the fact that they all had letters telling them to take the goods to Phandalin. I had to get an NPC to nudge them into action.
Combat, man I suck at running combat. I didn’t expect it to be so hard and I only had like 4 goblins to deal with, but initiative order was hard, I kept messing it up and losing track of which goblins had been damaged, etc. :/
Preparing for Session 2
So my players had decided to head off to Cragmaw Hideout after defeating the goblins in the Ambush. I stopped the session as they arrived at the mouth of the cave. This is the first ‘dungeon crawl’ of the Lost Mine of Phandelvar, so I then came up with a list of things I would need to be able to do:
- Things happen without the characters
- I wanted to give the feel of a living breathing hideout rather than a series of static rooms, I wanted to think about how the denizens of that hideout might be behaving assuming they don’t know the NPC are there
- I wanted to give the players a sense of togetherness, like why would they all suddenly start rooting for/supporting each other as rag tag bunch of hired hands
- Improve combat
- I felt like a laggard in combat, I felt like it lost its punchiness, for want of a better phrase. I want to get better at this to make sure it has that urgency
Setting an endpoint for the session
Again, I had a bit of a timebox, this session would either end when time ran out OR when the characters set off for Phandalin.
Things happen without the characters
To do this in Cragmaw Hideout I decided to give the main bad guys some agency. This would also help me in roleplaying them.
- He would be talking up some recent victory to any bored goblins that were listening to him
- He would be slagging off Klarg and talking about how he’s full of himself … to any bored goblins listening to him.
This would lead to goblins who weren’t very attentive. But also might occasionally sidle off to feed the wolves or whatever out of boredom.
I figured there were 2 ways to build togetherness…
- In game
- Out of game
To promote in game togetherness I started by creating an intro or recap of the story so far before each session. This would summarise the previous encounter, but also, aim to be a little bit light hearted. Hopefully this would help start bringing together the idea they are all in the same story.
In game togetherness is all well and good, but I think its out of game togetherness that keeps a party together and wanting to keep playing. First I setup a WhatsApp group, for post and pre game banter and also organising. I would recommend this, it has brought much hilarity. As the DM I would also suggest you make sure this channel is used. Message about a few things you think are funny and the rest will follow.
I think I just need to practice this more. But II also went looking for tips. First tip, on initiative rolls for large groups of the same creature, just roll them all together.
And with those those things together I set about my usual prep:
- Read the bit of the adventure book that contains the attack on the hideout twice through
- I wanted my characters to save Sildar, so decided not to have him make death saving throws or anything
- Made some plans for roleplaying Sildar
- Prepped my session notes which are in the appendix
I wanted Sildar to be from a different place. I broadly speaking have about 3 accents I can do currently, none of them sound massively like what they are supposed to be … but are definitely different. So most Amphicea residents have a Scottish/Welsh hybrid accent. I would give Sildar my best ‘mediterranean’ accent. Sildar would be able to help if they chose to heal him but would otherwise not help.
Session recap and intro
When last we met… after an early start, our adventurers set off on their journey, charged with making sure Gundram Rockseekers supplies make it safely to Phandalin. A beautiful and fairly uneventful day of travel, led to a drunken night in a tavern, at least, for 2 of our party and over the course of the day and night our adventurers had gotten to know each other a little better. Never trust Vivian to organise the sleeping arrangements.
The next day opened, greyer and duller than last, and not just because of the hangover. Vivian confidently took the reins of the wagon… and promptly drove them into a goblin ambush. The first battle for our adventurers ended in victory. Chase and Wistendal proving themselves valiant and brave in the face of the enemy, whilst Hjukyl… well … he definitely hit some things!
After dispatching the ambush the band found evidence of a trail and with some skillful and totally intentional discovery of various traps that littered the way, our adventures find themselves outside the entrance to a cave….
Read the bit from p8. 1. Cave mouth
User the adventure book for most of this bit … Things to remember
Lazy goblins in 1.
Dark vision necessary throughout the cave when past the wolves…
Goblin on the bridge.
What the goblins know is on p8 if they question any of them
Will barter for his life if he feels like he’s losing the battle. Wants to be leader of the goblins. If agree to barter: Tell them to kill Klarg When they come back ask for more money (200gp?) If don’t barter: Knock sildar out and throw him down - Start making death saving throws on Sildar
Only wants to fight. Bragging about victory if they sneak up the chimney to spy on them If they investigate the treasure they find the words “Lionshield Coster” on them.
Will tell the people not to believe Yeemiks deal If saved: Clearly someone who holds themselves well, middle aged and if he wasn’t so badly beat up, would be a silver fox. Things he knows: He is sildar hallwinter He is a guard of honour in the griffon cavalry. Here investigating the fate of one of his order, Iarno Albrek, who went missing a couple of months ago in this area Agreed to help Gundren open the mine because it was in the same area as Iarno went missing and aligned with the goals of his order, the Lords alliance. Will offer 50gp to escort him back to Phandalin