Our party* resumes, finding themselves in a hairy situation (ha). King (Dave) Grol the bugbear king is intent on obliterating the castle crashers, but first he has to deal with the starving owlbear that Hank has released into the throne room. The drow agent Ander was pursuing has vanished into Neverwinter Wood, leaving the bard to hustle back towards the castle. As Tipsy, Ander, and Hank all heal up and prepare to re-enter the fray, who should appear but Targor Bloodsword, resplendent in his captain regalia and once again, positively aching for combat.
This seems to indeed be a bit of a thing for him.
(*DM note: Taranion’s player couldn’t make it this session, and I didn’t want to poof him away or have him get knocked out with a brick or something, so I played him as an NPC. I mostly had him do support casting, until later in the night when I made him do something weird. You’ll see.)
Targor leads the charge into the ad hoc throne room, landing a javelin into King Grol just as the bugbear hurls the owlbear out of his face. The two loyal hobgoblin guards cross their blades with Targor, who urges the party to take Grol out for good.
Danquayle and Hank begin slamming Grol while Taranion and Ander provide backup. Tipsy gets caught up in the blood lust and leaps onto Targor’s shoulders to hurl darts at his attackers. She misses, but it was a sweet move anyway.
Finally Targor strikes down his hobgoblin brethren and Grol gets knocked to the ground. Even wiped out, the bugbear chief has words for his formerly trusted captain:
“Grol trust no one…but thought Targor was loyal”
“My only loyalty is to blood”
and he beheads the king with his greatsword.
King (Dave) Grol is no more.
The party swaps Targor’s signet ring in exchange for Grol’s crude iron crown, when they see a bright flash, and the appearance of a glass ring on his finger. Targor, disgusted at Grol’s weakness and coveting of magic items, lets the party take the ring as well. Hank decides that the glass ring will match Ander’s glass staff, and gives it to the bard.
Targor gives the party leave to explore the castle and retrieve their missing dwarf, but he cannot vouch that the remaining goblins in the castle will respect the changes in management. He busies himself tending to his wounded blood hawk companion (which Danquayle heals using her lay on hands) and the party goes snooping.
An excellent perception roll locates the map nestled in Grol’s big bugbear bed, where it was probably much more secure while it had a dire wolf sleeping on it. Further investigation reveals that the throneroom is adjoined by an old bathroom, complete with a giant metal tub that by all evidence Grol has not been using. However, the room shows signs of activity (read: bugbear hair) and scrape marks on the floor lead to the tub’s feet. Using some leverage, the party pries the tub out from the wall, revealing a narrow passage into a crevasse beneath the castle.
Tipsy, Ander and Hank proceed into the makeshift dungeon, following a narrow ledge along a rough, damp crevasse. Chained to a spike driven into the stone lays a dwarf in a dirty tunic.
“Whatever, we don’t know dwarf names!”
As Hank darts forward to assist Gundren, the dwarf spots something with his darkvision and shouts, but it is too late for Hank as a heavy, writhing, snake-like creature drops onto him from the ceiling. Its face splits into four clawed tentacles surrounding a snapping beak, and it lunges for his face.
Everybody does what they do best: Tipsy hides, Ander runs to get help and Hank tries to wrestle the tentacle-beak-cave-worm. Everyone rolls pretty well and lands hits on the grick, but it’s not doing much damage. After about a round of beating on the thing, Gundren helpfully points out that normal weapons don’t hurt it much, and everyone starts pouring on the magic. After lots of clawing and biting and a ray of frost or two, they convince the grick to leave and it flops into the crevasse. The party reemerges from Grol’s bathroom and lets Targor know he probably doesn’t want to go in there.
While the party takes a much needed short rest, Gundren gets the scoop on what been going on in the outside world. He’s happy to hear that the party rescued Sildar, and is impressed at how they’ve handled the Cragmaws, so he senses an opportunity; he promises that if they see this through and help him reclaim the lost mine of Phandelver, his birthright as a Rockseeker, he’ll make it worth their while. Furthermore, he suggests that while they’re in Cragmaw castle they go ahead and do a little recreational looting; Sildar’s gear is in here somewhere, and he knows the goblins lifted his cask of dwarven brandy. Hank’s trusting nature (read: poor insight checks) and Tipsy’s mighty thirst make them think this is a great idea. Ander is busy getting to know the glass ring, which turns out to be a ring of mind shielding and Taranion is quietly checking out the castle, lost in his thoughts, and Danquayle has no objections, so into the castle they go.
First stop is the kitchen. Tipsy waltzes in holding Grol’s bloody crown and is met by the stunned stares of 7 kitchen goblins and their big, sweaty cook, Yegg. Yegg sizes up the situation and regretfully informs Tipsy that there is not enough food for uninvited guests, and wants to know what’s going on. Tipsy announces that she’s the new goblin king? maybe?? but that enrages Yegg, who has been working here 35 years dammit! He’s put in the time! (DM note: Cragmaw castle hasn’t actually been inhabited for 35 years, so maybe Yegg means he’s been Grol’s personal chef that long. Or he doesn’t understand time) Tipsy quickly shifts and says that maybe Yegg can be king? He’ll need to work out the details with Targor, but it’ll probably be fine. Yegg suddenly grows suspicious: if Yegg king, who cook? Tipsy has the utmost faith in Yegg’s destiny as the first culinary king goblin.
So Yegg sends his kitchen stooge Germy to show the party where the storeroom is. On the way they encounter Hank’s biggest fan, a goblin sentry who saw him running across the clearing, emitting magical red light and making a hellish cacophany. The goblin wants to know if Hank’s a demon and loses his shit when Hank introduces him to the party’s Tiefling, Danquayle. They share a high five which breaks the goblin’s arm, but not his good cheer. Germy leads them in a wide berth around the trapped hall and points out Sildar’s gear, a fine longsword with Neverwinter insignia and a shield with a griffon emblazoned on it, and the cask of dwarven brandy the goblins mistook for poison.
Gundren cheerfully doles out draughts to himself, Tipsy, and an uneager Germy. The brandy is invigorating, and the party gets a little too boisterous and they attract the attention of Magrynne Spittlebone, hobgoblin lieutenant. These hobgoblins are allied with Targor, and expected the party. Since Grol is already dead, she has little assistance to offer. The hobgoblins have a well maintained armory, but the party is well stocked. She remembers a fine wooden quarterstaff they picked up but have little use for, and gives it to the monk. This prompts another round of brandy, this second round unfortunately sending Tipsy over the edge and rendering her “poisoned” aka drunk as a skunk.
Dwarven brandy packs a punch, apparently.
During this time, Taranion has been silent and moody, and now finds himself drawn to a door leading east from the storeroom. (DM note: This is where I overrode Taranion’s passivity and drove him into weirdness. I’m going to state that he was compelled by his deity to act, which is convenient since as DM I am literally roleplaying every god. He can hash it out with Oghma on his own time). He announces that his visions from the night before have lead him here, and there is a wrong that must be righted. Flinging open the door, they discover a stone altar covered in a bloodstained cloth, with three goblins chanting around it. The priest goblin, Lhupo, wears a tall pointy hat and immediately begins screaming in a shrill voice about the might of Maglubiyet, high chief of the goblin deities, daring the enraged Taranion to act.
Taranion declares he must cleanse the shrine and reclaim it for Oghma. The statues carved into the walls by its original builders do indicate that this shrine originally honored the god of knowledge and light. Hank, who at this point considers the Cragmaws pretty cool and good friends, argues that they need to leave their religion alone, this is holy war stuff, man. Lhupo meanwhile, continues egging them on, boasting about the great powers vested in him by the great, blood thirsty Malubiyet, Lord of Depths and Darkness. Hank has just convinced Taranion to walk away when Ander cannot take anymore of Lhupo’s screeching and plants a crossbow bolt into his throat. His acolytes flee, and Taranion compels Lhupo to kneel with a command spell. Danquayle delivers the coup de grace with her maul, leaving a bloody smear under a smushed hat on the floor of the shrine.
It’s called “freedom FROM religion,” read a book, asshole!
While Taranion kneels at the altar to perform a bless ritual, the rest of the party awkwardly discuss how uncool that whole thing was. The gold ceremonial tools are the only apparent treasure in here, but Hank refuses to take them. Magrynne isn’t bothered in the slightest by the whole scene, it seems Lhupo and his pet grick weren’t very popular. Gundren meanwhile has wandered off into a dark room at the center of the castle, adjacent to the shrine, apparently still sniffing around for treasure. Hank drags him out as Taranion finishes his ritual, and the party leaves through the ruined front doors of Castle Cragmaw.
As they head out into the evening air, they approach the spot where they left Professor Gnomebody passed out in the cart, but something is clearly amiss. Mr. Eddie Van Halen the Horse is pulling furiously at the cart but isn’t budging it, because a huge ogre is casually holding it. The ogre dangles Chinny the gnome by his ankle, slowly raising him over his head…
Defeated: King (Dave) Grol, two more hobgoblins, owlbear(?), Lhupo the Priest, Yegg (negotiated/coronated)
Acquired: Ring of Mind Shielding, pretty nice staff, cask of dwarven brandy (half drank), map to the Lost Mine of Phandelver
NPCs met: Gundren Rockseeker, Yegg, Lhupo (deceased), Lieutenant Spittlebone, Germy, Hank’s biggest fan
Quests: Rescue Gundren, solve Taranion’s bad vibes, Return Sildar’s gear, Help the Rockseekers retake Phandelver