After doing some jobs on the side (and buying a pub), the group have made the decision to go and rescue Gundren Rockseeker… hopefully he’s not dead!
In Attendance: Loki Fastfoot (Darryl), Bosun Barry Arrers (Joe), Grimdark Stonelock (Trev), Carick “Mouse” Silverfrost (Liam)
And obviously myself, the DM.
While the group and their hired help are in the middle of fixing up The Barrel Room, Sildar approaches them and delicately suggests that they may want to consider rescuing Gundren Rockseeker. You know, that guy with the map to that lost mine that contains a forge of untold arcane power who was kidnapped by agents of a mysterious moustache-twirling supervillain? Sildar suggests that Gundren may have been taken to the main Cragmaw hideout, which lies deep in the northern forest.
Thankfully, the group have a guide! They ask Droop their goblin stablehand/barman/janitor to lead them to Cragmaw Castle, and off they go into the wild! Thankfully Droop is only about half as useless as he actually looks, and he eventually leads them to the old ruined castle. Just once I’d like to have a location in this campaign that isn’t dilapidated and falling apart!
The group approach from the south. Rather than blunder in through the main gates, they get Loki to go for the side door. He easily unlocks it and has a quick peek in. Inside, the castle is dingy and messy. Loki hears commotion from the room to the left (with the two tables), but he spikes the door firmly shut and ushers the others in.
The group then sneak through as best as they can, listening at doors and working out a plan. They leave Droop at the door, armed with Barry’s trident and instructions to stab the shit out of anything that tries to run.
Loki looks in the chapel, and immediately scarpers when he notices something slithering in the rafters. They spike the door and resolve to come back to that one later. They also discover the hidden entrance in the north wall, and make note of it as a possible escape route if things start going pear-shaped.
One botched attempt to get the drop on a room of a hobgoblins later, the situation has become so pear-shaped that Magners could make cider out of it. The group quickly discover that hobgoblins are tough customers, with high AC and a nasty ability to do extra damage to creatures that they have advantage against.
Loki takes a few heavy hits and has to fall back. Grimdark holds the line; his AC is so absurdly high that the hobs can’t get a hit on him. Of course, he can’t hit them either, so it’s a bit of a stalemate.
Naturally, all this fighting causes a bit of a commotion, and King Grol, the bugbear king, comes blundering out of his chambers, along with an angry, hungry wolf. At the same time, the goblin cooking staff in the dining hall finally break down the spiked door, and charge our heroes with an array of plates, cutlery, salad tongs, and damp dishcloths.
“Mouse! Crowd control!”
“Oh god oh god oh god oh god…”
Mouse throws down a web and fills the corridor immediately outside Grol’s chamber with white sticky goo. One of the hobs and the wolf are immediately snared, and are now basically out of the fight. Grol, who is not an idiot, goes back inside his chamber, and comes back holding a bruised, battered dwarf; Gundren!
“Surrender, or I kills da stunty!”
“Magic ghost sword, motherfucker!”
Grimdark (who has finally managed to overcome the hob he was fighting) casts spiritual weapon, which he summons right next to understandably surprised Grol. The summoned weapon starts hacking away, and Grol is forced to drop Gundren to protect himself, but eventually he’s driven back by the relentless sword and hides in his bathroom.
Meanwhile Barry and Loki have been steadily chewing their way through the goblin caterers, including the head chef. Loki’s not looking wonderful, and has already downed a healing potion.
And then the door to the chapel is blown off its hinges, and a goblin shaman, his three buddies and his pet grick join the fight! The normal goblins, cultists of the goblin god
Magaluf Maqluba Maglubiyet go straight for the wounded Loki, while the grick slithers forward to chomp on Barry’s face. Loki deals with the goblins fighting him with some fancy hand crossbow-fu, and a tried-and-trusted rapier to the sternum. Barry gets chewed up a little by the grick, but – with some help from Mouse’s magic missile – he manages to take it apart with Talon, though he uses his action surge to do so. Funny thing is that I didn’t realise until after the game that the grick has resistance to all non-magical damage, so Barry really was the ideal one to fight it!
Grimdark has dealt with everything that was trapped in the web, and storms into Grol’s room to protect his cousin. Grol is still hiding in his bathroom as the spiritual weapon hacks at the door.
And then goblin archers run in behind the shaman. They’d been watching the front entrance, but the huge ruckus has brought them running. Barry takes a few arrows from them and a fire bolt from the shaman. The shaman’s then gone, hightailing it out of there as quick as his little green legs will take him, just before Mouse conquers his fear of goblins by torching all three of the archers with a single burning hands. Who would’ve thought that therapy could be so flammable?
Grol finally charges out of his bathroom to stop Grimdark, but meets an undignified end; he misses his attack against Grimdark, then the spiritual weapon hacks a chunk out of him, and Grimdark finishes him off with inflict wounds.
With Grol’s death, the sprawling fight comes to a close; the group have fended off pretty much the entire Cragmaw gang, and all that remains is to make sure than Gundren is okay! Sure enough he’s alive but badly beaten; imagine if they’d saved him a week earlier, rather than taking road trips to go and talk to banshees and stuff!
They find the map to the Lost Mine of Phandelver hidden in Grol’s chamber; Gundren says that the tricksy bugbear was trying to cut a deal with the Black Spider, rather than just handing it over. Well, it seems to have worked out alright! As they explore the bedchamber, they also find an elf woman hiding behind some crates in the back. She’s dressed in rags, and says her name is Aelya; she was serving Grol as his personal slave (and we really don’t need to explore or hypothesis any unpleasant implications of that, now do we?), and begs the heroes to take her with them back to Phandalin. They’re suspicious, but in the end they agree.
They do a final sweep of the castle, finding a little bit of loot, the highlight being a cask of fine Dwarven brandy; a perfect special menu item for The Barrel Room! Mouse completes his personal quest to reconsecrate the ruined altar of Oghma, which had been defiled by the Cragmaws. And, because they still apparently never learn anything, they open the door to the large circular chamber to the south. Good thing there’s nothing there!
Apart from the angry, hungry owlbear.
The fight is brief; the owlbear charges, mauls Grimdark a bit (who by this point has healed to full HP), and then the party gang up on the beast and whittle it down to single digit HP in one round. The owlbear then escapes and runs off into the wild. After exploring its den, the groups finds a little more loot, but nothing too amazing. With that done, they leave the castle and make their way back to Phandalin.
Gundren gets set up in Stonehill Inn and alternates between resting and discussing the next move with Sildar. The group give Aelya some money so that she can get some decent clothes and lodgings, and also offer her a job at The Barrel Room when it opens. Aelya thanks them, and goes on her way. The group breaks open the cask of Dwarven brandy to celebrate their good fortune and their survival of another perilous adventure!
Completed Quests: Locate Cragmaw Castle and save Gundren Rockseeker
Ongoing Quests: Track down Glasstaff/Iarno, seek out Reidoth the druid in the ruined town of Thundertree, find Mirna’s family heirloom in Thundertree.
Ears Collected: Hobgoblin.
We’re approaching the end of the campaign now, and the Forge of Spells is calling. However, Barry won’t be satisfied until his old hometown of Thundertree is reclaimed from the monsters that inhabit it, and there’s still the little matter of tracking down Glasstaff…