Following on from last time, our heroes have infiltrated the hideout of the nefarious Redbrands, and are currently exploring every nook and cranny for loot and unstabbed enemies.
After Loki opens the double angel doors at the end of the trapped corridor, he sees that they’re heading into the old Tresender family tomb (hint: it’s the room with the coffins), in which stand three skeletons! Loki immediately scrambles back and Grimdark gets ready to turn undead, but the skeletons don’t react. Loki edges in, ready to leg it if even one bone rattles wrong, but the skeletons let him walk past with no problem. The group are all a bit concerned about this, sensing an imminent trap, but little do they know that they’re fine as long as they keep wearing their stolen Redbrand cloaks, which the skeletons are “programmed” to let through.
Loki listens at the door in the top-right corner of the tomb, and hears generic bad guy talk, and some scared whimpering. Looks like they’ve found some prisoners. This will require some cunning tactics and ingenuity to ensure that the guards are disabled without risk of harm to the…
*kicks down the door* “Oi! Come get me, you fucking bumders!”
Well… yes, that could work too.
One of the Redbrands, his fragile sense of sexual identity threatened, immediately gives chase. Loki leads him through the skeletons and right into the path of an arrow, a ray of frost, and a thrown handaxe. Problem solved.
“You really used to work with these idiots?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
The group head to the prison and the remaining Redbrand immediately surrenders. The three hostages (a woman and her two children) are set free, and reveal that they’re the family of Thel Drendar (who unfortunately is one of the corpses being munched on by the nothic). The group take the Redbrand’s cloak off of him, and they take turns ferrying Mirna and her kids through the skeleton room and to the main front door so that they can escape to the town, but not before Mirna tells them about a lost family heirloom that they can find in
Silent Hill Thundertree and have as payment for saving her.
With the townsfolk safe, the heroes leave the Redbrand member, sans red cloak, trapped in the room with no safe way to get past the skeletons. Along with the guy with the broken ankle at the bottom of the pit, that’s two Redbrands they’ve left to die slow, lingering deaths. Yay heroism!
They check the door in the top left corner, and find it leads to an armoury. Their initial joy is dampened when they find out that what they already have is better than what’s in the storeroom; some spears, crossbows, and shortswords. Yawn.
“Glasstaff isn’t here! We should head back to the central cavern and continue our search.”
“And what about the room full of bugbears? Remember what happened last time when you fought just one?”
“Agreed. We need a plan.”
They head back to the central cavern (throwing more silver coins to keep the nothic happy) and explore the barrel room to the north. There they find nothing useful… apart from thirty beaver pelts!
“Well, that’s our kindling.”
They lay out the beaver pelts across the cavern floor, and drown them in oil. The plan is to lure the bugbears out onto the oil-soaked pelts, then have Mouse it with a burning hands; their classic one-two combo. They then trek back to the armoury, grab some lengths of wood and everything with a pointy end, and then Barry uses his carpentry skills to knock them all together into a crude barricade and place it so that the bugbears only have one way to go; onto the pelts.
With their PRO SKILLZ TRAP set up, they need to lure the bugbears into it; however will they do that?
Oh take a wild guess.
Loki runs back with the three bugbears in hot pursuit. He makes it across the bridge just as the first bugbear lurches into view and onto the pelt. Unknown to me, Joe and Liam have decided to forgo the burning hands plan and have devised an alternative that preserves some of Mouse’s precious spell points; instead Mouse uses prestidigitation to ignite an oil-soaked rag that Barry’s tied around an arrow, and boom, instant fire arrow. I allowed this because a) one of the uses of prestidigitation is to “ignite or snuff out a candle, torch or small campfire”, so really any small, flammable object should be fair game, and b) I’m not a dick DM who stomps down on cool and creative ideas that my players have.
One fire arrow later, the pelts are ablaze, and the bugbears are boxed in by the fire and barricade. One is just outright cremated there and then. The other two take a bit of damage, and because they’re not stupid, they retreat back down the stairs and (presumably) into the common room to come round the other way.
When they don’t reappear, the group assumes (correctly) that the two remaining bugbears have scampered off to warn Glasstaff about their visitors. Loki sneaks ahead, through the room north of the common room (which is full of alchemical gubbins) and to the room beyond, where he peeks round the door and sees the two bugbears speaking to a chubby gentleman in mage’s robes carrying a glass staff. Hmm, wonder who that could be?
*to the bugbears* “You have to keep me safe! Now go out there and deal with them!”
“Grrr… fine. You’re lucky the Spider wants you alive, or I’d smash you n-” *sniff sniff* “I smell halfling.”
So for the third time, Loki runs away, chased by enemies. The bugbears rush after him while Glasstaff makes his escape. There’s a final scrap in the cavern, and the group easily manage to deal with the two bugbears. The nothic seems happy too, as it immediately starts snacking on one of the dead Chewbacca wannabes.
Barry stays in the cavern just in case Glasstaff comes through there whilst escaping, while Loki, Grimdark and Mouse rush the room. It’s apparent however that Glasstaff has managed to get away (I fudged it by changing his escape route to open out into a seperate tunnel that led out of the mansion because we were getting fairly tired at this point). They find an empty bottle, and Mouse identifies it as an invisibility potion, so there’s definitely no way they’ll find Glasstaff, even if they do catch up with him. Thankfully he was in such a rush he’s left most of his stuff, so sweet looting ensues.
While going through Glasstaff’s stuff, they find a letter that says the following…
“Lord Albrek, my spies in Neverwinter tell me that strangers are due to arrive in Phandalin. They could be working for the dwarves. Capture them if you can, kill them if you must, but don’t allow them to upset our plans. See that any dwarven maps in their possession are delivered to me with haste. I’m counting on you Iarno. Don’t disappoint me. The Black Spider.”
Oh snap, Sildar’s friend Iarno is Glasstaff! And he’s helping the Black Spider who’s clearly looking for Wave Echo Cave and the Forge of Spells! Well, at least the Redbrands have been stopped.
After looting Albrek’s room and his little alchemy lab, the group have a bit of a dilemma in what to do about the nothic. In the end, they just tell it the truth; Glasstaff is gone, and they don’t know where, or if he’ll be coming back. The nothic is happy about this, and takes this as it’s chance to escape, as Glasstaff was the only one who had the clout to keep it in the cavern. It scampers off outside, where it’ll no doubt show up in a future adventure, because although I’m not a dick DM, I am a DM who’s occasionally a bit of a dick. Yes, they’re different things!
As the nothic leaves, Barry notices something exceptionally shiny in the nothic’s stash at the bottom of the chasm. He easily retrieves it, and finds that it’s a magic sword; Talon, the sword of a knight who died fighting orcs, etc etc. It’s just a +1 longsword, but it’s the group’s first magic item, and that’s something special.
They also backtrack to the room that the bugbears were in, and find a timid goblin; it’s the one they captured back in Episode 1, when they got ambushed on the road! Turns out his name is Droop, and after the group let him go, he came to the Redbrands, claiming he had information on the “newcomers that scragged Klarg”. Turns out that Droop’s information was rubbish, so the bugbears just kept him around so they had something to bully. Droop is incredibly grateful to the group, and goes all Dobby the house-elf on them, swearing ancient, oxymoronic goblin vows of servitude and loyalty. So now they have access to a potential spy…
So with a magic sword and a new goblin buddy, the group head back into town to deliver the good news, some well-earned drinks, and to plan their next move…
Level Up! More HP! Barry gets improved critical, Loki gets a load of stuff from his thief archetype, and Grimdark and Mouse get more spells. I also let Loki become proficient in History, as the little guy has been consistently nailing those checks.
Completed Quests: Eliminate the Redbrands, find Thel Dendrar’s wife and children, find Sildar’s friend Iarno Albrek.
Ongoing Quests: Locate Cragmaw Castle and save Gundren Rockseeker, track down Glasstaff/Iarno, find out why there are undead at Old Owl Mine, seek out Reidoth the druid in the ruined town of Thundertree, find Mirna’s family heirloom in Thundertree, find Agatha the banshee and ask her about the mage Bowgentle’s spellbook, deal with the orc raiders on the Triboar Trail.
Ears Collected: None! Darryl misses out the chance for a nothic ear… this time…
Loot: TONS. Notably Talon (a +1 longsword), some rare alchemical ingredients, some spell scrolls, a load of gold coins and jewels, and a jewelled ear-ring that Barry intends to give to Elsa the barmaid in an attempt to woo her.
Number of “Fuck YES you guys are the best group I have ever DM’d for!” moments: So many. “I’m Mr Redbrand”, shoving a guy into water and then electrocuting him, bargaining with the nothic, using a captive Redbrand to trigger traps, “Bumder!”, a MacGuyver-esque trap of beaver pelts and improvised barricades…
The adventure continues in Episode 5! Just a short one next Monday I think…