Preparing for the ninth session as DM in Lost Mine of Phandelver
Preparing for Session 9
This session took me quite a lot longer to prepare for than usual … obviously there was the prep for Wyvern Tor itself. I wanted to surprise my players and make it more challenging than simply rocking up and slaying some Orcs. This meant a bit more world building.
Building Wyvern Tor
Whilst my characters would probably want to kill Borabash and the denizens of Wyvern Tor at some point … I wanted it to be a challenge but not just hard from a combat point of view. Hence… the expansion of Wyvern Tor. For background purposes, I haven’t yet created the ‘entire world’ that Amphicea as a country sits in. So its fairly easy to imagine the the more ‘warlike’ orc tribes were kicked out during the formation of Amphicea. This then lead to a reason as to why Borabash was here. Rather than just ‘random orc raids because orcs are bad’ … this is someone trying to get their ancestral home back.
This then gave me lots of room to maneuvre within any NPCs that my PCs might try to encounter as they explore the encampment outside Wyvern Tor. Background I could use include:
- Fervent believers
- Folks who, bless um, just like to fight things
- Folks who make sure an army can eat and drink, mostly their to take the coin of anyone in the area
Borabash the Wise
I wanted a kind of “Ra’s al Ghul from the Batman Begins film” kind of vibe to him. Forceful but calm. Knowledgeable but deadly. Dripping with intimidation and seemingly always one step ahead. Also, a seemingly reasonable goal … but, with an extreme solution to that goal. Trying my best Liam Nesson impression I just thought I’d go for it.
I am not a massively experienced DM but I’d wanted a kind of ‘chase’ scene for a while now but no scenarios seemed to fit. However, as my players were making there way across the hills around Wyvern Tor, it seemed the opportunity had arise. They would have course been guarded (Goblin Warg Riders) and my characters love riding around in their wagon, I felt sure they’d take it as far as they could.
Now, if we just use movement… then chases … in D&D … probably a bit crap. I’d read this when reading up about running chase scenes https://www.hipstersanddragons.com/new-chase-mechanics-5e-dnd/ and this definately improved things, but for me, this was more for ‘chases through a busy street in a town’ than ‘chases across a landscape’.
I wanted something that brought that ‘chaos’ that is absolutely necessary when you are hurtling along in a wagon chased by 6 goblin warg riders. During lockdown and my Critical Role binge I’d listened to them play CRASH PANDAS by Grant Howitt. Now that sounded and looked like a super fun game, and amazingly you can go get the rules for free but apparently Grant Howitt is just awesome. So instead of that, YOU SHOULD PAY GRANT SOME MONEY. Either when you download Crash Panda’s on the link above OR by using patreon.
Anyway the GREAT thing about one shot games that fit on one page… is that the rules tend to be simple. And in this case, fit in well to an existing system. So, for the chase, I would co-opt the rules of Crash Panda’s and make them fit my scenario. Hopefully this would bring the required amount of chaos to the chase :)
And with that, and more, I waited to see what my players would actually do … if they leave Wyvern Tor alone and head back to Phandalin… I am going to be very upset.
Session recap and intro
I didn’t have time for a proper intro so here are the cliff notes…
- Investigated the farm house and put on a show for the guards
- Found the banshees lair and the location of the book
- Found old owl well and susan the necromancer.
- Convinced her to help
- Got the magic artifacts,
- Fought for their lives
Its 11 am …
What would you like to do?
Looking over magic items Wyern Tor Chased by worgs Return to Phandalin Discuss things with Sildar? Who knows what they will do?
Old Owl Well
Wagon and horses are on the other side of the hill
At some point on a stealth fail (Group DC 15?) either on the way to wyvern tor, or on the way back run the ‘Worg Chase’ encounter
As you push on to Wyvern Tor, the land starts turning from rolling green hills and starts turning, brown, and heathery and mossy, it feels like the overall height above sea level is rising and as you look backwards you can are almost looking down on the pastures and greens below. In front the heather and moss is interspered wiith giant rocks and boulders that are strewn across the landscape. Theres still quite a bit of cover, and its relatively flat so possible to get the cart through … but rough going.
Worg Chase encounter
Use the following rules if a chase is started:
Make sure that all actions are decided by all players AT THE SAME TIME. This represents their ability to coordinate things in a chaotic situation.
Decide on actions by doing the following: Take a D6 and all at the same time pick an action:
- Brake (Speed - 10 to a minimum 0)
- Turn Left (~30 degrees)
- Turn Right (~30 degrees)
- Hold cart together (cart regains D8 hp)
- Accelerate (Speed + 10 to a maximum 60)
- Do an action! (describe what you want to do and we wiil figure out what we need to roll to try and make it happen)
For these purposes the cart has a DC of 18 and 25 hp
As you crest hills you start being able to see what you assume is wyvern tor in the distance. As you top one of these hills you see what is clearly a heavily used area of the land. It appears that some movement during the recent rain has left some imprints in the ground in a muddy patch about 20 ft square.
Survival checks: < 10 can tell its heavy traffic
10 < 15 can tell that its orc, goblin and other footfall 15 < 20 can tell that there are a menagerie of creatures, orc, goblin, giant, worg, and possibly other distinct marking. The traffic is very heavy and they aren’t even bothering to cover their tracks. 20 can tell the difference between the traffic described above, AND the fact there is lighter patrol traffic, circling the Tor
You are coming up to about a mile out from Wyvern Tor and there is another hill crest slightly above you
Perception checks as moving:
20 they can see that there are patrols circling the tops of the hills about a mile out from the Tor itself
They can either attempt to sneak past them, or if they wait it out to watch the patterns, during evening the patrols will appear to stop
After they pass this crest the land becomes noticeably more barren (increasingly difficult to bring the horse and wagon) and lead directly to Wyvern Tor itself. In front of you you can see the ruin, dominating the landscape. If its dark you can see plenty of fires. Outside the base of Wyvern Tor you can see an encampment.
< 15 a large wooden encampment that appears to surround the foot of Wyvern Tor. ITs mostly large tree trunks carved into spikes and rammed into the ground, there are some very makeshift watchtowers that are maybe only 20ft high or so, more like raised platforms … there is also a space where perhaps a gate might go … but at the moment its just empty, in the There is plenty of bustling activity going up and down the the small hill in the lead up to the Tor itself
15 < 20 It doesn’t appear to be particularly well guarded. In the camp itself as you are looking some massive humanoids can be seen giants, standing up and moving mostly carrying huge objects like tree trunks … and plenty of other non orc humanoids … including some that lookd decidedly human …
You can see they are preparing for something They appear to be creating a bonfire at the foot of the Tor.
Wyvern Tor is a hastily put together encamptment from what looks like mostly rough hewn logs taken from around the area.
Around the outside are lots of large spikey logs, made as a rough defensive perimeter made for keeping out an army but not enough to stop a few individuals from entering. There is a sort of main entrance, where there are less spikey logs and more guards. But this is mostly for show.
It won’t be impossible to sneak in … or indeed very hard… they just need to keep their nerve :)
Inside the encampment is a ragtag assortment of buildings, all made from rough hewn logs. You can find most things you would be able to in a small town. Drinking establishments, usual shops they may be interested in. Nothing too extravagent.
Things of note:
- A large building that is less temporary than the others, which servers as a kind of ‘amoury / barracks’.
- They can sign up to be in Borabash’s army here
- A kind of ‘recruitment’ area for raiders, a town crier type will be advertising for people to go raiding
- They can sign up to go on raids for Borabash here
- A kind of ‘building organisation’ building, in this area will be
- They can sign up to do labour and build the encampment further here
When it gets to night, run ‘The party’
Borabash the Wise
Borabash the Wise is a Half Orc Monk. He is serene and peaceful, calm and collected. He has a strong force of will. He is here to reclaim his home land from Amphicea, which during its creation, got rid of the major orc clans around the Shellfell Mountains.
He has a hobgoblin, who is his general.
He has a drow, who is a druid and advisor, she is the one helping him with the magic used at ‘The Party’
Borabash wants Bowgentle’s spellbook.
The PCs do not have to fight Borabash, in fact they probably shouldn’t.
If he finds out they have the book he will not let them leave without handing it over. He will try to persuade/intimidate before resorting to violence.
He will beat them and take the book as he and his followers are currently lvl 8
If he beats them they will be knocked unconscious and put in the dungeons.
If he takes the book he will give it to the drow who will head off with it later to give it to Black Spider.
Eventually activity heightens… and then things go still.
After a minute or so … some deep drums start from around the edges of the camp and as the drums build over the course of a few minutes, suddenly the Tor itself lights up from the inside and large cheers echo around the camp. Against this backdrop, on a ledge high up on the Tor step out 2 figures, roughly humanoid, both of them dressed in robes they step forward, raise ther hands and the crowds goes silently. A face appears in the sky, Wiistendil, you recognise this as Thaumaturgy, but its with a power and skill you haven’t seen before. The face itself is huge and dominates the skyline above the camp. As you take in its features it appears to be a half orc, but other than that there issn’t much detail to the face as it mostly an outline.
The voice booms around the camp … appearing to be speaking in common …
“Tonight we welcome some new blood to our camp, we are joined by the Drakth from North, some of you will have been kin anyway, so make sure to giive them a warm welcome tonight.”
A huge cheer goes up and the face waits for the clamour to die down.
“We are close, my friends, we are nearly at full strength. Our raids and attacks demoralise and confuse the enemy. They still think we are weak, unorganised, broken and disbanded. They understimate our strength. Our unity. By the dark of the new moon we will make our strike. Ingstone will fall by the will of Gruumsh and our victory will be sung for the age to come.
“This … Amphicean pig dog …” - and the face changes in the sky to more of a scene of the ledge, rather than the orcs face.
“Thought he could betray us … he pretended to be our friend, to believe what we believe, but all he believed in … was money …
In the scene there is a man on his knees in front of a wooden block which has a burlap sack in front of it. Stood on the ledge with the half orc talking is a female drow. Who appears to be concentrating on the enchantment you are seeing before you.
“And what we do my friends, to those who betray us?”
And the chants start all around the camp
“In the sack! In the sack! In the sack!”
“This one here, does not deserve the honour, of being the first sacrifice to Gruumsh. The first blood spilt in the war that is coming.
This one, who took our money, and used it only for his own greed. No. You … you will see first hand the devastation we will bring. And only after you have seen your family and friends destroyed, knowing you betrayed them, will I allow you to die. Tie him up!
And with that 3 or 4 orcs enter the scene carrying a large wooden frame and they forcibly tie the human too the frame then hold him a loft. You can’t hear the humans screams but you can see him struggling, pathetically against his captors. For now he’s raised on the stick and stuck into the ground.
“They said it could not be done, that noone could unite the tribes of the East. But I Borabash the Wise have done it. And in 3 weeks Amphicea will tremble at our greatness. Ingstone will fall and we will rule the shelfell peaks as our ancestors once did. LEt the tribute begin!”
And with that a great cheer rises across the camp, the vision in the sky fades and the figures on the ledge disappear ino the Tor itself. Moments later the camp erupts into general chaos. Mostly involving significant amounts of food and drink.
Job offers in Phandalin
|Quest||Location||Found out about it||Started||Finished|
|Old owl trouble||Edermath Orchard||✅||✅||✅|
|The Banshees Bargain||The Shrine of Luck||✅||✅||✅|
|Orc Trouble (Butterskull Ranch, Westor’s Logging, Wyvern Tor)||Townmaster’s Hall||✅|
|Finding Cragmaw Castle||Townmaster’s Hall||✅||✅||✅|
Chase across the hills