I was joined by seven players for this session of the Starter Set adventure. Djoran, Ben and Brian joined Tait, Jesse, Josh and Josh to make up the group for the adventure. This gave the group a combination of level 1 and 2 characters as they spent the majority of the session further investigating and fighting the Redbrand Ruffians.
The last session had ended with the group rescuing Sildar, friend of Gundren, from the goblins. This session began with the group still in the goblin caves with Sildar; I needed to make sure they knew about him. It was particularly important to emphasise that the goblins had taken Gundren off to Cragmaw Castle, although none of the group nor Sildar knew exactly where the castle was.
The other plot thread I introduced was that of Iarno, the missing wizard. Sildar had come to Phandalin to search for him; both are members of the Lords Alliance and Sildar was worried that Iarno had never sent a report back!
The group escorted Sildar back to town. The warrior had only one thing on his mind: having a bath! While he bathed, the group began to gather information on the Redbrand Ruffians, who had been causing more trouble in town. Asking around the patrons in the inn, they learnt of a family whose father had been slain and the rest vanished, that a young boy had possibly found a secret tunnel into their lair, and that the Redbrands were bothering everyone in town except for the Miner’s Exchange and its leader, Halia.
Also of note was news of the local cleric of Tymora, Sister Garaele, who had recently gone on a trip and returned rather tired and harried. This was considered worthy of investigation, and so she got a visit from a number of the group. Although the expectation that she would have had problems with the Redbrands, this turned out not to be the case, although she was unhappy with their activities in town. Instead, it seemed that she’d being trying to recover a spellbook – a local banshee being the last one to see the spellbook – but the banshee wouldn’t even appear to her. The group accepted a commission from her to find the spellbook, although she quite understood that they needed to deal with the Redbrands first.
The group then proceeded to the Miner’s Exchange where they spoke with Halia Thornton, the guildmaster there. She was happy to find out the players were wanting to do something about the Redbrands, and offered them gold to eliminate the Redbrand’s leader, Glasstaff, and bring any correspondence he had to her. The group were very happy to accept the offer – money for something they were going to do anyway? Excellent!
The next step was to find a way into the hideout. Their previous investigation of the Tresendar Manor’s cellars had reached a dead end, so they followed up the rumour of a young boy having found a secret tunnel. The boy, it turned out, was a halfling, which meant he was just shorter than Milo (Tait). (Milo was particularly short, 2’6″, and his height tends to get brought up a lot during the game, much to the amusement of all). The group charmed the boy’s mother and the boy was able to lead them to a well-concealed passage leading under the manor. They thoughtfully escorted the boy back to his mother before heading down the tunnel.
It should be noted that there are actually three halfling rogues in the group at present – Reid (Jesse), Milo (Tait) and Tullen (Brian). The three of them chose to scout down the tunnel in advance of the rest of the group, although Reid – taking a cue from one of his personality traits – forgot to do so, meaning that only Milo and Tullen reached the end of the tunnel, coming out in to a large cavern bisected lengthways by a 20′ deep chasm. It was also the lair of a nothic, who telepathically communicated its desire to the rogues to have fresh meat. Would they be able to provide any?
Tullen reported back to the party what they found. He was a little unclear on what the monster was.
“I’m pretty sure it’s a tarrasque!”
The rest of the group soon caught up and began to negotiate with the nothic. It wasn’t very amenable to the idea of it letting them go past and return with meat (the bodies of the Ruffians, no doubt), but the party didn’t really grasp this idea and continued to insist. Reid tried to sneak around behind the Nothic, but its superior vision allowed it to see right through his plan and it attacked. The rest of the group gleefully joined in, but they were quite surprised when a second nothic joined in! (The adventure only has one, but it’s also written for four players instead of seven. I adjust monster numbers to try and keep things a challenge).
The battle took five rounds, with Jesse being knocked unconscious at one point and Pharn (Ben) needing to cast spare the dying to save him. The nothics proved far more dangerous with their claws than with their rotting gaze attack, which was always resisted by the group.
Looking around, the group found the nothics’ treasure down in the chasm, which included a beautiful magical longsword, once owned by a knight of the Tresendar family. Vjrn (Josh) claimed that sword, as Gaston (Josh) preferred his axe. (This was the first time I’d given out a magic item certificate as part of the Adventurers League program). They also discovered that one of the bridges across the chasm was unsafe by the simple expedient of trying to cross it and having Reid, Gaston and Vjrn plummet into the bottom of the chasm! After that, a short rest was in order.
Returning to their exploration, they discovered a store room full of looted goods, before they found one of the main barracks of the Redbrands. The seven Redbrands in residence were all quite drunk and happily gaming away; they were quite surprised when the party set upon them! Because they were drunk, they had disadvantage on all their attacks (the poisoned status), and the players were almost unhurt in the fight – except for Gaston, who suffered one round of the ruffians landing blow after blow on him.
One of the Redbrands was captured and then interrogated. He revealed the location of their leader, the Glasstaff, and so the group went to deal with him. Bursting into his lair, they discovered him trying to escape, but by weight of numbers they were able to subdue him and knock him unconscious.
Correspondence revealed him to be the missing wizard, Iarno Dethek, who Sildar had been looking for (although I’m not sure if any the group really caught that fact, despite my reiterating it). The group also took his staff – a staff of defence – and returned with their captive to Phandalin.