So after their victory over the Redbrand gang, the group return to the town, lauded as heroes!
In Attendance: Loki Fastfoot (Darryl), Bosun Barry Arrers (Joe), Grimdark Stonelock (Trev), Carick “Mouse” Silverfrost (Liam)
And obviously myself, the DM.
Naturally the townsfolk are overjoyed that the Redbrands have been dealt with, and our heroes have a merry night in the Stonehill Inn. Barry gets back in the barmaid Elsa’s good books by acting the dashing hero, showering her with shiny gifts, and nailing his Charisma check to woo her (rolling a 19 on his sexual Athletics check later is just icing on the cake). Sildar is shocked that his friend Iarno had gone bad, and asks that the group track him down. Then he and Grimdark talk business, and agree that the rescue of Gundren from the Cragmaw goblins needs to take priority; the longer Gundren is held captive, the higher the chance that the mysterious Black Spider will find Wave Echo Cave and the Forge of Spells! There’s no time to waste!
“Let’s do some of those side missions!”
“Yay, more XP!”
Or… yeah, you could do that. To be fair, the last session was pretty intense, so a relaxed “filler” episode was needed for everyone to just poddle through, use their new loot and spells, and cross off some of the jobs in their quest book.
In the morning, the group spend some of their
hard earned money. Loki exchanges his shortbow for dual hand crossbows, because fuck yeah. Barry, the new proud owner of Talon, gives the little guy his rapier to replace one of his short swords. Grimdark swaps out his chainmail for splint armour, the heaviest armour they can afford, officially making him the group tank. As preparation for their road trip down the Triboar Trail, they also buy a load of rations, tents, and a donkey. Barry names the donkey Elsa (he wisely does this out of earshot of his beloved barmaid).
Meanwhile, they give Droop, their little goblin friend, a tent so that he can live on the outskirts of town, and leave him some food. The little guy really wants to go with them, but they tell him to stay put and not cause any trouble while they’re gone.
They set off down the Triboar Trail, and their journey is uneventful apart from one night when a trio of wolves make the worst and last mistakes of their lives. You know what ends an encounter really quickly? Sleep, followed by three coup de graces. Liam’s been so obsessed with setting fire to stuff, he’s only now just realised that a spell that can instantly knock a load of weak creatures unconscious with no saving throws allowed is pretty damn amazing.
After three days down the Trail, they reach the old ruined town of Conyberry, where the banshee Agatha haunts. They easily find her, give her the old silver comb, and get the information about Bowgentle’s spellbook that Sister Garaele wanted. Easy enough, only two jobs to go!
A half day’s journey south brings them to Old Owl Well, another crumbling ruin. Jeez, Sildar wasn’t kidding about this area needing a firm kick in the economy. It’s worse than Bexhill.
At Old Owl Well, the group sees that there’s a large colourful tent set up. They also detect a strange chemical whiff. They know that there’s been reports of undead here, so they approach with caution. Well, they try. One botched Stealth roll brings a dozen zombies out of the old watchtower. I decided to take some liberties here and describe them like the Returned from M:tG’s Theros block; gold masks, and generally less decompose-y than your regular zombies.
Out of the tent comes a tattooed wizard in red robes. Grimdark and Mouse identify him as a Red Wizard of Thay, a land to the east where animating the dead has the same kind of moral consequences as making a cup of tea. The red wizard is not hostile (just a bit racist), and bids his army to hold back while he talks with the group. Apparently he’s looking for Agatha the banshee as well, and after a bit of umming and aaahing, they tell him where he can find her. He’s grateful, calls off his zombies, assures the group that he doesn’t intend any harm to the locals, and gives them 100 gold for their help! This is proving to be a profitable road trip!
Another half day further south into the rugged foothills finally brings them to Wyvern Tor, which is – you guessed it – another ruin! They set about looking for the orc raider camp, and eventually find it; a cave at the bottom of a hill. There’s a lookout posted, which Mouse sends to slumberland with with his new favourite spell.
After killing the sleeping guard, the group peek into the cave and see a bunch of orc warriors, along with a bigger, boss orc and an ogre.
The plan is to go all 300 on the orcs; Grimdark and Loki will stand at the cave entrance and let the orcs come to them, so that they can fight them two at a time, while Barry and Mouse provide ranged support. A good plan, in theory.
They cut off the dead lookout’s head, and Mouse uses mage hand to roll it into the cave to get the attention of the orcs. The boss, Brughor Axe-Biter, sends out two of his warriors to investigate. One of the orcs gets ganked by Loki, but the other survives, and things quickly escalate. Axe-Biter barrels forward, and his first attack on Grimdark is a critical that sends the dwarf reeling back. The other orcs storm out, and the heroes quickly realise that orcs are fast; they have an ability called aggression which lets them make a move towards an enemy they can see as a bonus action, meaning they cover a lot of ground in a pant-messingly short time.
The group starts taking hits; Grimdark gets hit by another critical, Loki gets smacked around, and Mouse gets taken down to half HP. Barry gets hit, but uses second wind to stay in the fight. They give as good as they get though; Loki is sneak attacking left and right, Grimdark is alternating between healing and wrecking shit with inflict wounds, and Mouse is throwing around burning hands and magic missiles. Barry stays at the back with his bow for a few turns, then draws Talon and gets stuck in. It looks hairy for a while, but the orcs start going down, and the ogre fluffs his few attack rolls and starts getting ganged up on and picked apart. Hilariously, the killing blow actually comes from Mouse; out of spells, he shrieks like a teenage girl, charges the ogre (down to 1 HP), and baseball-bat-swings his quarterstaff into its face.
In the orc’s stash, they find a few coins and some vials of perfume. More presents to Elsa from Barry then!
Their side missions complete, the group return to Phandalin, and it’s then that they have an idea that I love them for. Pooling their money together, along with the various gems they found in the Redbrand hideout, they approach the owner of the Sleeping Giant, the tavern that the gang used to frequent. With the Redbrands gone, the Sleeping Giant hasn’t seen any business for a week. The owner is therefore more than happy to accept the group’s offer to buy the tavern.
Yep, my players are now pub landlords.
They hire some help to spruce the place up (Barry is already a dab hand with carpentry tools), then they hire Mirna (the woman they rescued from the Redbrand hideout) and Elsa as bar staff. In a staggering display of nepotism, Elsa is also given “managerial privileges”, and will run the place when the group are off adventuring. The donkey, now wisely renamed “Mr Redbrand” (he has one of the Redbrand cloaks tied round his neck as a fetching scarf) is given a little stall round the back, and Droop the goblin is taken on a stable hand and given a room and a bed all of his own. Plans are made to send word to Neverwinter and hire an apprentice wizard who knows prestidigitation so that they can serve up food and drink that tastes amazing, and maybe even run a drycleaning business on the side. The townspeople of Phandalin love this; except, perhaps, for the owner of the Stonehill Inn, who is worried about competing with a place run by adventurers and that literally serves magical food. The name of this wonderful pub? The Barrel Room.
Fucking. Love. My players.
Completed Quests: Find out why there are undead at Old Owl Mine, find Agatha the banshee and ask her about the mage Bowgentle’s spellbook, deal with the orc raiders on the Triboar Trail.
Ongoing Quests: Locate Cragmaw Castle and save Gundren Rockseeker, track down Glasstaff/Iarno, seek out Reidoth the druid in the ruined town of Thundertree, find Mirna’s family heirloom in Thundertree.
Ears Collected: Orc, ogre.
Pubs Bought: 1
As good as these entrepreneurial exploits are, it really is past time to go and rescue Gundren… and they’ll do that in the next episode!