SOCIAL JUSTICE WIZARDS

Session 4: Kicking Teeth and Making Friends
OR “Phandalin is for Lovers”

So some of this actually happened in session 3 and I forgot it at the time, but it reads better this way anyway.

After a good, ghost-free rest at the Stonehill Inn, the party heads out into Phandalin to get a feel for things, and it’s bad vibes everywhere: Ander and Danquayle head to the townmaster’s hall to meet up with Sildar and get some leads on finding Gundren. They discover that Sildar’s contact in Phandalin, the wizard Iarno Albrek, has gone missing, and the incompetent townmaster Hardin Wester has no interest in helping, urging the adventurers to leave the town and the Redbrands alone.

Meanwhile, Tipsy and Hank decide to fuck with the Redbrands, naturally. They’re headed to the Sleeping Giant tavern, where the Redbrands are known to hang out. They interrupt the brunching ruffians on the patio, and try to play it off as interest in joining their ranks. Here is where we first discover that Hank’s stamina for negotiating lasts exactly one round. A fight breaks out and Tipsy nearly spills her cider.

MEANWHILE meanwhile, Taranion and Chinny hit ups Phandalin’s only extant religious establishment, a fledgling shrine to the Luck goddess Tymora. They find a young elven priestess, Sister Garaele, attending to the shrine. She is bruised and limping, but her wounds came from a misadventure out in the wilderness, not from Redbrands. She explains that her super secret organization (cough) sent her to meet with a banshee named Agatha in the abandoned town of Conyberry, but the banshee had no interest in helping her. She’s acquired a bribe for the spirit in the form of a silver comb, but is too injured to make the journey again herself. The cleric and wizard wish her luck (which, is not super helpful for the priestess of Tymora) and leave, but Gnomebody doubles back to chat some more.

Taranion runs into Sildar near the townmaster’s hall, and gets a new request: finding Iarno Albrek, the missing Lord’s Alliance wizard, is now top priority. Taranion resolves to do his best and decides to investigate spooky Tresendar Manor.

Danquayle and Ander decide to go check in with Ander’s aunt Quelline Alderleaf down at her farm to see if she has any more info for them, but encounter a pair of Redbrands in the road. Some tough talk reveals that the ruffians have just torched the Alderleaf farm and scattered their livestock, and the situation comes to blows. The big, brawny Redbrand catches Danquayle with her lasso and proceeds to pummel her while Anders pokes a few holes in the shorter Redbrand. Eventually Danquayle has enough and crushes her foe’s skull with a morningstar, causing the other Redbrand to flee towards… Tresendar Manor. Danquayle figures the Big Dead Jessica’s redbrand cloak would probably fit her, and snatches it for safe keeping.

The fleeing Redbrand runs right into Taranion, but scrambles off up the hill. Taranion tracks him to the manor on the hill. The place is abandoned, but has clearly had plenty of traffic leading to and from it in recent days, including a fresh set of tracks. The cleric thinks better of entering solo and returns to the Stonehill Inn to mull over this information.

Ander and Danquayle find Alderleaf farm on fire and its ponies running amok in the fields. Danquayle uses her fiendish bloodline to her advantage to dive into the flames and douse them in water, while Ander assists her relatives. They mange to save most of the farm and sit down to chat with Quelline and her son Carp. Quelline naturally despises the Redbrands and what they have wrought upon Phandalin, and Carp lets Danquayle know about a path in the woods near the farm that he’s seen Redbrands using.

Back at the Sleeping Giant, Hank finds himself ganged up on, but manages to knock out a Redbrand cold even while grappled. They relent, and take him inside to meet their boss…NOT Glasstaff, but the Redbrand Lieutenant Jarleth. Jarleth sits with a black rat on his shoulder, going over some plans. He agrees to let Tipsy and Hank take on an initiation job: Halia Thornton, the guildmaster of the Phandalin Miner’s Exchange, is the only person uncowed by the Redbrands. She has the support of most of the village and miners behind her, so they cannot attack her openly. Jarleth suggests that Hank and Tipsy steal Halia’s ledger and personal seal, so that Glasstaff can forge the documents to make Halia unpopular with the townspeople. They agree to the conditions, and return to the Stonehill Inn.

After swapping details about their day and wondering where the gnome is, the party quickly decides to approach Halia directly about the scheme. Their intuition proves correct when they discover Halia to be a force to be reckoned with. She already has a bead on the Redbrands and is eager to assist in the infiltration. She also provides confirmation that they’re working out of Tresendar Manor, and that they have bugbears on site. She provides Hank and Tipsy with an outdated ledger (which is booby trapped) and her seal. She requests two things of Hank: return the seal to her, and take out Glasstaff.

Back at the inn, they find Prof. Gnomebody enjoying an ale and bearing unwelcome news: he’s accepted the banshee errand for Sister Garaele in exchange for some lucky dice, and also learned that something weirder than bugbears or wizards lurks in Tresendar Manor…

Defeated: 3-ish Redbrands

Acquired: Redbrand cloak (used, slightly bloodied), old ledger, fancy seal, Dice of Tymora, silver comb

NPC’s met: Harbin Wester, Sister Garaele, Quelline and Carp Alderleaf, Halia Thornton, Lieutenant Jarleth, Big Dead Jessica (deceased)

Quests: Find Iarno (Taranion), Join the Redbrands (Tipsy and Hank), COMB QUEST (Gnomebody), There Are Some Orcs Out There, I Guess (Ander and Danquayle).

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Session 1: Escape from New Neverwinter

On a cold and stormy night in the wrecked town of Neverwinter, five strangers find themselves under lock and key in a makeshift jail. The four cells hold Hank the monk, Danquayle the Tiefling and Ander the bard, Taranion the Sun Elf cleric, and an Orc named Gurg.

(Ander was picked up after causing a scene with an offensive shanty in a tavern, Hank was caught in the fight that ensued at that same tavern, Taranion was caught snooping around a temple where he wasn’t welcome, Danquayle for suspicion of having stolen her paladin gear, and Gurg for theft and a little murder.)

The guards in charge of this jail quickly expose themselves as phony cops, and plan on selling the prisoners to slavers first thing in the morning.

After getting to know one another, they beginning formulating a plan to escape. Using a combination of their skills, they are able to free themselves using the jail keys. Gurg convinces them to let him out as well, promising them a cut of the treasure he got thrown in jail for stealing. Gurg promptly gets himself killed by one of the guards, and they party has a battle on their hands. Without their armor or weapons, Danquayle uses Gurg as a meat shield and Hank starts punching apart the guards. They grab their stuff, and gain a strange looking old key, then head out into the driving rain.

Danquayle recognizes the street they’re on, and hustles them into a nearby inn. The conditions are squalid, but the proprietor is an old friend. The only room they can afford is a crime scene, literally. Danquayle takes the bloodsoaked mattress, and everyone settles in. In the darkness of early morning, a frigid coldness crawls over the room, and the party wakes to moans of a ghostly presence. After possessing Danquayle, the entity demands its stolen key be returned to it, but finds itself unable to grab the key with its ethereal form. It vanishes as the key falls to floor.

In the morning the inn keeper reveals that the murdered lodger was a wizard travelling under the name “Thistle”, and he had an assortment of maps of the area and notes about some kind of forge. The party hits the road, and finds a convenient wagoneer, the folksy and entrepreneurial Scump McGillicuddy, headed out of town looking for some armed escort. And with that, the party heads for Phandalin (and begins the actual written adventure).

Defeated: 2 phony cops, 1 human wizard ghost (?)

Acquired: Their own gear, some cash, weird old key

NPC’s met: Gurg (deceased), Deb the innkeeper, “Thistle” the ghost, Scump McGillicuddy

Quests: Escort Scump to Phandalin, What is this key

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Session 2: Road Warriors
OR “I went to Phandalin and all I got were these two dead horses”

The four adventurers from Neverwinter escort Scump’s wagon of supplies while he talks their ears off over the details: His buddy, the dwarf Gundren Rockseeker, has a business proposition, but he needs supplies delivered to his base of operations in the mining town of Phandalin. He hired a warrior, Sildar Hallwinter, to provide protection along the way. However, Gundren grew impatient and left with Sildar a few days early, leaving Scump to fend for himself.

At the crossroads of the High Road and Triboar Trail, they run into Mizandry Tipplegrain the rogue and Professor Gnomebody the wizard, looking for a lift. They tag along with the wagon, although Scump lets them know they won’t get paid for the escort.

Things take a turn for the worse when the party spots two dead horses in the trail ahead of them, which Scump identifies as belonging to Gundren and Sildar. No sooner have the implications set in than the party is ambushed by four goblins. Spells and arrows fly, but the party takes down all but one goblin. A little enchanting and threats of physical violence convince their new friend Slurry the goblin to lead them to where Sildar is being held prisoner, a nearby cave called Cragmaw Hideout.

They take out a few guard goblins and proceed into the cave. Wolves chained to rocks lunge at the party, but are briefly calmed by a handful of baked goods. Ander scurries up a natural chimney in the rock to spy on the boss of the cave, Klarg the bugbear. Rather than take him on, the party proceeds into the cave and finds the goblin breakroom, where they are discovered by the treacherous second-in-command goblin, Yeemik. Yeemik has SIldar, bruised and starving but alive, and proposes a deal: the party kills Klarg, and they get Sildar in return. He offers them the aid of his loyal goblins to help spring the cave’s flood traps on Klarg if the party can lure him into the main chamber of the cave.

Using Ander’s disguise kit and a minor illusion courtesy of Prof. Gnomebody, they disguise Tipsy the halfling as an alluring goblin lady. Hank and Taranion use their understanding of goblin-speak to teach her three phrases:

  1. “Hey there, big boy”
    #“Do you have a dwarf we can fuck on?” and
    #“Never mind that last thing I said.”
    She heads to Klarg’s chamber while the rest of the party gathers on a walkway over the flood zone.

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Tipsy goes to spring the honeypot trap on Klarg, who falls for it completely. He begins conversing freely in common-tongue, and reveals that the dwarf he had is long gone. Tipsy has nearly lured Klarg into trap range when she gets distracted by the brandy he has stashed back in his room, but manages to stick to plan and shimmy up a rope onto the walkway as the rest of the gang gives the flood signal.

Enraged, Klarg tries in vain to climb up to the party or knock down the walkway, but before he can do so the dam at the back of the cave breaks and washes him outside. Klarg is battered, but alive, and furious. His remaining loyal goblins and pet wolf attack the rest of the party while Hank and Tipsy go to finish him off. Tipsy scores a critical hit in his heart with her crossbow, but Hank lands the killing blow by kicking the amorous bugbear’s dick so hard his brain ruptures. The party mops up the other goblins with little trouble, but Klarg’s wolf Ripper refuses to die until a hail-mary throw puts one of Danquayle’s hand-axes through his head. They collect Klarg’s head to show to Yeemik, and get ready to finish their bargain.

Defeated: 4 goblin ambushers, 2 goblin guards, 2 Klarg supporters, Klarg, Ripper the Wolf

Acquired: One bugbear head, goblin shortbow

NPC’s met: Sildar Hallwinter, Yeemik, Klarg (deceased)

Quests: Rescue Sildar, Find Gundren

Corrections: this post initially stated that Tipsy’s first goblin phrase was “Hey boy, come up and see me sometime.” This was misremembered.

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Session 3: Cragmaw Cave, Under New Goblin Management

Dusting themselves off, the party tries to make good on their deal with Yeemik the goblin, but Sildar’s warning to not trust him rings in their ears. They mage-hand Klarg’s severed head into the room to avoid getting close, which only agitates Yeemik. He demands an audience.

While Ander and Danquayle speak with Yeemik, Tipsy runs back to Klarg’s room for the brandy he mentioned. She finds some gold teeth, potions of healing, a jade frog statue, Klarg’s hairbrush, and the brandy. She also spots a lot of stolen goods featuring a blue lion logo.

Yeemik meanwhile is trying to alter the deal in his favor. He still has Sildar, and demands the rest of the party’s goods from their wagon. Ander threatens to free the remaining Klarg-loyal goblins and bring another fight into the goblin breakroom, and Yeemik prefers to keep his dick in one piece so he relents, but not before revealing that the Cragmaw goblins have been acting the orders of a person or organization known as the Black Spider.

With Sildar limping behind, the party leaves the Cragmaw Hideout and returns to Scump and the wagon. He and Sildar discuss the fate of their friend Gundren while they continue to Phandalin as planned. Sildar dishes on what Gundren had planned: the dwarf had discovered the legendary lost mine of Phandelver, and had plans to reopen it. He needed protection and secrecy in order to preserve his claim, and so Sildar offered the protection of the Lord’s Alliance. Sildar hoped to see the mine reopen and return prosperity and stability to the region, but they have to find Gundren first.

Once in town, they drop off the goods as promised at Barthen’s Provisions. The proprietor, Elmar Barthen, was expecting the Rockseeker brothers to return to town for supplies any day now, but hasn’t seen them. Furthermore, he warns the party about the gang of Redbrands menacing the town and hurting businesses.

At the Stonehill Inn, Ander performs a song detailing the party’s adventures and virtues, instantly ingratiating them with the townspeople. Talking to them, they find similar complaints from all the inn’s patrons: the Redbrands harass the people, shake down businesses for protection money, and reportedly killed the town wood-worker and abducted his family.

Sildar promises the party some answers in the morning, as well as a reward for being rescued. The Lord’s Alliance has deep pockets.

Defeated: Negotiated with Yeemik

Acquired: Klarg’s treasure, healing potions, frog statue, bugbear brush

NPC’s met: Elmar Barthen, Toblin Stonehill, others I can’t remember

Quests: Find Gundren, What’s is Black Spider, Stop the Redbrands

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Session 5: Glasstaff’s House of Cockney Accents

The party gets a good night’s rest at the inn and sets out to get Glasstaff first thing in the morning. Scratch that: first they go SHOPPING. Halia had alerted the party to the presence of Lionshield Coster, a weaponry and supply vendor up the street.

The shopkeep, Linene Graywind, is unhappy–her last shipment never arrived and she suspects bandits–and she is unwilling to sell weapons to strangers who might be Redbrands. Tipsy volunteers the location of the stolen goods in the Cragmaw Hideout, and the party assures Linene that Halia vouches for them, so she welcomes them into the back room and gives them for store credit for the hot tip. Everyone gets some new toys, including caltrops, garrote wire, and a big nasty maul, then it’s off to see the wizard.

Hank and Tipsy are expected at the manor with their “stolen” goods, so they go straight to the front door. The rest of the gang sneaks out to the Alderleaf farm, where young Carp guides them to the secret entrance he spotted. Both groups enter the hideout.

Hank and Tipsy are met by Jarleth and another Redbrand, who lead them in through the cellar of Tresendar Manor and through the first of many secret doors. Meanwhile the other four have emerged into a supernaturally chilly crevasse, where an unseen entity starts chattering away at them telepathically. They manage to avoid detection as Jarleth, Hank, and Tipsy cross a walkway overhead and progress deeper into the hideout, but are left dealing with their unknown monster.

The crevasse turns out to be full of slowly decaying, half eaten corpses, including the bodies of Thel Dendrar the woodworker, and…Harbin Wester, the townmaster. His body in particular has clearly been in the crevasse for a long period of time, and they just saw him alive yesterday.

The creature in the pit agrees to let them pass if they don’t disturb its treasure, and if they can bring it more bodies to eat. They decide that bodies ought to be available verrry soooon, eheheheh.

Hank and Tipsy are told to chill out in the breakroom, where 4 drunk Redbrands are engaged in a high-stakes dice game. Tipsy helps herself to some booze and wins at craps (like for real, her player rolled a pair of dice and fucking won some real actual street craps) which upsets one particularly big, particularly drunk Redbrand, henceforth known as Big Dumb James. Big Dumb James is very upset because his sister, Big Jessica, is dead. Hank is doing his best to make friends when Jarleth returns to grab Hank and Tipsy–Glasstaff is ready to see them.

They cross the hall to the wizard’s workshop, where they discover that Glasstaff is none of than the missing Lord’s Alliance agent Iarno Albrek.

He and Tipsy share a brief, unpleasant reunion before he charges the two with trying to fool him. He is fully aware that the ledger is an old copy, and suspects that something is up. He flings the book at Hank who barely escapes being caught by the book’s glyph of warding booby trap, and a fight breaks out in the workshop.

Hearing the commotion, the other adventures ready themselves for action. Danquayle charges headlong into the fray while Taranion and Ander sprinkle the exits with caltrops. As a Redbrand pops out of the breakroom to investigate the ruckus, he catches a face-full of Taranion’s ray of frost, and Professor Gnomebody dashes into the breakroom. The tiny gnome sets off a thunderwave spell under the table, blasting everything in the room and sending the frozen Redbrand crashing into the wizard’s workshop.

As the table falls back to floor it knocks Gnomebody out cold, leaving Big Dumb James the only one standing. He stares through the open door across the hall and spots a tall Tiefling paladin, and bellows: “YOU KILLED MY SISTER!”

Defeated: 3 Redbrands, negotiated with ???

Acquired: goods from Lionshield Coster, craps winnings

NPC’s met: Linene Graywind, Iarno Albrek/Glasstaff, Big Dumb James

Quests: Feed the thing in the pit, Defeat Glasstaff!

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Session 6: Through a Glasstaff, Darkly

Our heroes are mostly locked in battle with Glasstaff and his Redbrand goons (the gnome is conveniently unconscious due to player absence), and things are not going particularly well. Hank and Danquayle are both getting slashed up by Redbrands, while Tipsy is standing on Glasstaff’s workbench calling him a dick and telling him him he’s a bad lay. She fails to catch his rat familiar, Pringle, and instead decides to engage him directly by trying to snare his junk in her garrote wire.

While this is happening, Ander has scampered off to investigate a side room the party noticed earlier, and discovers the secret backdoor into Glasstaff’s room. Ander promptly steals everything not nailed down. Which halfling is the rogue again?

Danquayle and Big Dumb James are both sobbing and trying to hit each other but failing, until Danquayle decides to test out her new maul and demolishes James in a single blow.

Hank is taking Jarleth the lieutenant apart piece by piece, but taking significant damage in the process. Tipsy misses her grab for Glasstaff’s junk and gets frozen in place by one of his spells for her trouble. He turns his attention to the others just as Ander opens the door to the workshop and sees all hell breaking loose. Tipsy manages to break free from Glasstaff’s spell and finally lassos his nethers with her garrote.

Glasstaff is having none of it, and misty-steps the fuck out of there, right into the room with Ander. Ander manages to wrestle the staff of defense away from the wounded wizard just as Taranion bursts into the room and attempts to light him up with a guiding bolt. He misses, and Glasstaff returns fire with a 2nd level magic missile barrage into the cleric’s face. At this point, a bloodied Hank monk-leaps into the room and plants two ball-crushing kicks into the disarmed wizard, leaving him staff-less and ball-less and at 0HP.

With the other Redbrands knocked out or bashed apart, the party retrieves their gnome and sets about healing from their damage. As Danquayle dumps the Redbrand bodies into the Nothic’s pit, she hears approaching footsteps. After she ducks back inside the workshop, they all hear a heavy knock and a distinctly bugbearish voice ask if everything is alright. With some prodding, Glasstaff says that everything is fine, and the Bugbear announces that he’s going to do a patrol and check on the prisoners.

They make Glasstaff start talking: he’s been doing research for the Black Spider, who lent him resources to aid his Redbrand operation in exchange for keeping Phandalin under his thumb and out of the Spider’s business. The Black Spider has already found the Lost Mine of Phandelver, and is trying to restart the magical weapon forge that exists at its core. Glasstaff’s research hasn’t unlocked the secrets of the forge yet, but he did manage to snag a bit of incriminating evidence against Halia Thornton: a letter from a Zhentarim agent providing her with guidance.

Feeling like it’s time to go, the group prepare to escape, but Hank won’t leave without the prisoners. They need Glasstaff to get the keys from Mosk, the Bugbear captain, so they lead him towards the cells. Glasstaff has one final trick up his sleeve though: while crossing the crevasse he tells the Nothic that the party is after his treasures, causing the aberrant creature to finally reveal itself. Staring into their minds, he senses that Taranion has an interest in the legendary lost long sword Talon, and grows restless. Taranion quickly offers a trade, instead: a shiny, jewel encrusted scabbard in exchange for a sword the Nothic can’t use. Hoping the scabbard might be magic, Nothic agrees, but wants one more thing: Iarno’s rat familiar Pringle to snack on. The deal is struck and Taranion gains a +1 longsword.

The party is ready to kill Glasstaff at this point, but still need the prisoners. Tipsy volunteers to hogtie Glasstaff’s balls again and hide under his robes, applying pressure to keep him from misbehaving. They proceed through a crypt of spooky, but trained, skeletons, and Glasstaff convinces Mosk to take the other bugbears out to Triboar trail on a goose chase for a hijacked wagon. Mosk leaves the keys with Glasstaff, and the party springs the prisoners, Mirna Dendrar and her children. She is grateful for rescue, but has little to offer the adventurers in thanks. She recalls that she once had a valuable family heirloom that was left behind when the family fled their hometown, the ruined town of Thundertree. Hank recalls that Thundertree is his own hometown, and is happy to meet some other folks from home, even under these dire circumstances.

Glasstaff leads the party out from the dank cellar without any further calamities, and they emerge into the early evening air of Phandalin.

Defeated: 3 Redbrands, Glasstaff/Iarno Albrek, Nothic (negotiated), Pringle the rat

Acquired: Staff of Defense, Iarno’s letters, 2 spell scrolls, Iarno’s treasure, Talon

NPC’s met: Mirna Dendrar and children, Mosk the Bugbear

Quests: Deal with Glasstaff, Necklace in Thundertree

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Session 7: A Glasstaff Half-empty

This was a wordy one, be warned:

Glasstaff is busted and the Redbrands have been all but dismantled, but the day is not over yet! Well, it is for Tipsy anyway. Tipsy uses her rogue powers to ghost off to the bar, leaving the others to deal with her shitty ex. The fresh evening air has revived the gnome, who has been riding around in Danquayle’s backpack, keeping the party five-strong. Well, five plus Glasstaff.

They debate what to do with the wizard: Taranion knows that Sildar will be eager to know what became of Iarno Albrek, the missing Lord’s Alliance agent, but they also know that the townmaster’s hall/jail has been compromised by the false townmaster. Hank would like to deliver Glasstaff back to Halia Thornton, along with Halia’s seal and ledger, but following revelations and warnings from Glasstaff the party is not confident their prisoner will survive his visit to the guildmaster’s home.

The decide to summon Sildar to Halia’s home, where they drag the unwilling Glasstaff. Halia unwillingly hosts the evil wizard and Lord Hallwinter in her living room, but wants some assurance of no funny business: she asks for her seal back and promptly stamps one of Glasstaff’s palms with it, then presses his hands together.

“You know what that was?”
“A glyph of warding?”
“Yes. You know what kind?”
“…”
“That is an explosive glyph. Any spells or funny business, and your hands blow off. Now, please don’t mess up my living room.”

Sildar uneasily allows Halia to question Iarno. She wants to know how many Redbrands remain after the evening, and how loyal they are to Glasstaff and the Black Spider? (Not many, and they aren’t loyal to anything) What does the Black Spider want? (to keep Phandalin under control while he gains control of the mine) What is in the mine? (the Forge of Spells) Where is the mine? (Iarno doesn’t know).

Iarno’s ignorance of the mine’s location is the last straw for Halia, and she quickly jabs a hand crossbow into his mouth. Sildar tries to de-escalate the situation, but Iarno begins sputtering about how foolish it is to trust Halia. He goes on that she’s a Zhentarim, and she clearly is planning on taking over the town for herself. Sildar presses Halia over the issue, and she admits that she is a member of the organization. She argues that all the Zhentarim want is for their members to be successful business owners and guild masters, and sometimes does use mercenaries to further that goal. Hank wants to know one thing: do the Zhentarim trade slaves? Halia insists that they don’t (Iarno spits “anymore”).

Sildar admits that there’s nothing prosecutable about Halia’s membership in the Zhentarim, but that he will not just hand Phandalin over to Halia without a proper election, and adds that there still is a standing townmaster, false or not. Which reminds him, without a secure jail they need a place to hold Iarno. Halia offers the use of the mining exchange’s vault, and everyone agrees it’s the best course of action. They search Iarno, finding his spellbook, a mundane dagger, and some rat treats which Danquayle keeps for her pet mouse.

Sildar pronounces Iarno Albrek under arrest by authority of the Lord’s Alliance, and intends to extradite him to Waterdeep for trial, but must await a garrison from Neverwinter to secure his passage. He stands guard over Iarno in the miner’s exchange after the party agrees to deal with the false townmaster in the morning. The party is eager to do just that, but first: barbecue!*

*Phandalin style BBQ is basically a variant of Triboar style, which is where Toblin Stonehill, the innkeeper is from. Triboar BBQ is all about pork (wild boar, really), so no brisket, but lots of ribs and sausage (Toblin’s wife Trilena makes the sausage herself, it’s very good). Stonehill Inn BBQ proudly uses applewood from Daran’s Edermath’s farm, which compliments the apple cider vinegar-based sauce. You’ll find Scump McGillicuddy’s brand sauce on the table, which is a mustard based sauce, Neverwinter-style.

In the morning the party heads to the townmaster’s hall (Tipsy is still at large). They enact their plan to fool the false townmaster: wielding Glasstaff’s glass staff, now known to be a magical staff of defense given to him by Black Spider to buy his loyalty, they declare that THEY are going to run the Redbrands now. Rather than be impressed, the townmaster begins to just laugh. He bellows “YOU cannot lead the Redbrands! You cannot FOOL ME! I CAN SEE INTO YOUR MINDS! You are going to be delivered to the Black Spider, dead or alive!”

With surprising agility, Not-Harbin Wester leaps over his desk and begins pummeling the party with his weird gummy arms. He only gets one good hit in, because Taranion lights him up with a Guiding Bolt and everyone else lays into him. As Ander delivers the coup de grace, he collapses back on his desk:

Wester: “The Black Spider has…many hands…”

Hank: “HE HAS ONE LESS NOW!”

Wester: is dead

The townmaster’s lifeless body stretches out to its natural form: the hairless, featureless, grey form of a doppelganger. They bring Sildar to the scene where he announces that this makes sense, then wonders if he’s beginning to become a bit jaded in his old age. They lock Iarno up in the free cell, and Sildar introduces them to the jail’s other prisoner: a small goblin rescued from a party of Bugbears Sildar and a few other encountered south of town (the same group of Bugbears the Iarno sent on a wild goose chase). They abandoned their leashed goblin and fled, leaving Sildar to lock him up in hopes the party could deal with him.

The good news is, Hank and Taranion both know Goblin-speak! The bad news, the goblin is Slurry, the surviving ambusher from the woods outside Cragmaw hideout, and he recognizes Hank the Klarg-slayer and promptly faints. Taranion gives the distressed goblin some water, and asks him how he came to the Redbrand hideout. Turns out, when Slurry regained consciousness, he saw the carnage left from the fight with Klarg and was no longer interested in being a goblin bandit. As he was fleeing through the woods he got picked up by a band of Cragmaw hobgoblins who do deliveries for the King Grol. They berated Slurry for being a deserter, and gave him to the bugbear enforcers in Phandalin to keep as a servant.

The party remembers that a group of Hobgoblins was responsible for taking Gundren Rockseeker from Cragmaw Hideout, and Slurry confirms that this is the same group. He agrees to lead them to the hobgoblins’ trail if they;ll free him to mind his own business. And just like that, the trail of Gundren Rockseeker has warmed up.

Defeated: Doppelganger/Harbin Wester

Acquired: Glasstaff’s Spellbook, rat treats

NPC’s met: Slurry’s back!

Quests: Deal with Glasstaff, Necklace in Thundertree, Hobgoblin huntin’

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Session 8: Herb Gerblin’

Tipsy reunites with the party after a drunken encounter with her dark past as a competitive karaoke team member, and everyone gets ready to hit the road. They decide not to bother with mounts, but instead adopt the townmaster/doppelganger’s riding horse and they hitch a cart to it like a common donkey.

He is verry offended.

Anyway, they soon hit the road with Slurry the goblin deserter, who guides them to the trail of the hobgoblin troop and then continues on his merry way to wherever quests aren’t. They track the hobgoblins through the open country southwest of Phandalin for most of the afternoon, eventually spotting a thin stream of smoke on the horizon. Sharp eyes spot a trail of Hobgoblin and wolf tracks leading straight towards the smoke. Prof. Gnomebody recalls that hobgoblins are extremely disciplined and militaristic, so the party descends upon the likely hobgoblin camp intending to engage in some guerilla warfare.

The sneaky-plan soon goes out the window, as the hobgoblins have set hunting traps all around the perimeter of the trees in which they’ve set up camp. Hank triggers but narrowly dodges out of a rope snare, which gets the hobs’ attention, but he has a plan:

Hank: Animal handling check to make wolf noise
Hank: rolls a 5
Hank: “Aroooo?”
Wolves: immediately start growling

The hobgoblins all rise to their feet, and the leader sends a trained blood hawk into the air to scout. Ander clips the bird with a crossbow bolt and the battle is on. The wolves spring into the woods, one each after Hank and Tipsy, while the hawk cries out over Ander’s location. The hobgoblins launch volleys of arrows into the trees, but can’t seem to hit anything.

Tipsy, perched in a tree out of reach of her wolf assailant, begins launching her newest trick, Firebolt, at the hobgoblins, while Taranion leaps into action with his new spell, Spiritual Weapon. Unfortunately, Taranion also leaps into an owlbear trap, taking some piercing damage and getting chained to the spot. Danquayle makes the heartbreaking decision to smash another wolf, but in the process gives the hobgoblin archers another clear target. Gnomebody complicates this by generating mirror images of himself across the battlefield.

The distraction provides enough of an opening for Tipsy to finish off a battered hobgoblin with firebolt and for Taranion to utterly obliterate another with a critical hit of guiding bolt, causing the lead hobgoblin to call for a ceasefire.

The leader, a proud hobgoblin by the name of Targor Bloodsword, wants to know why the party is hunting them, when they are supposed to be hunting the party. No one is eager to talk, but Targor pushes the issue, demanding to know what they want. He freely admits that they delivered a live dwarf, a map, and some bloodied human armor to Castle Cragmaw, but he is too honor-bound to simply give up the location of the castle. However, he is willing to divulge its location if someone can best him in a duel. He then produces a pair of dueling swords, and they begin to realize it’s this whole thing with him.

Despite Targor’s demands to face a proper swordsman, Hank the monk offers to partake in the duel. The other party members give him some buffs and a “lucky” feather (thanks, Chinny) and Hank engages Targor one-on-one, immediately ditching his sword and battling Targor with his unarmed strikes. Targor proves to be a tough adversary, landing several hits on Hank and evading many of Hank’s blows. During their duel, Targor reveals that he is deeply resentful of King Grol, leader of the Cragmaws, for reducing Targor from a feared raider to a glorified errand boy. He is disgusted by the ease with which Grol was bought by the Black Spider in exchange for some magic item that he has since become obsessed with. The battle nearly exhausts Hank’s reserves, but the monk lands the final blow on the hobgoblin and sends him crashing into the dirt.

True to his word, Targor provides directions to Castle Cragmaw, located in the southwestern lobe of the Neverwinter Woods. He is too proud to attack and overthrow his own king, but agrees to not interfere with the party’s attack on the castle. Even though he is confident the party will fail to defeat Grol, he tells them about a locked side door to the castle, and warns them that the place is surely trapped.

Targor and his remaining soldier eat and drink with the party, loosening up a little as the night goes on. Gnomebody challenges Targor to a scumpet eating contest, and prevails as Targor cannot stomach the foul tasting baked goods. He gives the gnome his ring, telling him that it may help them parlay with the hobgoblins at Castle Cragmaw, or it may not.

In the morning, the Hobgoblins are long gone, and the party has their sights set on Castle Cragmaw.

Defeated: 2 Hobgoblins (ded), TARGOR BLOODSWORD (bested in duel)

Acquired: Horsey, cart, Targor’s ring

NPC’s met: TARGOR BLOODSWORD!

Quests: Hobgoblin huntin’, Rescue Gundren Rockseeker

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Session 9: Cragmaw Castle Open House

The party beds down under the stars next to their new hobgoblin frenemies, and wake to find themselves alone. Taranion the sun-elf tried to do his normal trance-thing, but found his usual rest interrupted by strange visions and bursts of anger from his diety, Oghma. He is eager to get moving and find the cause of his troubling visions. Prof. Gnomebody however, cannot be budged; he remains unconscious, occasionally moaning, under the influence of acute scumpet poisoning. They dump him in the horse cart and get a move on, following Targor’s directions to find Castle Cragmaw, and hopefully reclaim the dwarf Gundren Rockseeker from his captor, King Grol.

Their travel along Triboar trail is swift and uneventful, and they notice that the dead horses at the Cragmaw ambush point are nowhere to be seen. As the first foothills of the Sword Mountains rise on their right, they follow Targor’s instructions and plunge left, off the trail and towards the Neverwinter Woods.

The woods grow close around them, obscuring their line of sight but slowing their progress only slightly. Ander skillfully steers their horse, now named Mr. Eddie Van Halen, among the trees, until they happen upon a ogre wandering through the woods looking for an easy lunch. The party quickly learns that ogres aren’t much for talking, but a few choice command spells send him on his way.

The land rises under their feet, bringing them to a low hill or mound topped with a large clearing. The woods are beginning to re-encroach upon the land, but a ruined, crumbling castle is clearly visible atop the hill. Archer slits line the walls, but there are no signs of activity from this distance. Creeping around the south side of the castle, they spot a side opening, just as Targor said. Leaving Mr. Ed and the gnome secure in the woods, they formulate a plan:

Taranion uses a light cantrip to cause Hank to glow a bright red, while Danquayle uses thaumaturgy to create a wondrous sound (a Slash guitar riff) while Hank runs full tilt towards the front of the castle. The rest of the party darts toward the side entrance while Hank draws attention to the front…only nothing happens on either side of the castle. Ander hears some clanking and goblin squabble from the arrow slits over the side door, but no attacks or alarms come. Disappointed, Hank rejoins the party while Tipsy picks the lock on the side door. Cue the castle raiding music, appropriatelyprovided by Goblin.

Inside they find more rubble and crumbling walls, and some very questionable interior design decisions. Ruined doorways are covered with dirty canvas partitions, and the party spreads out to get the lay of the land. They are in a relatively quiet set of hallways, until they catch a pair of hobgoblins unawares. They launch a surprise attack on them, taking both out before they can reach the north door. They assume that door leads to King Grol, so Danquayle decides to check out the south door first. Unfortunately, that tower contains a starving owlbear, who makes a leap for the door immediately. The tiefling is barely able to get the bar back in place after the owlbear collides with the door, and they hear its long talons ripping at the wood on the other side.

[Map from Dyson’s Dodecahedron]

The Hobgoblin left alive informs them that they are keeping watch outside Grol’s chamber, in the large tower just ahead. He also confirms that Grol has Gundren somewhere in the castle. They knock him out and tuck him snugly in bed, then scope out the area around Grol’s chamber. Tipsy can hear a heated argument between presumably Grol and an unknown female entity. Grol demands further payment before he hands over the dwarf and his map to the mine, but the other party refuses to give Grol anything more than they agreed in the initial bargain.

The party decides to interrupt the negotiations by barging into the room with a ruse: Tipsy dances across the floor, sycophantically appealing to Grol and announcing the presence of Hank, going by the name Ted Nugent of the Neverwinter Nugents. Nugent has come before Grol to offer him several magical items in exchange for safe passage through the woods, and offers to destroy his insolent guest as well. They discover that Grol has been talking to a female drow, who is now glaring at them with barely restrained fury. Grol himself is a massive, aged bugbear, wearing a crude iron crown and with a mouth full of jagged, overlapping teeth. He sits on a huge over turned stump carved into a throne, and he beckons the party to continue.

Taranion shows off a glittering ammonite fossil, and tries to convince King Dave Grol that you can summon the dead creature back to life using a ritual. Grol is uninterested in rituals or pocket monsters, so Danquayle decides to try and pawn off her trinket, a metal box with cups at either end that throws sparks when wet, and Hank declares that it can definitely be used to destroy enemies. The drow, meanwhile, is shouting furiously at Grol that he is being a fool and that the party is clearly here to steal the dwarf and map. Grol demands a demonstration of the trinket, and asks Danquayle to use it on the drow.

Taranion prepares to cast a spell to attack the drow, but she sees it and launches into action. Grol has also grown tired of the intruders, and calls for backup: a pair of hobgoblins and his pet dire wolf, Snarl, who has been sleeping at the back of the room disguised as a pile of furs, definitely not forgotten by the DM when describing the room. The party attempts to take out the drow first, but she is having none of it and disengages out the room as fast as possible, drawing a stab from Ander as she escapes out a busted wall in the castle. Ander casts longstride to close with the drow just as she quaffs a potion of invisibility and vanishes literally and figuratively into the woods.

”The Black Spider has many haaaaaaaands….”

Meanwhile, things are going rough inside the castle. Danquayle once again finds herself pulled into an unwilling battle with a wolf, but Snarl is a much tougher beast than typical wolves. Hank and Tipsy battle with the pair of rather well-rolling hobgoblins, taking moderate damage, while Taranion fires off pot shots from the corner. It’s when Grol nails Hank with his giant iron scepter that things really take a turn for the worst. Both Hank and Tipsy are near death when a cry pierces the air and a bright red blood hawk dive bombs Grol’s face. He misses his next swings, as Hank and Tipsy flee the room and Danquayle crushes Snarl with her maul.

Tipsy ducks out to find Ander for some bardic healing, while Hank monks out of the room and bolts to the owlbear tower. He flings the bar off the door and gets knocked to the side as the beast bursts from the room, running straight down the hall and into Grol’s chamber. The owlbear leaps at the bugbear, the two mighty creatures lock their eyes in a hateful gaze and…. tune in next time.

Defeated: Ogre (?), two hobgoblins, dire wolf

Acquired: Potion of invisibility (empty)

NPCs met: King “Dave” Grol, Drow agent of the Black Spider

Quests: Rescue Gundren, solve Taranion’s bad vibes

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Session 10: Trapped in the Cragmaw, Part 2

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.

“Gundar?”
“…Gundren?”
“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

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