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

Dragon fight!

Our adventure, “The Lost Mine of Phandelver,” includes a rather powerful, and optional, foe – a young green dragon. Even a young dragon is a nearly insurmountable obstacle for a party of 3rd or 4th level heroes. I think that Wizards of the Coast felt compelled to include at least one dragon in their starter adventure, possibly as an example that some foes might just be too strong to tackle.

My players were not overly fond of having a super powerful enemy on the board, however. Since they’d left the cultists in Thundertree alive I devised a role-playing scene between the cultists, dragon, and players to try and make the encounter a bit more interesting (the adventure gives me nothing for the dragon other than a name).

To add some tense flavoring I had the cultists and dragon speak draconic, which only the party’s dragonborn could understand. I whispered the translations to him, and I grew worried that I was leaving everyone else out. They said they enjoyed the tension and were constantly “waiting for the bomb to drop.”

Kalinaar the paladin had his own speech alongside Favric, the cultist leader. The cultists had acted friendly and waved the PCs into the dragon’s tower, only to offer them as further reward to the dragon in exchange for his allegiance. I had both Favric and Kalinaar roll Persuasion checks, and Favric won. The cultists fled the building and the dragon attacked the PCs, starting with his devastating acid breath.

lost mine of phandelver

At this point my players saw how much damage the breath attack did (12d6 – I rolled 47) and started freaking out that maybe they shouldn’t be fighting him. They went full table-talk which is a bit of a shame, but understandable as they were legitimately confused and worried. I thought they pulled together rather well, however.

Talus used a divination die to auto-succeed Kalinaar’s CON to halve the acid damage, then Kethra rolled a success on her own. This dropped them both to several HP instead of outright knocking them out. Then they took down most of the cultists in the building, including severing Favric’s head when he tried to run past them.

The fight came down to two key elements: Talus’ fog cloud and Kalinaar talking to the dragon again – this time succeeding on a Persuasion check. The fog cloud allowed Kalinaar to run out of the tower and give his speech, while the dragon contemplated, then flew out and ate a fleeing cultist.

I am not a mean DM and it’s never my intent to punish or be cruel to my players. These are my friends after all and I want everyone to have a good time. Sometimes challenging them in unexpected ways can become memorable and fun. In this case they got a big kick out of the dragon landing nearby and eating a cultist. Venomfang then commanded them to leave and never return, to which they all squeeked out an “okay!”

Thus the PCs survived their first encounter with a dragon. Oh, and Kethra the rogue managed to use Mage Hand with a Critical success on Sleight of Hand to steal the giant diamonds that the cultists used to buy off the dragon. So they ended up with a little loot for their effort. Nice.


At this point we’d spent four total sessions (a month real time) in Thundertree, and the players were ready to move on. While they were motivated to go to Thundertree in order to get to Cragmaw Castle and save Gundren, this time they opted to travel to the East side of the overland map in order to tackle some side quests. They figured that Cragmaw Castle is the finale and wanted to take care of some other quests first – which is pretty much exactly how I play all RPGs.

They traveled East through Neverwinter Wood toward Conyberry. While traveling there’s a chance for random encounters. Since the PCs are constantly getting the benefit of Long Rests, they can unleash a lot more powerful attacks then normal, so these fights are much more trivial than say in the middle of a dungeon. Still, random enemies could always drain some precious Hit Die, or even down a player, possibly causing a Lingering Injury.

I roll once at night using a campfire map and once during the day with a random forest (or mountain) map. I’m glad I had them ready to go, as placing creatures and rolling their Hit Points takes me a few minutes of fumbling while trying to keep the immersion going.

During the two day travel the PCs had two encounters: a small stirge fight at night and a medium-sized orc raiding party during the day. Nearly all four stirges got in attacks, but they were quickly obliterated by Talus’ auto-seeking magic missile. The orcs were slightly more difficult, and Kalinaar took some heavy wounds. Talus’ sleep, Miri’s water whip, and a bevy of blows downed the surprisingly easy orcs. I’m actually shocked that the orcs are worth a solid 100xp a piece when I felt like the ash zombies at Thundertree were much stronger and more difficult to deal with.

d&dWe neared the end of our session as they reached Conyberry, but as this ruined town is really just a single scene we went ahead and played it out.

Since the PCs had received this quest about two months ago, I gently reminded them of what Sister Garaele wished them to do. They performed exactly as instructed and got the answer they were seeking from the banshee. I thought the paladin might have a bigger problem with dealing with banshee, but maybe the dragon was a humbling enough experience to temper his blade, for now.

It feels good to get out of Thundertree and back into the world, and I look forward to tackling new areas and adventures next week!

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