My run of "Lost Mine of Phandelver" has resumed after delays due in large part to my kids being away at their grandparents' for half the summer. This week's column is actually a summary of three sessions. My son had a school trip the weekend that the rest of us met to play out the the party reaching and exploring the town of Phandalin, so I ran a short solo session for him to catch up before the party took on their next major conflict.
(Obligatory spoiler warning for "Lost Mine of Phandelver")
The party finally arrived in Phandalin and received their payment for bringing supplies to Barthen Provisions. They also took the stolen goods from the goblin lair to the Lionshield Coster, and were rewarded for returning them to their rightful owner. At the Coster, they were warned about the Redbrands, a gang of ruffians who have been causing trouble in town recently.
The adventurers then took rooms in the Stonewall Inn. The gnome bard, Caboose, parlayed his skills as an entertainer into room and board for himself, and devoted the rest of the day to that activity.
Bahli (dwarf cleric), Gybrush (human wizard), and Starfright (dragonborn barbarian) went to the town hall to learn more about this Redbrand trouble. The townmaster evaded their questions, trying to downplay the threat the gang posed, but the PCs saw through his cowardice and promised to deal with the ruffians. While at the hall, they also learned of a reward to get rid of some orc raiders near Wyvern Tor.
These three heroes then confronted some Redbrands at the Sleeping Giant tap house. They handily dealt with the four members of the gang there, sparing one (who was dubbed "George") to question about their organization. He told them that there are at least a dozen more members of the gang, and that they were hired by someone known as "The Black Spider." Bahli then offered the prisoner his freedom, on the conditions that he find leave town and find honest employment; otherwise, he would feel the cleric's full wrath. George agreed readily--he couldn't safely stay in town after spilling his guts anyway. Bahli sent him on his way with a handful of coppers to buy food until he reached the next town.
(The players now fully expect to run into George later on, whether he's backslid into crime or run afoul of some monster. There are a number of places in the adventure that I could work this in quite easily.)
Meanwhile, Sothleene (human rogue) assumed her false identity of a minor noblewoman and explored the town on her own. She started by talking to the staff and patrons of the Stonewall Inn, learning the various rumors and leads that the other PCs had not yet taken the time to find. She visited Sister Garaele at the Shrine of Luck, and Halia Thornton at the Miner's Exchange, but was a bit too clumsy in her attempts to extract more information to gain either NPC's confidence.
She had better luck at Alderleaf Farm, where she talked to the boy Carp about the secret cave entrance he had discovered near Tresendar Manor. Sothleene then visited Daran Edermath, a retired adventurer, who gladly opened up to her once he learned she was interested in doing something about the Redbrands, and had friends in town who could help her. Daran informed her that the gang's safehouse was under Tresendar Manor and their leader is called "Glasstaff." He also told her of some trouble that had been reported around Old Owl Well, located a couple days to the east: something has been digging around the ruins, and prospectors have been chased off by undead. Daran fears that some dangerous magic from the ancient Netheril empire might still remain there, and encouraged her to look into it.
Finally, the rogue visited the town hall, and learned her companions had been there earlier in the day. She learned about the orc bounty then she returned to the inn to find her party. Once they were also together again, Bahli, Gybrush, and Starfright told the bard and rogue about their fight with the Redbrands, and the rather comic story of setting George free to reform. Sothleene also shared what she had learned. The heroes agreed that they wanted to investigate Old Owl Well and Wyvern Tor, but that dealing with the Redbrands was a more urgent matter. If they dealt with the gang, then the town would be a safer place for them and for everyone else, and it would be a solid start to building their reputations here.
After a good night's rest, the party decided to investigate the ruins of Tresendar Manor before looking for the cave Carp had found. They easily found the stairs to the cellars, and entered, finding a storeroom with a couple exits. They chose a door, and found a hallway with a pit trap that Bahli narrowly avoided falling into. The fallen stones left a narrow ledge on either side of the trap, so with some rope and strong backs, the PCs helped each other safely cross to the other side.
The hallway led to a crypt where the party fought some skeletons. They found a small jail room adjoining this one, and quickly took out the two Redbrands inside. The ruffians had been guarding three prisoners: the wife and two children of Thel Dendrar, a Phandalin woodcarver murdered by the gang. The party escorted them out of the manor, then returned to the cellar to explore further.
|The dwarf cleric (center, with hammer) turns 2 of the 3 skeletons in the crypt.|
After recovering a bit, they set about searching for secret doors, as they had found and explored all the obvious ones. While doing so, Starfrifght found a hidden satchel with clothes, money, and potions, which she concluded was a getaway stash for someone in the gang--probably someone far more cunning than the common thugs they had encountered so far. Eventually, they found a secret door that led to a sizable natural cavern, split by a crevasse spanned by two small wooden bridges.
In this cavern, they encountered a bizarre monster, roughly humanoid but covered with spines and having only a single large eye (a nothic). It spoke to them telepathically, and seemed obsessed with its own hunger. They offered to bring it food, and returned with the bodies of the two jail guards. This, and a further bribe of a couple tiny gems, put it in a friendly mood, and they learned that the monster had been tasked with guarding this chamber by the mage who led the Redbrands.
While the creature continued its meal, the party proceeded down one of the passages on the far side of the crevasse. Here they found a wizard's workshop, with a great deal of alchemical equipment and texts. Gybrush determined that the owner had been trying to brew potions of invisibility but had not yet succeeded. While the party searched the room, and listened at the door on the far side, a rat scurried out from under the lab table and out the door they had entered. Gybrush warned the others that the rat was almost certainly a familiar, and that its master now knew they were here.
They opened the next door quickly, finding the enemy wizard's bed chamber but no wizard. Instead, a secret door on the far wall had been left ajar in his haste to escape, and they heard running footsteps beyond it. The secret door led to a short passage back to the cavern, through which the wizard now fled. The party split up, some to follow the enemy's path and some to retrace their own steps. The PCs reached the cavern as the wizard--obviously the gang leader "Glasstaff," because he carried a glass staff--fled through it. They soon learned that his staff was enchanted with defensive magics, including the shield spell, which foiled their first few attempts to attack him.
Starfright, who had taken a liking to the weird one-eyed monster here, tried to beg its help in catching Glasstaff. However, the wizard ordered the nothic to destroy them, so her request seemed hopeless. However, it did not immediately leave off its feasting, so the party was able to continue their pursuit. They caught up to the wizard in the storeroom at the bottom of the stairs to the surface. Glasstaff used a couple misty step spells to escape their reach, so was first to the stairs. However, he was out of his most powerful spells by now, and the bard hit him with a hideous laughter spell. This magic incapacitated him, and he spent the last few seconds of his life cackling madly about how utterly doomed he was.
|The evil mage (incapacitated by the gnome's spell) falls beneath the rogue's rapier and the barbarian's battleaxe.|
|The wizard and the nothic face off against three bugbears (two of whom are still trying to get past the grease spell).|
|A better look at the minifigures for the nothic and Glasstaff.|