Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!


Finally, our first official session of Dungeons & Dragons! We were all very excited to get started after weeks of planning. Already I felt much more confident with the rules and setting than I ever did with Shadowrun. We spent a good chunk of time at the beginning introducing our characters and setting the stage for our adventure, but my players still made it about as far as I anticipated they would in our normal 2-2.5 hour session time. If you haven’t already, be sure to read this blog post introducing everyone’s unique characters.

“The Lost Mine of Phandelver,” the introductory campaign included with the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Kit, begins a bit railroad-y, with our heroes all hired for a classic wagon escort job out of Neverwinter. For 10gp each they’re to escort a wagon-load of supplies south to the frontier town of Phandalin. Ahead of them rode their employer Gundren Rockseeker and a warrior bodyguard Sildar Hallwinter.

Soon after turning off the main road and onto the more dangerous Triboar Trail, they discover a pair of dead horses in a pretty obvious ambush site in the middle of the path. My savvy players sussed it out pretty quickly, but I was proud of the undaunted Paladin Kalinaar for striding up to the middle of the trail and shouting a speech out to the unseen ambushers (earning him a point of Inspiration).

Meanwhile the rogue Kethra and monk Miri attempt to go around to the North side and try to spot any would-be attackers. Neither could roll higher than their passive perception scores, and I got a great roll with the Goblins’ stealth check (having a +6 does wonders as well). The four goblins surprise all but the monk with the alertness feat, so they get to spring out of the trees and thickets and strike first.


D&D heroes are notorious weak in the early levels, and level 1 characters are particularly easy to drop with just a single blow. I was worried that with the goblins’ almost guaranteed surprise round that things would get ugly really fast, but thankfully I rolled terribly on their initiative score, and once the surprise round ended everyone else got a turn before the goblins.

It also helped that the monk used her initial turn to swiftly murder a goblin and horribly wound a 2nd. Goblins can do a lot of damage but typically don’t have a lot of hit points. I rolled for each of their HPs and most received only a few, with one getting over 10. I did end up hitting with all three of the surviving goblins’ attacks, but I made sure to spread their attack out to three different PCs. The next two fell swiftly to Kalinaar’s greatsword and another face-grabbing unarmed strike from Miri.

Hilariously the final goblin is meant to run away and reveal the Northern trail that leads to the goblin den, but the PCs kept missing their attacks. That one goblin remained for a solid round and a half until Kethra was finally able to plunge her rapier in its heart. Poor Talus missed both times with his firebolt. In fact none of the ranged attacks the players attempted (an arrow from Kethra and dart from Miri) were able to land a hit.

There was a brief moment where the players debated on resting to recover their wounds or continuing on the trail to try and rescue their employer. Ultimately the paladin used his lay on hands to heal the monk. They tied the wagon and oxen to a tree and continued along the path.

Thanks to some superior perception-rolling, neither of the tutorial-style traps were able to catch my players by surprise – a snare and a pit trap were easily spotted and avoided. As they reached the cave mouth the PCs once again attempted to perceive through the suspicious thickets nearby. Kalinaar spotted some goblin-shaped bodies. Miri and Kethra rolled stealth checks to advance on the goblins, who were specifically not keeping watch at the time. The monk and rogue both got surprise rounds off (as well as higher initiative), allowing the two of them to swiftly murder the goblins.

D&DBefore entering the Cragmaw Hideout everyone had a short rest outside. A short rest is a nice balance designed to let players heal without having to settle down for a full night’s sleep, and I like the debate of whether or not to spend hit dice to heal. I also included a minor house rule allowing anyone to roll a free d3 to heal a few HPs if they don’t want to spend a hit die.

Inside the cave the players explored the first branching room, which contained a trio of hungry, angry wolves chained to the wall. All four of them attempted to use Animal Handling to calm them down (Kalinaar wanted to just mercy kill them, but the rest balked). All four of them failed miserably. I let the wolves roll a strength check after each attempt, and after the last failure the wolves broke free to initiate our 3rd combat of the evening.

Wolves are similar to goblins power-wise with a few new quirks. They have a chance to knock anyone they hit prone if the victim fails a strength check (which no one did) and second they get advantage on their attacks if they have an adjacent ally, which they definitely did. The players were able to kill one of the wolves in the first round, but the other two were able to rip into the party thanks to their advantage rolls, nearly dropping Kethra. The wolves were swiftly dealt with in the following round, and I particularity enjoyed how quickly combat flowed – we were lucky to get in a single combat sequence in Shadowrun, and already we got through three (relatively small ones) in D&D.

We came to the end of our session after the wolf fight as the heroes spot a chimney-like fissure at the far side of the cave. There also remains the main path heading deeper into the cave network along the stream. I expect we should be able to complete this newbie dungeon by the end of our next session. Everyone had a satisfying time playing and I definitely feel like D&D Fifth Edition will work perfectly for my group.

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!