Preparing for the third session as DM in Lost Mine of Phandelver
Summary of Session 2: Uh-uh! A cave! A narrow gloomy cave…
In this sessions our adventures successfully attacked Cragmaw Hideout and made out like bandits with additional treasure and Sildar in tow.
Roleplay from my players was awesome. They tried to interact with the goblins when they could and generally behaved like their archetypes during the session.
Combat again :S Lots of it in this session and it was hard to keep pace.
I had to ‘cheat’… assaulting the hideout was brutal, the relentless combat was just too much for my level 1 characters. By the end of it I was fudging dice rolls to make sure they didn’t all die.
The squishiness of level 1 characters
The cleric died twice. Luckily I’d given them all a free potion of healing as part of their equipment at the start of the campaign. They had a long rest before they entered and a then took a short rest during the exploration of the cave and still got battered at points.
In negotiating for Sildar’s release Yeemik allowed them an hours grace to lick their wounds. My band then promptly turned on Yeemik, freed Sildar and had him join the crew. Even with Sildar fighting alongside, the fight up to Klarg was tough going and in the end I had to have a group of goblins run away. The group focused everything on Klarg, and so that allowed me to have some of the minions run away :S
Preparing for session 3
This was the first time I’d ever leveled a character up. :S
So for most characters this was fairly easy in D&D Beyond. However, I would say that I find managing Hit Points quite faffy in D&D Beyond. I wanted to let my characters role for their HP improvements but this was non intuitive. Luckily, it is VERY easy to roll back the levels, so if you get stuff wrong then… just roll it back :)
This was the next time I had to spend money, my wizard wished to be a necromantic wizard and to upgrade this integrated with D&D Beyond I had to buy:
- School of Necromancy ($1.99)
- Players handbooks spell list ($4.99)
- Xanathar’s Guide to Everything ($4.99)
Roughly $12 in total
For HP rolls I decided to homebrew a little. I know from the players point of view how sucky bad health rolls are. And how important those health rolls are early on. Because of that for the first 5 levels I allow my players to roll for hp with advantage, and if they get double ones … roll again until they don’t get a one.
Read the Phandlin section
Yeh, read this a few times.
Instead of roleplaying some exposition, I wrote a little story for my characters as they travelled from the Cragmaw Hideout to Phandalin. This would allow me to get out some lengthy exposition and not spend 20 minutes with them talking about Wave Echo Cave in roleplay. It also means the players (some of whom are new to D&D) get some free notes :). To collaborate on this with the players I asked them to suggest behaviours or actions for their characters for how they might behave on the trip back to Phandalin and incorporated this into the writing. You can see the full text I sent to the players in the Appendix.
I find using these mixed mediums outside of sessions helps keep people involved during the week and helps them get a little bit more excited for Monday. (Can I steal ‘Is it Monday yet?’?)
Timing the session
Still aiming for a 50/50 balance of combat vs non combat in general … I wanted to minimise the combat in this session as the previous one had been very combat heavy. For this I mixed the suggested adventure up a little. Firstly, I made the Tavern have far more hustle and bustle than is suggested in the books. I wanted this to have the feel of a jumping Saturday night in a country pub, in my eyes this meant:
- Live music
- Lots of chatter
For my characters this would also provide a way for them to talk to the locals and have a bit of easy roleplaying. Most of them know how to act in a pub :)
To give it the atmosphere, I put all the NPCs suggested in the adventure in the tavern so they wouldn’t have to trawl about town. That is, all except Sister Garaele and Harbin Westor, who I assumed weren’t in the tavern. I also added a group of people playing a game I know as ‘coiny’ but which wikipedia describes as “Pitching Pennies”. The rules for this would be a simple dexterity check.
I also added a drinking contest taken from Critical Role and their adventures in a pub in Hupperdook, The hour of honor.
I love mini games and I hope my players do too :)
This meant in this session I planned for the night at the inn, a late morning wakeup, a wander about town to complete the quests involved with handing back goods and then running the redbrand ruffians encounter either because the characters approached the Sleeping Giant or because they are accosted in town.
My goal was to run the redbrand encounter in the sleeping giant rather than in the street. I wanted to create a more ominous western vibe. For this I created a map in my usual favourite: Inkarnate. I have added this to the appendix. To add some character to the Sleeping Giant, and to give it a bit more fun, I added an obnoxious goblin landlord who would be hidden in the cellar when the characters arrived. My hope was that they would investigate the cellar, thinking it would have treasure in it … but just find a grumpy goblin.
To add a more multi cultural flavour to my D&D NPC instead of accepting the the ones in the adventure, I simply changed their races to ones that I generated using NPC Generator. I left the rest of the things from the adventure the same.
Quests and adventures
To help me manage the known, started and finished quests and adventure the group were on I setup a little checklist table. You can see a copy of this in the appendix. Keeping little tables like this is super useful as tasks get complicated.
Mid session exposition
As the skittering sound of goblin laughter fades into the dark, the adventures look around at each other’s exhausted faces. “Thank you, my friends.” Sildar said, “Now… we can head to Phandalin?” A small groan escapes from Vivian who was still nursing his side after taking a hefty whack from Klarg. Chase and Wistendil come down from the den, “There’s quite a few big crates in there that say ‘Lionshield Coster’ on them, must be an outpost in Phandalin… also… found a little gold…”, Chase says jingling a coin purse with a grin on his face. “‘I suppose we should load ‘em up and make sure those crates get returned to their rightful owner then?” says Hjulkly pointedly. “Yeh, yeh, exactly what I was thinking.”
An hour of heavy lifting later and the wagon is loaded up. The work performed in near silence as the crates were carried around the dismembered bodies and remains of those they had slaughtered earlier. “Come on, my friends, let’s get this wagon to Phandalin and get some rest, things will feel brighter tomorrow, I promise.” as Sildar tries to raise a smile. Everyone jumps in, Sildar taking the reins, and the wagon sets off. The journey is not a long one and Hjulkyl marks the location of the hideout on his map. 10 minutes or so later, breaking the heavy silence, Sildar starts to tell the group tales, “I came here to investigate the disappearance of a member of my alliance, the Lords alliance, you are all aware of it no? I just so happened to be going to the same place as Gundren, what a coincidence that is… Iarno Albrek is his name, the person I am looking for, he was sent by the Alliance to help the folks of Phandalin establish the town, we have not heard from him these last two months.”
“What do you think they wanted with Gundren?” asked Hjulkyl, “Well, it is no secret that the dwarf had found something, no? Well let me tell you, these secrets have a way of not staying secret for very long. Those goblins were looking for him, specifically him. When they took us back to their hideout, that Klarg ordered some of them to take Gundren to the ‘Black Spider’ at a place called ‘Cragmaw Castle’. I have not heard of this person or place before. I was considered expendable and given to them as a play thing. I think it would have been useful if we could have questioned one of these goblins, no? See what we could find out… but it turns out you 4 are very … effective at what you do.” Sildar says with a grin.
“What I do know is what Gundren had found; he had found the Wave Echo Cave and was planning to reopen it.” Immediately, Wistendil’s ears pricked up, he had been nervously watching behind the wagon for the entire journey before this point for any sign the goblins would return, but the mention of Wave Echo Cave piqued his interest. “Did I hear you right? The Wave Echo Cave you say?” “Ahh, I see we have at least one of you who knows their history, no?” “I thought that was just legend?” “Didn’t we all?” “Err, not to be rude, but could one of you explain to us what this cave is?” interjected Hujlkyl. “Of course, more than 500 hundred years ago, clans of dwarves and gnomes …” “The short version please Wistendil, as entertaining as it hearing about 500 of years of history” “Sorry, yes Vivian, of course, the Wave Echo Cave is a mine that is not only famous for minerals, but also famous for its magic, it is the source of a great many ancient magical artifacts that are still around today. The Forge of Spells was legendary, but it was thought lost after a force of Orcs, jealous of its riches, destroyed it centuries ago. And you say that Gundren has found it, Sildar?” “Yes, exciting, no? I assume this ‘Black Spider’ wants this cave for himself and that is why he has captured Gundren”.
In the glowing sunset, the rutted tracks emerge from a wooded hillside, and the group catch their first glimpse of Phandalin. A town consisting of forty or fifty simple log buildings, some built on old fieldstone foundations. More old ruins - crumbling stone walls covered in ivy and briars - surround the newer houses and shops, showing that this must have been a much larger town in centuries past. Most of the newer buildings are set on the sides of the cart track, which widens into a muddy main street of sorts as it climbs towards a ruined manor house on the hillside at the east of town. As they approach they see the signs of a small town starting to go to sleep for the night, street lanterns are being lit, shops are starting to close and townsfolk are starting to hurry to their homes. Sildar seems more at ease, “My friends,” he says, “let us secure lodgings, I am told the local inn is very quaint.”
Too tired to argue, the wagon heads over to a large, newly built roadhouse of fieldstone and rough-hewn timbers. The place itself stands out, as whilst all the other buildings they have passed were closing or closed, this one is full of light, and boisterous noises are emanating from it. The group’s spirits immediately lift.
“Well, my friends, I am quite exhausted after today’s exertions, I will leave you here and get a room of my own. Do not think I have forgotten the great debt I owe you, both in honour and in coin. Come visit me tomorrow in the Townmaster’s Hall and I will see that debt repaid. I think that this is not a coincidence, no? That we all meet on the road to Phandalin? That this is … fate. Ahh, forgive an old warrior his delusions, well… in the meantime then, adieu.” And with that, Sildar walks into the Inn.
The group look around at each other, each in their own thoughts, Wistendil wondering how he got caught up in this mess, Chase dreaming of riches, Vivian dreaming of glory, Hjulkyl just hoping they have a decent ale. “First rounds on me, lads” says Hjulkyl as they walk in, a spring in their step…
Session recap and intro
When last we met … Our adventures are a little worse for wear, after finding a cave entrance which, upon investigation turned out to be a Goblin hideout. Bravely slaughtering the defenceless denizens of the hideout, including:
- Some tied up wolves who had no way of fighting back
- And some goblins they agreed not to fight
During this brave attack on poor defenceless creatures, Hjukyl managed to make his first kill! … And … only managed to fall unconscious twice in the face of such dangers, again showing his true strength, courage and self sacrifice in the face of such unspeakable horrors.
During the attack on the hideout, they met a human fighter named Sildar, who agreed to help and join them on the way to Phandalin. He told them of his quest to find his colleague Iarno Albrek, a fellow member of the Lords Alliance who has gone missing in Phandalin. He also told them of Gundren’s great discovery, that of a mysterious cave, known as the Wave Echo Cave, which has been found after centuries buried under the mountain.
And so, we find our adventures outside an inn in Phandalin … what would you like to do?
They arrive as night is falling and the inn is bouncing and lively. A few people look at them as they enter … because they are dressed head to foot in armor and covered in goblin blood. The folk of the pub are somewhat used to adventures, but they are a little wary of them at first. Once they understand that they are not associated with the Redbrand Ruffians they relax.
The Stonehill Inn
Innkeeper: Toblen Stonehill Background: Came as a prospector, but wasn’t very good and turned out to be a decent innkeeper. As the town grew, so did the need for ale.
Things he knows: There are rooms available Can also help explain the town (reveal town map) Recently things have got hard, a band of Ruffians called the ‘Redbrands’ have made things difficult. At the moment I can pay what they are asking … but I worry about what will happen when I can’t Harbin Wester, (hes the townmaster) hasn’t done nowt.
All the people know the redbrand bar is the Sleeping Giant. They are all pretty disdainful of Harbin Westor.
Use the following characters at some point in the bar:
Hello adventures … not much … time someone took stand against those redbrands if you ask me! Sure they’re around the Sleeping Giant … but what a lot don’t know is that their safe house … is under Tresendar Manor …
Also … He has heard rumours of undead goings on around Old Owl well … the magic round their is old and deep … from the time before Amphicea … if theres any dormant magic there … I shudder to think what would happen…
Linene Greywind -> on an intelligence test they know the lionshield brand as an armourer and weapons
We’re actually a little short on goods, we lost our last shipment due to bandits … But please take a look around…
Phandalin Miner’s Exchange
Hjulkyl would now that a miner’s exchange is an important building … without any wider government buildings they act as the local record store
Guild leader: Halia Thornton Suggests the redbrands might no more about the Goblin bandits, thinks they are in cahoots. They need sorting out … loiter around the Sleeping Giant and have a base under Tresandor Manor … If you eliminate the leader, this Glasstafff … AND bring any correspondence you find … I’ll pay you 100 gp for your trouble …
Can be INSIGHTED to understand ulterior motives (Wanting to take over) DC 15
“Why hello there! new about town are you?”
“I wish those redbrands would go away, I am worried about my son, hes always messing around near there manor … says he watches them come out of a tunnel around the back of manor … I do worry”
Will offer to let them stay in hayloft for free
If you need to ind places then you should talk to Reidoth. Sadly you just missed him … he went to Thundertree ruins a day or so ago … Its 2 days ride away…
Elmar Barthen, welcome, feel free to take a look around …
Conversation … around Gundrens supplies … hopefully they show the letter and he’ll hand over the money.
How is ol’ Gundren, not seen him yet? How’s he doing, is he coming soon?
You have to rescue him!
If Sildar doesn’t make it .. then Barthen can tell the party the things the Sildar would have otherwise told them…
Nundro and Tharden are camped outside town, somewhere … they’ve not been round town in a while … should be arriving any day to re-supply and meet up with their brother … though I guess…
Business is hard since the Redbrands started shaking us down for money. You can find them at the Sleeping Giant …
He can also outlay the town for them if they haven’t done the map already …
Shrine of Luck
Small shrine dedicated to the goddess of Luck, Tymora … It appears to be made of stones taken from other ruins.
Sister Garaele She still looks a little battered an bruised … if they ask how they can help then she will suggest …
My order asked me to undertake … a delicate mission … I need to persuade a banshee called Agather to answer a question about a spellbook … I sought agatha out … but she did not appear for me … I think I need … an intermediary to take Agatha this gift …
And she shows you a small jeweled silver comb, intricately carved, quite beautiful.
I think … if you flatter he vanity you should be able to trade the comb for a question … and hopefully an answer …
You need to ask her the location of a spellbook of the legendary mage “bowgentle”…
I will give you a potion of healing each if you do this for me …
Hjulkl you will know that in lieu of functioning government the town master acts as a judge and juror. An elected official who acts as a form of law …
Harbin Westor - A fat pompous old fool … has the keys to the jail on him … On INSIGHT check 15 -> can tell he has more to gain from the redbrands being around …
And Sildar is here too :)
“Oh the redbrands are no trouble really … but i… if you want trouble … theres a band of Orcs …out on the tribor trail I need dealing with … near Wyvern Tor … Ill give you 100gp for it …
Hello friends, I hope you slept well … I’ve been asking around here around Cragmaw Castle …
Sildar will talk to them about Cragmaw castle … 500gp if you can locate and destroy or drive off the warband that lives their … If the party don’t know where it is they should search the lands to the north of Phandalin …
I’ve also been asking about my colleague Iarno … seems he disappeared very soon after he arrived … He was investigating the Redbrands hideout in Tresandor manor … All too many coincidences if you ask me
200gp if you find out if you rid this town of the redbrands … and any information you find out about my colleague.
The Sleeping Giant
Maybe they walk in and its a western bar type scenario … let them walk in the tavern and then have all the doors close around them. Run redbrand ruffian encounter The goblin landlord who is only letting the ruffians stay there because they pay well is hiding in the cellar. They will immediately fire a crossbow at anyone who comes down and will be incredibly annoyed that all their customers are dead and that the place is a mess. Their name is Bozz.
Here is the map of the Sleeping Giant if necessary:
Job offers in Phandalin
|Quest||Location||Found out about it||Started||Finished|
|Delivering the supplies to Barthen||Barthens Supplies||✅||✅||✅|
|Old owl trouble||Edermath Orchard|
|Recovered Goods||Lionshield Coster||✅||✅||✅|
|Halia’s Job Offer||Phandalin Miner’s Exchange||✅||✅|
|Reidoth the Druid||Alderleaf farm|
|The Banshees Bargain||The Shrine of Luck|
|Orc Trouble||Townmaster’s Hall||✅|
|Finding Cragmaw Castle||Townmaster’s Hall||✅|
|Finding Iarno||Townmaster’s Hall||✅||✅|