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Wave Echo Cave Part 2: The Black Spider revealed! And he’s…reasonable?

“The Lost Mine of Phandelver” is frustratingly sparse when it comes to describing some of its NPCs, but thankfully The Black Spider isn’t one of them. Billed as the overarching villain, the drow has been plaguing the adventurers throughout the campaign, ordering the kidnapping of Gundren and his map, and putting out a bounty for the PCs.

With the PCs’ quick excursion into the NorthWest corner of the mine and battle with the bugbear army in the previous session, meeting up with the Black Spider was the next logical step. 

First they questioned Vhalak, the drow in charge of the bugbears and their prized prisoner. He revealed the current situation in the mine: The Black Spider wants the Forge of Spells, but has been cutoff from the rest of the mine due to a horde of undead. An evil presence seems to guard or covet the Forge, and The Black Spider is currently at a stalemate – even worse now with his bugbears slaughtered.

Thus our silver-tongued villain was fully prepared to do business with the PCs. He offered to trade the last surviving Rockseeker brother for Vhalak as a show of good faith. Then he tasked the party with dealing with the undead menace in the mine.

Nezznar the Black SpiderSometimes your players can surprise you, as was the case here. In every previous chance I gave them a “way out” or option to work with dubious characters, they’ve refused. Or at least the Paladin has, and the rest follow suit.

In this case they grudgingly accepted the task, promising to deal with The Black Spider at a later time.

In reality the PCs were weakened. They had retreated back to the bugbear’s barracks for a Short Rest (noting the barricaded door to the East) only to stumble on a pack of ghouls feasting on the now freshly-killed bugbear bodies in the collapsed cavern. They were dealt with but Kalinaar took some heavy wounds and both Kethra and Talus were very low on spell slots.

So despite meeting a major villain, they didn’t jump the gun for once, and decided to fight another day. Literally, they retraced their steps back to the mine entrance where Gundren waited in the hopes of getting a much-needed Long Rest.

Before that the party had questioned Vhalak on what he was doing in the cavern. He admitted to searching for a magical artifact in the streambed. The PCs were intrigued and climbed down to search for themselves. An hour passed with no results. I warned them searching takes a solid hour, and just as I was contemplating another encounter during their second search attempts, Miri rolled a critical success, which is what it takes to find the very powerful Gauntlets of Ogre Power. At this point everyone’s gotten at least one Cool New Thing except Kethra, but more treasures await in the mine.

Gundren was overjoyed to see his brother still alive, though Nundro had been physically and psychologically tortured, and wasn’t much help to anyone. I let the PCs get a Long Rest in this relatively safe corner of the dungeon, though with 8 hours passing and no more bugbear army around, the undead have much more free roam over the mine, which could make things tricky…

Next week: the party descends back into Wave Echo Cave, this time with the clear intent to root out the undead infestation, and possibly locate the Forge of Spells itself!

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