Alright, let’s get this show properly on the road! My group has taken their first tentative steps on the prepublished path towards the Lost Mine of Phandelver! If you haven’t done so, get to know the cast!
In Attendance: Loki Fastfoot (Darryl), Bosun Barry Arrers (Joe), Grimdark Stonelock (Trev)
And obviously myself, the DM.
Unfortunately, Carick “Mouse” Silverfrost (Liam) wasn’t available this first session, but he found a way into the adventure.
The Lost Mine starts off with the PC’s escorting a wagon full of supplies to the rough-and-tumble frontier town of Phandalin, where all of them have background and quest hooks (Loki’s old bandit gang and sexy aunt, the ruins of Barry’s hometown, etc). Their employer, Gundren Rockseeker (Grimdark’s cousin) has ridden ahead with an old human soldier called Sildar Hallwinter, with vague mentions of “finding something big”, and needing to “get things ready”. Whatever it was, it was decided that Mouse’s arcane know-how would prove useful, so they took the elf with them.
Loki drove the cart, while Barry rode shotgun (longbow?). Grimdark chilled out in the back of the wagon, making sure that the ale was safe.
After a day or so on the Triboar Trail from Neverwinter, the gang came across some dead horses in the road, pierced with arrows. They recognised the horses as belonging to Gundren, Sildar and Mouse! Barry and Loki immediately went on the alert, notching arrows to bowstrings. Grimdark however went all “Gimli-in-Mines-of-Moria” and ran out into the open, bawling for his cousin.
So of course they get ambushed by goblins. Two of them rush Grimdark, while two more take pot-shots at Loki and Barry. A shameful display of archery follows, resulting in some narrow misses and wasted arrows. Meanwhile Grimdark quite happily smashes the shit out of the two goblins that are trying to arrange a union between their cutlasses and his face.
Tired of this archery nonsense, Loki charges one of the remaining goblins and stabs it in the throat. Seeing this, the last goblin throws down its weapons and surrenders, because holy shit, that whole ambush plan went south really quick, didn’t it? The group interrogates the goblin to find out what happened (Loki takes some time out to collect a goblin ear for his collection), and the little dude is all too happy to tell them where the hideout of the Cragmaw gang is, and how many of his buddies are currently un-murdered. He also tells them that Gundren has been taken to some guy called King Grol, holed up in a place Cragmaw Castle. Sildar and Mouse are back at the hideout, in the “eating cave”.
So, the plan seems simple; go rescue Sildar and Mouse, wreck the shit of these Cragmaw bandits, then go save Gundren! After getting all this information, Loki seems quite prepared to kill their prisoner.
“Wait! He may be useful! He can show us the way!”
“Yeah. We might as well get some more use out of him.”
“Fine. But I still think we should cut off one of his ears, at least.”
“Let’s just tie him up.”
“We should gag him as well, so that he can’t shout out and alert his friends.”
“Good idea!” (checks character sheet for suitable item to use as a gag) “I cram my pouch in his mouth!”
Well… umm… I guess that would stop him talking, but this hardly seems like an appropriate time.
Our heroes hide the wagon of supplies, and with their tied-up goblin in the lead, they advance up the old woodland trail towards the Cragmaw hideout. Their new little friend helpfully points out the traps on the path, which they easily disarm and avoid. Finally, they leave the trail, and find themselves in front of the cave…
Some sneakiness is called for, so Loki advances towards the cave mouth to see if there’s any sentries which he can eliminate. A fine plan in theory. In practice, he rolls a 2 on his Stealth check, so he may as well have been shouting “OH BOY I SURE AM BEING VERY SNEAKY!” at the top of his voice. His uncharacteristic blundering alerts the two goblin sentries hidden in the bushes, and we have another throwdown. Once again, Grimdark wades in and caves in a goblin face with his hammer. Loki gets a cutlass in the ribs, but Barry avenges him with a well-placed shot.
Grimdark burns one of his precious spell slots on a cure wounds to keep Loki in the green.
“You’re dumb, you know that? Dumb and clumsy. You’re lucky I’m here to keep you from dropping dead every few minutes.”
They advance into the cave, taking a brief detour into the cavern on the right hand side to courageously execute some wolves that are chained up in the goblin “kennels”. Their goblin guide is visibly saddened at this; after all, rabid flea-bitten wolves are basically the closest thing goblins have to puppies and friends.
The group are wary of lighting torches for fear of announcing their presence, so Grimdark takes the lead, his natural darkvision an enormous benefit. They veer left at the stream, and head up a sloping tunnel. They can see the ambient glow of a large fire from the cavern to the left (the big stomach shaped one of the far left on the above map). A quick peek around the corner reveals this to be the goblin barracks. Up on a higher rock shelf, five goblins are talking, eating, and taking turns beating two prisoners; Mouse and Sildar!
“Time to go Assassin’s Creed on these guys!”
Loki sneaks up and positions himself at the foot of the natural rock steps, and hides, sword ready. Barry draws back and gets ready. Grimdark uses thaumaturgy to cause the campfire to suddenly burn bright blue, which startles all the goblins and gets their attention. Before they’ve realised it, Barry has put down two of them with arrows. The remaining goblins rush down the stairs; one of them gets ganked as Loki drags him over and slits his throat, and Grimdark bashes the fourth. The last one manages to get in close enough to hit Barry with his club, but it’s too little too late, and a bloodthirsty halfling introduces Mr Sword to Miss Throat. It’s over in less than three rounds of combat (about 20 seconds in real-time), and it’s a pretty slick bit of work.
They free Mouse and Sildar. Because I’m only willing to run one DMPC, Mouse takes their goblin guide friend and goes to wait for them outside the cave. Sildar grabs a dead goblin’s sword and comes with them. “These wankers beat the shit out of me,” he growls, “Time to repay the favour.”
They follow the tunnel around, and over the rickety rope bridge, dispatching a few more goblins on the way. Unfortunately, one gets away, and runs screaming into a large chamber, which they follow him into. Inside the chamber is Klarg, the bugbear leader of the Cragmaw gang, and his angry, hungry wolf.
“KLARG SMASH YOU!”
“Bitch, all I see is another ear for my necklace.”
See, they were all pumped up and overconfident after curb-stomping their way through goblins, so you could forgive them for their bravado.
I mean, you could.
Klarg charges, and after one swing of his maul, Grimdark is down to 3 HP. Sildar launches himself at the bugbear and grapples with him, and then Klarg’s wolf decides to grapple with Sildar.
“Good work Sildar! Distract the wolf with your juicy hips!”
“I’m not sure about th- OH GOD MY JUICY HIPS!”
Sildar gets chomped up and drops, and starts dying. Oh dear. Meanwhile, Loki and Barry have put together a plan; since the halfling is clearly unable to go a few hours without setting fire to something, he throws a flask of oil at Klarg, soaking the bugbear. Barry then bodyslams Klarg into the campfire, and suddenly that cavern is full of the smell of burning hair. Klarg rolls around screaming and burning, while one of his goblin lackeys tries to put him out. Grimdark is squaring off against a goblin he can’t seem to hit. With no time to draw his sword, Barry smacks the wolf with his bow. The wolf responds by critting Barry. Lucky for Joe I’m a nice DM and let him use his second wind ability at the last minute to stay on his feet. Everyone gets one freebie, that’s my rule.
Loki pounces on the burning Klarg and stabs him while he’s on the ground.
Hahahahaha no. You got him down to half HP.
And now he’s not on fire anymore.
And now he’s standing up and OH GOD OH GOD you’ve really pissed him off now!
Loki beats a hasty retreat, hurling another flask of oil into the fire to make it flare up and create a temporary wall of fire between Klarg and himself. And his allies, I guess. At this point, Sildar has made his third successful death saving throw, and stabilises.
“At least I’m not dying any more!”
Barry finishes off the wolf, but Grimdark gets knocked down to 0 HP. Oh dear, oh dear.
“I feel like we made some mistakes in approaching this situation somewhat recklessly.”
At this point, I’m a few rounds of combat away from pulling the “and then Mouse shows up and kills everything with magic” card, but then a last, desperate plan is hatched! Barry and Loki run back to the rickety rope bridge, and after some taunting, Klarg pursues them. That’s when they go all Temple of Doom on him, and cut the bridge! Klarg fails his saving throw to grab onto something, and he falls 20 feet onto hard rock, doing exactly enough damage to finish him off!
With the last of the enemies dead, Loki and Barry get Grimdark and Sildar back on their feet, and indulge in that most noble of adventuring pastimes, looting! They find cash and healing potions in the chests and crates in Klarg’s chamber, and laden with booty, they leave the cave, meet up with Mouse, and resume their wagon ride into Phandalin…
Level Up! More HP! Barry gets action surge, Loki gets cunning action, Grimdark gets more spells and channel divinity, and Mouse gets more spells, evocation savant and sculpt spells.
Completed Quests: Saved Mouse and Sildar from the Cragmaw gang
Ongoing Quests: Deliver the wagon of goods to Phandalin, find and rescue Gundren, get Sildar to explain what this “something big” matter is
Ears Collected: Goblin, wolf, bugbear
Times Grimdark KO’d: 1
Number of “Fuck YES you guys are the best group I have ever DM’d for!” moments: 3 (“I cram my pouch in his mouth”, and two great and cinematic uses of the environmental features)
The adventure continues in Episode 2!