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Damn that Sleep spell!

For the 2nd week in a row a single spell renders a combat encounter completely moot. The fact that my poor NPCs get no Saving Throw is very irksome. Especially since the wizard can scale up its power by expending a higher spell slot. Sleeping a group of foes has become my players’ de facto strategy, and it’s annoyingly effective.

Anyway, this week the party finally traveled to Cragmaw Castle. First, however, I wanted to insert a dangling thread from earlier in the adventure. The Redbrand leader, Glasstaff, AKA Iarno Albrek, had escaped their clutches, and had been on the run ever since.

The published adventure “The Lost Mine of Phandelver” doesn’t explain what happens if Glasstaff escapes the Redbrand Hideout, so I came up with a fun scenario. He found himself in the clutches of Targor Bloodsword, Hobgoblin war band leader, and was trying to seek an audience with King Grol of the Cragmaws. The PCs saw the camp outside of Cragmaw Castle, and formulated a plan of attack.

The plan involved that cursed Sleep spell, of course. They were able to get in close and Talus fired off a Level 2 Sleep spell, which rendered 2 wolves and a Hobgoblin instantly unconscious. I only had four total Hobgoblins, including Targor, so a second sleep spell knocked out pretty much everyone else. Did I mention the rogue is an Arcane Trickster and can also cast Sleep? Argh!

Hobgoblin Camp

I did have a bit of fun with Glasstaff’s predicament. He was technically allied with the goblin tribe but Targor didn’t trust him, and had him tied up. Iarno attempted to appeal to the PCs, but they were immediately suspicious. It was a moot point as he also succumbed to the Sleep spell. None of the PCs took a single hit in my stellar original encounter.

Iarno was interrogated, and his pompous attitude quickly melted under Kalinaar’s fierce, brutal intimidation, which included physical torture. As a Paladin of Vengeance, he’s a pretty scary dragonborn. Talus was very excited about the magical glass staff he acquired from Iarno.

The party agreed to take Iarno all the way back to Phandalin and turn him over to the authorities, getting both rewards from Sildar and Halia. Then they trekked all the way back to Cragmaw Castle. In the interest of time I didn’t roll for any needless encounters at this stage.

At Cragmaw the PCs were wary of the arrow slits at the entrance, and opted for the side route in the South. They busted down a door and sneaked through some curtains, seeing only hallways, doors, and rubble. Kalinaar pulled down the curtain in frustration, and the rod clanged against the stone floor, alerting a pair of nearby guards. The Hobgoblins were quickly taken down before the could alert anyone else.

Cragmaw Castle Owlbear

Kalinaar then opted to open the door to the South of the barracks, raising a heavy iron bar. He thought it was another way outside. Instead it led to a broken tower, currently holding a hungry owlbear. The massive creature immediately attacked, leading to our third combat encounter of the evening.

Despite its massive hit points, it went down in a hail of massive damage from the party. It did get a pretty good hit on Kalinaar, taking down half his life in one swipe. Meanwhile both the Paladin and Rogue can easily do over 20 points of damage in a single round.

We ended the session after the owlbear fight, with only a small portion of Cragmaw Castle explored. Looks like next week we’ll have a full dungeon crawl session with the rest of the goblinoid hideout.

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