Wednesday, March 23, 2016

D&D 5E with the Kids, Part 2

A few weeks ago, I posted about the start of my run of "Lost Mine of Phandelver" for my kids, a friend, and his kids. After some delays, we had our second session this past weekend.

(Obligatory spoiler warning for "Lost Mine of Phandelver")

Last time, the party had taken out some goblin sentries, but then withdrew to rest and heal. They returned to face two replacement guards, but took them down before any further alarm was raised.

This session started with them entering the cave that served as the goblins' hideout. Just inside the entrance was a chamber with two chained wolves, who the party treated with wary respect. The barbarian, who had been raised by wolves, couldn't bear to see these two in chains, so enlisted the cleric's help to calm the hostile animals, then feed and release them. The wolves were uncertain at first what to make of their freedom, but after a moment, left the cave to prowl around the woods outside.

Searching the wolf pen revealed a narrow chimney up to another chamber. The bard climbed up to investigate, and noticed a smoldering fire pit in the room. He moved forward to tie a rope to a nearby stalagmite, but was attacked by a wolf. The barbarian rushed up the wall to protect the bard, who retreated back down the chimney--but slipped and fell, knocking himself unconscious. The cleric promptly healed him, then suggested that the party rush up the main passage to join the fight from the other side, rather than risking their necks on a difficult climb.

The wolf's bugbear master bellowed orders to unseen minions in the next room, then hurled javelins at the intruder. The wolf's attacks were more effective than the bugbear, and only the barbarian's rage kept her standing for very long.

The rest of the party reached a room that was the source of the stream flowing down one side of the main tunnel: a waterfall entered a large chamber, where stone walls collected water in large pools. Here, three goblins were working to knock out one wall, in order to flood the entrance. The cleric and wizard took them out quickly, while the bard dodged past the fight to find the room that he had fallen from before. The wolf had just mauled the barbarian, rendering her unconscious, so the bard used his healing word spell to cure her from afar. The rogue rushed into that room and killed the wolf. The bugbear cursed at the loss of its pet, but missed the rogue with its morningstar. When it started to take damage from the heroes converging on the room, it fled to the chimney--but then repeated the bard's accident and knocked itself unconscious. The barbarian climbed down to make sure it was dead by beheading it.

Meanwhile, the wizard, seeing his companions handling the fighting quite well without him, explored the tunnel beyond a bridge to the far side of the stream. He stopped when he heard the sounds of goblins speaking in a room ahead, and reported back to the party.

The party took a short rest in the bugbear's room, while the cleric stood guard at the choke point at the bridge. As a dwarf, he easily understood the goblin's water trap, and proposed turning it on the goblins if they entered the main passage below. However, after some scouting by the bard, that plan was abandoned as too dangerous for the party. (Due to the steep slope of the most direct access to the remaining goblins, down near the wolf pen, they could not safely lure them out that way.)

The rogue scouted out the barracks room, then attempted to sneak attack the nearest goblin, but missed. The two nearest goblins closed with her, while three others started shooting at her, but noen could hit her. The other PCs moved into the room to start attacking goblins. The goblin leader, who was on a higher ledge in the back of the room, moved to a bound prisoner kept there, and pulled him toward the edge. However, before he could threaten to kill the prisoner, the dragonborn barbarian breathed acid on him, and the wizard cast sleep on the surviving goblins. With two goblins down and the leader wounded, the wizard's good roll with his spell was just barely enough to knock out the rest. The party then dispatched their sleeping foes, and freed the prisoner. (One goblin woke after being hit too weakly to kill it outright. It fled, but was chased down by the cleric and rogue.)

The captive turned out to be Sildar Hallwinter, the warrior who was escorting the party's employer, Gundren Rockseeker. He and the dwarf had been ambushed on the road to Phandalin, and brought here. Someone known only as the Black Spider had ordered the goblins to bring the dwarf to him, and Sildar knew no more about Gundren's whereabouts. He explained the reason behind the Rockseeker brothers' expedition: to find and reopen Wave Echo Cave, a famous mine and site of magical power, the location of which had been lost when orcs overran it centuries ago.

The party will rest here and heal, then escort Sildar (and Gundren's supply wagon) to Phandalin. This is the end of Part One of "Lost Mine," and the party has reached 2nd level, so we took care of that before wrapping the session.

Level advancement in much less complicated in 5th Edition than it was in 3rd or 4th. For most of the party, they added a class feature or two, rolled hit points, and were finished. Two players--the barbarian and the wizard--were very unlucky and rolled 1's for hp, which prompted the bard's player (who went last) to choose average hp instead of rolling! The bard and wizard also had to choose new spells known, and the wizard chose the School of Conjuration as his arcane tradition. (The cleric already chose a domain at 1st level, and the bard, barbarian, and rogue have to wait until 3rd level to select their archetypes.)

This session demonstrated the odd blend of fragility and resiliency that low-level characters have in this edition--they can be reduced to 0 hp very easily, but then have the buffer of making death saving throws before they actually die. Two PCs were reduced to 0 hp this session, but only one was down long enough to have to make any death saves (and succeeded on that one). I forgot the rule about massive damage instantly killing characters (if leftover damage exceeds maximum hp), which might have been bad news for the bard, who had just 1 hp when he fell down the chimney. I'll need to point out that rule to them for future reference, because there are some monsters later in this adventure who can dish out enough damage to threaten that kind of swift death, even after the party gains a few levels.

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