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

Boss fight!

Occasionally real life can get in the way of gaming. Which is to say, I’m incredibly thankful that I have the means and time to play online role-playing games with friends at all. The weekend before Christmas was crazy busy for me, which means I had exactly zero prep time for this week’s D&D session. I’m still always ahead in my planning, so I can technically hit the ground running any week, but there’s a solid hour or two of planning out dialogue sessions, intro recap, and notes to myself for the week.

I didn’t have a chance to do any of that this week, as you can tell from my terribly rambling recap at the beginning. The party also happened to go into Cragmaw Castle, a major dungeon area, through a side entrance rather easily, and found themselves in the final boss room of the dungeon right at the beginning of the session. Roll for initiative!

The room sets the stage in some cool ways, telling the story of what’s going on without any actual dialogue. Gundren Rockseeker, their captured dwarven employer lay captured and dying in a cage, guarded by a wolf. A large, decorated bugbear is in a heated conversation with a mysterious dark elf, and everyone turns to the door when Kethra opens it up without listening first.

Thanks to information gleamed from both Droop the goblin and Glasstaff, the PCs knew that “The Black Spider” is a drow, and believed they were staring at the end-game scenario. King Grol won the initiative and run up to the door, slamming into Kethra with his morningstar. His wolf Snarl followed suit, though Talus used a divination die to force a miss.

Cragmaw Castle king grol

Talus went with his patented Sleep spell, targeting the dangerous looking drow. She was able to shrug off the level 2-charged spell, while the wolf fell unconscious. The PCs couldn’t tell the but the drow seemed to retreat to the North, toward Gundren, instead of engaging them. They had their hands full with the bugbear.

Well, until Talus levitated him. Having a wizard that really thinks outside the box in combat, using illusion and Sleep, is pretty fun (aside from how horribly broken Sleep is). King Grol got in another hefty swipe on a PC (Miri I think) before he rose up to the ceiling. The rest moved into the king’s chambers while Kethra shot at the enraged Cragmaw leader with her crossbow. He would survive, and eventually climb onto the walls and make his way South and West, calling out for reinforcements.

Inside the chamber Kalinaar sliced into the drow, who responded by grabbing the limp dwarf and holding a blade to his neck in a classic hostage maneuver. Keep in mind – I had no prep time for this, I was winging it! She wanted safe passage out of the castle, with Gundren’s map tucked securely under her arm, and she promised to let the dwarf go once she was outside.

Kalinaar, ever resolute and implacable, would have none of it. As his player later informed me, this Paladin of Vengeance would rather an Innocent die than a guilty person get away. Not sure if that’s still Lawful Good, but I really like that he sticks with his role-playing mantra.

D&DIn this case he called the drow’s bluff, and the drow responded by slitting Gundren’s throat, much to the horror of the rest of the party! She readied her weapon in response but a flurry of attacks from Kalinaar and Miri, and a magic missile from Talus downed her. As she hit the ground her body morphed and dissolved into the gray-skinned form of a doppelganger – dum dum DUMMMM. Heh.

One of the treasures the party had just received last week from the Owlbear tower in the south was a Scroll of Revivy, which is usable by Paladins. I was beyond pleased that Kalinaar immediately pulled it out, and looked to Talus for guidance. Talus had one divination die left – a 19, to auto-succeed the spell check and revive Gundren in a fun moment of heroics. I really loved this entire sequence of events.

While this was going on, King Grol had made it outside of the kitchen area of Cragmaw, which happened to be full of half a dozen goblins that rushed to aid their King. While he escaped the enchantment of the spell, they rushed into his chambers, taking big chunks of damage out of Kalinaar and Miri through sheer strength of numbers (Kethra’s Shield spell came in very handy here).

Eventually their low health succumbed to the PCs’ mighty blows. The PCs gave Gundren a health potion and he immediately suggested they flee the area, after making sure they regained possession of the map. Kalinaar initially balked, but given their low state of health and the impending number of forces coming at them (which I played up the entire time King Grol had been gone) they finally agreed to get Gundren out of there.

They fled to the North through the woods. Due to time constraints and the lateness of the session, I basically treated this as a cutscene. They were able to haul ass through Neverwinter Wood and around to Triboar Trail, where they eventually lost their pursuers. From there they had an uneventful return to Phandalin. One thing I definitely learned from Shadowrun – after a climactic battle, don’t tack on unnecessary fight scenes or draw anything out.

Rescuing Gundren and the map opens up the finale of “The Lost Mine of Phandelver” – the mine itself. Despite only exploring about half of Cragmaw Castle, the party gained enough experience to reach level 4, as well as a much needed rest. After that, it’s on to Wave Echo Cave!

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