Recently, we got to play through the rest of the second chapter from the Lost Mine of Phandelver. We were joined by another player with no experience, which made the encounters easier.
- – N’idera – Half-elf Ranger (Beast Master (at the end of the game))
- – Ara’tak – Aarakocra Druid (Moon)
- – Sirath – Dragonborn Paladin (Vengeance (at the end of the game))
DM – Torvak – Goliath Cleric (Life)
Ara’tak, at the end of last session, found a map detailing the hidden entrance to the Redbrand hideout (they had also been told that one existed in the woods by an NPC). The back of the map had a message written on it in low quality invisible ink referencing a beast in a pit and ‘Old Netheril’. After entering the hideout, wearing some of the Redbrand’s cloaks and with a new ally in tow, they found the crevasse and began to explore.
They explored most of the cavern before Ara’tak noticed the Nothic and, using some pretty awesome RP and the ‘Old Netheril’ reference from the map, avoided the fight entirely. They found out that there were prisoners to the east and a magic user to the north-west.
(DM’s Note: My players reacted so well to this encounter that I have some plot ideas for continuing after we finish the adventure.)
What followed was a truly beautiful series of moments that could have gone sour but were recovered at the last minute as the party split up and began to explore, turning back from three possible encounters at the last moment. They wound up at the entrance to the hideout and Sirath pushed Ara’tak into the cistern. This had a two-fold effect; Ara’tak found the satchel hidden there, and the nearby guards realised they were no longer alone.
The fight was short, brutal and highlighted why Paladins with Thunderous Smite are monsters in mêlée combat. Ara’tak, once again, was downed but Torvak’s purpose as party healer prevented any lasting damage. They scouted the way out of the cellars through the ruined manor house and then ‘found’ the pit trap in the hallway.
The skeletons, as per the adventure rules, ignored the party when they began looting the coffins in the Tresendar crypt and the two guards in the cells next door had no chance to really do anything before they were downed.
A series of REALLY good rolls from M. saw his Paladin breaking the cells open (releasing the prisoners and collecting the Heirloom sidequest) as well as busting into the armoury.
With the entire east side of the dungeon explored, the party opted to go through a secret door that Ara’tak had found right at the beginning of the session and surprised Iarno himself in his quarters. The surprise round saw N’idera dashing past him to steal his staff, Ara’tak dousing him with another creative use of Create/Destroy Water and then Sirath letting loose with her lightning breath. By the time the round was over, Iarno was really low on health and opted to surrender. He had only a few moments to irritate the party with his superiority when answering their questions before Sirath tired of him and buried her axe in his breast bone. There were a few moments of intra-party tension after that before they started searching his room.
(DM’s Note: This was my first opportunity to introduce a magic item for the party to use to compensate for being smaller than expected and N’idera found it but is unsure what it is.)
The familiar in the next room spent a few minutes running from the wildshaped Druid before curling up on its dead master’s shoulder (where it met the same fate as Iarno) and the workshop was well and truly looted.
What followed was glorious. The ‘poisoned’ condition on the Redbrands in the penultimate room made for a lot of whiffed rolls that, for some reason, the players (with the exception of Ara’tak who went for a wide flank)seemed intent on matching. Thunderous Smite proved its worth again but alerted the nearby Bugbears.
Ara’tak discovered this fact and launched a surprise attack by using his last spell slot and then tactically withdrew to the crevasse. One of the bugbears followed him and the others continued towards the fight.
The fight, as to be expected with the party running low on resources, was tough but satisfying. The Nothic, lured by Ara’tak, killed the last Bugbear and dragged it away to eat. Thus satisfied, it had no problem with the PCs taking its hoard and leaving the hideout for Phandalin (where they turned Iarno’s body over for the reward), their pockets full of loot and their level bumped up to the 3.
My players are very keen to loot everything which means I can seed plot ideas and foreshadowing among treasure and personal items.
The interest with which they discussed the Nothic encounter after the game, and the positive feedback from it, gave me a few ideas about structuring encounters in the future and about possible plot-lines heading forwards.