D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 14 Recap

It’s a thrilling major boss battle as the PCs wage war in the heart of Cragmaw Castle against the bugbear chieftain and his army!

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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! Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 14 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 13 Recap

After capturing renegade wizard Glasstaff from a Hobgoblin camp, the party infiltrates the goblin tribe hideout at Cragmaw Castle.

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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. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 13 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 11 Recap

In exploring Old Owl Well the party runs afoul of a giant horde of zombies, and a necromancer from Talus’ past.

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A horde of zombie approaches – roll for initiative!

My players are nothing if not methodical. After dealing with Agatha at Conyberry at the end of last week’s session, they traveled South toward Old Owl Well to clean up their quest log. They had learned that the area has been seen crawling with undead, and were tasked with discovering what was going on.

Old Owl Well, like several of the mini-locations in “The Lost Mine of Phandelver,” doesn’t have an official printed battlemap. Thankfully the campaign is popular enough that I was able to find one online and incorporate it into what turned into one of our longest, and more interesting combat encounters. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 11 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 10 Recap

The party battles a dragon and survives, then travels across the Neverwinter Wood to speak with an Elvish banshee.

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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. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 10 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 9 Recap

The party clears out the Eastern half of Thundertree, meets some cultists, and decides how to handle the resident dragon.

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Thundertree part two!

As I anticipated this session was much like last week’s. The PCs explored the Eastern half of the ruined town, going building to building and fighting more twig blights and ash zombies. Dare I say it might have gotten a tad repetitive, and I should’ve found a way to spice up a few of the battles and scenarios.

This was a war of attrition, as the PCs couldn’t take a Long Rest during the druid’s cleansing ritual. They took their second Short Rest after a small zombie fight, then found themselves nearly overwhelmed by the half dozen zombies in the barracks to the North.

I also finally hit a string of good rolls with another twig blight ambush, scoring high rolls for surprise and initiative, as well as nailing most of my attacks during the first round. The Paladin was forced to drink a potion, and both he and the monk had to use their final hit dice during the Short Rest.

The overall combat felt very well balanced. Nobody died but two of them came close, and the party definitely needed to trudge back to Reidoth the druid in desperate need of a Long Rest. First, however, I had them meet with the cultists in the Southeast. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 9 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 8 Recap

The party cleaves a path through the Western half of Thundertree’s denizens of blights, zombies, and giant spiders.

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Time for another session of pure hack and slashery! The dungeons included in “Lost Mine of Phandelver” are lengthy enough that they often take us two to three sessions to get through (our sessions are aprox. 2-3 hours). It was no different here as the party took out the entire Western half of Thundertree – four combat encounters.

We had yet to explore the concept of an outdoor dungeon, so Thundertree was a fun change of place. It’s a bit trickier from a DM point of view, however, as the PCs have more freedom of movement. I am also still new to using Dynamic Lighting in Roll20, being a recent subscriber. I ended up using a combination of Dynamic Lighting with buildings and trees along with Fog of War to hide areas in the distance until the party got closer.

It worked pretty well, and my players delighted at being able to suss out line of sight by themselves, as well as communicating to each other number of foes inside a building.

The party trekked North, following the Locate Plants spell cast by Reidoth. The druid had tasked them with cleansing Thundertree of its zombie and plant life in a single day while he cast a ritual. I managed an extraordinary stealth check on the half dozen Twig Blights hiding in some ruined cottages, despite Kalinaar rolling 20 (non-crit) for Perception. I got off lots of furious little swipes in my surprise round, then was quickly cut down by a barrage of blows from the PCs. By the time it was my turn again, I had only a single Blight left. Having hordes of little guys is a neat change of pace and has the sinister side effect of making my players a bit too cocky. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 8 Recap”

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 7 Recap

We reach 3rd level and travel North to the haunted ruins of Thundertree.

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My players were all very organized this week, and did the brunt of the level up work before we got together for our Sunday evening session. All we had to do was roll for Hit Points and go over any and all new abilities. Level three grants an advanced path for most Player Characters. It’s a cool difference in fifth edition that helps cut down on the insane amount of multi-classing that took place in previous editions. For example, a rogue can become an Arcane Trickster, letting them earn some magic spells without having to multiclass as a wizard or sorcerer.

Kalinaar became an Oath of Vengeance Paladin (continuing with the Judge Dredd concept), Miri learned the Path of the Elements to gain some powerful new attacks, and Kethra took the aforementioned Arcane Trickster specialty to gain some magic versatility. Oh and Talus got access to level two spells.

This was an interesting session. For the first time since the PCs were ambushed by goblins, they’re given a choice of where to go and what to do. Technically they could’ve done this upon reaching Phandalin (thus skipping the Redbrand Hideout), but they correctly decided to help the town out of its primary problem before tackling on the myriad of quests they received from the townsfolk. I’m glad they did, as the Redbrand Hideout is definitively designed to be a balanced level two dungeon, while these other areas are definitely made for level three PCs. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 7 Recap”